Fall of Rusev and Lana


Hi Scott,

Great article on creative's destruction of the great Lana and Rusev act.


All the best,
Oh yeah, I HATE what this feud is doing to everyone involved.  Poor Rusev has to travel on the road with a broken foot, too, in support of this abomination.  For a while there might have been an interesting dynamic if Lana had used her boob powers to make Ziggler into a Russian sympathizer or something different like that, but having to buy these two as an onscreen couple is even stretching the bounds of believability for a show where Nikki Bella is supposed to be a dominant champion.  Does any human being who actually watches the show buy that DOLPH ZIGGLER, who even in storyline has always been portrayed as a shameless poonhound, would suddenly be a virtuous white knight for Lana?  It's completely ridiculous and out of character for everyone involved.  And yeah, it's killing Lana as a character, like, completely.  They had the moment to turn her and make a big star, and they blew it, and now it's gone, probably forever.   

TNA rise and fall dvd matches

Hey Scott,

Thought this might be a good discussion for the blog. With the news of DA (allegedly) canceling impact, there must be a dvd in the near future from WWE about this ala ECW and WCW, right?

Aside from the standard documentary  , which matches would be included on the set? Aside from the Unbreakable three-way, and maybe a match from the first show, has TNA had any (allegedly) historic matches of any kind?

Thanks!
~Nick


​​
​Woof, good question.  Maybe an Ultimate X match of some kind?  Probably I'd go with a few representative matches to showcase the different styles of stuff they did (Full Metal Mayhem, Ultimate X, that other thing with the cage and the weapons) rather than trying to highlight specific things from their history.  Probably the Joe v. Angle matches would be the most historic, or something like Randy Savage's last match, I guess.  
Any better guesses?  ​

Fall Brawl 1999

Fall
Brawl 1999

Date:
September 12, 1998
Location: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial
Coliseum, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Attendance:
7,491
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
Well
we had to get here eventually, even though I don’t think people
wanted to. The main event here is Sting vs. Hogan for the title and
Goldberg vs. Page because those are fresh matches. We also get to
see the Revolution rising up the card in a big No DQ tag match and
Benoit defending the US Title against one of the draws in Sid, who is
nice enough to give Benoit a main event rub. This is also the first
show without Bischoff at the helm so some of the details could be
interesting. Let’s get to it.

We open with a video
that looks like it’s inspired by the Matrix with rapid fire text
behind shots of Sting, Luger and Hogan as they talk about who can
trust each other. Hogan will NEVER screw Sting of course.
The
announcers, all wearing black ribbons in honor of Mark Curtis (nice
touch), aren’t sure who should trust who either. Sid is officially
79-0 coming into tonight, because they wanted to match Goldberg’s
Streak but couldn’t even keep their fake wins even with Goldberg
fighting for the title in his 75th
match.
Video
on the Clowns vs. the actual wrestlers. The point of the video is
about whether they’re wrestlers or musicians plus something about
Eddie and Vampiro not liking each other in Mexico. Nothing is
mentioned about the Clowns and Vampiro recruiting various wrestlers,
making it even more pointless than it seemed before.
The set is a big FALL
BRAWL sign with the letters being used as the video screen. As I’m
sure you can guess, this makes the video almost impossible to see,
meaning WCW managed to screw up the idea of A BIG SCREEN.
Insane Clown
Posse/Vampiro vs. Eddie Guerrero/Rey Mysterio Jr./Kidman
Same
opener as last month. Mysterio now has bleached blond hair and the
same attire as Kidman. We pause a bit as the heels are scared
because they’ve never seen the color yellow. Xanthophobists. The
stalling begins as Heenan points out the resemblance between Violent
J. (with hair as blond as Mysterio) and Brian Knobbs. Kidman and
Shaggy finally get things going with Shaggy sending Kidman into
Vampiro’s boot. A dropkick puts Mr. 2 Dope (or is it Mr. Dope? His
parents gave him the middle name 2?) down and they botch a
wheelbarrow slam into a guillotine legdrop from Rey.
Eddie
adds the slingshot hilo and the Clown is in early trouble. Mysterio
hits the springboard falling splash before throwing him over for a
tag to J. A catapult sends him into the buckle and the Clowns do the
fake tag bit to bring in Vampiro. It’s off to Kidman who dropkicks
Vampiro back into the corner, meaning we get more Clowns. Oh how
blessed we truly are. J. scores with a chop (wow he can stick his
hand out!) and it’s back to Vampiro for a good powerbomb on Kidman
(that’s twice in two weeks. Kidman must be sick) for two.
A
top rope spinwheel kick to the hands gets two for Vampiro as Tony
gets in the revelation of the night, saying he used to braid his hair
like Vampiro. Thankfully Tenay doesn’t let that by but Tony gets
away from it as fast as he can. Back to J. for a weak chop before
Kidman nails him with a clothesline. Rey comes in with the
springboard seated senton and a Lionsault for two but the Clowns
cheat to take Mysterio outside. Shaggy even needs help whipping Rey
into the barricade.
Back
in for a chinlock and some horrible stomps from Shaggy. Vampiro goes
after Eddie and Kidman but it allows Rey to tag in Eddie to speed
things up. A quick mule kick puts Guerrero down though and it’s back
to J. for a side slam. Shaggy drops a top rope legdrop, which barely
grazes Eddie’s forehead for two. There is zero reason to allow them
to do high risk moves like that when they clearly can’t do them
right. If nothing else it’s not fair to Eddie to lay there with his
head and neck in danger like that.
Everything breaks down
and Shaggy and Vampiro HORRIBLY botch something like a 3D with
Vampiro sitting instead of falling and Shaggy losing his grip on
Eddie, turning it into more of an assisted backdrop than anything
else. Rey is down on the floor and seems to be hurt. Vampiro
gutwrench superplexes Kidman but eats a missile dropkick from Eddie,
who looks ticked off. The shooting star from Kidman is enough to pin
Vampiro.
Rating:
D-.
I feel so, so sorry for the Filthy Animals here as they were in there
with guys who had no business in the ring and had to babysit them.
Eddie had to take that legdrop on his head and the botched 3D and
Mysterio got hurt (might not have been the Clowns’ fault to be fair).
These guys should be on the Revolution’s level right now (Eddie
would be fine as a mouthpiece instead of Shane) but instead they’re
in these bad opening matches because they have one talented guy to
work with instead of three, putting them at a huge and unsafe
handicap.
The Revolution
guarantees a clean sweep tonight.
We recap Lenny Lane
winning the Cruiserweight Title, which is basically just him sending
Rey into Lodi and rolling him up for the pin. Kaz Hayashi pinned
Lenny in a match against Lodi and that’s enough for the title shot.
Of course these guys couldn’t keep an eye on the Clowns while the
other three fight over the title.
Cruiserweight Title:
Kaz Hayashi vs. Lenny Lane
Lodi
has at least toned it down a bit and is just covered in glitter and
wearing leather pants. It’s amazing how much different Tony is
without Bischoff around as he’s staying on the stories and matches
without saying anything overly stupid. Feeling out process to start
until Lane prances around the ring. Kaz fires off some kicks to the
leg and kicks Lenny in the back to pull him down into a sunset flip
for two. That’s a new one. A nice headscissors sends Lane to the
floor and he jumps into Lodi’s arms in an old standard. Kaz dives
onto both of them and the champ is still in trouble.
Lodi
finally gets something right by tripping Hayashi to give Lane
control. A sitout wheelbarrow slam gets two on Kaz and it’s time to
pose. Lane hits a nice sitout gutwrench powerbomb for two as this
match is actually pretty good so far. Kaz gets back up and sends
Lenny outside for a big flip dive. The advantage is short lived
though as Lodi gets in a cheap shot to give Lenny control again.
We
hit the chinlock with Chris Jericho look-a-like Lenny Lane telling
the referee to ask him. Hayashi escapes a German suplex and gets two
off a standing hurricanrana, only to get bulldogged down for the
same. The champ gets caught in a belly to back and a running Liger
Bomb out of the corner gets two more with Lodi making the save. You
can tell Bischoff is gone as Tony actually knew the name of the move.

Kaz
is crotched on top and you can see the glitter all over his back.
Lenny and Lodi almost collide, allowing Kaz to grab a victory roll
for two more. Lodi’s next attempt at cheating works though as he
snaps Kaz throat first across the top rope, setting up a Skull
Crushing Finale to retain Lenny’s title.
Rating:
C+.
Why do I have a bad feeling we just saw the match of the night? This
was far better than I was expecting, which isn’t saying much as I
didn’t expect anything from this one. It’s a totally acceptable and
at times quite good match with Kaz being a good choice as challenger
of the week to Lane’s title, even though he’s just keeping it warm
until we get to a bigger name to take over as champion.
Here’s
Sting for the pay per view interview before his title shot in the
main event. First up, Luger is on the verge of losing their
friendship forever. Tonight is beyond big for Sting so if Luger
sticks his nose in his business tonight, it’s the same result as it
was last week. I’m assuming he means earlier this week on Monday
when Sting punched him but you can’t expect grown men to remember
things like days of the week. Sting takes the mic and says his ninth
title reign could start tonight because it’s showtime folks. This
really didn’t need to be on pay per view.
We
recap the Revolution vs. the First Family and I still have no idea
why this match is happening.
Shane Douglas/Dean
Malenko vs. Hugh Morrus/Brian Knobbs
No
DQ for reasons that have yet to be explained. Shane says we’re in
Saginaw, Michigan, which to be fair is where they taped Thunder a
mere ten days earlier. It’s a brawl to start, which is what it
should be in a No DQ match. Morrus easily stomps Shane down on the
floor, leaving Dean to beat up both villains on his own. Shane comes
back in to low blow both guys as you can see the fans leaving to go
to the concession stands.
The
First Family poses outside so some baseball slides (baseball grab the
rope and kick for Shane) knock them into the aisle. The announcers
do everything they can to put the First Family over as a major threat
and a good team, even as Malenko and Douglas send them into the
steps. Lots of punching abounds until we settle down to Knobbs vs.
Shane in the ring. Brian gives him the Pit Stop before it’s off to
Malenko to armdrag the legal Morrus. Hugh hammers away in the corner
but charges into Shane’s boots.
Back
to Dean as you can still see about ten seats opposite the hard camera
sitting empty. They head outside with Brian sending Shane into the
barricade but Douglas trips Morrus off the apron to take over. Back
in and Knobbs slams Shane down, only to dive into a raised boot. The
hot tag brings in Dean to clean house as the fans really aren’t
interested. Could it be because he’s beating up some goofs who
should be headlining Saturday Night? Knobbs is sent to the floor
where he trips Dean, allowing Morrus to plant him with a slam,
setting up No Laughing Matter for the pin. It really was that
sudden.
Rating:
G.
As in good grief just close the doors now. I know the big match
coming later that people usually rant about on this show, but this
one is far more absurd. At least with the other one it’s a big name
going over an up and comer. This is putting two young(ish) guys down
for the sake of pushing BRIAN KNOBBS??? To make it even worse, the
First Family would win a total of two more televised matches for the
rest of the year, meaning this didn’t even lead anywhere.
This
comes off as more of a political move than anything else, as WCW can
now say the fans aren’t behind the Revolution because fans rarely
cheer teams that lose completely clean to low level tag teams on pay
per view. “See? The fans don’t like them so there’s no point in
pushing them. Maybe they can put over the Rednecks again so we can
laugh at those southern idiots cheering a couple of cowboys.” The
No DQ stuff didn’t mean anything else as they were only on the floor
in the first part of the match.
I
watched this match out of context a few years back and I was more
angry than anything else. Watching it again, with all the Nitros and
Thunders to give it context, it’s more sad now. Somehow seeing these
two jugheads beat the team that should be helping bring WCW into the
new generation doesn’t surprise me. It’s something that makes sense
for WCW and makes me wonder how Dean and company managed to stay as
long as they did. That’s sad.
Tony
immediately brings up Saturn being wrong about guaranteeing a sweep
tonight, just to emphasize that the Revolution is a bunch of losers.
We recap Saturn vs.
Steiner which is little more than old vs. new for old’s TV Title,
which he’s already said is worthless and doesn’t even carry with him.
TV
Title: Perry Saturn vs. Rick Steiner
As
usual, the announcers talk about Scott Steiner like he’s here every
week even though he hasn’t been seen in about four months. Steiner
immediately takes Saturn down and hits him in the face as we’re told
that Buff Bagwell hasn’t arrived yet so there will be a replacement
for his match with Berlyn.
Saturn
speeds things up with a superkick and spinning springboard legdrop to
send the champ outside, setting up a nice suicide dive. The fans
aren’t reacting to these moves but they’re nice at least. Back in
and a release German gets two on the champ but he kicks Saturn
between the legs (thankfully the referee wasn’t looking for a change)
to take over. Tenay talks about Mark Curtis passing away and you can
tell the announcers really cared for him.
Saturn
is sent outside and into the steps, followed by an exposed DDT on the
concrete. Now in 1986, that started a big house show feud between
Jake Roberts and Ricky Steamboat. Here, it doesn’t keep Saturn off
his feet for thirty seconds. Steiner hits a good looking release
German for two and we hit the reverse chinlock to keep the crowd
comatose. Now it’s a kneeling half crab, making Saturn slap the mat
to get the crowd fired up, which isn’t tapping out because of…..uh,
reasons.
Steiner
clearly isn’t even pulling back on the hold to make this an even
bigger laughingstock. Thankfully Saturn doesn’t bother to sell it
and hits a middle rope dropkick and a modified t-bone suplex for two
of his own. The Death Valley Driver gets the same to make it clear
that Steiner is retaining. He rams Saturn stomach first into the
buckle but gets crotched on top. It’s more false hope though as
Steiner shoves him off the ropes and hits the bulldog to retain.
Rating:
D.
Saturn was trying but you can’t out work stupid booking. I have no
idea who thought keeping the title on Steiner was a good idea at this
point but they must have had a lot of stroke. The TV Title isn’t
going to make it to the middle of April (and would be gone for about
two and a half months in between) and it’s this reign that killed it.
The matches haven’t been good (his opponents’ halves have been
watchable but that’s about it) and the fans just do not react to him.
Plus there was that time when he said the title was worthless. Why
keep the title around if there’s nothing to it?
Tony keeps piling on
the Revolution and makes it worse by bringing up Goldberg beating
Steiner last month, just to emphasize how many people there are that
are better than Saturn.
Hogan
is sick of the wrestlers questioning him. He’s promised his kids
that he will not stab Sting in the back because he would have done it
a long time ago. Tonight, he’s taking care of Sting and he’ll take
care of Luger later. Ignore the WE WANT FLAIR chants during this
segment because Flair isn’t a draw, especially in the Carolinas.
The announcers
speculate about Hogan being worried. They really picked now to kill
time after three straight heel wins?
Berlyn vs. ???
Berlyn
has a big bodyguard with him meaning the horrible blonde interpreter
seems to be gone. The replacement opponent……Jim Duggan. Berlyn
jumps him before the bell but a dropkick doesn’t put Duggan down.
Some clotheslines send Berlyn over the top and out to the floor for a
USA chant. After some stalling, an atomic drop sends Berlyn into the
corner as it’s almost all Duggan.
Berlyn kicks him in the
ribs and grabs a headlock before Jim no sells a European uppercut.
An eye poke finally slows him down and we hit the chinlock to kill
whatever momentum they were getting. Duggan fights up and drives
some shoulders into the ribs before they hit the mat for something
resembling a wrestling sequence, which is somehow even worse than you
would expect. Now they just stand there and look at each other until
Berlyn hooks the worst snapmare this side of Dusty vs. Flair at
Starrcade 1985.
We hit another chinlock
as Heenan says this looks like two winos fighting over a bottle on
the sidewalk. Bobby gets in an easy set of jokes about a hair
takedown (“Is that German? When I’m over there it’s Herr Heenan
and Okerlund is still Herr less.”) as they head outside for the yet
to be named Wall to run Duggan over with a clothesline. Back in and
they finally end this mess with Berlyn hitting a sitdown neckbreaker,
which Duggan sells by falling backwards onto him.
Rating:
F.
As much as I’d love to blast Berlyn, this was almost all on Duggan.
He wouldn’t sell and spent most of the match making goofy faces
instead of doing anything productive. The announcers were more into
the bodyguard than the match, but can you blame them after this mess?
This was pretty much it for Berlyn as he wouldn’t recover from this
mess. I feel bad for him as this is the second time this happened to
Wright. You might remember SuperBrawl V in 1995, where Paul Roma
basically did the exact same thing. That’s some horrible luck.
We
cut to the back to see Buff Bagwell who says he can be ready in two
minutes but agent Mike Graham says the format has already been
changed. Buff hits the ring but Duggan is mad at him. From what I
can find, Bagwell didn’t want to do the job so they sent Duggan out
there instead. As unprofessional as that is, can you blame Bagwell?
He was supposed to get this big push and then Piper wouldn’t put him
over in a wrestling match and Bagwell’s push was gone, so now he’s
supposed to job to Alex Wright in a gimmick that has already bombed?
As usual, WCW seems to be a huge mess behind and in front of the
camera.
Quick
recap of the Tag Team Title feud. The Rednecks cheated to win the
belts and Harlem Heat wants their rematch. After all this mess
tonight, a simple story like that sounds great.
Tag Team Titles:
Harlem Heat vs. West Texas Rednecks
Kendall
Windham in a spot this big doesn’t sound good however. Curly Bill
isn’t here, which is probably best for everyone involved. Curt
however is here with the cowbell. Heenan brings up the Steiners as
the most dominant tag team of all time (because where would we be
without praising them in 1999?) and Tony says they were the best team
of the 1980s, despite wrestling for a year at most in that decade.
After
a brawl to start it’s Booker kicking Kendall down before Barry comes
in and getting double suplexed. There’s a big boot to Barry’s face
as the crowd is trying to get into this for some reason. Then the
tag brings in Kendall and the fans go right back down, which WCW
never seemed to learn. Stevie stares at Kendall for trying to punch
him but a right hand from Barry puts him down. Barry just looks
horribly out of shape and it’s a very good thing that he’s wrestling
in a t-shirt.
Curt
doesn’t seem to be paying attention as a double clothesline gets two
on Stevie. Ray powerslams him down and it’s off to Kendall vs.
Booker with T. taking over with the usual kicks. Hennig gets on the
apron but Booker kicks Kendall down again, sending all three Rednecks
to the floor. Booker follows them out and gets beaten up as Stevie
is too slow getting over for the save.
Back
in and Booker shrugs off Kendall’s lame offense and hits the ax kick,
only to have Barry clothesline him down. Hennig gets in some cheap
shots as Stevie gets held back by the referee. Barry’s superplex
gets two with Stevie finally getting the timing right on the save.
The spinning sunset flip out of the corner gets two for Booker as
this match just keeps going. The referee doesn’t see the tag to
Stevie and the Rednecks cheat even more.
Kendall
gets two off a middle rope clothesline and Stevie doesn’t even have
to move from the apron to make the save. They redo the missed tag
spot but this time Stevie just beats the Windhams up anyway.
Everything breaks down and Curt hits Stevie with the cowbell but the
referee doesn’t see the cover. Booker comes in off the top with the
missile dropkick to give the Heat the belts back.
Rating:
D.
And that’s being generous because I’ve failed a lot of matches
tonight. This was so boring as it went on about five minutes longer
than it should have and didn’t get anywhere. Harlem Heat getting the
belts back is definitely the right move, but we’re right back where
we were after Road Wild went off the air. This show is long past the
point of saving and this didn’t help things. It doesn’t help that
this is the sixth match and the second won by good guys. Side note:
this is the eleventh title change of the year (counting vacations)
and we’re eight and a half months into the year. There would be
eight more coming.
We
recap the Sid Vicious Streak and Benoit challenging him because
that’s what a good, young wrestler does. Sid even called Benoit the
only member of the Revolution that stood out. Here’s his reward for
impressing Sid.
US Title: Sid
Vicious vs. Chris Benoit
I
love how the announcers just talk about Sid’s streak like it’s legit
and the same as Goldberg’s, even after showing us how he got there.
Tenay brings up the disaster that was the battle royal competition on
Monday to get things going. We start with the stalling as referee
Charles Robinson is accused of being a Sid cheerleader. Sid shoves
Benoit down and stops to yell at the fans. Tony: “That was a big
moment for Sid.” Sid knocks him to the floor with a shoulder as
the announcers are already treating this like a mismatch.
Back
in and Sid hammers away before choking on the ropes. A dragon screw
leg whip puts Sid down and Benoit starts working on the knee like a
smart wrestler would. An Indian deathlock makes Sid scream as the
empty seats are showing up again. The fans chant for Goldberg as Sid
gets back up and kicks at Benoit in the corner. A running boot
misses but confirms that Sid isn’t interested in selling the knee.
Benoit wraps the knee around the post and crushes them between the
post and steps (Tony: “HOLY CHRISTMAS!”) twice in a row.
Sid
is thrown back inside and easily catches Benoit’s top rope cross
body, even lifting up his good knee to drive into Benoit’s back,
meaning he’s holding Benoit up on the bad leg alone thirty seconds
after Benoit crushed it against the post. All hope is lost. Benoit
muscles him over with a German but Sid pops up and hits a Samoan drop
to counter a crucifix attempt. A cobra clutch puts Benoit down again
and we hit the chinlock (with Sid’s hands around Benoit’s face and no
pressure on the back because Sid CAN’T EVEN DO A CHINLOCK PROPERLY)
because all this no selling has made Sid tired.
Benoit
fights up and tries a sunset flip but Sid just sits on him to stop
any comeback attempt. Another dropkick to the knee puts Sid down and
there’s the Crossface. Sid SLAPS THE MAT but it’s hitting the mat in
disgust instead of tapping. My goodness this is killing my soul.
Sid of course gets to stand up and break the hold but is nice enough
to fall back down with his foot in the ropes. Not that it matters as
Sid avoids the Swan Dive and powerbombs Benoit for the pin and the
title.
Rating:
S.
For Screw You WCW. Seriously screw you. Benoit was doing everything
he could out there to tell a story by going after the knee and trying
to break Sid down but Sid just gets up and does whatever he wants
because WCW is run by a bunch of incompetent morons. It’s even a
theme tonight.
The
Clowns get on the show because they’re famous (to a niche group of
fans of course but when has that ever stopped WCW?) and WCW sends out
its talented guys to baby sit them. The First Family gets to beat
Malenko and Douglas completely clean because well why not. Then Rick
Steiner gets to keep his title because they haven’t buried that thing
enough yet. Bagwell, who is a veteran at this point as he’s been in
WCW for over eight years, doesn’t feel like losing so we have to
watch Duggan be a disaster (and likely not get punished for no
selling) and then see Bagwell do a run-in anyway, meaning he likely
got a PPV pay day.
Then
the Windhams still have jobs despite Barry not being in good enough
shape to wrestle without a t-shirt on (which is too small and we can
still see his huge gut). Then there’s this mess, which results in
Benoit being pushed down the card and Sid getting the biggest push he
ever had in WCW because they can’t get any worse than this right?
I’m so glad Benoit and company would be gone soon because no one who
works hard even at all deserves to go through this.
And
just to top it off. Tony: “He earned win #80 here.” Again, make
sure you emphasize that the Revolution is just not good enough in
case someone thinks otherwise.
We recap Page vs.
Goldberg, which is basically Goldberg destroying the Triad to give
him something to do before the big showdown with Sid.
Goldberg vs. Diamond
Dallas Page
Tenay
brings up the Halloween Havoc match from last year before admitting
that it’s a completely different Page now. We get an old school
weapons check….and the referee finds a chain. And a roll of coins!
That right there is the only funny thing we’re going to see all
night. Goldberg slugs Page to the floor and the stalling is already
on. Back in and Page gets caught in a headlock before getting shoved
into the corner a few times.
A shoulder sends Page
back outside where he threatens to leave if the Goldberg chants don’t
stop. They head into the crowd with Goldberg getting the better of
it, as if you would expect anything else. Back in and the Diamond
Cutter is countered into a powerslam. Page shoves the referee down
and kicks Goldberg low before pulling out a third weapon to knock
Goldberg silly. We hit the standard heel slowdown offense as Page
hits him with the object again. Thankfully the referee wasn’t
looking for no apparent reason.
Off to the chinlock as
this torture continues. Goldberg Hulks Up but gets caught in a bad
looking float over DDT for two. Page tries a spear but gets suplexed
down for two as the Triad is here. Kanyon breaks something over the
back of Goldberg’s head (drawing blood from the neck) and setting up
a left armed Rock Bottom from Page for two more. Not that it matters
as the spear and Jackhammer finish Page with ease.
Rating:
D.
One of the best matches of the night here despite being an exercise
in how long can we stay in Memphis before Page comes back and pins
Page. DDP was not working as a heel here with most of his heat
coming from Yo Mama jokes and then bad matches following. Nothing to
see here as the match was never once in doubt, especially with Sid
looming (and still not selling anything as he waits).
We recap Hogan vs.
Sting, which again is over trust or some nonsense like that involving
the Hummer, because that thing just won’t die.
WCW World Title:
Hulk Hogan vs. Sting
Buffer
says Sting has no affiliation. Hogan doesn’t really either does he?
Before the bell, here’s Bret Hart (Buffer: “Only to pass on his
offer of good luck for both men. He’s from the First Family of
wrestling.” Please, no more First Family tonight. They’ve done
enough.” Bret leaves without incident and I’m sure we won’t see
him again. They shove each other around to start and exchange pokes
in the chest. Hogan works on a wristlock before taking Sting down
for something like an STF without the legs being tied together.
Great. I have to put up with 15 minutes of Hulk Thesz tonight.
Hogan
yells at some fans for some reason before driving knees to the ribs
in the corner. You can see even more empty seats near the back of
the arena and it’s hard to argue at this point. Sting actually hits
the big jumping elbow drop for two and it’s off to the test of
strength. Hogan kicks him in the ribs (called a knee by Tony) but
Sting no sells a suplex. Oh no he’s been watching Sid tapes.
They
fight to the floor with Hogan talking about it being for the World
Title and choking with a cord. He’s definitely wrestling as
Hollywood tonight. Back in and a belly to back suplex gets two on
Sting and we hit another chinlock. Off to an abdominal stretch as
Hogan’s dominance continues. Right hands in the corner have Sting in
even more trouble and we’re just waiting on the interference.
Sting
gets two of his own off a cross body and hits two Stinger Splashes
but misses the third. It’s already Hulk Up time and the big boot
clearly doesn’t make contact. Cue DDP to nail the referee as the
legdrop connects. A Diamond Cutter puts Hogan down and Sting is put
on top but Hogan kicks out at two. That’s a Diamond Cutter for the
referee and another Hulk Up.
Now
Hart comes back in to take out Page but Sid comes out as well, only
to take the big boot to the shoulder (which he sells more than all of
Benoit’s offense combined because of course he does). Luger comes in
but drops the bat he was carrying, allowing Sting to nail Hogan
(drawing the pop of the night), setting up the Deathlock on the
unconscious Hogan for the title.
Rating:
D.
You have to be a really, REALLY stupid company to turn Sting heel but
they somehow did it. This wasn’t the worst main event ever, but they
clearly didn’t have any way to make someone lose here so they went
with the big mess instead. I can live with that and the match wasn’t
completely horrible, but again, they’re trying to turn Sting heel and
as anyone who has watched wrestling for more than 18 seconds can tell
you, that is never going to work.
Luger
and Sting celebrate as Heenan is thrilled with Hogan getting stabbed
in the back to end the show.
Overall
Rating:
Agoobwa.
The level of failure this show hits is beyond words. They have
somehow managed to do almost every possible thing wrong on a single
show and somehow made it even worse. I’m thinking of the good things
on this show and it’s a very short list: Kaz vs. Lane was match of
the night by about ten miles, Page having weapons on him was a funny
bit, and…..someone help me out here. What else was good on this
show?
It
takes a very special kind of show for me to get mad fifteen years
after it aired when I already know the results. Somehow this show
did it as it took me all day to make myself sit through this mess.
WCW managing to stick around as long as they did is astounding to me
as there is no reason to stick around after watching something like
this.
This
is being written six days after the 2015 Royal Rumble, which made a
lot of people say WWE was a disaster. Whenever you get annoyed at
WWE, go back and watch some late 1999 WCW and your perspective will
change. WWE today is light years ahead of this as you can at least
get more than one good match and there’s an actual story (albeit
somewhat misguided) in the main event. This show consistently goes
against every possible thing people could want to see and seems to
encourage its veterans to screw up and destroy the future.
I
can’t believe I’m saying this, but this is actually worse than Heroes
of Wrestling, which aired about a month after this. Yeah Heroes of
Wrestling is a disaster, but it’s a disaster in a way that you can
laugh at it. This show on the other hand felt more cruel than
anything else. It felt like they were trying to be as stupid and
short sighted as they could while taking the fans’ money at the same
time. WCW has officially hit rock bottom and things can only get
better with Russo. I mean that literally. I cannon imagine things
actually getting worse than this.

Remember to check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and head over to my Amazon author page with wrestling books for under $4 at:

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Hall/e/B00E6282W6

The Rise and Fall of Kurt Angle


Hey, Scott.

I grew up watching wrestling but was super into it during the Attitude Era. I came to love Kurt Angle and then missed the era where he and Brock were battling for the title, and I guess his departure. What the heck happened that he burned his WWE bridges for good?

Related, following his entire career and seeing its progression into TNA makes me feel bleh about the whole thing. I remember the stories of him going to see ECW and then being appalled by that whole scene. Flash forward some years and he's allegedly not allowed back to WWE because of drugs and being a health risk due to his neck, I can't help but feel bad for him. 

Granted, I don't know what other stories there are, but I feel like this is just as bad as seeing a wresting go out due to an early heart-attack. He just seems like a guy that you'll read about on TMZ one day and another statistic that the world of pro wrestling totally consumed. 

Kurt was given a choice in 2006 of attending rehab or getting fired, and he chose getting fired.  I think that with all the Wellness changes that resulted from Benoit's death, in particular the more stringent physicals that led to guys like MVP finding undiagnosed issues, Kurt wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway.  Which is why his dreams of returning are probably gonna go unfulfilled.  

WCW Fall Brawl 1996: September 15, 1996

I apologize for falling over a week behind in my recaps – I am on VACATION and ON LOCATION from lovely Cape Cod, Mass. I expected to have time to keep on top of these bad boys, but we’ve been so busy it’s been made impossible.
It’s been a wild few weeks since Hog Wild came to an end. We’ve seen the nWo expand from 3 members, to somewhere between 5 and 7 (depending on whether or not we count DiBiase and Nick Patrick). A mysterious voice lingers and threatens us all as #8. WCW says Glacier debuted, but the only footage that exists seems to be of him posing, which we’ve already seen for 6 months. And speaking of at least 6 months, Scott Norton and Ice Train continue to be prominently featured even though nobody seems to have any interest in their feud. DDP has started a war with the Guerrero family, and may or may not be in bed with Nick Patrick and the nWo. Chip Minton and The Gambler haven’t won matches, and High Voltage has won too many. Konnan discovered the secret door to the Dungeon of Doom, and was not eaten by Braun, which is more than we can say about poor Chad Brock (RIP). Steven Regal won the TV title and was never seen again, everyone’s a traitor, and Chris Cruise is unbearable.
I think we’re up to date.

This is the first one I’ve done via the WWE Network stream – which you can watch along with me.
LIVE from Winston Salem, NC, our hosts are TONY SCHIAVONEBOBBY HEENAN, andDUSTY RHODES. Heenan says the guys in the back are trading bets that tonight is the nWo’s final match. Which means SOMEONE is betting on the nWo, so I’d suggest smoking those guys out and annihilating them. Nobody knows who WCW’s fourth guy is, with Sting having defected to the nWo.
The fans are clad in a sea of nWo shirts. WCW is just printing money at this point.
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE vs. CHAVO GUERRERO JR.
So at the Clash of Champions a month ago, Eddie defeated Page for the Battlebowl ring. Page immediately stole it back, and somehow that’s led to Chavo playing the role of surrogate for Eddie. Which would be fine if he had an ounce of Eddie’s talent or credibility, but this is an awful mismatch that has no business on pay-per-view. Chavo takes Page to the floor, and hits him with a slingshot tope. Page is tossed into the guardrail, and later in the ringsteps. The belt is ripped right off Page’s waist, and Chavo whips him. Heenan correctly points out that Chavo would have been disqualified if Patrick was reffing this thing. Back in the ring, a crossbody block gets 2. Chavo works the arm a little, presumably to prevent the Diamond Cutter. Page makes the ropes, but the useless RANDY ELLERdoesn’t force a break. If it was Nick Patrick, he’d already be eating it from Gene. Page escapes, but Chavo hits an armddrag, and hangs Page in the ropes. He tries a baseball slide dropkick, but Page gets out of the way and finally gets some offense in. Back in, Page hits a top rope clothesline and calls for the Diamond Cutter. Alas, it’s for naught. Chavo manages a small package, but Page wiggles loose and continues his assault. Page pantomimes kicking dirt over Guerrero, and paint brushes him with the boot. Pancake gets 2. Chavo tries to get a little something going, but eats Page’s elbow. Page goes to punt Chavo, but he rolls away and Page does the slip on the banana peel routine. A knee rocks Page, and Chavo follows with a springboard clothesline. Missile dropkick gets 2. Chavo goes back, and this time hits the super headscissors, but Page escapes at 2. Page blocks a charge with a back elbow, but even with his feet on the ropes he gets 2. Page launches Chavo so hard that he clears both top ropes and they find themselves in the second ring, drawing a loud pop. Chavo comes back with a rana, and a schoolboy gets 2. Page fires back with a 360 Powerbomb, again to a LOUD pop. He signals for the Diamond Cutter, and the fans are completely eating him up. Lo and behold, he delivers, and scores the pin at 13:07. It seems absolutely unbelievable how much Page has improved in just the last 6 months alone (because lord knows, I had to watch those matches 6 months ago), and even more unbelievably, the fans have noticed. Stardom is calling, Mr. Page. **1/2
Gene issues a special report, recapping the entire nWo saga to this point.
SCOTT NORTON vs. ICE TRAIN (with Teddy Long) (in a This Feud May Never Endsubmission match)
Submissions weren’t really common in WCW at this point, and outside of specialists like Benoit and Malenko, most guys used pinfalls. Including these big lugs. So it’s almost laughable that we’ve spent nearly a month using the B and C shows trying to build these guys up as submission gurus, when all they’ve been able to muster are lousy armbreakers. This is literally the most random gimmick they could have slapped on here, this side of a Cole Miner’s Glove match. Train hits his finisher, the big splash, seconds into the match. He goes for a second, but Norton rolls away, and plants him with a DDT. Train comes back, and applies his big finish, the chinlock. Amazingly, Norton doesn’t tap. Tony laments the loss of Fire and Ice in the tag-team division. I’m sure everyone else IN the division misses them too, since they never won any matches! Norton applies a cross armbreaker, and Teddy threatens to throw in the towel, but Eller tells him to get lost, it’s on Ice Train. We’re long before mainstream UFC, but the idea of a 90 second cross armbreaker from a guy with arms like Norton and NOT tapping is something I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around. Not only that, he then slams Norton with EASE, and applies what Tony calls a “Japanese armbar”. It’s basically a normal armbar, but smaller and more efficient. Train tries the big splash AGAIN, but Norton lifts his knees to block. A powerbomb hits, and Norton applies a Boston crab. Train won’t give, so Norton shifts and works the armbar. Teddy jumps on the apron, distracting Norton. Norton goes to kill him, but Train comes in behind with a full nelson, and Norton taps at 7:17. Ironic, because I think this feud has also lasted 7:17 (that being months:days). Is this the end? Do NOT bank on it. *1/2
JUVENTUD GUERRERA vs. KONNAN (with Jimmy Hart) (for the Mexican Vanity title)
MIKE TENAY hits the booth JUST in time to watch Juvi excitedly walk backwards right into the ringsteps and topple over. This could have happened on any one of the syndicated shows and been edited out, but he chose pay-per-view, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Konnan gives Juvi the fist bump of respect, but it’s a trick, and he knees Juvi in the gut. The announcers fail to give the appropriate amount of respect to the Dungeon of Doom for teaching him such treachery, but Tenay DOES launch into a discussion of whether or not WCW tried to Americanize Konnan when he came to WCW. It matters not, because now he represents, cuz la raza represents him. Juvi nails Konnan with a triple springboard full body assault, and follows with a tope to the outside. Konnan ain’t having none of that, and powerbombs him on the floor, causing Jimmy Hart to scream “ARIBA LA RAZA!” I’m loving the fact that the Dungeon of Doom is made up of society’s dredge and weirdos, and that Jimmy Hart assumed that the Mexican guy NOT wearing a mask is clearly enough of a freak to join his gang (and was right). Juvi does a convoluted trip between the two rings, and then even more unbelievably he does a headscissors that propels Konnan over the ropes and back into ring #1. Juvi hasn’t impressed me thus far, he’s trying wayyyy too hard, instead of sticking the lucha basics. Konnan backdrops Juvi over the top, which hangs him over the 2nd ring’s ropes like a wet towel. Konnan works some mat holds, but releases. Juvi tries a springboard moonsault, but gets powerbombed for his trouble. A duplex of German suplexes shake Juvi up, and he takes a powder. Juvi works his way back in with a springboard missile dropkick, and the big legdrop gets 2. Juvi tries to sunset flip powerbomb Konnan off the apron and to the floor, but he blocks with the ropes and dropkicks Juvi. Back in, a double leg dropkick off the top gets 2. The two trade bridges, to no avail. Juvi hits a springboard spinning heel kick for 2. Juvi comes again, but Konnan hits the wheelbarrow suplex that gets a loud reaction. They get tied up in the ropes, giving Juvi the chance to hit a somersault guillotine off the top. He goes to finish with the Firebird splash, but Dusty doesn’t even stop telling his story to acknowledge the move so you know it’s not enough. Konnan blocks something in the corner, and nails the double leg slam, following with a bridge for 2. A super brainbuster gets 2, before Konnan finally finishes with Splash Mountain at 13:45. They tried, lord did they try, but it just never clicked to take it to the next level. It just felt like a bunch of moves instead of a story – something Juvi would get better at in the years to come. ***
CHRIS JERICHO vs. CHRIS BENOIT
Temper your expectations a little, Jericho’s a major wiener at this point and not the shit disturbing d-bag he’d become later on. Benoit gets a loud reception, since the show’s in the heart of Horsemen country. Benoit viciously attacks Jericho, with a nasty hairpull that might have concussed him, and the fans are loving it. Spinebuster is on point, and Benoit applies the Liontamer like a boss. And no, he didn’t steal it – in fact he was the one who taught it to Jericho. Jericho escapes, and turns it around with a dropkick to the back of Benoit’s head. A springboard dropkick sends Benoit to the floor, and he nearly kills himself trying a springboard elbowdrop off the top, tripping mid move and falling headfirst – thankfully blocked by Benoit. Jericho’s unshaken, and heads up to a loud set of boos, and the missile dropkick gets 2. A powerbomb gets 2. The pair start trading violent chops, which Jericho ruins with a spinning heel kick. Benoit comes back with a snap suplex from the apron that sends Jericho to the floor. Jericho is sent face first to the ring post, and Benoit asks him if he wants to be famous? I REALLY recommend he NOT answer yes. Hotshot hangs Jericho out to dry, and a double forearm smash gets 2. Over to the abdominal stretch, which Benoit sells beautifully by turning himself purple while he pulls, and screams “ASK HIM!!!” Scoop slam sets up the swandive, and it’s one of the nicest ones you’ll ever see. Jericho manages the energy to apply a backslide for 2, but Benoit’s up and stomping on him before anything else develops. Benoit goes back to the Liontamer, but this time Jericho rolls forward and holds for 2. Northern Lights suplex from Jericho gets 2! Jericho lays in the chops, and reverses a tombstone attempt from Benoit into one of his own. Lionsault misses, but he lands on his feet and a clothesline gets 2. Top rope frankensteiner gets 2. Jericho goes back up again, but Benoit crotches him and hits a backdrop superplex for the pin at 14:36. Benoit kicks dirt on Jericho’s corpse, and gets a standing ovation. ***1/2
SUPER CALO vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. (for the WCW cruiserweight title)
MIKE TENAY has barely had enough time to reasonably recover from his last Latin experience, but with the ferocity of an 18-year old virile male, he’s ready to go with as much energy as ever. In fact, off the bell he’s already giving us Calo’s personal life story. A very audible fan yells “BOOOOOORRRRRING”, at the same moment Tony declares “this is very impressive!” Calo applies an armbar, because that’s what we want to see with a couple of Cruiserweights. Tenay expects this to be an offensive NBA style match, with non-stop action, but we’re 2 minutes in and literally nothing has happened. Rey finally wakes up with a springboard rana, and Calo hits the deck. Back in, Calo dropkicks Mysterio because we need to slow this baby down. He does hit an impressive powerbomb, using the ropes as a spring for a little extra bounce. Rey is sent to the floor, and Calo hits a dropkick off the top. A scoop slam keeps Mysterio down long enough for Calo to hit a slingshot senton to the floor. Back in, a reverse headscissors off the top gets 2. Mysterio’s arm is jerked off the top, and Calo puts on a short arm scissors. That leads to Dusty talking about the night Pat O’Connor put HIM in a short arm scissors for 30 minutes, and he’s still here to talk about it. That Mysterio WISHES he had half of Dusty’s manly forte. Calo moves on to the inverted surfboard, and drops Mysterio down on his shoulders for 2. Rey hits the floor, holding his arm for dear life. Just thank his lucky stars he didn’t have to face Pat O’Connor, I’ll tell you what. Back in, Mysterio botches a crossbody that was supposed to propel both to the floor, but the referee is there for an assist and pushes Calo over the top for some reason. That gives Mysterio the energy to hit the no-hands over the top rope somersault dick to the face. Back in, Calo dropkicks him in retaliation for the stuffed sausage, and turns his attention to the ever exciting wristlock. Once again Calo jerks the arm over the top rope as he falls to the floor. On the apron, Rey manages to spin out of a wristlock and hits a springboard rana to the floor. Tony calls for a replay, and none ever comes. A second dick to the face has Calo dazed, and back in a springboard sunset flip gets 2. Springboard sky twisting bodyblock gets 2. A rana is hit, with Rey holding the legs on the follow through for 2. Calo misses a dropkick, and Rey finishes with a triple springboard rana for the pin at 15:47. Very impressive finish, and thank god Rey retained because Calo SUCKS and I can’t live in a world where both he AND Ed Ferrara are former champions. I struggle enough with Jacqueline and Madusa. **1/2
THE NASTY BOYS vs. HARLEM HEAT (with Colonel Robert Parker and Sista Sherri) (for the WCW world tag-team titles)
Dear god NO, I can’t take it. Make them ALL go away please. What is it going to take to put the damn belts on the Faces of Fear, and just let them squash jobber losers in under 2 minutes for the next year? Stevie Ray and Jerry Saggs start, because this is hell. This would have been a compelling time to test Booker as a singles star, and it probably could have worked given the right storyline. Have the nWo attempt to recruit Harlem Heat so they can control the tag-team titles, Booker constantly refutes them because they have integrity, but Stevie has other plans and sells out. Booker dispatches of his traitor brother, and hones in on the rest of the nWo playa hatas. In fact, why ISN’T my fantasy booking happening, instead of the bloody CLUBBERIN’ that’s got Dusty in a happy place. Saggs threatens Booker with Pity City, but Sherri saves the day. Saggs offers to hit her with a chair – and I’m talking about a non-folding chair with the big metal legs. You know them from your high school auditorium, they’re bulky and awkward. Speaking of bulky and awkward, Stevie and Knobbs pair off. Stevie hits a bicycle kick, and since he’s now run through his entire moveset, he tags out to Booker. Booker hits the flying jalapeno, and punches Saggs in the face for fun. Saggs rushes in the ring, and in a nice spot, MARK CURTIS dives at Saggs almost with a crossbody block to prevent him from any kind of interference. Somehow a brawl erupts for a second, leading to Saggs chasing Sherri around, but nothing comes of it and everything goes back to a regular match. Booker is all smiles when he hits a double teamed second rope karate chop, but it doesn’t last when he misses the Harlem sidekick and crushes his beans. Saggs gets the hot tag, and bulldogs Booker. Stevie takes an avalanche, and gets dumped. Saggs calls for the finish, but Sherri re-appears and this time Saggs pulls her in by the hair. Booker tries to save, but Saggs rolls him up for 2, as Sherri skates away. A spike piledriver gets 2, saved by Stevie. Knobbs is all over him, but Curtis holds him back. Saggs heads up, but the Colonel trips him up with the cane and Saggs goes splat. Booker goes for an easy pin, but Saggs kicks out at 2. Axe kick knocks Saggs to the floor, where Stevie and Sherri work him over. Parker even gets in a kick, a rarity! Stevie can’t score the pin though, but Knobbs keeps trying to get involved allowing Booker to stomp his partner behind the referee’s back. Saggs manages to hit a double face slam on both members of Heat, and Knobbs gets the tag to a big pop. Clotheslines for everyone. Heenan calls Knobbs “fresh” before realizing the irony of his statement, as Knobbs hits a big splash on Booker for 2. Avalanche knocks Booker down, and Knobbs heads up while Saggs holds Booker hostage. The Colonel distracts, hands his cane to Sherri who breaks it over Knobbs, and Booker steals the pin at 15:31. And then somehow EVERYONE spontaneously combusted, and were NEVER seen again. **
In the back, a glowing MIKE TENAY interviews RANDY SAVAGE, who appears to be neither Mexican, nor a recent visitor to Mexico. Savage promises to hit a grand slam tonight against the Giant, setting himself up to rip Hogan’s black heart out of his chest at Halloween Havoc. Black heart? Is Hogan a smoker? Is he suffering from some sort of artery blockage? Is Savage looking out for his buddy’s best interests by removing the obviously damaged organ? Tenay does NOT ask any of this, instead opting to send Savage to the ring.
RANDY SAVAGE vs. THE GIANT
NICK PATRICK has been assigned to this which would seem to be a conflict of interest, but apparently the WCW brass have been blessed with coleslaw for brains. Giant enters to the Dungeon of Doom theme initially because apparently nobody told production that Giant left them last week. Someone eventually tips them off, right as Savage blasts him with a knee to the face. The camera spends an inordinate amount of time focusing on Giant’s tight tights, and while I’m not sure what goes on in the WCW Powerplant, I can tell you Giant definitely understands the small package. Savage hits the floor, and Giant flattens him with a crossbody block(!!!!). Who IS this man, and why is he letting the plodding Big Show wrestle in the WWE if HE exists? Giant hits a backbreaker, and holds his knee in place to torture Savage a little more. The fans are really in to this, as displayed by everyone’s eyes watching the entrance ramp for anyone. Giant applies a Boston crab, which is very exciting for the handful of fans watching the ring. Savage escapes and bites Giant in the eye. That’s followed with god knows what off the top, because Giant catches him in a bearhug and slams him with ease. A kneedrop misses, and Giant tries to walk it off but that’s enough to let Savage on his feet. He attacks the knee instantly, and goes up a second time. This time it’s a super faceplant, but Giant throws him off at 2 with enough force to send Savage about 5 feet in the air. Savage is all adrenaline now though, and slams the big man to a MASSIVE pop. That draws out HOLLYWOOD HOGAN just as Savage drops an elbow, and Savage chases him to the back where THE OUTSIDERS are waiting. Nash blasts him with a chair, and all 3 men work him over, while Nick Patrick misses the entire thing because he’s busy sharing his recipe for fall lentil soup with The Giant. Savage is rolled back in for the easy pin at 7:47. The fans were way into this during the hot points, which sometimes is enough to pull the rating up a little. Not a lot, mind you. **
MIKE TENAY is with RIC FLAIRARN ANDERSONLEX LUGERWOMAN, and ELIZBETH. Tenay wants to know who the 4th man for WCW is? Flair simply promises that WCW is going to kick ass. Arn says that he’s lost a partner, Luger lost a friend, and WCW lost an icon. But that draws in STING, and everyone’s fists go up. Sting says it wasn’t him on Monday night. Luger says he looked him right in the face on Monday in that parking lot, and doesn’t believe him. Sting says if he can’t believe him, he’ll prove it later.
You know what would have helped? Sting explaining where he has been for the last 6 days while everyone sat around feeling depressed about his actions. “It wasn’t me.” That’s weak. I used that excuse when my mother asked why my brother was crying, when I was 4.
TEAM NWO vs. TEAM WCW (in a Wargames match)
MICHAEL BUFFER does the ring introductions, and explains the rules which are the same as any other year. SCOTT HALL starts for the nWo with TED DIBIASE in tow to hang around ringside. ARN ANDERSON is out for the Horsemen as usual. NICK PATRICKis the assigned referee. Arn is fired up, and even Dusty can’t believe a day has come where he’s rooting for Anderson. Arn works over Hall’s leg for a bit, before Hall crawls to the safety of the second ring. He lures Anderson over, and beats him down. Arn comes back with a sleeper hold, but Hall escapes, so Anderson plants him with a spinebuster. Shock of all shocks though, the nWo won the coin toss, and KEVIN NASH is in now. Arn is waiting, but the double team is too much and he eats a big boot. Together the Outsiders launch Arn face first into the cage. Snake eyes has Arn doing the drunken stumble, and Hall tries to decapitate him with a clothesline. LEX LUGER is WCW’s second man in, and he hits both members of the Outsiders with a clothesline! Individually, Luger dishes more clotheslines out, and the fans are thrilled to see him. Luger uses Hall as a battering ram against a couple of sides of the cage, but Nash saves. Arn has managed to get back on his feet, and he sends Nash face first into the mesh.HOLLYWOOD HOGAN makes his way in now, and Luger is on him like a dog on meat. Arn joins in, and the fans are electric! The Outsiders are still around though, and they break up the party. Hogan slams Luger and starts dropping elbows, while the fans chant “WE WANT FLAIR” at the top of their lungs. WCW delivers, as RIC FLAIRhits the ring and demands a piece of Hogan. Heenan announces he’s not sure if Hogan can beat Flair, which would ignore the last 2-years worth of proof that says otherwise. Flair’s got brass knuckles on, and starts knocking out nWo members left and right. It’s a Horsemen party, at least until STING hits the ring on behalf of the nWo. Sting hits all his trademark stuff, though those watching closely might notice something’s off. In fact, some fans in attendance do, and start chanting “WE WANT STING!” Hogan hits Flair with the big leg drop. Sting hits the Stinger splash on all 3 members of the Horsemen, and beats his chest like a gorilla. Finally, WCW’s final guy is in, and … it’s STING? He walks right up to the obvious imposter now, and hits the bulldog. Everyone in the nWo starts eating it, courtesy of the real deal. Legitimate Stinger splashes are gifts for every one of them. Luger apologizes, but Sting asks “is that good enough for you? Is that proof enough?”, and walks away. Luger is heart-broken for the second time in a week, allowing Hogan the chance to hit the leg drop and bite his nose. The fake Sting puts Luger in the Deathlock, while Hogan applies a front facelock. Nick Patrick orders the bell, and the nWo wins via submission at 18:15. The match itself wasn’t great, but kicking off one of the greatest angles of the 90’s makes it all worth it. **1/2
Luger tries crawling to the back, calling for Sting’s help, but the nWo continues to work him over in the aisle. Flair and Anderson get back involved, with Flair giving a particularly nice ball-shot to Nash that makes me smile. RANDY SAVAGEappears out of nowhere now, pulling Hogan back to the ring area. However, THE GIANT is right behind, and Savage succumbs to the numbers, eating a Chokeslam.ELIZABETH rushes down as Hogan pulls out the spray paint, and Heenan starts announcing she’s with the nWo. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case, because she throws herself on Savage to protect him, and Hogan spray paints her with the nWo colors. Hogan asks for the stick, and calls Liz and Savage losers. Hogan says they promised to be together until death parts them, and he offers to make that a reality tonight. As usual, he’s a liar, and simply spits on them instead. They’re wayyyy early on PPV time, so to give the fans at home their money’s worth, we spend eons just hanging around the ring while the nWo poses. Eventually, after The Giant gives away one more Chokeslam, things are turned over to the announcers to waste another 5 minutes or so. Nothing of interest in mentioned, so we’ll wrap here.
Lots of questions as we head into Nitro tomorrow, and for a change, that’s a good thing.

September Classics: Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson – Fall Brawl ’95

Well, since some of us mentioned it earlier this week when I posted the Pillman-Johnny B. Badd match, Fall Brawl ’95 was also highlighted by a very good match between longtime Horsemen stablemates Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Of course, this angle all led to Sting looking like an idiot. Brian Pillman makes his heel turn here, then the three join forces with some fourth guy named Benoyte to reform the stable.


Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson 9/17/95 by HookLineSinker4

The “Rise” and Fall of TNA (Part 2)

First, I am sorry that
this took longer than planned. Secondly, I used to be a big fan of TNA. I
started watching their product in late 2004 and became a regular watcher by
2005. The company was making strides. In fact, it made some of the biggest
strides I have ever seen a young wrestling company make. And the future for the
company looked to be even brighter. However, Dixie
Carter became obsessed with the stars of the past and the cancerous Vince
Russo. She loved him so much that she made excuses for him instead of fixing
the problems that fans were complaining about. TNA also became more concerned
at looking for lost wrestling fans than pleasing their hardcore fans. It
is honestly sad that Carter allowed self-indulgent famous employees from
the past to ruin her company. It is even sadder that she allowed them to.


Chris Harris had two great matches with James Storm and then a
star-in-the-making performance in the King of the Mountain match, so he faced Christian
Cage at Victory Road ‘07. He went toe-to-toe with The Instant Classic and
looked like he belonged. Dustin Rhodes, who had not been in the company in
years, cost Harris the match. They wrestled each other at Hardcore Justice,
where Dustin Rhodes debuted his new gimmick Black Reign (which was essentially
Evil Goldust). An overweight man with a silly gimmick beat the living shit out of
him. A bunch of X-Division wrestler had to run into the ring to stop him, and Sonjay
Dutt was spotted laughing at how ridiculous this entire thing was.

They wrestled again at the next PPV. Harris got a quick roll up victory
over Black Reigns, but he was, yet again, a victim of a beatdown. Harris was also
dumb enough to handcuff Reigns  to the
ropes and walk away forgetting that Reigns had the key. It is bad enough to
make the heel look smarter than the face; it is even worse to make the babyface
look like a complete idiot. Harris had to sell for a rat that Reigns put on his
face. Don West screamed and uttered out a ton of hyperbole about how horrifying
it was. Backstage, Harris began complaining about the way he was being used on TV, so Russo gave him a gimmick where he would just complain and whine. Shortly
after, he was released from the company.
TNA’s eyes were set on Bound for Glory 07, their Wrestlemania show. These
were the following main matches for the card:
(1) Jay Lethal was set defend the X-Division title against Chris
Daniels, although they hardly did anything to hype this up. The X-division
champion was too busy being beat up by Team 3D
(2) They brought back Reverse Battle Royal, even though the Observer
called it the worst match of the year of 2006.
(3) 10 years after anyone cared, the Steiner Brothers were booked to
face Team 3D in a Tables Match.

(4) They decided to debut the Knockout’s title in an Over-the-Top Battle
Royal that would crown the new champion, despite there being a Battle Royal
already on the show.
(5) The TNA Tag Champions Pacman Jones and R-Truth defended their titles
against Tomko and AJ Styles. The champions were not over and Pac Man was unable
to do anything physical, yet held the titles for longer than two whole months. They
elevated the titles’ credibility just as much as David Arquette elevated the
WCW title’s credibility. No real build for this either.
(6) The main event was Sting vs. Kurt Angle, and their storyline was an
unbelievably convoluted mess. Sting filed a restraining order against Karen,
disallowing her to come 50 feet near him. Angle then wanted to bring out Sting’s
mean streak in order to get the very best out of him. This was despite Angle being a
chicken shit heel that relied on Karen’s interference to win most of his title matches in the past.
He made Sting mad by attacking his son after the kid’s football practice. Sting and Angle’s “heated”
match began with wrestling holds and exchanges. Not once did it ever seem
like they hated each other, and Karen interfered in it anyways. Sting won
the title, yet dropped it back to Angle the next week on Impact.
Bound for Glory was, as a whole, a disappointing show. Two positive
things came out of it, though. Samoa Joe and Christian had their blow off match
that made Joe come out looking like the monster he once was and the birth of
the Knockout’s Division.
The Knockout Division became the strong suit of the company, with Dutch
Mantell as its
 booker and Scott D’Amore as its road agent. Gail Kim and Awesome
Kong had a series of matches that were very good and put the division on the
map. The Knockout’s title had more credibility than anything else did in TNA due
its logical booking and great matches. That was until Russo got his hands on
the division. The division has never been the same since then.
TNA changed its motto from “We Are Wrestling” to “Cross the Line”, though
the meaning was never explained. To understand the storylines and characters’
developments, one had to snort a few lines, though. Russo started to inaugurate
in “shades of gray” booking, resulting in too many poorly defined heels and
babyfaces. Or so we thought…
 A script of an Impact episode leaked online. It showed whether the wrestlers were faces or heels, meaning that Russo
was not using shades of gray booking. He was instead improperly accentuating the good and
evils parts of the characters. The script leaking was a blessing in
disguise for those that were confused about the wrestlers’ roles, though. Also: the words “to the back!” made every TNA viewer cringe. Instantly
after every match, the show would go to segment or promo that was happening in the back. They were mainly something ludicrous or purposeless. Due to how fast the cameras would go to the back, it made big moments, like a title or big win, seem pointless.
Team 3D and Johnny Devine wanted to demolish the X-Division and thus kept beating
up all the X-Division wrestlers. Therefore, the Motor City Machine Guns and Jay Lethal
decided to step up and fight for the division. Team 3D and Devine dominated
most of feud, but at least the X-Division wrestlers won the blow-off match. In it, Lethal came out looking like a superstar by overcoming a
three-on-one deficit in a hard-fought battle. Despite his popularity and momentum, the company barely did anything interesting with him afterwards.
 A few months later, he lost the title when Petey Williams cashed
his “Feast or Fired” briefcase on him. He never got revenge on Williams, as he was
too busy proposing to So Cal Val.  Also,
the MCMGs did not gain much from the big win either. In spite of them being great in the ring and being immensly popular, the company was too busy being mad at them for not wanting to blade. The angle was supposed to
help the X-Division. In hindsight, it did nothing for it at all.
For Lockdown ’08, the company built up Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle in a no-nonsense type of
way, and the build was excellent and refreshing. It placed a heavy emphasis on the
psychology things such as preparation, strategies, and the wrestlers’ strengths
and weaknesses. The whole PPV was being built up as a big change in the direction of the company. 
It ended up being the same old Russo drivel, though. The show had 46 wrestlers on it, a reversed cage battle royal thingy, a tag match with 8 teams where a wrestler had to be cuffed to a cage if they were pinned, and BG James vs. Kip James. Although, Samoa Joe finally won
the TNA belt, and the PPV did one of TNA’s biggest buyrates ever. However, Joe was barely the focal point of the company and was not
allowed to beat the main eventers without some sort of bogus finish.
Two weeks later, Kurt and Karen Angle renewed their vows
on Impact. Joe and Nash crashed the ceremony, though. They attacked
Angle and stripped him down to his polka dot underwear. The minister took a
bump that made him disordered. AJ Styles helped Karen Angle up and then the confused
minister pronounced them husband and wife. Angle, in his underwear, looked on confused. Styles then took Karen on a honeymoon to Gatorland the next week. He told her that every day would be a honeymoon if he truly were married to her .Only Russo would build to an Angle vs. AJ Styles dream match in this sort of way.

They both had two very good matches at Slammiversary and Hardcore
Justice, although, to no surprise, the finishes were overbooked. The first one had
Karen Angle interfere and the second one was a total mess. Angle was placed on a stretcher because of his injured neck. Styles then after attacked his neck on the stretcher. Randomly, Sting hit the Deathdrop on Styles as he walking up the entranceway. 
Angle and AJ had a Ladder
Match a week later on impact for Angle’s Gold Metal. AJ won from the lights
going out and Jarrett’s music playing. Just to recap, the babyface tried to steal the heel’s wife, attacked his possible broken neck, and then took his gold metals from him in a cheap way.
Frank Trigg was hired by the company to hang around with Angle. At
No Surrender ’08, he faced Styles in a faux MMA match that ended in a DQ.
It was mind numbingly bad and the crowd turned on it by shouting “We Want
Wrestling”, “Boring”, and “Fire Russo”. To make matters worse, the PPV feed cut
to a porno movie during the match. Nobody ever apologized for it.
In spite of being built up as a beast, Joe continued to be booked
poorly as one. He won his King of the Mountain match because Nash helped him win by Jackknifing
Booker off the ladder. It set up a feud with him and Booker
T, as the whole buildup was about no one thinking Joe could beat him. Meanwhile,TNA ran house shows that had Booker T vs. Samoa Joe main event them. To no surprise, Joe pinned Booker T in most of them – negating the entire storyline.
Joe snapped and went crazy on Booker T at their Victory Road match, reestablishing his mean
streak. Sting came out to tell Joe he has gone too far and then proceeded to beat him up
with his baseball bat ( making Joe’s beatdown on Booker almost pointless). Booker T walked out
with the TNA championship, and Tenay screamed “How can Booker T be champion!?”
The whole thing was convoluted, and it set up the contrived angle where the heel wrestler carries the title around like he’s the champion.
At Hard Justice, Joe faced Booker in a Six Sides of Steel
Weapons match to blow off the feud. Of course, Joe could not go over a
former WWE wrestler clean, so the lights went out and Jarretts’ music played. Despite only wrestling two matches hitherto, Sting ended up
facing Joe at Bound for Glory for the title. Even though everyone saw it
coming, Nash still turned on Joe – allowing Sting to win the title.
This was the end of Joe’s unmemorable title reign. He did not even beat a non-WWE
wrestler clean except Kurt Angle.
Russo booked a conflict between the young guys and the old
guys (an imitation of the WCW New Blood vs Millionaire’s Club feud). It was called the Main
Event Mafia vs. The Front Line, and it was an interesting angle at first. But, of course,
it ended up being booked completely backwards. The Front Line was never booked
as if they were on Main Event Mafia’s Level and didn’t even end up
winning the feud. The Main Event Mafia only disbanded because they couldn’t get
along.
Around this time, TNA was a “pick and choose” type of company. They had a
group of talented wrestlers and a lot of good matches too, but the booking and old wrestlers being treated superior than the young guys made the product frustrating. Other than most of Russo’s booking being lowbrow and nonsensical, another main problem was it was mostly about himself. He never made the wrestlers the focal point of a show. The central point was always about his storylines, hence the amount of swerves and turns the show had on a regular basis.

Before Gabe Saposkly developed a massive ego, he was the complete opposite in ROH. He knew that the wrestlers were the main assets and thus built the entire show around them. His booking was just to help them get over (not to stroke his massive ego). And you can laugh at how small ROH
was then all you want, but Saposkly made the company profit. That is something TNA has never been able to say.

Next: Vince Russo vs. Jim Cornette, The Calm before the Storm, Monday
Night Wars, Vince Russo finally gets fired, TNA’s product gets better but Aces and Eight
ruins it. 

The “Rise” and Fall of TNA (Part One)

Everyone knows by now that TNA is flirting with death. Despite
the fact that they do have content and finance, they are two months away from
losing their distribution. As ECW and WCW both quickly found out, it is almost
impossible to keep a company alive without that component. Although the reports
stated that Spike TV was not interested  in renewing Impact, those rumors ended
up being false. Spike TV’s President was live at one of TNA’s New York tapings,
speculating whether or not a renewal would be worth it. Even if the renewal falls
through, TNA still can find another network to show their television show – although
one must assume that it would be a significant downgrade to their primetime
timeslot on a recognized Network. Let us look at TNA’s history with Spike TV, and how it has
led up to this fiasco in this three part installment of the “Rise” and Fall of TNA. 

In 2005, FSN declined to renew Impact’s contract for the next year, leaving the show without a network. They decided to air
their shows online by using Bit Torrent, but shortly after, received a deal
from Spike TV. Even though Spike TV was a step in the right direction, TNA
still found themselves in a timeslot that made it hard for people to find the
product.

Although the company was struggling to find additional
viewers, it was still doing a good job of pleasing their hardcore fans. In addition
to that, the product had a sound strategy: they placed an emphasis on the wrestling in the mid-to-upper card and had the recognizable top-names in the
main event. The top names were making people watch, but the upcoming talents were the ones stealing the shows. In sum, the wrestlers of the past were bringing in wrestling fans to see what the foregone future of TNA was going to be (or so we thought).
TNA’s main commodity, which made it an alternative over WWE, was
its X-Division.  Kindred to the Cruiserweight Division, the X-Division had a
high-flying and fast-paced style. But unlike the Crusierweight division, it had no weight limits.
Even though there were a lot of talents who stuck out from this division, none of them stuck out as much as Samoa Joe did. Joe was someone who mainstream wrestling never really seen anything like before. He was an overweight and husky wrestler, who could move around and fly
like someone half his size, with had an outstanding work ethic.
TNA’s main event scene resembled a cast of over-the-hill
talents, but that somewhat changed when they signed Christian – a talented wrestler who was
misused in WWE.  They quickly added him
into the main event scene, and not too long after that, he became the TNA champion
by defeating Jeff Jarrett (who the fans were sick and tired of due to him
constantly hogging the title). As if it couldn’t become any better, TNA made its biggest
signing yet – The “Icon” Sting. 

Unfortunately, though, TNA could not come to an
agreement with the head booker Dusty Rhodes – who was tremendously helping the
company. Even though year 2006 took a dip in quality the department as a result, the company still had a lot
going for them. After all, their PPVs continued to be better than WWE’s PPVs, and they kept continuing to grow. In fact, Sting’s return to the company led to Impact’s
biggest rating ever, and because of that, Spike
TV gave them a primetime slot on Thursday nights.

Even though Sting winning the title at Bound for Glory was a big deal, TNA’s newsworthy signing of
Kurt Angle overshadowed that moment, as well any moment in the company. In spite of being around for only four
years, TNA made more strides than some wrestling companies ever had and were on track of becoming legit competition with
the flagship wrestling company.

It appeared that nothing could slow them
down from expanding to higher levels. However, TNA brought back a familiar face to the creative team – someone who was referred as a genius to some people while an idiot to others – Vince Russo.  This sparked a lot of controversy on the
internet about the decision. Some people thought it was a good idea, some thought it
was a terrible idea, while others didn’t think it would matter all that much.
Even though this had nothing to do with Russo, TNA
made a huge mistake with the Samoa Joe character. Joe – who was undefeated in his tenure in
TNA – jobbed to Kurt Angle in Angle’s first PPV match ever in the company. To make matters worse, Angle made the “Samoan Submission Machine” tap out to the Ankle Lock. Joe ended up getting
his win back in their rematch, yet Angle won the blow off match. Within three months, the biggest dream match people wanted
to see in TNA was already over. The feud could have been an epicly built up one,
yet it was instead poorly booked and hotshot.
Creatively, there were some recognizable changes within the
company. They were starting to have crazier gimmick matches, more wacky segments,
more focus on overbooked finishes, and less emphasis on wrestling. The pace of
Impact was also on speed – trying to fit in too many things in a short amount
of time. It was evident that Vince Russo was the new head writer of the show
and his booking philosophies hadn’t changed a bit.
While the Against All Odds 2007 PPV looked like a good show on paper, it ended up being one of TNA’s worst shows ever. In what was supposed to be
a heated feud, LAX and Team 3D ended up having a goofy-looking brawl. Austin Star
and Senshi, who are capable of stealing any show, had a toned down match with
most of its attention being on Bob Backlund. In an unlisted tuxedo match (I
wonder why), Hemme wrestled “The Big Fat Oily “Guy in what was a trainwreck of
epic proportions. Abyss and Sting had an over-the-top “Prison Yard” match. And
the main event between Christian Cage and Kurt Angle had the following: Samoa Joe as the guest
enforcer, a ton of run ins, a referee bump, and an anticlimactic finish. Russo
officially ruined one of TNA’s PPVs with gimmicks that hindered rather than
elevated matches, unpleasing finishes, run ins, overbooking, and angles that were either convoluted, muddled, trivial, or all of the above.
A month later, fans began to refute
against the company at Destination X. They chanted “that was weak” after Kurt Angle and Scott
Steiner’s match and then chanted “Fire Russo” during a goofy Last Rites match
between Sting and Abyss. However, much like 2007 in a nutshell, the roster did
a good job of overcoming the terrible booking and that resulted in a perfectly watchable
PPV.
Dixie Carter was upset from the fire “Fire Russo” because he had nothing to do with the angle. Even if it
was not Vince Russo – which it was – there still was a big problem: the fans were becoming tired of the booking. In spite of her being so
concerned about it, she did NOTHING about it. Consequently, another
“Fire Russo” chant broke out a month later at their Lockdown PPV. This time, it
was because of an “electrified” cage match between Team 3d and LAX, and I use
the word electrified loosely because it ended up being the saddest display of
effects ever. They turned off the lights off and lit the ring with a light
bluish color, and whenever a wrestler touched the cage – the light flickered
and the wrestlers fidgeted around as if they were tased. There were other times
where the wrestlers touched the cage and nothing happened. And, laughably, Hernandez wore gloves to climb the cage and miraculously could not be shocked
because of them. Meanwhile, Harris and Storm were forced into wrestling
a blindfold match on the same exact PPV, and the crowd managed to chant “Boring” and “We Want
Wrestling” during it.

Despite Vince Russo becoming an enormous problem, neither Jarrett nor Carter wanted to admit it. In fact, they were more
concerned about defending the booking rather doing anything about it.
And because the product wasn’t growing, they brought in as much former WWE
talent as possible – which caused the wrestlers who were supposed to be the future
of TNA to become afterthoughts in the main event scene. They also decided to
put the title on Kurt Angle at Slammiversary and then devote most of their hour of Impact around him. Thus, critics and fans began calling TNA “Total Nonstop
Angle”.

The company then signed Pacman Jones – who was suspended from the NFL for an entire year because he slapped a stripper in the face – with them thinking that any exposure is good exposure. To make matters worse, they gave Jones 250,000 DOLLARS before they realized that he could not do anything physical. This was arguably the worst decision the company ever made. 
Meanwhile, the overexposure of Kurt Angle started to become worse. For their
Hard Justice (August) PPV, they named Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle, with every
title in the company on the line as well the IWGP title. Logistically,
everyone thought TNA would build this up as an ultra-serious and important
match. Vince Russo, however, did not believe that was what this feud needed –
and for that reason – the main storyline was about Karen Angle dating and
sleeping with Samoa Joe. In what could have easily been hyped up as the biggest
match in TNA’s history ended up being a ridiculously overbooked episodes of “Days of our Lives”. Joe – who was a freakish monster a few months ago – also was turned into the
biggest fool in the company when Karen Angle cost him the match. It was a
swerve that literally everyone (yes, EVERYONE, Fuj) saw coming.

Angle was then forced to defend every TNA title at No
Surrender. And out of all the wrestlers that he could have picked to
co-hold the tag titles, he picked Sting – the same guys he had problems
with in the past. To no one’s surprise, they did not get along and it caused
them to lose the titles to R-Truth and Pacman Jones (the same “wrestler” that
cannot do anything physical). Angle lost the X-Division title to Jay Lethal, cleanly, in a hard-fought battle. But moments later, Lethal was saddled into
being one of the wrestlers that came out to stop Samoa Joe from killing
Christian. Joe ended up throwing Lethal out of the ring as if he was
a jobber – which hindered his definitive clean victory over Angle. Lastly, Angle
defeated Abyss to retain his TNA world championship, and after the match, Judias
Medias pulled Abyss down under the ring – which started their carbon copied
Undertaker vs. Kane feud.

Fans were becoming more and more frustrated with the
company’s development (or lack thereof). They were especially frustrated with
all of the former WWE/WCW/ECW talent hogging up the spotlight over TNA’s
homegrown talent and Vince Russo’s illogical and silly writing. But instead of taking the responsibility,
Dixie Carter started to blame it on the lack of airtime on Spike TV. She said that if
they received two hours, they would then be able to focus on other talents.
But even with the two hours they finally received, AJ Styles was still booked as a
goober, Samoa Joe was no longer the monster he once was, MCMGs were jobbers,
Chris Daniels was back in a spot he was in three years ago (one of the members
of Triple X), LAX were being improperly used, and the X-Division champion, Jay
Lethal, was being beat up on TV every week.

TNA, meanwhile, signed any former
WCW or WWE talent they could get their hands on – including Dustin Rhodes, Test, and Rikishi.  In sum, the X-Division title
lost most of its credibility, there was no more emphasis on the in-ring
product, wrestlers that could barely move in the ring were given higher spots
in the card than the talented wrestlers, and the booking, as a whole, was a disaster.
Everything that made TNA an alternative was quickly vanishing before its diehard fans’ eyes.


That concludes part 1. Part 2 will look at the downfall of Samoa Joe, the signings of more former WWE talent, the worst ECW reunion ever, failing to sign Paul Heyman, Jim Cornette vs. Vince Russo, the calm before the
storm, the entrance of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, and the short-lived Monday
Night Wars. Sorry in advance for errors I may have made. Most of this information came from what I could remember. 

Let’s talk about…..the fall of Roman Reigns

Let’s talk about….the fall of Roman Reigns
As he stood under the lights on Monday night, Roman Reigns
passed his first test with flying (well, decent) colors. The newly anointed savior
of our sport stood alone and cut his first main event promo, looking and
sounding like he belonged in front of us. The fans ate it up like a whale at a
buffet featuring all-you-can-eat Jonahs.

So where did this sinking feeling come from?
Let’s establish up front that the push of Roman Reigns has
proceeded rather flawlessly; indeed, the Shield has been handled as well as any
talents we’ve seen in the last ten years at this point. Slowly building Reigns
up, with few jobs and strong victories, his ascension to the top of the card is
nearly complete. We’re several months away from his final coronation, but
barring any injury or unforeseen circumstances, he will be holding the title
aloft at the end of Wrestlemania 31.
Speaking of unforeseen circumstances….
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to
repeat it” – George Santayana
Time for a stroll down the memory lane, don’t you think?
In the past 5 years, we’ve seen the ascension of 2 unlikely
stars to the top of the ranks in WWE; CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. And we’ve seen
the rejection of all of the following stars that WWE has tried to get over into
that spot – Alberto Del Rio, Ryback, the returning Batista, and old card
mainstays such as Cena, Orton, and the Big Show. In each instance, the fan base
has rejected these options in favor of the fan-grown wrestler that the audience
connected with. The booking of Roman Reigns does not fill me with confidence
that this trend will be avoided in the near future.
The fact is, I think that we’re seeing a new breed of fan
that has grown and matured over the last 5 years or so, and that fan is the
informed fan. Not the smark, like us, who analyze wrestling to a ridiculous
degree, but the fan who knows more about what is going on due to the internet
or whatever medium they use than ever before. I believe that the fanbase has
conditioned itself to reject many of the creations that WWE gives ‘superhero’
pushes to; initially, those wrestlers are welcomed as someone new to the main
event scene.
As time goes on, however, there is a real role that the fans
have taken on in determining who they want to receive a push, and not allowing
that push to happen organically is playing with fire. If Reigns is indeed the
long game for ‘Mania this year, the concern that I foresee is the fans getting
tired or restless with his domination to the point that they will reject him
the same way they eventually rejected a wrestler such as Ryback.
“Ryback? Reigns is twice the wrestler Ryback is!” Hmmmm….is
that really true? Reigns has been extremely protected up to this point with
regard to his weaknesses in the ring, which are very real. He fits in well as
the heavy finisher in tag matches, but can he carry a match on his back when he
needs to? I don’t put him in Scott Steiner territory by any stretch of the
imagination, but any wrestling fan can see that he has a severely limited
moveset to put it mildly. Spear, Superman Punch, dropkick to the ring apron. The
rest of what Reigns does in the ring is very basic kicky-punchy clothesline
type wrestling, and that type of wrestling has been a big part of what the fans
have rejected in guys such as Cena and Ryback.
Remember the Ryback push? He was given a pretty big shove
out there, pinning multiple wrestlers at once with big power moves to get him
over as a monster. Much like Reigns has been protected in tag matches, Ryback
was protected with short squashes. He was given title matches with Punk, main
events with Cena, both of whom are excellent workers, and the matches came up
relatively short. He was given a simple catchphrase to get over, which he did.  I think that the similarities are more evident
than people think. The only difference is that, when the time comes, I think he’ll
go over for the belt, whereas Ryback did not.
And that could be a problem. Because the fan’s role in
deciding whether or not he finishes his push at the top when the proverbial
rocket gets him all the way there is going to be determined by the epic nature
of his matches. And I’m not at all convinced he’s ready for that; while we make
fun sometimes of fans who may not know what’s really going on, ringwork has
always gotten people over. Just look at the Steiner/HHH debacle vs the
Angle/Benoit classic on the same show; wrestling fans will buy into good
wrestling . Will he be ready by Wrestlemania? Of course, he could be.
But what happens if they can’t sustain his act that long?
People tired of Cena’s superman act years ago, and have been vocal about that
to the point where it needed acknowledgement on television, something that
never would have happened to a top babyface from another era. Of course, Cena
is a special case, as his merchandise sales and public image for the company
require that he be kept a BINO (babyface in name only), but the boos far
outweigh the cheers. I don’t know that Roman has that type of skill set yet –
the ability to do the intangible things that are needed to sustain that type of
run at the top.
Contrast that with the man getting the second biggest pops
on the show right now – Dean Ambrose.
Ambrose is currently most smarks’ pick for the breakout star
of the Shield waiting to happen, and it’s all in how he carries himself in the
storytelling of his matches and his angles. He comes out and the crowd has NO
idea what is going to happen next. He wrestles like no one else on the card at
this time, sells like a motherfucker, and in general is a complete professional
wrestler.
But the reason that I see Ambrose as the bigger star down
the road is that he doesn’t feel like a WWE creation – he feels like a real
(crazy) person, who has no real equal in the Fed when it comes to both his
character and his unique ringwork. The fact is that if the fans are going to
choose the next main event star, I suspect that they will tire of Reigns faster
than they tire of Ambrose.
And that’s a real problem, because the WWE is going to
forget the history of even the last few years again. 
The rise of CM Punk came
because his character was unique and people were dying to see something that
didn’t look like John Cena up top. The fans rejected Batista because they didn’t
want to see the same thing, they wanted Daniel Bryan, who wrestled a unique and
different style than anyone else at the time, and who had a character that
appealed to the masses as a true underdog babyface, something that hadn’t been
done in a long time. The fact is, Roman Reigns is exactly what the WWE sees
when they look for a main event talent.
And the fact is, the fans have rejected that notion multiple
times over the last several years.
Please understand, I’m not rooting against Roman Reigns in
the slightest. I hope he pulls it together and proves me completely wrong. He
not only has the look, he has the same type of attitude that put Batista over
the top back in the day, the ‘cooler than you vibe’. It might carry him all the
way.
Or that rocket could explode before it clears the
stratosphere.
And that fall can kill you.
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on twitter

The mighty continues to fall

image
UFC and FOX Sports Terminate Chael Sonnen's Broadcast…

The UFC and FOX Sports have terminated their respective broadcasting services agreements with analyst and former fighter Chael Sonnen, the companies…
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Going…going…
How do you even FAIL an HGH test?  Has that ever happened before anywhere?   Maybe he should go to WWE, where magically no one has failed a test in years.