Place to be Nation Presents: King of the Ring Special

The fine folks over at Place to be Nation have gone through every King of the Ring PPV as they re-booked and re-ranked all the brackets and overall shows. So, click on the link below and listen then post here on what you agree and disagree with.

http://placetobenation.com/brad-and-chads-king-of-the-ring-special-rankings-rebooking-and-more/

Isn’t That Special?

Hey Scott I had a quick question, With PPVs now being "specials" do you think WWE is likely to experiment more with when they air these specials?  Back in the day Survivor Series was on Thanksgiving and then was moved to Thanksgiving eve.  Since they aren't chasing the buy rate as much in the coming years might they try this again or possibly move some fall PPVs off Sunday night when going against football, baseball playoffs and so on?

​I don't think so, just because they're still locked in with PPV obligations everywhere but the US at the moment and messing with that would be throwing away money that they don't need to.  Plus they have to lock in dates for the buildings months in advance.
What I COULD see them doing is filming house shows as a network exclusive as something to put on there.  Hell, make it a part of the sales pitch for the network, ala NFL Sunday Ticket where wrestling nerds can watch all the WWE they can handle.  ​

30 Greatest WrestleMania Moments – WWE Top 10 Special Edition

OK, let’s talk about this now, shall we?

– Austin v. Michaels at #1…no way.  Hogan slamming Andre is clearly #1, not only on a list of WM moments but of moments in wrestling history all-time.

– John Cena v. Rock II at #7 or whatever it was can suck my ass.

– Hogan-Rock should have been higher still.  70,000 people losing their minds and jumping up and down like little kids at least warrants #3.

– I kind of liked the contrast of Shawn’s career ending, followed immediately by Flair’s career ending.

– The Savage-Liz reunion is insultingly low.

They sure do love them some Shawn Michaels, don’t they?

A Very Special “The Postgame.” (Alternate working title: Did They Break Us For Good?)

Writing about Raw on a weekly basis became tiresome within a couple of months because after a few weeks of awesomeness of Daniel Bryan fighting the machine, it stopped being interesting enough to give me an angle from which to approach it. (That, and I prefer to drink with my friends while watching wrestling. It’s not only more fun, but ensures I’ll fall asleep at a decent time when I have to work the next day. But that’s another story.) 


Having the sportswriting background that I do, one of the first things you’re taught is that there’s no cheering in the press box. I try to apply that ethos to whatever I write, unless you count my silly-ass Facebook rantings. It isn’t that I think it’s wrong to show favoritism in writing about professional wrestling; I don’t even think it’s inherently wrong in some forms of sports journalism, with pundits like Bill Simmons proving impartiality to be unnecessary. I just think it makes for more interesting writing. 


The plights of the character of Daniel Bryan, and moreso of Bryan Danielson the performer, have made even intimating any form of impartiality a difficult task in recent months.


This isn’t the first time a crowd has responded in a manner far different from how they’re “asked” to respond. While it has become the norm in the last 15 years and has possibly reached critical mass with the story arc of Daniel Bryan over the last eight months, it’s nothing new for a crowd to be very vocal about hating who they’re supposed to love, loving who they’re supposed to hate, treating a supposed midcarder like the biggest thing in the world and outright rejecting what they present to us as the supposed biggest thing in the world.

You can push whoever you want, however you want, to whatever extent you want. But you can’t think for an audience that’s always been much smarter than promoters and condescending non-wrestling fans alike have supposed. No matter who you push or who you say is the good guy, we like who we like.

Last night’s Royal Rumble certainly seems like it’s going to prove to be a tipping point, I just don’t know of what. Maybe it will prove to be the latest example of the WWE relenting to an overwhelming demand for something, and they give in and give us Daniel Bryan, Top Guy. (They have listened before, every now and then.) Maybe this was the plan all along, and this will prove to show just how hard they can troll us in what’s necessary to get us to emotionally invest in someone this fervently in this era. 

Or maybe it will be the moment for many of us that our cognitive dissonance breaks for good, and we fully accept that they truly do not care what we want. I call it cognitive dissonance because deep down, I think most of us know that who we want pushed isn’t the WWE’s priority, yet we still bring ourselves to care so much.

For whatever it’s worth, I don’t think they’re blind to what we’re asking for. It isn’t like Daniel Bryan is being buried. Zack Ryder was buried. This is not a burial. Daniel Bryan was in four straight pay-per-view main events and even in the worst-case scenario of the WWE proceeding as if Pittsburgh’s crowd didn’t do what they did, will still be in a high-profile Wrestlemania match.

I don’t even know if Vince McMahon, Triple H or anyone else with a say-so necessarily disagrees with us regarding Bryan. All we hear is that Vince loves the guy, after all, and I don’t see why he wouldn’t.

Even accounting for the possibility of a reversal of course tonight, it’s clear that building up a new star to Rock or Austin-like levels is not in their interest. And maybe it shouldn’t be. As much as Bryan has galvanized an existing fanbase, has he expanded it? (Counterpoint: much like Punk in 2011, was he really given that chance?)

To the WWE, the story arc of Daniel Bryan has been a rousing success simply because they elevated him to that rarified air of made men who can be plugged into anything from a program with a part-time star like HHH, Brock or Undertaker to a midcard feud with Bray Wyatt. Making him THE guy was never a consideration, nor is changing course to do so even if the fans ask for it.

Because while wrestlers leave, the brand doesn’t. Ironically, it seems as if the early-mid 2000’s, when Foley, Austin and Rock all left basically for good within a two-year window, and Brock Lesnar came and went within two years himself, was their own tipping point. This is ironic because it gave us a stale product lorded over by Triple H, who now is part of the shot-calling process.

Or maybe it’s not ironic, and in fact directly informs why they’ve been so seemingly loathe to push someone to the point where they eventually don’t need the WWE, which has happened with just about every huge star they ever created/employed.

John Cena came along and became the top guy, and stayed there for two reasons. The first is that he’s remarkably, shockingly reliable. I’ve said before that if Hogan, Rock and Austin are the Ruth, Aaron, Griffey, etc. of pro wrestling, then Cena is Cal Ripken: shockingly durable and reliable, in the lineup every day to do what’s asked of him. (Not a perfect analogy because Cena has had a few serious injuries, but I think it still works.)

The second reason is that, as such a company man, he’s the perfect top guy for a business that has long since decided the brand is the star. Really, it’s surprising it took them this long to figure it out: wrestlers come and go, but your brand needs to keep growing.

That’s why the WWE Network’s launch is bittersweet for so many diehards, and comes at such an ironic time for the WWE itself. The Network gives old-school fans like us everything we’ve ever wanted: basically the entire history of wrestling at our fingertips, as well as every live pay-per-view, for a shockingly low cost. It’s the best mainstream publicity they’ve garnered for themselves in…honestly, maybe ever?

But at the same time, Daniel Bryan has become a cultural flashpoint to the extent that, as pointed out on this blog earlier in the day, some so-called mainstream media has even commented today on how little the WWE is listening to their audience. 

I think that perfectly sums up where we find ourselves as wrestling fans, and where the WWE finds itself as a product: they expand their brand even further by pushing not any wrestler, but themselves. And at the same time, they almost intentionally seem to be not pushing the one performer we want more than anything. 
At the same time they’ve given us everything we want, they refuse to give us the one thing we REALLY want. 
Maybe that cognitive dissonance isn’t going anywhere, after all.

Cucch’s Book Review Special Edition: All of Scott Keith’s Books.

Methinks I better tread lightly here…

Let’s dispense with all the pleasantries and ball slurping right out of the gate. Obviously, as a writer on this site, I am a longtime fan of the grand poobah of this blog. I have been reading Scott’s rants since way back in the WrestleManiacs years, starting with his WCW Thunder rants many moons ago. I was a loyal CRZ guy at the time I discovered Scott’s, uh, unique outlook on one of my favorite pastime. I believe it was a line referring to Van Hammer’s “Leather Jacket of Extreme Discomfort” or someone using “The comfy cushions of death~!” that really dialed me into his writings, and since early 1998, I have been a loyal and devout Keith follower. Much of my early writing styles attempted to ape Scott’s style, until I realized a few things: That there is only one Scott Keith, that I was not a very good imitation of Scott, and I needed to find my own voice. While I still do keep some elements of Scott’s writings in mine, its amazing going around the interwebs, reading a review by some new cat on the block, and within about 100 words, know that the author is clearly trying to imitate Scott. Usually poorly.

With that said, obviously I have read all the man’s books. I bought “Buzz on…” the day it came out. Same goes for “Tonight in this Very Ring” and “One Ring Circus.” However, where I live is not blessed with a good amount of book stores to peruse through (and I have shitty credit, so Amazon was out of the question…plus at the times of their releases, my money was going towards some more mind altering substances)…so I only just read “Dungeon of Death” about a year ago, and just today received, from Amazon, at a cost of four cents plus $4.99 shipping, “Wrestling’s Made Men.” I devoured it in about two hours (trust me…after slogging through that shit that is Dusty Rhodes book…this was a fucking cakewalk) and loved it.

Which got me to thinking: I generally like all of Scott’s books, and the last few all generally follow a simple formula: describe what is wrong with the WWE, elaborate on the problems, throw in some match reviews, voila. So reviewing one of them is basically like reviewing all of them, so I figured I’d do something different here: quickly run down each book, discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of them all, and give a somewhat objective ranking of each work of Scott. So let’s do this.

Scott’s first book was “The Buzz on Wrestling”, which was a popular book series around the turn of the decade roughly akin to the “(Whatever Subject)…for Dummies” series. It was meant to be a quick tutorial for the uninitiated to the mat wars at a time when wrestling was at its zenith popularity wise. It is a quick and concise history of the modern era of wrestling that has sections dedicated to certain wrestlers and promotions in an attempt to give the less astute fan an idea of what was REALLY going on with said performers or promotions at the time, and in that sense, it is a success. Whenever I would have a friend or co-worker ask me questions about wrestling and how they could gain some more knowledge, I always referred them to this book, because it is easy and quick to read, and is filled with some great knowledge that alot of us smarter fans had already discerned from Scott’s online writing.

However, reading it today is very much reading the portrait of the artist as a young man. That is what is going to make this review interesting hopefully. It more or less really gets going around Hogan and the AWA and reaches the year 2000. Don’t get me wrong, its a good book, one I will still pick up as I am rushing towards the bathroom and in need of something quick and easy to read. (I can recount most of the book offhand without even glancing at it…even the typo’s, like Dynamite Kid’s style and drug use causing him “dearky.”), but it was really just scratching the surface of what was to come. It had some snark to it, but not nearly what was to come. It did not feature any match reviews, which were to come. Which leads us to…

“Tonight in this Very Ring” was what I considered the genesis of the more modern, scathing Scott we have come to know and loathe. I mean love. Consider “Buzz” the end of the Netcop years, and this book as the genesis of the smark rants. It is basically dedicated to the years 2000-2001, and reading it now is very much a trip, having experienced that wonderful WWF period live and in living color, if you will. The snark is turned up. The match reviews are there. And so is a phrase Scott rues to this day, in print: “HHH is God.” To be fair, in 2000, HHH really WAS Godlike, as he and Rock, with Austin sidelined, drew obscene amounts of money together, and it also didn’t hurt that the mid card had been revamped with additions like Benoit, Guerrero, Jericho, Malenko, et al. In short, it was, for this fan, one of the best years of wrestling I have experienced. Add in the fact that Russo had left for greener pastures in Turner Land, phew, buddy, it was a fun year, especially for PPV’s.

Well, except for King of the Ring 2000, the one PPV I had the privilege of attending live that year. That PPV was a steaming pile.

Anyway, “Tonight…” began a killer run for Scott, as he was well ahead of the curve on what precisely was going wrong with the WWF product even as it reached its pinnacle. He foresaw the growing HHH problem. This book introduced many to the term “Glass Ceiling.” It featured the Scott we all know and love (phew…got it right that time) right as he was reaching the peak of his powers. Without a doubt one of Mr. Keith’s better offerings. But the best was yet to come, with…

“Wrestling’s One Ring Circus.” This is, in my mind, without a shadow of a doubt, Scott’s best work to date in print form. It details a very tumultuous time period in the history of WWF/E, 2002-03. HHH becoming the egomaniac we all deride to this day. Austin walking out. WWF losing its name.  It takes the blueprint Scott laid out with “Tonight…” and turns the volume up to 11. Scott was a very jaded viewer at this point…as were many of us…and it is reflected in this book. It also seems to mark where modern Smark Scott shows up for good, filled to the brim with sources deep within the industry, as evidenced by the remarkable chapter on the walk out and demise of Stone Cold Steve Austin, which, if you have never read, in my mind is the definitive chapter on what he was experiencing at the time. A total slam dunk ***** classic chapter that may or may not be Scott’s definitive MOTY. Unreal stuff. Those last two words actually accurately describe the whole book, as it is just spot on from beginning to end, showing uncanny prognostication powers that I remain in awe of. Still a book I very much read to this day when I have time.

A quick life experience side note here: After this book is where I very much fell into the vices that basically destroyed my life for the better part of a decade. 2003-2011 were very dark times for me, so while I read Scott’s sporadic online contributions…and they were beginning to become very sporadic, reflecting his distaste for the product…his books became afterthoughts. It was only this afternoon I received, and read, “Wrestling’s Made Men.”

My thoughts on this chapter of Scott’s book writing is that it is a very good book, his second best. But in light of some events over the last few years, the two star players of the tome, Eddie and Benoit, make it almost tragic to read in retrospect. If I had read it when it initially came out, that Chris…in a druggie haze, no doubt…would have screamed “RIGHT ON!!! BENOIT!! EDDIE!! FUCK THE WORLD (Wrestling Entertainment)!” Reading it today though more or less made me feel a little melancholy, because I can recall experiencing the same joy as Scott relays in the book when Benoit won the Rumble in 04, when Eddie won the title at No Way Out in the Cow Palace, Mania 20…honestly, that was the pinnacle of my fandom, and its all been downhill ever since. It was a fun read because, honestly, I was so messed up at that point I was not seeing Raw week to week, let alone Smackdown. And to be honest again, reading this book, I am glad I wasn’t! There were some horribly illogical things going on with the WWE product at that time. Nathan Jones. Heidenreich. Mordecai. Kenzo Suzuki. Luther Reigns. HHH. The babyface push of Randy Orton. Ugh. Just…so…bad. Yet the book also describes WWE starting to finally push new guys towards the top, in the form of the (soon returning) Batista and John Cena, which at the time was a fresh idea that Scott was skeptical about. Wonder how he feels about that now, what with Cena being pushed and pushed and PUSHED down fan’s gullets (he was remarkably prescient on how Cena would go down well with younger fans) to the point of nausea. All in all, almost as brilliant as his prior book, but the main body of work showed an author who was growing weary of the product, on the verge of total wrestling breakdown…and Scott seemingly did, as did many of us fans as well. WWE had hit a corner here where Johnny Ace had taken over as head of talent relations (lowercase for a reason) and Steph and Trips were gaining more and more power. Honestly, the highlight of the book is Scott and friends attending Backlash 2004 and the Raw the following night, and their interactions with Shane O Mac.

“…Made Men” ends with a very somber afterword, as in between finishing the book and its publish date, the wrestling world lost Eddy Guerrero. Any fan worth their salt knows how great Eddy was in the ring, and what a spectacular fuck up he was outside of it. If I had to compare my life, my experiences, to a wrestler, its Eddy. Total perfectionist fighting the odds and a huge family influence trying to find his way to the top. In that process, he finds every pratfall known to man in an effort to remain at the top while slowly and surely descending into every abyss he attempts to jump. It is almost sort of ironic that Eddy’s death closes out “Made Men” with little mention of Chris Benoit. The afterword by Scott is written in February of 2006. 18 months later, the landscape of wrestling would change, and it would involve the very man Scott worshiped at the altar of.

Chris Benoit murdered his wife and child on the weekend of June 25, 2007. Chris Benoit was the lord and savior of the internet wrestling fanbase, a man most championed by Scott Keith himself. I can remember how I felt once I learned the grim reality of the situation: I felt like my balls had been stretched out and Benoit had thrown his hardest chop right down the middle of my sack. How could the man we had been led to believe was the ideal wrestler, salt of the earth, just a great guy who provided us hours upon hours of amazing wrestling, be this cruel and sadistic madman? I remained in mourning for many years, refusing to analyze the hard facts, just because it hurt too much. It was only within the last two years, when I really got clean, that I figured I would determine if I was being irrational in defending the man because of the concussive nature of his line of work, which leads us to “Dungeon of Death.”

In my opinion, “Dungeon of Death” is Scott’s lesser work. We all know Scott was a HUGE Benoit guy, to the point of obsession (just for the record, so was I), so I was expecting huge things from a Canadian who experienced more or less the entirety of Benoit’s career. It was a slam dunk for Mr. Keith to really, really, REALLY fashion a name for himself in the literary world. Who better than SCOTT KEITH to write the definitive story on Benoit and his ascension and demise?  Well, I read the book about ten months ago, and was totally underwhelmed. I got a section that described Benoit’s career in about 70 pages, and then the book moved into this morbid death march of wrestlers who lost their lives due to drug abuse…quick little snippets that never really scratched the surface, much like Scott’s description of Benoit’s career. I was expecting so much more, but was left totally deflated by it, and consider it Scott’s worst work. Muschnick’s book on Benoit was better. As was Randazzo’s. And those two can be described as a skeptic and the other as a total outsider who did damned good homework. Was Scott too emotionally scarred to write the definitive Benoit tome? (Ring of Hell is it, by the way, for all the guff I gave the author.) I do not know. All I know is that Scott’s Benoit book left me with more questions and skepticism than any of the ones that have been produced to this date.

So then. We all frequent this site, so we are all Keith-ists to a degree. Here is where I have his books ranked:

1. One Ring Circus
2. Wrestling’s Made Men
3. Tonight in this Very Ring
4. Buzz on Pro Wrestling
5. Dungeon of Death

This post was meant as less review and more of a discussion starter. How far off base am I? Delusional? What are your favorite Scott Keith books and why? Have at it.

And yes, Missy Hyatt is coming. I just received the book via mail today, and not even 30 pages in and she is giving Tommy Rich road head. Its next…

WWF “War to Settle the Score” MTV Special

February 18, 1985

This was broadcasted live on MTV

The show begins with a Hogan promo. He says that he is out
of control and it is up to the Hulkamaniacs to determine how much punishment he
will inflict on Roddy Piper.

Your hosts are Alan Hunter and Gene Okerlund. For those who
are unfamiliar with Alan Hunter, he was one of the five original MTV VJ’s (Martha
Quinn, J.J. Jackson, Mark Goodman, and Nina Blackwood were the others). Anyway,
Hunter seems like he is really out of his element here and it shows throughout
the show.

They show a video package recapping the entire series of
events that led to this match, starting at the beginning of the “Rock ‘n’
Wrestling” creation.
 

Hunter is shown interviewing heels in some previously
recorded bits, including David Schultz who was fired from the company a week
before this aired.

 

Piper cuts a promo, dressed in street clothes, and angers
the women by stating that he is not afraid to hit a woman if she touches him
first.

 

Now we are shown a series of interviews between wrestlers
and celebrities that are mad at Piper. Celebrities include Gloria Steinem,
Patty Smith, Ted Nugent, Dee Snider, and Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro.

 

More promos are shown. This time we have the heels against MTV
and Rock music with the faces and celebrities for those things.

 

Okerlund narrates a series of events featuring Piper acting
out of control.

 

We then find out that Vegas odds have Hogan as a 7:4
favorite then we get predictions from wrestlers and celebrities.

 

Roddy Piper w/Bob
Orton vs. Hulk Hogan w/Capt. Lou Albano, Cyndi Lauper, and David Wolfe

The match is airing live from Madison Square Garden. Piper comes out holding a guitar and wearing a “Hulkamania”
shirt. He even does Snuka poses in order to offend all of the fans in atendance. Orton has his arm in a sling as the result of
his match against Snuka earlier in the show. Bob Costas is the guest ring announcer and Mr. T is at
ringside. The heat for this match is off the charts. The match starts with both
guys brawling on the mat. Hogan takes down Piper with a back elbow smash then
hits a few slams. Piper takes the advantage with a clothesline in the corner.
He gets a few nearfalls and taunts the crowd a bit. Piper jumps on Hogan’s back
and locks on a sleeper. He brings him to the mat and Hogan tries to power up
but Piper rams him into the corner. Piper goes back to work and Orton helps him
out too. Hogan fights back and the crowd goes nuts. They engage in an eye-rake
battle until Hogan takes him down with a clothesline. Paul Orndorff appears
ringside and is cheering on Piper. Piper breaks up an atomic drop attempt and
in the process the ref gets knocked out. Piper holds Hogan down as Orndorff
comes off the top with a kneedrop. Lauper tries to help out as Wolfe attempts
to get her off the apron. Piper and Orndorff corner Lauper but Mr T. hops the
railing and the place goes nuts. The heels back off and Piper tells him to come
into the ring. He does but the heels attack him from behind then they turn
their attention to Hogan, who is standing up. Mr. T gets up and evens things up
as the fans are out of their minds. Orton joins the heels then the police swarm
the ring and separate everyone but not after Hogan lands a few more shots on
Piper. The fans stay rabid as the heels are dragged off by the police. Mr. T
and Hogan shake hands. Hogan grabs the mic and orders the heels to get back
into the ring then Finkel lets us know that Hogan won by DQ (7:40) **1/2.

 

Thoughts: I thought this match was really laid out well. They kept things simple and the crowd reacted to nearly everything they did so it was a huge success. It also saw Orndorff re-align himself with Piper after several months and more importantly, set up the main event for the first WrestleMania. 

 

 

Hunter and Okerlund are now in the locker room. Hogan comes
in and cuts a promo on Piper, saying he was trying to destroy their way of life
and will do anything to stop him. He will even die for Rock ‘n’ Roll too. A
crazy but passionate promo from Hogan. Wolfe and Lauper come in and talk about
the match too. Lauper notes that she had trouble in her match with Wendi and
she said that as she lost the Women’s Title on this card to Leilani Kai after
Moolah hit her with  forearm.

 

More celebrities come in and congratulate Hogan. Mr. T comes
in and calls the heels chumps and sissies. Okerlund plays the trio of Lauper,
Hogan, and Mr. T as a group of friends. Mr. T promises they will get them next
time.

 

Even more celebrities enter including Andy Warhol, Billy
Squier, Joe Piscopo (who really thinks he is still a huge deal), and Danny DeVito. Piper interrupts after coming out of the
shower and goes insane in his promo, promising to take out Lauper, Mr. T, and
Hogan.

 

Okerlund and Hunter wrap things up and Okerlund does not
believe the war between Piper and Hogan is over yet.

 

 

Final Thoughts: This
show was a huge success not only for the WWF but also for MTV as this show drew
at the time, the highest rating in the history of the network. It also made
wrestling seem cool with all of the celebrity involvement and kept the feud
going between Hogan and Piper, which was red-hot. The rest of the card was not
televised on this broadcast though and things of note included the Women’s
title change and the MSG debut of Hillbilly Jim. The WWF was riding a wave of popularity here and capitalized on that in a big way.

TNA Impact Wrestling Special: Hardcore Justice 2013 Part 2

TNA Impact Wrestling Special:
Hardcore Justice 2013 Part 2
Welcome everyone
to the review of TNA’s Hardcore Justice 2013 Part 2. After reading
through the comment section of my debut review, I noticed a trend.
Some of you said I needed to put more of my personal opinion into the
reviews while others liked the generic move by move play by play. I
decided to mix things up and mesh both together. Also, someone
suggested posting a little blurb about why I gave the match a certain
review. I will be adding that as well. Keep the comments coming as it
helps me get better as a writer and helps you as the reader get a
better review!

Oh, and those that
got offended by me saying that I don’t watch WWE. Maybe I should
clarify. I don’t watch WWE “in full”. I skim through episodes of
RAW and watch matches with talent that I enjoy like John Cena, Daniel
Bryan, Christian, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, The
Shield, CM Punk, Antonio Cesaro, Wade Barrett, and some others. I
watched a bit of Summerslam and LOVED Lesnar vs. Punk. I had it at
****3/4. It was slightly worse than Cena vs. Lesnar, which I gave the
full ***** to. If this was back in the 80’s, a Punk bladejob would
have been a given. Bryan vs. Cena was a great match, too. I had that
pegged at ****1/2. Cena really is one of the best workers in the
world and pulling out a near five star match with one arm proves it.
That match plus post-match scenario made Bryan a huge star. Well,
time for the review.
Storylines
heading into Hardcore Justice Part 2:

-Bully Ray regained the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from Chris
Sabin last week inside of a steel cage with the help of Tito Ortiz
and Mr. Anderson.

-Tito Ortiz turned on “friend” Rampage Jackson by striking him
with the dreaded rubber hammer.

-The Extraordinary Gentleman’s Organization (EGO) members Bobby Roode
and Frankie Kazarian picked up 20 points in the Bound For Glory
Series with the help of their fourth member, appletini.

-Hardcore Justice continues tonight with a streetfight with the
remaining BFG Series competitors plus the main event of Aces and
Eights vs. Main Event Mafia with the loser of the fall gone from TNA.

-The BFG Series Leaderboard heading into tonight looks like this:

*
Magnus (39 points)
*
Bobby Roode (34 points)
*
Christopher Daniels (30 points)
*
Austin Aries (28 points)
*
Samoa Joe (26 points)
*
Jeff Hardy (24 points)
*
Mr. Anderson (24 points)
*
AJ Styles (22 points)
*
Kazarian (22 points)
*
Hernandez (7 points)
* Jay Bradley (0 points)
*Joseph
Park (-3 points)
Back
to Norfolk, VA we go!
A
nice little recap video is shown airing footage of last week’s BFG
Series matches. Also, Main Event Mafia and there hunt for a fifth
partner for tonight. Highlights from the World Title cage match are
also shown.
World
Champion Bully Ray arrives with Tito Ortiz. They run into Mr.
Anderson who whines like a Stage 5 clinger complaining that Bully
hasn’t answered his calls or texts. Bully informs him that Ortiz is
with him and with the Aces and Eights. Bully wants Anderson to be
concerned with “earning his stripes”.
EGO
is in the ring with Roode on the stick. They enforce that they have a
distinct advantage in winning the BFG Series because they make up 25%
of the field. They want Austin Aries to join them. The World Tag Team
Champions James Storm and Gunner appear on stage to argue about
trusting Bobby Roode. Storm knows best. Storm tells Roode he is going
to punch him in the mouth then he does it. We’ve got ourselves an
impromptu tag match playa.
Non-title:
James Storm and Gunner vs. Bobby Roode and Frankie Kazarian
A
match with all four in jeans. Earl Hebner calls for the bell and we
are underway. The four brawl to begin. Daniels runs to the floor.
Gunner clotheslines Kazarian to the floor. Gunner beats up Daniels in
the ring and throws him onto the ramp. Storm punches Roode on the
floor. Hebner sends Daniels to the back. Storm and Kazarian go at it
in the ring. Storm works the arm and tags in Gunner as we head to
break.
As
we come back from break, Roode and Kazarian are on the offense. Chops
in the corner from Roode. Gunner isn’t having any of it. Fights back
with a back elbow that gets him a one count. Roode throws Gunner face
first into Kazarian’s boot. Kazarian is back in the ring with Gunner.
Spin kick pin attempt is broken up by Storm. Kazarian poses for the
crowd. Roode tags back in. Double team action in the corner. Roode
snaps the neck ala Mr. Perfect of Gunner. The crowd is trying to get
Gunner back to his feet. Suplex by Roode followed up by a knee drop
that gets him two again. Kazarian tags in with more double team
stomping. Leg drop by Kazarian. Kazarian slaps Gunner in his face.
Gunner rallies back with elbows but gets eye raked. Gunner catches
him with a backbreaker. Gunner is fired up. Tag into Storm. Storm
slugs with Roode. Forearm and atomic drop from Storm. Storm is
working over them both. Kick to the back of Kazarian’s head. Storm
hits an elbow drop from the top rope for two. Kazarian tossed back to
the floor. Roode gets caught with a lung blower to the front. Last
Call Superkick could be coming. Roode slides Hebner in front. Storm
kicks Kazarian. Low blow from Roode to Storm! That gets three!
Winners:
Bobby Roode and Frankie
Kazarian
Match
Rating:
**3/4. Just a basic tag
match. All four worked well though. Good stuff to start off the show.
Austin
Aries is backstage talking about everyone wanting him to join their
group. By the end of the night, we will get Aries’ answer.
More
recap of last week’s World Title match and Tito’s “shocker”.
Update on Sabin tonight.
Non-title:
Manik vs. Sonjay Dutt
So
we’re back to singles matches allowed. Thanks for listening TNA.
Manik is surprisingly over. Match starts fast with a hip toss from
Manik. Headscissors into a submission that rolls into a pinfall for
two. Manik works over the arm. Headscissors from Dutt gets two. Seems
to be a common theme. Dutt moonsaults onto Manik for two. This stuff
is fast. A strange stretch from Dutt on Manik as the crowd cheers for
Manik. Elbow to the noggin’ by Dutt. Dutt goes back for a submission.
Manik wills his way back to his feet. Manik springboards off the
ropes and kicks Dutt in the face on the floor. Another springboard
dropkick this time to the back of Dutt gets a nearfall. Sit out
powerbomb from Manik gains him a close two count. Dutt kicks Manik
right in his face. Running knee. Springboard splash from Dutt garners
him two. Taz sings. Dutt goes to the top rope and misses the
moonsault double stomp. Samoan drop into a kick to the face by Manik.
Manik hits the underhook knees to the sternum to win the match.
Winner:
Manik via pinfall
Match
Rating:
**. Basic X-Division
match. Crowd was into it though.
The
Aces and Eights are backstage with Anderson telling the troops to
focus on the job tonight. Devon looks pumped. The Aces are ready for
the big fight tonight. They are ready. Testify!
Street
Fight for 20 Points in the Bound For Glory Series: Christopher
Daniels vs. Joseph Park vs. Jay Bradley vs. Hernandez
The
last of the three hardcore bouts for BFG Series points. The four men
pair off to start the match. Hernandez splashes Daniels in the corner
then tosses him over. Bradley gets punches in the face by Park. Elbow
by Bradley. Punches with elbows from Bradley to Hernandez is
countered with a clothesline. Roll up by Daniels gets a nearfall on
Hernandez. Backbreaker by Hernandez on Daniels. Two count. Bradley
hits Hernandez with a steel chair. Bradley sends Hernandez into the
corner with a chair wrapped around his neck. Ouch. More chair work
from Bradley. Elbow to the head from Park. Get off me by Hernandez to
Bradley. Hip toss to Daniels from Park. Looks like a tag match going
on almost. Hernandez and Park both splash the heels in the corner.
Break time.
Chaos
is still ongoing. Hernandez is with Daniels fighting on the ramp.
Kendo stick shots from Hernandez. Daniels back body drops him onto
the steel ramp. Park knocks down Bradley twice. Bradley gets a chair
again, but Park puts him into the Boston crab. Roode and Kazarian are
out beating up Park. Eric Young helps him. All four brawl on the
floor. Bradley big boots Daniels right in the forehead. Low blow to
Daniels’ privates. SMACK! Chair shot from Bradley. Back drops Daniels
right onto the chair. Kazarian and Roode turn their attention onto
Bradley. Air Mexico down the ramp by Hernandez onto Daniels. Get off
me again. Daniels falls off the Border Toss. Aries rolls into the
ring. What?! Aries high-tens the EGO members then hits the
Brainbuster on Daniels! He swerved them. Aries fights the EGO group
off. Brass knuckles from Bradley to the mouth of Park. Park is
bleeding. Ruh roh Scooby. He turns into “Abyss”. Park is going
bananas. Black Hole Slam on Bradley winst eh bout for Park.
Winner:
and receives 20 Points in the
Bound For Glory Series, Joseph Park
Match
Rating:
***. Fun match. Aries’
swerve was awesome. Bradley shined here.
Park
and Young hug it out in the ring.
The
Mafia will step up tonight. They don’t need anyone to step up with
them.
Video
package of Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan’s “marriage” airs. Ugh.
World Champion Bully Ray and Cheeto Ortiz are in the ring to
celebrate. Bully is a happy man. Ortiz tells Rampage that he
should’ve known better. They promote the Bellator fight again. Crowd
chants “you sold out!” at Tito. No one does surprise like Bully
Ray. He will expose the secret of him and his girl. The whole world
should know about them. He tells Brooke to come down here right now.
Brooke Hogan’s music plays. She’s canned though? Campbell’s soup. Out
come BROOKE TESSMACHER! Crowd is dead. They must be shocked or asking
themselves “who?” Man. I wish I was that middle rope. Brooke’s
butt is looking extra firm tonight. Bully and Brooke lock lips.
Tongue involved as well. Bully has the best job in wrestling. Bully
has the “hot Brooke” with him now. Taz waives. Ha ha. There’s
only one thing left to do. Brooke takes off Bully’s wedding ring with
her tongue! Five stars!
Gail
Kim vs. ODB is next.
Gail
Kim vs. ODB
These
two have been going at it for weeks now. Singles Knockouts action
tonight. I don’t like the newer version of Gail’s theme. Bell sounds,
here we go. The two circle each other before locking it up. ODB
tosses Gail aside. Again. ODB’s butt knocks Gail over. Gail eats the
turnbuckle pad. ODB sizes her up. Splash in the corner with cleavage.
Bronco buster in the corner. Two count for ODB. ODB knocks down Gail
again while Taz argues that ODB should wrestle with men. Gail Kim
rolls to the floor to recover. ODB chases her. Arm bar from Kim. Gail
focuses on the arm of her opponent. The left arm is getting
destroyed. ODB kicks Gail in the stomach. Shoulder breaker from Gail
Kim. That looked nasty for two. Back to the shoulder work with a
hammer lock. ODB elbows out, well almost. ODB low blows Gail Kim? Taz
is baffled as to how that would hurt. ODB is battling back with
clotheslines. Gail Kim eats the turnbuckle pad ten times. Thesz press
gets two for the drunk woman. Gail goes to the top ropes. ODB knocks
her down. Superplex from ODB. Wow. Both are down. They both felt it.
ODB rolls over and gets two. Gail Kim crucifix’s ODB and wins out of
nowhere.
Winner:
Gail Kim
Match
Raing:
**1/4. Okay match.
Superplex was cool.
The
Mafia and Aces are coming to the ring for their fight.
Jeff
Hardy BFG Series highlights from last year is shown. He wants to do
it again.
Austin
Aries can play mind games. He was smarter than EGO. Aries doesn’t
need anyone’s help. He doesn’t need to politic.
Chris
Sabin is very upset with what happened last week. The belt meant
everything to him. He will be back. Yeah, okay Chris.
Loser
of the Fall is Gone from TNA: Aces and Eights (Mr. Anderson, Garrett
Bischoff, Wes Brisco, Knux, Devon) vs. Main Event Mafia (Sting,
Magnus, Samoa Joe, Rampage Jackson) and AJ Styles
Bully
is on the ramp with Brooke and Tito. AJ comes down the ramp after the
Mafia then explodes into OLD AJ STYLES! Music and all! New pants! He
is back! I’m glad they dropped that useless loner gimmick. Back to
what brought you to the dance. Why would AJ risk his career though?
Let’s all hope Bischoff or Brisco takes the fall. Please. The crowd
has exploded! The fight begins. Brawls all over the place. AJ beats
up Anderson. Magnus and Devon swing. Wow. AJ punches Anderson. Crowd
is loving this. Styles poses for the crowd. Sting and Rampage send
Knux into the steps. Dropkick from AJ to Anderson. Magnus slams
Brisco. Pin him! The teams finally get on the apron. Magnus tags Joe
in to destroy Brisco with punches. Piston like. On paper, this is the
biggest mismatch in wrestling history. Kick to Brisco’s head. Brisco
fights his way out. In comes Bischoff. Pin him, too. Styles tags back
in. Bischoff tries to fight back. Backbreaker across the knee from
Styles. Break time.
Magnus
and Bischoff are going at in the ring when we get back from break.
The heels take over. Knux slugs Magnus. Magnus isn’t having any of
it. Magnus gets caught with a Knux spear. Two count from Knux. Back
drop from Knux. Knux tags in Devon. Devon slams a forearm into
Magnus’ jaw. Choke on the rope from Devon. Devon tags in Bischoff.
Bischoff rakes Magnus’ face across the top rope. “Devon sucks!”
chant. Yeah, okay. Bischoff in the ring and they think Devon sucks?
Brisco gets two on Magnus, but Joe breaks it up. Anderson tags
himself in. Giant “Yes!” chant. Anderson pokes Magnus in the eye.
Devon tags back in. Snapmare to Magnus. Leg drop from Devon. Devon
goes after the neck of Magnus. Sting and Rampage both haven’t been in
yet. Magnus tries to fight back, but a spinning elbow from Devon puts
him back onto the mat. Knux comes in with a rib shot. Bodyslam from
Kunx. Knux connects with a middle rope leg drop for a nearfall.
Suplex attempt blocked. DDT from Magnus! Both men are down. Crowd
cheering and clapping. Magnus tags in Sting. Stinger Splash in the
corner on Knux. Another! All ten men are in. Fights everywhere again.
Most of them end up on the floor. Rampage is in the ring fighting off
the Aces. Bodyslam by Rampage on Brisco. Scorpion Deathlock on Knux.
Devon breaks it up. That was close. Knux covers Sting for two. Back
to the aprons the teams go. Devon works over Sting Bodyslam from
Devon. Devon goes to the middle rope but misses a headbutt. Both are
down in the ring. Sting tags in AJ. Crowd explodes again. Springboard
forearm Styles knocks the Aces off the apron. Kick to the head of
Devon. Devon kicks out, barely. Anderson in with shots to AJ. All ten
men are going at it for the third time. Styles hits the Pele onto
Bischoff. SPEAR KILLS AJ from Devon! Inside out. Styles battles back
Styles Clash connects on Devon! 1..2..3! Devon is gone from TNA!
Winners:
Main Event Mafia. Devon is gone
from TNA
Rating:
***3/4. I really liked this
match. It was chaotic, but great.
Bully
is shocked on the ramp. He is very angry. The Mafia poses in the ring
celebrating their triumphant victory as the show closes. Me thinks we
are headed to a Styles vs. Bully BFG main event.

Show
Rating:
7.0. It had nothing bad
at all on the show. Some stuff was just “there”, but everything
clicked together with a stellar main event. 

Inside the Indies Special Edition: Getting To Know Your New Developmental Prospects

Big news keeps hitting the net today that WWE has signed or is looking to sign a whole slew of indie workers to developmental contracts. After a few years where the policy seemed to be rooted more in signing untrained guys based on their look and breaking them into WWE style, the new NXT is shaping up to be a breeding ground for the hot indie talent in the country right now that are hoping to follow in CM Punk and Daniel Bryan’s footsteps. Since, as always, I’m a proponent of independent professional wrestling and the talented men and women who have made it their life’s work, I’d like to take this opportunity to give anyone who isn’t familiar with these workers some insight into who they are, and what qualities to look for when they become the stars of the future.

 .

–To start with, one person who signed back in April and is just now breaching the world of FCW/NXT: “Big Rig” Brodie Lee, who will be known in developmental by his infinitely less interesting name Luke Harper. Who gets the feeling someone was reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” there? Anyhow, Harper is a Rochester native who differs from most indie standouts: he’s 6’7 and 280 lbs. He’s got a great physique and does a decent mix of power moves. He has that great aura that combines a little bit of redneck swagger with a darker side; he at once could remind you of Diesel (hence the truck driver gimmick) or The Undertaker (hence the awesome choice of entrance music in the indies, Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”. ) I think now’s a great time to start using him. Everyone by now has heard about the awesomeness that is Bray Wyatt, the former Husky Harris’s Waylon Mercy-esque character. Unfortunately, Wyatt just tore a pec, and he’ll be out for roughly six months. They also just let go his former lackey Eli Cottonwood. And honestly, the thing everyone loves about Bray Wyatt is the creepy promos, not Husky’s ring work. Easy solution here is to just make Bray Wyatt a manager for the duration of his injury and let him back Luke Harper. You keep the Wyatt character fresh, you give Harper some of the rub from that, and when Wyatt’s healthy again you have an evil Southern Gothic tag team ready to go. Wins all around. Check out some Brodie from his time in CHIKARA:

–Also from CHIKARA, as well as SHIMMER, Jersey All Pro, and formerly of ROH, they’ve signed Sara Del Rey. Del Rey is probably the top female wrestler in America right now, or at the very least in the independent scene. She’s made her mark by being a dedicated student of wrestling, and has spent time training with Daniel Bryan. She’s also been notable for competing in intergender matches, even challenging CHIKARA champ Eddie Kingston. At one time she was aligned with the Kings of Wrestling in ROH, better known as current Smackdown superstar Antonio “Claudio Castagnoli” Cesaro and NXT star Kassius “Chris Hero” Ohno. (Now they should sign Shane Hagadorn as, like, a referee or something, just to get the complete set). It’s hard to say what role she’ll fill in WWE, but she’s damn sure going to be one of the most talented Divas they’ve had. Check her out:

–“The Man That Gravity Forgot”, PAC, is another signee. Hailing from Newcastle-upon-Thyne, England, this man is without a doubt one of the most insane high flyers working today. While he’s not very big, his acrobatic moves are crisp and really unique, something that will set him apart from all the other high flying cruisers. Signing to WWE will have one benefit for him: He can ditch that stupid name. “PAC” makes you think of 2-Pac, X-Pac, or Pac-Man, not necessarily a British cruiser who’s whiter than Sheamus and most likely doesn’t eat ghosts. However, “The Man That Gravity Forgot” has that really epic 60’s sci-fi, Philip-K.-Dick-by-way-of-Flash-Gordon vibe to it, and they should think about letting him keep it. Other than that, his best bet in WWE is if they actually launch the all-cruiserweight show. If not, he needs to bring a move to WWE that has never been seen there before and really blow everyone away. His corkscrew shooting star is a personal favorite, but I gotta say, it’s high time someone brought the 630 Splash to WWE. Clear a spot for your jaw on the floor and check out PAC:

–Matt Taven has been appearing in ROH lately, and has made a bit of a name for himself around the indie world. He’s one of the latest signees to developmental, and of all of them, he’s the one who could benefit most from some developing. He’s got a good look, and some of his offense looks great, but he doesn’t have a huge moveset yet and he needs polish. He does, however, have the Shawn Michaels-style underdog face selling routine pretty well down, where every offense move he scores looks like it was out of desperation. And that ain’t bad. Take a look at Taven, especially if you like arm drags:

–Mercedes Martinez is allegedly on the bubble for getting signed right now. She’s another SHIMMER alum who’s worked for a variety of companies, including ROH, Afa Anoa’i’s WXW, Jimmy Hart’s Wrestlicious, and many others. I’m not going to lie, I’m not an expert on Mercedes but I’ve heard a lot of good things. She seems to be another woman who’s very dedicated to professional wrestling and she brings a little Latin flavor to the table. I could see feuds with some of the other Hispanic Divas, such as Eve, Rosa, and even Vickie Guerrero in her future. Let’s all take a look at what she can do: 

                                    
                                   
And two more names that I’ve heard are rumored to be in talks with WWE:
–I hyped up Johnny Gargano last week in my Inside the Indies. He has a goofy charisma that he backs up with some serious skills in the ring. As a member of F.I.S.T. he’s part of one of the top heel teams of CHIKARA, and he’s made his name in DGUSA/EVOLVE and plenty others. He’s another maybe for the all-cruiserweight show, although he has the ding against him of vaguely resembling Trent Baretta, who’s supposedly a John Cena pet project. Baretta’s awesome but still, he’s not The Bee’s Knees, The Cat’s Pajamas, and The Whole Shebang:

                                 
 
–“The Callihan Death Machine” Sami Callihan has been all over the indie & international scene in the last few years: CZW, ROH, PWG, EVOLVE, DGUSA, PWS, AAW, WXW, 2CW, Big Japan, Fight Club Pro, and even Wrestling Retribution Project. With that kind of pedigree you know this guy is no joke. For a young guy he has a decent pedigree, having trained with Les Thatcher in HWA and working with the likes of Jon “Dean Ambrose” Moxley, Chad Collyer, and Nigel McGuinness. He’s done hardcore as well as technical wrestling, and he’s developed a great Goth gimmick for himself without going too far over the top. He’s got a great future ahead of him if he does get signed to WWE, and at only 24 he’s got plenty of years to hone his craft and work on his physique (he’s only about 200 lbs., but he looks like he’s got the kind of frame that can accommodate more muscle.) Given some seasoning he could be a solid mid-card hand or more. His Headlock Driver, from the corner or the ground could be a great finish for him that he could do to anyone.

                              
                                    
–So that’s the current crop. Of all of them I think Brodie Lee has the best chances for success because, well, he’s the big one, but all of them are talented wrestlers who have something to offer WWE. Until next installment, remember, support your local indie scene.

ROH TV 4/7/12 (with Special Japanese Import-Only Bonus 2CW Recap)

Sorry this one is a little behind, folks. It’s been a busy weekend for yr. humble scrivener. Friday I was in Watertown, NY for Night One of Squared Circle Wrestling’s Living On The Edge. 2CW is the hottest indie in the Upstate NY area and, for that matter, a lot of the northeast. They regularly feature top-level indie talent from ROH, CHIKARA, and others, as well as having regular visits from WWE legends and other free agents. Couple that with an impressive local roster, and a 2CW show is always a good time. So, join me for a recap of both that show, featuring some big ROH names, and of course, (last weekend’s) ROH TV, where we see the final 4-way in the March Mayhem tournament between Jay Lethal, Tommaso Ciampa, Mike Bennett, and Adam Cole.

I’m gonna go a little quick and dirty on ROH this week, because there really isn’t too much to say. This one was from the very tail end of the taping schedule and it’s from before the last iPPV, so a lot of it is no longer relevant.

–We opened with The Young Bucks vs. TJ Perkins and Shiloh Jonze. Not much to go on with this one. TJ is ready to break out in ROH but as of now they don’t really have a direction for him. Jonze has been used as a jobber before in ROH and hasn’t really showed much of anything as far as being a worker. Usually Bucks matches tend to fall into tornado tag formula, with everyone in the ring at the same time, which works well for their double teams. This one was a more standard tag formula match, and it worked well that way. The Bucks got to use their stick & move high flying to beat down Jonze, and TJ got to come clean house off the hot tags and show his own high flying offense. The end had both babyfaces incapacitated with superkicks and Jonze falling victim to More Bang for Your Buck for the loss. Not bad at all, but TJ deserves better than meaningless jobs in tag teams. Possibly, once things work out with Amazing Red and ROH, those two can keep going on as a team.

–Following up from a while ago, Mike Mondo vs. Matt Taven was next.  Why is a question I have no answer for. Mondo doesn’t really interact much with the rest of the ROH roster, and his style is drastically different than most. What little I’ve seen of Taven on YouTube hasn’t impressed me greatly (his big claim to fame is having a really good arm drag). I just don’t get the continued need to have these guys fill TV time, especially when nothing they do effects anything else on the roster. Mondo is positioned as the star here, but his WWE-trained style is going to clash with the rest of the roster if he ever starts to mingle with them. So I just don’t see the point in keeping him around, especially since his character is so derivative of Crash Holly. Not much of note happened here, with Mondo playing some kind of mind games with Taven regarding his boot, and Mondo capitalized and finished off with his double-arm DDT.

–Inside ROH was comprised this week of a press conference for the Toronto event in May, Border Wars. (Incidentally, reports are that ROH is no longer going to be working with GoFight Live, so I’m not sure what their iPPV status is at this point. After the massive technical problems that turned so many people off of Showdown in the Sun, this is the best course of action for ROH if they don’t want to risk losing fans because of something that was someone else’s problem). Davey Richards and Jim Cornette addressed the event with some general platitudes, and then of course Kevin Steen interrupted. Steen made a challenge to Davey, which Davey was hot to accept, but of course Cornette objected. Finally, Richards had to play hardball: either give him a match with Steen or he takes the ROH title and leaves for Japan. Kind of an interesting choice for Davey’s character to put Cornette in a position where he could risk screwing ROH either way. I see this as another clear sign that Davey is working toward a big heel turn. So Cornette relents, and we have what I imagine will just be the first of many matches this year between Davey Richards and Kevin Steen.

–The main event is the Final 4-Way in the March Mayhem tournament, Jay Lethal vs. Mike Bennett vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Adam Cole. The winner of this one wins $24,000 as was put up by each of the 8 tournament competitors. The main issue here is between Lethal and Ciampa, as this was taped before Lethal lost the TV title to Roderick Strong. Lethal starts off by tearing into Ciampa, and before long Ciampa tags out to Mike Bennett and attempts to stay on the apron for as much of the match as possible. Lethal looked great here, as a fired up Jay Lethal is an exciting Jay Lethal. A lot people can’t work as well at a faster pace but Lethal seems more comfortable there.  Adam Cole gets incapacitated during a commercial break by a spinebuster to the ring apron by Bennett, making him the underdog for the rest of the match. After Ciampa took over on Lethal, Bennett tagged himself in, leading to heel miscommunication between the two. Lethal scored the pin on Bennett with Lethal Injection to eliminate, but then immediately got eliminated himself by Ciampa’s knockout knee strike. Adam Cole works really well from the beaten up, underdog position. He’s good at pulling out “desperation” moves, and he does well to inspire crowd sympathy. One cool spot saw Ciampa hitting the repeated knee strikes to the corner, only to have Cole cut it off with a strong superkick. Cole got a near-win with a rear naked choke, in one of the only times I can remember a heel doing the “arm drops twice and stops before three” gimmick. In the finish, Lethal attempted to run back in and take out Ciampa, and Ciampa used the distraction to crotch Cole on the ropes (which didn’t really make sense, since Ciampa is the one who should’ve been distracted, but it does work in terms of Ciampa’s crazy-intense character). Ciampa then finished with a particularly sick looking Project Ciampa, leaving Cole folded in half for the pin and the 24 Gs. Everyone was on their top game here and the fast paced action was really fun. Cole showed a really adept talent for playing Ricky Morton, while Lethal showed that breakneck speeds suit him well. Ciampa showed, as always, that’s he’s fucking bank.

–In all, it wasn’t an utterly skippable ROH TV, because the opening tag was decent and the main even was really enjoyable, plus the press conference set the main storyline for the company further into motion. But, it was still kind of a lame-duck show, since not a lot of the storylines really carry over to what’s going on now. Either way, don’t take my word for it: go to ROHwrestling.com and check it out for yourself.

As for the 2CW show, it was one of the biggest shows they run all year. While they were at the Fairgrounds in Watertown, rather than their usual location in the smaller, auxiliary YMCA arena, they were in the larger main arena, with several bleacher seat sections. All told they filled all their reserved front row seating and the large bleacher sections. At one point they said they had over 800 people in attendance, a really solid crowd for them. A few highlights:

–The main draw was Sgt. Slaughter, who came out to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance before being cut off by The Insurgency. I believe that kind of thing is what go Finlay fired from WWE, right? I haven’t seen The Insurgency before, and I think they might be guys that travel around with Sarge just for indie shows. Their manager is a chubby guy named Bin Hamid (? ..maybe?), and the other two guys names were unclear. One of them looked a lot like one of the Maximos from former ROH/TNA tag team The SATs. Sarge was joined in the ring by a Marine that jumped the rail, as though he was a fan making a run-in. I never caught his name but the 2CW Facebook page says he’s Jason Wayne. They set up the main event for later, with Sarge & Wayne against the two Insurgency guys. Not much went on there, although Sarge did get in there and brawl a little bit. In the end he locked on the Cobra Clutch and the manager came in for the interference with the Iranian flag for the DQ. Sarge took him out with the Cobra Clutch and led a big USA chant to close the show. The idea with Sarge was to appeal to all the Army guys in Watertown that are stationed at Fort Drum, who got in with free admission. I didn’t see anyone that I noticed in uniform though, although many may have been there in street clothes. I’m pretty sure Drum had a big field drill this weekend, so maybe they would have had an even bigger turnout if not.

–After a match won by local talent Matt Milan, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash hit, and Brodie Lee made a surprise appearance through the crowd to take him out. This drew out Kevin Steen, who was advertised for the 2CW title match in a 3-way with champ Jay Freddie and SWB. Steen made some jokes about Brodie having recently signed to WWE developmental, and made note that he’s never wrestled Brodie and may never get to, leading to Brodie getting added to the title match. The match was a fun brawl, with mostly outside brawling. At one point the much smaller Freddie locked Brodie in a Sharpshooter and Steen responded by locking SWB (better known as Slyck Wagner Brown, but I guess he’s simplifying these days) in his own Sharpshooter, face to face with Freddie, and then spitting on him. After Freddie and Steen were both eliminated in short order, Brodie scored the win over SWB to claim the 2CW title. I’m not sure what the outcome of that will be, regarding when Brodie goes to FCW. Steen cut a promo on Brodie afterward, thanking him for appearing, and then kicking him in the nuts and heeling out on the 2CW fans for not having him back after his first appearance years ago. Steen then left out the back arena doors with the 2CW belt.

–The Briscoes were also in attendance, as they wrestled The Olsen Twins, Jimmy and Colin (aka Colin Delaney, formerly of WWE). It was very cool seeing the Briscoes up close and personal, and they had a lot of fun with some comedy spots with the Olsens, involving the Briscoes’ beer supply and the Olsens’ Four Lokos. After taking over with some Hillbilly Kung Fu from Mark, Jay hit Jimmy with a chokeslam, of all things, and Mark hit a frog splash for the win. Briscoes let the fans know afterward that they will be back to Watertown (and, as I type this, word is breaking that the Briscoes have defeated First Class for the 2CW Tag Titles in Rome tonight, so I’m sure they’ve got more appearances in store). Afterward Jimmy Olsen turned on his partner Colin, leaving him laying in the ring and spitting on the crowd to massive boos.

–As for the regular 2CW talent, the big news was the bloody hardcore match between “Juggernaut” Jason Axe and Isys Ephex. After a quick wrestling sequence, they set to taking each other apart with chairs, a barbed wire baseball bat, and a broken beer bottle. Axe had a small trickle of blood at first but, after gouging Ephex with the bottle, Ephex did about a 1.4 Muta. He has bleach blonde hair, and it was stained completely red, and even from the back bleachers, you could see the blood pumping out of the cut. After the match in the bathroom, a number of people were complaining about having been bled on in the front row. Thumbtacks also got involved, and Ephex gave Axe a really sick and dangerous looking curb-stomp into them. The end saw Ephex get driven through a ladder propped up between the apron and the guard rail for Axe to take the win. Check out 2CW’s Facebook page for a picture of Ephex’s bladejob, it was truly sick. From where I was sitting in the bleachers I could see the open backstage area, and Steen and the Briscoes were all milling about. After Ephex started bleeding, they all watched the match intently, and you could tell they were impressed with the juice.

–Other matches saw Loca Vida pin Muscle Marcos in a fun opener, The DOS defeat First Class in a tables match that led to a retirement match being booked between Zaquary Springate and I.B. Green, and Matt Milan beating the large trio of Pete D. Order, The Beast, and Superbad. All exciting matches featuring talent that is ready to break out on the indie scene.

All in all it was a very fun show, and I highly recommend anyone that is in the Upstate NY area to check out a 2CW show. It’s a great crowd and the wrestlers are all extremely dedicated to their craft. As another plus, I got to meet Steen briefly, and wished him well in his upcoming match with Davey. I met the Briscoes during the beginning of the Milan/Order, Beast, and Superbad match, and Mark was dancing up a storm to “Bad Boys” while the heels entered the ring. Very cool to meet some of my favorites from the ROH roster. Unrelated to 2CW, this morning I went to an autograph session in my town with Jay Lethal. It wasn’t, unfortunately, too heavily attended, so I got to hang out for about an hour and just shoot the shit with Jay and some local wrestling fans. He had some cool stories about Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Jim Neidhart, and about the tiny plane he flew up here in. Jay’s a very cool guy and it was a lot of fun to just sit and hear some of his stories. So all in all, it was a great wrestling weekend for me. But don’t take my word for it, go to a 2CW show and check it out for yourself.