Sympathy For Cole?

Hey Scott,     I appreciate you indulging the questions I and others pose to you.  I have a question for you, which I’m sure will cause some good debate amongst the Keithminers.  Is Michael Cole a sympathetic figure?  Hear me out: His debut was at SummerSlam ’97 when he tried to interview Stone Cold on his way to his infamous match with Owen Hart.  Austin called him a piece of trash, and threatened to make the new guy kiss his ass.  After middling around as an interview guy/merchandise stand for The Rock, he suddenly gets thrown in as lead announcer when Jim Ross is struck with Bells Palsy.  It was very clear he was not ready for the job, as you pointed out many times in your brutal but hilarious rants.  My favorites are “Michael Cole the Goatee Wearing Little Bitch”, your recap of the Rock/Mankind I quit match at the ’99 Rumble, calling him out for saying the most dangerous part of Hell in a Cell is getting your fingers caught in the cage, and my all-time favorite SK match, the Rock Bottom Buried Alive match, with your running gag based on Cole’s assertion that the tombstone above the grave  “weighs in excess of 3000 pounds.” When Ross mercifully came back, he went right back to being humiliated weekly backstage.  He finally catches a break when he is paired with Taz on Smackdown! doing a much better, if unremarkable, job as the lead commentator on the B show.  Then Vince decides, without telling them, that JR and Cole will be switching brands in the 2008 draft.  Clearly Vince wants Cole to be his new lead, since he has been groomed in the “WWE Style” commentary that Vince loves.  Naturally the fans rebel and Vince, since he knows better, just has Cole turn heel, because what better way to make someone hated by the fans popular than by making him a jerk.  His running down of Daniel Bryan wasn’t too bad, but then he is forced to repeatedly mock JR’s weight and Bells Palsy, comment on Jerry Lawler’s mom dying and bringing his son out to call his father neglectful, act like a chauvinist pig, stuff his paunchy announcer body into a skin tight unitard, “wrestle” a match that would have been ranked worst of the year if not for Jeff Hardy and basically put down every face in the company not named John Cena.  Add to that, he is now the embodiment of everything the fans hate about the WWE.  His relentless Twitter chatter, not to mention confusing trending with most talked about, ignoring the action in the ring, calling belts championships, using the term sports entertainment and calling wrestlers superstars.  There was an incident on Raw a few months back where he called CM Punk a superstar on commentary, and Punk insisted he was a wrestler. My point is, it seems like he was a guy who was treated like a joke for so long, got some credibility, was thrust into a spot the fans hated, and then became the most hated heel in the company for the wrong reasons. While I have heard he has a bit of an ego since he is friends with Cena, I can’t imagine this heel crap was all his idea.  Vince loves to make his employees due what he wants no matter how much the hate it.  Michelle McCool admitted in an interview she and Layla hated the Piggie James storyline, but Vince wouldn’t relent. Mark Henry was forced to be felt up by a cross dresser, get in a sexual relationship with an 80 year old woman AND admit to being in an incestuous relationship with his sister, all allegedly to get him to quit so Vince could reneg on that infamous contract.  While I’m sure Cole enjoys his salary, and the luxury of being considered an employee and getting benefits, he just seems like a guy who was doomed from the start and never saw the signs coming. Thoughts?

  You lost me at “Sympathy for Michael Cole.”  Although there did used to be a point where he would appear to have a mind of his own without Vince yelling in his ear all the time, but a couple of years ago he appeared to buy into the Michael Cole Character 100% and would act that way even when it was known that Vince was in another country at the time.  No, I’m afraid the Michael Cole who had potential to grow and change is long dead. 

Cole v. Lawler

Dear Scott,While reading your review of last year’s Wrestlemania, I was reminded of an idea I had that seemed like it was just RIPE for the picking to use in the Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole match. Why didn’t anyone just lift a carbon copy of Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman for that bout? It seems like it would have fit perfectly. Cole runs like a pansy for the first five minutes, Lawler finally says enough of that crap and allows him a freebie, suplex, piledriver, pinfall, everyone goes home happy. Total match time about 5-7 minutes.
Think such an idea would have gone over well with the fans? 

You misremember the original match, though.  It wasn’t suplex, piledriver, pinfall, everyone goes home happy.  It was suplex, piledriver, ref calls for the DQ, everyone goes home pissed off and they do rematches for months afterwards.  That was the irony of the whole thing, because Kaufman literally did nothing and Lawler cost himself the match.  Plus Kaufman never pretended to be a tough guy character, he fought women and played up his Hollywood softness.  Michael Cole (the character) imagines himself to be a fighter and would attempt to get some offense in.  The basic plot of the match was fine:  Lawler beats him up, Cole only gains the advantage with the help of Swagger, Lawler makes the comeback and wins but the decision is reversed by the corrupt GM due to a technicality.  The only major problem was that it was WAY too long and killed the match.  However, they should have gone with the Lawler v. Bret template from Summerslam 93, where the decision is reversed because Lawler beats Cole into a pulp after his win, and he’s so pissed off and fired up that the referee has to disqualify him.  That makes Cole look like an even bigger pussy by claiming victory that way when clearly he was beaten senseless, plus fans get the satisfaction of watching Cole getting beaten into a pulp.

Wrestlemania Countdown: 26

(Someone had requested a repost of this, and since I can’t retrieve the 2012 Scott sez version from the other server at the moment, you’ll have to settle for the boring unadorned version.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 26 – Live from Phoenix, AZ – Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Matt Striker Unified tag team titles: Big Show & The Miz v. R-Truth & John Morrison Morrison dropkicks Miz to start and the faces hit legdrops for two. Truth hits Show with a leg lariat, but walks into a fallaway slam. Show pounds Truth down and goes up for a pump splash, but Morrison kicks him down and Truth gets two. Morrison comes in and runs wild on Miz, but misses Starship Pain, giving MIz two. Morrison counters the Stroke for two, but Show tags himself in with the KO punch to finish at 3:22. Really, that was it? *1/2 Ted Dibiase v. Cody Rhodes v. Randy Orton Not sure how this is a triple threat match when it seems to be more clearly a handicap match. Orton dumps Rhodes , but gets dropkicked by Dibiase to set up the Legacy beatdown. They take turns pounding away on him, but Orton tosses Dibiase for a comeback. Rhodes with an Alabama Slam for two, but Legacy erupts for some reason and brawls to the floor. They look like such geeks here. Orton comes back with clotheslines and powerslams, but Dibiase stops the RKO. Rhodes accidentally nails Dibiase with a pescado, and Orton brings both geeks back in with the DDT. Orton sets up to finish Rhodes, but then changes his mind and punts him instead. RKO kills Dibiase dead at 8:58. Holy cow did Legacy ever look like the jobbiest pair of jobbers who ever jobbed there. This didn’t work at all, but the crowd was very into Orton so there was that. ** Meanwhile, Santino Marella bites into a magic Slim Jim that turns Jillian Hall into a series of wacky people. Yeah. Money In The Bank: Kofi Kingston v. MVP v. Evan Bourne v. Jack Swagger v. Shelton Benjamin v. Matt Hardy v. Dolph Ziggler v. Kane v. Drew McIntyre v. Christian Kane is sporting an impressive shiner before we even start. Big trainwreck to start and everyone climbs the ladder until Swagger and Hardy are left. Kofi knocks them off, but Christian monkey-flips him into a ladder in the corner. Christian climbs, but gets zig-zagged to the mat. Ziggler goes up and MVP brings him down. Kane brings MVP down, but all the black guys gang up on him in the corner. Shelton clears the ring and climbs, but Swagger knocks him off, then Bourne comes off the top onto him. Bourne looks eerily like Eddie Guerrero in standard definition. Weird spot with Christian and Matt sandwiching Swagger between two ladders while he stands under the main ladder. That leads to Christian fighting it out with Bourne on a ladder ramp. Evan wins that and climbs, but Hardy takes him down, then takes a sick backdrop bump onto the horizontal ladder. Everyone gets car crashed to the floor and Kane beats on Dolph in the ring. A couple of poor ladders get murdered, so Kofi takes a broken one and uses it as stilts in the most innovative spot I’ve seen in years. Sadly, Drew comes in after doing nothing, gets rid of Kofi, and climbs. Matt Hardy thankfully gets rid of him and makes his attempt, but Christian makes the save. They fight it out and Christian brings him down with the inverted DDT. Christian and Swagger fight for it next, and that gives Swagger the case at 13:39, after he takes forever to unhook it. Well that’s a waste of a briefcase as it stands. This was the same as it always is, a bunch of cool spots and sick bumps. ***1/4 Next month: Extreme Rules! Presented by KFC! EXTREME CHICKEN! HHH v. Sheamus HHH being this far down the card worries me. They trade shots in the corner and HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Sheamus backs off quickly. Sheamus pounds away, but HHH hits him with a suplex and kneedrop for one. Sheamus bails, and HHH clips him on the way back in and follows with the figure-four. Sheamus makes the ropes quickly to break, and sends HHH into the stairs as Matt Striker tries to get “Ace of Spades” over as a new nickname for HHH. Really? Is this a thing now? He’s already the King of Kings, does he need the whole damn deck of cards? Sheamus takes over with a pair of backbreaker variations and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Axehandle gets two. Sheamus slugs away for two and goes to a chinlock, but HHH makes the comeback. He goes up and Sheamus tries to bring him down with the Razor’s Edge, but HHH slips out. Sheamus gets a pump kick for two. HHH gets the spinebuster for two. Sheamus bails to the apron and gets a pump kick there, but KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes him at 12:05. I’d say Lawler’s “70000 people just witnessed a classic!” was a bit much, but this was fine. **1/2 CM Punk v. Rey Mysterio Rey is paying tribute to the Na’vi tonight instead of his usual superhero garb. I was looking forward to an Iron Man outfit, too. Oh well. Punk attacks, but gets taken into the corner. Rey hangs himself in the Tree of Woe and gets abused by Serena, and Punk drops him onto the stairs for good measure. Back in, Rey comes back with a bodypress, but Punk turns it into a powerslam for two. Punk ducks a low kick and rolls him up for two. Punk with the high kick for two. Rey comes back with a somersault DDT off the top, which looked pretty cool. Punk blocks the 619 and Rey escapes the GTS. Rey makes it to the apron and goes up with a frog splash, but that misses and Punk gets two. High knee in the corner sets up a powerbomb attempt, but Rey reverses into the 619. Serena throws herself on Punk to stop it, but Rey hits it on the other side instead and finishes with the big splash at 6:30. Kind of surprised they’d blow it off so fast without even going down the “Rey goes straight edge” road. It was also pretty short, like everything else tonight thus far. I did enjoy the “big stadium match” feel they gave it. **3/4 No Holds Barred: Bret Hart v. Vince McMahon Really there’s only one possible finish here. So Vince decides to stack the deck beforehand, bringing out the entire Hart family as his enforcers. Well I’d expect that from Diana and Bruce and especially Smith, no doubt, but I though Natalya was made of sterner stuff. And Bruce is the special referee, still wearing his stupid sunglasses. But Bret reveals that they were already onto him and now the Harts will screw Vince over. So Bret attacks and chokes Vince down, and the Hart Dynasty immediately drags Vince out and kicks his ass. They add a Hart Attack from the top rope to the floor, and back in Bret drops elbows on him. Vince bails again and the Harts drag him back out from under the ring, but now he’s got a crowbar. Bret gets it away from him without much trouble and beats him down (“That’s an international object!” declares Striker), and he teases a Sharpshooter before going back to the crowbar for a bit. And then he stomps on Vince’s nuts a few times, which always adds an extra star to the rating. Bret grabs a chair and takes a seat while Vince recovers, then lays waste to Vince with the chair. Like, Rock-Austin from WM 17 tribute time. Never let it be said that when it comes time for Vince to get his ass kicked, he doesn’t go out and give it his all. And finally the only thing left is to make him tap to the Sharpshooter at 11:09. Everyone said all they wanted as Bret kicking Vince’s ass for 10 minutes and then making him tap, and that is what was delivered to the letter. If this was in Canada the heat would have been off the charts the whole time. But it wasn’t. Wasn’t really a match and it’s not fair to rate it as such, but it was about *1/2 given the physical conditions of both guys. Smackdown World title: Chris Jericho v. Edge Edge puts him down with a pair of shoulderblocks as Cole notes Jericho is a six-time World champion. That can’t be right, can it? Edge gets a flapjack and goes for the spear early, but Jericho bails to escape and heads back in for a baseball slide. Back in with a Jericho backdrop suplex for two. We hit the chinlock and Jericho pounds away in the corner, but misses a blind charge. He comes back with a suplex onto the top rope, but misses a dive and gets sent into the announce table. Back in, they fight on the top and Edge faceplants him for two. He goes up with a flying bodypress, rolled through for two. Jericho tries the Walls, but Edge powers out and gets a sunset flip for two. Jericho tries the Codebreaker and gets sent into the corner to block, but Edge tries a spear and Jericho turns it into the Walls. Edge reverses into a small package for two. Lionsault misses and Edge gets the Edge-O-Matic for two (am I the only one in the world who still calls it that?), but Jericho with an enzuigiri for two. Edge hits the Impaler for two. Jericho gets a forearm off the top and sets up for his own spear, but walks into Edge’s boot. Edge tries his own, but walks into the Codebreaker. Well really, he waited for the crowd to chant “spear”, what did he expect? That gets two. So now we get to the meat of the match, as Jericho starts stomping on the Achilles tendon and then gets the Walls again (wouldn’t an anklelock be more apropos?), then turns it into a half-crab on the injured ankle. Edge channels his inner Dan Hardy and makes the ropes, then rolls up Jericho for two. Cactus clothesline puts them both on the floor, and the ref is bumped. Jericho nails Edge with the “championship” and gets two. IT’S A FUCKING BELT, MICHAEL COLE! A championship is an abstract concept, that is a BELT. Codebreaker finishes clean at 15:43. Really? That was actually looking it was going to be a good 20-25 minutes once Jericho started working the ankle. Oh well, Edge is boring as a babyface anyway. They really need to have the Royal Rumble winner actually win one of these years, though. This wasn’t “close the show” great, but it was never boring and the finish totally made sense. I’m also glad to see Jericho get his first Wrestlemania win since, what, 2001? ***3/4 Edge snaps afterwards and spears Jericho off the announce table, showing that he’s a sore loser as well as a choker. Layla, Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Michelle McCool & Alicia Fox v. Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Mickie James, Gail Kim & Kelly Kelly Man, Vickie is the like best sport ever. All the good girls beat on Vickie in the corner (triggering an impressive screech from Vickie) and then all the women get to do their finishers. This leaves Beth with Vickie, as Vickie has a panic attack in the corner before getting rescued by McCool. The heels actually send Vickie to the top for a “hog splash” that gets the pin on Kelly at 3:20. I’m sure Eddie was flattered to have that tribute paid to him. DUD – Quick question: Why are they using an Audioslave song from 6 years ago as an “official theme”? Did they overpay usage rights and need to burn off some airplay or something? The band doesn’t even exist anymore! RAW World title: Batista v. John Cena Cena’s ridiculous entrance this year: A military honor guard. Because he once played a former Marine in a movie. Batista looks trimmed down and it works well on him. They do the lockup battle and Batista gets a headlock, but Cena reverses to his own. Batista clotheslines him out of the corner and pounds away, then adds a boot from the floor. Cena fights back with a suplex and a bulldog for two. He goes for the FU early, but Batista reverses into a sloppy DDT for two. Big boot gets two. We hit the chinlock and they slug it out until Cena backdrops out of a facelock. Cena makes the comeback (7 minutes in?) with his usual run of stuff, but it turns out that Batista CAN see him, and hits him with a spinebuster. Cena reverses into the STF, but Batista makes the ropes without too much trouble. Batista spears him for two. They fight on the top and Batista goes down, allowing Cena to hit the five knuckle shuffle off the top. Batista comes back with the powerbomb for two. Cena tries the FU, reversed by Batista, reversed again by Cena to the FU for two. The crowd is going apeshit for this stuff. They’re really doing the big superhero v. supervillain match well. Cena goes up and tries the legdrop, but he lands in a spinebuster. Batista goes for the bomb, but Cena rolls through into the STF. Batista taps at 13:29 to give the title back to Cena. These guys have mad chemistry together, especially in a big match situation like this one. **** – The two title matches would make this a thumbs up show on their own, so anything that the main event delivers will just be gravy. Streak v. Career: Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels Shawn fires away with chops in the corner, but eats Snake Eyes and a big boot. Corner clothesline and Taker tries to go Old School, but Shawn pulls him down. A second try hits, however. Taker pounds away in the corner and sets up for the tombstone, but Shawn slips out and fights for a crossface. Taker fights that off, but nearly takes the superkick before slipping away. Shawn decides to work on the leg in the corner, but Taker slugs him down and clotheslines him to the floor. That sets up a tope attempt, but Shawn slides in and clips the knee to stop him. Taker tosses him and runs his back into the post, then drops the guillotine legdrop on the apron. Back in, Shawn takes him down with a figure-four, but that only seems to make Undertaker really, really mad. He reverses the move and Shawn releases, and they slug it out. Shawn puts him down and kips up, but it’s a chokeslam for two. Tombstone is reversed into an anklelock by Shawn, so I guess that’s why Jericho couldn’t have it. Taker kicks him in the head a few times to break, but Shawn clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a moonsault. Taker catches that and tombstones him on the floor, and you have to figure that’s not good for Shawn’s career. An EMT runs down to check on Shawn, but Taker beats him up and rolls Shawn back in for two. Last Ride, but Taker’s knee gives out and Shawn gets two. Looked bad. Shawn goes up and drops the elbow, but Taker gets his knee up to block and Shawn takes the bump on his ribs. Ouch. Taker tries Hell’s Gate and Shawn rolls it over for two. They both struggle up and Shawn superkicks him for two. Shawn cues up another one, but Taker catches it and counters to the Last Ride for two. That was a giant near-fall. A frustrated UT tosses Shawn and preps the announce table, but Shawn escapes a powerbomb and superkicks him onto it instead. And given that it’s Wrestlemania, Shawn can’t resist a moonsault from the top, which puts Taker through the table. He even hits the knee, which is either a great bit of psychology or a lucky miss. Back in, Shawn adds one more superkick…for two. This match needs Jim Ross so badly. Shawn wants another one, but Taker chokeslams him. No cover, as he opts for the tombstone instead, and that only gets two. The crowd is just going insane now. Taker’s had it and he pulls the straps down, but he stops because he doesn’t want to end Shawn’s career. Just awesome facials from Shawn, as he gives Taker’s throat-cutting gesture right back to him, and then slaps Taker. And that’s it, as Taker tombstones him extra-super-duper hard for the pin at 23:57 to end it. If this was Shawn’s last match (which it’s not), he went out with another Wrestlemania classic. However, I just don’t think it was as good as last year, because expectations were so ridiculously high. ****1/2 Now hopefully he doesn’t go to TNA and job to Hogan again. The Pulse: Everything that was supposed to deliver, delivered, and the main event was suitably epic and had the clean finish we needed. Huge thumbs up this year!

NXT – March 28, 2012

NXT
Date: March 28, 2012
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Commentators: Josh Matthews, William Regal

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

Who would have thought that when we started this season that it would run through Wrestlemania 28? That’s the point we’re going to reach unless there’s some divine intervention and this season ends after today. Now the good thing is they have an angle that has a mystery to it after last week with Striker disappearing. Let’s get to it.

Hunico vs. Derrick Bateman

Bateman controls to start but gets backdropped into the corner as Hunico takes over. Elbow drop gets two. Oh make that one. Regal explains why Camacho hangs out with Hunico, which is apparently due to a gang attack that Hunico bailed him out of, resulting in a stab wound which is why Hunico wears a shirt in the ring. See how easy a story that was to explain?

Bateman gets beaten down for awhile until he comes back with a cross body. Hunico hits one at the same time though and both guys are down as we take a break. Back with Hunico chopping and pounding on Bateman. His shirt is torn now too. Hunico goes up but jumps into a dropkick as Bateman gets a breather. He launches Hunico over his head and into the buckle chest first.

Hunico pounds down on him again as Regal is talking about WCW. He seems to think it was funny and I can’t say I argue. Bateman tries to suplex Hunico in from the apron but Hunico falls on top. Bateman rolls through for two but stops to go after Camacho. The distraction allows Hunico to hit his modified Angle Slam (it’s the Angle Slam but he hooks the other guy’s head, almost like a torture rack) for the pin at 7:00.

Rating: C-. I wasn’t really all that into this. I’ve been liking Hunico more lately but this was a miss for him. Granted that could be because Bateman is a waste of time and space but maybe that’s just me. Nothing that great here as they went back and forth, but there wasn’t much selling in between.

Video on Rock vs. Cena from Once In A Lifetime, which wasn’t bad.

Video on HHH vs. Taker, which I think is the same one from Raw.

Video on Punk vs. Jericho, which I don’t think has aired before. It’s about Punk’s rise to the top of WWE over the years and then shows Jericho exposing Punk’s family history.

Maxine is on a phone and wants a list next week. Curtis comes up and apparently the list is about Regal, who is into some freaky stuff. This is news? Maxine gets off the phone and Curtis says that the company has been trying to keep Striker’s whereabouts on the DL. It happened on NXT. How much more DL can you get?

Maxine yells at him because Curtis hasn’t found out anything about Striker. Watson and Riley pop up and Watson yells at her for taking the spotlight during his match by rubbing Regal’s feet. Maxine asks how mad Watson is at her in a strange bit. They go down the hall and run into Natalya and Kidd. They’re talking about the economy. Ok then. The walk continues and they run into Gabriel. I think they’re looking for who stole Striker.

Now they run into Titus and leave, but the camera stays on Titus. Young comes in with a flower pot which Young says is for Tamina. O’Neil says take her to McDonalds. Young says he lies, cheats and steals in the ring but he can’t do that with Tamina. I’m not the biggest Eddie fan ever, but NO WAY does Young deserve to be able to say that.

Curtis and Maxine pop up again and accuse Titus of the kidnapping (they haven’t actually said those words yet, but rather “it was you” every time). Titus tries to kiss her for some reason but Curtis pulls her away. Young and O’Neil leave and Maxine gets a text. The kidnappers say that after Mania, she’ll give them what they want and they’ll get Striker back. LONG backstage segment here but it covered a few things which is good.

Video on the Divas tag, I think from Extra. I have no issue looking at Maria Menunos.

Titus O’Neil vs. Jey Uso

Young and Jimmy Uso are on commentary. So I’m assuming we’re not going to talk about the Striker stuff on commentary are we? Josh points out that the Usos aren’t that successful when they’re in singles action. Jimmy says that’s true, because they’re a team. Simple yet true. This is your usual power vs. speed match with Titus controlling early but Jey taking him down. He goes up but Titus rolls to the floor before the jump and we go to a break.

Back with Titus hammering on him, using the clubbing forearms. Jey gets in a shot and comes off the top with a cross body for two. Titus runs him over with another clothesline for two. Off to a chinlock to eat up some time as Jey comes up with exactly the same kind of offense you would expect from him. The Umaga attack hits in the corner as does the Samoan Drop. The Superfly Splash hits knees though and the Clash of the Titus ends this at 6:22.

Rating: C-. I wish I could care about this feud, but it’s just not happening. The problem in modern WWE for guys like the Usos is that the tag titles are never defended and the champions are basically jobbers when you need to get bigger names over as singles guys. Titus is a heel now but he’s the same guy he’s always been, just with a sneer now. Nothing match but technically it was fine.

Tamina comes out to check on Jey and glares at Young for some reason.

Overall Rating: D. The problem here is that this show was a commercial for Mania with a backstage segment and about 15 minutes of wrestling to fill in some gaps. That’s totally understandable as well as no one is going to care about anything with four days before the biggest show of the year. Not a good show or anything, but this had zero expectations coming in so it’s fine.

Results
Hunico b. Derrick Bateman – Spinning Torture Rack Slam
Titus O’Neil b. Jey Uso – Clash of the Titus

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Nightmare Matches

Okay I’d love to hear your answer to this My friend was asking me:  Worst possible dream match of all time? My answer:  Giant Gonzales circa 1993 VS Scott Steiner 2003 Can you top that?  I have a feeling you’ll blow me away

Steiner in 2003 was at least still capable of working a match.  How about Heidenreich v. Snitsky, a dream match we damn near almost got? 

Once In A Lifetime, Except For The Rematch

Hi Scott,
In my most recent pop culture article for Collective Publishing, I look at the “once in a lifetime” main event of John Cena vs. The Rock. The hype for this match has been attracting fans that left years ago and has created some buzz for WWE.  I am sure the event will rake in tons of money.  My article looks at what the prospects are for this match kickstarting yet another “wrestling boom period.”  The article is written for people who don’t watch wrestling, and so it does a lot of explaining that your readers may find excessive.  I still think it is an article they’ll enjoy and find worth checking out.

I honestly don’t think it’s created that much buzz or brought back lapsed fans or anything.  Speaking as a lapsed fan with friends who are lapsed fans, the Summer of Punk did way more to generate interest in that group, to the point where I actually talked people into buying Money in the Bank.  This year I’m into Wrestlemania, but none of this would have made me start watching RAW again if I wasn’t already. 

Wrestlemania Countdown: 27

The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 27
(2012 Scott sez: Oh, wait, this is 2012 Scott. Never mind.)
Live from Atlanta, GA.
Your host is THE ROCK. Plus Josh Matthews & Jerry Lawler & Michael Cole, who is trapped in a GLASS CASE OF EMOTION.
Smackdown World title: Edge v. Alberto Del Rio
Edge has Christian with him, and ADR has pre-Funkasaurus Brodus Clay, which is kind of a weird role to see him in now. They slug it out to start and Del Rio goes to the arm right away, but Edge dumps him. He charges and runs into the railing, allowing Alberto to further beat on the arm, and back in for two. Del Rio chokes away on the ropes and pounds the arm again for two. To the armbar, but he misses a blind charge and hits the floor, allowing Edge to follow with a flip dive. That had to be killing him. Back in, Del Rio brings him in with a top rope armdrag for two. Edge comes back with a leg lariat as this thing is not clicking in the least. Edge with the flapjack for two, but Del Rio goes back to the arm and tries the cross-armbreaker, but Edge counters into the Edge-O-Matic for two. They trade rollup attempts and Del Rio rolls into the armbreaker, but Edge makes the ropes. Edge to the top, but Del Rio brings him down with an enzuigiri for two. Christian brawls with Brodus to kick off a feud that went nowhere, and Edge cradles for two. Impaler sets up the spear, but it misses and Del Rio gets the armbreaker, which should have been the finish. Edge fights through and cradles for two, however, and gets his Cloverleaf thing. Spear finishes at 11:14. Pretty blah opener, especially for a World title match, although obviously we now know the circumstances behind it. **1/2 Clearly the finish should have been Del Rio tapping him out to the armbar and then going on to drop the belt to Randy Orton after Extreme Rules, because this way Del Rio never got any momentum behind his main event push. And really, Edge’s offense is much more suited to a big stadium atmosphere than Del Rio’s arm work was, which also caused the match to suffer. Edge and Christian, sore winners, get revenge for winning by wrecking ADR’s car with crowbars. What did he do to warrant that? There’s offbeat shenanigans and then there’s outright vandalism!
Cody Rhodes v. Rey Mysterio
It’s Captain America for Rey this year. And of course this is the blowoff for Cody’s Dr. Doom gimmick, which lasted a surprising amount of time and did very well for him. Rey gets a rana from the top right away, but Cody puts him down and pounds him in the corner. Disaster kick gets two back before it was a finish for him. Rey with a flying headscissor attempt, but Cody reverses into the Alabama Slam for two. He chokes Rey out and goes to a nerve pinch, and they head to the top for a rare delayed superplex from Rhodes. That’s something you don’t see every day. He goes for Crossroads to finish, but Rey dumps him to give us TWO Michael Cole-isms at once: “Building momentum” and “Creating separation”. Back in, Rey with a pinning combo for two. Rey tries the Rube Goldberg bulldog, but Cody counters into a suplex for two. Rey sets up for the 619, but Cody catches him and gets the catapult for two. He pulls Rey’s knee brace off, but that allows Rey to recover with a moonsault for two. Rey removes Cody’s mask in response, and hits the 619 to the NAKED FACE, but the flying splash hits knee. Rey puts on the evil mask himself (although judging by his past problems with masks at WM, this might be a mistake) and gets a diving headbutt for two. The Atlanta crowd now gets behind Cody, who retrieves Rey’s kneebrace in a nice tit-for-tat moment, waffles him with it, and finishes with Crossroads at 12:00. That was a clever finish that was actually explained well by the announcers for once. I heartily endorse this event or product! ***1/4
Meanwhile, Teddy Long and Snoop Dogg audition various doofuses, leading to Roddy Piper laying out Zack Ryder while singing “Friday” and Hornswoggle rapping. Well this was certainly a use of time.
Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Ezekial Jackson & Wade Barrett v. Big Show, Kane, Santino & Kofi Kingston
AKA the “Get a bunch of people a payday match”. Amazingly, Slater & Gabriel were the tag champions just a year ago, and Barrett was the IC champion. The guys trade finishers to start and Show punches out Slater for the pin at 1:33. And that’s that. That kind of goes against Cody Rhodes’ argument about Show not winning at Wrestlemania. ½*
Meanwhile, The Rock runs into Mae Young, Eve Torres and Steve Austin.
Randy Orton v. CM Punk
Punk cost Orton the WWE title at Royal Rumble, due to Orton punting Punk TWO YEARS BEFOREHAND. Now that’s a grudge! And they say chicks don’t let things go easily. They quickly brawl to the floor and Punk boots the stairs into Orton’s knee, then comes in with a flying bodypress for two. Punk works on the knee, but Orton comes back with a neckbreaker. Punk catches a high kick and does a sort of jawbreaker onto Orton’s knee, and that gets two. Orton is kinda way overselling the knee for 3 minutes into a match. Punk with the running knee for two, and he sets up for the GTS, but Orton fights out and tries the RKO. Punk manages to counter that with a high kick for two. Punk to the top again, but Orton brings him down via the crotch and sets up for a superplex, giving us a great look at a “Randy Orton Orange-O-Meter” sign. That man really is quite orange. Punk survives the superplex and rolls out, wrapping Orton’s knee around the post and getting a ringpost figure-four in the process. Back in, he goes back to the knee and here’s where the announcers should have been like “Orton is in pain with every offensive move he makes!” instead of 5 minutes ago. Punk controls with a leglock, but Orton fights out and gets the powerslam. Backdrop suplex gets two. Punk boots him down and snaps on the Anaconda Vice, but Orton rolls him into the ropes to break. From there it’s the draping DDT and he sets up for the RKO, but Punk is down for a while so he changes his mind and opts for the punt instead. The knee gives way on the run-up, however, which is an interesting twist, but he was just suckering Punk in. RKO is blocked by Punk and he slides out of the ring in a nice bit of wordless acting from both guys. Punk comes in with a flying clothesline, but that’s reversed into the RKO at 14:49. Would have worked better if he had punted Punk to end the feud, but this was a pretty great finish as is. ***1/2 I know this one didn’t get much love at the time, but I think removed a bit from the disappointment surrounding the show it was a really good match where they delivered the best they could. And really, Orton did some good goldbricking at the end there and Punk’s facials were tremendous. Of course, both guys would end up as World champions later in the year, too.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene meets with the Rock and introduces him to John Cena’s #1 fan, Pee Wee Herman. About as hilarious as it sounds, maybe even less.
Michael Cole v. Jerry Lawler
Steve Austin is of course the referee here as they cram in every overbooking trick they can. Cole hides out in the Cole Mine while Lawler beats up Jack Swagger and then runs Cole’s face into the plexiglass. Lawler kicks Cole’s ass for a while in the box and they head in to start the match for real, but Swagger attacks Lawler from behind. An anklelock allows Cole to take control right away and work on the ankle. Cole goes up for a Swaggerbomb, but then opts for one off the first rope instead, and that gets two. Cole looks ridiculous out there, but I guess that’s partly intentional. Although this is insanely long already for this kind of match. The crowd starts a “boring” chant as Cole pulls down a strap and applies an anklelock, but Lawler fights that off without breaking a sweat. Lawler stomps a mudhole, prompting Swagger to throw in the towel, but Austin wants none of that. Swagger DEMANDS that the match be stopped, and that earns him a stunner. Cole pleads with Steve for his life, but Lawler makes his comeback and beats on him as this thing just keeps GOING. Lawler busts out the dropkick in honor of his Wrestlemania debut and goes up with the fistdrop for two. And he applies his own anklelock for the submission at 13:51. They gave this FIFTEEN MINUTES?!? Should have been 3 minutes, tops, with Cole getting his offense and Lawler laughing it off and beating the crap out of him to finish. Booker T leaves his announce position and gets a stunner afterwards, just because. BUT WAIT. It’s the Dusty Finish, as the Anonymous GM chimes in and reverses the decision to really kill this thing dead. -***
HHH v. Undertaker
I was listening to the year-end awards show on the Observer site, and Dave and Bryan were talking this up as even better than the Punk-Cena ***** classic from Chicago. HHH’s extended “For Whom The Bell Tolls” intro is pretty awesome, as is the Undertaker’s Johnny Cash theme. Probably cost a ton of money just for the entrances alone, though. HHH slugs away in the corner to start, but gets tossed and they brawl outside. Taker clears a table right away, but HHH spears him into the Cole Mine (now there’s a concept that thankfully died a quick death) and heads back in. They exchange fisticuffs again and Taker gets the flying clothesline, but HHH blocks the old school ropewalk and sends him to the floor. Into the railing, as the upside of only working once a year becomes evident. Hey, if you’ve got the financial security to be able to afford only match per year, you might as well leave it all on the table so to speak. HHH is already trying a Pedigree on the table, but Undertaker backdrops him to the floor instead. JR is worried about his internal organs, so you know it’s painful. The replays show that, yeah, HHH just took a flat-back bump off the table and onto the mat. Ouch.
HHH is standing, so Undertaker hits the annual Wrestlemania tope suicida, thankfully not killing himself this year. He sets up the stairs but can’t hit anything as we get more and more teases and setups, but he charges instead and HHH counters with a spinebuster through the Spanish table! Holy shit, they’re just letting it all hang out. Back in, Taker catches him with a chokeslam for two as JR is really talking up the end of the streak. UT wants the Last Ride, but HHH slugs out of it and then pounds him in the corner. Oh, that’s not smart, Cerebral Assassin. Taker indeed tries the powerbomb, but HHH escapes and sets up for the Pedigree, which Undertaker escapes, but HHH gets another spinebuster for two. That was a great sequence of two guys knowing each other. He grabs a chair, but Taker kicks it back in his face and then just UNLOADS with it. Safely on the back, I should note. However, he pauses for dramatic effect, and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for two. HHH sets up for a superplex, but this time Taker does hit the Last Ride, and that gets two. Tombstone time, but even with the pose it only gets two. The chair is still around, so Taker picks up HHH and tries again, but this time it’s reversed into a DDT on the chair and both guys are out. They both pull themselves up on the ropes in a cool visual of two guys fighting through it to continue beating each other up, and HHH recovers first with the Pedigree for two. Kicking out of two Pedigrees? Is this guy CM Punk or something? And it’s a THIRD one for two. Holy cow.
HHH grabs the chair and goes all Steve Austin-at-WM17 on him, but Taker is old and stubborn and won’t stay down. So it’s a VICIOUS chair to the face, and UT got his hands up so fast that it looked unprotected. The crowd’s kinda freaking out a bit now because Taker is getting the BEATS put on him, and he can’t even do the zombie situp. HHH suggests, gently, that Undertaker stay down again, but Taker keeps fighting, so HHH resignedly gives him the famous tombstone…for two. If I was watching this live, I would have bet money that it was going to be the finish and the streak was over. So with all rational options exhausted, HHH gets the trusty sledgehammer to end it for good. However, HHH gets sucked into the gogoplata while trying to bash Taker’s head in. I hate it when that happens. HHH is equally stubborn and won’t tap, instead grabbing his hammer and threatening one last skull-bashing before finally dropping it and then tapping out at 28:54. It definitely wasn’t as good as Punk-Cena (one of the greatest matches of all-time), but it certainly wasn’t “two guys hitting finishers and then laying around” like others have accused. They were two guys who wanted to let it all hang out at Wrestlemania, with Undertaker stubbornly refusing to die (great choice of song to reflect that, even!) and HHH hitting everything he had and then letting his temper force himself into the one mistake that allowed the beaten Undertaker to win. I also the minimalist approach to it, as it gets portrayed as a brawl with a bunch of shortcuts, but it was really only one chair and one table and the rest was the in-ring finishers doing all the damage. Not something I’d want to watch over and over, but it was definitely something that deserved the viewing at least once. Not the Match of the Year by any means, but I’d call it a solid second place. ****1/2 The pace was slow, however, because Undertaker really is an aging and beat up old guy. So it’s obviously a very effective role for him to play during a match.
Dolph Ziggler, Layla & Michelle McCool v. John Morrison, Trish Stratus & Snooki
Man, Laycool just disappeared off the face of the earth, didn’t they? McCool, who looks about 90 pounds here, slugs it out with Trish to start and then counters the Matrix with a stomp to the gut. Trish reverses the Styles Clash into a facebuster, and tries the headstand headscissors, but ends up tumbling to the floor with Michelle instead. She keeps coming with a double clothesline onto Laycool and a rollup of McCool for two, then lays her out with the chick kick for two. Dolph brawls with JoMo, which leads to a Starship Pain on the floor, and Snooki comes in with a handspring elbow on McCool and a splash to finish at 3:48. Just time filler in a show that didn’t need any more filler, but nothing offensive. * Of course, this match ended up helping to seal Morrison’s fate, as he bitched on Twitter about how Melina should have been in Trish’s spot here and pretty much earned himself a pink slip.
WWE title: The Miz v. John Cena
You know, lost in the Miz’s fall from grace is the equally tragic plummeting of Alex Riley from main event manager of the WWE champion to modern day Superstars job guy. John Cena’s Wrestlemania entrance has now progressed to a full gospel choir. Test of strength to start and Cena goes to a headlock, but Miz stomps him down in the corner. Cena gets a gutwrench for two and MAN is this crowd dead now. Taker-HHH must have destroyed them. Miz with a DDT for two. Miz misses a charge and Cena goes up with the guillotine legdrop for two. But he misses his own charge and Miz takes over again with a boot for two. Another big boot gets two. Miz puts him on the apron and gets a kneelift for two as Cena is off on another world, which I believe turned out to be Cena knocking himself silly at some point early on. Cena comes back with the five knuckle shuffle, but Miz reverses the FU into a DDT for two. Miz undoes a turnbuckle, but Cena cradles for two and hooks the STFU. Miz quickly makes the ropes, but A-Ry runs Cena into the EXPOSED STEEL and Miz gets the Skull Crushing Finale for two. They sell it like a big near-fall, but the crowd just gives it a sarcastic “TWO!”. Another try, and now the ref is bumped, because that’s EXACTLY what this boring match needed. Riley lays out Cena with the briefcase and Miz gets two. Miz charges with the case and accidentally hits Riley, but Cena’s FU only gets two. That would have been a really flat finish anyway. They head outside and Cena clotheslines Miz into the crowd, then follows with a spear over the railing where he CRACKS his head on the floor. Oh man, that was scary. Both guys are out and it’s a double countout at 14:48. Well that’s just an awful finish. *1/2 However, The Rock is OUTRAGED at this bullshit and comes out to restart the match himself. So Cena tosses Miz back in, but Rock turns on him with a Rock Bottom and leaves, allowing Miz to get the pin and retain the title. I am just astonished at how badly this entire show was booked at times. And then Rock beats the crap out of Miz, too. And that’s Wrestlemania, ladies and gentlemen!
The Pulse
Holy crap, minus Undertaker-HHH that’s a pretty dire PPV, Wrestlemania or not. Traditionally one awesome match influences my rating upwards, but we’re in the digital age now and that awesome match is already on a “Best of 2011” DVD, so fuck this show. Strong recommendation to avoid and I’d put this one solidly in the bottom third of Wrestlemanias.

WWE: The TV Show

Hi Scott Long time reader. I recently saw on AV Club that another drama series about wrestling is apparently being developed, this one by Jerry Bruckheimer set in the 80’s. That may or may not happen, however, and you may well have touched on this at some point but bear with me (or not…up to you!), I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in more detail as to precisely what a hypothetical series on wrestling would ideally look like.

What era would you set it in? What specific personalities would you base the characters on? What would be the overall arc of the story? What would the opening credits look like and to what piece of music? Any actors you think would suit it? Just basically fantasy booking I know. Nevertheless, if you’re ever so inclined I’d be interested to hear.

You could do a hell of a show with characters based on Randy Savage & Elizabeth (the paranoid psycho and his hot wife), Hulk Hogan (the prima donna megastar who wants to do movies), Junkyard Dog (the fading southern black star with a huge coke problems), the Von Erichs (pampered kids accustomed to the world falling at their feet)…it doesn’t even have to be specifically about the WWF.  There’s so many ridiculous characters, ribs and stories from that period that you can mix and match whatever you want.  Foley’s book alone gives you stuff like Eric Embry booking naked and all of his crazy road stories.  I’d say I’d make the arc from the “wrestling emerging from smoky bingo halls” tropes that Vince puts forward (except you really can write a story about them being in those halls to start) and moving through Vince expanding nationally and then you can watch the 80s stars fade away or self-destruct until a fictional WCW comes along and knocks them off in the 90s.  I think the rise and fall of the coke-fuelled 80s, like Boogie Nights with wrestling stars, would be a hell of a show.  You’d need  a main character for the audience to identity with, which is where it gets tricky, though.  You’d need someone like a Howard Finkel, who is around everything and knows everything and everyone but doesn’t get caught up in it.  I’m not sure about the casting, but Treat Williams should be Vince McMahon, of that I am certain. 

WWE: The TV Show

Hi Scott Long time reader. I recently saw on AV Club that another drama series about wrestling is apparently being developed, this one by Jerry Bruckheimer set in the 80’s. That may or may not happen, however, and you may well have touched on this at some point but bear with me (or not…up to you!), I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in more detail as to precisely what a hypothetical series on wrestling would ideally look like.

What era would you set it in? What specific personalities would you base the characters on? What would be the overall arc of the story? What would the opening credits look like and to what piece of music? Any actors you think would suit it? Just basically fantasy booking I know. Nevertheless, if you’re ever so inclined I’d be interested to hear.

You could do a hell of a show with characters based on Randy Savage & Elizabeth (the paranoid psycho and his hot wife), Hulk Hogan (the prima donna megastar who wants to do movies), Junkyard Dog (the fading southern black star with a huge coke problems), the Von Erichs (pampered kids accustomed to the world falling at their feet)…it doesn’t even have to be specifically about the WWF.  There’s so many ridiculous characters, ribs and stories from that period that you can mix and match whatever you want.  Foley’s book alone gives you stuff like Eric Embry booking naked and all of his crazy road stories.  I’d say I’d make the arc from the “wrestling emerging from smoky bingo halls” tropes that Vince puts forward (except you really can write a story about them being in those halls to start) and moving through Vince expanding nationally and then you can watch the 80s stars fade away or self-destruct until a fictional WCW comes along and knocks them off in the 90s.  I think the rise and fall of the coke-fuelled 80s, like Boogie Nights with wrestling stars, would be a hell of a show.  You’d need  a main character for the audience to identity with, which is where it gets tricky, though.  You’d need someone like a Howard Finkel, who is around everything and knows everything and everyone but doesn’t get caught up in it.  I’m not sure about the casting, but Treat Williams should be Vince McMahon, of that I am certain. 

WWE: The TV Show

Hi Scott Long time reader. I recently saw on AV Club that another drama series about wrestling is apparently being developed, this one by Jerry Bruckheimer set in the 80’s. That may or may not happen, however, and you may well have touched on this at some point but bear with me (or not…up to you!), I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in more detail as to precisely what a hypothetical series on wrestling would ideally look like.

What era would you set it in? What specific personalities would you base the characters on? What would be the overall arc of the story? What would the opening credits look like and to what piece of music? Any actors you think would suit it? Just basically fantasy booking I know. Nevertheless, if you’re ever so inclined I’d be interested to hear.

You could do a hell of a show with characters based on Randy Savage & Elizabeth (the paranoid psycho and his hot wife), Hulk Hogan (the prima donna megastar who wants to do movies), Junkyard Dog (the fading southern black star with a huge coke problems), the Von Erichs (pampered kids accustomed to the world falling at their feet)…it doesn’t even have to be specifically about the WWF.  There’s so many ridiculous characters, ribs and stories from that period that you can mix and match whatever you want.  Foley’s book alone gives you stuff like Eric Embry booking naked and all of his crazy road stories.  I’d say I’d make the arc from the “wrestling emerging from smoky bingo halls” tropes that Vince puts forward (except you really can write a story about them being in those halls to start) and moving through Vince expanding nationally and then you can watch the 80s stars fade away or self-destruct until a fictional WCW comes along and knocks them off in the 90s.  I think the rise and fall of the coke-fuelled 80s, like Boogie Nights with wrestling stars, would be a hell of a show.  You’d need  a main character for the audience to identity with, which is where it gets tricky, though.  You’d need someone like a Howard Finkel, who is around everything and knows everything and everyone but doesn’t get caught up in it.  I’m not sure about the casting, but Treat Williams should be Vince McMahon, of that I am certain. 

Joe v. Kobashi, another try.

The SmarK DVD Rant for Ring of Honor: Joe v. Kobashi.

Gotta admire them for honesty in the titles.

Anyway, I previously had done a review of the main event on the blog, but I figured that I’d sit down and do the whole show because I wanted to watch the match again, just for kicks. Or in this case, chops.

– Taped from Manhattan, NY

– Your hosts are Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.


Colt Cabana v. Claudio Castagnoli.

Colt is still his fun-loving self at this point, so it looks like Homicide has not yet ruined his life. Claudio starts with a wristlock, but Colt takes him down with an armdrag and controls the arm. They dodge each other for a stalemate, but Cabana monkey-flips him and keeps on the armdrags. Claudio catches him with a European uppercut to take over, and throws a seated forearm for two. A quick try at a surfboard submission gets two, and a delayed vertical suplex is unexpectedly reversed to a small package for two when he holds it too long. Oh, nice spot. Claudio keeps coming with the inverted suplex for two, but Cabana dumps him and takes too long with a quebrada attempt, so Claudio heads back in. Cabana charges into the corner with a high knee and a butt-butt in the other corner to set up a lariat for two. Claudio comes back with a spinning neckbreaker for two, but Colt elbows out of another move and sets up to finish. He gets distracted by Homicide’s lackeys, however, and Claudio finishes with the, uh, Ricolabomb.

(Claudio Castagnoli d. Colt Cabana, powerbomb — pin, 7:48, **1/2) A good opener, nothing spectacular. Claudio’s Euro-trash gimmick is fairly interesting, however.

Matt Sydal v. Christopher Daniels v. Azrieal

Gotta say, as long as the allusion is biblical and not Smurf, Azrieal is right up there with the coolest wrestling names I’ve heard. This is elimination rules, according to the DVD packaging. Daniels gets a big-time star reaction here. Armdrags galore to start and Sydal briefly teams with Azrieal before they turn on each other. Sydal chops on Az in the corner, but gets powerbombed by Azrieal for two. Daniels gets a leg lariat on Az for two, and the crowd is clearly behind Daniels here. Az snaps off a rana on Daniels and goes back to chopping Sydal, and it leads to a nice spot where Daniels monkey-flips Sydal into an Az powerbomb attempt, but then clotheslines both guys to take over. Backbreaker on Sydal and he adds a chop in the corner, but Sydal goes up. Daniels tries to bring him down with a superplex, but Sydal fights him off and launches off Az with a tornado DDT on Daniels for two. A crowd member comments “You fucking suck, Azrieal!” Ouch. Az gets a cobra clutch slam on Daniels to set up a Sydal legdrop for two, and they double-team him. However, that goes badly and Daniels easily comes back with a simultaneous bulldog and clothesline on them. That’s awesome. He kills them with clotheslines and powerbombs Sydal for two. Azrieal takes advantage of the distraction and clotheslines Daniels off the top for two, setting up a guillotine legdrop with Daniels between the ropes. Sydal turns on Az again and gets a leg lariat for two. Daniels bails, so Sydal follows him out with a rana from the apron to the floor, and Az adds a pretty lame pescado onto them. Back in, the kids slug it out and Az gets a leg lariat for two. They head up and Sydal brings him down with a top rope belly to belly to eliminate him at 9:26.

That leaves us with Daniels v. Sydal, and he gets a couple of quick rollups for two, but Daniels PLASTERS him with a lariat. That’s a case where the Jannetty Sell works. Backdrop suplex gets two for Daniels. Death Valley Driver gets two. I like the addition of ramming his back into the turnbuckle, but he should go all Oklahoma Stampede with it and do it into all four. Sydal fights back with chops and an enzuigiri, and a standing moonsault gets two. Sydal goes up with a high cross for two. Rollup gets two. Daniels finishes with the Angel’s Wings to put him away, however.

(Daniels d. Sydal & Azrieal, Angels Wings — pin Sydal, 13:02, **3/4) Azrieal looked totally out of place with those two, and it would have been a better match one-on-one. Finish was kind of out-of-nowhere, too.

– ROH Tag titles: BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs v. Sal Rinauro & Tony Mamaluke

Mamaluke and Whitmer take it to the mat to start, as Whitmer powers out of an armbar and brings in Jacobs. Rinauro comes in as well and gets overpowered and armdragged. He catches an armbar, however, and brings Mamaluke back in for a rollup that gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. He dropkicks the knee and goes after the leg, but then goes to a camel clutch. Sal comes in and Mamaluke dumps him on Jacobs for two. Whitmer comes in and tries a DDT on Mamaluke, but Tony blocks with a choke, so BJ suplexes him into the corner instead. How is Mamaluke not paralyzed yet? Jacobs comes in with a chop off the top and they use the CLUBBING FOREARMS in a comedy spot. Jacobs drops some elbows for two. We learn that tagging someone’s boot is legal, as the champs double-team Mamaluke into jelly and Whitmer powerbombs Jacobs onto him for two. Mamaluke fights him off with a double-knee and makes the tag to Rinauro, who comes in with a flying rana on Jacobs. Back to Whitmer, who hits Sal with a rolling suplex and misses a big boot, but catches a lariat instead. Mamaluke has apparently made a blind tag and comes in kicking, then takes BJ down with an armbar. This turns into a triangle choke, but BJ powers him into the turnbuckle to break. Back to Jacobs, who goes up into Doomsday Device position, and hits Mamaluke with a rana off Whitmer’s shoulders for two. That’s quite the finisher. Whitmer keeps going after Mamaluke, however, and goes up, but Sal dropkicks him to the floor. Jacobs also tries to bring Mamaluke down, but gets powerbombed as a result. Sal gets an enzuigiri and they hit a double-team DDT for the titles? Did not see that coming.

(Sal Rinauro & Tony Mamaluke d. BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs, Rubik’s Cube Driver — pin Jacobs, 13:48, **1/2) This was kind of a meandering match, hovering between comedy and serious, and it didn’t really feel like it had the tag formula that most good tag matches do.

ROH Pure Wrestling title: Nigel McGuinness v. Jay Lethal

Nigel’s arrogant pre-match promo is great stuff. Lethal takes him down with a headscissors to start, but Nigel powers out of it. Another headscissors by Lethal, but Nigel escapes again, and walks away from a chop attempt. Can’t blame him. Nigel takes him down with an armbar and slugs away, blocking chops at the same time, and takes him down again with a neck vice. They trade stuff out of a knucklelock and Lethal bicycle kicks him and follows with chops, before Nigel takes him down with a leglock. Lethal resists the temptation to use up a rope break and fights out, then pounds him with forearms in the corner. He whips Nigel into the corner, where he does a headstand and mulekicks Lethal after luring him into a blind charge. Lethal bails and recovers before heading back in. Nigel goes to work on the arm with a single-arm DDT and hangs him in the Tree of Woe, and then kicks him in the back when he pulls himself up. NASTY. Lethal escapes another attempt and this time avoids the headstand kick by chopping him down. Spinebuster and he blocks a blind charge, following with a leg lariat on Nigel for two. Nigel avoids a dragon suplex, but Lethal gets a backdrop suplex anyway and goes up with a diving headbutt for two. A superkick sets up a leglock submission by Lethal, forcing Nigel to use a rope break. However, Nigel uses his trusty iron behind the ref’s back for the pin.

(Nigel McGuinness d. Jay Lethal, iron — pin, 10:59, ***) Match was nothing special, but Nigel is going to be a superstar once the WWE steals him.

– Jimmy Rave v. Roderick Strong

Prince Nana’s valet-on-a-leash routine cracks me up. Rave dodges Strong to start and grabs a headlock, and they trade chops in the corner. Strong wins that one, sending Rave to the floor. Back in, Rave goes to the headlock again and stays on that, but Strong suplexes out of it and whips him into the corner. A couple of more of those and Rave bails, so Strong baseball slides him into the railing and adds another chop. Nana distracts him, however, and Rave sends him into the railing to take over. Back in, a suplex gets two. Rave adds a Brutus Beefcake stomp and a neckbreaker for two, and he goes into a neck vice. Strong comes back with a crossbody for two, but Rave hits a lariat to the back of the neck to slow him up, and gets two. Choking sets up another neckbreaker for two. Roderick fights back with forearms, but Rave takes him down with a legsweep into a submission, which gets two. Strong fights out with chops and a backdrop, and a dropkick gets two. Backbreaker sets up a Boston Crab, but Rave makes the ropes. Sunset flip is blocked by Rave, but Strong reverses for two. A uranage variation of the backbreaker puts Rave down, and a big boot gets two for Strong. Running forearm into a backbreaker gets two. Another one is reversed by Rave and he spears Strong, into a Snow Plow for two. Nana throws a chair in, but Strong gets the gutbuster into the Stronghold (ha!) to finish.

(Roderick Strong d. Jimmy Rave, Boston Crab — submission, 13:43, ***) I really like the psychology of Strong shown here, which we never see in TNA. Instead of just being the guy who does backbreakers, here he does them to soften the back and get an easy submission from a back-related submission move.

Ricky Reyes v. Pelle Primeau

This would be the standard post-intermission ROH nothing match. Seems like it’ll be a squash. Reyes kicks him down to start and gets a backdrop suplex, into a demon bomb and choke to finish.

(Ricky Reyes d. Pelle Primeau, chokehold — submission, 0:50, DUD)

James Gibson v. Jimmy Yang.

This being the debut for Yang and the swan song for Gibson would seem to telegraph the finish, but you never know with Gabe. Some of the fans prematurely shoot their streamers for this match, which is pretty Freudian, I suppose. They fight over a lockup to start and Gibson takes him down, and they reverse until it’s a stalemate. They fight over a wristlock and Yang takes him down with a headlock, and they work off that. Yang holds on to frustrate him, but Gibson reverses to a rollup for two. Gibson starts working on the arm, but Yang spinkicks him in the corner to break. Nice armdrag sequence from Gibson, however, sets up a neckbreaker for two. Legdrop gets two, and he keeps Yang on the ground with a headscissors. Yang fights out and gets a SWEET kick combination for two, and now it’s his turn to go after the arm.

Gibson fights out and dumps Yang, then follows with a suicide dive, sending both guys into the front row. Given that the railing is about a foot away from the ring, that’s not hard, but still. Back in, Gibson comes off the top, and Yang catches him with a spinkick. Superkick gets two. They trade pinfall attempts and do the Flair sequence before clotheslining each other for a double KO. Gibson recovers first with a high knee and backdrop, into a spinebuster for two. Yang comes back with a moonsault press for two and another spinkick, and he goes up again. Yang Time misses and Gibson DDTs him into an awkward attempt at the tiger bomb which he turns into a choke, but Yang rams him into the corner to escape. Another crack at Yang Time hits, but only gets two. Back up again, but Gibson brings him down and powerbombs him into the corner, and another powerbomb gets two. I would have sworn that was the finish, but the choke ends up doing it.

(James Gibson d. Jimmy Yang, guillotine choke — submission, 15:49, ***1/2) Good exit for Gibson before going on to the much more gratifying role of being one-half of The Pitbulls on the most boring wrestling show on TV.

Homicide v. Jack Evans

They trade wristlocks to start and Evans showboats on the escape, which Homicide mocks him for. Homicide takes him down with a monkey-flip, and Evans returns the favor, but neither can take advantage. Homicide dances and the crowd chants “You Got Served” in a funny moment. Evans sends him out with a headscissors and follows with a somersault tope. Back in, running knee gets two, but Homicide hits him with a backbreaker and t-bone suplex for two. Evans catches a rana for two, but Homicide clotheslines him down again and gets a half-crab. Nice bit of dickery as he yanks on Evans’ hair and makes his head touch his foot until the ref breaks it up. Into the Tree of Woe for a sliding dropkick from Homicide, which he follows with a guillotine legdrop. Blind charge hits boot and Evans tries to come back, but he walks into a swinging DDT from Homicide that gets two. Blind charge misses, however, and Evans goes up, but Homicide crotches him right away. Evans recovers with a 450 butt splash for two. That could have ended badly for someone. Homicide bails and gets dropkicked into the front row as a result, and Evans follows with a springboard senton. Back in, Evans gets caught up with the rest of Homicide’s posse, before getting a springboard dropkick on Homicide for two. They head up and Homicide gets an Implant DDT for two. Evans is pretty much dead, but he fights off the Cop Killer, so Homicide takes him down with the Ace Crusher. Homicide lets him up and finishes with the lariat, but doesn’t cover, because Colt Cabana is on the balcony cutting a funny promo against him. This gives Evans the chance to hit an inverted rana and roll him up.

(Jack Evans d. Homicide, rollup — pin, 13:39, **1/2) This was going fine until it just died when Cabana turned it into an angle.

– At this point, the announcers sign off and let us have the live atmosphere.

Samoa Joe v. Kenta Kobashi.

And now, the main event, which is truly one in every sense of the word. Although Joe gets a big reaction, the entrance of Kobashi is like Hulk Hogan coming into the building or something.

Joe throws a kick to start while they lock up, thus annoying fans right off the bat. Once they get to the ropes, he adds a slap, and thus makes it clear who the babyface will be. Another lockup and Kobashi chops him so hard that you can almost feel it through the screen, and they fight over a knucklelock. Joe suplexes out of it and tackles him down, then baseball slides him into the railing and follows with a suicide dive. Back in, that gets two. Elbowdrop gets two. Joe goes to a chinlock, which he turns into a neck vice, so Kobashi makes the ropes to break. He tries throwing some chops in the corner, but that just pisses Kobashi off and he returns fire. Joe goes with kicks instead, a smart move, and knocks him down with an enzuigiri. He adds the short kicks to really rub it in, but that pisses Kobashi off even MORE, so Joe has to knee him in the face to put him down this time. Oh, this is sick and awesome and tremendous. Joe kicks him down and drops a knee, and Kobashi bails.

On the floor, Joe throws him into the railing and follows with the Ole Kick , but he gets sloppy and Kobashi chops him on the second attempt, and then chops him into the front row. That’ll learn him! He adds a DDT on the floor and they head back in for a facelock from Kobashi, but he decides just to chop Joe instead. How does he do that shit without taking off skin? Running knees and the big chop to the chest follow, for two. Back to the facelock, which he tries to turn into a suplex, but Joe reverses to his own. Kobashi keeps throwing chops, so Joe keeps kicking, and when that doesn’t work, they get into the nastiest chopfest ever. The sweat flying off is one of those images you don’t forget. Joe loses that one and Kobashi gets two. Abdominal stretch for Kobashi, but Joe makes the ropes. Kobashi gives him another chop for two. He goes to a neck vice and chops him on the bridge of the nose for good measure.

Joe blocks the spinning chop and takes him down with a uranage, and a senton follows as he makes the comeback after all the abuse. He throws chops in the corner and goes for a powerbomb, but Kobashi fights him, so he powerbombs him into the turnbuckle instead. Facewash time! Muscle Buster gets two as the crowd freaks out a little bit. Joe throws some UFC-style knees to the head and tries the choke, but Kobashi escapes, so he powerbombs him instead for two and turns it into the STF. This leads to one of the most awesome sequences of the match, as Kobashi looks likely to tap and the crowd chants “Please don’t tap.” Then every time he makes it to the ropes, Joe cuts off another body part and makes it look like he’ll tap. Finally he stretches his foot over and forces the break. Joe thinks it over and goes with a charge, but Kobashi chops him into a half-nelson suplex for a double-KO. And now, the most awesome sequence of the match, as Joe struggles to the corner and Kobashi absolutely destroys him with chops, throwing upwards of 70 of them and turning Joe’s chest into hamburger. He keeps throwing chops to knock Joe down and out, then adds another suplex for two, as Joe grabs the ropes on instinct to break.

Joe makes one more comeback attempt, but runs into a sleeper, which Kobashi turns into a suplex that should have finished in any other universe. Joe is done and Kobashi is all fired up, but Joe fights back with chops until Kobashi schools him with his own and ends the suffering with a lariat.

(Kenta Kobashi v. Samoa Joe, lariat — pin, 22:15, *****) Even with the insane amounts of hype that it had going on and the reputation it has gained since then, I was still not disappointed. It was a great battle of manly stoicism between two guys who just let it all hang out for the fans and beat each other into hamburger as a result. The crazy stuff like Kobashi’s million chops in the corner, where you think that he’s going to stop and then he picks up the pace again, were amazing. And the crowd reaction was one of the most rabid I’ve ever heard, especially when they started freaking out with Kobashi in the STF/crossface sequence, trying to figure out how he can make the ropes. And the finish was tremendous too, with Joe throwing everything he had at Kobashi and not being able to beat him, and then Kobashi just patiently beating Joe into unconsciousness and getting the pin. Tremendous stuff, and a ***** match for sure. It was like what a great heavyweight title fight would translate to in wrestling terms, basically.

The Pulse:

While the rest of the show was largely forgettable, the DVD is worth the purchase for the main event alone, which is probably why they called it “Joe v. Kobashi.”

Highest recommendation for the main event.

https://www.rohwrestling.com/shoponline.asp?point=moreinfo&catid=187&id=1504

24/7

“Hey Scott, I had a quick question for you and the blogsters. I recentlysubscribed to WWE 24/7 and I was wondering how things were added onthere. For example, this month it says “WEEK 1″ spans from 8/28 to 9/3.I was wondering if everything was added on 8/28, or if it was addedbetween the two dates. I was also wondering what versions of thingswere being shown, for instance, SummerSlam 1996 is on there right now,would that be the live ppv version or the commercial releaseversion…Also while Im writing this, I was wondering if I could get afree copy of your newest book, since I’ve been a supporter of yours,spanning all the way back to the rantsylvania days and I have your 3other books. Hey…you cant blame a guy for trying right? Thanks Scott”

Ho ho, pretty sneaky at the end there. I do have a whole bunch of copies and I’ll probably do some sort of contest once my friends and relatives have siphoned all the books they need off me, but that probably won’t be a while.

Anyway, past about 1995 there was little difference between the live PPV and commercial versions of shows, because everything had to conform to the 2:40 standard that PPV companies set anyway. So I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Besides, Coliseum video was still distributing WWE stuff as of 1996, and I can’t see WWE using the Coliseum versions, because that’s just how they roll.

As for the other parts of the question, I’ve never used 24/7, so I couldn’t say.

Vinceosity

“Hey Scott,
This is Matt Foster, fos4545 from the blog.  Sorry I
haven’t been at the blog for a while, I just got
married and started a new school year at a new school
and the kids are kicking my ass right now.
Anyway, I have a question/statement/musing:
With all of this McMahoning going around on RAW and
the DVD, it seems like the pinnacle of Vince being all
over TV.  Raw just doesn’t seem motivated, the
characters are bland, and the writing is at best
boring, and at worst offensive.
My question is, what if this isn’t Vince’s fault?  I
think the Attitude Era worked because Vince was
tempered by creative, extroverted personalities like
Austin, Rocky, Foley, HBK, the Undertaker, and the
rest.  Even HHH was a thousand times more entertaining
when he was getting over as the best wrestler in the
world.  It was entertaining because each guy was in to
their gimmick and running with it full force.  Now the
only people that seem to do that on Raw are Edge,
Umaga, and Vince himself.  Cena was a phenom until he
became bored and watered down.  What the hell ever
happened to having a personality on this show?
I guess in all this rambling, what I’m trying to say
is that the crapability of the WWE may not be all
Vince’s fault.  I’m sure if someone came up with a
good idea, he’d run with it.  But in the meantime,
he’ll keep fucking Katie Vick’s dead body and trying
to be Stephanie’s baby daddy.
Your thoughts?”

The problem is that pretty much everything is going to be Vince’s fault, because Vince takes the blame for what goes wrong and takes the credit for what goes right. It’s been clearly established that he’s in total control at this point, for better or worse. So no matter what, you have to lay the blame on him.