New E-Book: KB’s Complete 2014 Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Reviews Part I

raw-2014-part-i
 

A comprehensive look back at every episode of WWE Monday Night Raw and Smackdown from the first half of 2014, starting at the beginning of January and wrapping up at the end of April. This is a very interesting time in WWE history as we witnessed the rise of Daniel Bryan and the Shield as the new generation was taking the company by storm. The first part of the year culminated in the huge Wrestlemania XXX and was followed by a game changing fallout. In this book, every episode of both shows in the first half of 2014 is reviewed in full, complete with analysis, ratings and complete content included.

The book sells for $3.99 or the equivalent in other currencies. In case you don’t have a Kindle, there are plenty of FREE apps you can get from Amazon for pretty much any electronic device, all of which are available at this link.

You can pick up the book from Amazon here.

From the UK Amazon here.

From the Canadian Amazon here.

Or if you’re in another country with its own Amazon page, just search “KB Raw 2014” and it should be the first thing to come up.

I hope you like it and shoot me any questions you might have.

Thomas Hall

New E-Book: Complete Monday Nitro (and Thunder) Reviews Volume III

When we last left WCW, they were the
undisputed kings of the Monday Night Wars and that’s certainly still the
case as they come into 1998. Things were so good that they decided to
more than double the amount of television they were airing per week. To
say this might have been too much too soon is an understatement but WCW
had done stupider stuff before.
In this book, I’ll be looking at every episode of
Monday Nitro and Thunder from January through June of 1998. This is the
time where the Monday Night Wars finally started to get competitive
again after nearly two years of being completely one sided. Having two
shows a week was a fresh idea as well, making this a very important time
in wrestling history. As usual I’ll be providing play by play,
historical context and analysis of every show.
Also remember that I’ve already covered 1995-1997
Monday Nitro in case you don’t want to jump right into the later stuff.
Both books are available from my Amazon author page.
The books runs over 300 pages on a Kindle and only
costs $3.99, or the equivalent in other currencies. If you don’t have a
Kindle or e-book reader, there are several FREE apps you can use to read it on pretty much any electronic device. You can find those from Amazon here.

You can pick up the book from Amazon here.

From the UK Amazon here.
From the Canadian Amazon here.
Or if you’re in another country with its own Amazon
page, just search “KB Nitro 1998” and my book will be the first thing
that pop up.
Also you can still get any of my previous books on
the WWE Championship, Monday Night Raw from 1998 and 2001, Monday Nitro
from 1995-97, In Your House, Summerslam, Starrcade, ECW Pay Per Views,
Royal Rumble, Saturday Night’s Main Event, the WWF and WCW pay per views
from 1998 and Clash of the Champions at my author’s page here.
I hope you like it and shoot me any questions you might have.
Thomas Hall

1996 reviews


Hi Scott, hope you are well.

Have noticed that you've stopped you're reviews of the 1996 Raws & Nitros. I was under the impression that you had been enjoying the shows (at least the Nitros). Had that changed, or did life get in the way? They were a cool little peek into the past, and I hope they're not gone for good, especially with how important '96 was in the big picture. Take care.

​The impression I was getting from the blog was that we're a little overloaded with 1996 WCW reviews, so I decided to cool it for a while.  I wouldn’t want to Roman Reigns the reviews. ​

Hell In The Cell Reviews

Can you review or rereview this week some of the greatest Hell in the Cell matches ever. Mankind vs Undertaker Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels HHH vs Shawn Michaels HHH vs Mankind Undertaker vs Edge Thanks, Eric

If only there was a DVD that contained all of these.  Oh wait, there is! The SmarK DVD Rant for Hell In A Cell – I’m talking about the 3-disc DVD set here, not the recent PPV. I know this is an older set, but I found it on Ebay for like $3 and I’ve been wanting to work in a proper review for a while now. – Hosted by Mick Foley, fittingly enough. Disc One Shawn Michaels v. Undertaker So of course we start with the first one from 1997, as Brian Pillman’s death had cast a pall over the entire locker room and Shawn decided to go out and have a great match anyway. Not even a tragic death steals Shawn’s spotlight! This was the final result of Summerslam 97, where Shawn reffed the UT-Bret title match, and ended up fucking up and hitting UT with a chair to give Bret the WWF title. They had a wild match at Ground Zero, and then Shawn was forced into a tag match with HHH, and D-Generation X was formed. After another couple of weeks of incredibly obnoxious antics on Shawn’s part, this match was signed. And the general concensus was that Shawn was dead meat. DX tries to accompany Shawn, but get sent back. Shawn tries to avoid UT, who slowly stalks him around ringside. He runs into the ring and right into a big boot. UT rams him to the turnbuckle, and again, which Shawn sells bigtime. He goes for the chokeslam but Shawn kicks him in the shin and hammers away. UT shrugs it off and reverses a whip, sending Shawn crashing to the corner. UT with a wristlock, and he slams into Shawn’s shoulder a few times, then does the ropewalk. Shawn oversells again. UT with a headbutt and choking. Slam and legdrop for two. Michaels is dazed, and UT backdrops him to the heavens. Shawn gets up so UT knocks him on ass several times, and then tosses him over the top rope in a wicked bump for Shawn. He chokes Shawn against the cage, prompting Shawn to try to climb out of the cage. UT pulls him down to the floor, another wicked bump. Front row starts yelling “Make him bleed”, thus demonstrating how much Shawn was despised at this point. UT whips him into the cage, and then tears his head off witha clothesline coming back. Again. Great bumping by Shawn. The announcers are totally selling the idea of UT taking his time and destroying Shawn bit by bit. Taker tries a piledriver on the floor, but Shawn flips up and hammers on his head. UT calmly smashes the back of his head into the cage and drops him on the floor. Ouch. To the steps. UT hammers away on Shawn, and rams him backfirst into the ringpost, then to the cage, then to the ringpost, to the cage again. Crowd eats it up. This, folks, is a shitkicking of the first order. Shawn tries to push UT into the cage, but UT simply clotheslines him on the way back. He smashes Shawn into the stairs. UT whips Shawn into the cage, but Shawn uses the momentum to nail UT on the way back, giving him the advantage. He wisely rolls back into the ring to escape the Undertaker. He nails him a few times on the way back in, but UT snaps Shawn’s neck on the top rope on the way down. Shawn comes back and knocks UT off the apron into the cage. UT keeps coming. Shawn tries a tope suicida, sending UT crashing into the cage, then he climbs halfway up the cage and drops an elbow to UT on the floor. UT keeps getting up, so Shawn clotheslines him off the apron. Shawn, getting desperate, grabs the stairs and rams them into UT’s back a few times. He piledrives Taker on the remains of the stairs and rolls back into the ring to escape again. He comes off the top rope with a double-axehandle to UT on the floor. Back in the ring, and Shawn finds a chair under the ring before returning. A shot to the back puts UT down again. UT gets up, so Shawn knocks him down again. It get two. Notice the story, as UT controlled for the first portion, while Shawn had to use his brain and every advantage possible to come back. UT tries to come back, but gets caught in the ropes and pummelled by Shawn. Shawn charges and eats a boot to the mouth, and charges again and gets backdropped over the top, onto a cameraman. He nails the cameraman (a local worker) and injures him. The medical crew opens the cage to give the guy assistance as Shawn hits UT with the flying forearm back in the ring. Shawn with the Randy Savage elbow, and he cues up the band. Superkick, but UT sits up. So Shawn runs out the door. UT follows and they fight in the aisle. Shawn dropkicks UT, but on a second attempt gets caught and catapulted into the cage. If you go in slow motion, you can see Shawn rip the blade across his forehead in mid-air. It’s not noticeable, though, otherwise. UT rams Shawn into the cage a few times like a batterring ram. Shawn kicks him in the nuts to counter. Shawn climbs the outside of the cage to escape the increasingly crazed UT, and UT follows. They fight on the roof, and Shawn attempts a piledriver, reversed by UT to a big pop. UT grates Shawn’s face into the mesh as a neat camera angle from below lets us see it. Taker military presses Shawn onto the cage, then nails him, sending Shawn scurrying to the edge to run away. He starts to climb down the cage, so UT stomps on Shawn’s hands until he crashes to the table below. Like the Terminator, Undertaker follows and biels Shawn onto the French table, then press slams him to the remains of the Spanish table. Shawn is just bleeding all over the place. UT literally kicks Shawn’s ass around the cage, and tosses him back into the ring. Clothesline, then he puts Shawn on the top rope and chokeslams him off. UT finds his own chair and smashes it into Shawn’s face, then calls for the tombstone…and the lights go out. The now-familiar music and red lights start, and Kane makes his first appearance. He rips the door off the hinges, does the pyro thing, and tombstones Undertaker, then leaves. Michaels pulls his blood-soaked carcass off the mat, rolls over with his last ounce of strength, and covers for the pin. D-X drags him out of the ring before the Undertaker can wake up and finish killing Shawn. ***** – Enough people have pointed out the hypocrisy of giving Shawn-Mankind the full monty despite the DQ finish that I’ve finally caved and acknowledged that yes, the first HIAC match is indeed the full *****. So I hope you can all sleep better now. – We get the video package for King of the Ring 98, which leads to Steve Austin & Undertaker v. Mankind & Kane in the forgotten Hell in the Cell match. So forgotten that I had forgotten about it, too. Mick Foley has now morphed into Corporate Mankind following the “death” of Dude Love, and this apparently marks the debut of the shirt-and-tie look according to the commentary. Undertaker fails to show up even after two ring introductions, so Austin goes it alone because he’s a real man. Kane and Mankind attack him on the ramp while Paul Bearer locks everyone OUT of the cage…but Undertaker shows up via a hole in the ring and gets some revenge on him. There’s another Russo favourite: People showing up from under the ring. Kane tries to break through the ceiling while Bearer does a gory bladejob (for a manager) and Undertaker beats the hell out of him. Austin just kills Mankind with a chair and then goes after Kane on the ceiling while the crowd goes insane. And we just end it there. Not actually a match, just an angle. Mankind v. Undertaker From King of the Ring 98. Following the advice of Terry Funk, Mick decides to start the match on top of the cell, which proved to be a bad move on his part. Taker follows him up and they slug it out on the roof to start, and Mankind uses a chair to pound Taker down. The roof nearly gives way early as they fight to the other side of the cage, but it’s the famous moment as Taker tosses Mick off the cell and AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, HE’S BROKEN IN HALF! Things predictably grind to a halt at that point while Mick resists the urge to go into the light. Just for fun, watch the bounce that Mick takes off the table and wonder how he lived. They raise the cage as if the match is over and wheel Mick out on the stretcher, but he’s crazier than THAT. So he fights off the medics and climbs back up the cage again to continue, at which point Undertaker chokeslams him onto the roof, through the cage, and to the mat below where he hits a chair on the way down. There’s bad days and then there’s bad days. In his books, Mick credits that bump with doing the majority of the damage, and in fact it knocked him out and necessitated Terry Funk stepping in and stalling Taker until he came back to the land of living again. So Taker chokeslams Funk, giving Mick the chance to remember what country he’s in. And indeed, he manages to reverse the ropewalk and smile at the camera, giving us the iconic image of the tooth sticking out of his nose. He somehow manages to put Taker on the floor and he tries for the stairs, but his arm is gone and he can’t carry them. Taker uses them instead and smashes them into Mick’s head, apparently not having sufficiently made his point yet. He tries to follow with the suicide dive, but he misses and hits the cage, drawing blood. Back in, Mick piledrives him on the chair for two, finally recovered enough to make his own comeback. Legdrop on the chair gets two. Double-arm DDT and he retrieves a bag of thumbtacks from under the ring, back before it became a silly TNA cliché. Mick tries to knock him into them, but Taker catches him with a tombstone attempt, which Mick reverses to the Mandible Claw. Taker fights out of it and drops Mick on the tacks, and of course Mick rolls in them for effect. And Taker hits an additional chokeslam in them, then puts Mick out of his misery with the tombstone at 17:31. Much like the Bret-Austin match, Mick lost but became a much bigger star as a result. Total one-man stunt show from Mick Foley, but the years have mellowed me on it and I can watch it much easier now than I used to be able to. It’s still not the Match of the Year for 1998 or even the best match in the WWF for that year, but it’s pretty damn good. **** Mankind v. Kane From RAW, August 24 1998. I don’t remember this one at all. This would have been a week before Summerslam, with Kane and Mankind being tag team champions and yet having problems, which necessitate a Hell in a Cell match. So Russo must be booking. Mankind takes out the ref and runs Kane into the door, then can’t quite get a chair tossed onto the top of the cage. He tries to climb, but Undertaker shows up and throws him through a table to bring him down. So they finally head into the cage to start the match, as Kane batters Mankind with the stairs, but Mankind fires back with a pair of chairshots and they slug it out. Mankind with a piledriver and they both bump onto a pile of thumbtacks, but Kane gets the chair back and puts Mick down again. Chokeslam and tombstone follow, but Undertaker tells Kane to finish him off with something worse. I know, you’re thinking “He’s going to make him watch The Marine?” but instead he hits another tombstone onto the chair, drawing Steve Austin in for the DQ at 4:18. Oh, that wacky Vince Russo, booking DQ finishes in Cell matches. This wasn’t much of a match, obviously, but I’m glad they included it for completeness. *1/2 For some strange reason, we totally skip over Wrestlemania XV and Mick doesn’t even MENTION that there was a Cell match there. So for all you completists, sorry. WWF World title: HHH v. Cactus Jack “What big star ever laid down for me?” From No Way Out 2000, as Cactus Jack lost the street fight to HHH at Royal Rumble and was forced to put his career on the line in order to get one last title shot in Hell in a Cell. This match reminds me of better times, when HHH had better theme music and a belt that wasn’t like something out of a Toys R Us catalogue. They slug it out and HHH goes down, as Jack pounds away on the mat and puts him down again with a running elbow. Jack’s frustration at the super-duper-padlocked door is a nice touch, back when HHH’s devious plans involved more than just hitting people with sledgehammers. So that begins a subplot as they brawl on the floor: How does Jack escape from the cage when there’s literally a dozen chains holding the door shut? HHH slugs away in the corner and gets the facebuster, but Jack backdrops him to the floor again, but comes back and whips Jack into the stairs. Jack shows some cunning of his own (albeit a more “stupid like a fox” type), as he goads HHH into tossing the stairs at him…and gets hit in the face with them. Well, it’s not a perfect plan. Back in the ring, HHH lays him out with a chair for two. DDT gets two. Jack wants more punishment, but he suckers HHH into charging and hits him in the nuts, then follows with the double arm DDT for two. Legsweep on the chair gets two. Jack fires away in the corner, but charges and gets taken down into a chair for two. Back to the floor and Mick positions himself by the cage again, but fights off a Pedigree attempt on the stairs and catapults HHH into the cage off that. And we have blood. You remember blood, right? Used to happen in every Cell match? Jack continues throwing HHH into the cage, clearly trying to find the weak spot, but then stops his quest long enough to come off the middle rope with a chair onto him. And then, finally, Jack tosses the stairs at the weakened Cell and breaks on through to the other side. And so out through the new door they go, as Jack immediately piledrives HHH on the announce table, and then climbs the cell. Stephanie brings him down, so Jack retrieves his trusty barbed wire 2×4 and they head up to the top of the cell. HHH gets the board and uses it to bust Jack open on his way up the cage, and Jack goes through the table as a bonus. Jack fights his way to the top again and gets pounded with the 2×4, but Jack goes low and comes back. Parts of the roof start to break, which hints at the finish, and Jack gets a suplex. Jack with the DDT, but that’s not quite enough, so he lights the 2×4 on fire, and you’d never see this shit on WWE TV today. BURNING 2X4 IN THE FACE! Jack signals for the finish, but that’s never a good idea, and indeed HHH reverses a piledriver and Jack goes through the cage and breaks the ring on the way down. This made for not only a more visually impressive bump than his original one against Undertaker, but also a completely safe one. Jack is dead and HHH is even kinda shocked at this, but he climbs down and Jack is still moving. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE ends Mick Foley’s career (until all the times he came back) at 24:00. But yeah, no one ever laid down to make HHH a bigger star. I have to say, judged against the other HIAC matches thus far on this set, I have to downgrade it a bit for being a tad contrived at times (like what were they gonna do on the top of the cell, for instance? There’s no ref up there!), but it’s still an awesome piece of business. ****1/2 WWF World title: Kurt Angle v. HHH v. The Rock v. Steve Austin v. Undertaker v. Rikishi From Armageddon 2000. Holy crap there’s some star power there! And Rikishi. They’d be creaming themselves to have that kind of name value in one match these days. Normally I’m peeved about licensed music getting edited out, but in the case of Undertaker, I can live without ever hearing Limp Bizkit again. Everyone brawls to start and Taker gets two on Angle. He chokes Angle out in the corner, but then they disappear and Rock slugs it out with Rikishi. And then it’s HHH v. Austin, as Austin gets the Thesz Press and drops the elbow for two. Austin chokes away on the ropes and gets two. HHH comes back with the high knee, but now it’s over to Rock and Angle. Rock with a samoan drop for two and then they head outside, and we switch to Angle v. Undertaker. Angle escapes and baseball slides Rikishi, while Austin and HHH continue their ongoing battle. HHH gets to eat steel and bleeds as a result, but Rikishi takes advantage by legdropping Austin on the way into the ring. Rikishi offers his support for HHH, but KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gets two. Rikishi was never portrayed as being the bright bulb in the package, was he? Great sequence sees everyone hitting their finishers off of that in a kind of glimpse into the future of these sorts of trainwreck matches. And with everyone out, Undertaker tosses HHH around the cell. In the ring, Rikishi misses a corner splash on Austin, but slugs him down instead. Then things get a bit silly, as Vince drives a truck down to ringside and vows to rip down the cage, but gets chased off by Commissioner Foley. So that conveniently leaves a pickup truck at ringside, filled with some sort of packing material. Driving the truck into the cage has broken the door down, so Austin and HHH escape and fight down the aisle and into the cart-themed set by the entrance. This gives us an innovative spot with Austin using the boom camera as a weapon. Soon everyone fights to the car lot and Rock teases Rock Bottom on HHH on top of a car, but instead he takes KICK WHAM PEDIGREE and bleeds a little. Austin catapults HHH into a car for another great visual, and everyone fights back down to the cage again. Austin and HHH continue their little war by heading to the top of the cage and actually manage to make it suspenseful by slugging it out on the edge. Austin with KICK WHAM STUNNER, but now Angle and Undertaker have followed them up there. Undertaker beats the hell out of Angle and ponders which side of the cage to toss him off of, but now Rikishi and Rock head up there. Another great moment as Undertaker threatens the timekeeper, from the top of the cage mind you, and convinces him to throw a chair up to the top. Man, that’s some respect. Rikishi gets the chair, however, and beats UT down with it. However, Rikishi is of course NOT SMART and going after Undertaker on top of the cage is a supremely bad idea. Which he learns when Taker chokeslams him off the cell and into the truck in retaliation. Rock and Austin have a staredown on their way to drawing a million buys for Wrestlemania, but their all-too-brief slugfest leads to the People’s Elbow, which is interrupted by HHH. Rock lays the smackdown on him and hits Angle with Rock Bottom for two, but Austin saves. KICK WHAM STUNNER and Rock sells the shit out of it, but HHH lets his hate of Austin consume him again by making the save, allowing Angle to pin Rock at 32:00 to retain the title. This did an awesome job of making me want to see the big Austin-HHH blowoff, although Angle still wasn’t at the top of his game as a worker, which is kind of scary. I wasn’t a huge fan of this one back in the day, but watching Austin, HHH, Rock and Undertaker going out there and doing their thing in their primes has allowed this one to age quite gracefully and set the stage for bigger car crash matches to come. **** Disc Two HHH v. Chris Jericho From Judgment Day 2002, the first PPV of the WWE era, which means no more blurring on this set. This was the final result of the disastrous 2002 HHH-Jericho feud, as the feud was more bad comedy than blood-tinged hatred, which is probably why no one remembers this except as yet another example of Jericho’s main event run getting buried six feet under. Like really, Jericho had never even BEATEN HHH at this point, and we’re supposed to think he suddenly has a chance here? In fact, has he ever beaten HHH, come to think of it? Slugfest to start and HHH puts him down with the high knee and follows with a backdrop, then pounds away in the corner. They head to the floor and do nothing, then back in for a flying forearm from Jericho. The crowd is completely dead for this, I should point out. Jericho misses a charge and hits the post, putting him on the floor, and HHH runs him into the cage. Back in the ring, HHH hits him with a pair of short clotheslines and a suplex gets two. Jericho reverses him out to the floor, but gets sent into the stairs. HHH threatens a piledriver on them, but Jericho catapults him into the cage instead. When does HHH ever do a piledriver? Jericho gets a ladder and runs it into HHH’s face to take over. They brawl to the floor again and HHH gets a chair now, trumping Jericho’s ladder. Back in, Jericho gets the stairs again, but HHH drops him on the stairs. Then in the most important moment in a relatively meaningless match, Tim White gets bumped into the cage and bleeds, which actually turned out to be a real injury that ended his career. Jericho gets a chairshot for the visual pinfall while the crew of refs break into the cell and rescue White. So with the door open, HHH hits Jericho with the SLEDGEHAMMER OF DOOM for another visual pinfall (never mind that there’s literally a dozen referees at ringside tending to White who could have counted). Jericho recovers and heads out of the cage, stopping to slam the door into HHH, and they brawl outside of the cage. HHH gets a DDT on the table and Jericho flees to the top of the cage, but HHH now brings Cactus Jack’s barbed wire 2×4 with him to shows just in case of such an occurrence, apparently. They brawl on top and Jericho gets the Walls up there while another ref climbs up there too. This was the first and only time where a Cell match suddenly became falls count anywhere, I should note. Jericho tries to use the barbed wire, but HHH goes low and tries the Pedigree. Jericho reverses and there’s a moment where people almost think HHH might go through the cage on the bump, but no. Barbed wire to the head and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finish on top of the cell at 24:30. This was like a Frankenstein monster of Cell matches, assembled from leftover parts of other, better matches but without the heat or great bumps that made them memorable. ***1/4 WWE World title: Brock Lesnar v. The Undertaker From No Mercy 2002, as Undertaker was supposed to job to Brock at the previous PPV but “wasn’t feeling it”, so they did a double DQ and set this up instead. Boy, this match would be a lot different and more interesting today, what with Undertaker’s fascination with MMA and Brock being, you know, UFC heavyweight champion and all. Undertaker has a “broken” hand stemming from an angle on Smackdown, although I’m sure there was some other actual reason for the cast. Taker charges in and pounds away on Brock to start, but gets powerslammed for two. Taker comes back and threatens to backhand him with the cast, so Brock bails and takes a breather. Back in, Brock pounds on the cast in the corner, then goes to an armbar. See, who says Brock doesn’t have submission skills? Taker hits him with the cast to escape, then puts him down again with a straight shot to the head with it. Hey, it’s all legal, why not? Brock is bleeding already (super abrasive plaster, I suppose) and Taker beats on him outside and sends him into the stairs. Brock takes a nice bump into the cage and I immediately miss JR calling this. Taker sends him into the cage again and clotheslines him on the rebound for two, as it’s still falls count anywhere in 2002. Back to the cage for the Brock and they head into the ring, as Taker clobbers him with the cast again and adds the guillotine legdrop on the apron. An awkward knee off the top gets two. Back to the floor as Paul Heyman flails away through a hole in the cage, but Taker boots him into the railing and even the MANAGER is bleeding. UT grabs Heyman by the tie and rams him into the cage a few times as well in a fun spot, but he charges and hits the cage. Brock, caveman that he is, uses a double-leg to ram Taker into the post and then into the cage. He should have just been in UFC all along. Heyman lends Brock his belt and they tie Taker to the cage with it, and that allows Brock to abuse the broken hand with a chair as well. See, I like that they’re going in a totally different direction with this match, ramping up the blood and personal violence rather than trying for gimmicky bumps and cute ways to escape the cage. Back in the ring, Brock stomps away on the hand and gets the cast off, but he doesn’t even want to use it himself because he’s a REAL FUCKING MAN. He continues working on the hand instead. They head up to the top, and it’s more innovation as Brock swings from the top of the cage and kicks Taker RIGHT IN THE FACE. That’s a pretty low ceiling, actually. Taker fights him off and ropewalks over to drop an elbow, and that gets two. Brock escapes to the apron, but Taker boots him into the cage and follows with the suicide dive. Unfortunately they don’t have enough room to pull it off properly and it falls kind of flat, with both guys just kind of going into the cage. Brock clotheslines him and then adds a shot from the stairs, and Taker does a SPECTACULAR blade, literally pouring blood out of his head. He bleeds Booger Red! Brock is so inspired that he hits him with the stairs again. Back in, Taker is still fighting, but Brock hits him with a spinebuster and pounds away in the corner. They slug it out and Taker puts him with down with a clothesline, then stomps the hand for some revenge. He goes old school, but Brock just throws him off the top. Taker is still bleeding all over the place. Brock tries the F5, but Taker escapes and chokeslams him for two. Corner clothesline, but Brock catches him with a boot on the second try and sets up for a piledriver. UT reverses out and hits a DDT for two. Last Ride is blocked by Brock and he pounds away in the corner, but that’s never a good idea. And indeed, that earns him the Last Ride, but it only gets two because Brock is in the ropes. That’s right, there’s no rules in this match except for “the ropes are out of bounds.” You can smash chairs in the face of your opponent, but god forbid you pin someone while they’re in the ropes. Taker goes for the tombstone, but it’s F5 and good night at 27:15. Finish could have been stronger, but Brock looked like a beast and this was a very different style of match than the previous stunt shows were. ****1/2 RAW World title: HHH v. Kevin Nash This is from Bad Blood 2003, the first RAW-only PPV. They were following up quite the shitty match at Judgment Day, which didn’t leave expectations for this terribly high amongst anyone. 2003 was not a stellar year for HHH in the ring, excuses about his opponents aside. Yeah, he had to work with Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash and Goldberg all year, but people have gotten much better matches out of that group of suck than HHH ever did. So they stuck Mick Foley in there as the guest referee to hopefully make it better. The whole 2003 push for Nash was just mind-boggling, and ended with Nash literally tearing his quad by walking into the ring during a six-man tag. 6 years later and I still don’t even really understand what the feud was over. Nash has the old Diesel music here — is that because of licensing issues or because they were so stupid at the time to think people liked that? Another minor point — the Big Gold Belt sported by HHH here looks so much better than the toy replica they’re using today. The one now looks like some sort of cheap plastic imitation by comparison. They slug it out and Nash gets the knees in the corner and FRAMED ELBOW OF DOOM, then puts HHH on the floor with a clothesline. HHH goes into the cage a couple of times and Nash backdrops him on the floor. Back in, a side slam gets two. Lazy elbow gets two. They fight to the floor again and Nash whips him into the stairs, but chucks them at HHH and misses. HHH finds (I shit you not) a toolbox under the ring, loaded with everything you need to build a house. So he hits Nash in the knee with a ball peen hammer to get the heat, and they head into the ring. Nash is now bleeding and they slowly brawl on the floor. Back in, HHH is apparently so upset with Nash that he tries to stab him in the face with a screwdriver, but unable to stick it into his eyeball like an icepick, he has to settle for rubbing it into the cut instead. Don’t tease me with lobotomizing Big Daddy Cool live on PPV and then cop out like that! HHH brings in his trusty barbed-wire 2×4 (with Mick Foley standing RIGHT THERE no less), but Nash gets it away from him and puts him down with it. You’re probably wondering how they could make a match with attempted lobotomy via screwdriver and a barbed wire 2×4 boring, but here we are and I’m fucking bored. HHH at least does a much better job of bleeding than Nash does, as Nash makes the comeback with his dizzying array of clotheslines and Snake Eyes on the barbed wire. HHH bails to escape and now finds a wooden crate to use as a weapon. Is he gonna find a chicken coop under there next? HHH gets the sledgehammer, but that’s TOO FAR for Mick Foley, and he stops HHH from potentially ending this stupid match. BOOOO! HHH charges with the stairs and Nash trips him into them, which is a spot that looks terrible most of the time. Nash gets two from that. HHH gets a chair and puts both Nash and Foley down with it, and even Mick is bleeding. That’s enough for Mick, and it’s time for Mr. Socko, but HHH kicks him in Mr. Cocko and ends that. Nash hits both of them with the stairs and covers HHH, but of course Foley is out because NASH HIT HIM WITH THE STAIRS. Dumbass. Poor Mick keeps getting abused, as they bump him into the cage and Nash catapults HHH into the barbed wire and hits the POOCHIEBOMB for two. Both guys lay around sell how tired they are, but HHH gets the sledgehammer and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE ends the boredom at 21:01. Overly long and self-indulgent, with two guys taking every shortcut in the business and still only barely getting a watchable match out of it. I remember back in 2003 people were like “Wow, this wasn’t excruciating, what a good PPV!” but I’d like to think we can hold it to a bit of a higher standard now, especially since this set is supposed to be the “Best” Cell matches. *** HHH v. Shawn Michaels Skipping ahead a year to Bad Blood 2004, as these two were engaged in a neverending feud that makes John Cena v. Randy Orton look like a quick run on the house show circuit. At least here it produced some insanely good matches. Not this one, unfortunately. They take turns slugging it out and Shawn bumps to the floor, but they head back in right away. Shawn gets a neckbreaker for two and they head back out again, where HHH eats cage. And starts bleeding. Back in, Shawn drops a Dibiase fist, but hits boot on a blind charge. Back to the floor and HHH goes into the cage again, but he takes over in the ring and whips Shawn into the corner to hurt the back. HHH with a suplex for two. Backbreaker gets two. A chair gets involved, but Shawn fights back and slugs HHH down. They head to the floor and HHH does the Brock spot, taking HBK from the post to the cage with a spinebuster to really destroy the back. Back in the ring, HHH with a chair to the back for two. Keep in mind we’re at 15:00 in and nothing has really happened thus far. Shawn hiptosses him out of the ring, and back in he goes low and makes the comeback. Shawn gets a pair of atomic drops and a corner clothesline for two. They fight outside again and Shawn tries a piledriver on the stairs, but gets backdropped. Back in, HHH gets a chairshot. Stairs to the head, but Shawn pops up, so HHH hits him with the stairs again and draws blood. That gets two. Back to the floor and Shawn goes into the cage. This match is what happens when the owner’s son-in-law and his best friend get the main event slot and no one who’s able to edit them down to a reasonable time. Back in, MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER gets two. HHH’s Luger-ish bloodflow has already dried up as he follows with the MAIN EVENT SLEEPER. He tries to switch the Pedigree, but Shawn counters with a DDT and both guys are out. Shawn grabs a chair first and puts HHH down with it, for two. HHH comes back and USES THE KNEE and Shawn bumps to the floor off that, allowing him to find a ladder under the ring. He dishes out some abuse with that, then whips HHH into it. Back to the floor and Shawn pounds on the cut to reopen it. Back in, Shawn goes up and misses the elbow, and HHH gets two. They slug it out on their knees as JR notes that this is now the longest Hell in a Cell match in history. And it feels like it. HHH gets a table next, but Shawn puts him on it and goes up the ladder, finally justifying having the damn thing in the match some 20 minutes later. Flying elbow puts HHH through the table and you’re thinking that’s the finish since it’s 40 minutes in and that’s the most impressive spot so far, but we’re not so lucky. It only gets two. Shawn sets up for the superkick, but HHH goes low to counter and hits the Pedigree. That only gets two, and Shawn recovers with the superkick out of nowhere and both guys are out. AGAIN. Shawn gets two. HHH with another Pedigree and both are out. AGAIN. So they lay there for over a minute, with the crowd actually getting behind Shawn, before slowly crawling to their feet, and HHH hits another Pedigree out of that and pins Shawn at 46:30 to totally deflate the crowd again. I wouldn’t call this a total disaster or anything, but they could have easily chopped 28-30 minutes out of it and had a match that was just as good. It wasn’t really bad or good either way, just LONG. ***1/4 I know I’ve said it before, but I NEVER want to watch this match again. Disc Three RAW World title: Batista v. HHH From Vengeance 2005. Batista is decked out in the badass white tights and pads tonight. HHH attacks to start and Batista recovers outside. Back in, they fight over a lockup and Batista overpowers him and adds a clothesline in the corner, and dumps HHH with a clothesline. They brawl outside and HHH gets rammed into the cage a few times, but recovers and sends Batista into the post. HHH adds a necksnap as Batista tries to head back into the ring, then pinballs him into the cage for a wicked bump from Batista. HHH takes over and pulls out his trusty toolbox, finding a chain there. Now what would a chain be doing in a toolbox? I’m tempted to deduct 1/4* for that. Anyway, HHH beats the hell out of Batista with it and hangs him on the top rope with it, forcing Batista to necksnap out of it. With that accomplished, he proceeds to whipping HHH like the proverbial dog with the chain. Sadly the moment is ruined somewhat by HHH blatantly telling Batista “Now post me” while on camera, which sets up Batista ramming his back into the post and cage in succession. This draws blood on HHH, who responds by coming back with a spinebuster. JR’s analysis of the situation: “He may be able to capitalize, but maybe not.” How truly insightful. HHH does, however, capitalize, by grabbing a steel chair wrapped in barbed wire. JR declares that this is why he’s called The Cerebral Assassin. Because he can hit a guy with a chair? I mean, sure, it would hurt, but it doesn’t take Einstein to figure that out. Batista absorbs some nasty shots with that weapon, and then comes back with a lariat and grabs the chair himself, continuing the theme of the match thus far. He absolutely lays into HHH’s face with it, which is pretty cool. Then we get the classic “grinding the barbed wire into his face” spot, followed by the equally-classic “cheese grater on the cage” spot. Batista adds a javelin into the cage as HHH bleeds buckets all over the place. Back into the ring, although with Batista’s luck out there tonight I’m not sure why he’d want to head back in, Batista pounds away in the corner. And indeed, he misses a charge and hits the post, allowing HHH to take over again. Shoulda stayed on the floor, Dave. HHH tries KICK WHAM PEDIGREE on the chair, but only gets as far as KICK WHAM before Dave backdrops out of it. They slug it out and Batista powerslams him on the barbed wire chair, and that gets two. JR gives him a nice backhanded compliment by noting that “he may be a no good bastard, but that was a hell of a kick out.” Not the kind of thing you can have printed on a Xmas card, but good enough. Batista grabs the chain and goes for the kill, but HHH DDTs him on the chair and Dave starts his own river of crimson. And now, because YOU demanded it, HHH pulls the sledgehammer out from under the ring. What all is UNDER there? JR of course notes that it’s as legal as a wristlock. I’d like to see a weapons match where everything is legal BUT wristlocks, just to hear what his analogy would be. They slug it out and Batista goes for the demon bomb, but HHH backdrops out of that and then does his usual Evil Plan Culmination: He hits Batista with the sledgehammer, but Batista hits him right in HIS sledgehammer. If you know what I mean. And again, Batista uses the “anything you can do” mentality and gets the hammer for himself, but runs into a chain-assisted punch from HHH. That gets two. However, when HHH tries to come off the top with the chain, Batista holds up the hammer and HHH lands on it. Well, they’re 1-1 now, I guess. Normally I hate that spot because it involves holding up a boot to block a move that couldn’t conceivably do any damage even if it wasn’t blocked. However, seeing HHH spit out blood upon impact made it pretty cool. Batista gives him a ride to the floor, via the top rope and Utica, and adds a shot to the stairs for good measure. Then in case HHH didn’t quite get enough, he grabs the stairs and rams them into HHH’s head. I was hoping for something more visually dramatic like THROWING them at HHH’s face, but that might be a bit too dangerous. Into the ring, and now the base of the stairs gets set up in the corner, and HHH meets it head on a few times. Luckily his Neanderthal forehead gives him a few inches of extra padding. With HHH dead to the world, Batista gives him the thumbs down and goes for the powerbomb, but HHH goes low and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE follows. That gets two, as someone actually gets to kick out of the deadliest move in wrestling. They actually shouldn’t have Batista do the “thumbs down” signal unless the move is gonna hit. HHH goes for another Pedigree on the stairs, but Batista counters with a NASTY spinebuster on them instead. That’s gonna hurt in the morning, man. He tries to finish with the powerbomb, as HHH grabs the sledgehammer in an effort to counter the move, but he can’t swing it in time and Batista finishes him at 26:57 to retain the title. This was HHH’s first singles loss in the Hell in a Cell match, and Batista’s last match on the RAW brand that year, as he moved to Smackdown in the draft lottery on the very next episode. Simply brutal and hellaciously violent, it ruled not only because of all the crazy violence, but because both guys exchanged stuff rather than one guy taking a beating (ie, Batista) for 20 minutes and then making a comeback. It was about Batista beating HHH at his own game (pardon the pun), and it was probably Batista’s best singles match, well, ever. ****1/4 Undertaker v. Randy Orton From Armageddon 2005. Man, Orton aged a LOT in four years. Maybe it’s all the extra tattoos and shaved head now, but he looked like a baby back then. And the Rev Theory song is definitely better suited to him and the worker he is now. Orton evades Taker to start and tries to grab the headlock, but Taker sends him to the floor. Back in, Taker with the headlock, but Orton puts him down with the dropkick for two. Orton backdrops him, but walks into a boot and gets tossed. They fight on the floor, but Orton slides back into the ring to avoid any damage and slugs away in the corner. UT fires right back on him, then wraps him around the post and pounds the ribs. To the floor, and he sends Orton into the stairs, and then absolutely decimates him with a chair, drawing blood. We get some cheese grater action to follow and Orton tries to grab a handy chain to fight back, so Taker runs him into the stairs again. Michael Cole: “Maybe he should have thought of that before he set the Undertaker’s casket on fire or blew up his car!” Only in professional wrestling do you hear people having to say lines like that with a straight face. OK, maybe Melrose Place, but sometimes. Orton manages to get the stairs and charges with them, but Taker boots them back at him. Great visual with Orton’s blood literally smeared all over the ringpost. I miss those days. Undertaker makes the mistake of stopping to glare at Cowboy Bob, however, and Randy hits the RKO out of nowhere when UT is getting back into the ring. Nice. Orton pounds away on the floor to take over and then hits him with the stairs, and we’ve got double juice. Back in, Orton chokes him out with the chain and uses a chair for two. UT bails to think about it and hauls Orton out for some headbutts, then puts him against the cage and hits a jumping splash off the stairs. Back in, Taker ropewalks, but misses a flying elbow from there. Orton retrieves a table and sets it up, while Cowboy Bob makes a nuisance of himself from the other side of the cage. Taker kicks his ass and Bob’s bleeding, and that actually set off quite the political firestorm because Bob has hepatitis and no one told Undertaker about it. Taker charges Orton and gets powerslammed into the cage, and that gets two for Randy. Back into the ring, UT with the flying clothesline for two. Old School and a Downward Spiral get two. Snake Eyes and the big boot into a legdrop get two. Chokeslam gets two, as Orton is in the ropes. As always, pinfalls count anywhere in the arena, except there. Taker with a high knee into the corner, but a second try misses and Orton hits him in the junk for good measure. Finally the table gets used as Orton puts UT on it and goes up, then puts him through with a flying splash. That gets two. Orton gets cocky and tries to pound on Taker in the corner, but gets reversed into the powerbomb. Orton escapes and bumps the ref, and it’s RKO out of that, but now we have no ref. So with the door open to attend to the ref, Cowboy Bob sneaks in as they slug it out. Taker with the Last Ride for two, but Bob pulls out the ref and decks him. Taker disposes of the Cowboy and heads back in, but his tombstone attempt is reversed by Orton into one of his own. That gets two, but Undertaker is PISSED about that and sits up. Really, only Kane can get away with that shit. Orton slugs him down, but stops to gloat and gets caught. Undertaker goes after Bob again and fights off an RKO attempt, then nails Randy with the urn, tombstones both family members, and finishes at 30:25. OK, that was a hell of a finish. Orton took a while getting into the spirit, but once he started channeling his goofy supervillain facials this was gold. **** Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon & Big Show v. HHH & Shawn Michaels From Unforgiven 2006. D-X attacks Show with a double nutshot as the crowd reminds the babyface Shawn that he screwed Bret. D-X brawls with the McMahons outside and Shane meets the steel, drawing our first blood of the match. Vince also heads into the cage and you just know he’s not gonna waste a chance to gush all over the ring. HHH finds a screwdriver and digs it into Vince’s cut, but back in the ring Big Show returns from nursing his groin and clears the ring. D-X teams up and sends him into the stairs (“the sinful steel has no conscience,” notes JR. Good to know.) Back to the beating of the McMahons, but Big Show takes over for the heels again by headbutting HHH down via the injured ear. He heads out and powerbombs Shawn into the cage, which is sinful and thus completely against everything Shawn stands for. So back in the ring and the McMahons team up on HHH while Shawn bleeds on the floor. Shane gets the Van Terminator and HHH is bleeding from the ear yet again. Outside, Shane catapults HHH from the stairs and into the cage, as the match has just ground to a halt while they literally stop and set up spots. Show hits Shawn with a pump splash, giving Vince two, but he picks Shawn up. Show with the cobra backbreaker, but Vince picks him up again at two. HHH comes back and tries a Pedigree on Vince, but Shane breaks it up with a torture rack of all things. WTF? Shawn puts Shane on the floor with an enzuigiri, but Vince clobbers him from behind and wants to have a Kiss My Ass Club meeting. Really? During a Hell in a Cell match? HHH breaks that up, but Show lays them out, and then accidentally splashes Vince in a contrived spot. D-X posts Show to get rid of him, then they destroy Shane with an atomic drop/spinebuster combo, setting up Shawn’s flying elbow onto a chair. Show recovers as this match has gone way past the expiration date, and he does that stupid spot where charges while holding the stairs and lands facefirst on them as a result. Shawn superkicks him to end his night, but Vince won’t stay down. So D-X yanks the unconscious Show’s tights down, and shove Vince’s face into his ass for the big blowoff spot. And of course, a superkick into the sledgehammer (which breaks impressively) ends this insipid feud once and for all at 22:45. I don’t even know what the point of the “new, giant Cell” was, because they barely used it outside of a couple of spots where guys got rammed into it for color. It’s nice that they blew it off so completely, but this match was overly long and really dull and didn’t need Big Show except for the Kiss My Ass spot. *** Smackdown World title: Batista v. Undertaker From Survivor Series 2007. Batista blocks a hiptoss with a clothesline, but Taker gets his own for two. Snake Eyes into the big boot gets two. They fight to the floor and Taker slugs away against the cage. Back in for the guillotine legdrop, and then a vicious spot where he jams a chair into Batista’s throat and then rams it into the stairs. Back in, he goes old school, but Batista catches him with a spinebuster in a spot I’ve never seen before. That gets two, and Batista follows with a clothesline and pounds him in the corner. Corner clothesline and running powerslam gets two. They hit the floor again and Taker goes into the cage to set up a Batista clothesline, but Taker sends Batista into the stairs to even it up. He adds a chairshot to draw blood, and gets two back in the ring. They fight to the top and Batista gets a superplex, but manages to crawl into a triangle choke attempt, but he makes the ropes and bails, bleeding all over the mats in the process. Taker tries to hit him with the stairs again, but Batista blocks it with his feet and pounds Taker into silly putty with the stairs himself. Taker is bleeding, and enjoy it while you can because that’s the last blade you’ll see in a Hell in a Cell match. Back in, Batista pounds away in the corner, but it’s a Last Ride as a result. That gets two. Chokeslam gets two. Taker goes for the tombstone, but Batista reverses to a spinebuster for two. Another one and Batista sets up a table, then puts Taker through it with the powerbomb. That gets two. Next up, the stairs get brought in, but Batista can’t powerbomb UT on them, and Taker backdrops Batista onto them for two. Tombstone gets two. Another try, this time on the stairs, and you’d think Batista would be dead and buried, but Edge (who had been the cameraman all along) pulls the ref out of the ring and clobbers UT with the camera! Having never seen this match before, I was totally caught off-guard by that and had no idea it was coming. Edge destroys Undertaker and puts Batista on top to retain at 21:23. The match wasn’t really up to the levels of the Batista-Undertaker match at Wrestlemania or anything, but that screwjob was magnificent. ***1/2 The Pulse Well this is a pretty easy recommendation, since almost everything on this set is around ****. It gets a bit much to watch the same match format over and over in one shot, but if you want the definitive collection of Cell matches in one set, this is it. Highly recommended!

Cucch’s Book Review’s: Coming Soon to a Blog Near You.

Hello again all. It is your friendly, cheap neighborhood Cucch checking in with you all to let you know, yes, your long national wet dream is over: I am returning with book reviews. The holiday season has provided me with enough vim and vigor to bring back the fun threads that I am sure will cause this site to explode. The books I have read in the past month or two include Shoemaker’s shit, Dusty’s, Gary Michael Cappetta’s, and others. A now former co-worker (read about it after the jump) gifted me a Secret Santa gift that allowed me to gain access to three books I would have found unaccessible.

I am a recovering drug addict. Painkillers. Opiates. Percoset and OxyContin, primarily OC 80’s. I cleaned up two years ago to this day, December 28, 2011. All recovering addicts remember that day. I spent two years trying to reacclimate myself to a society that had, and has, passed me by. I found a job that satisfied me, along with a girl who satisfied me, if not in a traditional sense. I started working at this pizza joint, family run but a corporation, in early September. I kicked names and took ass, and defended this other girl, also a recovering, to the point where I almost became something of an afterthought compared to her. No issues, she is my age (33) with very similar experiences and two children. I will gladly take the bullet for someone I deem worth my time…and she was. No sex, well…one time…but this was not a relationship, so to speak, based on sex or sexual tension…it was one of mutual respect and experience. She needed the hours, I did not, so I sacrificed and gave them to her, realizing that she was just awesome at her job…just like me. The two of us, two people from the same background, drugs, work experience, all of that, were the backbone of a restaurant that experienced record sales this holiday season. She last worked the 23rd, me, Christmas Eve. We both got laid off today. It had nothing to do with performance, but with how the entire company panned out. Life sucks. Now, with me, I am a single man who lives (and basically raises) his dad. No rent, free computer…hell, my dad feels so bad about me losing my job CLEAN that he is adding me to his cell phone account with a new Samsung Galaxy 4…shitty huh? This other girl, call her my girlfriend? She is me in the female form, only she is a little behind in recovery and has two children. One of who’s birthday is in six days.

Enough with the melancholy, here are the books I have read and/or am about to:

-Dusty Rhodes
-Shoemaker’s shit
-Capetta’s (Don’t sleep)
-Missy Hyatt
-Bruce Hart
-The one SK book I have not read…Made Men.

There is the list. Pick one.

Book Reviews

Just sending a friendly reminder. I will be posting some more book reviews soon, I just had a little bout with illness that has slammed me shut recently. Add in the NBA and NHL Playoffs (Bruins BABY!) and I have just been preoccupied. For the half dozen or so who enjoy the things, they will be back shortly. I apologize to those people for the wait. I am reading two books right now, let me know what you would prefer: Animal’s bio on the Road Warriors or Ted DiBiase’s WWE book. And please, try not to torch me too much. Been a tough three weeks.

Complete 1998 Monday Night Raw Reviews E-Book

I’m trying my hand at online publishing by combining a large group of
my reviews into an e-book.  The first one I have is the complete 1998
Monday Night Raw reviews which is now available for only $5 on
Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B9K3POI

From what I understand this is available on all international versions of Amazon as well.  If you’re not from America, search “KB’s Complete 1998 Monday Night Raw Reviews” to find it.

This is on a Kindle format but if you don’t have a Kindle, there are free apps for just about every electronic device you could own.  Here’s a link to every possible one.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771

Depending on how this goes I’ll make more of them in the future.  Please check this one out.
If you have any other questions please let me know.

KB

Tryout: Brian Bayless Reviews NWA-TNA

June 19, 2002 Live from the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville, AL Jeremy Borash is the ring announcer. Don West is announced first. Watching it live, I found it hilarious that the guy shilling sportscards on the “Shop At Home” network was on a wrestling show. Seriously, that show was the fucking funniest thing to watch late at night. You think he was apeshit in TNA then you haven’t seen him blow a gasket at opening up a pack of basketball cards to find a Chris Mullin rookie card. He does an alright job of pumping up the crowd though. Ed Ferrara is out next and billed as the “most influential man in wrestling.” Even more ridiculous than that is his hairstyle, which consists of awful looking dreadlocks. I’ll call them shitlocks. Anyway, he cuts a lame bit about being a fan of TNA but not necessarily a fan of Total Nonstop Action. The crowd doesn’t care about Ferrara. He then turns it over to Mike Tenay at the broadcast booth and refers to him as the “Professor of Vanilla.” Tenay puts over the history and tradition of the NWA. He goes on about respecting history and plugs the “Gauntlet for the Gold” tonight that will feature 20 wrestlers. He explains the rules, which is two wrestlers in the ring every 90 seconds and an opponent is eliminated when he goes over the top rope and on to the floor. Jeremy Borash is in the ring to announce the legends of the NWA. Harley Race is out first and looks decent all things considered. Dory Funk comes out and still looks like he can kick some ass, even at age 61 . Jackie Fargo is out next and Tenay brags about him being a first-ballot “Wrestling Observer Newsletter HOF” as Ferrara sarcastically pretends he has never heard of the publication. Bob Armstrong is out next to a decent reaction. Corsica Joe and Sara Lee are out next , looking ancient. At least Sara Lee seems to know where she is as Joe looks completely lost. Bill Behrens is out next. Exactly how is he a legend? Ricky Steamboat is out last and cuts a passionate but long-winded promo about the importance of the NWA title. He talks about his match with Flair in Chicago 89 to become champion and states the NWA belt means more to him than any other belt then proceeds to compare it to every other sport’s championship. He mentioned that the NWA representatives have picked 20 wrestlers for the Gauntlet and that he will be referee when the last two left. Jeff Jarrett comes out and Tenay is livid that he interrupted the festivities. Jarrett calls the gauntlet the biggest joke and runs down the legends while frequently stating how having a battle royal to determine the title is stupid. Fargo then incoherently cuts a promo, forgetting that you actually need to speak into the microphone. He makes Jarrett the 1st contender in the gauntlet, who states he doesn’t care and will win by kicking 19 other asses. Ken Shamrock comes out and also thinks the gauntlet is a dumb idea. Great, even the faces are shitting all over the idea of having a battle royal. He tells Jarrett that he can kick the other 18 asses in the gauntlet but not his. Shamrock is not that great of a promo guy and certainly wasn’t anything special here. Hall comes out from the crowd, who Tenay calls “Wrestling’s Real Outlaw.” Hall also agrees with the other two about the gauntlet being a dumb idea, but says its going to happen and to quit crying and focus on one person, Scott Hall. Jarrett disses everyone and says Fargo will regret his decision of making him #1. This whole segment was idiotic. It begins by promoting the tradition of the NWA and ends with the three top contestants stating the gauntlet, which is the main event and going to determine the NWA champion, was a dumb idea. No one came off looking good here. Backstage, Goldylocks interviews Puppet the Psycho dwarf. She is not good in her role at all. He says midgets are the true stars and came to TNA to see “midget blood.” At least Puppet can cut a halfway decent promo. Jarrett can be seen yelling about Fargo and kicking a barrel in the background. Cage dancers are shown before the competitors are announced. They look quite skanky. AJ Styles & Low Ki & Jerry Lynn vs Flying Elvises (Jorge Estrada, Sonny Siaki, Jimmy Yang) Before the match, the legends are shown backstage looking at the monitor. They show them looking proud at the faces and shaking their heads in disbelief at the Flying Elvises. Tenay plugs the X Division, stating there was no weight limit and mentions the round robin next week to crown the first ever X Division champion. The faces get attacked from behind to start but quickly gain the advantage and dump Siaki & Estrada, leaving Yang and Styles in the ring. AJ gets a powerslam and knocks Yang down with a chop. Yang then pancakes Styles and nails him with a leg lariat for two. Styles breaks up a suplex with a forearm and tags Lynn, who lands a few stomps. Lynn reverses an Irish whip and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Yang charges the corner and eats a boot from Lynn. Lynn gets a tornado DDT but Yang pops right up and hits an enziguri. He then gets a moonsault kick in the corner and tags Siaki. He misses a somersault leg drop and Lynn comes back with a tilt-a-whirl headscissor takeover. Bulldog off a wheelbarrow gets two for Lynn, who tags Low Ki. He lands some chops but Siaki quickly regains control and hits a spinning neckbreaker for two. Siaki misses a charge but ducks a kick and gets a backbreaker for two. Estrada tags in and gets a split-legged moonsault for two. He puts Low Ki on the top turnbuckle and gets a running neckbreaker. Running shooting star press gets two. Low Ki manages to dropkick the knees of Estrada and kicks the shit out of him. Both men make the tag and its now Styles and Yang. Styles gets a flying forearm, which Yang sells quite dramatically. Styles hits the phenomenon for two. Yang floats over on a german suplex attempt and kills Styles with a spinning heel kick, which gets two before Low Ki makes the save. Low Ki back drops Yang on the apron and takes him down with the tidal wave. Estrada comes in and hits a spinebuster on Low Ki and Lynn breaks up the pin attempt at two. He hits the cradle piledriver for two but is nailed from behind by Siaki, who gets a neckbreaker. Styles crushes Siaki with a kick. Yang comes in and Styles holds him up for Low Ki but he escapes and Styles eats the kick. Estrada comes off the top with a missle dropkick to the back of Low Ki and it allows Yang to go up and hit the Yangtime for the win (6:21). *** Thoughts: A spot-fest but a good way to showcase the idea of the X Division, which was plugged during the match as being “extreme.” All 6 men had a chance to shine and it made you intrigue to see what will happen next week. Hollywood vs Teo Hollywood nails Teo from behind and gets in some punches. Teo manages to duck a clothesline attempt and hit some really sloppy looking headscissor takedown. That looked awful. He gets Hollywood in the corner and pulls his shirt over his face before chopping his chest. Headbutt to the groin is followed by ten mounted punches in the corner capped off with pelvic thrusts to the face. The crowd loved that. Hollywood catches Teo in the corner and gets a Michinoku Driver for two, then yells at the ref for counting slowly. Teo manages a quick rollup for two but his immediately put back down by a clothesline. Hollywood goes to the top rope and gets a splash for two. Teo manages to gain the upper hand and hits a side Russian legsweep in another awful looking spot. He goes up top and overshoots the senton by a mile but Hollywood sells it anyway and Teo gets the win. (2:49) ¼* Thoughts: Even as a quick match, it was terrible. The crowd did enjoy the comedy spots so it served somewhat of a purpose. Don West and Ed Ferrara are in the ring to bring out the contestants for next week’s Miss TNA Lingerie Battle Royal. Francine is introduced first and the crowd reacts to her a bit. Miss Joni is out next to no reaction as she is a complete unknown. Shannon is out next as West screws up and mentions how she was known as Daffney in “ECW” before correcting himself. Alexis Laree (Mickie James before the cosmetic enhancement surgery) is out next to a decent little reaction. I should mention how the camera work is just awful here. They keep panning to the wrong girl as they are being introduced. Sasha is out next and I have no clue as to who she is either. Erin Bray is the next unknown to be announced. Elektra is next and gets a bit of a pop from the crowd. Taylor Vaughn is out next and actually looks like someone who could be a star, despite only having brief cups of coffee with WWE and WCW a few years prior. Rebecca Briggs is out next and I have no clue as to who she is either. Francine grabs the mic and calls West “pudgy” before running down her competition. Elektra steps up and mention how Francine bankrupted “another company” and that there is no “extreme” here. The two have a catfight and Elektra gets her shirt ripped off and gets covered up by West. Francine goes outside and mentions how she will be crowned “Miss TNA” after winning the battle royal. Between the shitty camerawork, the lackluster competitors, and the general overall presentation, the whole thing came off as third-rate garbage. I mean, compared to what the WWE Divas consisted of at this time, it was like night and day. Goldylocks interviews manager Mortimer Plumtree. He goes on about how his team, The Johnsons, does whatever he says. A generic promo that introduced the new team. Plumtree did fine in his role. The Johnsons w/Mortimer Plumtree vs Psychosis & “Cowboy” James Storm Before the match, Storm stands on the top rope and fires off cap guns, prompting Ferrara to mention how he thought cowboy gimmicks were outlawed in 1992. The Johnsons, named Richard & Rod, are the Shane Twins (Or the Gymini if anyone remembers that uneventful run in the WWE with Simon Dean) under masks and generic looking body full costumes. They are impossible to tell apart under the masks. Johnson #1 starts by booting Psychosis. Double underhook suplex get two. Snap suplex gets two. Psychosis ducks a chop and manages to get a spinning heel kick. The other Johnson comes in and gets nailed with an enziguri. Tag to Storm who hits Johnson #1 with a missle dropkick. The Johnson’s regroup outside as Alicia (Ryan Shamrock) comes down the ramp. The camera continues to focus on Alicia as Storm and one of the Johnson’s lock up as West and Ferrara make god-awful penis jokes. He takes Storm down with an armdrag and tosses him over the ropes, who skins the cat and stars firing away. He gets a bulldog and makes the tag to Psychosis. Basement dropkick on Johnson is followed by a few chops. Psychosis boucnes off the ropes but gets pulled down by the illegal man, allowing the Johnsons to hit a few double team moves. Psychosis gets beaten on for a while until he gets a facecrusher off of a powerbomb attempt. Both men make the tag and Storm is on fire. The crowd is completely silent during all of this. Storm manages to get a hurricarana and all four men are in the ring. The Johnsons hit stereo belly-to-belly overhead suplexes. That looked good, actually. Storm and one of the Johnson’s are left in the ring. Storm gets a roll-up but is tossed while attempting a tornado DDT. Plumtree distracts Storm by tripping him up, allowing one of the Johnson’s to hit the TKO for the win. (4:49) *1/4. Post match, referee Slick Johnson is stopped and harassed by Alicia as he walks up the ramp. After some pestering, he gives her a wad of cash. Thoughts: The Johnsons did some decent power stuff and Storm showed something here despite no one having a clue as to who he is. However, the ending was lame and the match itself was meaningless. The Alicia bit was a waste of time. Goldylocks interviews the Dupps backstage, who are drinking beer. The Dupps consist of Bo, Stan (later known as Trevor Murdoch in the WWE), and Fluff. Bill Behrens comes out and says how there is no “beer drinking” allowed in the locker room and that he does not want intoxicated wrestlers in the ring. He couldn’t have possibly sounded like a bigger dork in this segment. We learn that Bo and Stan share Fluff and goldilocks walks away, disgusted. Another bush-league segment. NASCAR drivers Hermie Sadler and Sterling Martin are in the ring. They go on about their upcoming races as K-Krush (Ron Killings) comes out and runs down the drivers for not being athlete’s like “his kind” are. He goes on for a bit and grabs Sadler until Brian Christopher comes in for the save. The drivers toss K-Krush out of the ring and Christopher issues a challenge for next week, stating how his kind will be there. He appears to be coked out of his mind. A stupid angle that hinted a racism while bringing in celebrities. Backstage, Jeff Jarrett is choking out Jackie Fargo until refs and officials make the save. The Dupps w/Fluff Dupp vs Christian York & Joey Matthews Fluff distracts York & Matthews, allowing the Dupps to get the advantage. They beat on Matthews for a bit until York gets back in the ring and hits a springboard dropkick on both Dupps. Double suplex on Bo. Stan gets a full nelson slam and tags in Bo, who boots down Matthews and hits a splash for two. Stan tags back in and lands a few chops before getting caught with a neckbreaker. Both men make the tag and York cleans house. Bo blocks a sunsetflip but misses a sitdown splash. York with mounted punches to Bo in the corner and hits a back elbow smash on Stan, who was trying to make the save. York with a fireman’s carry slam and he yells a lot before hitting a senton . Stan breaks up the pin attempt at two. Matthews comes back in the ring, only to go right back out as he takes out Stan and himself with a crossbody. York gets a tornado DDT on Bo and does some more posing and yelling. He comes off as incredibly annoying, not a good idea when you are the face. He goes up top and stands up there for way too long before Fluff crotches him and Bo gets the pin for the win. (3:39) ½* Thoughts: Bad match. The end looked terrible and there was no flow at all. Another meaningless tag match that the crowd sat through silently. 20 Man Gauntlet for the Gold Jeff Jarrett is #1 and Buff Bagwell comes out as #2, getting a nice pop from the crowd. He beats on Jarrett for a while and hits the blockbuster. He charges at Jarrett but ends up getting backdropped to the floor and eliminated. Lash Leroux enters at #3 and immediately gets destroyed. He is carrying about 30 lbs more in his gut than when he was last seen in WCW. Jarrett tosses him through the middle ropes and beats the shit out of him before throwing him back in the ring. He hits the stroke and tosses him over the top rope and on to the floor. Norman Smiley is #4 and the crowd reacts favorably towards him. He immediately is met by stomps. He tries the big wiggle but is clotheslined down. Smiley manages to get a scoop slam but plays to the crowd for a bit too long, allowing Jarrett to get a low blow. He hits the stroke and eliminates Norman by tossing him to the floor. Apolo enters at #5 and catches Jarrett with a spinebuster. He tosses Jarrett over the ropes, who manages to land on the apron. He comes back in and Apolo has him up for the press slam when entrant #6, K-Krush, comes in and breaks that up as the announcers go on about how stupid that was and hint at a possible allegiance between K-Krush and Jarrett as the two take turns beating on Apolo. Slash, with James Mitchell, enters at #7. Quite the different look than when he was Wolfie D. He does nothing of note and just blends in with everyone else. Del Rios is in at #8, looking like a Scott Steiner rip-off. He even has the Superman logo on the back of his trunks. He gets bitten by Slash and also does nothing of note. Justice (Abyss) enters at #9. He boots down Jarrett and Rios. Jarrett attempts to eliminate Apolo but falls short. Konnan enters at #10 and hits rolling clotheslines on everyone, capped off with a jumping armbreaker to Justice. He actually showed some fire here. Joel Gertner comes out and rhymes about himself before introducing Bruce of the Rainbow Express, who is led to the ring by Lenny Lane as entrant #11. He does nothing of note and blends right in with the rest of the dead weight. Rick Steiner comes in at #12 and clotheslines the shit out of everyone. He eliminates Slash with an overhead throw and Justice with a clothesline. Malice comes in at #13. He was the Wall in WCW and is noticeably lighter here. He chokeslams just about everyone then eliminates Bruce, K-Krush, Del Rios, and Konnan by tossing them over the top rope. Steiner charges at Malice and he gets backdropped to the floor. Scott Hall is #14 and gets a nice reaction. He hits the razor’s edge on Jarrett after cleaning house on everyone else. Country star Toby Keith comes out wearing a bandana and gets a good looking vertical suplex on Jarrett, then Hall joins him and they toss Jarrett over the top rope and on to the floor. Toby then casually leaves the ring. Apolo and Hall join up to beat on Mailce. “Wildcat” Chris Harris enters at #15, looking lean and in shape, basically the exact opposite of what he looks like now. He shows some fire but the crowd couldn’t care less. Vampire Warrior enters immediately after at #16. I guess the 90 second rule does not apply to him. He stomps on Apolo for a bit. Devon Storm is #17 and him and Harris take turns chopping each other. Hall begins to rest in the corner and then perches himself on the top turnbuckle. Way to collect a paycheck. Steve Corino is #18 and he teams up with Storm against Hall. Not a whole lot going until Ken Shamrock enters at #19. He kills everyone until he jumps at Malice, who catches him in mid-air and slams him down. Brian Christopher is #20. He immediately throws out Harris, Storm and the Vampire Warrior. He then eliminates Corino via clothesline before walking into a chokeslam by Malice. Shamrock, Malice, Hall, and Apolo all stare each other down until Shamrock runs over and tosses Christopher, eliminating him from the match. Apolo charges towards Malice and gets eliminated via backdrop. Hall attempts to get Malice up for the razor’s edge but gets backdropped and eliminated, leaving Malice and Shamrock as the last two contestants. (30:35) ** Thoughts: A dull battle royal. The competition was weak but the formula of the match seemingly consisted of a guy coming in, hitting a move, and then blending right in. The eliminations were not memorable and the confrontations were forgettable. Apolo came out of this looking somewhat decent but overall, a waste of time. NWA World Title Match Special Guest Referee Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat Malice vs Ken Shamrock Malice boots Shamrock and gets a sideslam for two. Vertical suplex gets two. Shamrock’s attempt at a sunsetflip is blocked but he manages to block a chokeslam with a cross armlock. Malice eventually makes it to the ropes. He makes a brief comeback with chops but misses a clothesline. Shamrock catches Malice’s foot and turns it into an anklelock. Malice makes it to the ropes as Shamrock and Steamobat argue about breaking he hold. Shamorck kicks Malice in the legs but gets booted down. Malice again tries for the chokeslam but Shamrock blocks that and hits a belly-to-belly suplex for the win. (6:22) *1/2. The camera cuts out back to show Fargo and Keith being held back from Jarrett by security. Jarrett makes his way down the ring and continues to bitch about the gauntlet being a ridiculous idea. He punches Armstrong, knocking him on the announcers table before Scott Hall runs for the save and brawls with Jarrett. Ferrara plugs Hall vs Jarrett for next week. Thoughts: What the fuck was that? The promotion debuts by having a champion win the title with a belly-to-belly suplex. Gimme a break. As for the match, it wasn’t good and you could actually hear Malice call a spot at one point. The end of the show focused on Jarrett, the heel, and him being screwed out of the title. Final Thoughts: A terrible start for NWA TNA. This did not come off as an alternative to the WWE as it was third-rate sports entertainment for Southern stereotypes. You had midgets, Country Music singers, NASCAR drivers, Elvis impersonators, rednecks, and a tag-team made to look like penises. The production values were subpar and the whole overall presentation of the product was poor. Hell, even the WWA shows at this time were better. Besides the opening match, there was nothing worth seeing.

Caliber reviews The Amazing Spider-Man

I love Spider-Man. I have ever since I can remember, to be honest.
Even at 28, I still have a Spider-Man bathrobe, bath mat, keychain, and I
brush my Spider-Teeth with a Spider-Man tooth brush.

After I saw the under-rated Spider-Man 3 in theaters, I thought I’d
probably be well into my 30′s before I saw another film with Spidey. So,
it was much to my shock, and I’ll admit, horror, that I found out they
were already planning a reboot of the series. I didn’t have too much
confidence in the whole project at first, but once things started to
come together, I came around to it.

The film obviously reboots the whole series, but it doesn’t follow
the same story exactly. There’s no wrestling match, there’s no real
chance to stop the bad-guy, there’s no “with great power comes great
responsibility”. We get Peter back in highschool, we have him being
brilliant as well as bullied, and of course we have the spider bite.
Now, with some super hero films, you’re just waiting for the costume to
come around, and for our hero to start kicking ass. However, with TASM,
Andrew Garfield & Emma Stone are damn entertaining & charismatic
to the point where you’re interested in watching them interact, and
seeing where their story goes. I also like how they make it seem that
Peter becoming Spider-Man was practically his birthright, his fate. How
Dr. Conners becomes The Lizard is well done too, because the two
actually share a bit of the same origins, where as in most comic book
films, the bad-guy just happens to come along by chance. Where’s here,
the hero & the villain are born of the same vein.

My favorite moment of the whole film is when Peter has realized
what’s going on, heads to a warehouse to sort out things, and find out
just what he’s capable of. There’s a fantastic song by Coldplay being
played called Kingdom Come, that’s a gorgeous song that frames a
beautiful scene. Peter’s realizing just what these powers can do and
what they mean, and for me, that’s what Spider-Man was all about as a
kid. It’s about growing up, and learning about yourself, and what you’re
capable of. Your talents & abilities, and just what you should do
with them. What they can do for you, and for others. This scene captures
that feeling perfectly.

They really nailed Spider-Man’s character in this film. Having him
build the webshooters was great, and something I really felt was missing
from the original series. His humor, and want to show off and toy with
the bad-guys was something that he loved to do at the beginning of the
original series, and something I’m glad they made sure to put in.
Because hell, what teenager wouldn’t act like that? Having him destroy
things when he first gains his power was a brilliant idea, and something
we’d never seen in any of the other films. A very original idea that
helped to flesh this series into it’s own, as opposed to just another
attempt at box-office records.

A lot of people want to complain about The Lizard, but I had no
problem with it. Dr. Conners was great, portraying someone who had an
anger and resentment below the surface by the fact that others had
something he didn’t, and that he kept coming so close to success, but
always fell short. Once he became the Lizard, he was drunk with the
power it gave him, and felt he’d be a God of sorts if he himself ushered
in the new evolution of man.

There’s a ton of great cinematography, with massive shots of the
city, wide, sweeping landscapes, and incredible shots of Spider-Man
flowing through the city, as well as POV shots that give you a spider’s
eye view. The battle scenes were just as good as anything else in the
film. They were fast & fluid, with Spider-Man being truly out
matched,  narrowly escaping death by a 1/16th of an inch, wand The
Lizard getting closer with each attempt. Naturally, some people want to
complain about the CGI, but if it was a guy in a suit, they’d complain
about that too. So, fuck’em.

If I have any complaints about the film, it’s that Parker gives away
the fact he’s Spider-Man too often. I mean, the basketball ordeal.
Throwing the football that bends the goal post. Web-slinging down town
without a mask. C’mon. If I’d seen any of that, I would have pieced it
together pretty quick. But honestly, that’s really my only gripe.

In the end, Spider-Man has always done one thing; make me want to be
the best man that I can be. For myself, and for others. This film reassured that fact, as well as show you what can lay ahead for a hero.
What prices one may have to pay when they’re given a gift. Spidey has
always influenced me to be the better man for myself, and for those
around me. Hopefully this film will influence a whole new generation of
kids to do the same. If not, well, there’s always The Punisher.

****3/4 out of 5

– Caliber
Str8 Gangster, No Chaser – for movie reviews, an interview with a Muslim, and plenty of other crap to get you through the day.