Unfulfilled Potential

Hey Scott,
I've gotten a few posts from you on your blog regarding questions I've had, so here's another head-scratcher that requires your expertise. What are some of the biggest 'unfulfilled potential' wrestler cases in the past 20-30 years? I think the biggest is Scott Hall. He had everything; the look, the size, the wrestling ability, the charisma. But he had a serious drug/alcohol addiction problem. How good of a Heavyweight Champion would he have been in WWF/WCW, providing he was sober? What about Jake Roberts? Another guy who's personal issues kept him from being the top guy. Also, more physical issues such as Magnum TA's case, or Curt Hennig. Although Curt had drug issues too but maybe he wasn't really ever thought of at that level.

Whatever Curt Hennig had the talent and motivation to do, he already did.  He wasn't going to get to a higher level than he was at, especially when they programmed him against Hogan at the end of his undefeated streak and houses went down.  By the time he got to the Monday Night Era his back was shot anyway.  
I think the Holy Trinity of wasted potential came from Crockett in the 80s:  Nikita Koloff, Magnum TA, Barry Windham.  Each of them should have went on to be World champion several times over, but Koloff lost all his motivation after his wife died and the window closed for good.  Magnum of course we know what happened.  Windham was the second-in-charge for Dusty Rhodes and was being groomed by him to be the booker, while Flair was grooming him to be the top guy in the promotion, and he just stopped giving a shit about any of it.  He could have been legendary in either capacity and he ended up with nothing.  Like, if they had PPV in early 87 and they put one of those Flair-Windham matches as the main event, people would be raving about it like it was Savage-Steamboat today.  

Blog Questions

Hey long time reader and big fan here with a few questions for the mailbag.
1. When the day does come that Vince retires and the company is handed off to hhh and Stephanie do you believe that the product will become more coherent and consistent without Vince’s meddling?  Speaking of Vince what is with his intense dislike for southern wrestling?

I think that HHH already has enough power to where we’d probably start noticing a difference if there was going to be a difference.  Plus Steph has been head writer for like 10 years now, so I wouldn’t expect any miracles.  As for Vince and his weird dislikes, a psychiatrist could have a field day with him.  

2. Was shane McMahon respected by the ” boys in the back”? Was he viewed as the bosses kid who took away opportunities from real wrestlers or was he respected for his hard work and bump taking?

He was very respected because he wasn’t a total dick like the rest of his family and he was willing to learn and sell and bump.  I’ve never heard of anyone complaining about Shane. 

3. What is the greatest pay per view main event of all time?

Flair-Steamboat, Wrestlewar 89. 

4. Speaking of great pay per view main events I was watching rock vs austin from wrestlemania 17  and when Austin turned heel it didn’t sound like the audience cared and they cheered anyway. I know it was in Texas but why didn’t Vince take that as a sign that they should drop the heel turn ASAP instead of continuing it?

Because clearly Vince thought he was smarter than his own audience and wanted to prove it. 

5. Whatever happened to yoshiro tajiri? I loved him in ecw and thought he could have gone further with the wwe.

He returned to Japan for what I believe were personal reasons, and then just never came back to the US, and started his own promotion over there.  I think it’s still going or at least only folded very recently. 

6. Who was that guy that sat ringside during all the ppv’s and Monday night raw’s in the 90’s? I remember he had a beard and long hair and always wore black sunglasses any idea who this clown was?

Faith No More Guy!  I don’t know his real name, but that’s what everyone always called him because he resembled the guitar player in the band Faith No More.  I’ve heard he’s a retail store manager and basically travelled from show to show for fun.  

Thank you

Bret/Owen feud

One thing I've always wondered about-During the Bret/Owen program,after Owen IIRC got a rollup pinfall win in the first encounter,why did he then lose the next 4000 rematches? I mean,I was like 14 and did not have the net or read the sheets so I was still basically a mark,but obviously I knew the matches were fixed and I never understood why you would just want to absolutely bury the guy the way they did with Owen. He lost regular matches,cage matches,tag matches,he basically became "that guy who gets pinned by Bret Hart." Even if they felt he couldn't draw as champ (probably true) why not have him lose to Bret once or twice and move on to a new program (maybe IC title) instead of having his heat just totally extinguished.

It's pretty standard operating procedure, or at least it used to be.  Owen got hot after beating Bret at Wrestlemania but wasn't going to be a long-term main eventer, so they milked the feud for everything it was worth and then discarded Owen back to the midcard.  That's what happened with Hogan's challengers all the time in the 80s.  Plus Owen was basically on the verge of getting fired and retiring from the business in late 93 when they came up with the program anyway, so it's not like he was in any worse of a position than he was going to be if they didn't do it.  

Fwd: Jack Swagger

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: "Michael Fitzgerald" Hi Scott Hope you're well Possible discussion for the blog I wonder if WWE have considered maybe turning Jack Swagger babyface? It's either that or fire him really at this point. He's lost so many matches to so many people that he's pretty much a joke. Turning him and giving him some fresh matches might give WWE a chance to change that perception. They could try the "Pro-USA" gimmick with him. Hacksaw Duggan could be getting beaten up by two lower card heels (Hunico and the other one, What's he called? Carpacio?) and Swagger could run in for the save and lead the fans in a "USA" chant. Just a thought Keep it real!
—————– Only the realest.   I had thought they were trying to turn Swagger with the whole breakup angle but God knows that ended up forgotten like everything else.  A standard USA gimmick would work as well as anything else for him at this point.

ROH TV 8/25/12

A week late like always I bring you Ring of Honor wrestling. This episode sees the kickoff of the tag title tournament with a wild opening round as Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander face Matt & Nick Jackson, the Young Bucks. We also see the debut of “God’s Gift” QT Marshall and our main event is a Six Man Mayhem match: Jay Lethal vs. Roderick Strong vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Mike Bennett vs. Mike Mondo vs. TJ Perkins.

.
–The “C&C Wrestling Factory”, Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman, start us off against the returning Young Bucks. The Bucks were on freeze in ROH due to living in California and being cost-prohibitive to fly to the show, but for the tag title tournament they’ve made their comeback (along with their fellow Californian later on, TJ Perkins). The Bucks have really made the most out of their “no respect” gimmick, as their refusal to shake hands has become a really big heat getter in the beginning of matches. I really like their attitude, in general. They mock the fact that a few guys who would likely look down on them for what they look like and how they wrestle anyway expected them to kiss ass, and they wrestle an entertaining, high flying wrestling style that most people would deride as dangerous, and refuse to apologize or be shamed for doing so because it’s the kind of wrestling they enjoy doing and they wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. The Bucks are unapologetic about who they are and what they do, and they’ve managed to define themselves by it. It’s all very punk, or very Punk, for that matter.

Anyhow this match: I can’t even do it justice in words. I’d be up all night trying to describe every high flying spot or innovative double team these guys pulled off. After a rocky few months starting out, C&C shifted into high gear and they’ve started making whiplash-fast aerial action a part of what they do. Pair that with a team like the Bucks, who’ve been spending time in CHIKARA and are well versed in that quasi-lucha style anyway, and you have the kind of match about which Gorilla Monsoon might have said “They’re spending more time above the ring than in it!” Everything hits crisp, everything as at breakneck pace, and the timing is perfect. It’s worth getting online and checking this one out because it is a phenomenal way to kick off a tag title tournament in the company that has the hottest tag team scene in North America (not that that’s saying much about our continent’s wrestling, but it’s true regardless). As I said, it’s just move after move after reversal after spot after move throughout. Some people might bristle at this being a “spotfest”, but in my opinion they just don’t know how to dance to this rhythm. The finish saw, after a series of reversals, Coleman hitting the hands-free top rope rana for the pin. Take my damn word for it, fans of tag team wrestling want to see this matchup.

–Next Charlie Haas calls out Jim Cornette to complain about Shelton Benjamin being “suspended” from ROH (he’s actually working in Japan) and argue for getting his partner back since the person whom he was suspended for hitting, Kenny King, is no longer employed. Cornette refuses and Rhett Titus comes out. After both Titus and Haas agree the most fair course of action would be to face each other one on one and let the winner take the tag titles back to their chosen partner, Cornette stands firm that the tag title tournament will continue. Haas then makes a proposition: Titus chooses Haas as his partner, they win the tournament together, and then face each other for the titles as planned. Titus agrees, and it looks like ROH has a new pair of Wacky Tag Team Partners Who Hate Each Other gunning for the gold. Next week (or as you like to call it in your fancy time-accurate world, tonight) they face the Guardians of Truth, but that leaves an opening in the tournament for the Bravado Brothers’ challengers. And hey, weren’t there just some people complaining last week about not being in the tournament…..

–Tadarius Thomas is a small and average looking young wrestler who apparently incorporates martial arts and breakdancing into his style. “God’s Gift” QT Marshall (pronounced Mar-SHALL”) is a thoroughly plain looking Northeastern wrestling road hound, who comes out wearing a Rick Rude robe and biting the Ravishing One’s gimmick despite not having the body to back it up. I think Marshall actually signed with ROH after these appearances. God only knows why because a blander wrestler I’ve never seen. He has no look to speak of, and he didn’t do much besides punch, kick, and hit one okay-looking lariat. Thomas was interesting enough with his capoiera-style kicks but it looked like pretty much all he had in the tank. Marshall finished with an Alabama Slam. Boo. It’s so transparent as to why this guy got signed: he’s 6’1 and 242, which is of course big for ROH (the goober even tried to do a chokeslam, like being 6’1 makes him some kind of giant). The thing is, he’s got no muscle tone, and the only thing keeping him above 215-220 range is a little bit of a belly. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but we’ve been down this road before, and someone is bound to be over-impressed by this guy based on his size, which isn’t worthy of being impressed by, and people will act like he deserves to be WWE-bound because of it. From what I saw in this match, they can friggin have him.

–Six Man Mayhem is a six-way match under tag rules. These are always fun just due to the fact that there’s never really a chance for the action to lag. This one in particular is for a shot at Adam Cole’s TV Title at Death Before Dishonor X. Jay Lethal, TJ Perkins, Roderick Strong, Tommaso Ciampa, Mike Bennett, and Mike Mondo make up this one. I’m a huge fan of three of these guys, a moderate fan of one, and not a fan of the other two. Regular readers will have no trouble knowing which is which. I’ am, however, going to make more of an effort to learn to stomach Mike Mondo, because while I’m generally unimpressed, he seems like there is a glimmer of wrestling talent there that just needs to be focused into a sound style, because right now he’s kind of all over the place. One segment featuring him & Ciampa had an extended pinfall reversal segment where Mondo held on to the pin attempts even after Ciampa kicked out, and those worked well for him: Mondo already has the look of a tenacious Napoleon type small guy, he might as well make that pit-bullish latching onto someone and not letting go gimmick a full fledged part of his routine. Another interesting spot had Perkins (who I’ve greatly missed in ROH, since he has the look and ability to be a big deal for them) holding Bennett in an Indian deathlock while simultaneously giving Roderick a Northern Lights suplex. I didn’t really feel like Lethal was too invested into this one, as nothing he did really stands out, but he of course has bigger fish to fry, if predictions are correct. In the final pair-off, Bennett and Mondo vented some animosity on each other related to their nothing match at Best in the World. Mondo is ostensibly still on a face-ish run here but he’ll be the heel when he goes against Cole. Whoops, gave it away there: Mondo hits the double-arm DDT for the pin on Bennett. I’m glad of anyone there it was Bennett taking the pin, but DBD will be the make it or break it point for Mondo.

–What was good was exceptional this week, so nothing to complain about besides the drab match featuring QT Marshall. Even Inside ROH had some fun goofy promos from S.C.U.M as well as the Briscoes (making a Michael Phelps bong joke). The main event was fast paced and well executed, but the opening tag match needs to be seen by anyone who appreciates aerial or tag team wrestling. Seriously, this time, take my word for it: Go to ROHwrestling.com and watch this one.

5 star matches

Another good question for you (and the blog). Have their been any matches you awarded 5 stars to in the past, however, on later viewings you changed your feelings on the match(es) in question??

Sure, my opinions waver all the time.  The TLC matches go up and down in my mind, the Razor-Shawn ladder matches, a couple of the Wargames matches…it really just depends what day of the week I'm watching and rating stuff sometimes. It's not an exact science at all.  

Fwd: 10 years ago: Brock v HHH (v Rock)

———- Forwarded message ———- Hey Scott!
 
As we continue towards SummerSlam and the booking prospects at WrestleMania, I thought your faithful would be interested in this. 10 years ago today there was a triple threat match between Brock Lesnar, HHH and The Rock in front of 50,000+ in Melbourne.
 
Part 1: http://youtu.be/6y7QDEt99NY
Part 2: http://youtu.be/0-XL0gzG-hk
 
There's also a post-match DVD extra that's really worth checking out for the Rock-HHH lovefest: http://youtu.be/qmFg3ZMxSTg
 
Actually, the entire event's worth a look. There's a solid Edge v Jericho match (with Jericho rocking the mic before the bell and going off on the Australian crowd). Plus, it appears the commentary track was done in-studio after the fact and not live at ringside. Cole & Tazz are all jokes and seemingly without much direction. Fun stuff!

Terms that irritate you

Hey Scott
Saw you dislike of the usage of "IWC". Are there any other terms that piss you
off? I still loathe it when the term "WWE Universe" is used. Then there are
terms that USED to mean something, but are just ridiculous like "extreme"…

I'm doing questions this weekend on my backup netbook using a USB-tethered internet connection through my phone, so I might not be as verbose as I usually am because every second I'm online makes me want to smash the computer in frustration at how fucking slow it is.  Plus Tyson Kidd wished me a happy birthday on Facebook and then told me off, so that kind of hurt.  I decided to forgo any birthday presents this year in exchange for a new phone (Samsung Galaxy S2X) and a new laptop next week, so if anyone wants to contribute as their birthday present to me, now is the time!  

Anyway, yes, I REALLY hate the term IWC, as though we all have a convention every year where I hang out with CRZ and coordinate whether we're going to enjoy TNA that month or not.  Which is of course silly because there have been many, many weeks where my opinions on stuff differ drastically from people on this very site, or Todd Martin, or whoever.  Oddly my TNA ratings have been spot on with the guy on the Observer site every week for some reason.  
WWE Universe is also incredibly stupid.  Michael Cole's "building momentum" is a totally meaningless and annoying term.  Russo pretty much ruined "shoot", although "format sheet" also makes me want to gouge my eyeballs out whenever I hear it.  "Socially active" sounds like something like 55 year old marketing executives came up with to appeal to 12 year olds, which probably isn't far from the truth.  
There's way more, but that will get people started.  

Smackdown – August 31, 2012

Smackdown
Date:
August 31, 2012
Location:
Resch Center Arena, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Commentators:
Michael Cole, Josh Matthews
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
After
last week’s huge mess, hopefully Smackdown can turn things around
tonight. Last week was one of the worst shows I can remember in a
long time, which is a shame as I used to love Smackdown. Anyway,
we’re getting very close to Night of Champions now and unfortunately,
Del Rio hasn’t been hit by a bus or anything like that to keep us
from having to sit through another title shot for him. Let’s get to
it.

Do
You Know Your Enemy? Mine at the moment is Del Rio vs. Sheamus. I
can’t stand this feud and about 80% of that is on Del Rio.
Orton
vs. Ziggler later. Gee I wonder how that’s going to end.
Here’s
Sheamus to open the show. First up, he needs to praise HHH. Sheamus
isn’t sure what HHH’s future holds but he has Sheamus’ respect. HHH
is the embodiment of a champion, which is everything Del Rio isn’t.
This brings out Damien Sandow of all people. He talks about how
Sheamus is as ignorant as he is enormous because of his praise of
HHH.
He
goes on about Sheamus and HHH promotes a stereotype to the WWE
Universe but Sheamus cuts him off. The champ doesn’t want to hear
Sandow yap for twenty minutes so why not come into the ring right now
and have a fight. Sandow says Sheamus isn’t worth his time but
here’s Booker with a dissenting opinion. He makes Sandow vs. Sheamus
for later, which is already more exciting than anything else from
last week.
Rey
Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes
Cody
talks about how Rey is just like Sin Cara, hiding behind a mask.
Rhodes uses his power advantage to start but he ducks his head,
letting Rey get in a kick to the face. Cody sends him out to the
floor and we take a break. Back with Cody hitting a spinning suplex
for two. A release gordbuster gets two followed by some knees to the
back and a chinlock.
Cody
goes for the mask but gets sent face first into the buckle. Rey
speeds things up and hits a seated senton followed by a big kick to
the head for two. A knee to Rey’s head gets two but Mysterio kicks
Cody into 619 position. Cody catches Rey’s legs but Rey counters the
counter into a sunset flip for the pin at 5:31 shown of 9:01.
Rating:
C. This was fine. It’s nice to
see Cody having an actual story on Smackdown instead of doing nothing
on Superstars every other week. I didn’t catch anything being
mentioned about Rey and Cody’s history, although at least we’re
hearing about how Cody used to be obsessed with his looks to give a
reason to the Sin Cara feud.
Cody
beats up Rey post match until Cara makes the save and puts a Sin Cara
mask on Cody.
We
get the first anger management segment from Monday.
Kaitlyn
vs. Natalya
Eve
is on commentary. Nattie takes her down with a headlock to start and
the place is eerily quiet. Kaitlyn shoulder blocks her down and they
head to the floor where Kaitlyn gets her head slammed into the floor.
Natalya hooks an abdominal stretch and slaps Kaitlyn’s side which
has to hurt bad. Kaitlyn comes back with some armdrags but Natalya
clotheslines her down. The Canadian runs her mouth and gets small
packaged for the pin at 2:45. Getting extra time is helping the
Divas a tiny bit but this was more about Eve, who spent the whole
match being the corporate suckup, which does nothing for me at all.
Booker
is worried about the pressure of being Raw GM is getting to AJ. He
says the match between Jericho and Ziggler never should have been
made. Vickie comes up and says this is more proof that AJ needs to
go. Sweet Christmas enough with the power struggle storylines
already.
Raw
ReBound talks about Punk/Lawler/Cena from Monday.
Anger
management segment #2.
Sheamus
vs. Damien Sandow
Sandow
is taken into the ropes to start and requests that the referee does
his job. Sandow tries to take it into the corner but Sheamus grabs
his beard. To avoid getting punched in the face, Damien drops to the
floor and things slow down again. The champ starts running him over
with shoulders and Sandow heads to the floor again. This time
Sheamus is tired of waiting so he goes out after Damien, only to have
his knees sent into the steps by Sandow.
That
gets an eight count and Sandow stomps away back inside. Off to a
chinlock which Sheamus breaks pretty quickly. A regular neckbreaker
(as opposed to the double arm version) gets two for Sandow and it’s
back to the chinlock. This one is broken even faster and Sheamus
starts his hard hitting offense.
Damien
bails to the floor for the third time but Sheamus throws him right
back in and hits the ten forearms. A slingshot shoulder block to the
back gets two and Damien heads to the floor for I think the fourth
time. White Noise is escaped and the Brogue Kick is ducked. Sandow
rolls to the floor and sprints up the ramp for the countout at 6:51.
Rating:
C. This wasn’t a great match,
but it was a logical one. The idea of Sandow not being able to hang
in a fight with Sheamus makes perfect sense and having him constantly
trying to run and clear his head was a nice touch. This is exactly
what Sandow needs: to be able to rub elbows with bigger names. He
didn’t need to win here and certainly shouldn’t have, but having him
in there is a good step in the right direction.
Prime
Time Players vs. Justin Gabriel/Tyson Kidd
Kidd
and Gabriel have matching yellow shirts which look like dresses on
them. Kidd and Titus get things going as the Usos Tout about how
they should be #1 contenders. Off to Young vs. Gabriel after the
starters do nothing of note. Justin takes Young to the mat after
making a blind tag, allowing Kidd to kick Darren in the face.
Off
to Titus who powers Tyson down and brings Darren back in. The
Players are very good about tagging in and out quickly. Tyson sends
Young into the corner and tags out to Justin. An STO puts Darren
down and Justin loads up the 450, only for Titus to distract him.
Darren crotches Gabriel and hits the fireman’s carry gutbuster for
the pin at 3:13. This one looked better as he launched Gabriel into
the air and Justin was in free fall when he hit the knees.
Rating:
C. I know I’ve used that rating
a lot tonight but this was exactly what the rating implies: it was ok
and right in the middle. I do like that the guys in the tag division
are actually getting a little time every week. If nothing else it
lets a lot more guys get on TV as opposed to showing up every other
PPV and have a title defense that means nothing. These matches don’t
exactly equal the Harts vs. the Bulldogs but they’re an improvement
over what we’ve been getting the last few years.
The
final anger management segment airs. Kane’s explanation of his
history is still hilarious.
Here’s
Del Rio with something to say. Alberto brags about beating Orton
last week but doesn’t care to be reminded that Sheamus has beaten him
every time. Del Rio threatens Josh but here’s Kane for protection I
guess. Kane says he’s here to apologize for attacking Josh at
Summerslam. Teddy comes out and makes Kane vs. Alberto.
Alberto
Del Rio vs. Kane
This
is joined in progress after a break but it doesn’t look like we
missed much. Kane pounds on Del Rio in the corner but Alberto comes
back with some kicks to the legs. Kane comes back with a low
dropkick to the head for two and an uppercut that sends Del Rio to
the apron. Del Rio rams Kane’s arm into the buckle and follows it up
with a kick to the shoulder. Kane will have none of that and hits a
sidewalk slam to set up the top rope clothesline for no cover. Kane
loads up the chokeslam but Ricardo pulls Kane’s leg. The distraction
lets Del Rio hit a Backstabber for the pin at 2:46.
Post
match Kane snaps and chokeslams Josh, but he apologizes while he does
it.
HHH
video from Raw.
Randy
Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler
dropkicks Randy down to start and struts a bit. Dolph shows off a
bit so Randy dropkicks him down as well in a nice touch. A slingshot
suplex gets two on Dolph but Ziggler comes back with a neckbreaker
and some elbow drops. Orton wins a slugout and fires off his
clotheslines. The powerslam sets up the elevated DDT but Ziggler
counters. Ziggler doesn’t get back inside though and Orton pulls him
to the top rope for a superplex.
That
only gets two and Ziggler comes back with a jumping DDT for another
near fall. The crowd is starting to get into this. Dolph charges at
Randy but gets caught in the Elevated DDT for another two. Orton was
laughing while he hit that which was kind of a nice touch. They head
to the floor with Ziggler being thrown over the announce table. Back
inside and Ziggler misses the Zig Zag, allowing the RKO to pin him at
7:10.
Rating:
C+. This was a fast paced main
event style match, but man alive did they have to have Ziggler lose
AGAIN? Orton is leaving for a few months to film whatever the next
WWE movie is. Ziggler is indeed Mr. MITB and probably will win the
title before the year is over, but as always in WWE, the idea seems
to be to have him lose time after time so he can surprise everyone
and win it all back at once. You know, because no heel can look
strong in WWE and they all have to be cowards that steal every win
they get.
Vickie
immediately announces that Dolph is still Mr. MITB and says he did a
good job. Yes, make sure you hammer in that the guy who is going to
get a title match is such a loser.
Overall
Rating:
C+. This wasn’t a great
show at all but man alive was it better than last week. It’s amazing
how much better things are when you don’t have Alberto and Sheamus
interacting. Seeing Sandow getting a match against the champ, even
when he was mostly dominated and lost, was a good sign that there are
big things in his future. This show toned down the stupid stuff and
they got a better show out of it.
Results
Rey
Mysterio b. Cody Rhodes – Sunset Flip
Kaitlyn
b. Natalya – Small Package
Sheamus
b. Damien Sandow via countout
Prime
Time Players b. Justin Gabriel/Tyson Kidd – Fireman’s carry
gutbuster to Gabriel
Alberto
Del Rio b. Kane – Backstabber
Randy
Orton b. Dolph Ziggler – RKO
Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com

The SmarK Rant for TNA Impact–08.30.12

The SmarK Rant for TNA Impact – 08.30.12 I’m on a bit of a time crunch today, so I might have to zip through some stuff I would otherwise cover in more detail. Live from Orlando, FL Your hosts are Mike Tenay & Taz Austin Aries, who thankfully has his belt back after a real life theft attempt, starts us out by recapping the Aces & Eights attack from last week. He doesn’t need to be medically cleared to FIGHT. Well, most UFC fighters would disagree with that, but I’ll go with it. And he’s left-handed. Nice touch. Aries throws out the challenge to the Aces, but Hogan and Sting answer instead. Sting’s got a weird half-Joker half-Crow facepaint thing going on tonight. Hogan pledges their total support to Aries tonight. The Aces show up on the screen, and they’re not going to be dictated to. Meanwhile, ODB remains bored and horny. Bound For Glory Series: James Storm v. Rob Van Dam Storm works a headlock to start as Tenay announces that the winner of the Series gets to choose his opponent in the semi-finals. Storm holds on through a suplex attempt from RVD, and they trade spinkick attempts before Storm puts him down with a forearm for two. They slug it out and Storm stomps away in the corner, but Rob kicks him off the apron. He follows with a dive and we take a break. Back with Rob hitting the dragon whip kick or whatever he calls it. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder get two. Storm comes back with a DDT for two and follows with the Eye of the Storm helicopter slam for two. Rob fights back with a monkey flip, but a second try is met with a superkick for the pin at 11:08. Slick finish. ***1/4 Rob was looking pretty winded at the end, but then he’s getting old for that style. Madison Rayne v. ODB Madison was assuming that this would be her Knockouts title rematch. Clearly not. ODB spits the moonshine in her face and destroys her with the F5 at 0:20. This brings Eric Young back, and he’s got fried chicken! And a suit, which has ODB thrown off. So he gets rid of it, and the happy couple is reunited again. Meanwhile, the World tag team champions of the World meet with Hogan & Sting, and they want to reiterate that they can’t be fired. Hulk notes that payback and revenge are still coming from AJ, but for the moment they’ll defend their titles when and where they’re told. Bound For Glory Series: Samoa Joe v. AJ Styles Joe throws kicks and gets nowhere, and Styles dodges him and bails. Back in, Joe powers him down, but Styles pops up with a headscissors out of nowhere, only to run into an elbow. Joe misses a charge and hurts the knee, so AJ goes to work on it and tosses Joe…but lands on a VICIOUS kick when he tries a dive. Tremendous. Back in, Joe goes to work with the kneedrop for two, and the powerslam gets two. AJ fights back and gets chopped down, and Joe counters another headscissors attempt into the STF. AJ reaches for the ropes, so Joe wraps him up in a Rings of Saturn instead. AJ uses his foot to make the ropes instead. Joe misses a senton and AJ gets the springboard forearm to make the comeback. Pele Kick and he rolls into a cross armbreaker, but Joe is in the ropes. Joe blocks a charge with the uranage, which is never not awesome, but AJ reverses the choke into a rollup for two. Another rollup gets two, but this time Joe gets the choke. AJ counters that into the armbreaker, but Joe rolls him over for the pin at 8:07. That’s why Joe used to be my favorite wrestler once upon a time. Great TV match, with crazy counters and both guys smartly going for the submission points. Joe WANTED the submission, but took the pinfall because he had the chance. ***1/2 Gut Check: Kris Lewie gets JUDGED. Taz says no because TNA is above his head, Bruce says he’s got a great backstory, but the business isn’t for him, so it’s a no, and we don’t even get to hear from Snow this time. I like that they changed it up! And I totally agree, he was all promo video and then cacked it in the ring. Joey Ryan continues protesting from ringside, and this time takes a shot at Al Snow before running away. Funny that they gave out contracts like candy, but Ryan is the only guy making TV. Meanwhile, Joseph Park asks Hulk for permission to investigate the Aces & Eights, much like he investigated his brother, Chris Park, you know, Abyss. KAYFAB! Bound For Glory Series: Kurt Angle v. Jeff Hardy Winner continues on, and the loser is eliminated from the Series. Angle takes him down with an armbar and Hardy recovers with his own before Angle pounds him in the corner. Hardy puts him on the floor with a headscissors and follows with a dive (to the narrow side, yikes!) and takes over back in the ring. And we take a break. Back with Hardy hitting the legdrop and dropkick for two. Angle escapes the Twist and fires off the german suplexes as Hardy folds like a ragdoll. Angle Slam is reversed into the Twist of Fate for two. He’s doing it more like a stunner now, which I like. Swanton gets two. Angle comes back with a belly to belly and PERFECT Angle Slam for two. Hardy is just letting Angle throw him around and it’s great. Anklelock, but Hardy rolls him up for two and hits the Twist into the swanton…for two. Seemed like that would have been the finish. Angle grabs the ankle again, but Hardy fights out and goes up again, fights off Angle’s superplex and another swanton finishes at 11:36. So Angle is done. ***1/2 This leaves us with Storm, Samoa Joe, RVD, Bully Ray, AJ Styles and Hardy still with an outside shot if he wins next week. Austin Aries comes out to face the Aces’ challenge, and Hogan brings out the backup just in case. The leader is clearly being played by D-Lo Brown, at least this week. So the Aces send out a big guy, and Aries takes him out, which leads to the giant brawl again. Aries isolates the big guy and tries to unmask him, but a new guy comes in and lays him out with a blackjack. Bad couple of weeks for Aries. The Pulse After what I thought was a mis-step last week, this was an awesome show to rebound and never felt like it dragged at all. On the other hand, the PPV is only a week away! We don’t even have a main event yet! So, you know, there’s always stuff to work on.

Waiting for the Trade – Spider-man

Waiting for the Trade
By Bill Miller
Spider-man: Election Day
by Marc Guggenheim & John Romita Jr.
Collects Amazing Spider-man 583-588 plus some Extras
Why I bought this: Primarily because Bargain Graphic Novels was selling it for $3 a few months ago. But price aside this wraps up all of the storylines that kicked off the Brand New Day era—including resolving the mystery of Menace, the mystery of the Spider-Tracer Killer and the mayoral election that was backdrop for the Menace and Jackpot stories from day 1. I’ve only read about 50-percent of Brand New Day but in general I found the continuing plot threads interesting enough to want to see the finale.
The Plot: An injured Spider-man battles Menace while Peter’s police officer roommate Vin Gonzalez faces prison and Harry Osborn deals with personal drama against the backdrop of NYC’s mayoral election. Also Spidey meets President Obama. Spoilorized chapter breakdown’s follow:

Chapter 1 – Following another spider-tracer murder, Spidey takes a bullet in the shoulder from a police helicopter. Meanwhile Carlie Cooper (not yet Pete’s girlfriend) figures out how to track spider tracers. Spidey, delirious from his gunshot wound, dreams that Harry is Menace. Harry proposes to Liz Hollister (daughter of one of the two mayoral candidates). Pete returns home to tend to his wounds, and narrowly avoids Carlie who discovers a bag of spider-tracers under Vin Gonzalez’s bed (fellow cop & Pete’s roommate).
Chapter 2 – Lily doesn’t accept Harry’s proposal and then leaves when her father calls before they can discuss it more. Vin comes home just as Pete leaves to deal with Menace despite his wounds and thus misses Carlie confronting Vin about the tracers. Carlie gets Vin to confess to being involved with the Tracer killings, which actually aren’t killings at all; rather the cops are placing the tracers on the bodies of the victims of underworld/mob crime to drum up public support for law enforcement to take a vigilante (namely Spidey) off the streets. Carlie wants to arrest Vin but the other cop at the scene is involved as well as this is a larger police conspiracy. Menace gives Spidey a severe beating enroot to defeating him, however rather than killing him, Menace delivers Spidey to the police, who arrest him. Harry decides to surprise Lily to get her to reconsider and walks in on her unmasking as Menace.
Chapter 3 – Harry is horrified by what he’s discovered causing Lily/Menace to give her origin, which like every Goblin who isn’t an Osborn involves finding one of Norman’s old journals and using that to raid some old hideouts for weapons and Goblin Formula. And also all of her attacks as Menace are to help get her father elected, although he himself has no knowledge of her criminal activities. Then after she finishes confessing, she accepts Harry’s proposal. However, she when she leaves Harry gets out his Goblin weaponry.
Chapter 4 – Matt Murdock prevents the police from unmasking Spidey and once that’s resolved he advises him to stay put and stand trial. Carlie takes her complaint to a sergeant and is still getting nowhere as we get a glimpse into what makes her tick as a cop. Meanwhile the other corrupt cops decide to frame Vin and Carlie for everything and Vin is arrested. In prison the convicts are beating Vin and plan to kill him, forcing Peter to break out his cell to save him.
Chapter 5 – Pete saves Vin and breaks them both out of prison. Harry puts on his Green Goblin mask. Carlie goes to Al Hollister for help but one his aides calls the cops because she feels as a candidate he can’t seen harboring a fugitive. Menace attacks the police to free Carlie (as Lily she and Carlie are longtime friends). Spidey fights Menace and loses again. She’s about to strike the killing blow when Harry intervenes and together he and Spidey give her a Goblin-serum antidote. She is then arrested on national television just as the election results come in giving the win to her father. Harry pulls Spidey to safety so he can pass out on a roof away from police. Vin turns himself in and clears Carlie off any wrong-doing. Hollister resigns as mayor before being sworn in, while we see the various corrupt cops rounded up and arrested. Pete and Harry talk about Norman’s legacy and Lily. Norman visits Lily in prison, welcoming her to the family.
Chapter 6 – Spidey’s wounds are treated by Night Nurse. We see Pete doing his usual guilt trip/responsibility thing for Harry and Vin’s problems in the fallout from the last chapter. Vin gets six months in jail as part of a plea bargain for testifying against the other cops in the conspiracy. Pete meets Flash at the airport and learns Flash lost his legs in combat, when Flash tells the story of how he says he was inspired to be a hero by Spider-man; Pete feels guilty about that too and takes his frustrations by beating the crap out of some cyborg as Spidey.
Chapter 7 – We see Spidey’s trial. Matt Murdock gets him off with a little help from Iron Fist and Black Cat.
Chapter 8 – Peter is sent to cover Obama’s inauguration for the Daily Bugle. Chameleon tries to switch places with Obama. Spidey thwarts him. Spidey is honored to meet the president.
Chapter 9 – Spidey and Cap foil a bank robbery by crooks dressed as Lincoln and other historical figures. Afterwards they are talking about politics and Cap confesses to once using the Cosmic Cube to listen in on the Gettysburg Address.
Critical Thoughts: Generally I liked most of this. Structurally the concurrent reveals, complications and resolutions in the Menace and Spider-tracer mysteries are very well done. Ignoring how Marvel got there (which is beyond terrible), I think the actual Brand New Day era was a big improvement in the tone of Spider-man storytelling, with much more of an emphasis on supporting characters (both new and old); and as I’ll happily argue in favor of Spidey having the best supporting cast in all of comics that’s always a good thing.
The fight scenes with Menace are well done with Spidey’s wounds upping the stakes a great deal. I will say there is a panel in the second fight that rings incredibly false in my mind, which is Spidey when thinks he is going to die before Harry arrives, the writers have him think of Gwen. Look I’ve said before I find Gwen to be the least interesting of Spidey’s five major love interests over the year, but beyond my personal preference Gwen has been dead in comic time for about 8-years so for Spidey to still be thinking about her above all others feels much more like an editorial mandate than true to the character. Especially if you consider JMS made it cannon that Pete and Gwen never slept together. But even beyond physicality he had relationships with MJ and even Felicia that were last far longer and involved far more trust and mutually shared highs and lows than he ever had with Gwen. It’s one thing for Pete to still carry around the guilt of Gwen’s death, especially in a Green Goblin story arc; it’s quite another for him to still be hung up on her after all this time.
As for the back-up tales, the Spidey and Obama meeting is funny and overall I liked it for what it was. I also really liked the Spidey and Cap story: as a Cap fan I thought that if Cap was going allow himself one selfish moment something like time-traveling to the Gettysburg Address rang true to the character.
Grade B: I’m not sure how this will hold up in a vacuum if you haven’t read the first two Brand New Day trades, especially since all of the new supporting characters featured here except Carlie are out of the series already. But within the context of its time period it’s a well delivered payoff to 30 issues of build-up. And from a classical sense it does feature lots of strong Harry moments, plus a major change to Flash’s status quo in the epilogue so even taking the newer characters out of it, it would seem to be a solid addition to Spidey lore.