A shame he wasn't TOUGH ENOUGH to appreciate the TOUGH LOVE I gave him.
A shame he wasn't TOUGH ENOUGH to appreciate the TOUGH LOVE I gave him.
A shame he wasn't TOUGH ENOUGH to appreciate the TOUGH LOVE I gave him.
What’s good everybody? My name is Justin Baisden, a long time pro wrestling fan and avid viewer of Japanese wrestling (Puroresu) specifically. I used to work with (for?) Scott 15 years ago during The Smarks “era.” In any case, with New Japan’s recent big show being broadcast in North America with an English speaking commentary team of Matt Striker and Jim Ross, I thought it a prime opportunity to write a review for the show. Hopefully I’ll be covering all future New Japan big shows and PPV’s in the coming year.
I’m basically going to try and provide back story for those of you who don’t know the workers involved or the history behind some of the matches. Please feel free to ask any follow up questions in the comments and I’ll endeavour to answer.
Also note I will try to talk about the matches without providing the winners. While the information is all over the Internet, I’ve always found I enjoy pro wrestling and sports as a whole far more if I don’t know the outcome.
ReDragon vs The Young Bucks vs The Time Splitters vs The Forever Holligans (IWGP Junior Tag Titles) ReDragon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) are the champs here. They won the titles from The Time Splitters (Alex Shelly & KUSHIDA) the recent Power Sruggle PPV (11/08/2014 ****½). The participants in the 4 way are 4 of the last 5 Junior Tag champs (TAKA Michinoku and Taichi were left out). The match itself is an extended spotfest. The earlier matches on this show were rushed as Japanese “big shows” tend to run very long. Most Wrestle Kingdom shows are in the 4.5 hour range. Obviously that isn’t going to fly on US PPV so the poor Juniors and a couple of other non consequential matches got hacked up. The teams essentially cram as much as they can into the 10 minutes they were given. Poor JR is completely lost (a theme for the first ½ of the show) as he’s unfamiliar with everyones moves. The team to watch is The Young Bucks (brothers out of Southern California who look like the late 90’s Hardy Boyz). They’re the glue here as they provide the most innovative spots and also take the brunt of every other teams punishment. I’d classify them as the best Junior Tag Team in the world right now and can’t recommend their work highly enough from here, Ring Of Honour, or Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. There’s an absolutely spectacular spot where The Bucks are hit with a double Doomsday Device, land on their feet (WOW!) and then Double Superkick Alex Kozlov & Alex Shelly. If you like your matches fast and spotty you’ll enjoy it. Juniors typically play better with more time to build their spots in smaller venues. ***½
Jeff Jarrett & Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma So the heels are part of a primarily foreign (gaijin) stable called The Bullet Club. Jarrett debuted on 08/14 during the G-1 Climax Finals (major tournament) in New Japan as the face of Global Force Wrestling. He was invited by New Japan’s president and then immediately turned, hitting Hiroshi Tanahashi (the company’s “Ace”) with his guitar and joining The Bullet Club. Bad Luck Fale and Takahashi are part of the stable but are filler here. On the other side, there is veteran tag team and crowd favourite TenKoji + perennial jobber loved by all (think Santino Marella) Honma. Like the opener, this is very rushed, only going a little over 5 minutes. It’s a back and forth 6 man until Jarrett introduces the guitar and shenanigans ensue. A completely nothing match. *½
Toru Yano & Naomichi Marufuji & MIkey Nicholls & Shane Haste vs Takashi Iizuka & Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer & Shelton X Benjamin This is like a convoluted grudge match. Yano and Iizuka were partners in the stable called CHAOS (with caps). Iizuka turned on Yano and joined the heel stable Suzukigun. Now instead of a singles match for the blowoff, we got an 8 man tag. On top of that, Yano didn’t know who his partners were until the last New Japan show of 2014. He announced Marufuji (Pro Wrestling NOAH GHC Champion) and The Mighty Don’t Kneel (TMDK if you see the acronym around) who are the top foreign tag team in NOAH, as his ringers. New Japan has bought a majority stake in NOAH and plans a lot of Interpromotional stuff in the upcoming year. This match is really a backdrop to introduce Killer Elite Squad (Smith & Archer) as new opponents to TMDK in NOAH in 2015. Again, a very rushed match. I was gushing to see Benjamin but he literally has 2 moves in the entire match. This only goes 5 minutes but again, it’s more a launching pad to NJPW vs NOAH in the coming year. There’s an absolutely insane spot with Archer Choke Slamming Shane Haste into the stratosphere but otherwise it’s just filler. *½
Kazushi Sakuraba vs Minoru Suzuki (UWFi Rules) To be clear, the rules mean you can only win via submission, Knock Out, or referee stoppage. This is a worked shoot dream match, though I’d say 10 years too late. Suzuki was the first Pancrese champion. Sakuraba is arguably responsible for PRIDE exploding as an MMA promotion in the early 2000’s thanks to his feud with the Gracie’s. I know I’m really condensing his significance with that statement but if you want a detailed history piece I’ll do one in the future. This sort of links into the previous match. After Iizuka turned, Yano began a feud with Suzukigun. He needed a partner for the big Dominion PPV (06/21/2014) and brought in Sakuraba to take on Iizuka & Suzuki. The match was a mess. The key though was Suzuki & Iizuka attacking Sakuraba afterwards and leaving him laying. They re-matched at Power Struggle and Sakuraba went over clean. This match got time, but could have used 5 more minutes. These guys worked STIFF as is the norm for worked shoot style. The story of the match was Sakuraba seemingly breaking Suzuki’s arm with a Kimura Lock at the mid way point and Suzuki having to work with 1 arm. It’s an odd story as you’d figure the face would work with the injury. In either case, the crowd was very hot for this one coming off a 6 month build. Both guys worked very hard and the story is enthralling after the “arm break.” ***½
Togi Makabe vs Tomohiro Ishii (NEVER Open Weight Title) New blood Evolution Valiantly Eternal Radical. I might as well get that out of the way now. There’s no major back story to this match. Makabe challenged Ishii after his successful title defense against Hirooki Goto at Power Struggle (absolute war of a match ****½). Makabe went over Ishii in a 6 man tag on the final show of the year and here we are. Shocking how simple booking works sometimes. If you’ve never seen Ishii in a big match, the best way to describe him would be “guy willing to die for you.” Every major Ishii match makes you cringe. Not because of blood (though he ended up coughing up blood in the Goto match from the beating) or weapons, but because you are guaranteed to see the stiffest match on the card. These two just beat the holy hell out of each other. It’s just Lariats and chops and forearms that should by all rights break your jaw. Ishii’s got a bad right shoulder (legit) and Makabe smashes that thing to bits with Sledges. You can’t help but grow invested as you’re left wondering who will possibly be able to withstand all the punishment each guy is laying down. The smack of flesh and flying sweat from all the brutal Lariats will make you clutch your own chest. A completely different style of match from anything else on the card and a true joy if you’re into simple stiff wrestling. ****
Kenny Omega vs Ryusuke Taguchi (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title) Omega is a Canadian who has been working Japan regularly for years. He’s actually a very good wrestler with flat out amazing facial expressions. He was in WWE developmental for a while but hated the experience. It’s a shame because he looks like a natural for WWE. In any case, he was working the Japanese independant DDT promotion until 3 months ago when he jumped to New Japan. He immediately joined The Bullet Club and challenged Taguchi at Power Struggle after the conclusion of his title defense. I’ll be honest in saying I”m not the biggest Taguchi fan. He’s a solid worker with a diverse moveset and some charisma but I’ve never been able to get into his matches. He used to be far more tolerable as Prince Devitt (Finn Balor now in NXT) partner but now he’s just a near Eddie Guerrero clone who you know will give you a ***+ match and nothing more. Actually Randy Orton is a the closest comparison. The previously mentioned Devitt turned on Taguchi a year and ½ ago when he formed The Bullet Club with Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. Taguchi has been going back and forth with that stable ever since. This was an enjoyable match. Omega is a big junior and uses a lot of unique power moves while still moving at a blistering pace. There’s a beautiful spot where he uses a Dipped Suplex. It looks simple but it’s very difficult and uses a lot of power. Omega carries the match. He heels it up, sometimes with interference from The Young Bucks (who accompanied him) and gives Taguchi the perfect opportunity for hope spots. I’ll give Taguchi his props in that he ramps up the charisma here. At one point he tosses Omega and then does Devitt’s signature kneel pose before hitting a Tope Con Hilo. I would expect to see a series between these two over the next few months. Omega is a treat to watch if you’re into the little things like facial expressions, creative selling, and working the crowd. ***¼
Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows (IWGP Tag Team Titles) Goto & Shibata are legitimate high school friends and rivals. They had an emotional feud and when it was over they became a tag team. They went into the annual World Tag League and went over the champs in the finals (12/07/2014 ***1/4) to earn this title shot. Anderson & Gallows come into the match having held the titles for 1 year, winning the belts from Killer Elite Squad at Wrestle Kingdom 8. I’m a big fan of Anderson/Gallows. They’re big men that work a fast pace but incorporate lots of power moves. JR makes a comparison of Karl Anderson to Arn Anderson and he’s spot on. If you’re unfamiliar, you may know Doc Gallows as the former Festus and then Luke Gallows from CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society. He’s carved a prominent role for himself in New Japan. This match was oddly short (10 minutes) but the pace never slows. Anderson in particular brought his working boots for this one. They packed a ton of work into a short amount of time and it was fun while it lasted. 20 minutes with a slower build likely would have yielded a MOTYC. ***½
Tetsyua Naito vs AJ Styles Yoshi Tatsu (yes that Yoshi Tatsu) had come back to New Japan at the King Of Pro Wrestling PPV (10/13/2014), was promoted as a major WWE star, and immediately was thrust into a major program with The Bullet Club. He faced Styles at Power Struggle and was defeated. He also broke his neck taking The Styles Clash (I’ll get into that in a second). The Bullet Club beat him down after the match and Naito made the save. They had a big staredown. The crowd went bonkers and the match was signed. Now as for The Styles Clash, there’s been a bit of an issue with that move over the last couple years. It’s either very safe or can kill you. See most wrestlers tuck their head taking a bump. It’s almost a reflex action. With the Styles Clash, you have to lean your head back. Every so often, this goes horribly wrong and the result is a broken neck. That’s the case with Yoshi Tatsu at present. There are a lot of fans who are calling for the banning of the move. In New Japan’s case, they ran with it for all that it’s worth and pushed the move as “deadly.” Both guys are fast paced, hard hitting, high flying, workers and can put on a hell of a show on any given night. That was no different here. I wouldn’t say they tore the house down but they put on a very worthy performance of their skills with the simple story of “don’t get hit by The Styles Clash.” Respect to New Japan for making the best of an awful situation. ***½
Kota Ibushi vs Shinsuke Nakamura (Intercontinental Title) So this goes back a year and ½. These two faced off during the G-1 Climax 2013 (08/03 ****½) in a true MOTYC. It’s very telling of their respective talent as Ibushi was a Junior Heavyweight at the time. In the vast majority of cases, a Junior does not go over a main event Heavyweight. Suspension of disbelief is key to some of the truly fantastic pro wrestling matches over the years. Everyone was hyped for a re-match during the 2014 G-1 but Ibushi suffered a devastating concussion July 4th against KUSHIDA in dropping the IWGP Jr Title. He was out for nearly two months just for an idea of how bad it really was. He came back and sort of re-debuted this time as a Heavyweight. He gained 10lbs (or so they say) and would now challenge exclusively with the big boys. This match was to get revenge after their last encounter and be his coming out party. Nakamura, if you’re unfamiliar, is considered by many to be the best overall pro wrestler on the planet right now. He is the ideal fusion of hard hitting, fast paced, creative, charismatic, the list goes on and on. If you have a check list for the ideal pro wrestler, he’s it.
JR is in his element here. He pushes Ibushi as a young kid looking to overtake the established guy. Truth be told, Ibushi is 32, though he could pass for 25. Nakamura has lived a HARD career and it shows. He’s 34 and looks 45. Ibushi plays the spunky kid to a tee. He’s flashy in his moves. He steals Nakamura’s signature moves and mannerisms to insult the established star. Nakamura plays asshole grumpy main eventer, corralling Ibushi from getting out of hand and beating the piss out of the guy whenever he can. They came up with some of the most creative spots I have ever seen including an Apron German Suplex where Ibushi stood on the top rope and Suplexed Nakamura standing on the apron, OVER the top rope into the ring. I don’t know anyone who has said they’ve seen that spot before. You as a viewer are drawn in from the get go with the nuclear hot crowd that doesn’t stop yelling for 20 minutes. Stiff in strikes, fluid in moves, nail biting in its near falls, and layered upon layered in story, this was a true classic and has a viable chance to hold up as Match Of The Year, only 4 days into 2015. ****¾
Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (IWGP Heavyweight Title) These two have a history going back nearly 3 years. Okada was a “young boy” (rookie) who left New Japan to go to TNA in 2010. In Japan, a lot of wrestlers go on “excursion” and ascend from a no personality black trunks kid into a character that they’ll go with for the remainder of their career. They learn new styles from other non Japanese wrestlers, incorporate it into their own unique style, and go forth from there. Okada was used as a jobber in TNA over 2 years. When he returned to New Japan in 2012, he created The Rainmaker persona. The idea is that he’s a money maker, wanting only the best money can buy for himself, family, and fans. Yen drops from the ceiling onto the fans during his entrance. He challenged then IWGP Champion Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 6 (01/04/2012). Fans thought their match at the New Beginnings PPV (02/12/2012 ****) would be competitive but nothing major. In an absolute shock, Okada went over the for the title using his debuting Rainmaker finisher (Wrist Clutch Step Through Lariat) and was instantly made into a star. They’ve since had 5 more matches (Okada with a 3 – 2 – 1 overall series lead). The two had been kept apart for 13 months, having last battled at the King Of Pro Wrestling PPV (10/14/2013 ****¾). It was considered the true passing of the torch as Tanahashi vowed never to challenge Okada for the belt again. Then Tanahashi defeated AJ Styles for the title on King Of Pro Wrestling this year (10/13/2014 ****). Okada had been chasing the belt but couldn’t beat Styles time after time. So now we got the 7th match in their series, as Tanahashi did not have to challenge for the belt.
Unlike Nakamura/Ibushi, this wasn’t so much about story as it was working the best possible match. This was super heated. I thought the crowd would burn out after the IC Title but they were with these two from the get go. The match is slow and steady in build. Mat work -> small spots -> big spots -> near falls. It’s constructed right out of the pro wrestling manual of how to build a strong match. It was given plenty of time (over 30 minutes) and is just one of those great matches that would have been all the better if it wasn’t following something that was just a bit better. These two worked so hard but the impression in the viewers mind is that it wasn’t on the level of the previous. It’s an unfair approach, I fully admit that. I give serious props to Tanahashi. At 37, he’s worked very hard as the Ace of New Japan for the last 7 years. His body is really starting to break down. You’d never know it here though. He works at a blistering pace and takes tons of risks including a High Fly Flow (Frog Splash) Body Press from the top rope, OVER the barricade, onto Okada. It’s absolutely breathtaking and terrifying all at once. You’re left on the edge of your seat coming down the stretch as to who will win. There’s a discernable point though where you know they worked past the peak though, which takes it down a slight notch. Truly an outstanding match that’ll be in the mix for Match Of The Year consideration as well. ****½
Final Thoughts: Wrestle Kingdom 9 set a ridiculous bar for match quality for 2015. There were two legitimate MOTYCs and another **** match with Ishii & Makabe. Other reviewers have gone so far as to rate the Jr Tag & Styles/Naito as ****+ as well but I didn’t think they were quite on that level. In any case, with only 2 throwaway matches, and everything else ranging from very good to outright classic, you owe it to yourself to track down this show. It’s truly a must see.
I drop regular thoughts on various wrestling (and video game) related topics on Twitter at @NagataLockII. I hope you enjoyed and I look forward to writing more in the future.
Chikara The Renaissance Dawns May 25th, 2002 St. John’s Auditorium in Allentown, Pennsylvania I’ve become a big fan of Chikara recently and have been watching through all of their Season 13 shows at a quick pace. Prior to that I have seen a handful of matches from the promotion online and attended the Season 12 show, “Watchmaker”. I love the well-developed storylines, interesting characters, and mix of lucha libre, technical, and high flying wrestling quite a lot and so I’ve decided to go back and start watching the promotion from the beginning. Having read up on the promotion I already know it doesn’t really get its footing until the 3rd or 4th season, but I’m going to make my way through it all and I hope you’ll follow along with me. I will be reviewing the digital Smart Mark Video version of the first show which can be purchased here: http://www.smartmarkvideo.com/digital/chikara-pro/chikara-may-25-2002-the-renaissance-dawns-allentown-pa-download.html The promotion started as a way for students of Mike Quackenbush and Tom Carter’s wrestling school, The Wrestle Factory, to get some experience working in front of a crowd. The first Chikara show, “The Renaissance Dawns”, would be held in the St. John’s Auditorium in Allentown, Pennsylvania on May 25, 2002. Dragonfly vs. Mr. ZERO These two get the honors of opening up the very first show for the promotion. Both students of The Wrestle Factory, they would both wrestle on and off for Chikara throughout its history. Sadly I can’t quite understand the name of the referee for the match, sounded like Mike Pollrad, but I have no idea if that is right. Another interesting thing about Chikara is how as it’s evolved over the years, long term referee’s in the promotion have even developed their own personalities and usually receive quite a welcoming each time they enter the ring. The “middle aged business tyrant”, Mr. Zero enters first. A 5’7” man wearing a rubber mask to look like a mostly bald, glasses wearing businessman. He comes to the ring in a business suit, carrying a big coffee mug and a newspaper. Quite the interesting choice for the first character to appear in Chikara. “The high flying masked marvel,” Dragonfly, enters next, a 6’1” skinny guy in a Blue and Green costume and mask somewhat resembling Jushin Thunder Liger. The match starts with some very basic chain wrestling, headlock, arm bar, headlock takedown, etc, Mr. ZERO does add a nice touch by adjusting his tie as Dragonfly has him in an arm bar. I just noticed this show has no commentary, at least during this match, will have to see if that continues throughout. Dragonfly gets off a nice arm drag and dropkick on Mr. ZERO, before the business man resorts to an eye rake and powerslam. More arm drags and dropkicks by Dragonfly follow before it’s back to a headlock for a bit. The match continues in this fashion, a couple power moves from ZERO, a couple quick moves from Dragonfly. You can definitely tell this is a match between two debuting wrestlers. Zero gets Dragonfly in a camel clutch and precedes to read the Wall Street journal he brought with him in a bit of a cute spot. His obsession with his Wall Street Journal leads to Dragonfly almost pinning him with a roll up a little bit later in the match. Dragonfly gets another near pinfall off a nice hop up onto Zero’s shoulder into a roll up. Eventually Dragonfly gets punched off the ring apron (which is only about 2 feet off the ground), and this leads to a bit of brawling outside the ring. Back into the ring and a missed top rop dropkick by Dragonfly leads to another near pinfall. Some running dropkicks and leaping elbows lead to Dragonfly regaining control and hitting a tornado DDT onto the top rope, followed by a leaping bulldog from the ring apron back into the ring. The finish comes as ZERO gets an overhead suplex, followed by a nasty looking hat rack crack on Dragonfly to win the very first match in the promotion (11:29). These guys were green, very green, but there weren’t any real botches although the action moved very slow and tentatively at times. I’d say about a 1/2 star, you can see shades of the kind of action that Chikara will be known for in the future as it had comedy, high flying, and technical wrestling, just not very well put together. Mike Quackenbush Interview The crowd is pretty large for an initial show for a promotion. Mike Quackenbush heads to the ring to give a brief introduction to the promotion before building for the main event of the show. The Gold Bond Mafia (CM Punk, Chris Hero, and Colt Cabana) are apparently being disruptive in the back, and out comes an angry Punk, jawing with the fans in the audience as he gets in the ring and proceeds to talk about how much better the Midwest is than the East Coast. Punk lures Quackenbush in for a handshake and then Hero and Cabana jump him from behind and the beatdown is on until Don Montoya and Reckless Youth come to the rescue and The GBM rush out of the ring and to the back of the crowd. Montoya talks about the super bowl and how an East Coast team apparently won that year, and this leads to the setup of the main event and what will be the first Chikara Trios match. Reckless Youth gets some mic time as well, pumping up the crowd by telling them they will beat the GBM for their East Coast honor. The Chikara team leaves and Punk grabs the mic again for some more talk about how they will win the match. I guess this was fine to set up the first main event in Chikara and did give the most well-known names on the show a bit of mic time, but it did drag at times. Punk was not the master of promos in those days, but whatever the match should be good. The Beauty and the Beast (Marshall Law & Love Bug) vs. The Night Shift (Hallowicked & Ichabod Slayne) Marshall Law and Love Bug are a couple of indie wrestlers who didn’t wrestle for Chikara much, while Hallowicked and Ichabod Slayne of course are still with Chikara today (Slayne now known as Icarus). “The Dark Minion of the Underworld” Hollowicked and “The Evil Zombie from the Grave” Ichabod Slayne enter first. Hollowicked has a green demonic mask with a green pumpkin stem coming from the top of it, pretty much the same as he wears today, while Slayne has a black mask with a ghostly white outlined mouth and eyes on it. Marshall Law and Love Bug are two big boys with shiny red shirts, Marshall Law having a state trooper hat on as well. Sadly they take off the shiny shirts for the match and we are underway. 26:10. Law and Bug start off in control with some double teaming on The Night Shift, forcing them to regroup outside the ring after stereo atomic drops. Slayde reenters the ring and Law and Bug continue to double team him with attacks. Law eventually leaves the ring, and then The Night Shift get the opportunity to double team Bug for a bit. Nothing too memorable happens for a while. The Night Shift continue to work over Bug behind the refs back as Law jaws with him. Slayde gets a leg scissored ankle lock on Bug for a bit, and then Hallowicked works on him some more before Law gets the hot tag in. He takes out both members of The Night Shift, before tagging Bug back in for some power moves. Law gets tagged back in but The Night Shift escape out of the ring and use their speed to lure Law near the ropes for a double team drop along the top rope and some out of the ring beating up of Law follows. Slayde and Hallowicked take turns running the ropes and jumping on law with foot stomps for a bit until it’s back to one on one with Slayde in control of Law. The camera is in a pretty bad spot for this match as most of the time it’s just staring at Bug’s back as he blocks the view of whatever is going on in the ring. Hallowicked drops Slayde in a burning hammer across Law in a nice spot and then some more tugging at limbs on the downed opponent. Finally another hot tag, this time to Bug who gives each member of The Night Shift running elbows, his offense doesn’t last too long before The Night Shift catches him in the corner with a spear from Hallowicked followed by a leaping elbow off Hallowicked’s back by Slayde, but Bug catches Slayde in the follow-up hurricanrana attempt and sets him up for a powerbomb. Hallowicked tries to save but Law interrupts and ejects him from the ring, and then Law goes up top and knocks Slayde off Law’s shoulders and then Bug puts him in a bow and arrow for the submission victory (12:50). No comedy to be found, but a bit better worked match, probably due to Bug and Law having a bit of experience to lead the match. They looked like the stars of the match, both were pretty agile for men with big guts and Hallowicked and Slayde were incredibly green and didn’t even show shades of what they will become. I’d say * star for the match. Kid Kruel vs Zane Madrox Kid Kruel would only wrestle for Chikara a couple times before landing a WWE Developmental deal where he’d wrestle as Mike Kruel. Looks like he got released from his deal in 2009 and has retired from wrestling at that point. Zane Madrox would wrestle for Chikara during the rest of the first season before bouncing around the indies as Skeeter McCoy for a couple years. No title for Kruel, a muscular guy with a buzz cut and black trunks. Madrox comes out to “Absolutely Bill’s Mood” by They Might Be Giants, which is just pur awesomeness as I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song by my favorite band used for entrance music before. He’s a tall pasty white guy with a black evil cowboy hat, and a blue and yellow leotard. He is also eating a small single serving bag of potato chips as he enters. (43:07) Kruel quickly takes Madrox down and humiliates him with some quick slaps to the back of his head. He lets Madrox back up and they lock up after a bit of circling, leading to Kruel taking Madrox down with a fireman’s carry. Again he lets Madrox back up who catches him in a monkey toss and then clotheslines Kruel out of the ring. Kruel renters the ring and gets a rollup leading to an extended roll up reversal sequence that was quite fluid for the most part, eventually leading to Kruel getting an armbar on the ground on Madrox, before lifting him for a single arm suplex. Kruel continues to work on the heelish offense before Madrox turns things around with a spinebuster followed by a running splash for a two count. Kruel takes control back and hits a top rope elbowdrop, but Madrox kicks out at 2 after a cocky cover. Both men look pretty good throughout the match, with Madrox having a bit of charisma in the way he sells everything he does as hurting both him and his opponent. For example every time he hit a punch, he’d shake his hand out afterwards with a bit of a grimace on his face. The ending sequence comes as Madrox hits a powerbomb, pulls him back up for another powerbomb, lifts him for a sit out burning hammer and then he loses focus and returns to offer his left over potato chips to the ref and some audience members, before trying to offer Kruel them, causing him to get caught in a takedown armbar, leading to the submission victory (10:17). Best match of the show so far, both guys knew what they were doing and weren’t pure rookies. Kind of surprised this Kruel guy never made it past WWE Developmental and this Madrox guy was a lot of fun and would have fit right in with the current Chikara roster. I’d say ** for this one, quite a lot of fun. Blind Rage vs Ultramantis Blind Rage and Ultramantis are of course both still with Chikara to this day, although Rage only appears sporadically. Of course this means we have another match before two very green workers. Blind Rage is introduced as “Wrestling’s Goth Rock Monster, just having some drawn on stitches across his face at this point in his career. Ultramanits is introduced as “Part-insect, part-superhero” and has on an open mouthed red and white bug head mask, very different from his current look. That along with a red cape and baggy red pants make up his costume. So I guess Ultramantis is the first anthropomorphic character in Chikara’s history. (56:29) A nice chain wrestling sequence to start, these two, although green, are light years beyond the other Chikara students on the show so far. The match continues quick and crisp with some lucha arm drags. Some more quick action, and Mantis is in control with a suplex after a blocked head butt. Rage regains control and hits 3 very quick somersault planchas for a 2 count. This match is very reminiscent of a lot of current day Chikara matches, and I’m quite enjoying the action. Back and forth the action goes, each man unable to really take control. Some nice moves throughout, including a very nice sitout double underhook powerbomb by Mantis. Eventually Rage picks up the win after a running sitout razor’s edge, followed by a gordy special (10:31). Quite a fun, quick paced match that would foreshadow what Chikara would become. I’ll give it **1/2. The Black T-Shirt Squad (Mike Quackenbush, Reckless Youth & Don Montoya) vs The Gold Bond Mafia (CM Punk, Colt Cabana & Chris Hero) Main Event time and I don’t think I have to give you background on many of these wrestlers. Quackenbush along with Reckless Youth founded the Wrestle Factory and Chikara, and both have wrestled all over the indies, including Ring of Honor. Don Montoya wrestled a lot of indies as well throughout the late 90s and into the 2000s. Of course you should know who Punk, Cabana and Hero are. The Gold Bond Mafia come out to Colt’s Copa Cabana theme music, while Quack’s team comes out to some peppy music that transitions into a weird Japanese samurai music, then back to the peppy music, sounding as if it was stolen from some 80s kung fu movie. As per their team name, they all wear black t-shirts. (13:05) The GBM give each other all backrubs as the bell rings, and we start with Hero and Quackenbush against each other. Some chain wrestling, before tags bring Reckless Youth and Punk in. Punk charges at Youth before turning back and quickly tagging Cabana in. Some more chain wrestling, with Cabana throwing in a “Heyo” kip-up. Youth keeps coming out on top in the chain wrestling against Cabana, eventually tagging out to Punk after yelling out “This Guy’s Freaky”. Youth tags in Montoya, so everyone has now been in the match. Montoya, does not look like a wrestler, balding overweight guy in a black t-shirt and black tights, who could maybe pass for Abdullah the Butcher’s smaller brother. Somehow he outwrestles Punk to start as so far each member of the Black Shirts has outwrestled their matchup on the GBM. Punk tags out to Hero again, and Cobana talks some shtick in the corner to his partners. Punk tags back in before Hero confronts anyone only to get put down to the mat by Montoya and then tagging out to Hero once more. Quack tags in once more and we’ve got Quack/Hero again. They go for a test of strength, with Quack getting a monkey flip on hero, and then a suplex pin without every breaking the hand holds. Hero finally gets Quack down in a chin lock, but ends up tricking Hero into letting him out through some interesting body positioning. Quack knocks Hero out of the ring and then gets him with a big top rope splash. And we have our first use of lucha rules in Chikara as Youth and Cabana enter the ring to take over the match, Youth again getting the better of Cabana before Montoya and Punk are tagged in once more. The fans get on Punk’s case with a “CM Chump chant”, and Punk exits the ring to confront them before finally catching Montoya with some stomps and punches in the corner. Punk gets cocky though, and Montoya takes control again with a series of slaps driving Punk into the corner, onto the top rope and half-way to the next corner. A big punch to Punk against the ropes causes Punk to get wrapped up in the two top ropes and an errant dropkick by Hero hits Punk as well. The Black T-Shirt Squad pose by the tied up Punk before Quack and Youth hit him with stereo dropkicks to the head. Cabana and Hero drag Montoya out of the ring and beat him down for a bit to gain control for the first time in the match. The 3 GBM members take turns beating up Montoya in the ring, Montoya gets back control by pantsing Punk, but it only lasts a moment before Cabana tags himself in and resumes control. We end up with a goody multi-man submission hold involving all 6 entrants of the match submission each other until Montoya breaks out from his hold and just runs into the rest of them breaking the hold in a nice spot. The match has broken down after the submission spot with all 6 participants in the ring battling and the ref having no clue who was legal anymore. The action gets quite quick from this point on with different members taking turns getting near falls, reversing pins and roll ups and hitting quick power and high flying moves all over the place. The ref has given up on picking a legal man at this point as wrestlers just come and go as they please. At some point Youth gets a big tornado DDT outside the ring on Cabana onto the concrete and in a weird camera moment breaks kayfabe to say “I think I broke my back Chris.” Back in the ring Quack and Hero are going at it again, back and forth, bulldog by Quack, Alley Oop into the top turnbuckle by Hero, Sitout Piledriver by Hero, but Quack kicks out at 2. Hero goes up to finish him but Montoya is back and tosses Hero off the top rope onto Punk and Youth. Cabana and Quack in the ring now, Quack goes for a reverse frankensteiner, but Cabana blocks, Cabana goes for a suplex but Quack blocks, Quack runs the ropes and hops back onto Cabanas shoudlers hitting the reverse frankensteiner and Youth follows it up with the Northern Lights 2K1 on Cabana for the win (30:54). Wonderful match, this match really set the precedent for what Chikara would become. Bringing in 3 of the top indie stars of the time to face off against the 2 co-founders (and Don Montoya) was a great way to end the first show. Quack and Youth really got to show how good they were in their prime, and you can see how their students have carried on their style to this day. I’d go **** for the match and aside from some shoddy camerawork and bad lighting I’d give the main event a recommendation to watch. The fans give a nice “Chikara” chant after the match and Youth thanks the GBM for coming from Chicago for little pay to do the main event their debut show. He even calls the GBM “The New Shining Stars” of the independents. Cabana and Hero join the Black T-Shirt squad in the ring for the congratulations while Punk looks legitimately pissed at the breaking of kayfabe to end the show, finally though the fans chant his name and he gets in the ring and its handshakes and hugs all around to end the show. The Rundown Not a great show by any means but for just $5.99 probably worth it for the main event alone, coupled with the historical context. Overall I’d give this show a mild recommendation. Well I hope you’ve enjoyed this review, took much longer than I thought these things took. I look forward to continuing to watch through Chikara from the beginning, and would love to hear any constructive feedback anyone may have for my writing. Thank you for your time, Ripner.
On This Day in WWF/E History….. I know Summerslam fever has died down a bit (or has it) after the PPV this past Sunday, but for my first post on the blog, we’ll definitely be going back in time a bit! Summerslam 2006 took place at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, MA. I was watching the product at the time, but I didn’t catch this one when it aired. I subscribed to the WWE 24/7 OnDemand service (remember that), so it was there that I watched this PPV, basically a few months after it took place. It was a decent show, nothing too special. The main event, which saw Edge defeat John Cena to retain the WWE title was a **** match (they would go on to top this in their TLC match at Unforgiven). The rest of the card wasn’t too bad. Hogan vs. Orton should’ve been a bigger deal than what it was, but it turned out to be just another match, considering that Hogan wasn’t seen in WWE again until his return this year. The DX vs. The McMahons match was about what you would expect, an overbooked brawl, and this match should’ve ended the LONG storyline between them that year, but we just had to get a HIAC match (along with Big Show) the next month at Unforgiven. Flair vs. Foley in a “I-Quit” match was quite the bloody affair, while Batista vs. King Booker for the World Heavyweight title was probably the worst match of the night. Looking back, if you’ve seen this show, how does it hold up for you today?
Hi Scott. This is Zanadude, the number one Blog of Doom poster in reverse alphabetical order.
As you have LITERALLY every other wrestling program in the world already being reviewed on your site, I thought I would take a shot at filling a necessary void and reviewing the last untouched wrestling show available: the Southern States Wrestling Power Half Hour. If you think it’s worth a go, feel free to put it on your site. If not, hey, no hard feelings, all you’re doing is throwing a couple of hours of my work down the drain.
Before we dive into this, a brief history lesson is in order. Southern States Wrestling is a once thriving Tennessee-based indy wrestling territory that was started by wrestler Beau James in 1991. For over a decade they did respectable business in the “Mountain Empire”, featuring some names that would go on to main stream fame like Kid Kash, Chase Stevens, Christian, and Edge. Once the Monday Night Wars started cooling down, crowds dwindled from the thousands to the hundreds. But they were still able to bring in a mix of up-and-coming wrestlers like Reid Flair and Chris Richards, as well as some veterans like Bobby Eaton, Ricky Morton, Dr. Tom Pritchard, and Jerry Lawler.
Then the Great Recession hit, and crowds started dropping from the hundreds to the tens. SSW occasionally sprang for some C level legends for the big shows, but for the most part the shows were filled with a bunch of fat old nobodies. In 2012, the promotion shut down for several months, and I thought that they were good and dead. But they came back in 2013, and Beau James tried to build the company around the evil Eric Darkstorm (former OVW wrestler, once managed by Ted Dibiase) and the spunky Kyle Matthews (small but decent indy wrestler, once had a pretty decent match with Bryan Danielson)
As the only two guys in the company that could work, they faced each other five times over the next year, trading the SSW Heavyweight Title as Kyle Matthews fought to earn Darkstorm’s respect. He finally did so on the losing end of their final battle, a one hour Ironman match that saw Darkstorm regain the title, earn respect for his foe, and complete the transformation to the hero of SSW…
…which he would remain for about two months, until he split the promotion without doing the time honored tradition. At least he’s smarter than Bret Hart!
With the babyface he spent two years building up deserting him and crowds drifting dangerous close to the ones, nobody would blame Beau James for packing it in. Instead, he decided to double down. On the April 27th show, Beau James did a rare show of dropping kayfabe to speak candidly about his company, giving his mea culpa and a promise for the future:
“Southern States Wrestling was built on three premises: celebrate the past, work hard in the present, build to the future. In the last couple of years, we have not done that, and I’m the first one to admit it I’ll tell you that right here right now…but I’m gonna tell ya that is over with. I’m gonna tell you this…I am making a commitment, my family is making a commitment, Mike McMurry the matchmaker (kayfabe) is making a commitment, Joe Wheeler (the announcer) is making a commitment, we’re all making a committment…we’re going to be working very hard to get Southern States Wrestling back to where it was.”
So the next show, with the beginning of a tournament to fill the vacant Southern States Wrestling title, it seems that this is as good a time as any to pick up coverage of the re-re…re…re…re-birth of SSW. Either we’ll all enjoy the satisfying feeling of watching this show take it’s final swirl down the toilet, or this show will break me. And I bet all of you would love to see me broken!
So with any further ado…
Southern States Wrestling Power Half Hour: May 4th, 2014
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmT4iXLHf2w Beau James himself puts the show on YouTube (and probably does ever other piece of editing involved with this show as well) so I’ve no qualms with sharing the link here. As always, the show opens by ripping off a classic theme from an 80’s wrestling show, and about 30 seconds worth of footage from the past several years that serves to show how far things have fallen. Dakota Booth, the scrawny nephew of Beau James (not the first of the family members we will see “working very hard” tonight) stands in front of the OUTHE STATE RESTLI sign. Dakota stumbles his way through an introduction of the show and an advertisement for the next TV taping at the Gray Community Center on May 16th, before “throwing it down to ringside” for the first match. Southern States Wrestling Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Kyle Kool vs Equalizer Krunch
Kyle Kool is a bald slimeball, while Equalizer Krunch is a member of The Death Riders, kind of like an older, fatter, slower version of the AWA’s Long Riders. Both men are heels, so the crowd is understandably enthused as the tin bell is clanked. Commentary is done by Joe Wheeler, a respectable announcer who is easier on the ear than Michael Cole, and Dakota, who is slightly easier on the ears than a hundred cats walking through broken glass. Krunch is by far the larger of the two, and quickly roughs up Kyle Kool with a few power moves, sending Kool scurrying to the outside. He spends a bit too much time jawing with the fans on the apron and gets a slingshot back into the ring for his trouble. Krunch dominates most of the match, until we cut to a scene of Kyle Kool coming back into the ring with a wad of money in his hand. It looks like about twenty bucks. Krunch looks at the money, realizes that it’s probably more money than he would ever make as champion, and promptly drops on his back, letting Kool cover him for the pin. The referee raises Kool’s hand in disgust, the crowd reacts with total apathy, and I find myself wishing I were watching TNA. Winner: Kyle Kool via payoff pinfall, approximately 3:30 aired. 1/2* As a replay of the payoff is shown, Joe Wheeler can be heard asking Krunch if he’s treating everyone to dinner. “I’m headin’ to the Cracker Barrel!”, sayeth Krunch. Footage continues with the sound off for about 10 seconds because SSW. Back to Dakota at the OUTHE STATE RESTLI event center, who hypes the TV taping once more before cutting to a Joe Wheeler interview with Scott Sterling. Sterling is angry that Ray Idol and Jake Booth (another untalented nephew of Beau James, only this one wrestles) beat him and Frank Parker for the Southern States tag team titles. He warns Booth that “you will not make a name for yourself on my shoulders!” and that he will destroy him when they meet in a one-on-one match on May 10th. Joe Wheeler informs Sterling that the special referee for that match will be…Beau James. This makes Scott Sterling about as happy as you’d think it would, given that he and his partner had conspired to injure Beau and put him out of wrestling for the past several months. An advertisement appears hyping an appearance by Mick Foley. We’ll see about that…although Beau James did deliver on bringing Sting to Vance Middle School. Like Shawn Michaels, Beau James is a former asshole that has now become a born-again Christian asshole, which manifests itself in such things as the advertisement for Baptist Calvary Church and SSW’s availability for fundraisers, before going through a list of shows where Southern States Wrestling stars can be seen. Cut back to a very brief retort from Jake Booth. He’s alright if you keep his interview time under 15 seconds. Back to Dakota Booth, who talks about Misty James (the wife of Beau James) and her quest to regain the Southern States Women’s Title from Miss Rachael. Footage is shown from a recent rematch at a house show, Commentary is done over the loud speaker, which makes me wonder why no major fed ever does this. Take Michael Cole and JBL around the house show circuit and have them commentate for everybody throughout the show! Each woman wrestler weighs as much as at least two Divas. Miss Rachael has another female in her corner, and they steal the Ultimate Warrior vs Rick Rude finish from Wrestlemania IV, with the outsider holding Misty’s leg as she attempts a suplex and holding it down for Rachael to get the three count. Looked like borderline DUD from the part I could see. Dakota once again implores us to attend the TV tapings, where Misty James will receive what may well be her final chance to regain her title! A bunch of local advertisements follow (including Samson’s Gym “on the Cornor of 5th & Broad”), punctuated by a bloody Jesus on a cross with the text of John 3:16, Isaiah 53:5, and Matthew 28:7. Stay classy, Southern States Wrestling. We jump cold right into our other match: Southern States Wrestling Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Frank Parker vs Ray Idol
Both men are multi-time former Southern States Wrestling Champions. Frank Parker may be best known as the debut opponent for the Rikishi-wannabe Cheex on the second ever TNA weekly PPV. Standing in Parker’s corner is Joe Briggs, the Southern States Wrestling Television Champion (the championship is a two-foot high bowling trophy) There’s about a minute of stalling before Idol catches Parker with a boot, then a running knee that Parker pretends actually came close to hitting him. The star of the match is Joe Wheeler, who is able to smoothly describe both the upcoming matches and what’s going on in the ring at the same time. Why this guy doesn’t have a job with a more reputable company is beyond me. Must be the receding hairline. He even channels Gorilla Monsoon, telling us that this match is a main event anywhere in the country. Unfortunately, Dakota is family, so Wheeler has to let him talk, and things quickly fall to a level that gives bush league a bad name. While Dakota jabbers on, the guys in the ring proceed to go through the motions of having a match at about 60% of the speed that I’m used to seeing. Eventually, Parker gets the upper hand and starts cycling through his entire arsenal of punches, kicks, and eye gouges. Joe Briggs kind of unnecessarily grabs Idol’s ankle while Parker continues his beatdown…but it was actually necessary to bring Beau James waddling out to ringside to do his best Dusty Rhodes impression and punch out Briggs. Then Beau James, the babyface patriarch of the company that he is, grabs the ankle of Parker in the ring to trip him up, giving us an updated version of the Ultimate Warrior vs Rick Rude Wrestlemania IV finish, where there is no suplex and the referee doesn’t give a shit that James is holding Parker’s ankle down in plain sight as Ray Idol scurries on top to get the pin. Winner: Ray Idol via “Aw, fuck it!” pinfall in about 6:00. -**
Wheeler interviews Beau James and Ray Idol at ringside. It’s his company, so Beau James hogs the mic, talking about how it’s been five months since he’s been able to wrestle, but now he’s ready for a fight! And Ray Idol is “one close stepper” to the Southern States Wrestling Championship! Beau’s mother told him that “the old Beau James would have never got beat up like he did on Christmas night!” He’s dusted off his bag of tricks and shows off things like nunchuks, brass knuckles, a lighter, and a taser, and says that he’s not gonna back off on using them anymore! Beau James is done talking and he’s out for blood! James lumbers away with about thirty seconds of air time left, so we actually get a chance to hear Ray Idol say a few words. Ray is proud of finally pinning Frank Parker for the first time, with a little bit of help, but he beat him and that’s the way it’s gonna be! Dakota finishes off the show with a preview of next week’s action: a match between Misty James and Rebecca Lynn, and the finals of the Southern States Wrestling Championship Tournament between Kyle Kool and Ray Idol. Dakota delivers his catchphrase “Stay classy!” (Guess I shouldn’t have used it earlier. Sorry Dakota.) And we end with a reminder that Jesus Is Lord. I didn’t even get to the end of this review before I started to regret doing this. But if any of you get a kick out of my suffering, I’ll keep fighting to see this nugget down to its final swirl!
Indy Wrap-Up Of Doom
Greetings and welcome to the first installment of the Indy Wrap Up (Of Dooooom!) If this goes well, each week I’ll bring you news, notes, results and upcoming event information for some of the more popular indy promotions including Ring Of Honor, PWG, CZW, and Chikara as well as introduce you to promotions you should become familiar with. i’ll try to be as objective as possible but some things, i just can’t help myself.
Fair warning: This column will tend to run on the lengthy side but it should be fairly easy to browse through and pick and choose things relevant to your interests. There is not a lot in the way of the self-congratulatory one-man reach-around type material that I know you all love so much. You’re welcome.
So..let’s do the damn thing.
Ring Of Honor
As you probably know, ROH is making their first foray into the Pay Per View arena on June 22nd with “Best In The World” in Nashville, TN. The scheduled card is:
6 Man Mayhem (read: “spot fest”) – Winner Gets A Future TV Title Match
ACH v Takaaki Wantanabe v Caprice Coleman v Tadarius Thomas v BJ Whitmer v Tommaso Ciampa
Roderick *yawn* Strong vs Cedric Alexander
Matt Hardy and Michael Bennett (w/Maria) vs The Briscoe Brothers
Kevin Steen v “The Last Real Man” Silas Young
ROH TV Championship
Matt Taven v Jay Lethal (w/Truth Martini) (c)
ROH Tag Team Championship
Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian vs ReDragon (Kyle ORLY? O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) (c)
Michael Elgin (RIP mullet) v Adam Cole (c)
The PPV will be available on most satellite and cable systems in the US and Canada for $24.95 (SD) / $34.95 (HD). If watching online is your thing, the show will also be available in glorious HD on UStream at www.UStream.Com/RingOfhonor
This is a huge show for ROH that will likely have a significant impact on the promotion moving forward. I have on pretty good authority that their break-even point is in the vicinity of 10,000 buys and, honestly, I’m not sure if they’ll get that with their limited TV penetration but here’s hoping they do. Marketing for the show was pretty shoddy up until the past couple of weeks where they’ve put things in to high gear so we’ll see if the late charge is enough to put them over the top. The card is great, I guess it just comes down to how many casual fans will decide to give something new a shot and how many assholes stream the show illegally instead of paying for it because, apparently, they are somehow entitled to do so.
This week’s ROH TV is already up on YouTube and is a Best In The World preview special. You can check it out for the low. low price of zero dollars at – Youtube.com/User/RingOfHonor.
Last week’s ROH TV featured two matches from the Toronto Global Wars show – Roderick (please die in a fire) Strong v Cedric Alexander and a very good match for the ROH title with Kevin Steen challenging Adam Cole. That show is available for free (registration required) atwww.ROHWrestling.Com
Combat Zone Wrestling
Fodder for many Botchamanias and the promotion everybody loves to hate but really don’t know much about, CZW held their annualTournament Of Death last weekend on DJ Hyde’s parents’ farm (yes, really) in Delaware. Reported attendance was somewhere in the 1,000 range which is an excellent turn out for CZW.
I’m sure the vast majority of you couldn’t give two shits about the round by round breakdown so I’ll just cut to the chase. The winner was Big Japan/FREEDOMS’ Jun Kasai who beat MASADA in a brutal no rope, barbed wire match which saw light tubes-a-plenty, some sick ladder spots, MASADA’s famous wood skewers and a scaffold. After getting a two count off a top rope splash, Kasai ascended to the top of the scaffold, let out his trademark “SHIIII!” battle cry and nailed another splash to put MASADA down for the three and win the “super awesome” TOD trophy that DJ Hyde probably takes back afterwards.
These guys were obviously worn out as each had competed in 2 grueling matches prior but they still went balls to the wall. An admirable performance by both, for sure and likely Kasai’s last US appearance as he is rumored to be hanging it up in the not-too-distant future. All in all, there wasn’t really a “bad” match on the card (except for Joe Gacy who is automatically the worst) and everyone worked extremely hard to put on a good show. I was disappointed to see the other two BJW talents eliminated in the first round, especially Jaki Numazawa, but it is what it is.
CZW’s next show at their home base, Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees (ki ki ki, ma ma ma) New Jersey, is titled “New Heights” and takes place on July 12th. This is a double header with women’s promotion WSU.
WSU kicks off at 4:00p and will feature a slug-fest between “The Walking Episode Of Cops” (That is really the motto she picked) Mickie Knuckles and LuFisto for the WSU title, an open challenge from Jenny Rose and CZW Academy graduate Brittany Blake will take on OI4K’s Nevaeh and more to be announced.
CZW starts at 7:30p CZW time (8:30-9:00p normal people time) and will feature Juicy Product defending their tag titles against the Beaver Boys, Team Tremendous and OI4K (Jake & Dave Crist). In addition, BLK Jeez will square off with the returning Jon Gresham. We’re sure to see a CZW world title defense by the awesome Biff Busick and I’m assuming the main event will pit MASADA against Matt Tremont in some kind of deathmatch as Tremont attacked MASADA and claimed they had “unfinished business” at the end of the TOD show last weekend. Drew Gulak is also scheduled to make some sort of “State Of CZW” address which, if it is anything like his past “addresses”, will whip the blood-thirsty CZW crowd into a frenzy. Drew Gulak is for “A Better Combat Zone” (ie – not “ultraviolent”) and is all around fun as well as an excellent wrestler. There are some other flippy guys on the card that will probably open the show and blow most of their spots, so they really aren’t worth mentioning unless your name is Maffew.
Tickets are $20 per show for general admission. The shows will also be broadcast live on iPPV at VOD.CZWrestling.Com. CZW has developed an impressive track record with their iPPVs. I’ve yet to see or hear about one that had transmission issues, lag/buffering problems, etc. Their iPPVs are produced by RFVideo, so it’s probably a good idea to take a shower afterwards if you purchase one. You can find a large back catalog of CZW events, including this year’s TOD, at the aforementioned site as well.
CZW has also started doing bi-weekly $5 “Dojo Wars” shows at their training academy in New Jersey that feature CZW trainees taking on talent from the CZW roster. Most reports I’ve read indicate that these have actually been pretty decent shows and for five bucks, you can’t really go wrong.
For more info on all of these events and everything else CZW, visit www.CZWrestling.com
Chikara has a full slate this weekend with two shows in Chicago on June 21st and one show in Detroit on the 22nd.
The afternoon show in Chicago on 6/21, “Quantum Of Solace“, starts at 1pm and includes Ultramantis Black, Hallowicked and Frightmare v Max Smashmaster, Blaster McMassive and Oleg The Usurper (I swear I did not make any of those names up), Worker Ant v DeviANT, Arik Cannon and Darin Corbin taking on Jigsaw and The Shard, Ophidian v JAKA and more.
General admission tickets are still available and will be sold at the door.
The evening show, “Diamonds Are Forever“, kicks off at 7pm and will feature Archibald Peck, Shane Matthews and Scott Parker vs Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (say that 3 times fast), The Batari v The Odditorium, Eddie Kingston will take on Jimmy Jacobs in what should be a fun match, The Colony will battle Colony: Xtreme Force and more. This show is officially sold out.
Taking place between the two shows is a Chikara “Expansion Pack” which is, as it sounds, related to some silly interactive game that Mike Quackenbush has developed in his infinite wisdom between telling whoever will listen that pro wrestling is like ice cream. I understand that things may be a little rough for ol’ Quack after the former Mrs. Quackenbush took her magical Chikara money tree with her so I suppose whatever he has to do to stay afloat (and actually pay people decently) is fine. It seems stupid to me though. This event is sold out, by the way, but apparently it’s only limited to a hundred or so attendees. That should prove to be good people watching.
The following day in Detroit, Chikara presents “Goldfinger” at 3PM which will feature The Colony and Batiri v The Flood, Jervis Cottonbelly v Chuck Taylor, Shynron goes up against Eddie Kingston in a match that should steal in the show, and more. General admission tickets for this show are still available and will be sold at the door. None of these shows will be broadcast as live iPPVs but I’m sure they’ll be available through SmartMark within a week or so and on Chikara’s site, probably at an inflated price because they do shit like that. You can check out a preview for these shows via the mildly annoying Chikara Event Center here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRF8NXMcioY
For more info on the wacky world of Chikara, visit ChikaraPro.Com
PWG has a couple of huge shows coming up at their usual stomping grounds – The American Legion in Reseda, CA. First up is “ELEVEN” onJuly 26th featuring Joey Ryan and Candice LeRae v The Young Bucks, Chris Hero goes up against PWG champion Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, Roderick (god damnit) Strong and Johnny Gargano will compete in a Number One Contender match, Trevor Lee takes on Kevin Steen, Cedric Alexander and ACH will unleash their usual array of high flying shenanigans on one another, Frankie Kazarian makes his PWG return against everyone’s favorite stoner, Brian Kendrick and more. Tickets for this show do not appear to be on sale at this time.
PWG’s annual Battle Of Los Angeles will take place August 29th-31st. The show will feature 24 participants in all and will undoubtedly be stacked. The only name announced thus far is the freshly released Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne) who I’m sure is happy that he can now smoke as much synthetic marijuana as he pleases despite it being more dangerous and expensive than actual marijuana.
PWG also recently released the DVD for their May show, “Sold Our Soul For Rock And Roll” featuring Kevin Steen and The Young Bucks vs Cedric Alexander, Johnny Gargano andTrevor Lee, Ricochet vs ACH (which is undoubtedly awesome), a Rich Swann vs AR Fox flippity spot fest, Kyle O’Reilly vs Adam Cole and more. It’s a bargain at $14.99 plus shipping and can be purchased via Highspots or directly from PWG here – http://www.prowrestlingguerrilla.com/merch/
For more info – www.ProWrestlingGuerrilla.Com
Other Upcoming Shows
Rhode Island’s upstart promotion, Beyond Wrestling returns to Fete Music in Providence, RI on 6/22 at 4pm with “Uncomfortable“. The card is stacked and features Chris Hero v JT Dunn, Curt Hawkins v AR Fox, Biff Busick v Matt Tremont in a Fans Bring The Weapons match, Sugar Dunkerton and Pinkie Sanchez take on Nicholas Kaye and Myke Quest and more.
General admission tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or via Beyond’s website (see below). A $30 “super ticket” is also available and grants admittance to “Uncomfortable” as well as a show the previous night, XWA “Aftermath” in nearby Warwick, RI. The XWA show looks solid as well and includes Chris Hero v Brian Fury, Brian Cage v Tommaso Ciampa, Bobby Fish v JT Dunn, Colt Cabana and more.
More info can be found at Beyond Wrestling’s website – LookMaNoFans.Com. Their YouTube channel is also worth checking out atYoutube.Com/User/BeyondWrestling. The channel has over 800 videos, many free to view, and features a veritable who’s who collection of independent talent.
The excellent AIW promotion presents their premier event of the year, ‘Absolution 9’ on June 29th at Turners Hall in Ohio’s armpit, Cleveland. Bell time is 6:00p. As usual, AIW has put together a great card including: Chris Sabin v Kevin Steen, AIW Champion, Michael Elgin will defend his belt against Tim Donst, the lovely Veda Scott and Gregory Iron will continue their bloody and unsettling war, Josh Prohibition will take on MDOGG Matt Cross, Eddie Kingston will do battle with Ricky Shane Page and more. All tickets are first-come-first-seated general admission and are $15 in advance via the AIW website/$20 at the door. AIW also recently released the DVD for their JT Lightning Invitational Tournament and it is easily among the top 3 independent wrestling DVDs issued thus far in 2014. The two day tournament features Josh Prohibition, Tim Donst, Matt Cross, Buff Bagwell (yep. and he pulls off a move you will never see coming), Sonjay Dutt, Heidi Lovelace, Michael Elgin, Chris Sabin v Johnny Gargano and a literal shit ton (an actual standardized unit of measurement) more. The aforementioned DVD, tickets and additional info can all be found at AIWrestling.Com.
Everyone’s favorite dirtbag, Ian Rotten, has somehow found a building that will work with him and is back to running weekly $10 a pop IWA Mid South shows at Jammerz in Clarksville, IN. Most of the cards feature newer talent from the area as well as IWA MS regulars, with one show out of the month usually featuring more established talent such as Chris Hero and Davey Richards. From what I’ve heard, the shows have been drawing decent crowds and the wrestling is not half bad which is about as much as you can ask for out of a weekly no-budget show, I guess. As much as everyone (including me…a lot) dislikes Ian, he does have a good eye for talent when it comes to non-deathmatch wrestlers.
After being cancelled last year because LOLIanRotten, IWA Mid South is bringing back their popular King and Queen Of The Deathmatches tournaments on June 28th. Both events will be held at The Rustic Frog Gentlemen’s Club (pure class.) in New Albany, IN. All-day floor tickets are $35 and all-day general admission tickets are $25. The show is 18+ and anybody with half a brain should purchase their tickets at the door. Paying for an IWA MS show in advance is always a risky proposition.
QOTDM participants include Mickie Knuckles, Kiki Rose, Heidi Lovelace (which should be interesting), Thunderkitty, Randi West and more. KOTDM participants include Mitch Page (ugh), MASADA, Freakshow (ugh), Josh Crane (ugh), John Wayne Murdock (ugh), Matt Tremont, Devon Moore, Ron Mathis(!) and more. Join me in rooting for Ron Mathis, won’t you? Aside from MASADA (who, surprisingly, can go like a mofo), Mathis is easily the most talented wrestler in the tournament. As with all of Ian’s shows, card/participants are subject to change and probably will. The first round match ups and gimmicks have been announced and all of them are absolutely and completely insane so if watching people suffer potentially serious injuries is your thing, you’ll certainly get your fill here.
IWA MS’s website is utterly useless but if you’d like to take a look at the first round match-ups and gimmicks, they’re worth a chuckle and can be found here – http://prowrestlingsmarktalk.blogspot.com/2014/06/iwa-mid-south-kingqueen-of-deathmatches.html You can also follow IWA Mid South on Twitter at Twitter.Com/IWAMidSouth which seems to be updated somewhat regularly. Apparently Ian uses Facebook primarily but I am not on Facebook and may get Hepatitis C were I to “like” the IWA MS page so we’ll leave that alone. Things are somewhat quiet in Gabe Sapolsky land as Dragon Gate USA and EVOLVE have nothing scheduled through the end of the month. Hopefully Gabe remembers how to book a wrestling show that doesn’t involve Teddy Hart and his moonsaulting cats before either promotion returns. Sapolsky affiliate and all around swell guy, Dave Prazak brings his SHINE women’s promotion to Ybor City, FL for SHINE 21 on June 27th at 9p. The event features an all star cast of women’s talent including Ivelisse, Serena Deeb, 14 Year Old Dave’s favorite download, April Hunter, Jessicka Havok, Allysin Kay, Leah Von Dutch, Amber O’Neal, Mia Yim, Cherry Bomb, Kimber Lee and more. If you are looking for quality women’s wrestling, it doesn’t get much better than this. More event info and iPPV ordering options can be found here. That’s -shew- most everything noteworthy on tap for this month. I’ll have results for these shows (and probably more) next week or in a future installment as the case may be. i was going to add a “Indy Wrestler Of The Week” and a ‘Worst Indy Wrestler Of The Week” but this is already long enough so we’ll call it a day. Hopefully you found this column enjoyable or at least informative. Any and all criticism is welcome (and I’m sure you all will put it to me). Hopefully this is a success and I can make it a weekly thing. There’s a whole wide world of outstanding independent talent and promotions out there that I personally believe present higher quality WRESTLING than what we often reluctantly sit through on Monday orThursday night.
Thanks again for reading. Until next time!
Question Of The Day: Your Favorite Sports Entertainment Moment Does anyone really enjoy writing introductory paragraphs? That’s not your question of the day – but mine. I hate it, because there’s no good way to start your first column without sounding like you’re sucking the kneecaps of the administrator (thanks Scott!) or tooting your own horn. I’m 32-years old, and a wrestling fan since my youth. I’ve been a part of the “Internet” community since the Attitude era, and written hundreds of retro-recaps primarily on WCW’s A, B, and G-level shows (WCW Prime, anyone?). However, Question of the Day piqued my interest because the response level is so instantaneous – there really is a never ending well of things we can talk about in the realm of professional wrestling. I wanted my first question to be about something positive. It’s dwell on the negatives that made us groan (Katie Vick), or the ones that made us laugh (Viscera slipping on the beer) – but every once in awhile, this “sport” hits the points so right that you’re left remembering exactly why you love it. I want to ask: What’s your favorite “Sports Entertainment” moment that really made you smile? I’m talking about an angle, or an interview, just something outside the ring that knocked it out of the park. It could be anything, as memorable as Randy Savage and Elizabeth’s reunion, to something as eyeball rolling as Yamaguchi San’s choppy choppy of Val Venis’ pee-pee. I’m going to save my answer for tomorrow’s blog, which I’ll share along with your answer – but when I thought about other moments that stood out for me, one that immediately brought a laugh was reliving Raw Musical Chairs. Indulge me for a moment as we go through this.
Eugene Musical Chairs Segment with Chris… by RatedREdgeHead316 You setting is Winnipeg, Manitoba in July of 2004. The hottest babyface in the entire company isn’t World Champion Chris Benoit, and it isn’t secondary players Edge or Chris Jericho, but in fact Eugene Bischoff, the special-needs nephew of RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff. Hard to believe if you weren’t watching the era, but he was over like gangbusters, and WWE made sure he was plastered in just about every segment through SummerSlam of that year. In a normally insensitive business, Eugene is one of those characters they got right from the get-go. They had the adult equivalent of an overly trusting child, one who desperately wanted to please everyone but still have fun in the process. So you’d have moments like The Rock getting absolutely owned in daring to ask who Eugene’s favorite wrestler is (answer: Triple H), or The Coach constantly trying to bully him with Eugene immediately forgiving him afterwards. There has never been another character quite like him. The segment we’re watching opened the show; with a group of confused wrestlers (including hometown hero Chris Jericho) in a ring filled with chairs. Uncle Eric wasn’t much interested in crossing up into Canada, so he left Eugene in charge of the show – a nominally better decision that much of the ones he made in WCW late in his run. Eugene, desperate to make the show an entertaining one, went into the banks of his mind and remembered all the fun Musical Chairs was – and figured anyone who could win that was worthy of a World Title shot. Let’s face it, with any other character proposing this, we’d be left at home talking for days about the stupidity of it all, with Lou Thesz and Bruno Sammartino spinning on each other’s graves. With Eugene though, truly nothing could have made MORE sense. And thus, Pop Goes the Weasel starts playing, and the ever happy-go-lucky Stacy Kiebler starts skipping along. Jerry Lawler, ever the horn dog, chases after her. The rest of the cast, true to form, are annoyed, confused, and not playing along. Until the music stops. Stacy and the King each take a seat, while the annoyed superstars look on … before everyone does a double take, remembering there’s a World Heavyweight Title shot on the line, and pandemonium hits. Everyone dives for chairs, and Tajiri eats the canvas. Tajiri, irritated spits green mist in the eyes of the Coach who he was feuding with at the time, who’s now blinded and promptly eliminated during the next round. At this point, the game is ON; with these jacked up tough guys (and Stacy Kiebler) now playing the game with the type of intensity normally reserved for children’s birthday parties. Jerry Lawler is the next victim, as he mistook Stacy’s lap for a chair. That leaves her ripe for the picking for the other dirty old man, Ric Flair – who does a little skirt chasing before shoving her to the curb when the music stops. With 3 competitors left, Flair starts strutting around from his smooth moves, but the music stops early and he’s caught away from the pack. Finally, Chris Jericho emerges the winner with a questionable but legal strategy of beating your opponent to a pulp with the chair; a move I’m sure we all remember from the back of the McDonalds Caboose. This segment is Sports Entertainment perfection. Every single character was written to their trademarks, and you could tell the entire crew was high energy and loved having been a part of it. So let’s hear from you, BoD community, and with your support I’ll be back.
Let’s talk about….NXT and getting over “Great. Here comes the most boring Diva on the roster.” With Aksana having been released just a few days earlier, I eagerly wondered who had taken that title and affixed it unto their lofty head. When I noticed Paige coming down the aisle, I argued in vain with the usual chestnuts about how if they just gave her time to work, she would be more over than- Rhianna stopped me. “If, if, if. I want to like her, I really do. But what is the possible reason to care? She has no personality. None.” A perfunctory argument later, the match ended, Cody Rhodes debuted as Stardust, and the rest of us all quickly basked in the glow of what was surely the greatest gimmick change that one man could possibly have. But the conversation stuck with me during my perusal of the dirt sheets the next day, reading about Vince and Dunn trashing Adam Rose. It stuck with me as I wondered, honestly, how Emma got so screwed up in her run-up to the main roster. And it started me thinking, about the weird science that is ‘getting over’ in this business, and how someone stays over, and how those things relate to the world of the NXT rookie getting that rare chance on the main roster. By the way, has anyone SEEN Xavier Woods? Did he ever really exist? NXT, essentially the WWE’s nod to those of us cantankerous enough to grumble about wrestling only being good when WCW Saturday Night was on, might be one of the best of Vince’s creations in a world where streaming is the future; there’s very little chance that Vince could sell NXT for the money he desired to a traditional network. Produced for what probably amounts to the change on his nightstand (although, considering the scuttlebutt about recent budget cuts, perhaps we should amend that to Vince’s sock drawer), it offers the younger talent the chance to work on a character and get it down as cold as possible, which should, in theory, allow them to get that character over stronger when they are brought up to the main roster. Bray Wyatt being the ultimate example of someone (Husky Harris) making the most of his character and opportunity. But the most recent batch of NX T callups seems to have produced a resounding, how shall we put it, thud. Beginning before Wrestlemania with the butchering of Emma (pairing anyone with Santino is death in many ways, but his stuff with Beth was ever so much fun, I think that they thought that it could be recreated), to the latest (Adam Rose dying a slow death despite a gimmick that seems tailor-made for at least a crowd wakeup pop), I wonder why we’ve lost the thread that gave us The Shield and The Wyatt family. For many months, I heard the refrain that ‘we’re not calling people up until we have a storyline for them’, something I thought to be rather refreshing. Having seen what has happened recently, I wonder if they have even considered whether or not they are getting ‘a’ storyline, or the ‘right’ storyline. To recap: Paige. One of the most capable in-ring females the system has ever produced, she seemed to improve by the day down in NXT. Debuted the night after Wrestlemania, wins the Divas title, and has held it for quite some time, through 2 months now. Certainly capable of having a match of strong quality, having proven it several times over down in NXT. Has the most unique look of any female on the roster; no one would argue that she has the look of a Victoria’s Secret model, not in the slightest. Suicide Girl, yes. No, you can’t look at my internet history, thank you very much. Now then, we have Paige in NXT = badass anti-diva who kicked the holy hell out of anyone who crossed her, never lost her title, and in general projected an aura of a star. Paige in WWE = Simpering wimp in her debut who gets lucky with one move and wins the belt. Continually buried on commentary in the backwards way that Cole and Lawler have of pointing out that ‘everyone else’ thinks that her win was a fluke, and then acting surprised when she disposes of the likes of Alica Fox, or, as Cameron calls her, THE GREATEST WORKER IN THE WORLD. (With Melina a close second.) Given a few video packages, but very little mic time to get any part of her character over. And why is this? Because WCW. Sorry, I have a macro on my computer that kicks in sometimes. By the way, I’m still hoping that someone comes up with a picture of Xavier Woods. It’d be like seeing Bigfoot at this point. Here’s my view: I think that the people running creative in the WWE occasionally have vision that is limited to the space between their own posterior region. We used to call it “Headupass syndrome” in my college writing courses, a serious affliction that cannot be cured without a lot of therapy and serious reflection upon your own work. In short, I think that the writers of the storylines see the character in NXT, decide that character can simply translate to the main roster, and forget the MONTHS, sometimes years of work that crafting those characters took. And they also forget that those characters are seen week in, week out, by the same crowds in a small arena, which allows them to connect quite intimately with the fanbase in a way that they will rarely be able to connect on a large show such as Raw. See, I think that’s where the problem lies. They believe, much like Vince and the rest of his people, that every WWE fan watches every bit of WWE programming that they put out there. That’s why they posited ridiculous numbers for the Network, and now they’re tossing employees off the ship as fast as Han Solo tossed trash off the Millennium Falcon to make the jump to hyperspace. (I blatantly stole that joke from the Daily Show.) As such, when they have a character like Paige’s, they say to themselves, ‘well, she looks different, so that should get her over. Throw her out there! Plus, people will remember her from NXT.’ But they won’t because in comparison to most other WWE programming, NO ONE WATCHES NXT. That’s not meant to be a criticism. It’s meant to be a wakeup call. When you put that guy from NXT out there, he needs the same help he needed to get over that he had down in the minors. Interview time. Strong matches. Vignettes. You know, all that stuff you did with Bray Wyatt and didn’t do with pretty much anyone else. Outside that, push the shit out of them, like you did The Shield, where they kill everyone for months on end, and look cool as hell doing it. Anyone find Xavier yet? Paige and Emma were wrestling 10+ minute matches down in NXT, and now they’ve been reduced to less than 10 minutes on the 3 hour Monday night show and comedy segments. Big E Langston, one of the most skilled mic workers at the time in NXT, with the awesome “I want 5” pin counts, has been reduced to 6 man tags after a lackluster IC title reign. Bo Dallas might somehow get this thing over (he’s certainly got the enthusiasm for it), but I have my doubts. And Adam Rose was rushed through as quickly as possible since they’ve had Leo Kruger signed for approximately 63 years at this point, and they have to do something with him. We expect these guys to ‘get over’ because we’ve watched their matches on NXT, and because they are over. At Full Sail. In front of a small group of fans (probably more than TNA, if their ballpark photos are any indication), who have a deeper emotional connection to the roster because of the fact that they see every show and are invested in the wrestlers and the stories. And all the things that got them ‘over’ down in NXT took time and full use of the structure granted to a wrestling program that only has one hour a week in which to tell the stories it needs to tell. Let’s face some facts here; Raw is, from week to week, normally a pretty terribly paced show from a storytelling perspective. Normally we get something in the opening segment that will set up the main event, sure, but most of the rest of the show is a seeming mish-mash of crap, with the occasional decently long match, and that’s where we have a real issue. Raw, Smackdown, Main Event; none of them have a narrative flow, which is hurting these wrestlers that come from a show that emphasizes the narrative above all else. Feuds are built and paid off in sequence, with the next one built organically off the first. While Neville is wrestling Kidd for the belt, Zayn and Breeze are figuring out who’s next. Simple. Just like the scalpel that a surgeon carries, you find the spot, you cut a clean incision, you sew it up, you move on. Raw, on the other hand, changes up to the hour before the show if you believe Metzler. Segments jump from serious wrestling to comedy in jarring affect, and the silly crap like multiple authority figures (seriously, after HHH and Stephanie WATCH this past Monday’s Raw, why would Roman still be allowed in the MITB match? He poisoned his boss!) don’t get a sense that those writing the show have any idea who anyone actually IS on the show. In short (he says after 1600 words of verbal diarrhea), we’re afflicted with a terrible problem here; I want to see Sami Zayn on my screen wrestling, but I’m not sure that, considering their recent track record, that I want to see him wrestling on Raw. That is, to me, a pretty scary thought. But still not as scary as Xavier Woods. Whoever that is. Rick Poehling @MrSoze on twitter.
Legends House: Episode 1
Hoo boy. A couple of quick disclaimers before I get started here. Firstly, I am known to, on occasion, watch a bit of terrible reality TV. I have the same thoughts when I’m watching a “Surreal Life” or a “Chrisley” or a “Total Divas”…even though I intellectually know it’s awful, I still am often entertained by it. Kind of like a Mystery Science Theatre bad movie – I just have to keep watching because I am sick and horrified that humans could create this. And this struck me as being having the possibility of being a trainwreck of those magnitudes, so I’m kind of excited. However, it could just be painfully boring, but I guess we’ll see. I’m betting on it falling somewhere in the middle.
Tony Atlas is the first one intro’d. His voiceover says, “You probably know me best as the guy who press slammed Hulk Hogan, bench pressed five hundred pound, and doesn’t know how to properly pluralize the word ‘pound’.” They’re in Palm Springs, entering in limos. He says a bunch of stuff that is just words and we see the house. Pretty nice, actually. Lots of WWE memorabilia, and pictures of each of the wrestlers over their assigned beds. That’s creepy.
And here comes Hillbilly Jim. They show videos of him clotheslining King Kong Bundy and dancing with Mean Gene. He spouts off a few country-fied slogans like, “I aint here for a long time, but I’m here for a good time.” and other shit, then him an Tony say hi and drink a Legend’s House brand beer.
Now it’s Pat Patterson with his weird manner of speaking. He brags about creating the Royal Rumble and being the first IC champ. As the limo pulls up, he says, “I’m here, I’m…ready…open the door, let me go.” Come on, Pat. You know that’s not how that goes.
Jimmy Hart is next to enter. He looks weird. Like, strangely the same as he used to, but he’s like, old looking. I know this doesn’t make sense, but you kinda have to see it to know what I’m talking about. Protip: Don’t see it.
Howard Finkel enters, and is pretty fat. Lillian Garcia is pretty sexy and does a great job, but there’s something about how Fink used to announce a match that made it seem more grandiose. Hacksaw Jim Duggan is here, too. That’s how little attention/time they give to Finkel’s entrance. Hacksaw was one of my favorites when I was a little kid, and I’m happy to see that he seems like a nice enough and not overly annoying person.
Now Mean Gene Okerlund is here. Hillbilly Jim refers to him as “wrestling’s Walter Kronkite”. Ok. Mean Gene does an impression of Tony Atlas, which sounds like Mean Gene doing an impression of nothing. I’m immediately annoyed as Mean Gene tries to make a joke, and it’s dumb. Something about poop.
And finally (I hope), Roddy Piper joins the cast. He says he’s used to people hating him. The guys are sitting around drinking and giving Piper time to make a real entrance. He talks about how he’s here to teach people stuff, and how complex he is. Yeah, you’re complex. Like vinegar and water. You know what? I take that back. He seems friendly enough with all the guys and seems like he’s gonna be a good sport. (spoiler from future me 45 minutes from now: good call.)
Mean Gene makes another joke and immediately after, some kinda hot chick in a tight red dress walks in and makes all the guys take notice. I mean, she’s hot, but, you know, WWE hot. Mean Gene is going to play the pervy role in this, as he comments on how she’s really pretty. Oh God, here we go. The first contrived bullshit “Ashley” hoists on the cast is that they have to bring bundt cakes to their neighbors and introduce themselves, which seems SO FUCKING WACKY AND HILARIOUS, YOU FUCKING PRODUCERS OF THIS SHOW. Jimmy Hart calls her a bimbo and is upset that a girl interrupted his boys time. I wonder if Jimmy is rooming with Pat. Anyway, so much nothing happens that I might cry, but then, out of nowhere, Mean Gene and Tony Atlas get invited inside one of the houses for coffee! That’s how much nothing is happening. Roddy Piper scares the fuck out of a little kid by pretending to punch Duggan (who hilariously completely no sells it). Seriously, the best thing that happened during this whole segment is the house owner who has a button up short sleeve shirt tucked into his jeans. Mean Gene makes another fucking joke and this segment is mercifully over. Oh, wait. Now the guys have to discuss all the dumb shit that happened. Ok, now it’s over.
Piper can’t figure out how to use the blender. This is the premiere episode. I know what this show is supposed to be, I promise. I know it’s not going to be a huge hit, and it’s probably intended to be nothing more than just a cute thing to watch and add a touch of variety to the network, but holy shit. Even still. They talk about how private Piper is in his personal life, and then the payoff is that the blender does, in fact, eventually work. Pat Patterson is going to cook some shit. That’s not a euphemism. He asks the butcher at the grocery store if “(he) likes to play with meat” – which IS a euphemism. Jimmy Hart says, “You’re gonna have to expect the unexpected.”
While Pat cooks and complains about cooking even though he volunteered to cook, some of the guys play tennis, and Jesus, Finkel is pretty big. Jimmy Hart says he’s going to trim him down – which is not a euphemism. Patterson complains more about how long it takes to cook, then he ends up not cooking. I don’t know. Mean Gene helpfully tells us that it’s taking a long time for Pat to cook, and then it’s the next day.
Someone hits a gong, and Tony Atlas says something like, “I didn’t expect the Dong Show”, which is a euphemism, but accidental, so I’m not sure if it counts. And oh great, Gary Busey is here. Roddy fucking brutally says, “Why is Gary Busey here? Motorcycle lessons?” Ha! And ouch! Gary says his weird shit about releasing negativity. They’re doing yoga or meditation or something and Gary Busey talks about honking at geese to release is boredom. Tony probably non-ironically calls Gary “deep”. If you’re unfamiliar with Gary Busey’s weirdness, it’s worth watching this segment. If you’ve seen it and burned out on his eccentricities, it’s really just more of the same Gary Busey dumb shit. Meanwhile, Hacksaw and Tony Atlas get into some kind of weird argument about who loves kids more. Something happens about Gary Busey being different than them because he’s an actor and Roddy Piper isn’t. “You’re an actor, I’m not.”, says Roddy. Roddy’s point was more that as an actor, you can move on from your character and people know you as YOU, the actor – but as a wrestler, they know only you as the character you portray, 24 hours a day. That’s actually pretty trippy to think about, but I’m not sure why Roddy seemed so angry about it. Then again, I’d be annoyed if I had to hang out with Gary Busey.
Oh my God, this show is still going. They talk about how they were the golden age of wrestling, which is hard to argue. Now they discuss all the injuries and stuff that they’ve gone through, which is actually kind of what I wanted this show to be. Like, talk about how their lives really are now, and how wrestling has affected them and continues to affect them. Roddy is shown in bed being restless, and says he’s been sober since 09. He’s having trouble dealing with the drinking going on here, and looks like he wants a drink. So that’s the “complex” comment from earlier. Piper is muttering to himself and walking down the dark street (and into the woods?) by himself, in the dark. I feel bad for the guy. I know that feeling of just wanting to burst through your skin and feeling like you’re just trapped. There’s nowhere you can walk that will get you far enough from that feeling. Anyway, the show ends. That was a really interesting segment, and, in my opinion, redeemed the show. More this, less bundt cakes.
BAM! This is happening. First, a quick introduction. I am the Stranger in the Alps, and I have been a long time reader of the BoD, and just recently started contributing to the comments section several months ago. I want to thank Mr. Keith for the opportunity to bring a fresh column onto the blog. Hopefully, it works out, and I can turn this into a weekly gig. We’re all a little tired of WWE and it’s directionless direction, so I’m taking a different approach to reviewing, and I’m going to focus on a little known indy fed with a TV show. TCW – or Traditional Championship Wrestling. They are focused mainly in the southern US like Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee. They have a weekly TV show that I found on The Pursuit Channel on DirecTV (ch. 604) Fridays at midnight CST. Here is a link to their various TV stations, categorized by state: http://www.tcwwrestling.com/tvinfo.shtml And if you don’t have any of those channels, they have a Youtube channel, and new episodes are uploaded every Tuesday. Here’s the link for that: http://www.youtube.com/user/TCWWrestlingOnline/videos So you have the intro, now let’s review this weeks episode. Much like WWE, TCW warns you to NOT try this at home. Funny thing is, it looks EXACTLY like WWE’s font for their warnings, with TCW’s logo splashed above it. Taped from the Frank Cochran Center in Meridian, MS. Your hosts are Matt Rhodes and Brian Thompson. Thompson plays the heel announcer. TCW chant from the crowd. Rhodes announces a match between former New Orleans Fight Club partners John Saxon and Steve Anthony. You see, Anthony turned his back on his friend Saxon and joined the dominant stable in the company, The Empire. That match goes down on this episode. Then they flashback to a few months ago to a match between the TCW International Champion Titan and Tarver (the former Nexus member Michael Tarver in WWE). They are having a rematch for the title TONIGHT! Opening video and credits. Match #1: John Saxon vs. Steve Anthony – Saxon makes his way to the ring first, then after a quick break, Anthony makes his way out with mic in hand. Anthony wants to thank the fans for coming out to see Saxon in his last match of his career. Crowd with, I believe, a “Saxon’s gonna kill you” chant. Anthony, sarcastically, says that Saxon is like a brother to him and he loves him. He goes on to say that because of the love he has for Saxon, he can’t get in the ring tonight. Saxon used to be full of aggression, now he’s just full of depression. Crowd: “You’re a pussy!”, Anthony: “No, I’m not. I’m a good friend.” Anthony keeps going, saying that Saxon is in his 40’s, and he’s lost a step and it wouldn’t be fair for Anthony to beat him. As a friend, Anthony has to walk away. Now referee James Beard has told the timekeeper to ring the bell, and the bell rings, but Anthony keeps talking, now disparaging Saxon’s parenting skills. Now Anthony just does a 180 and says that because of the rude fans, he’s going to kick Saxon’s ass. Anthony stalls, of course. The bell rings again, and Anthony slides out of the ring, and grabs the mic AGAIN. He tells Saxon he loves him, and flips him the bird and slowly backs down the aisle. The referee counts to 10, and awards Saxon the match by countout. WINNER: John Saxon via counout at 1:03. This gets NO RATING. Backstage, Col. Tom Parker is the figurehead for the company. He’s talking to someone, telling them that they have done a lot of underhanded things in the past, and what do they have to say for themselves? The camera pans to show he’s talking to Boyd Bradford, head of another stable in TCW, The Bradford Family. He complains of an attack on him by another manager, Rich Rude, during a match. Parker gives Bradford until the end of the day to produce Rich Rude, as Bradford and his Hounds of Hell (Cerebus and Roosevelt) abducted Rude a couple of weeks back, and Rude has not been seen since. Parker threatens them with termination. Bradford states that the only way anyone will see Rude is via satellite, unless Bradford and his men get what they want. They want Genetic Perfection striped of the TCW Tag Team Championship, and have them awarded back to the Hounds of Hell. Parker is adamant with his HELL NO. Instead, Parker grants Bradford’s guys a title shot later in the show. Match #2: Tarver vs. Titan – TCW International Heavyweight Championship. Tarver out first, because champs enter second, baby! Tarver is over pretty good with this crowd. Titan is accompanied by Lily, who is almost a Sunny lookalike. Sunny 1996, not Sunny 2013. Titan is billed as being 7’2″ tall. Your referee is DJ Pitre. Tarver with fist combos to the body to start. Titan with a knee to the gut to counter. Slam attempt reversed by Tarver, and he drops down to take out the knee with a chop block. Tarver with more rapid fire fists to the head this time. Tarver going up top, but Titan meets him there with a fist to the head. Tarver on the apron now, and Titan grabs him by the throat, talks a little trash, and hits a head butt. Tarver with his head in the ropes, so Titan comes off the ropes and butt butts Tarver to the floor. Down on the floor, Titan follows and hits a disoriented Tarver with some fists. Titan takes Tarver’s arm and places it inside the hole on the steps, and then rears back for a kick to that same arm. Tarver, in pain, gets back in the ring, favoring the hand. Titan stalks him to the corner and slaps him around. Now Titan wraps the injured hand around the ropes, as they hit a break. Back from break, with Titan still in control. To the corner, and Tarver unleashes a chop, to no effect. Titan wraps Tarver in the corner, and does The Big Show’s “Sssshhhh” corner chest chop. Basically, Titan is Paul Wight when he was slimmer. Now Titan drapes Tarver across the middle rope for some slaps from Lily. Titan holds Tarver steady with one hand, then nails him with a knee to the jaw. Tarver down to one knee, and Titan comes off the ropes with a kick to the head. Titan standing on the injured hand now. Titan holds Tarver down for a pin attempt, but Tarver gets the shoulder up. Tarver with shots from underneath to attempt a comeback. Irish whip to Tarver, but he ducks under and comes back with a punch. Another duck under, and another punch. Titan is staggered. Some body shots now from Tarver, selling the injured hand. Tarver off the ropes and Titan with a BIG clothesline. Titan drops the knee to the injured hand a couple of times, then switches to an elbowdrop to the chest. Titan presses Tarver’s injured hand into his own chest. Tarver trying another comeback with elbows to the gut. A big forearm from Tarver. Tarver off the ropes, but Titan shoulderblocks him down. Titan talking trash with Tarver down on his back. Titan picks him up, and whips him to the corner and follows with the corner clothesline. Titan with the thumbs down, grabs him by the throat, but Tarver with elbows. Another forearm from Tarver. Forearm again, followed by punches. Tarver off the ropes, Titan with a big boot to put him down. Now Lily distracts the referee, and she has something in her hand that she tosses into the ring while the ref is still trying to get her down off the apron. Tarver grabs the object and it’s brass knuckles. Tarver ducks under a clothesline attempt, and HITS TITAN WITH THE KNUX! Titan is down! Tarver with cover, the referee counts 1…2…and LILY JUMPS ON THE REFEREE TO STOP THE COUNT. She is gouging the ref’s eyes! Now she DDT’s the ref! Lily goes over to the timekeeper’s table and rings the bell herself. Tarver, Titan and the referee are all down in the ring. Lily collects the title belt, and Titan and they are gone. WINNER: No official decision, but assume it was a DQ win for Tarver at around 10:28. Tarver didn’t show much offense outside of punch/kick, and Titan “carried” the match. Screwjob finishes always suck. Call this match * (one star). The announcers verbally recap last week’s doings when The Empire offered #1 contender Lance Hoyt a spot in their group, but when he refused, of course he was jumped. Hoyt’s on his way to the ring right now. Hoyt has a mic and someone covered in a black sheet. He’s excited about something. The Empire is about to get what’s coming to them. He says he can’t be paid off. It’s four on one, but one on one, none of them stand a chance. He has brought The Empire a surprise, and calls out The Empire. Here they come, led by their leader Matt Riviera. (The Empire are Riviera, Steve Anthony, Greg Anthony and the TCW Heavyweight champion, Tim Storm. Hoyt is the #1 contender for that title.) Hoyt asks Riviera if he likes surprises, and then says he has brought someone along that he can trust, a former TCW Heayweight champion. Someone that has had similar problems with The Empire. Hoyt says he won’t tell who it is. Riviera comes back with the old “it’s your mom”. Steve Anthony, in a funny spot, gropes the front of the sheet-covered person and says “Nope”. Hoyt dares him to lift the sheet and see who it is. Instead, Riviera and company decide they want none of it and start to leave. Hoyt pulls out the “chicken” card, and they come back. Hoyt counts down from 10, and The Empire tease the reveal, but start to leave AGAIN. Hoyt makes fun of Riviera’s Arkansas edgucashun. Riviera FINALLY pulls the sheet off and it’s Shane Williams! Now the brawl is on! Shane Williams is a former member of The Empire, by the way. Hoyt and Williams take on all four guys, and The Empire retreats to the back. Williams grabs the mic and proclaims that “The King is back in TCW, and The Empire is going down!”. Hoyt and Williams mock The Empire salute, and we hit the break. When we come back, Jason Jones, the backstage interviewer, is with Vordell Walker. He wants Walker to comment on his feud with Sigmon. He states that Sigmon has been after him since day one. Walker goes on to say that he has met guys like Sigmon all across the globe and none of them have been able to get the job done. He wants to know if he looks like a loser (Sigmon’s thing is that he calls himself a winner, and everyone else losers. Just for context, folks.) Jones interrupts Walker to state that Col. Parker has made a match between Walker and Sigmon for next week. Walker is going to finish the job next week, and they’ll find out who the real loser is. Match #3: Genetic Perfection (Michael Barry and Alan Steel) (c) vs. The Hounds of Hell (Cerebus and Roosevelt) – TCW Tag Team Championship – The Hounds hit the ring first, then the champs enter and rush the ring. All four men in the ring to start. Double whip to Cerebus, and a double back body drop. Roosevelt alone in the ring now, as Barry heads back to his corner. A series of right hands keeps dropping Roosevelt. Steel tags in Barry now. Steel holds Roosevelt for some shots from Barry. Barry takes Roosevelt to the corner and does the 10 count head to buckle, with 10 hitting the mat. Tag to Steel and there’s a Hart Attack! Roosevelt kicks out at two. Roosevelt pokes the eyes and tags out to Cerebus, who promptly walks into a clothesline from Steel. Steel mounts Cerebus and gives him some punches to the head and breaks at five. To the corner, and Steel hits post and falls to the floor. Cerebus out after him with boots. There are two officials for this match. Steel brought back in, off the ropes and a back elbow puts hm down. To the corner, Steel sidesteps and rolls him up, but Roosevelt has the referee’s attention. The second referee, James Beard, comes in for the count, but Cerebus is out at 2. Cerebus puts Steel down with a clothesline. Tag to Roosevelt, and they send Steel to the buckle headfirst, then double chop him down. Roosevelt with the knee across the throat. Roosevelt picks Steel up off the mat then puts him back down with right hand. Tag to Cerebus who spits on Barry to cause a distraction, as Barry is held back by the ref, and The Hounds do some doubleteaming on Steel in their corner. Cerebus cinches in the chinlock. The crowd is trying to rally behind Steel, as they take a break. Coming back, Steel is trying to come back with elbows to the guy, but he is put down by a big forearm to the back from Cerebus. Tag to Roosevelt, who comes off the middle rope with a double axehandle. Neckbreaker from Roosevelt. Cover, and kick out at 1. Now comes the headlock from Roosevelt. Barry trying to get the crowd behind Steel, who hits a jawbreaker on Roosevelt. Steel off the ropes, but he meets a knee from Roosevelt, who then tags in Cerebus. Double team whip to the corner, but Steel goes up to the middle and comes off with a double back elbow to put everybody down. The announcers question the whereabouts of Boyd Bradford and Rich Rude. Hot tag to Barry! Back elbows for everybody. Cerebus gets in a kick to the gut, and a double whip attempt is reversed on Cerebus, who then goes over Barry and into his own partner. Barry with the Samoan Drop on Cerebus. Samoan Drop for Roosevelt. Barry has his whip reversed by Cerebus, but Barry goes for the Sunset Flip. Roosevelt tries to grab Cerebus’ arm to prevent the flip, but Steel comes back in for a Sunset Flip on Roosevelt. Double pin attempt and double kick out at 2. The Hounds recover and each hit a clotheline on their opponents, putting both Barry and Steel down. Cerebus whips Steel, but Steel goes under and comes back with a Superkick that puts Cerebus to the floor. Roosevelt whips Barry to the corner, but Barry gets the boot up and Roosevelt collides with the referee, Rashard Devon, who goes down. Barry powerslams Roosevelt, and now Boyd Bradford and Kincaid (another Bradford family member) wheel out Rich Rude, who is bound and gagged to a dolly, making sure Genetic Perfection see them. Then they promptly wheel him to the back. Barry leaves the ring to go after them, leaving Steel alone with The Hounds. Steel is on top, when Cerebus comes from behind to take him down. Cerebus puts Steel over his shoulder, and Roosevelt grabs a chain, and comes OFF THE TOP, DRIVING THE CHAIN INTO STEEL, as Cerebus drops him. The second referee comes in and makes the count 1…2…3! NEW CHAMPS!! Barry comes running back in with a chair, and The Hounds take their leave, raising the belts high. WE’RE OUT OF TIME!! WINNERS: The Hounds of Hell at 8:01. *** (3 stars). A solid tag team match. I didn’t mind the distraction finish too much, but at least we had match finish on this show. Plus, having a title change hands in your first review isn’t too bad. So, there you have it. An indy fed, with a TV show, and a guy to review it. The slogan for TCW is “Wrestling is Back”. I wouldn’t go that far with it just yet, but I will say that this was a refreshing change of pace, and DIFFERENT IS GOOD, as a wise blog owner recently said to me. I appreciate ALL comments and criticisms. I might be back next week. Rich Rude may not.
(A quick note before we start: This is is a Raw review that will assume you’ve watched the show. It will not be a straightforward, sequential segment-by-segment, match-by-match review, but it’s not exactly what I thought it would be, either. But walking you through a play-by-play is something I have no interest in doing, and since I’m assuming you watched the show, I’m also going to assume you also have your own opinion on the show as a whole. And I’m open to suggestions for a name if I do this regularly. I thought “Rawtopsy” sounded cute, but it looks dumb when written.) By Mike Mears Behind This Very Curtain…. In many ways, the WWE pulled the curtain back- or broke down the fourth wall, if that’s the metaphor you prefer- decades ago. Some would argue it never truly existed, but that’s neither here nor there. Starting with the CM Punk “pipe bomb” of June 2011, we entered an era in which backstage machinations- or, perhaps more importantly, our perception of what those machinations are- played a more active, central part in main event storylines than ever before. Daniel Bryan’s rise to superstardom, exponentially sped up over the last three months, has seen this trend hit critical mass. We have the actual powers-that-be playing semi-fictionalized versions of themselves more meta than the brilliant Mr. McMahon caricature of yesteryear ever could have dreamed to be. (More importantly, than he would have wanted to be.) Oh, sure we know they actually love Daniel Bryan. But it works on multiple levels. To the kids who weren’t alive yet when Stone Cold was raging against the machine, they don’t know this, plus this is all new. To the rest of us, it plays off of our own insecurities as “smart” fans. We know it, mostly, but even when they’re serving us Daniel Bryan on a silver platter, they’ve created just enough doubt. Was I bothered by him looking like an idiot, walking right into the RKO? Sure. But every babyface pretty much ever has brazenly walked into the heel’s trap like an idiot, with more guts than brains. Even if whatever subtlety in this storyline has long since gone by the wayside, they’re still able to play with the sensibilities of the smart fan to create that doubt. That little bit of creeping doubt, that maybe every think they don’t really believe but what we’ve been lead to think they believe- that Bryan doesn’t fit what they want their superstars to be- is all there needs to be. Unlike with the Summer of Punk, the worry here isn’t that Triple H is going to steal heat for himself, or cut the legs out from underneath the one-time indy darling turned hottest thing in wrestling. It’s that they might go too far in making themselves out to be supervillians standing in the way of the everyman. It’s a great story, which is why it’s been reimagined countless times in every form of storytelling that exists. But there’s a point of diminishing returns even for someone as absurdly over, and absurdly talented, as Daniel Bryan. I have no concerns about them letting Bryan get his heat back, or even eventually win the title back. Those things will happen. My concern is if they know how to get there. They collected the underpants in step one, and they know step three is profit (in this case, meaning they obviously see money in Bryan). Do they know step two? With Cena on the shelf for perhaps the rest of the year and Punk existing in his own bubble outside the rest of the WWE sphere in his feud with Heyman- not to mention others often considered for-better-or-worse Cena alternatives like Orton (turned heel) and Sheamus (himself injured) not available for that role- they’d damn well better. “It seems like the people here disagree with you on what’s best for business,” Bryan told Stephanie McMahon in the opening promo, shortly before slapping the mic out of her hand in a bit that was just unspeakably awesome. Once again, they’ve successfully involved the fans, empowering them and making it look like they’re taking an active role in the direction of the company. We chose CM Punk, and now we chose Daniel Bryan. Co-opt “reality” all you want, but make sure you have an endgame. Meanwhile, in an alternate universe…. As I alluded to, our other hero is kind of existing in his own separate sphere right now. (Ironically, this is the way Cena should have been used starting at least two years ago, as a full-time special attraction of sorts: not necessarily above everyone else, but…separate.) Yes, CM Punk has been back full-time for about two months now, been in featured matches on three PPVs since his three-month break after Wrestlemania. But his feud with Paul Heyman hasn’t really intersected with anything else going on. And that’s just fine, because the leader of what Grantland’s brilliant David Shoemaker dubbed “The Reality Era” in 2011 has stepped aside from the counterculture, revolutionary role for the time being. No, what CM Punk is embroiled in is good, old-fashioned, old-school wrestling hatred. He was involved in one of the greatest Summerslam matches of all-time last night (upon a second viewing, I may be convinced to remove the “Summerslam” qualifier), with a major mainstream star in Brock Lesnar, and somehow the brutality Lesnar brought at him was secondary to his seething hatred of Paul Heyman. Punk fought the machine for nearly two years. Now he just wants to rip apart his former best friend. Much like with Bryan, we kind of already know the ending. It’s how we get there that matters. In this case, it’s a wrestler against a fat, slovenly manager who isn’t even a former wrestler. Yeah, we want to see Punk get his hands on Heyman and rip him apart. And we’re fairly sure we will. The brawl with Curtis Axel was as logical a starting point as any- if only anyone cared about Axel, or his title- but assuming we’re headed for a Wrestlemania rematch with Lesnar (which would make sense, because unlike with HHH that’s a rematch and a conqueror of Lesnar we actually want to see) that’s a lot of time in-between for Punk to have to fill. Some sort of prolonged absence would make a lot of sense for him here, except there’s an enormous top babyface void right now and Punk already had one long absence this year. The more logical next step seems to be that Punk destroys Axel and gets to Heyman, leading to a prolonged absence for Heyman, before he brings back Brock for retribution. On another note, find me another wrestler alive who can cut a scathing promo on a fan as a babyface, AND BE A BIGGER BABYFACE AS A RESULT. If anyone was in attendance, was this some dude who was just being an unbearably obnoxious asshole? On stables ripping off ideas from FX shows, and others just taking the names of them… Given all the things we know to be true about wrestling’s weird code of ethics, it’s not that hard to believe that Abrose, Reigns and Rollins were being punished for whatever perceived backstage slights to their elders, or for injuring a brittle 50-year old man in a match he probably shouldn’t even have wrestled. No one ever said this was a business filled by intellectual superpowers. That said, their actual in-ring work of late has reeked of three dudes who got too much, too soon and started to believe their own hype. We see it all the time in real sports and other forms of entertainment, and wrestling isn’t immune to the disease, either. For all the deserved blue-chipper status they received even before their debuts, for all the awesome, borderline terrorist camcorder promos in the bowels of arenas, for all the main event storylines they were immediately thrust into, the backbone of The Shield early on was the crazy, manic, ROH-meets-Attitude Era blue collar in-ring work. They’ve lost that edge in recent weeks, very much acting like three guys- not the characters, the actual performers- who think just showing up, looking cool and swaggering around is enough. As much as I enjoy seeing them reinserted into main event storylines- even if beating dudes up three-on-one isn’t that impressive compared to their separate-and-destroy matches against three men earlier in their run- I enjoy seeing them regain their focus even more. I don’t particularly care for them as HHH’s personal security detail, but it could extend the gimmick’s life span by a few months. Ambrose is ready now to break out on his own, but I’m not sure I feel the same about Reigns or Rollins. Meanwhile, after a disappointing Summerslam match, I was fine with Bray Wyatt getting a convincing squash over a “name” guy. In what’s becoming a running theme, I hope they know what step two is. Step one: awesome gimmick/intro upon their debut. Step three: Bray Wyatt is a huge, huge star. How are we getting there? It’s easy to see them start to spin their wheels. And for the love of Christ, does anyone give a shit where Kane is? THEY FUCKING STOLE THE DUDE. Anyone looking into this? (The first part of this headline refers to the Wyatt family clearly being modeled after the Crowders on “Justified.”) Hey, look who has stuff to do! Namely, lots of people. Is Vince Russo back on the payroll? Because we have a lot of midcarders doing really stupid stuff. But that’s better than doing nothing. Ryback beating up nerds? OK, at least he’s doing something. Fandango dancing his way through others’ backstage skits? I don’t know why, but I’m getting a kick out of it. That’s probably what the character should have done to begin with. He also had, hands down, the line of the night: “Those right there are beautiful sneakers…but can I dance in them?” Comic gold. More of that from Fandango. I don’t know if you can do a parody of something that’s been around so little time so far, but I like it. Well, we’ll see how it plays in SEC country…. But damn, how about the face reaction for Darren Young? I think they went about what to do with him, at least in week one, about as well as could be hoped for. Sure, the PTPers suddenly being faces makes no fucking sense, but no matter. Colter’s promo vaguely alluding to the headlines of Young coming out but then launching right back into an anti-immigrant diatribe also made no sense. Presenting the PTPers exactly as they were before, but in a situation in which we’d want to cheer for them without beating us over the head with the actual headline? A nice way to capitalize on some positive mainstream attention without being pandering or cloying. I guess most drug counselors ARE former users…. What, Ricardo is back from a drug suspension, and the idea is to have him hang out with someone who (and I can’t prove this…but come on, it’s probably true) wears ring gear made out of hemp? No matter, RVD and Ricardo is a fun, nonsensical pairing and it works for me as the next challenger for Del Rio. Fuck it, put the belt on Rob. His ring work has been pretty good since returning to WWE and he’s over as ever. It’s not like that belt matters anyway.