Tryout: Justin Baisden

What’s good everybody? My name is Justin Baisden, a long time pro wrestling fan and avid viewer of Japanese wrestling (Puroresu) specifically. I used to work with (for?) Scott 15 years ago during The Smarks “era.” In any case, with New Japan’s recent big show being broadcast in North America with an English speaking commentary team of Matt Striker and Jim Ross, I thought it a prime opportunity to write a review for the show. Hopefully I’ll be covering all future New Japan big shows and PPV’s in the coming year.
I’m basically going to try and provide back story for those of you who don’t know the workers involved or the history behind some of the matches. Please feel free to ask any follow up questions in the comments and I’ll endeavour to answer.
Also note I will try to talk about the matches without providing the winners. While the information is all over the Internet, I’ve always found I enjoy pro wrestling and sports as a whole far more if I don’t know the outcome.
ReDragon vs The Young Bucks vs The Time Splitters vs The Forever Holligans (IWGP Junior Tag Titles) ReDragon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) are the champs here. They won the titles from The Time Splitters (Alex Shelly & KUSHIDA) the recent Power Sruggle PPV (11/08/2014 ****½). The participants in the 4 way are 4 of the last 5 Junior Tag champs (TAKA Michinoku and Taichi were left out). The match itself is an extended spotfest. The earlier matches on this show were rushed as Japanese “big shows” tend to run very long. Most Wrestle Kingdom shows are in the 4.5 hour range. Obviously that isn’t going to fly on US PPV so the poor Juniors and a couple of other non consequential matches got hacked up. The teams essentially cram as much as they can into the 10 minutes they were given. Poor JR is completely lost (a theme for the first ½ of the show) as he’s unfamiliar with everyones moves. The team to watch is The Young Bucks (brothers out of Southern California who look like the late 90’s Hardy Boyz). They’re the glue here as they provide the most innovative spots and also take the brunt of every other teams punishment. I’d classify them as the best Junior Tag Team in the world right now and can’t recommend their work highly enough from here, Ring Of Honour, or Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. There’s an absolutely spectacular spot where The Bucks are hit with a double Doomsday Device, land on their feet (WOW!) and then Double Superkick Alex Kozlov & Alex Shelly. If you like your matches fast and spotty you’ll enjoy it. Juniors typically play better with more time to build their spots in smaller venues. ***½
Jeff Jarrett & Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma So the heels are part of a primarily foreign (gaijin) stable called The Bullet Club. Jarrett debuted on 08/14 during the G-1 Climax Finals (major tournament) in New Japan as the face of Global Force Wrestling. He was invited by New Japan’s president and then immediately turned, hitting Hiroshi Tanahashi (the company’s “Ace”) with his guitar and joining The Bullet Club. Bad Luck Fale and Takahashi are part of the stable but are filler here. On the other side, there is veteran tag team and crowd favourite TenKoji + perennial jobber loved by all (think Santino Marella) Honma. Like the opener, this is very rushed, only going a little over 5 minutes. It’s a back and forth 6 man until Jarrett introduces the guitar and shenanigans ensue. A completely nothing match. *½
Toru Yano & Naomichi Marufuji & MIkey Nicholls & Shane Haste vs Takashi Iizuka & Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer & Shelton X Benjamin This is like a convoluted grudge match. Yano and Iizuka were partners in the stable called CHAOS (with caps). Iizuka turned on Yano and joined the heel stable Suzukigun. Now instead of a singles match for the blowoff, we got an 8 man tag. On top of that, Yano didn’t know who his partners were until the last New Japan show of 2014. He announced Marufuji (Pro Wrestling NOAH GHC Champion) and The Mighty Don’t Kneel (TMDK if you see the acronym around) who are the top foreign tag team in NOAH, as his ringers. New Japan has bought a majority stake in NOAH and plans a lot of Interpromotional stuff in the upcoming year. This match is really a backdrop to introduce Killer Elite Squad (Smith & Archer) as new opponents to TMDK in NOAH in 2015. Again, a very rushed match. I was gushing to see Benjamin but he literally has 2 moves in the entire match. This only goes 5 minutes but again, it’s more a launching pad to NJPW vs NOAH in the coming year. There’s an absolutely insane spot with Archer Choke Slamming Shane Haste into the stratosphere but otherwise it’s just filler. *½
Kazushi Sakuraba vs Minoru Suzuki (UWFi Rules) To be clear, the rules mean you can only win via submission, Knock Out, or referee stoppage. This is a worked shoot dream match, though I’d say 10 years too late. Suzuki was the first Pancrese champion. Sakuraba is arguably responsible for PRIDE exploding as an MMA promotion in the early 2000’s thanks to his feud with the Gracie’s. I know I’m really condensing his significance with that statement but if you want a detailed history piece I’ll do one in the future. This sort of links into the previous match. After Iizuka turned, Yano began a feud with Suzukigun. He needed a partner for the big Dominion PPV (06/21/2014) and brought in Sakuraba to take on Iizuka & Suzuki. The match was a mess. The key though was Suzuki & Iizuka attacking Sakuraba afterwards and leaving him laying. They re-matched at Power Struggle and Sakuraba went over clean. This match got time, but could have used 5 more minutes. These guys worked STIFF as is the norm for worked shoot style. The story of the match was Sakuraba seemingly breaking Suzuki’s arm with a Kimura Lock at the mid way point and Suzuki having to work with 1 arm. It’s an odd story as you’d figure the face would work with the injury. In either case, the crowd was very hot for this one coming off a 6 month build. Both guys worked very hard and the story is enthralling after the “arm break.” ***½
Togi Makabe vs Tomohiro Ishii (NEVER Open Weight Title) New blood Evolution Valiantly Eternal Radical. I might as well get that out of the way now. There’s no major back story to this match. Makabe challenged Ishii after his successful title defense against Hirooki Goto at Power Struggle (absolute war of a match ****½). Makabe went over Ishii in a 6 man tag on the final show of the year and here we are. Shocking how simple booking works sometimes. If you’ve never seen Ishii in a big match, the best way to describe him would be “guy willing to die for you.” Every major Ishii match makes you cringe. Not because of blood (though he ended up coughing up blood in the Goto match from the beating) or weapons, but because you are guaranteed to see the stiffest match on the card. These two just beat the holy hell out of each other. It’s just Lariats and chops and forearms that should by all rights break your jaw. Ishii’s got a bad right shoulder (legit) and Makabe smashes that thing to bits with Sledges. You can’t help but grow invested as you’re left wondering who will possibly be able to withstand all the punishment each guy is laying down. The smack of flesh and flying sweat from all the brutal Lariats will make you clutch your own chest. A completely different style of match from anything else on the card and a true joy if you’re into simple stiff wrestling. ****
Kenny Omega vs Ryusuke Taguchi (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title) Omega is a Canadian who has been working Japan regularly for years. He’s actually a very good wrestler with flat out amazing facial expressions. He was in WWE developmental for a while but hated the experience. It’s a shame because he looks like a natural for WWE. In any case, he was working the Japanese independant DDT promotion until 3 months ago when he jumped to New Japan. He immediately joined The Bullet Club and challenged Taguchi at Power Struggle after the conclusion of his title defense. I’ll be honest in saying I”m not the biggest Taguchi fan. He’s a solid worker with a diverse moveset and some charisma but I’ve never been able to get into his matches. He used to be far more tolerable as Prince Devitt (Finn Balor now in NXT) partner but now he’s just a near Eddie Guerrero clone who you know will give you a ***+ match and nothing more. Actually Randy Orton is a the closest comparison. The previously mentioned Devitt turned on Taguchi a year and ½ ago when he formed The Bullet Club with Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. Taguchi has been going back and forth with that stable ever since. This was an enjoyable match. Omega is a big junior and uses a lot of unique power moves while still moving at a blistering pace. There’s a beautiful spot where he uses a Dipped Suplex. It looks simple but it’s very difficult and uses a lot of power. Omega carries the match. He heels it up, sometimes with interference from The Young Bucks (who accompanied him) and gives Taguchi the perfect opportunity for hope spots. I’ll give Taguchi his props in that he ramps up the charisma here. At one point he tosses Omega and then does Devitt’s signature kneel pose before hitting a Tope Con Hilo. I would expect to see a series between these two over the next few months. Omega is a treat to watch if you’re into the little things like facial expressions, creative selling, and working the crowd. ***¼
Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows (IWGP Tag Team Titles) Goto & Shibata are legitimate high school friends and rivals. They had an emotional feud and when it was over they became a tag team. They went into the annual World Tag League and went over the champs in the finals (12/07/2014 ***1/4) to earn this title shot. Anderson & Gallows come into the match having held the titles for 1 year, winning the belts from Killer Elite Squad at Wrestle Kingdom 8. I’m a big fan of Anderson/Gallows. They’re big men that work a fast pace but incorporate lots of power moves. JR makes a comparison of Karl Anderson to Arn Anderson and he’s spot on. If you’re unfamiliar, you may know Doc Gallows as the former Festus and then Luke Gallows from CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society. He’s carved a prominent role for himself in New Japan. This match was oddly short (10 minutes) but the pace never slows. Anderson in particular brought his working boots for this one. They packed a ton of work into a short amount of time and it was fun while it lasted. 20 minutes with a slower build likely would have yielded a MOTYC. ***½
Tetsyua Naito vs AJ Styles Yoshi Tatsu (yes that Yoshi Tatsu) had come back to New Japan at the King Of Pro Wrestling PPV (10/13/2014), was promoted as a major WWE star, and immediately was thrust into a major program with The Bullet Club. He faced Styles at Power Struggle and was defeated. He also broke his neck taking The Styles Clash (I’ll get into that in a second). The Bullet Club beat him down after the match and Naito made the save. They had a big staredown. The crowd went bonkers and the match was signed. Now as for The Styles Clash, there’s been a bit of an issue with that move over the last couple years. It’s either very safe or can kill you. See most wrestlers tuck their head taking a bump. It’s almost a reflex action. With the Styles Clash, you have to lean your head back. Every so often, this goes horribly wrong and the result is a broken neck. That’s the case with Yoshi Tatsu at present. There are a lot of fans who are calling for the banning of the move. In New Japan’s case, they ran with it for all that it’s worth and pushed the move as “deadly.” Both guys are fast paced, hard hitting, high flying, workers and can put on a hell of a show on any given night. That was no different here. I wouldn’t say they tore the house down but they put on a very worthy performance of their skills with the simple story of “don’t get hit by The Styles Clash.” Respect to New Japan for making the best of an awful situation. ***½
Kota Ibushi vs Shinsuke Nakamura (Intercontinental Title) So this goes back a year and ½. These two faced off during the G-1 Climax 2013 (08/03 ****½) in a true MOTYC. It’s very telling of their respective talent as Ibushi was a Junior Heavyweight at the time. In the vast majority of cases, a Junior does not go over a main event Heavyweight. Suspension of disbelief is key to some of the truly fantastic pro wrestling matches over the years. Everyone was hyped for a re-match during the 2014 G-1 but Ibushi suffered a devastating concussion July 4th against KUSHIDA in dropping the IWGP Jr Title. He was out for nearly two months just for an idea of how bad it really was. He came back and sort of re-debuted this time as a Heavyweight. He gained 10lbs (or so they say) and would now challenge exclusively with the big boys. This match was to get revenge after their last encounter and be his coming out party. Nakamura, if you’re unfamiliar, is considered by many to be the best overall pro wrestler on the planet right now. He is the ideal fusion of hard hitting, fast paced, creative, charismatic, the list goes on and on. If you have a check list for the ideal pro wrestler, he’s it.
JR is in his element here. He pushes Ibushi as a young kid looking to overtake the established guy. Truth be told, Ibushi is 32, though he could pass for 25. Nakamura has lived a HARD career and it shows. He’s 34 and looks 45. Ibushi plays the spunky kid to a tee. He’s flashy in his moves. He steals Nakamura’s signature moves and mannerisms to insult the established star. Nakamura plays asshole grumpy main eventer, corralling Ibushi from getting out of hand and beating the piss out of the guy whenever he can. They came up with some of the most creative spots I have ever seen including an Apron German Suplex where Ibushi stood on the top rope and Suplexed Nakamura standing on the apron, OVER the top rope into the ring. I don’t know anyone who has said they’ve seen that spot before. You as a viewer are drawn in from the get go with the nuclear hot crowd that doesn’t stop yelling for 20 minutes. Stiff in strikes, fluid in moves, nail biting in its near falls, and layered upon layered in story, this was a true classic and has a viable chance to hold up as Match Of The Year, only 4 days into 2015. ****¾
Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (IWGP Heavyweight Title) These two have a history going back nearly 3 years. Okada was a “young boy” (rookie) who left New Japan to go to TNA in 2010. In Japan, a lot of wrestlers go on “excursion” and ascend from a no personality black trunks kid into a character that they’ll go with for the remainder of their career. They learn new styles from other non Japanese wrestlers, incorporate it into their own unique style, and go forth from there. Okada was used as a jobber in TNA over 2 years. When he returned to New Japan in 2012, he created The Rainmaker persona. The idea is that he’s a money maker, wanting only the best money can buy for himself, family, and fans. Yen drops from the ceiling onto the fans during his entrance. He challenged then IWGP Champion Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 6 (01/04/2012). Fans thought their match at the New Beginnings PPV (02/12/2012 ****) would be competitive but nothing major. In an absolute shock, Okada went over the for the title using his debuting Rainmaker finisher (Wrist Clutch Step Through Lariat) and was instantly made into a star. They’ve since had 5 more matches (Okada with a 3 – 2 – 1 overall series lead). The two had been kept apart for 13 months, having last battled at the King Of Pro Wrestling PPV (10/14/2013 ****¾). It was considered the true passing of the torch as Tanahashi vowed never to challenge Okada for the belt again. Then Tanahashi defeated AJ Styles for the title on King Of Pro Wrestling this year (10/13/2014 ****). Okada had been chasing the belt but couldn’t beat Styles time after time. So now we got the 7th match in their series, as Tanahashi did not have to challenge for the belt.
Unlike Nakamura/Ibushi, this wasn’t so much about story as it was working the best possible match. This was super heated. I thought the crowd would burn out after the IC Title but they were with these two from the get go. The match is slow and steady in build. Mat work -> small spots -> big spots -> near falls. It’s constructed right out of the pro wrestling manual of how to build a strong match. It was given plenty of time (over 30 minutes) and is just one of those great matches that would have been all the better if it wasn’t following something that was just a bit better. These two worked so hard but the impression in the viewers mind is that it wasn’t on the level of the previous. It’s an unfair approach, I fully admit that. I give serious props to Tanahashi. At 37, he’s worked very hard as the Ace of New Japan for the last 7 years. His body is really starting to break down. You’d never know it here though. He works at a blistering pace and takes tons of risks including a High Fly Flow (Frog Splash) Body Press from the top rope, OVER the barricade, onto Okada. It’s absolutely breathtaking and terrifying all at once. You’re left on the edge of your seat coming down the stretch as to who will win. There’s a discernable point though where you know they worked past the peak though, which takes it down a slight notch. Truly an outstanding match that’ll be in the mix for Match Of The Year consideration as well. ****½
Final Thoughts: Wrestle Kingdom 9 set a ridiculous bar for match quality for 2015. There were two legitimate MOTYCs and another **** match with Ishii & Makabe. Other reviewers have gone so far as to rate the Jr Tag & Styles/Naito as ****+ as well but I didn’t think they were quite on that level. In any case, with only 2 throwaway matches, and everything else ranging from very good to outright classic, you owe it to yourself to track down this show. It’s truly a must see.
I drop regular thoughts on various wrestling (and video game) related topics on Twitter at @NagataLockII. I hope you enjoyed and I look forward to writing more in the future.

Tryout: Ripner Cabbit

Chikara The Renaissance Dawns May 25th, 2002 St. John’s Auditorium in Allentown, Pennsylvania I’ve become a big fan of Chikara recently and have been watching through all of their Season 13 shows at a quick pace. Prior to that I have seen a handful of matches from the promotion online and attended the Season 12 show, “Watchmaker”. I love the well-developed storylines, interesting characters, and mix of lucha libre, technical, and high flying wrestling quite a lot and so I’ve decided to go back and start watching the promotion from the beginning. Having read up on the promotion I already know it doesn’t really get its footing until the 3rd or 4th season, but I’m going to make my way through it all and I hope you’ll follow along with me. I will be reviewing the digital Smart Mark Video version of the first show which can be purchased here: The promotion started as a way for students of Mike Quackenbush and Tom Carter’s wrestling school, The Wrestle Factory, to get some experience working in front of a crowd. The first Chikara show, “The Renaissance Dawns”, would be held in the St. John’s Auditorium in Allentown, Pennsylvania on May 25, 2002. Dragonfly vs. Mr. ZERO These two get the honors of opening up the very first show for the promotion. Both students of The Wrestle Factory, they would both wrestle on and off for Chikara throughout its history. Sadly I can’t quite understand the name of the referee for the match, sounded like Mike Pollrad, but I have no idea if that is right. Another interesting thing about Chikara is how as it’s evolved over the years, long term referee’s in the promotion have even developed their own personalities and usually receive quite a welcoming each time they enter the ring. The “middle aged business tyrant”, Mr. Zero enters first. A 5’7” man wearing a rubber mask to look like a mostly bald, glasses wearing businessman. He comes to the ring in a business suit, carrying a big coffee mug and a newspaper. Quite the interesting choice for the first character to appear in Chikara. “The high flying masked marvel,” Dragonfly, enters next, a 6’1” skinny guy in a Blue and Green costume and mask somewhat resembling Jushin Thunder Liger. The match starts with some very basic chain wrestling, headlock, arm bar, headlock takedown, etc, Mr. ZERO does add a nice touch by adjusting his tie as Dragonfly has him in an arm bar. I just noticed this show has no commentary, at least during this match, will have to see if that continues throughout. Dragonfly gets off a nice arm drag and dropkick on Mr. ZERO, before the business man resorts to an eye rake and powerslam. More arm drags and dropkicks by Dragonfly follow before it’s back to a headlock for a bit. The match continues in this fashion, a couple power moves from ZERO, a couple quick moves from Dragonfly. You can definitely tell this is a match between two debuting wrestlers. Zero gets Dragonfly in a camel clutch and precedes to read the Wall Street journal he brought with him in a bit of a cute spot. His obsession with his Wall Street Journal leads to Dragonfly almost pinning him with a roll up a little bit later in the match. Dragonfly gets another near pinfall off a nice hop up onto Zero’s shoulder into a roll up. Eventually Dragonfly gets punched off the ring apron (which is only about 2 feet off the ground), and this leads to a bit of brawling outside the ring. Back into the ring and a missed top rop dropkick by Dragonfly leads to another near pinfall. Some running dropkicks and leaping elbows lead to Dragonfly regaining control and hitting a tornado DDT onto the top rope, followed by a leaping bulldog from the ring apron back into the ring. The finish comes as ZERO gets an overhead suplex, followed by a nasty looking hat rack crack on Dragonfly to win the very first match in the promotion (11:29). These guys were green, very green, but there weren’t any real botches although the action moved very slow and tentatively at times. I’d say about a 1/2 star, you can see shades of the kind of action that Chikara will be known for in the future as it had comedy, high flying, and technical wrestling, just not very well put together. Mike Quackenbush Interview The crowd is pretty large for an initial show for a promotion. Mike Quackenbush heads to the ring to give a brief introduction to the promotion before building for the main event of the show. The Gold Bond Mafia (CM Punk, Chris Hero, and Colt Cabana) are apparently being disruptive in the back, and out comes an angry Punk, jawing with the fans in the audience as he gets in the ring and proceeds to talk about how much better the Midwest is than the East Coast. Punk lures Quackenbush in for a handshake and then Hero and Cabana jump him from behind and the beatdown is on until Don Montoya and Reckless Youth come to the rescue and The GBM rush out of the ring and to the back of the crowd. Montoya talks about the super bowl and how an East Coast team apparently won that year, and this leads to the setup of the main event and what will be the first Chikara Trios match. Reckless Youth gets some mic time as well, pumping up the crowd by telling them they will beat the GBM for their East Coast honor. The Chikara team leaves and Punk grabs the mic again for some more talk about how they will win the match. I guess this was fine to set up the first main event in Chikara and did give the most well-known names on the show a bit of mic time, but it did drag at times. Punk was not the master of promos in those days, but whatever the match should be good. The Beauty and the Beast (Marshall Law & Love Bug) vs. The Night Shift (Hallowicked & Ichabod Slayne) Marshall Law and Love Bug are a couple of indie wrestlers who didn’t wrestle for Chikara much, while Hallowicked and Ichabod Slayne of course are still with Chikara today (Slayne now known as Icarus). “The Dark Minion of the Underworld” Hollowicked and “The Evil Zombie from the Grave” Ichabod Slayne enter first. Hollowicked has a green demonic mask with a green pumpkin stem coming from the top of it, pretty much the same as he wears today, while Slayne has a black mask with a ghostly white outlined mouth and eyes on it. Marshall Law and Love Bug are two big boys with shiny red shirts, Marshall Law having a state trooper hat on as well. Sadly they take off the shiny shirts for the match and we are underway. 26:10. Law and Bug start off in control with some double teaming on The Night Shift, forcing them to regroup outside the ring after stereo atomic drops. Slayde reenters the ring and Law and Bug continue to double team him with attacks. Law eventually leaves the ring, and then The Night Shift get the opportunity to double team Bug for a bit. Nothing too memorable happens for a while. The Night Shift continue to work over Bug behind the refs back as Law jaws with him. Slayde gets a leg scissored ankle lock on Bug for a bit, and then Hallowicked works on him some more before Law gets the hot tag in. He takes out both members of The Night Shift, before tagging Bug back in for some power moves. Law gets tagged back in but The Night Shift escape out of the ring and use their speed to lure Law near the ropes for a double team drop along the top rope and some out of the ring beating up of Law follows. Slayde and Hallowicked take turns running the ropes and jumping on law with foot stomps for a bit until it’s back to one on one with Slayde in control of Law. The camera is in a pretty bad spot for this match as most of the time it’s just staring at Bug’s back as he blocks the view of whatever is going on in the ring. Hallowicked drops Slayde in a burning hammer across Law in a nice spot and then some more tugging at limbs on the downed opponent. Finally another hot tag, this time to Bug who gives each member of The Night Shift running elbows, his offense doesn’t last too long before The Night Shift catches him in the corner with a spear from Hallowicked followed by a leaping elbow off Hallowicked’s back by Slayde, but Bug catches Slayde in the follow-up hurricanrana attempt and sets him up for a powerbomb. Hallowicked tries to save but Law interrupts and ejects him from the ring, and then Law goes up top and knocks Slayde off Law’s shoulders and then Bug puts him in a bow and arrow for the submission victory (12:50). No comedy to be found, but a bit better worked match, probably due to Bug and Law having a bit of experience to lead the match. They looked like the stars of the match, both were pretty agile for men with big guts and Hallowicked and Slayde were incredibly green and didn’t even show shades of what they will become. I’d say * star for the match. Kid Kruel vs Zane Madrox Kid Kruel would only wrestle for Chikara a couple times before landing a WWE Developmental deal where he’d wrestle as Mike Kruel. Looks like he got released from his deal in 2009 and has retired from wrestling at that point. Zane Madrox would wrestle for Chikara during the rest of the first season before bouncing around the indies as Skeeter McCoy for a couple years. No title for Kruel, a muscular guy with a buzz cut and black trunks. Madrox comes out to “Absolutely Bill’s Mood” by They Might Be Giants, which is just pur awesomeness as I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song by my favorite band used for entrance music before. He’s a tall pasty white guy with a black evil cowboy hat, and a blue and yellow leotard. He is also eating a small single serving bag of potato chips as he enters. (43:07) Kruel quickly takes Madrox down and humiliates him with some quick slaps to the back of his head. He lets Madrox back up and they lock up after a bit of circling, leading to Kruel taking Madrox down with a fireman’s carry. Again he lets Madrox back up who catches him in a monkey toss and then clotheslines Kruel out of the ring. Kruel renters the ring and gets a rollup leading to an extended roll up reversal sequence that was quite fluid for the most part, eventually leading to Kruel getting an armbar on the ground on Madrox, before lifting him for a single arm suplex. Kruel continues to work on the heelish offense before Madrox turns things around with a spinebuster followed by a running splash for a two count. Kruel takes control back and hits a top rope elbowdrop, but Madrox kicks out at 2 after a cocky cover. Both men look pretty good throughout the match, with Madrox having a bit of charisma in the way he sells everything he does as hurting both him and his opponent. For example every time he hit a punch, he’d shake his hand out afterwards with a bit of a grimace on his face. The ending sequence comes as Madrox hits a powerbomb, pulls him back up for another powerbomb, lifts him for a sit out burning hammer and then he loses focus and returns to offer his left over potato chips to the ref and some audience members, before trying to offer Kruel them, causing him to get caught in a takedown armbar, leading to the submission victory (10:17). Best match of the show so far, both guys knew what they were doing and weren’t pure rookies. Kind of surprised this Kruel guy never made it past WWE Developmental and this Madrox guy was a lot of fun and would have fit right in with the current Chikara roster. I’d say ** for this one, quite a lot of fun. Blind Rage vs Ultramantis Blind Rage and Ultramantis are of course both still with Chikara to this day, although Rage only appears sporadically. Of course this means we have another match before two very green workers. Blind Rage is introduced as “Wrestling’s Goth Rock Monster, just having some drawn on stitches across his face at this point in his career. Ultramanits is introduced as “Part-insect, part-superhero” and has on an open mouthed red and white bug head mask, very different from his current look. That along with a red cape and baggy red pants make up his costume. So I guess Ultramantis is the first anthropomorphic character in Chikara’s history. (56:29) A nice chain wrestling sequence to start, these two, although green, are light years beyond the other Chikara students on the show so far. The match continues quick and crisp with some lucha arm drags. Some more quick action, and Mantis is in control with a suplex after a blocked head butt. Rage regains control and hits 3 very quick somersault planchas for a 2 count. This match is very reminiscent of a lot of current day Chikara matches, and I’m quite enjoying the action. Back and forth the action goes, each man unable to really take control. Some nice moves throughout, including a very nice sitout double underhook powerbomb by Mantis. Eventually Rage picks up the win after a running sitout razor’s edge, followed by a gordy special (10:31). Quite a fun, quick paced match that would foreshadow what Chikara would become. I’ll give it **1/2. The Black T-Shirt Squad (Mike Quackenbush, Reckless Youth & Don Montoya) vs The Gold Bond Mafia (CM Punk, Colt Cabana & Chris Hero) Main Event time and I don’t think I have to give you background on many of these wrestlers. Quackenbush along with Reckless Youth founded the Wrestle Factory and Chikara, and both have wrestled all over the indies, including Ring of Honor. Don Montoya wrestled a lot of indies as well throughout the late 90s and into the 2000s. Of course you should know who Punk, Cabana and Hero are. The Gold Bond Mafia come out to Colt’s Copa Cabana theme music, while Quack’s team comes out to some peppy music that transitions into a weird Japanese samurai music, then back to the peppy music, sounding as if it was stolen from some 80s kung fu movie. As per their team name, they all wear black t-shirts. (13:05) The GBM give each other all backrubs as the bell rings, and we start with Hero and Quackenbush against each other. Some chain wrestling, before tags bring Reckless Youth and Punk in. Punk charges at Youth before turning back and quickly tagging Cabana in. Some more chain wrestling, with Cabana throwing in a “Heyo” kip-up. Youth keeps coming out on top in the chain wrestling against Cabana, eventually tagging out to Punk after yelling out “This Guy’s Freaky”. Youth tags in Montoya, so everyone has now been in the match. Montoya, does not look like a wrestler, balding overweight guy in a black t-shirt and black tights, who could maybe pass for Abdullah the Butcher’s smaller brother. Somehow he outwrestles Punk to start as so far each member of the Black Shirts has outwrestled their matchup on the GBM. Punk tags out to Hero again, and Cobana talks some shtick in the corner to his partners. Punk tags back in before Hero confronts anyone only to get put down to the mat by Montoya and then tagging out to Hero once more. Quack tags in once more and we’ve got Quack/Hero again. They go for a test of strength, with Quack getting a monkey flip on hero, and then a suplex pin without every breaking the hand holds. Hero finally gets Quack down in a chin lock, but ends up tricking Hero into letting him out through some interesting body positioning. Quack knocks Hero out of the ring and then gets him with a big top rope splash. And we have our first use of lucha rules in Chikara as Youth and Cabana enter the ring to take over the match, Youth again getting the better of Cabana before Montoya and Punk are tagged in once more. The fans get on Punk’s case with a “CM Chump chant”, and Punk exits the ring to confront them before finally catching Montoya with some stomps and punches in the corner. Punk gets cocky though, and Montoya takes control again with a series of slaps driving Punk into the corner, onto the top rope and half-way to the next corner. A big punch to Punk against the ropes causes Punk to get wrapped up in the two top ropes and an errant dropkick by Hero hits Punk as well. The Black T-Shirt Squad pose by the tied up Punk before Quack and Youth hit him with stereo dropkicks to the head. Cabana and Hero drag Montoya out of the ring and beat him down for a bit to gain control for the first time in the match. The 3 GBM members take turns beating up Montoya in the ring, Montoya gets back control by pantsing Punk, but it only lasts a moment before Cabana tags himself in and resumes control. We end up with a goody multi-man submission hold involving all 6 entrants of the match submission each other until Montoya breaks out from his hold and just runs into the rest of them breaking the hold in a nice spot. The match has broken down after the submission spot with all 6 participants in the ring battling and the ref having no clue who was legal anymore. The action gets quite quick from this point on with different members taking turns getting near falls, reversing pins and roll ups and hitting quick power and high flying moves all over the place. The ref has given up on picking a legal man at this point as wrestlers just come and go as they please. At some point Youth gets a big tornado DDT outside the ring on Cabana onto the concrete and in a weird camera moment breaks kayfabe to say “I think I broke my back Chris.” Back in the ring Quack and Hero are going at it again, back and forth, bulldog by Quack, Alley Oop into the top turnbuckle by Hero, Sitout Piledriver by Hero, but Quack kicks out at 2. Hero goes up to finish him but Montoya is back and tosses Hero off the top rope onto Punk and Youth. Cabana and Quack in the ring now, Quack goes for a reverse frankensteiner, but Cabana blocks, Cabana goes for a suplex but Quack blocks, Quack runs the ropes and hops back onto Cabanas shoudlers hitting the reverse frankensteiner and Youth follows it up with the Northern Lights 2K1 on Cabana for the win (30:54). Wonderful match, this match really set the precedent for what Chikara would become. Bringing in 3 of the top indie stars of the time to face off against the 2 co-founders (and Don Montoya) was a great way to end the first show. Quack and Youth really got to show how good they were in their prime, and you can see how their students have carried on their style to this day. I’d go **** for the match and aside from some shoddy camerawork and bad lighting I’d give the main event a recommendation to watch. The fans give a nice “Chikara” chant after the match and Youth thanks the GBM for coming from Chicago for little pay to do the main event their debut show. He even calls the GBM “The New Shining Stars” of the independents. Cabana and Hero join the Black T-Shirt squad in the ring for the congratulations while Punk looks legitimately pissed at the breaking of kayfabe to end the show, finally though the fans chant his name and he gets in the ring and its handshakes and hugs all around to end the show. The Rundown Not a great show by any means but for just $5.99 probably worth it for the main event alone, coupled with the historical context. Overall I’d give this show a mild recommendation. Well I hope you’ve enjoyed this review, took much longer than I thought these things took. I look forward to continuing to watch through Chikara from the beginning, and would love to hear any constructive feedback anyone may have for my writing. Thank you for your time, Ripner.

Tryout: Wayne Maye

On This Day in WWF/E History….. clip_image001 I know Summerslam fever has died down a bit (or has it) after the PPV this past Sunday, but for my first post on the blog, we’ll definitely be going back in time a bit! Summerslam 2006 took place at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, MA. I was watching the product at the time, but I didn’t catch this one when it aired. I subscribed to the WWE 24/7 OnDemand service (remember that), so it was there that I watched this PPV, basically a few months after it took place. It was a decent show, nothing too special. The main event, which saw Edge defeat John Cena to retain the WWE title was a **** match (they would go on to top this in their TLC match at Unforgiven). The rest of the card wasn’t too bad. Hogan vs. Orton should’ve been a bigger deal than what it was, but it turned out to be just another match, considering that Hogan wasn’t seen in WWE again until his return this year. The DX vs. The McMahons match was about what you would expect, an overbooked brawl, and this match should’ve ended the LONG storyline between them that year, but we just had to get a HIAC match (along with Big Show) the next month at Unforgiven. Flair vs. Foley in a “I-Quit” match was quite the bloody affair, while Batista vs. King Booker for the World Heavyweight title was probably the worst match of the night. Looking back, if you’ve seen this show, how does it hold up for you today?

Tryout: Zanatude

Hi Scott.  This is Zanadude, the number one Blog of Doom poster in reverse alphabetical order.
As you have LITERALLY every other wrestling program in the world already being reviewed on your site, I thought I would take a shot at filling a necessary void and reviewing the last untouched wrestling show available: the Southern States Wrestling Power Half Hour.  If you think it’s worth a go, feel free to put it on your site.  If not, hey, no hard feelings, all you’re doing is throwing a couple of hours of my work down the drain.
Before we dive into this, a brief history lesson is in order.  Southern States Wrestling is a once thriving Tennessee-based indy wrestling territory that was started by wrestler Beau James in 1991.  For over a decade they did respectable business in the “Mountain Empire”, featuring some names that would go on to main stream fame like Kid Kash, Chase Stevens, Christian, and Edge.  Once the Monday Night Wars started cooling down, crowds dwindled from the thousands to the hundreds.  But they were still able to bring in a mix of up-and-coming wrestlers like Reid Flair and Chris Richards, as well as some veterans like Bobby Eaton, Ricky Morton, Dr. Tom Pritchard, and Jerry Lawler.
Then the Great Recession hit, and crowds started dropping from the hundreds to the tens.  SSW occasionally sprang for some C level legends for the big shows, but for the most part the shows were filled with a bunch of fat old nobodies.  In 2012, the promotion shut down for several months, and I thought that they were good and dead.  But they came back in 2013, and Beau James tried to build the company around the evil Eric Darkstorm (former OVW wrestler, once managed by Ted Dibiase) and the spunky Kyle Matthews (small but decent indy wrestler, once had a pretty decent match with Bryan Danielson)
As the only two guys in the company that could work, they faced each other five times over the next year, trading the SSW Heavyweight Title as Kyle Matthews fought to earn Darkstorm’s respect.  He finally did so on the losing end of their final battle, a one hour Ironman match that saw Darkstorm regain the title, earn respect for his foe, and complete the transformation to the hero of SSW…
…which he would remain for about two months, until he split the promotion without doing the time honored tradition.  At least he’s smarter than Bret Hart!
With the babyface he spent two years building up deserting him and crowds drifting dangerous close to the ones, nobody would blame Beau James for packing it in.  Instead, he decided to double down.  On the April 27th show, Beau James did a rare show of dropping kayfabe to speak candidly about his company, giving his mea culpa and a promise for the future:
“Southern States Wrestling was built on three premises: celebrate the past, work hard in the present, build to the future.  In the last couple of years, we have not done that, and I’m the first one to admit it I’ll tell you that right here right now…but I’m gonna tell ya that is over with.  I’m gonna tell you this…I am making a commitment, my family is making a commitment, Mike McMurry the matchmaker (kayfabe) is making a commitment, Joe Wheeler (the announcer) is making a commitment, we’re all making a committment…we’re going to be working very hard to get Southern States Wrestling back to where it was.”
So the next show, with the beginning of a tournament to fill the vacant Southern States Wrestling title, it seems that this is as good a time as any to pick up coverage of the re-re…re…re…re-birth of SSW.  Either we’ll all enjoy the satisfying feeling of watching this show take it’s final swirl down the toilet, or this show will break me.  And I bet all of you would love to see me broken!
So with any further ado…
Southern States Wrestling Power Half Hour: May 4th, 2014 Beau James himself puts the show on YouTube (and probably does ever other piece of editing involved with this show as well) so I’ve no qualms with sharing the link here. As always, the show opens by ripping off a classic theme from an 80’s wrestling show, and about 30 seconds worth of footage from the past several years that serves to show how far things have fallen.  Dakota Booth, the scrawny nephew of Beau James (not the first of the family members we will see “working very hard” tonight) stands in front of the OUTHE STATE RESTLI sign.  Dakota stumbles his way through an introduction of the show and an advertisement for the next TV taping at the Gray Community Center on May 16th, before “throwing it down to ringside” for the first match. Southern States Wrestling Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Kyle Kool vs Equalizer Krunch
Kyle Kool is a bald slimeball, while Equalizer Krunch is a member of The Death Riders, kind of like an older, fatter, slower version of the AWA’s Long Riders.  Both men are heels, so the crowd is understandably enthused as the tin bell is clanked.  Commentary is done by Joe Wheeler, a respectable announcer who is easier on the ear than Michael Cole, and Dakota, who is slightly easier on the ears than a hundred cats walking through broken glass. Krunch is by far the larger of the two, and quickly roughs up Kyle Kool with a few power moves, sending Kool scurrying to the outside.  He spends a bit too much time jawing with the fans on the apron and gets a slingshot back into the ring for his trouble.  Krunch dominates most of the match, until we cut to a scene of Kyle Kool coming back into the ring with a wad of money in his hand.  It looks like about twenty bucks.  Krunch looks at the money, realizes that it’s probably more money than he would ever make as champion, and promptly drops on his back, letting Kool cover him for the pin.  The referee raises Kool’s hand in disgust, the crowd reacts with total apathy, and I find myself wishing I were watching TNA. Winner: Kyle Kool via payoff pinfall, approximately 3:30 aired.  1/2* As a replay of the payoff is shown, Joe Wheeler can be heard asking Krunch if he’s treating everyone to dinner.  “I’m headin’ to the Cracker Barrel!”, sayeth Krunch.  Footage continues with the sound off for about 10 seconds because SSW. Back to Dakota at the OUTHE STATE RESTLI event center, who hypes the TV taping once more before cutting to a Joe Wheeler interview with Scott Sterling. Sterling is angry that Ray Idol and Jake Booth (another untalented nephew of Beau James, only this one wrestles) beat him and Frank Parker for the Southern States tag team titles. He warns Booth that “you will not make a name for yourself on my shoulders!” and that he will destroy him when they meet in a one-on-one match on May 10th.  Joe Wheeler informs Sterling that the special referee for that match will be…Beau James.  This makes Scott Sterling about as happy as you’d think it would, given that he and his partner had conspired to injure Beau and put him out of wrestling for the past several months. An advertisement appears hyping an appearance by Mick Foley.  We’ll see about that…although Beau James did deliver on bringing Sting to Vance Middle School. Like Shawn Michaels, Beau James is a former asshole that has now become a born-again Christian asshole, which manifests itself in such things as the advertisement for Baptist Calvary Church and SSW’s availability for fundraisers, before going through a list of shows where Southern States Wrestling stars can be seen. Cut back to a very brief retort from Jake Booth.  He’s alright if you keep his interview time under 15 seconds. Back to Dakota Booth, who talks about Misty James (the wife of Beau James) and her quest to regain the Southern States Women’s Title from Miss Rachael.  Footage is shown from a recent rematch at a house show, Commentary is done over the loud speaker, which makes me wonder why no major fed ever does this.  Take Michael Cole and JBL around the house show circuit and have them commentate for everybody throughout the show!  Each woman wrestler weighs as much as at least two Divas.  Miss Rachael has another female in her corner, and they steal the Ultimate Warrior vs Rick Rude finish from Wrestlemania IV, with the outsider holding Misty’s leg as she attempts a suplex and holding it down for Rachael to get the three count.  Looked like borderline DUD from the part I could see. Dakota once again implores us to attend the TV tapings, where Misty James will receive what may well be her final chance to regain her title! A bunch of local advertisements follow (including Samson’s Gym “on the Cornor of 5th & Broad”), punctuated by a bloody Jesus on a cross with the text of John 3:16, Isaiah 53:5, and Matthew 28:7.  Stay classy, Southern States Wrestling. We jump cold right into our other match: Southern States Wrestling Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Frank Parker vs Ray Idol
Both men are multi-time former Southern States Wrestling Champions.  Frank Parker may be best known as the debut opponent for the Rikishi-wannabe Cheex on the second ever TNA weekly PPV.  Standing in Parker’s corner is Joe Briggs, the Southern States Wrestling Television Champion (the championship is a two-foot high bowling trophy)  There’s about a minute of stalling before Idol catches Parker with a boot, then a running knee that Parker pretends actually came close to hitting him. The star of the match is Joe Wheeler, who is able to smoothly describe both the upcoming matches and what’s going on in the ring at the same time.  Why this guy doesn’t have a job with a more reputable company is beyond me.  Must be the receding hairline.  He even channels Gorilla Monsoon, telling us that this match is a main event anywhere in the country. Unfortunately, Dakota is family, so Wheeler has to let him talk, and things quickly fall to a level that gives bush league a bad name.  While Dakota jabbers on, the guys in the ring proceed to go through the motions of having a match at about 60% of the speed that I’m used to seeing.  Eventually, Parker gets the upper hand and starts cycling through his entire arsenal of punches, kicks, and eye gouges.  Joe Briggs kind of unnecessarily grabs Idol’s ankle while Parker continues his beatdown…but it was actually necessary to bring Beau James waddling out to ringside to do his best Dusty Rhodes impression and punch out Briggs.  Then Beau James, the babyface patriarch of the company that he is, grabs the ankle of Parker in the ring to trip him up, giving us an updated version of the Ultimate Warrior vs Rick Rude Wrestlemania IV finish, where there is no suplex and the referee doesn’t give a shit that James is holding Parker’s ankle down in plain sight as Ray Idol scurries on top to get the pin. Winner: Ray Idol via “Aw, fuck it!” pinfall in about 6:00.  -**
Wheeler interviews Beau James and Ray Idol at ringside.  It’s his company, so Beau James hogs the mic, talking about how it’s been five months since he’s been able to wrestle, but now he’s ready for a fight!  And Ray Idol is “one close stepper” to the Southern States Wrestling Championship!  Beau’s mother told him that “the old Beau James would have never got beat up like he did on Christmas night!”  He’s dusted off his bag of tricks and shows off things like nunchuks, brass knuckles, a lighter, and a taser, and says that he’s not gonna back off on using them anymore!  Beau James is done talking and he’s out for blood! James lumbers away with about thirty seconds of air time left, so we actually get a chance to hear Ray Idol say a few words.  Ray is proud of finally pinning Frank Parker for the first time, with a little bit of help, but he beat him and that’s the way it’s gonna be! Dakota finishes off the show with a preview of next week’s action: a match between Misty James and Rebecca Lynn, and the finals of the Southern States Wrestling Championship Tournament between Kyle Kool and Ray Idol.  Dakota delivers his catchphrase “Stay classy!” (Guess I shouldn’t have used it earlier.  Sorry Dakota.)  And we end with a reminder that Jesus Is Lord. I didn’t even get to the end of this review before I started to regret doing this.  But if any of you get a kick out of my suffering, I’ll keep fighting to see this nugget down to its final swirl!

Tryout: Indy Wrap-Up

Indy Wrap-Up Of Doom
Greetings and welcome to the first installment of the Indy Wrap Up (Of Dooooom!)  If this goes well, each week I’ll bring you news, notes, results and upcoming event information for some of the more popular indy promotions including Ring Of Honor, PWG, CZW, and Chikara as well as introduce you to promotions you should become familiar with. i’ll try to be as objective as possible but some things, i just can’t help myself.
Fair warning: This column will tend to run on the lengthy side but it should be fairly easy to browse through and pick and choose things relevant to your interests. There is not a lot in the way of the self-congratulatory one-man reach-around type material that I know you all love so much. You’re welcome.
So..let’s do the damn thing.  
Ring Of Honor
As you probably know, ROH is making their first foray into the Pay Per View arena on June 22nd with “Best In The World” in Nashville, TN. The scheduled card is:
6 Man Mayhem (read: “spot fest”) – Winner Gets A Future TV Title Match
ACH v Takaaki Wantanabe v Caprice Coleman v Tadarius Thomas v BJ Whitmer v Tommaso Ciampa
Submission Match
Roderick *yawn* Strong vs Cedric Alexander
Matt Hardy and Michael Bennett (w/Maria) vs The Briscoe Brothers
Kevin Steen v “The Last Real Man” Silas Young
ROH TV Championship
Matt Taven v Jay Lethal (w/Truth Martini) (c)
ROH Tag Team Championship
Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian vs ReDragon (Kyle ORLY? O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) (c)
ROH Championship
Michael Elgin (RIP mullet) v Adam Cole (c)
The PPV will be available on most satellite and cable systems in the US and Canada for $24.95 (SD) / $34.95 (HD).  If watching online is your thing, the show will also be available in glorious HD on UStream at www.UStream.Com/RingOfhonor
This is a huge show for ROH that will likely have a significant impact on the promotion moving forward.  I have on pretty good authority that their break-even point is in the vicinity of 10,000 buys and, honestly, I’m not sure if they’ll get that with their limited TV penetration but here’s hoping they do.  Marketing for the show was pretty shoddy up until the past couple of weeks where they’ve put things in to high gear so we’ll see if the late charge is enough to put them over the top.  The card is great, I guess it just comes down to how many casual fans will decide to give something new a shot and how many assholes stream the show illegally instead of paying for it because, apparently, they are somehow entitled to do so.
This week’s ROH TV is already up on YouTube and is a Best In The World preview special.  You can check it out for the low. low price of zero dollars at –
Last week’s ROH TV featured two matches from the Toronto Global Wars show – Roderick (please die in a fire) Strong v Cedric Alexander and a very good match for the ROH title with Kevin Steen challenging Adam Cole.  That show is available for free (registration required) atwww.ROHWrestling.Com
Combat Zone Wrestling
Fodder for many Botchamanias and the promotion everybody loves to hate but really don’t know much about, CZW held their annualTournament Of Death last weekend on DJ Hyde’s parents’ farm (yes, really) in Delaware.  Reported attendance was somewhere in the 1,000 range which is an excellent turn out for CZW.
I’m sure the vast majority of you couldn’t give two shits about the round by round breakdown so I’ll just cut to the chase. The winner was Big Japan/FREEDOMS’ Jun Kasai who beat MASADA in a brutal no rope, barbed wire match which saw light tubes-a-plenty, some sick ladder spots, MASADA’s famous wood skewers and a scaffold. After getting a two count off a top rope splash, Kasai ascended to the top of the scaffold, let out his trademark “SHIIII!” battle cry and nailed another splash to put MASADA down for the three and win the “super awesome” TOD trophy that DJ Hyde probably takes back afterwards.
These guys were obviously worn out as each had competed in 2 grueling matches prior but they still went balls to the wall.  An admirable performance by both, for sure and likely Kasai’s last US appearance as he is rumored to be hanging it up in the not-too-distant future. All in all, there wasn’t really a “bad” match on the card (except for Joe Gacy who is automatically the worst) and everyone worked extremely hard to put on a good show. I was disappointed to see the other two BJW talents eliminated in the first round, especially Jaki Numazawa, but it is what it is.
CZW’s next show at their home base, Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees (ki ki ki, ma ma ma) New Jersey, is titled “New Heights” and takes place on July 12th. This is a double header with women’s promotion WSU.
WSU kicks off at 4:00p and will feature a slug-fest between “The Walking Episode Of Cops” (That is really the motto she picked) Mickie Knuckles and LuFisto for the WSU title, an open challenge from Jenny Rose and CZW Academy graduate Brittany Blake will take on OI4K’s Nevaeh and more to be announced.
CZW starts at 7:30p CZW time (8:30-9:00p normal people time) and will feature Juicy Product defending their tag titles against the Beaver Boys, Team Tremendous and OI4K (Jake & Dave Crist). In addition, BLK Jeez will square off with the returning Jon Gresham.  We’re sure to see a CZW world title defense by the awesome Biff Busick and I’m assuming the main event will pit MASADA against Matt Tremont in some kind of deathmatch as Tremont attacked MASADA and claimed they had “unfinished business” at the end of the TOD show last weekend.  Drew Gulak is also scheduled to make some sort of “State Of CZW” address which, if it is anything like his past “addresses”, will whip the blood-thirsty CZW crowd into a frenzy.  Drew Gulak is for “A Better Combat Zone” (ie – not “ultraviolent”) and is all around fun as well as an excellent wrestler.  There are some other flippy guys on the card that will probably open the show and blow most of their spots, so they really aren’t worth mentioning unless your name is Maffew.
Tickets are $20 per show for general admission.  The shows will also be broadcast live on iPPV at VOD.CZWrestling.Com.  CZW has developed an impressive track record with their iPPVs.  I’ve yet to see or hear about one that had transmission issues, lag/buffering problems, etc.  Their iPPVs are produced by RFVideo, so it’s probably a good idea to take a shower afterwards if you purchase one. You can find a large back catalog of CZW events, including this year’s TOD, at the aforementioned site as well.
CZW has also started doing bi-weekly $5 “Dojo Wars” shows at their training academy in New Jersey that feature CZW trainees taking on talent from the CZW roster.  Most reports I’ve read indicate that these have actually been pretty decent shows and for five bucks, you can’t really go wrong.
For more info on all of these events and everything else CZW, visit
Chikara has a full slate this weekend with two shows in Chicago on June 21st and one show in Detroit on the 22nd.
The afternoon show in Chicago on 6/21, “Quantum Of Solace“, starts at 1pm and includes Ultramantis Black, Hallowicked and Frightmare v Max Smashmaster, Blaster McMassive and Oleg The Usurper (I swear I did not make any of those names up), Worker Ant v DeviANT, Arik Cannon and Darin Corbin taking on Jigsaw and The Shard, Ophidian v JAKA and more.
General admission tickets are still available and will be sold at the door.
The evening show, “Diamonds Are Forever“, kicks off at 7pm and will feature Archibald Peck, Shane Matthews and Scott Parker vs Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (say that 3 times fast), The Batari v The Odditorium, Eddie Kingston will take on Jimmy Jacobs in what should be a fun match, The Colony will battle Colony: Xtreme Force and more.  This show is officially sold out.
Taking place between the two shows is a Chikara “Expansion Pack” which is, as it sounds, related to some silly interactive game that Mike Quackenbush has developed in his infinite wisdom between telling whoever will listen that pro wrestling is like ice cream.  I understand that things may be a little rough for ol’ Quack after the former Mrs. Quackenbush took her magical Chikara money tree with her so I suppose whatever he has to do to stay afloat (and actually pay people decently) is fine. It seems stupid to me though.  This event is sold out, by the way, but apparently it’s only limited to a hundred or so attendees. That should prove to be good people watching.
The following day in Detroit, Chikara presents “Goldfinger” at 3PM which will feature The Colony and Batiri v The Flood, Jervis Cottonbelly v Chuck Taylor, Shynron goes up against Eddie Kingston in a match that should steal in the show, and more.  General admission tickets for this show are still available and will be sold at the door. None of these shows will be broadcast as live iPPVs but I’m sure they’ll be available through SmartMark within a week or so and on Chikara’s site, probably at an inflated price because they do shit like that. You can check out a preview for these shows via the mildly annoying Chikara Event Center here –
For more info on the wacky world of Chikara, visit ChikaraPro.Com
PWG has a couple of huge shows coming up at their usual stomping grounds – The American Legion in Reseda, CA. First up is “ELEVEN” onJuly 26th featuring Joey Ryan and Candice LeRae v The Young Bucks, Chris Hero goes up against PWG champion Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, Roderick (god damnit) Strong and Johnny Gargano will compete in a Number One Contender match, Trevor Lee takes on Kevin Steen, Cedric Alexander and ACH will unleash their usual array of high flying shenanigans on one another, Frankie Kazarian makes his PWG return against everyone’s favorite stoner, Brian Kendrick and more. Tickets for this show do not appear to be on sale at this time.
PWG’s annual Battle Of Los Angeles will take place August 29th-31st.  The show will feature 24 participants in all and will undoubtedly be stacked.  The only name announced thus far is the freshly released Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne) who I’m sure is happy that he can now smoke as much synthetic marijuana as he pleases despite it being more dangerous and expensive than actual marijuana.
PWG also recently released the DVD for their May show, “Sold Our Soul For Rock And Roll” featuring Kevin Steen and The Young Bucks vs  Cedric Alexander, Johnny Gargano andTrevor Lee, Ricochet vs ACH (which is undoubtedly awesome), a Rich Swann vs AR Fox flippity spot fest, Kyle O’Reilly vs Adam Cole and more. It’s a bargain at $14.99 plus shipping and can be purchased via Highspots or directly from PWG here –
For more info  – www.ProWrestlingGuerrilla.Com
Other Upcoming Shows

Rhode Island’s upstart promotion, Beyond Wrestling returns to Fete Music in Providence, RI on 6/22 at 4pm with “Uncomfortable“.  The card is stacked and features Chris Hero v JT Dunn, Curt Hawkins v AR Fox, Biff Busick v Matt Tremont in a Fans Bring The Weapons match, Sugar Dunkerton and Pinkie Sanchez take on Nicholas Kaye and Myke Quest and more.
General admission tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or via Beyond’s website (see below). A $30 “super ticket” is also available and grants admittance to “Uncomfortable” as well as a show the previous night, XWAAftermath” in nearby Warwick, RI. The XWA show looks solid as well and includes Chris Hero v Brian Fury, Brian Cage v Tommaso Ciampa, Bobby Fish v JT Dunn, Colt Cabana and more.
More info can be found at Beyond Wrestling’s website – LookMaNoFans.Com.  Their YouTube channel is also worth checking out atYoutube.Com/User/BeyondWrestling.  The channel has over 800 videos, many free to view, and features a veritable who’s who collection of independent talent.
The excellent AIW promotion presents their premier event of the year, ‘Absolution 9’  on June 29th at Turners Hall in Ohio’s armpit, Cleveland.  Bell time is 6:00p.  As usual, AIW has put together a great card including: Chris Sabin v Kevin Steen, AIW Champion, Michael Elgin will defend his belt against Tim Donst, the lovely Veda Scott and Gregory Iron will continue their bloody and unsettling war, Josh Prohibition will take on MDOGG Matt Cross, Eddie Kingston will do battle with Ricky Shane Page and more. All tickets are first-come-first-seated general admission and are $15 in advance via the AIW website/$20 at the door. AIW also recently released the DVD for their JT Lightning Invitational Tournament and it is easily among the top 3 independent wrestling DVDs issued thus far in 2014.  The two day tournament features Josh Prohibition, Tim Donst, Matt Cross, Buff Bagwell (yep. and he pulls off a move you will never see coming), Sonjay Dutt, Heidi Lovelace, Michael Elgin, Chris Sabin v Johnny Gargano and a literal shit ton (an actual standardized unit of measurement) more. The aforementioned DVD, tickets and additional info can all be found at  AIWrestling.Com.
Everyone’s favorite dirtbag, Ian Rotten, has somehow found a building that will work with him and is back to running weekly $10 a pop IWA Mid South shows at Jammerz in Clarksville, IN.  Most of the cards feature newer talent from the area as well as IWA MS regulars, with one show out of the month usually featuring more established talent such as Chris Hero and Davey Richards.  From what I’ve heard, the shows have been drawing decent crowds and the wrestling is not half bad which is about as much as you can ask for out of a weekly no-budget show, I guess.  As much as everyone (including me…a lot) dislikes Ian, he does have a good eye for talent when it comes to non-deathmatch wrestlers.
After being cancelled last year because LOLIanRotten, IWA Mid South is bringing back their popular King and Queen Of The Deathmatches tournaments on June 28th. Both events will be held at The Rustic Frog Gentlemen’s Club (pure class.) in New Albany, IN. All-day floor tickets are $35 and all-day general admission tickets are $25.  The show is 18+ and anybody with half a brain should purchase their tickets at the door.  Paying for an IWA MS show in advance is always a risky proposition.
QOTDM participants include Mickie Knuckles, Kiki Rose, Heidi Lovelace (which should be interesting), Thunderkitty, Randi West and more. KOTDM participants include Mitch Page (ugh), MASADA, Freakshow (ugh), Josh Crane (ugh), John Wayne Murdock (ugh), Matt Tremont, Devon Moore, Ron Mathis(!) and more. Join me in rooting for Ron Mathis, won’t you? Aside from MASADA (who, surprisingly, can go like a mofo), Mathis is easily the most talented wrestler in the tournament.  As with all of Ian’s shows, card/participants are subject to change and probably will.  The first round match ups and gimmicks have been announced and all of them are absolutely and completely insane so if watching people suffer potentially serious injuries is your thing, you’ll certainly get your fill here.
IWA MS’s website is utterly useless but if you’d like to take a look at the first round match-ups and gimmicks, they’re worth a chuckle and can be found here –  You can also follow IWA Mid South on Twitter at Twitter.Com/IWAMidSouth which seems to be updated somewhat regularly. Apparently Ian uses Facebook primarily but I am not on Facebook and may get Hepatitis C were I to “like” the IWA MS page so we’ll leave that alone. Things are somewhat quiet in Gabe Sapolsky land as Dragon Gate USA and EVOLVE have nothing scheduled through the end of the month.  Hopefully Gabe remembers how to book a wrestling show that doesn’t involve Teddy Hart and his moonsaulting cats before either promotion returns.  Sapolsky affiliate and all around swell guy, Dave Prazak brings his SHINE women’s promotion to Ybor City, FL for SHINE 21 on June 27th at 9p. The event features an all star cast of women’s talent including Ivelisse, Serena Deeb, 14 Year Old Dave’s favorite download, April Hunter, Jessicka Havok, Allysin Kay, Leah Von Dutch, Amber O’Neal, Mia Yim, Cherry Bomb, Kimber Lee and more.  If you are looking for quality women’s wrestling, it doesn’t get much better than this. More event info and iPPV ordering options can be found here. That’s -shew- most everything noteworthy on tap for this month.  I’ll have results for these shows (and probably more) next week or in a future installment as the case may be. i was going to add a “Indy Wrestler Of The Week” and a ‘Worst Indy Wrestler Of The Week” but this is already long enough so we’ll call it a day. Hopefully you found this column enjoyable or at least informative.  Any and all criticism is welcome (and I’m sure you all will put it to me). Hopefully this is a success and I can make it a weekly thing.  There’s a whole wide world of outstanding independent talent and promotions out there that I personally believe present higher quality WRESTLING than what we often reluctantly sit through on Monday orThursday night.
Thanks again for reading. Until next time!

Tryout: Question of the Day (Chris F.B.)

Question Of The Day: Your Favorite Sports Entertainment Moment Does anyone really enjoy writing introductory paragraphs? That’s not your question of the day – but mine. I hate it, because there’s no good way to start your first column without sounding like you’re sucking the kneecaps of the administrator (thanks Scott!) or tooting your own horn. I’m 32-years old, and a wrestling fan since my youth. I’ve been a part of the “Internet” community since the Attitude era, and written hundreds of retro-recaps primarily on WCW’s A, B, and G-level shows (WCW Prime, anyone?). However, Question of the Day piqued my interest because the response level is so instantaneous – there really is a never ending well of things we can talk about in the realm of professional wrestling. I wanted my first question to be about something positive. It’s dwell on the negatives that made us groan (Katie Vick), or the ones that made us laugh (Viscera slipping on the beer) – but every once in awhile, this “sport” hits the points so right that you’re left remembering exactly why you love it. I want to ask: What’s your favorite “Sports Entertainment” moment that really made you smile? I’m talking about an angle, or an interview, just something outside the ring that knocked it out of the park. It could be anything, as memorable as Randy Savage and Elizabeth’s reunion, to something as eyeball rolling as Yamaguchi San’s choppy choppy of Val Venis’ pee-pee. I’m going to save my answer for tomorrow’s blog, which I’ll share along with your answer – but when I thought about other moments that stood out for me, one that immediately brought a laugh was reliving Raw Musical Chairs. Indulge me for a moment as we go through this.
Eugene Musical Chairs Segment with Chris… by RatedREdgeHead316 You setting is Winnipeg, Manitoba in July of 2004. The hottest babyface in the entire company isn’t World Champion Chris Benoit, and it isn’t secondary players Edge or Chris Jericho, but in fact Eugene Bischoff, the special-needs nephew of RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff. Hard to believe if you weren’t watching the era, but he was over like gangbusters, and WWE made sure he was plastered in just about every segment through SummerSlam of that year. In a normally insensitive business, Eugene is one of those characters they got right from the get-go. They had the adult equivalent of an overly trusting child, one who desperately wanted to please everyone but still have fun in the process. So you’d have moments like The Rock getting absolutely owned in daring to ask who Eugene’s favorite wrestler is (answer: Triple H), or The Coach constantly trying to bully him with Eugene immediately forgiving him afterwards. There has never been another character quite like him. The segment we’re watching opened the show; with a group of confused wrestlers (including hometown hero Chris Jericho) in a ring filled with chairs. Uncle Eric wasn’t much interested in crossing up into Canada, so he left Eugene in charge of the show – a nominally better decision that much of the ones he made in WCW late in his run. Eugene, desperate to make the show an entertaining one, went into the banks of his mind and remembered all the fun Musical Chairs was – and figured anyone who could win that was worthy of a World Title shot. Let’s face it, with any other character proposing this, we’d be left at home talking for days about the stupidity of it all, with Lou Thesz and Bruno Sammartino spinning on each other’s graves. With Eugene though, truly nothing could have made MORE sense. And thus, Pop Goes the Weasel starts playing, and the ever happy-go-lucky Stacy Kiebler starts skipping along. Jerry Lawler, ever the horn dog, chases after her. The rest of the cast, true to form, are annoyed, confused, and not playing along. Until the music stops. Stacy and the King each take a seat, while the annoyed superstars look on … before everyone does a double take, remembering there’s a World Heavyweight Title shot on the line, and pandemonium hits. Everyone dives for chairs, and Tajiri eats the canvas. Tajiri, irritated spits green mist in the eyes of the Coach who he was feuding with at the time, who’s now blinded and promptly eliminated during the next round. At this point, the game is ON; with these jacked up tough guys (and Stacy Kiebler) now playing the game with the type of intensity normally reserved for children’s birthday parties. Jerry Lawler is the next victim, as he mistook Stacy’s lap for a chair. That leaves her ripe for the picking for the other dirty old man, Ric Flair – who does a little skirt chasing before shoving her to the curb when the music stops. With 3 competitors left, Flair starts strutting around from his smooth moves, but the music stops early and he’s caught away from the pack. Finally, Chris Jericho emerges the winner with a questionable but legal strategy of beating your opponent to a pulp with the chair; a move I’m sure we all remember from the back of the McDonalds Caboose. This segment is Sports Entertainment perfection. Every single character was written to their trademarks, and you could tell the entire crew was high energy and loved having been a part of it. So let’s hear from you, BoD community, and with your support I’ll be back.

Tryout 2: Rick Poehling

Let’s talk about….NXT and getting over “Great. Here comes the most boring Diva on the roster.” With Aksana having been released just a few days earlier, I eagerly wondered who had taken that title and affixed it unto their lofty head. When I noticed Paige coming down the aisle, I argued in vain with the usual chestnuts about how if they just gave her time to work, she would be more over than- Rhianna stopped me. “If, if, if. I want to like her, I really do. But what is the possible reason to care? She has no personality. None.” A perfunctory argument later, the match ended, Cody Rhodes debuted as Stardust, and the rest of us all quickly basked in the glow of what was surely the greatest gimmick change that one man could possibly have. But the conversation stuck with me during my perusal of the dirt sheets the next day, reading about Vince and Dunn trashing Adam Rose. It stuck with me as I wondered, honestly, how Emma got so screwed up in her run-up to the main roster. And it started me thinking, about the weird science that is ‘getting over’ in this business, and how someone stays over, and how those things relate to the world of the NXT rookie getting that rare chance on the main roster. By the way, has anyone SEEN Xavier Woods? Did he ever really exist? NXT, essentially the WWE’s nod to those of us cantankerous enough to grumble about wrestling only being good when WCW Saturday Night was on, might be one of the best of Vince’s creations in a world where streaming is the future; there’s very little chance that Vince could sell NXT for the money he desired to a traditional network. Produced for what probably amounts to the change on his nightstand (although, considering the scuttlebutt about recent budget cuts, perhaps we should amend that to Vince’s sock drawer), it offers the younger talent the chance to work on a character and get it down as cold as possible, which should, in theory, allow them to get that character over stronger when they are brought up to the main roster. Bray Wyatt being the ultimate example of someone (Husky Harris) making the most of his character and opportunity. But the most recent batch of NX T callups seems to have produced a resounding, how shall we put it, thud. Beginning before Wrestlemania with the butchering of Emma (pairing anyone with Santino is death in many ways, but his stuff with Beth was ever so much fun, I think that they thought that it could be recreated), to the latest (Adam Rose dying a slow death despite a gimmick that seems tailor-made for at least a crowd wakeup pop), I wonder why we’ve lost the thread that gave us The Shield and The Wyatt family. For many months, I heard the refrain that ‘we’re not calling people up until we have a storyline for them’, something I thought to be rather refreshing. Having seen what has happened recently, I wonder if they have even considered whether or not they are getting ‘a’ storyline, or the ‘right’ storyline. To recap: Paige. One of the most capable in-ring females the system has ever produced, she seemed to improve by the day down in NXT. Debuted the night after Wrestlemania, wins the Divas title, and has held it for quite some time, through 2 months now. Certainly capable of having a match of strong quality, having proven it several times over down in NXT. Has the most unique look of any female on the roster; no one would argue that she has the look of a Victoria’s Secret model, not in the slightest. Suicide Girl, yes. No, you can’t look at my internet history, thank you very much. Now then, we have Paige in NXT = badass anti-diva who kicked the holy hell out of anyone who crossed her, never lost her title, and in general projected an aura of a star. Paige in WWE = Simpering wimp in her debut who gets lucky with one move and wins the belt. Continually buried on commentary in the backwards way that Cole and Lawler have of pointing out that ‘everyone else’ thinks that her win was a fluke, and then acting surprised when she disposes of the likes of Alica Fox, or, as Cameron calls her, THE GREATEST WORKER IN THE WORLD. (With Melina a close second.) Given a few video packages, but very little mic time to get any part of her character over. And why is this? Because WCW. Sorry, I have a macro on my computer that kicks in sometimes. By the way, I’m still hoping that someone comes up with a picture of Xavier Woods. It’d be like seeing Bigfoot at this point. Here’s my view: I think that the people running creative in the WWE occasionally have vision that is limited to the space between their own posterior region. We used to call it “Headupass syndrome” in my college writing courses, a serious affliction that cannot be cured without a lot of therapy and serious reflection upon your own work. In short, I think that the writers of the storylines see the character in NXT, decide that character can simply translate to the main roster, and forget the MONTHS, sometimes years of work that crafting those characters took. And they also forget that those characters are seen week in, week out, by the same crowds in a small arena, which allows them to connect quite intimately with the fanbase in a way that they will rarely be able to connect on a large show such as Raw. See, I think that’s where the problem lies. They believe, much like Vince and the rest of his people, that every WWE fan watches every bit of WWE programming that they put out there. That’s why they posited ridiculous numbers for the Network, and now they’re tossing employees off the ship as fast as Han Solo tossed trash off the Millennium Falcon to make the jump to hyperspace. (I blatantly stole that joke from the Daily Show.) As such, when they have a character like Paige’s, they say to themselves, ‘well, she looks different, so that should get her over. Throw her out there! Plus, people will remember her from NXT.’ But they won’t because in comparison to most other WWE programming, NO ONE WATCHES NXT. That’s not meant to be a criticism. It’s meant to be a wakeup call. When you put that guy from NXT out there, he needs the same help he needed to get over that he had down in the minors. Interview time. Strong matches. Vignettes. You know, all that stuff you did with Bray Wyatt and didn’t do with pretty much anyone else. Outside that, push the shit out of them, like you did The Shield, where they kill everyone for months on end, and look cool as hell doing it. Anyone find Xavier yet? Paige and Emma were wrestling 10+ minute matches down in NXT, and now they’ve been reduced to less than 10 minutes on the 3 hour Monday night show and comedy segments. Big E Langston, one of the most skilled mic workers at the time in NXT, with the awesome “I want 5” pin counts, has been reduced to 6 man tags after a lackluster IC title reign. Bo Dallas might somehow get this thing over (he’s certainly got the enthusiasm for it), but I have my doubts. And Adam Rose was rushed through as quickly as possible since they’ve had Leo Kruger signed for approximately 63 years at this point, and they have to do something with him. We expect these guys to ‘get over’ because we’ve watched their matches on NXT, and because they are over. At Full Sail. In front of a small group of fans (probably more than TNA, if their ballpark photos are any indication), who have a deeper emotional connection to the roster because of the fact that they see every show and are invested in the wrestlers and the stories. And all the things that got them ‘over’ down in NXT took time and full use of the structure granted to a wrestling program that only has one hour a week in which to tell the stories it needs to tell. Let’s face some facts here; Raw is, from week to week, normally a pretty terribly paced show from a storytelling perspective. Normally we get something in the opening segment that will set up the main event, sure, but most of the rest of the show is a seeming mish-mash of crap, with the occasional decently long match, and that’s where we have a real issue. Raw, Smackdown, Main Event; none of them have a narrative flow, which is hurting these wrestlers that come from a show that emphasizes the narrative above all else. Feuds are built and paid off in sequence, with the next one built organically off the first. While Neville is wrestling Kidd for the belt, Zayn and Breeze are figuring out who’s next. Simple. Just like the scalpel that a surgeon carries, you find the spot, you cut a clean incision, you sew it up, you move on. Raw, on the other hand, changes up to the hour before the show if you believe Metzler. Segments jump from serious wrestling to comedy in jarring affect, and the silly crap like multiple authority figures (seriously, after HHH and Stephanie WATCH this past Monday’s Raw, why would Roman still be allowed in the MITB match? He poisoned his boss!) don’t get a sense that those writing the show have any idea who anyone actually IS on the show. In short (he says after 1600 words of verbal diarrhea), we’re afflicted with a terrible problem here; I want to see Sami Zayn on my screen wrestling, but I’m not sure that, considering their recent track record, that I want to see him wrestling on Raw. That is, to me, a pretty scary thought. But still not as scary as Xavier Woods. Whoever that is. Rick Poehling @MrSoze on twitter.

Tryout: Let's Talk About Miz, Baby…

Let’s talk about…..The Miz.
The popular dismissal of professional wrestling by most is couched in a
vagary of cliches, whether derided as ‘fake’, for ‘kids’, or my personal favorite, a
‘male soap opera.’ It’s telling to consider the idea that soap operas are less than
full narratives because of the fantastical elements that permeate the storytelling:
whether it be long-lost twin brothers, torrid affairs, returns from the dead or what
have you, the general consensus of the viewing public is to discard professional
wrestling in the same breath for it’s similar elements of over-the-top plots.

To examine wrestling with a more critical eye, however, one must immediately be willing to fight these charges with fervor, to point out that whatwe watch is little more (but not less) than a version of theater, an institutiondating back to the beginnings of drama, one in which the stories are told both in the ring and outside the ring, with neither being the greater of each other. It’s the difference between John Cena the wrestler and John Cena the worker; Cena the worker can obviously be ready for the spotlight in ways that Cena the
character hasn’t been in ages.
Character is the big ‘X’ factor for wrestlers, of course; a good one can
remain over forever with little change, so long as he reacts to the plot or movement
around him. Steve Austin’s brief descent into narcissistic hell during the
Invasion being a high point for the depth of the Austin character, even if it failed
to be a high point for the storytelling around him. The point being, the high or
low brow nature of what we watch matters little in comparison to the compelling
nature of it. Or, more accurately, does it suck us in? Do we forget for a moment
the small flubs of the match or the backstage segment and instead believe the
narrative presented?
Allow us to examine the curious case of The Miz.
Imagine, for a moment, you have been given the book. (A situation we
all KNOW that we can do better than the current person doing so.) You’re given
a wrestler with the following background: Wanted to be a wrestler his entire life.
Charismatic, willing to do everything we ask of him, whatever promotion we
need, radio, television, TV movie of questionable (re: script used as toilet paper)
repute; willing to work his ass off regardless of how much we may embarrass
him, works the mic strongly when given the chance, a little smaller than most,
but has a ton of heart and is willing to work his way up the ladder until the time
is right. Promotes wrestling on other mediums – said from the beginning all
he ever wanted was to be a professional wrestler and has nothing but positive
things to say about an industry that, frankly, needs people to say SOMETHING
positive about it sometime.
Is this man a face, or a heel?
Think carefully before you answer.
Trick question of course. The answer is, as it is most of the time in
wrestling, ‘both’. It all depends in the presentation. And that is where the WWE
has gone so horribly, horribly wrong with The Miz, and why he is a symptom of
a larger problem.
The Miz, of course, came in as a heel, under the perfectly acceptable
“I’m better than all of you because I’m an arrogant prick, but I made it and you didn’t, so suck on it!” mentality. His fantasies about being the phenomenal wrestler that he wasn’t, combined with the incredibly irritating narcissism made him an easy target for the fans’ hatred. And, for all practical purposes, he did a marvelous job, rising from tag titles to the US title to the World title, hitting all the checkpoints along the way of a rising midcarder to main eventer. His ringwork left something to be desired, surely, but it illustrates the truism about wrestling that cannot be denied; workrate is only part of the package.
(For you old-school RSPW-ers, that sound was Herb Kunze’s head exploding.)
Much like a shark, in any drama or story, movement is necessary for life.
Not physical movement, mind you, but character mobility, which is to me the
biggest problem facing WWE today, and the reason that the storylines are less
than compelling in many instances. Characters don’t react or change due to the
circumstances surrounding them; rather, the lazy ‘they’re fighting the good/bad
guys now’ has taken over as character development. Growth as a term has
simply become the word in the initial sandwiched by two H’s, not a way for a
character to reapply his narrative in a way to connect with the fans on a different
Cena still does the same things, regardless of opponent, that he did years
ago. Sheamus is still the same character, yet now is expected to look like a
superhero, albeit one who engages in dirty tactics (see: Alberto Del Rio + car +
joyride – somehow does not = Grand Theft Auto) that are inexplicably cheered
on by the announcers who deride such actions when done by those not chosen
to be cheered. Randy Orton still sets up for the punt, regardless of it being the
most heinous action in wrestling history this week, or just another way to put
away the opponent the next. In short, the idea of character growth has been
quietly filed away, with the idea being that wrestlers can simply do the same
things at the same time, and the difference in circumstance will do the rest.
But what about the missed opportunities that arise when more is needed
to do something special? What about….The Miz?
The beauty of the story that accompanied The Miz was that his character’s
background allowed the narrative to go in either direction, and that is where
WWE has dropped the ball. When The Miz turned face, instead of allowing him
reset his character by saying something along the lines of “Hey, guys – I’m just
like all of you, in a way. I always wanted to be a wrestler, but I was never the
biggest and the strongest; all I had was the desire to make it, and that carried
me through a lot of hell to get where I am. Now, I need your help to make it
back to the top, I need you to see for who I truly am, just a wrestling fan who’s
living his dream. Nobody wanted The Miz to succeed, but I’m still here, and if
they couldn’t get rid of me 8 years ago, they sure as hell aren’t getting rid of me
Instead, he’s still the smarmy, annoying, insufferably sarcastic ass that
people love to hate, but are supposed to be….well, I’m actually not sure at this
point what he is. There’s no definition to the Miz character right now, except
that I just want to punch him whenever he darkens my screen. But it’s not the
kind of reaction that the heel wants, the ‘I hate you so much, I hope that you get your arm ripped off and beaten to death with it in the middle of the ring, you
prick!’ heat.
Sorry, been a long day with the kid.
Rather, it’s the heat of ‘bathroom break’ or ‘check the playoffs’, and that’s
sad to me. Because I see something in The Miz, unpopular as that opinion
may be; I see a man in search of his character, one which is right there for the
taking, if he adjusts it enough to allow the fans along for the ride, as opposed to
keeping them at an arm’s length because those involved don’t understand how
to properly grow a character.
Daniel Bryan. Much as we might love to think that his ringwork got him
over, let us not descend into total fantasy here; his exuberant celebrations of
each victory successfully carried over into complete sincerity from his heel run
to his face run. Indeed, does Daniel Bryan get over without the ‘Yes’ chants? If
we’re honest with ourselves, we know this not to be the case, that Daniel Bryan
was a benefactor as much from his character changing as his admittedly superior
skills between the ropes. Looking at HIS character progression throughout
the last two years, he’s gone from jackass champion to overly caricatured tag
champ to inspiration man on a quest to win his World championship. He has,
with the changing of the character from a heel to a face, refined his techniques
to emphasize the crowd reaction he desired. This is the mark of two particular
things; being an outstanding professional wrestler, which he is, and being willing
to accept the necessary adjustments to his character deemed by those who
craft the narrative, i.e. HHH and Vince.
And before you think I’m giving Vince and HHH credit for Daniel Bryan,
this is not the case, as Bryan still needed to implement the suggestions that
were given to him in a realistic and organic fashion, an admittedly tall order for
a man known to not have mic skills as his strong suit. It cannot be denied that
Bryan has learned from his time in WWE, and applied his history of grappling
with those who have made suggestions, but HE still had to make his character
work in a way that was HIS in the end, and he has done so, deserving all of the
good that comes his way.
Let’s not lose the thread, but draw the analogy – Daniel Bryan is what Miz
could have someday been, if two things would have happened – intense work on
his admittedly mediocre ringwork (despite the verbal blowjob I’ve been giving
the man, he’s no danger to Bryan when it comes to putting on 5 star matches),
and allowing his character to naturally evolve when his allegiances changed. Instead,
he’s allowed his character to simply wilt in the spotlight, all the while
believing he’s moments away from blooming once he finds the right feud.
Ric Flair won’t solve The Miz.
Talk Shows won’t solve The Miz.
Even titles won’t solve The Miz in his current state.
What will solve The Miz? Reinvention of his character, using the exact
same character as before, with a different spin on it. Rather than sarcasm,
sincerity. Rather than arrogance, quiet confidence. Rather than cheating, outwrestling
the opponent. (Admittedly again, this last might take some work.)
I write all this not because I think that The Miz will be a great professional
wrestler. I simply write it because he is the perfect example of someone who could be a very good professional wrestler who is being horribly misled by those
who have given him confidence that they have his best interests at heart, telling
him that there’s no need for THAT wheel over there, when they’ve invented a
NEW one over here.
But we don’t need you to reinvent the wheel, WWE. We just need you to
spin it.
Follow me on Twitter: @MrSoze
Rick Poehling

Tryout: Legends House Episode 1

Legends House: Episode 1

Hoo boy.  A couple of quick disclaimers before I get started here.  Firstly, I am known to, on occasion, watch a bit of terrible reality TV.  I have the same thoughts when I’m watching a “Surreal Life” or a “Chrisley” or a “Total Divas”…even though I intellectually know it’s awful, I still am often entertained by it.  Kind of like a Mystery Science Theatre bad movie – I just have to keep watching because I am sick and horrified that humans could create this.  And this struck me as being having the possibility of being a trainwreck of those magnitudes, so I’m kind of excited.  However, it could just be painfully boring, but I guess we’ll see.  I’m betting on it falling somewhere in the middle.

This season on Legends House – pain and contrivances.  I’m not recapping the intro, but within the first few seconds, you hear Mean Gene say “Holy Balls” at least twice, for what it’s worth.

Tony Atlas is the first one intro’d.  His voiceover says, “You probably know me best as the guy who press slammed Hulk Hogan, bench pressed five hundred pound, and doesn’t know how to properly pluralize the word ‘pound’.”  They’re in Palm Springs, entering in limos.  He says a bunch of stuff that is just words and we see the house.  Pretty nice, actually.  Lots of WWE memorabilia, and pictures of each of the wrestlers over their assigned beds.  That’s creepy.

And here comes Hillbilly Jim.  They show videos of him clotheslining King Kong Bundy and dancing with Mean Gene.  He spouts off a few country-fied slogans like, “I aint here for a long time, but I’m here for a good time.” and other shit, then him an Tony say hi and drink a Legend’s House brand beer.

Now it’s Pat Patterson with his weird manner of speaking.  He brags about creating the Royal Rumble and being the first IC champ.  As the limo pulls up, he says, “I’m here, I’m…ready…open the door, let me go.”  Come on, Pat.  You know that’s not how that goes.

Jimmy Hart is next to enter.  He looks weird.  Like, strangely the same as he used to, but he’s like, old looking.  I know this doesn’t make sense, but you kinda have to see it to know what I’m talking about.  Protip:  Don’t see it.

Howard Finkel enters, and is pretty fat.  Lillian Garcia is pretty sexy and does a great job, but there’s something about how Fink used to announce a match that made it seem more grandiose.  Hacksaw Jim Duggan is here, too.  That’s how little attention/time they give to Finkel’s entrance.  Hacksaw was one of my favorites when I was a little kid, and I’m happy to see that he seems like a nice enough and not overly annoying person. 

Now Mean Gene Okerlund is here.  Hillbilly Jim refers to him as “wrestling’s Walter Kronkite”.  Ok.  Mean Gene does an impression of Tony Atlas, which sounds like Mean Gene doing an impression of nothing.  I’m immediately annoyed as Mean Gene tries to make a joke, and it’s dumb.  Something about poop.

And finally (I hope), Roddy Piper joins the cast.  He says he’s used to people hating him.  The guys are sitting around drinking and giving Piper time to make a real entrance.  He talks about how he’s here to teach people stuff, and how complex he is.  Yeah, you’re complex.  Like vinegar and water.  You know what?  I take that back.  He seems friendly enough with all the guys and seems like he’s gonna be a good sport.  (spoiler from future me 45 minutes from now: good call.)

Mean Gene makes another joke and immediately after, some kinda hot chick in a tight red dress walks in and makes all the guys take notice.  I mean, she’s hot, but, you know, WWE hot.  Mean Gene is going to play the pervy role in this, as he comments on how she’s really pretty.  Oh God, here we go.  The first contrived bullshit “Ashley” hoists on the cast is that they have to bring bundt cakes to their neighbors and introduce themselves, which seems SO FUCKING WACKY AND HILARIOUS, YOU FUCKING PRODUCERS OF THIS SHOW.  Jimmy Hart calls her a bimbo and is upset that a girl interrupted his boys time.  I wonder if Jimmy is rooming with Pat.  Anyway, so much nothing happens that I might cry, but then, out of nowhere, Mean Gene and Tony Atlas get invited inside one of the houses for coffee!  That’s how much nothing is happening.  Roddy Piper scares the fuck out of a little kid by pretending to punch Duggan (who hilariously completely no sells it).  Seriously, the best thing that happened during this whole segment is the house owner who has a button up short sleeve shirt tucked into his jeans.  Mean Gene makes another fucking joke and this segment is mercifully over.  Oh, wait.  Now the guys have to discuss all the dumb shit that happened.  Ok, now it’s over.

Piper can’t figure out how to use the blender.  This is the premiere episode.  I know what this show is supposed to be, I promise.  I know it’s not going to be a huge hit, and it’s probably intended to be nothing more than just a cute thing to watch and add a touch of variety to the network, but holy shit.  Even still.   They talk about how private Piper is in his personal life, and then the payoff is that the blender does, in fact, eventually work.   Pat Patterson is going to cook some shit.  That’s not a euphemism.  He asks the butcher at the grocery store if “(he) likes to play with meat” – which IS a euphemism.  Jimmy Hart says, “You’re gonna have to expect the unexpected.”

While Pat cooks and complains about cooking even though he volunteered to cook, some of the guys play tennis, and Jesus, Finkel is pretty big.  Jimmy Hart says he’s going to trim him down – which is not a euphemism.   Patterson complains more about how long it takes to cook, then he ends up not cooking.  I don’t know.  Mean Gene helpfully tells us that it’s taking a long time for Pat to cook, and then it’s the next day.

Someone hits a gong, and Tony Atlas says something like, “I didn’t expect the Dong Show”, which is a euphemism, but accidental, so I’m not sure if it counts.  And oh great, Gary Busey is here.  Roddy fucking brutally says, “Why is Gary Busey here?  Motorcycle lessons?”  Ha!  And ouch!  Gary says his weird shit about releasing negativity.  They’re doing yoga or meditation or something and Gary Busey talks about honking at geese to release is boredom.  Tony probably non-ironically calls Gary “deep”.  If you’re unfamiliar with Gary Busey’s weirdness, it’s worth watching this segment.  If you’ve seen it and burned out on his eccentricities, it’s really just more of the same Gary Busey dumb shit.  Meanwhile, Hacksaw and Tony Atlas get into some kind of weird argument about who loves kids more.   Something happens about Gary Busey being different than them because he’s an actor and Roddy Piper isn’t.  “You’re an actor, I’m not.”, says Roddy.  Roddy’s point was more that as an actor, you can move on from your character and people know you as YOU, the actor – but as a wrestler, they know only you as the character you portray, 24 hours a day.   That’s actually pretty trippy to think about, but I’m not sure why Roddy seemed so angry about it.  Then again, I’d be annoyed if I had to hang out with Gary Busey.

Oh my God, this show is still going.  They talk about how they were the golden age of wrestling, which is hard to argue.  Now they discuss all the injuries and stuff that they’ve gone through, which is actually kind of what I wanted this show to be.  Like, talk about how their lives really are now, and how wrestling has affected them and continues to affect them.  Roddy is shown in bed being restless, and says he’s been sober since 09.  He’s having trouble dealing with the drinking going on here, and looks like he wants a drink.  So that’s the “complex” comment from earlier.  Piper is muttering to himself and walking down the dark street (and into the woods?) by himself, in the dark.  I feel bad for the guy.  I know that feeling of just wanting to burst through your skin and feeling like you’re just trapped.  There’s nowhere you can walk that will get you far enough from that feeling.  Anyway, the show ends.  That was a really interesting segment, and, in my opinion, redeemed the show.   More this, less bundt cakes.


Tryout: Stranger In The Alps

BAM! This is happening. First, a quick introduction. I am the Stranger in the Alps, and I have been a long time reader of the BoD, and just recently started contributing to the comments section several months ago. I want to thank Mr. Keith for the opportunity to bring a fresh column onto the blog. Hopefully, it works out, and I can turn this into a weekly gig. We’re all a little tired of WWE and it’s directionless direction, so I’m taking a different approach to reviewing, and I’m going to focus on a little known indy fed with a TV show. TCW – or Traditional Championship Wrestling. They are focused mainly in the southern US like Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee. They have a weekly TV show that I found on The Pursuit Channel on DirecTV (ch. 604) Fridays at midnight CST. Here is a link to their various TV stations, categorized by state: And if you don’t have any of those channels, they have a Youtube channel, and new episodes are uploaded every Tuesday. Here’s the link for that: So you have the intro, now let’s review this weeks episode. Much like WWE, TCW warns you to NOT try this at home. Funny thing is, it looks EXACTLY like WWE’s font for their warnings, with TCW’s logo splashed above it. Taped from the Frank Cochran Center in Meridian, MS. Your hosts are Matt Rhodes and Brian Thompson. Thompson plays the heel announcer. TCW chant from the crowd. Rhodes announces a match between former New Orleans Fight Club partners John Saxon and Steve Anthony. You see, Anthony turned his back on his friend Saxon and joined the dominant stable in the company, The Empire. That match goes down on this episode. Then they flashback to a few months ago to a match between the TCW International Champion Titan and Tarver (the former Nexus member Michael Tarver in WWE). They are having a rematch for the title TONIGHT! Opening video and credits. Match #1: John Saxon vs. Steve Anthony – Saxon makes his way to the ring first, then after a quick break, Anthony makes his way out with mic in hand. Anthony wants to thank the fans for coming out to see Saxon in his last match of his career. Crowd with, I believe, a “Saxon’s gonna kill you” chant. Anthony, sarcastically, says that Saxon is like a brother to him and he loves him. He goes on to say that because of the love he has for Saxon, he can’t get in the ring tonight. Saxon used to be full of aggression, now he’s just full of depression. Crowd: “You’re a pussy!”, Anthony: “No, I’m not. I’m a good friend.” Anthony keeps going, saying that Saxon is in his 40’s, and he’s lost a step and it wouldn’t be fair for Anthony to beat him. As a friend, Anthony has to walk away. Now referee James Beard has told the timekeeper to ring the bell, and the bell rings, but Anthony keeps talking, now disparaging Saxon’s parenting skills. Now Anthony just does a 180 and says that because of the rude fans, he’s going to kick Saxon’s ass. Anthony stalls, of course. The bell rings again, and Anthony slides out of the ring, and grabs the mic AGAIN. He tells Saxon he loves him, and flips him the bird and slowly backs down the aisle. The referee counts to 10, and awards Saxon the match by countout. WINNER: John Saxon via counout at 1:03. This gets NO RATING. Backstage, Col. Tom Parker is the figurehead for the company. He’s talking to someone, telling them that they have done a lot of underhanded things in the past, and what do they have to say for themselves? The camera pans to show he’s talking to Boyd Bradford, head of another stable in TCW, The Bradford Family. He complains of an attack on him by another manager, Rich Rude, during a match. Parker gives Bradford until the end of the day to produce Rich Rude, as Bradford and his Hounds of Hell (Cerebus and Roosevelt) abducted Rude a couple of weeks back, and Rude has not been seen since. Parker threatens them with termination. Bradford states that the only way anyone will see Rude is via satellite, unless Bradford and his men get what they want. They want Genetic Perfection striped of the TCW Tag Team Championship, and have them awarded back to the Hounds of Hell. Parker is adamant with his HELL NO. Instead, Parker grants Bradford’s guys a title shot later in the show. Match #2: Tarver vs. Titan – TCW International Heavyweight Championship. Tarver out first, because champs enter second, baby! Tarver is over pretty good with this crowd. Titan is accompanied by Lily, who is almost a Sunny lookalike. Sunny 1996, not Sunny 2013. Titan is billed as being 7’2″ tall. Your referee is DJ Pitre. Tarver with fist combos to the body to start. Titan with a knee to the gut to counter. Slam attempt reversed by Tarver, and he drops down to take out the knee with a chop block. Tarver with more rapid fire fists to the head this time. Tarver going up top, but Titan meets him there with a fist to the head. Tarver on the apron now, and Titan grabs him by the throat, talks a little trash, and hits a head butt. Tarver with his head in the ropes, so Titan comes off the ropes and butt butts Tarver to the floor. Down on the floor, Titan follows and hits a disoriented Tarver with some fists. Titan takes Tarver’s arm and places it inside the hole on the steps, and then rears back for a kick to that same arm. Tarver, in pain, gets back in the ring, favoring the hand. Titan stalks him to the corner and slaps him around. Now Titan wraps the injured hand around the ropes, as they hit a break. Back from break, with Titan still in control. To the corner, and Tarver unleashes a chop, to no effect. Titan wraps Tarver in the corner, and does The Big Show’s “Sssshhhh” corner chest chop. Basically, Titan is Paul Wight when he was slimmer. Now Titan drapes Tarver across the middle rope for some slaps from Lily. Titan holds Tarver steady with one hand, then nails him with a knee to the jaw. Tarver down to one knee, and Titan comes off the ropes with a kick to the head. Titan standing on the injured hand now. Titan holds Tarver down for a pin attempt, but Tarver gets the shoulder up. Tarver with shots from underneath to attempt a comeback. Irish whip to Tarver, but he ducks under and comes back with a punch. Another duck under, and another punch. Titan is staggered. Some body shots now from Tarver, selling the injured hand. Tarver off the ropes and Titan with a BIG clothesline. Titan drops the knee to the injured hand a couple of times, then switches to an elbowdrop to the chest. Titan presses Tarver’s injured hand into his own chest. Tarver trying another comeback with elbows to the gut. A big forearm from Tarver. Tarver off the ropes, but Titan shoulderblocks him down. Titan talking trash with Tarver down on his back. Titan picks him up, and whips him to the corner and follows with the corner clothesline. Titan with the thumbs down, grabs him by the throat, but Tarver with elbows. Another forearm from Tarver. Forearm again, followed by punches. Tarver off the ropes, Titan with a big boot to put him down. Now Lily distracts the referee, and she has something in her hand that she tosses into the ring while the ref is still trying to get her down off the apron. Tarver grabs the object and it’s brass knuckles. Tarver ducks under a clothesline attempt, and HITS TITAN WITH THE KNUX! Titan is down! Tarver with cover, the referee counts 1…2…and LILY JUMPS ON THE REFEREE TO STOP THE COUNT. She is gouging the ref’s eyes! Now she DDT’s the ref! Lily goes over to the timekeeper’s table and rings the bell herself. Tarver, Titan and the referee are all down in the ring. Lily collects the title belt, and Titan and they are gone. WINNER: No official decision, but assume it was a DQ win for Tarver at around 10:28. Tarver didn’t show much offense outside of punch/kick, and Titan “carried” the match. Screwjob finishes always suck. Call this match * (one star). The announcers verbally recap last week’s doings when The Empire offered #1 contender Lance Hoyt a spot in their group, but when he refused, of course he was jumped. Hoyt’s on his way to the ring right now. Hoyt has a mic and someone covered in a black sheet. He’s excited about something. The Empire is about to get what’s coming to them. He says he can’t be paid off. It’s four on one, but one on one, none of them stand a chance. He has brought The Empire a surprise, and calls out The Empire. Here they come, led by their leader Matt Riviera. (The Empire are Riviera, Steve Anthony, Greg Anthony and the TCW Heavyweight champion, Tim Storm. Hoyt is the #1 contender for that title.) Hoyt asks Riviera if he likes surprises, and then says he has brought someone along that he can trust, a former TCW Heayweight champion. Someone that has had similar problems with The Empire. Hoyt says he won’t tell who it is. Riviera comes back with the old “it’s your mom”. Steve Anthony, in a funny spot, gropes the front of the sheet-covered person and says “Nope”. Hoyt dares him to lift the sheet and see who it is. Instead, Riviera and company decide they want none of it and start to leave. Hoyt pulls out the “chicken” card, and they come back. Hoyt counts down from 10, and The Empire tease the reveal, but start to leave AGAIN. Hoyt makes fun of Riviera’s Arkansas edgucashun. Riviera FINALLY pulls the sheet off and it’s Shane Williams! Now the brawl is on! Shane Williams is a former member of The Empire, by the way. Hoyt and Williams take on all four guys, and The Empire retreats to the back. Williams grabs the mic and proclaims that “The King is back in TCW, and The Empire is going down!”. Hoyt and Williams mock The Empire salute, and we hit the break. When we come back, Jason Jones, the backstage interviewer, is with Vordell Walker. He wants Walker to comment on his feud with Sigmon. He states that Sigmon has been after him since day one. Walker goes on to say that he has met guys like Sigmon all across the globe and none of them have been able to get the job done. He wants to know if he looks like a loser (Sigmon’s thing is that he calls himself a winner, and everyone else losers. Just for context, folks.) Jones interrupts Walker to state that Col. Parker has made a match between Walker and Sigmon for next week. Walker is going to finish the job next week, and they’ll find out who the real loser is. Match #3: Genetic Perfection (Michael Barry and Alan Steel) (c) vs. The Hounds of Hell (Cerebus and Roosevelt) – TCW Tag Team Championship – The Hounds hit the ring first, then the champs enter and rush the ring. All four men in the ring to start. Double whip to Cerebus, and a double back body drop. Roosevelt alone in the ring now, as Barry heads back to his corner. A series of right hands keeps dropping Roosevelt. Steel tags in Barry now. Steel holds Roosevelt for some shots from Barry. Barry takes Roosevelt to the corner and does the 10 count head to buckle, with 10 hitting the mat. Tag to Steel and there’s a Hart Attack! Roosevelt kicks out at two. Roosevelt pokes the eyes and tags out to Cerebus, who promptly walks into a clothesline from Steel. Steel mounts Cerebus and gives him some punches to the head and breaks at five. To the corner, and Steel hits post and falls to the floor. Cerebus out after him with boots. There are two officials for this match. Steel brought back in, off the ropes and a back elbow puts hm down. To the corner, Steel sidesteps and rolls him up, but Roosevelt has the referee’s attention. The second referee, James Beard, comes in for the count, but Cerebus is out at 2. Cerebus puts Steel down with a clothesline. Tag to Roosevelt, and they send Steel to the buckle headfirst, then double chop him down. Roosevelt with the knee across the throat. Roosevelt picks Steel up off the mat then puts him back down with right hand. Tag to Cerebus who spits on Barry to cause a distraction, as Barry is held back by the ref, and The Hounds do some doubleteaming on Steel in their corner. Cerebus cinches in the chinlock. The crowd is trying to rally behind Steel, as they take a break. Coming back, Steel is trying to come back with elbows to the guy, but he is put down by a big forearm to the back from Cerebus. Tag to Roosevelt, who comes off the middle rope with a double axehandle. Neckbreaker from Roosevelt. Cover, and kick out at 1. Now comes the headlock from Roosevelt. Barry trying to get the crowd behind Steel, who hits a jawbreaker on Roosevelt. Steel off the ropes, but he meets a knee from Roosevelt, who then tags in Cerebus. Double team whip to the corner, but Steel goes up to the middle and comes off with a double back elbow to put everybody down. The announcers question the whereabouts of Boyd Bradford and Rich Rude. Hot tag to Barry! Back elbows for everybody. Cerebus gets in a kick to the gut, and a double whip attempt is reversed on Cerebus, who then goes over Barry and into his own partner. Barry with the Samoan Drop on Cerebus. Samoan Drop for Roosevelt. Barry has his whip reversed by Cerebus, but Barry goes for the Sunset Flip. Roosevelt tries to grab Cerebus’ arm to prevent the flip, but Steel comes back in for a Sunset Flip on Roosevelt. Double pin attempt and double kick out at 2. The Hounds recover and each hit a clotheline on their opponents, putting both Barry and Steel down. Cerebus whips Steel, but Steel goes under and comes back with a Superkick that puts Cerebus to the floor. Roosevelt whips Barry to the corner, but Barry gets the boot up and Roosevelt collides with the referee, Rashard Devon, who goes down. Barry powerslams Roosevelt, and now Boyd Bradford and Kincaid (another Bradford family member) wheel out Rich Rude, who is bound and gagged to a dolly, making sure Genetic Perfection see them. Then they promptly wheel him to the back. Barry leaves the ring to go after them, leaving Steel alone with The Hounds. Steel is on top, when Cerebus comes from behind to take him down. Cerebus puts Steel over his shoulder, and Roosevelt grabs a chain, and comes OFF THE TOP, DRIVING THE CHAIN INTO STEEL, as Cerebus drops him. The second referee comes in and makes the count 1…2…3! NEW CHAMPS!! Barry comes running back in with a chair, and The Hounds take their leave, raising the belts high. WE’RE OUT OF TIME!! WINNERS: The Hounds of Hell at 8:01. *** (3 stars). A solid tag team match. I didn’t mind the distraction finish too much, but at least we had match finish on this show. Plus, having a title change hands in your first review isn’t too bad. So, there you have it. An indy fed, with a TV show, and a guy to review it. The slogan for TCW is “Wrestling is Back”. I wouldn’t go that far with it just yet, but I will say that this was a refreshing change of pace, and DIFFERENT IS GOOD, as a wise blog owner recently said to me. I appreciate ALL comments and criticisms. I might be back next week. Rich Rude may not.

Tryout #3: Mike Mears

(A quick note before we start: This is is a Raw review that will assume you’ve watched the show. It will not be a straightforward, sequential segment-by-segment, match-by-match review, but it’s not exactly what I thought it would be, either. But walking you through a play-by-play is something I have no interest in doing, and since I’m assuming you watched the show, I’m also going to assume you also have your own opinion on the show as a whole. And I’m open to suggestions for a name if I do this regularly. I thought “Rawtopsy” sounded cute, but it looks dumb when written.) By Mike Mears Behind This Very Curtain….     In many ways, the WWE pulled the curtain back- or broke down the fourth wall, if that’s the metaphor you prefer- decades ago. Some would argue it never truly existed, but that’s neither here nor there.  Starting with the CM Punk “pipe bomb” of June 2011, we entered an era in which backstage machinations- or, perhaps more importantly, our perception of what those machinations are- played a more active, central part in main event storylines than ever before.     Daniel Bryan’s rise to superstardom, exponentially sped up over the last three months, has seen this trend hit critical mass. We have the actual powers-that-be playing semi-fictionalized versions of themselves more meta than the brilliant Mr. McMahon caricature of yesteryear ever could have dreamed to be. (More importantly, than he would have wanted to be.) Oh, sure we know they actually love Daniel Bryan. But it works on multiple levels. To the kids who weren’t alive yet when Stone Cold was raging against the machine, they don’t know this, plus this is all new. To the rest of us, it plays off of our own insecurities as “smart” fans. We know it, mostly, but even when they’re serving us Daniel Bryan on a silver platter, they’ve created just enough doubt. Was I bothered by him looking like an idiot, walking right into the RKO? Sure. But every babyface pretty much ever has brazenly walked into the heel’s trap like an idiot, with more guts than brains.     Even if whatever subtlety in this storyline has long since gone by the wayside, they’re still able to play with the sensibilities of the smart fan to create that doubt. That little bit of creeping doubt, that maybe every think they don’t really believe but what we’ve been lead to think they believe- that Bryan doesn’t fit what they want their superstars to be- is all there needs to be.     Unlike with the Summer of Punk, the worry here isn’t that Triple H is going to steal heat for himself, or cut the legs out from underneath the one-time indy darling turned hottest thing in wrestling. It’s that they might go too far in making themselves out to be supervillians standing in the way of the everyman. It’s a great story, which is why it’s been reimagined countless times in every form of storytelling that exists. But there’s a point of diminishing returns even for someone as absurdly over, and absurdly talented, as Daniel Bryan. I have no concerns about them letting Bryan get his heat back, or even eventually win the title back. Those things will happen. My concern is if they know how to get there. They collected the underpants in step one, and they know step three is profit (in this case, meaning they obviously see money in Bryan). Do they know step two?     With Cena on the shelf for perhaps the rest of the year and Punk existing in his own bubble outside the rest of the WWE sphere in his feud with Heyman- not to mention others often considered for-better-or-worse Cena alternatives like Orton (turned heel) and Sheamus (himself injured) not available for that role- they’d damn well better. “It seems like the people here disagree with you on what’s best for business,” Bryan told Stephanie McMahon in the opening promo, shortly before slapping the mic out of her hand in a bit that was just unspeakably awesome. Once again, they’ve successfully involved the fans, empowering them and making it look like they’re taking an active role in the direction of the company. We chose CM Punk, and now we chose Daniel Bryan. Co-opt “reality” all you want, but make sure you have an endgame. Meanwhile, in an alternate universe….     As I alluded to, our other hero is kind of existing in his own separate sphere right now. (Ironically, this is the way Cena should have been used starting at least two years ago, as a full-time special attraction of sorts: not necessarily above everyone else, but…separate.) Yes, CM Punk has been back full-time for about two months now, been in featured matches on three PPVs since his three-month break after Wrestlemania. But his feud with Paul Heyman hasn’t really intersected with anything else going on.     And that’s just fine, because the leader of what Grantland’s brilliant David Shoemaker  dubbed “The Reality Era” in 2011 has stepped aside from the counterculture, revolutionary role for the time being. No, what CM Punk is embroiled in is good, old-fashioned, old-school wrestling hatred. He was involved in one of the greatest Summerslam matches of all-time last night (upon a second viewing, I may be convinced to remove the “Summerslam” qualifier), with a major mainstream star in Brock Lesnar, and somehow the brutality Lesnar brought at him was secondary to his seething hatred of Paul Heyman.     Punk fought the machine for nearly two years. Now he just wants to rip apart his former best friend. Much like with Bryan, we kind of already know the ending. It’s how we get there that matters. In this case, it’s a wrestler against a fat, slovenly manager who isn’t even a former wrestler. Yeah, we want to see Punk get his hands on Heyman and rip him apart. And we’re fairly sure we will. The brawl with Curtis Axel was as logical a starting point as any- if only anyone cared about Axel, or his title- but assuming we’re headed for a Wrestlemania rematch with Lesnar (which would make sense, because unlike with HHH that’s a rematch and a conqueror of Lesnar we actually want to see) that’s a lot of time in-between for Punk to have to fill. Some sort of prolonged absence would make a lot of sense for him here, except there’s an enormous top babyface void right now and Punk already had one long absence this year. The more logical next step seems to be that Punk destroys Axel and gets to Heyman, leading to a prolonged absence for Heyman, before he brings back Brock for retribution.     On another note, find me another wrestler alive who can cut a scathing promo on a fan as a babyface, AND BE A BIGGER BABYFACE AS A RESULT. If anyone was in attendance, was this some dude who was just being an unbearably obnoxious asshole? On stables ripping off ideas from FX shows, and others just taking the names of them…     Given all the things we know to be true about wrestling’s weird code of ethics, it’s not that hard to believe that Abrose, Reigns and Rollins were being punished for whatever perceived backstage slights to their elders, or for injuring a brittle 50-year old man in a match he probably shouldn’t even have wrestled. No one ever said this was a business filled by intellectual superpowers.     That said, their actual in-ring work of late has reeked of three dudes who got too much, too soon and started to believe their own hype. We see it all the time in real sports and other forms of entertainment, and wrestling isn’t immune to the disease, either. For all the deserved blue-chipper status they received even before their debuts, for all the awesome, borderline terrorist camcorder promos in the bowels of arenas, for all the main event storylines they were immediately thrust into, the backbone of The Shield early on was the crazy, manic, ROH-meets-Attitude Era blue collar in-ring work. They’ve lost that edge in recent weeks, very much acting like three guys- not the characters, the actual performers- who think just showing up, looking cool and swaggering around is enough.     As much as I enjoy seeing them reinserted into main event storylines- even if beating dudes up three-on-one isn’t that impressive compared to their separate-and-destroy matches against three men earlier in their run- I enjoy seeing them regain their focus even more. I don’t particularly care for them as HHH’s personal security detail, but it could extend the gimmick’s life span by a few months. Ambrose is ready now to break out on his own, but I’m not sure I feel the same about Reigns or Rollins.     Meanwhile, after a disappointing Summerslam match, I was fine with Bray Wyatt getting a convincing squash over a “name” guy. In what’s becoming a running theme, I hope they know what step two is. Step one: awesome gimmick/intro upon their debut. Step three: Bray Wyatt is a huge, huge star. How are we getting there? It’s easy to see them start to spin their wheels. And for the love of Christ, does anyone give a shit where Kane is? THEY FUCKING STOLE THE DUDE. Anyone looking into this?     (The first part of this headline refers to the Wyatt family clearly being modeled after the Crowders on “Justified.”) Hey, look who has stuff to do!     Namely, lots of people. Is Vince Russo back on the payroll? Because we have a lot of midcarders doing really stupid stuff. But that’s better than doing nothing. Ryback beating up nerds? OK, at least he’s doing something. Fandango dancing his way through others’ backstage skits? I don’t know why, but I’m getting a kick out of it. That’s probably what the character should have done to begin with. He also had, hands down, the line of the night: “Those right there are beautiful sneakers…but can I dance in them?” Comic gold. More of that from Fandango. I don’t know if you can do a parody of something that’s been around so little time so far, but I like it. Well, we’ll see how it plays in SEC country….     But damn, how about the face reaction for Darren Young? I think they went about what to do with him, at least in week one, about as well as could be hoped for. Sure, the PTPers suddenly being faces makes no fucking sense, but no matter. Colter’s promo vaguely alluding to the headlines of Young coming out but then launching right back into an anti-immigrant diatribe also made no sense. Presenting the PTPers exactly as they were before, but in a situation in which we’d want to cheer for them without beating us over the head with the actual headline? A nice way to capitalize on some positive mainstream attention without being pandering or cloying. I guess most drug counselors ARE former users….     What, Ricardo is back from a drug suspension, and the idea is to have him hang out with someone who (and I can’t prove this…but come on, it’s probably true) wears ring gear made out of hemp? No matter, RVD and Ricardo is a fun, nonsensical pairing and it works for me as the next challenger for Del Rio. Fuck it, put the belt on Rob. His ring work has been pretty good since returning to WWE and he’s over as ever. It’s not like that belt matters anyway.

Tryout #2: Matt Bolin

WWE RAW – August 19, 2013 I want to let everyone know that I am open to feedback as to what you look for when you read these things. I am not much of a play by play reviewer. I prefer to discuss the story being told in the ring when I recap matches; however, I have a feeling that most of what we see tonight will require something closer to a play by play format given the nature of WWE TV and there is not much more you can do with promo segments besides calling what you see. A few years ago, I decided to follow the trend of not rating matches below ***. In these cases, I will highlight the things I found positive about matches that might have been just below that mark but I also want to say that I can be stricter at times than the general consensus. (Point of reference: I’d probably give Punk and Cena’s RAW match earlier this year closer to ***-***1/2 as opposed to the MOTYC status most people seem to place upon it). Keep in mind we watch to ultimately have fun, and I do still generally enjoy the show. – Live from Anaheim, CA which was the home for Wrestlemania XII – We start with a recap from SummerSlam two main events. My thoughts on the show last night echo that of what else has been said elsewhere. CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar right now is easily the WWE’s Match of the Year as that was a fun car wreck to watch live; however, the results of the main event have almost made it an afterthought for discussion. John Cena and Daniel Bryan delivered a strong main event that injected some nice pieces of puro vibe throughout them. The Spider Superplex into the diving headbutt might be the spot of the year, and I loved Cena’s Hansen lariat. The match nearly went south when Cena almost dropped Bryan on his head, but both guys recovered and delivered a strong finishing stretch. The HHH/Orton heel turn has been telegraphed for awhile, and Daniel Bryan is honestly more believable right now as the little guy chasing for his glory atop the mountain more so than work horse WWE champion who has to get creative against bigger, stronger opponents. – Cena opens RAW to display his disgust about the post-main event shenanigans. The Anaheim crowd decides to have none of it and continues to boo him out of the building. Cena puts over Daniel Bryan for being the better man that night and then announces that he has torn his tricep and will be leaving for surgery and will be gone for four to six months. He honestly has needed this time off for a couple of years. The crowd responds to Cena leaving with a vocal “YES” chant. Cena introduces Daniel Bryan on his way out of the ring. The crowd shows Bryan some love, but Stephanie reigns on his parade before he can say the first word. Stephanie explains that HHH is the COO of the company and what he did was best for business. She wants to lower Bryan’s expectations and let him know that he’s not “face of the company” material. Bryan references HHH’s D-X days, stating that Hunter was a rebel and going corporate has changed him. He then brings back the Attitude Era trend of calling Stephanie a prostitute and slaps the microphone out of her hand a few times. Stephanie finally has security escort Bryan out of the arena.
This was the right way to handle the first segment after last night in front of a lively smart wrestling fan crowd. Stephanie has never been great on television and really zapped some of the energy, but the crowd really gave it to her and kept this segment going. In a more Mark-friendly city, this segment would have been a lot less than what we got here. – Did You Know? WWE likes to brag about their social media accomplishments through random metrics! – Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes: No television entrance for either guy as this is billed as a rematch from last night. Sandow pounces early as both guys work a frantic pace early and rush through the opening sequence, which suggests this will not get much television time. Cody takes advantage and drops Sandow with a front suplex. Rhodes continues his onslaught with a clothesline to the floor and a snap suplex on the padded floor. Sandow fights back out of a hammerlock and shoves Rhodes out of the ring. Sandow drops a knee to the face and then drags Cody from the top rope with an overhead wrist toss (I have not been a nerd about wrestling moves in quite awhile). Back from commercial, Cody fights out of a rear chin lock to have his momentum derailed by a kitchen sink knee to Rhodes’s gut. Sandow hits the Elbow of Disdain. Cody returns to the offensive with a crisp moonsault that nearly overshoots Sandow for an awkward landing. Quick offensive flurry leads to a Cross-Rhodes attempt that gets countered. Cody shortly after hits a Disaster kick for a nearfall. Finally, Rhodes wins with a sunset flip counter into a victory roll for the victory.
Considering these two are in the middle of a program, this seemed like a thrown together t.v. match booking-wise. Crowd was apathetic towards both guys and cared more about Cody not having his mustache anymore, and the match had no real heat segments or structure to tell even a brief engaging story. Overall the intent of this match was clear: quick, inoffensive T.V. match to continue this feud. – RAW G.M. Brad Maddox announces that he will punish Dolph Ziggler by placing him in a handicap match with The Shield for his negative comments in regards to HHH after last night. The lesson here kids: do not talk negatively about your job on Social Media. – Paul Heyman decides to hold a wounded victory lap promo to remind the crowd that C.M. Punk was defeated by Brock Lesnar. Heyman commends Punk for his effort. Heyman wants to end his family feud. Heyman tells Punk that he will accept him back into the fold if Punk apologizes to him. Heyman admits that he still loves Punk and wants to take Punk to the main event of WrestleMania. – Meanwhile the Bellas and Funkadactyls remind the audience that they have a reality tv series on E. Naomi and Cameron will be in a tag match tonight. – The Funkadactyls vs. Layla & A.J. – The heels pounce early. AJ works over Naomi and ends Naomi’s attempt at a comeback with a nice spinning high leg kick. AJ’s offense consists of chin locks and hair pulls. Naomi finally counters with an enziguri and gets a pick roll up of Layla for the victory. That ended up being what you would have expected and leads to I guess a perfect time for a B.A. star ad! – Dolph Ziggler vs. The Shield – The Shield are held to tag rules for this three on one contest to give Ziggler a glimmer of hope. I love wrestling logic! Dolph outwrestles Ambrose early with his collegiate background but loses the size game and gets backed into the corner and tags in Seth Rollins. The numbers game takes its toll after Roman Reigns decks Ziggler with a lariat. Ziggler fights off the numbers games and keeps things one on one for awhile. Hits a Rocker Dropper, sends one to the floor, and attempts a corner splash on Reigns only to be speared in mid-air. The SHIELD triple powerbombs Ziggler post-match. Entertaining handicap match that told a decent story and gave the crowd a small glimmer of hope that Ziggler might beat the odds. – Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara – Another WWE message for the children courtesy of Alberto Del Rio’s eyes, stay out of bars and bar fights, kids! Seriously, his face looks ugly. Del Rio attacks early but Sin Cara counters with an arm drag. Tope Suicida to the outside leads to both guys colliding heads. Sin Cara singals to the referee immediately and stops the match. That looked like it could be bad. Del Rio frustratingly gets some cheap heel heat by attacking Sin Cara which has the referee go off on him. Del Rio cuts a promo about being the best World Heavyweight Champion of all time. Ricardo Rodriguez makes his return and says he’s grateful to not have to represent Del Rio anymore. He now represents Rob Van Dam. RVD attacks, looks for the five star frog splash, but Del Rio escapes to safer ground. – Team Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger) vs. Prime Time Players – Zeb Colter continues to cut generic negative Conservative stereotype promo. Dirty Dutch is great and at times very believable in his role. Darren Young gets a small offensive flurry before tagging in Titus. JBL quickly puts over Titus O’Neill as a future WWE Champion. Titus answers to that compliment by claiming the baby face in peril role. That is kind of random considering Titus has the size and strength in the tag team. Painful looking spot with a vader bomb and double stomp spot on Titus. O’Neill finally escapes the heat segment with a NOT QUITE MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER! Hot tag to Darren Young. Northern Lights suplex gets a near fall. Ring clears of the teammates. Gut Check gets the three count to earn Primetime Players the victory.
I am a huge fan of the southern tag wrestling formula, and this served its purpose. It does not get much play, but the WWE has one of its deepest tag team divisions in ages. The tag team division just does not get the treatment that it did years ago. I guess this also marks the beginning of Darren Young’s push. – Renee Young interviews The Big Show about tag teaming with Mark Henry to win the tag team championships from The SHIELD. Brad Maddox punishes Show for negative HHH comments with a three on one match against the SHIELD with all three members allowed in the ring at the same time. – Zack Ryder gets actual air time on RAW to advertise for WWE’s Footlocker campaign. FAAAAAAHN DAAAAAHHHHNN GOOOOO crashes the party and decides he wants to dance in the shoes. – Another video recap of last night’s main event. Meanwhile, Ryback continues his anti-B.A. star campaign by bullying some poor jobber. – Big Show vs. The SHIELD – Show takes care of all three members and lets Roman Reigns discover the receiving end of a spear. The crowd popped big for that one. Ambrose tries to regroup by going for a sleeper. Show falls backwards to kill that attempt. Show then stands on Rollins’s back. Show continues to fight them off, but the numbers game gets the better of Show as Reigns returns with a spear of his own. Seth Rollins hits a flying knee to Show’s head off the top rope. Triple Powerbomb is enough to keep Big Show down. The SHIELD continues to be one of the better booked aspects of the WWE right now. For another short t.v. handicap match, Show’s size did a great job of teasing the great equalizer. – Did You Know? The WWE still prints a Magazine! – It’s CM Punk promo time! Punk sells last night’s match on the way to the ring. Punk starts talking about last night, but then gets annoyed by an obnoxious fan in the crowd. The crowd pops huge for Punk putting the guy in his place. I love that Punk is going for being in a shoot foul mood. Punk admits that he is not cleared to fight tonight, but he is in his gear because that is all he knows. Punk then invites Heyman face to face to receive his apology. Heyman comes to the ramp with Curtis Axel at his side. He apologizes for not injuring Heyman further than he did last night. This feud really has brought the best out of Punk, and Heyman is the ultimate shill guy. Heyman tells Axel to prepare for a fight and then also acknowledges the guy in the crowd (plant?) as we go to commercial.
Back from commercial, Punk strikes Axel with knees early. Punk’s injuries get the better of him as Axel begins to work him over. Axel sends Punk into the barricade and strikes away at a downed Punk. Punk finally backdrops Curtis Axel into the time keeper’s chair, fakes going after Heyman, and then turns around and dives back at Axel. Punk gives Axel the ring bell to the midsection, looks for the Go To Sleep but Axel counters and chops at Punk’s knee. Axel works over Punk’s knee. Axel looks to Pilmanize Punk’s knee with the chair as Heyman screams to break his leg. Punk gets out of the way and fights off Axel with the steel chair before tossing him twice into the steel steps and using the Steps in place of his knee for an emphatic Go to Sleep. Heyman glares at Punk as the segment ends. These two continue to be the only highlight of RAW not involving Daniel Bryan. – We get our ‘x’ reminder that Randy Orton’s coronation as WWE Champion will be tonight. – Bray Wyatt vs. R-Truth – Is it me or does Truth’s hairline suggest that he needs to change his hair style away from the dreads? Truth strikes away early but Wyatt quickly takes advantage and screams to the crowd to “Witness the new face of Fear!” Bray continues to sell the gimmick. Bray finished Truth for the win. Standard Squash stuff here to put over the Wyatts. – We get the first promo video for Primo and Epico’s repackaging as Los Matadores. – 3MB (Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal) vs. The Usos – Heath Slater decides to do a couple of leaping air guitar taunts in the early going. Quick tags by the members of 3MB work over Jimmy Uso. Mahal provides most of the offense and hits a small flurry of knee drops. Enizguri by Jimmy Uso allows for the hot tag to Jey Uso. Flying Shoulder Tackle by Jey Uso followed by a butt bump to Mahal in the corner gets a near fall broken up by Heath Slater. Side kick takes out Jinder as Jey tags Jimmy while performing a tope to the remaining 3MB members on the floor. Jimmy Uso performs a top rope splash finishes off Mahal for the victory. I am amused by Heath Slater and 3MB for about thirty seconds. After that, their matches feel like an eternity. This match was no exception to that rule. – The Miz vs. Wade Barrett – Barrett kicks Miz to start and works over a headlock. Barrett continues with a shoulder block and allows Miz to get a brief exchange of his own before Barrett takes back over with a boot for a two count. Miz sold that awkwardly. After Miz lands awkwardly on his neck, Barrett begins to work it over and then knees Miz in the head a couple of times before booting him out of the ring. Back in the ring, Barrett gets two and then works over a chin lock. Comeback segment for Miz allows for a modified sunset flip for a two count. Miz begins a comeback with a running crossbody and a clothesline. He drapes Barrett’s leg over the second rope and works over the hamstring. A quick exchange of both guys leads to a figure four. Fandango ends the match with a leg drop off the top rope to give Miz a DQ victory.
These two had a good TV match on the RAW after Wrestlemania. At times, you could see glimpses of that chemistry. All in all this was too short to really mean much and featured too many chinlocks for a match this length. – Brad Maddox informs Stephanie McMahon that Daniel Bryan has returned to the building. – Main Event McMahon Family Celebration Time! The Shield represents your security/bouncers for the evening by guarding the ring as the other WWE Superstars stand on the ramp. Vince McMahon makes his first TV appearance of the night. Vince commends HHH for doing the right thing and seeing the light. Crowd gives it to HHH with “You Sold Out” chants. At least this crowd is awake. They have not had much to cheer about with this show. HHH explains his actions as trying to preserve the WWE long term. He is about continuing the McMahon family legacy. Hunter says he is a fan of Daniel Bryan. He did not like doing what he had to do. He calls him “a very good little technician” and he “deserved to win.” HHH says he has a hard time picturing Daniel Bryan as the face of the WWE and WWE Champion. Hunter says that this crowd deserves A plus. What do you call most of this show tonight, Hunter? I think I will go with about a D plus. WE DESERVE BETTER!
Hunter admits burying his hatred of Orton to do what’s right for business. He still has no love loss for Randy Orton. HHH introduces Randy Orton as the “coal that has now become the diamond.” Stephanie and Orton embrace, which is rather creepy given the history within the realm of the WWE history. Orton says he warned everyone they would not see it coming. He admits to owing all of his success to HHH and then orders the crowd to show him some respect. HHH offers Daniel Bryan to come meet him face to face and have a good cry. HHH gets the crowd to start a “Yes” chant and play his music. The Shield attack Bryan as he tries to enter the ring. Bryan fights off, but the numbers game takes its toll. Bryan destroys Rollins with a head kick and then stalks his way back to the ring. Reigns performs his third spear of the evening as The Shield all attack Bryan. HHH stops The Shield from doing the triple power bomb and begs him into the ring and references “fighting spirit.” As soon as Bryan makes the ring, he eats an RKO from Bryan as the McMahon family stands victorious atop of Daniel Bryan. Remember kids. B.A. Star! – Final Thoughts: I honestly cannot say that I blame Scott for finally throwing in the towel. This show feels even longer when writing about it. I think it is easy to see that WWE Creative is a little lossed when it comes to piecing together a strong show right now that does not involve CM Punk/Paul Heyman or Daniel Bryan. Most RAW’s could afford to lose the third hour. Tonight’s show would not have missed ninety minutes worth of it. The crowd had to find ways to entertain itself throughout the night, and this RAW lacked the one decent work rate 20 minute match in the second hour that normally helps. The Shield stuff was fun for Roman Reigns trifecta of spears, and the McMahon/Daniel Bryan stuff began its build to where we figure it will go: Daniel Byan’s chase for glory. John Cena deserves the time away and has for a solid two years to recover, but the WWE is hurting for top level talent right now once you get passed CM Punk and Daniel Bryan as the top two active babyfaces (that is awkward in itself) and Randy Orton as the newly established top heel. I guess Vince needs to find a scapegoat for when Monday Night Football returns and RAW’s ratings begins to drop further.

Tryout: Andy PG

Hello. Call me Andy PG, my old handle from the Rant Crew. On the Extreme Warfare message board, I was asked to recap a random show in order to help someone’s fantasy booking thread. I decided to imitate Scott Keith in doing it, and found out that it was the most natural voice I had. So if this sounds like him, that’s why. And now it comes full circle, as the man himself has allowed me to try out to recap Raw. Hopefully, I can do him proud. And don’t worry, I won’t be EXCLUSIVELY a Scott Keith clone. I hope. Let’s hope I can keep up, considering I’m doing this live without the help of DVR. – The Rated-PG Rant on Monday Night Raw. – Live from Anaheim, California. – Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler. – WHEN LAST WE LEFT OUR HEROES: HHH turned heel. Yes, there were two WWE title changes, but according to the dot-com, this was the most important story. – TONIGHT’S PREVIEW AD: How did Punk/Lesnar and Cena/Bryan go? Okay, enough buildup, let it begin. – Cold open reveals that Brock/Punk was changed to no-DQ. Punk would have won had Heyman not interfered, and Lesnar wins with an F-5 on a chair. Later that evening, Daniel Bryan defeated John Cena with a knee to the head… but Randy Orton emerged, waited for HHH to hit a Pedigree, and stole the title. – So who do we hear from first? John Cena. And man, his elbow looks BAD. He’s disgusted at the events ofSunday, too. Cena gives a gracious concession speech to Daniel Bryan, talking about his excellence in the ring. Cena has a black eye too? Cena admits he shouldn’t have been in the ring at SummerSlam, and that he has a torn tricep, but that’s not an excuse – Bryan was the better man. This sounds like Cena telling the kids to get behind Bryan during his impending absence. The crowd chants “YES” as he announces his departure. Thanks, fans. You’re a blast. Cena brings Stone Cold Daniel Bryan out and the crowd is 1000% behind him. Beautiful. Is the crowd dampened tonight? They seem to be a little quieter on the YES chants. Cena hands the mic over and leaves, completing a torch-passing for the fall of 2013. Whoops, spoke too soon – the “Daniel Bryan” chant is loud… until Stephanie interrupts before Bryan can talk. Crowd isn’t too thrilled to see her. She apologizes completely, but says that HHH was doing what was best for business. Bryan and the fans seem to disagree. And sure, Stephanie and Vince can ask for clean-cut corporate champions, but HHH has sold out! Oh, and Stephanie is trash and Bryan is begging to be fired. And he’s willing to give Stephanie a reason. It’s Austin/McMahon all over again! Stephanie tries to let Bryan down softly, and it’s clear that since Bryan is small, he’s not good enough. She calls Bryan a B+, and it’s a total backhanded compliment. Bryan: “You’re starting to remind me of a word that starts with the letter B right now.” Bryan calls out Stephanie on spinning and knocks the mic out of Stephanie’s hands. This appears to be enough to get him kicked out of the building. And he leaves without incident – except for a huge “NO” chant – because no one gets heat on the McMahons. They were off to a hot start and then it went nowhere. – Damien Sandow v. Cody Rhodes. No entrances in this rematch. Sandow goes for knee strikes early and has to be pulled off, but Cody with a leg sweep. Back to the corner for Sandow, but Rhodes fights out and drops an elbow off the second rope for one. Front suplex by Cody and he takes over. Sandow dumps Cody, who lands on the apron and sends Sandow into the buckle. Missile dropkick follows. Now Sandow to the outside and follows with a suplex on the floor. Back in, he gets two. Wait, when did Cody shave? “Daniel Bryan” chant as Cody works the arm. Sandow dumps Cody again on a charge – is this match going somewhere – and the fight continues on the outside. Back in, suplex by Sandow leads to a kneedrop for one. Headbutt follows, but Cody fires back and goes up top only to get slammed off. It gets two. And we go to break. Back with Sandow getting two, and he HITS THE CHINLOCK. Sandow cuts off a comeback with a knee to the gut, followed by a Russian Legsweep and Cubito Aequet for two. Learn your Latin, kids. Sandow goes for a superplex, but Cody knocks him off and follows with a moonsault press for a double KO. Crowd is behind Cody Rhodes. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK body drop by Cody leads to clotheslines and the drop punch. Jack-knife pin gets two. Snap mare counters Cross Rhodes, and Sandow gets two. Terminus looks to finish, but Rhodes is out and the Disaster Kick has Sandow reeling. Sandow gives Cody a Hotshot to stop the momentum, but it’s Cody with the Brisco corner rollup to win at 10:32. [b]**1/4[/b] I hope this leads to a match at Night of Champions for the briefcase, because it’s clear they backed the wrong horse. – Brad Maddox alert! He reads off words from Dolph Ziggler that he doesn’t stand HHH. And as a result, Dolph will face the Shield 1-on-3. But it’s not punishment, honest. – And now, Paul Heyman. With a sling. They’re getting all the heavy hits out early, which is weird. He admits that CM Punk proved his worth… but he lost. So there. Next, you ask? It’s to reconcile with Punk, as they bring up his family issues and Heyman crowns himself Punk’s father figure. He forgives Punk’s rebelliousness as his slow speech makes it clear we’re just WAITING for the interruption. “CM Punk, I still love you.” Heyman just sounds like he’s stalling for time right now. He promises the moon and the stars to Punk as I’m trying to follow this when it’s clear THIS NEEDS AN INTERRUPTION. And none comes as Heyman walks off. Yeesh. – More Total Divas shilling as the Funkadactyls get a sarcastic good luck from the Bellas. – Funkadactyls v. Layla and AJ Lee. Announcers mention AJ has a million Twitter followers. Big whoop. Heels attack before the bell, and AJ slams her opponent down to the mat. Naomi, okay. Didn’t catch which one. AJ with a neckbreaker and chinlock. Spinkick follows for two. Another chinlock, slowly turned into a sleeper, as AJ refuses a tag to Layla. She keeps kicking away on Naomi, and back to the sleeper as she whispers a spot to Naomi. Enzuigiri by Naomi as AJ taunts Cameron, which brings us to the hot tag… okay, not quite. Layla cuts off Cameron, but Naomi rolls up Layla for the win at 2:18. It looked like Layla may have kicked out, but the same ref as last week said otherwise, and clearly he knows what he’s talking about, right? [b]DUD[/b] – Dolph Ziggler v. Shield. Ambrose’s hair is slicked back now. Interesting. Cole surmises this match is “vindication” for Ziggler’s remarks. You keep using that word, Michael. I do not think it means what you think it means. Cole and JBL argue about the situation. Some stalling to start, but Ambrose and Dolph in a long lockup as Dolph jumps out of the way of the Shield corner. Dolph with a waistlock takedown, but Ambrose gets Rollins in. Dolph attacks him, too, and a back body drop follows. Ziggler fires away in the corner and has to be separated, allowing Rollins a kick to take over as Reigns comes in with a clothesline. Reigns chokes Dolph on the bottom rope, and a toss into the corner brings Ambrose in. Stomps and elbows get two. Short clothesline by Ambrose and in comes Rollins. Rollins kicks Dolph in the gut and stalls. Back in goes Ambrose for a double-team as Cole and JBL keep arguing over HHH. Cross-face blows by Ambrose as the crowd gets behind Dolph. Ambrose with a camel clutch until Dolph bites the hand and puts on the sleeper. Ambrose reverses, only to get a jawbreaker. Reigns in slowly, but he walks (strolls) into a dropkick. Dolph goes after all three guys and hits a Famouser on Reigns. Ambrose is tossed, and Dolph gets a big kick and leaping DDT for two as Rollins saves. Dolph suplexes Rollins out of the ring, but the Stinger Splash is intercepted with a spear for the pin at 6:07. Started very badly, but picked up at the end. [b]*3/4[/b] Shield add the triple powerbomb for emphasis. Rollins is favoring his left leg, but it looks to be nothing serious. – Alberto Del Rio v. Sin Cara. Man, Alberto’s eye looks worse than Cena’s. Del Rio attacks Cara early and pounds away, but Cara reverses an armdrag into one of his own and dives out. The two collide heads, and Cara gets the worst of it as the match is called off at 0:52. Del Rio keeps up the attack afterward, unhappy with the way it ended. Okay then. – So let’s give Del Rio some mic time instead. He brags about being a great World Champion and about how he is the hero of Latinos – which the crowd seems to agree with. He says Latinos have no hero but him. And this brings Ricardo Rodriguez out. Ricardo disagrees with the hero assessment completely. Ricardo brings out his new ally… Rob Van Dam! Never saw that coming. RVD charges the ring and cleans house on Del Rio, complete with Five Star Frog Splash attempt, but Del Rio bails and gets out of town. Good thing, too – Sandow’s still in the building. For those wondering, I’m certain Sin Cara isn’t injured this time. Timing’s too convenient. RVD putting Alberto over can only be good. – Here comes Zeb Colter’s diatribe of the week. Hey, it gets him and his charges over, so maybe they ought to try it with other people. – Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro v. Prime Time Players. I knew it! A face turn from nowhere! Oh, don’t act shocked. By the way, did anyone else hear how over “WE THE PEOPLE” as a phrase is? Cesaro attacks Young in the corner and delivers European uppercuts, but Young reverses with a hiptoss. Swagger in, but he gets hiptossed too. O’Neal in, and it’s a double shoulderblock. He works over Swagger in the corner, but a blind charge hits boot and in comes Cesaro. Boots and Karelin suplex gets two. Another uppercut and Swagger comes in. O’Neal plays more face in peril as Cesaro chokes O’Neal on the outside. O’Neal fights back, but he takes out Cesaro and is jumped from behind. Leglock from Swagger. Here’s the problem: the WWE will probably push the Players out of political correctness, but they’re not really impressive in the ring. Swagger with a slam and Vaderbomb, then Cesaro over the top with a Mushroom stomp. It gets two. Back to Swagger, who works O’Neal over in the corner, but runs into a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. Hot tag Young, and he unloads on Cesaro, although one of his kicks visibly misses. Belly-to-belly suplex by Young, and a Northern Lights with bridge gets two before Swagger saves. It’s BONZO GONZO as everyone is tossed out, and Cesaro walks into a Gut Check (fireman’s carry into a pair of knees to the gut) for the pin for Young at 4:49. Hey, it’s a face turn, why not? Nothing wrong with this match. [b]*1/2[/b] – Big Show promo as he addresses a possible tag team with Mark Henry. Show/Henry is an official team, but Maddox interrupts and shooes off Renee. Maddox is clearly HHH’s shill. And Show will also be fed to the Shield, with all three men allowed in at once. Hey, I get to face someone who’s already been in a match? Bring it! – Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder shill Foot Locker. And then Fandango interrupts. Okay, Johnny Curtis is absolutely killing it in his character. – Repeat the video package! Yay! Time to relax! I did notice someone brought a sign reading “Smarten up Dixie”. That person gets a cookie. And I work on Sundays, so no, I didn’t see SummerSlam. – Ryback bullies some jobbers. For those who complain about Ryback running away from a fair fight, HE’S A BULLY. IT’S WHAT HE DOES. It’s actually great characterization. – Big Show v. Shield. I get a feeling the Shield won’t look as impressive in this match. For the record, I really don’t like watching Big Show wrestle. So I probably won’t be unbiased in this match. In fact, as long as we have a commercial break between entrances – both Pauls (Show and HHH) drive me up the wall. I’ll let you debate whether that’s a personal failing on my part or there’s some connection. Show dumps Reigns right away and everyone else pinballs for him. He knocks over Ambrose and slams Rollins. Back to Ambrose, who gets dumped as well, leaving Rollins alone. Headbutts follows, and out goes Rollins too – then a spear to Reigns. Rollins’s leg isn’t the best again. Ambrose tries a sleeper, but Show shrugs him off to the mat. Rollins fires in, only to get another headbutt. Two minutes in and Show hasn’t sold yet. Show steps on Rollins and leaves him winded on the outside. Clotheslines to Ambrose follow, then an avalanche and shoulderblock. Chokeslam looks to finish, but Rollins clips Show and Ambrose and Rollins double-team. Flying knee by Rollins gets two for Ambrose. Double suplex try by Ambrose/Rollins gets reversed (of course it does), and Reigns returns to spear Show after being out of most of the match. The politics of this match is so thick. Shield tries the triplebomb, and amazingly, it works for the pin at 4:32. Meh. [b]1/4*[/b] I’m allowed to read too much into at least one match, right? – CM Punk is out at the top of the hour. Punk talks about how personal Heyman’s talk is, and then he gets mad at a fan at ringside because he’s in a REALLY bad mood. Yeah, after the Orton thing, does this strike ANYONE as smart? Punk knows Heyman needs an apology, and given everything Heyman is promising him, Punk calls Heyman out. Heyman arrives with Curtis Axel to listen. Punk says wrestling is all he knows, and he’s still standing against doctor’s orders. Punk is sorry… that he went after Heyman instead of beating Brock. He’s sorry Heyman’s arm isn’t a trophy. Punk wants to murder Heyman, but says so in many more words. This feud IS NOT OVER, and he wants Heyman RIGHT DAMN NOW. Right about now I hope that guy at ringside is a plant. Heyman apologizes instead… for what’s about to happen. Punk/Axel appears to be next as Heyman says “I’m not that fat guy sitting in the front row”. C’mon, he’s GOTTA be a plant! If Punk’s still there after the break, there will be a fight. And Heyman keeps talking. Slowly. Enunciating every syllable. As we go to break. – Quick thought as we wait for the fight: if the guy HAD jumped the railing to go after Punk, security would have stopped him short and Punk would have continued as if nothing happened. Punk was looking like a tough guy while KNOWING he’d never have to back it up. Just assume he was booing Heyman next time, Punk. – Yup, Punk’s still there. Fight time. – Non-sanctioned: CM Punk v. Curtis Axel. And I use “versus” loosely. Punk jumps Axel and drives in the knees before bouncing him off the chair Punk was sitting on. Chair shot follows and Axel is dumped. Axel goes to the gut to slow Punk down, then takes over with CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY. I should note they’re staying away from the fat guy. Axel sends Punk into the timekeeper’s barricade. Heyman is giddy. Until Punk dumps Axel into Justin Roberts’ lap and goes for Heyman. Punk dives into Axel and uses a briefcase to hurt him more rather than attack Heyman. Ring bell to Axel’s gut follows. Back in, and Punk glares at Heyman before lifting Axel, but Axel clips Punk and works the leg. Chair to the back of the knee follows. It’s Pillman time. Neckbreaker cutter finishes Punk off. Now THAT’S how you make Axel a top-flight heel. Wait, no, NOW it’s Pillman time. Axel from the second rope, but he misses. Punk fires back and with one leg goes to work with the chair. Now they’re in front of the side the rogue fan was, so that was just improv. Punk with GTS on Axel on the stairs. So much for making him top-flight. Opportunity wasted. HUGE staredown as Punk’s music plays. – R-Truth v. Bray Wyatt. Why would you light a lantern just to blow it out? And did anyone think the Greek philosopher Diogenes would be that ugly? And while I’m thinking about it: you realize Wyatt is only 25? Wyatt throws Truth into the corner, but Truth fires back. Wyatt reverses, Truth reverses, and Truth fires away with a spin kick. Harper gets sent flying, but Wyatt tackles down Truth and spends time preaching rather than wrestling. An upside-down wait in the corner leads to an avalanche. Sister Abigail finishes at 1:37. Just a squash. – Oh, dear god, they ARE turning Primo and Epico into matadors! With masks, but still. I don’t see this getting over. – 3MB v. The Usos. Interesting note that only I care about: depending on the day of the week, the Usos’ combined weight fluctuates by as much as 25 pounds, but it’s always an odd number for identical twins. It’s Slater and Mahal for 3MB. Slater shows off to start, and he and the Uso exchange waistlocks. Jey brings Jimmy in, and the double-teaming begins. It gets one. Big chop on Slater. Jimmy follows with a spinning elbow and Slater bails. McIntyre kicks Jimmy to give 3MB control. Mahal beats on Jimmy as he gets in. Swinging neckbreaker follows. More pounding gets two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK. Slater with a jumping leg kick for two. Slater stomps away as this heat segment goes on. Slater slugs Jimmy down for two as they mention his Golden Gloves experience. Back to the CHINLOCK, BABEE! Dueling chants from the crowd, to the point the announcers have to mention it. Jimmy knocks Slater down and brings in Jey. Jey knocks over Mahal, and gets a kneeling thrust and diving shoulder. Corner hip charge follows, getting two. Slater gets kicked into McIntyre, and Mahal gets nailed with a superkick. Fantastic spot as Jey tags Jimmy IN THE PROCESS OF DIVING onto Slater and McIntyre! Jimmy finishes Mahal with a Superfly splash at 5:24. Nothing wrong with this match – but the crowd wasn’t too thrilled. [b]*3/4[/b] – The Miz v. Wade Barrett. So last night Miz beat up Fandango. We need you to know this. Lawler mocks Barrett’s ears because why not. Barrett with a headlock to start, then a shoulder tackle, but Miz gets a flapjack. His corner clothesline follows. Miz leaps over Barrett, allowing a big boot for two. Barrett chokes Miz on the second rope and brings the knees to the face and another big boot. Barrett with a Cactus elbow, getting two. We HIT THE CHINLOCK (again?) as I wonder if Orton trains people now. Barrett tosses Miz to the apron, where he slides in and rolls Barrett up for two. Big elbow from Barrett, who works in the corner and gets a snapmare for one. Back to the chinlock. Crowd is on Barrett’s side right now. Makes sense – Barrett doesn’t exactly act evil. Miz with a jawbreaker. He ducks a clothesline and does a flying forearm and kneelift. Miz to the clothesline, catching a kick attempt, then works the leg of Barrett. Figure-four is blocked. Barrett puts Miz on top, allowing Miz a sunset flip attempt into a figure-four, but Fandango breaks it up from the top for the DQ at4:52. This is how you start a new feud. And Fandangoing is back. [b]*1/4[/b] There’s a lot of resetting here. Nothing wrong with that. – Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan snuck back in. – Main event blah blah blah: The McMahons have the entire roster on the stage. However, someone remembers that Bryan hid in the roster last time, so Shield stand between the roster and the ring. Vince is proud of his family and proud of Orton. HHH did the right thing. And now, HHH gets to talk. Guys, it’s 10:56, he can barely clear his throat. Time for the big villain explanation: it’s about the big picture. He did it for the future of the WWE, and for the McMahon family, and… LONG story short, Orton had to win the title or WWE would go belly-up. Hey, he even likes Bryan – wow, HHH is putting Bryan over. I’m impressed. But it doesn’t change the fact that Bryan shouldn’t be champion. Apparently, we fans deserve better – even if the fans clearly don’t WANT better. This is bizarre – I’m surprised Stephanie buries Bryan and HHH doesn’t. It’s kind of backwards from how they usually do it. I will say that HHH is doing a good job as bad boss. He’s learned from the Summer of Punk misfire. BUT, he didn’t WANT to hurt Bryan. He’s not a bad person, of course. Geez, even now he can’t be pure evil. He even admits he doesn’t like Orton. I like shoot comments that aren’t meant to be shoot comments. HHH says it’s not about him… as this segment that’s supposed to be about Orton has had him talking for six minutes. Now the crowd’s getting sick and chanting for Daniel Bryan. Orton is FINALLY brought out at 11:03… and in a bit of a misfire, he has to walk through the roster. But nothing happens. Honestly, that would’ve been a hell of a twist. Commentary finally points out: nothing wrong with Orton being champ. Lawler: “HHH was more responsible for it than Randy Orton!” Me: “AND THAT’S WHERE THINGS WENT WRONG!” Anyway, Orton gets to talk now. Orton says no one saw it coming, just like he said, even though I’m sure we all predicted it would happen at SummerSlam. Orton to HHH: “I owe all of this to you.” Gag me. Sorry, I’m trying to be objective here, I really am. Now to discuss Daniel Bryan wherever he is – he has a chance to come to the ring and talk it out. You know, while going through all the McMahons, Orton, and Shield. Oh, HHH moves Shield out of the way. But still no Bryan. They even co-opt the Yes chant to bring Bryan out. But still no Bryan. Wait, here he is, from the side. And he’s FURIOUS. And Shield jumps him from the side… only the third main eventer is too many, and Bryan fights through them. Barely. Ambrose and Rollins are down in the aisleway, but not Reigns as I predict a spear. Yup, there it is. Of course. Shield beating continues. HHH stops them before they can do the triplebomb, though, and NOW he’s allowed in the ring. HHH patronizingly encourages Bryan into the ring, and into an RKO. The Corporation stands tall, end of show. FINAL THOUGHTS: I just feel like there were a few missed opportunities here. Part of it may be the heel dominance of the end segment, but it’s not just that – Axel could have been something bigger and wasn’t. Rhodes is a future star, and I wonder if WWE regrets Sandow as briefcase holder. Night of Champions is up next, so the titles ought to be a bigger focus. But there’s one big issue with that. The WWE title is your biggest title. Right now, it’s held by a lapdog. I hated this idea as a teenager in the Attitude Era; I hated it when Russo’s boys held the belts in WCW 2000; and I hate it now. It’s why I don’t like the Orton coronation: it was about the McMahons. They’re trying to recapture lightning in a bottle with Bryan as Austin, but they’re different people and they work in different ways. Look, this story would involve the same people if the McMahons never showed up. Orton would still have cashed in, the hearts of millions still would’ve been ripped out, and the villain/underdog dynamic would still exist. But the heat would be on Orton, who is in the ring and is a wrestler, and not on the McMahons, who are old, retired, and female (in some order). And given what happened in 2011, even if Bryan gets his hands on HHH, do you think the right thing will happen? They had a chance to make the show about the wrestlers. They failed. And that annoys me. STATS: MATCH TIME: 41:03 over 9 matches.
BEST: Rhodes/Sandow
WORST: Divas tag
NIGHT MVP (kayfabe): Roman Reigns FINAL SCORE: 5.5 – The main events for the next PPV were set up, which is always good. However, authority figures getting all the heat is bad. Call it a wash. Hope to see you next week!

Tryout: Alexander Miezin

TNA Impact Wrestling Special: Hardcore Justice 2013 Welcome everyone to my tryout. I am Alexander Miezin. I am 25 years old and I have been watching Pro Wrestling since I was in diapers. I don’t currently watch WWE as I cannot stand the product, but I have been a diehard TNA fan since its inception. Cue the laughter… Anyways Hardcore Justice is tonight and I can’t wait for this show to start. After recently watching some of the NJPW G1 Climax 23 matches, my standards have increased! Storylines heading into Hardcore Justice: -Tito Ortiz returned to TNA as the August 1st mystery man surprising no one and making no one happy. I think it did a lot more harm than good. We aren’t sure which side he is on or if why exactly he is in TNA. He said that he will be at Hardcore Justice tonight, so maybe we’ll get more out of him than last weeks exchange with Kurt Angle. -Chris Sabin is set to defend the TNA World Heavyweight Championship inside of a steel cage against former champion Bully Ray. If Bully fails to win the belt, he cannot challenge for it again. I like Bully’s odds here. -Bobby Roode joined the Bad Influence combination of Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian to form a new stable to shake-up the Bound For Glory Series. -Tonight there will be a Texas Tornado tag match with the Knockouts Champion Mickie James teaming with Gail Kim to take on ODB and Velvet Sky. -The 5-on-5 Loser of the Fall Leaves TNA match between the Aces & Eights and the Main Event Mafia has been postponed. -The Bound For Glory Series continues with two fourway matches. One will be a Tables match featuring: Mr. Anderson vs. Magnus vs. Samoa Joe vs. Bobby Roode also a Ladder match featuring: Austin Aries vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Kazarian vs. AJ Styles. Both matches will be for 20 points. The leaderboard for the BFG Series currently is as follows: FIRST PLACE: Magnus – 39 Points 1.Samoa Joe – 26 Points 2.Jeff Hardy – 24 Points 3.Mr. Anderson – 24 Points 4.Christopher Daniels – 23 Points 5.AJ Styles – 22 Points 6.Austin Aries -21 Points 7.Hernandez – 7 Points 8.Bobby Roode – 7 Points 9.Kazarian – 2 Points 10.Jay Bradley – 0 Points 11.Joseph Park – -3 Points Onto the show! We are “Live” aka one hour tape delay from Norfolk, VA. Viewer Discretion advised. Looks like the ladder match is up first. Ladder Match for 20 Points in the Bound For Glory Series: Austin Aries vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Kazarian vs. AJ Styles This is going to be good. Very good. AJ gets cheered heavily. Jeff Hardy gets a pretty nice reaction as well. Not sure whom this match favors. Tenay and Taz are on commentary tonight unlike last week. Bell sounds and we are underway. Kazarian goes straight for the ladder. The three others dare him to come in the ring. AJ and Hardy separate while Kazarian and Aries fight over the ladder. Aries jumps from the top to the floor on Kazarian with the double sledge. Hardy dropkicks Aries in the face. Styles slingshot crossbody block to the floor onto Hardy. Kazarian in the ring sets up the ladder. Hardy pulls him off. Kazarian tries dashing up the ladder, doesn’t work. Aries rips him off and crotches him into the ladder! Hardy and Aries are in the ring slugging it out. Aries takes the advantage with forearms. Hardy fights back, Aries gets sent to the floor. Styles pulls the ladder away from Jeff. The two stare down. Styles gets shoulder blocked by Kazarian. Slingshot DDT back into the ring by Kazarian onto AJ. Aries forearms Kazarian. Styles sent to the floor by Aries. Aries sets up the ladder in the middle. Hardy pulls his way back to his feet. Hardy pulls Aries off the ladder with punches. Aries corners Hardy with more forearms then slams his knees into Hardy’s leg. Kazarian sends AJ into the ring post. THUMP! That was LOUD. Aries is climbing the ladder and gets near the top before Jeff takes him back down. Aries is getting punches in the corner by Hardy. Kazarian and AJ still on the outside. Taz complains that no Aces guys are in the match. Boots by Hardy to Aries. Suplex attempt blocked. Aries strikes Hardy in the back. Aries claps Kazarian and Styles’ heads. Hardy and Aries both at the top of the ladder. It tips over sending them into Kazarian and AJ that were standing on the ring apron. All four are down as we head to commercial. Aries climbing the ladder is stopped by Kazarian who sends him head first into the ladder. The ladder is bent up! Kazarian gets dumped to the floor and a ladder dropkicked by Aries into the face. AJ knocks down Aries. Elbow by AJ. AJ springboard forearm into Aries! Aries rolls to the ramp. Styles sets up the ladder and is stopped by Aries. This is going to get nasty. AJ, Aries, and Hardy get nailed by a ladder using Kazarian. Dual ladders are setup. All four fighting. All four are on the ladders! Punches galore! Styles is touching it! SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB from Aries to Hardy! Oh man. Eye rake sends AJ off the ladder. Kazarian knocked off the ladder. Clothesline by AJ. All four are down in the ring. Dropkick to AJ’s face by Aries via a sprint. This is awesome chant breaks out. I agree. Aries and Hardy climb the ladder. Hardy knocked off. Styles Clash attempted by AJ onto Aries, but Kazarian hits a Mic Check type move to them both! Kazarian and Hardy climb the ladder now. Aries dropkicks the ladder sending them both down! Aries sets up the ladder now. Bobby Roode and Christopher Daniels are coming down the ramp distracting Aries. AJ springboards himself onto the ladder. Aries and Styles get thrown off the ladder onto another ladder setup in the corner by Jeff Hardy. Kazarian’s back eats the ladder. Twist of Fate by Hardy to Kazarian! Hardy is ready to climb the ladder. Roode slides in and pulls Hardy down. Kick to Roode’s face. Kazarian throws an APPLETINI into Hardy’s face! Kazarian retrieves the clipboard and wins 20 point! Winner: Kazarian via retrieval in about 17 minutes Rating: ***3/4 The new faction celebrates on the ramp. The steel cage title match gets plugged as the Main Event Mafia is headed the ring in their suits. Chris Sabin gets interviewed by the roving interview man. “How do you prepare for this match?” Sabin says one of his favorite moments was when Team 3D put opponents thru flaming tables. Sabin says the doubt fuels him to retain tonight. Dixie Carter is in the ring with the Main Event Mafia. She brings up Kurt Angle entering rehab. He has everyone’s support. The crowd cheers loudly. Get better Kurt. We love you! Give him a smooch Dixie. The Aces and Eights music hits. They come down the ramp. No more outside entrances, I guess. It’s been awhile. Next week it’s Loser of the Fall Leaves TNA. VP Mr. Anderson says they have a week to come up with a replacement. Anderson tells them that they are excited. He runs down each Mafia member one by one on ending their careers next week. Crowd goes bananas for Sting. “Remember that Magnus guy, hell of a body, hell of a future. He was going to be the future of Impact Wrestling.” I bet we are saying that in five years anyways. Magnus says he’s going to punch Anderson in his mouth. Crowd chants “YOU SUCK!” towards Anderson. Norfolk is Mafia country. Magnus says that if they can’t find someone in the back, they will get someone from the audience. They pan the camera around the crowd and show a guy that looks exactly like Joseph Park. Classic. Anderson yells at the crowd to shut up. Tonight Bully Ray regains the World title. Next week, Aces ends one of the Mafia. The two groups brawl! That’s how you promote a fight. Aces and Eights music plays as they celebrate their beat down. Tito Ortiz is here. What’s going on? Three way Knockouts match? I thought it was a tag match? No Velvet = me happy! Better wrasslin’. Non-Title Hardcore Knockouts Match: Mickie James vs. Gail Kim vs. ODB I assume it’s non-title? ODB dominates both of them with her powerful upper body. Mickie and Gail eat cleavage. Kim and James double team ODB. Gail Kim mounts and punches OB. Mickie gets a chair. Uh oh. Gail and Mickie fight over it. ODB kicks the chair into Gail’s face. Neckbreaker by Mickie James to ODB. Chair wedged in the corner. The two heels whip ODB into the chair. They are fighting over the pin now. Roll up by Mickie on Gail gets two. The heels explode! They trade blows. Mickie tosses Gail to the floor. No Surrender is announced for next month. Gail pulls ODB to the floor. ODB looks out of it. ODB is rolled back into the ring. Gail is looking for weapons. Mickie sends her head first into the ring post. Common theme tonight. Mickie has a Kendo stick. Mickie smashes ODB’s back with it! Mickie chokes ODB in the corner with her big stick. ODB throws her off the top rope. ODB swings the Kendo stick at both of her opponents. ODB pulls her bra off? She chokes Mickie with it. Wow. Chokes Gail next with it. She’s hanging Gail Kim with her bra! Mickie breaks it up. ODB gets thrown into the ring post. Figure four on the ring post by Gail Kim to ODB. Mickie pulls ODB’s arm stretching her out more. Mickie and Gail are back in each other’s faces. ODB drinks her liquid courage and spits it in Mickie’s face. Gail hits ODB with the stick. ODB grabs the chair and tosses it to the ring mat. BAM! Death Valley Driver onto Gail Kim gets three for ODB! Winner: ODB in about 7 minutes Rating: ** Sting is angry in the back with the Mafia. They NEED a replacement. Joe says one of their careers could be on the line “tonight”? Mess up. Sting goes to recruit Aries. Austin Aries is shown sitting in the locker room when Sting approaches him. Sting knows that Aries hates the Aces and Eights. Sting asks him to join them next week. Sting wants him to be a pat of the family next week. Aries smiles. No answer, just a smile. Recap from the ladder match earlier with Kazarian winning 20 BFG Series points. Bobby Roode backstage drinking water says timing is everything. He aligned himself with Kazarian and Daniels to take over the BFG Series. Roode will be in second place if he wins tonight. It pays to be Roode! The rest of the Mafia is in the back. Rampage mumbles about someone. Sting comes back to the dressing room. Aries said no. Rampage has a solution. He’s going to address it in the ring right now. Rampage and Joe are headed to the ring. Stay tuned. Preview video for the World Heavyweight Championship cage match is aired showing Sabin’s triumphant victory over Bully Ray about a month ago. Bully Ray is on the phone with Brooke Hogan in the back. Next week is about them. They are going to celebrate. I wonder if it really is Brooke? Next week they tell the world the truth. “I love you, too Brooke.” Hulk’s going to be mad. No more lotion rubbing for him. Rampage Jackson and Samoa Joe come down the ramp. Rampage wearing a camo suit jacket. Nice. Rampage has the mic and asks the crowd what’s up. It’s no secret he’s new here. Still talks better than most the roster. MMA fans called him a sellout. He loves TNA. He’s a part of a family with the Mafia. He didn’t come to get his butt kicked by punks on a moped. He’s going to ask Tito Ortiz to be their partner next week! Here comes the Huntington Beach Bad Boy! Tito is dressed like he’s five. Rampage promotes their Bellator fight. Of course. Rampage says they’ve trained together. They know what each brings to the table. Rampage is really good at talking. They need Ortiz’s help to take out the Aces. Ortiz wants to get things straight. Crowd is bonkers! Let’s make history, Rampage asks. Ortiz has kicked many of “butts” around the world. Crowd wants him to do it. Bully Ray comes to the ring with Tito’s entrance music? Another mess up. Bully laughing at them in the ring. Bully tells them that if he didn’t have to win his title back tonight that he’d beat the “piss” out of them tonight. There would be no big Bellator PPV event. Bully has Rampage’s number. He calls Tito “BLONDIE! “ Bully will make Tito his “HUNTINGTON BEACH BITCH!” Tito snaps and his held back by Rampage and Joe. I guess Tito is in! Anderson heads the ring for the tables bout. Tables Match for 20 Points in the Bound For Glory Series: Mr. Anderson vs. Bobby Roode vs. Samoa Joe vs. Magnus Updated leaderboard has Kazarian up to 6th place. Roode is met on the ramp by Magnus. Magnus punches Roode multiple times in the face. Anderson and Joe are going for the tables. Magnus with a big chop to Roode. Joe sends Anderson into the guardrail. Roode connects with a boot to Magnus’ face. Roode to the floor attacks Samoa Joe. Roode slides a table in the ring. Roode concentrates on Magnus now. Roode sets up the table in the corner. Joe gets in the ring Joe blocks Magnus from going in the table. Snap slam by Joe to Rooder. Anderson beats on Joe. Magnus won’t allow it. Magnus catches a kick from Anderson. Clothesline from Magnus follows. Roode attacks Magnus from behind and chokes him with his boot. Roode sets up the table again. Magnus exchanges with Roode. Joe and Magnus double team Roode with a knee and senton splash. Ah, the memories. Roode and Anderson beat on the former tag team but now Mafia members. Roode sets another table up on the outside. All four are outside of the ring on opposite sides. Joe with Roode and Magnus with Anderson. Anderson’s face gets smashed into the table. Joe puts the ring bell on Roode’s nether region and rings it! Anderson tries to Mic Check Magnus off the ramp through the table but it gets reversed. More ring bell from Joe! MORE RING BELL! Low blow by Anderson to Magnus to save himself. Joe chops the Canadian out of Roode. Magnus gets his head slammed into the table. Headbutt by Joe to Anderson. Joe sets up Anderson in the corner of the guardrails the runs his boot into his face! Man, this is really good stuff. Magnus and Roode are in the ring with a table propped in the corner. Double R Spinebuster to Magnus from Roode. Roode kicks Magnus many times in the stomach. Anderson slides Joe in the ring. All four are back in. Roode and Anderson argue a bit. They are going to work together. Doesn’t work. Joe goes thru the ropes with the Suicide Dive to the floor onto Roode! Magnus nails Anderson with a slam in the ring. The crowd is on their feet. Magnus sets the table up in the middle. Mic Check by Anderson to Magnus! Anderson claps mocking Magnus. Joe puts Anderson on the top rope. Muscle Buster, but the table is moved by Roode. Roode sets it back up. Magnus is laying on the table. Roode climbs to the top rope. Joe kocks him down. Chops to Roode. Kazarian is out and grabs Joe! Magnus climbs the top with Roode. Daniels throws the Appletini in the eyes on Magnus! Powerbomb from Roode on Magnus through the table! Roode wins! Winner: Bobby Roode in about 11 minutes Rating: ***1/2 After another stellar match, Roode, Daniels, and Kazarian celebrate on the ramp again. Main event is next! They are setting up the cage old WWF style showing the workers putting it together. Sting is asked backstage by the roving man about Tito. Tito is an asset for them right now. Sting says it is going to work next week. September 12th will be the No Surrender event for FREE with the semi-finals and finals of the Bound For Glory Series! Wahoo! Thank you TNA! The World Champion Chris Sabin is getting pumped up backstage. Bully is upset with Anderson. Anderson tells him to win tonight. They argue over the hammer incident that happened in Sabin vs. Bully I. Bully yelled for help. Anderson wants to help him. The cage is up! Next week, Hardcore Justice continues with Christopher Daniels vs. Joseph Park vs Hernandez vs. Jay Bradley in a Street Fight for 20 points as well as the 5-on-5 match. Steel Cage Match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship; if Bully Ray does not win, he cannot challenge for the TNA title ever again: Chris Sabin © vs. Bully Ray Jeremy Borash does the introductions, one of the best things in Pro Wrestling today. Lots of time left for this one. They lock up. Bully slams the champion with authority. Sabin gets up and pushes Bully. They lock it up again. Same result. Bully is going to bust Sabin’s face and take his title, he says. Lock up for a third time. Bully overpowers Sabin. Bully slams him for a third time. Bully misses a slap. Arm drags by Sabin. Running forearms from Sabin. Delayed hanging dropkick from Sabin to Bully. Sabin tries escaping. Crossbody off the cage onto Bully. Escape is allowed in this match. Sabin dropkicks Bully’s knee. Sabin climbs to the top rope, but gets crotches. More chops. Ouch! Bully chokes Sabin on the top rope with his boot. Military Press throws Sabin into the cage from Ray. Commercial break. We are back with Bully dominating the champion, still. Bully throws Sabin into the cage again. Just tossing him. Back and forth. Bully challenges Sabin to punch him. Headbutt from Bully. Bully hits an elbow drop. Two count for Bully Ray. Punch from Bully. Crossface punches dedicated to Taz from Bully Ray. Taz loves it. Sabin rallies back with forearms. Sabin keeps trying to pick up Bully and fails. Sabin backslides Bully for a two count. Clothesline from Bully Ray. Punches to the ear by Bully Ray. Ray gets in Brian Hebner’s face. Bearhug by Bully Ray in the middle of the ring. Elbows by Sabin to fight his way out. Sabin gets back bodydropped while running off the ropes. Bully yells for him to get up. Bully tries to powebomb Sabin, but Sabin reverses into a sleeper hold. Taz yells for wrist control. Bully backs Sabin into the turnbuckle breaking the hold. Boots by Sabin. Tornado DDT from Sabin. Both men are out. Crowd is clapping to get them to their feet. Punches vs. chops. Sabin is getting DRILLED. Sabin has the advantage. Enzuguri! Sabin rips off Sabin’s vest. Death Valley Drive from Sabin! Sabin is pumped up! He’s going nuts. He whips Bully Ray with the leather vest! LOUDNESS. Sabin gets destroyed with a boot from Bully for a two count. Samoan drop from Bully gets two. Bully begins climbing the cage. Sabin hits him in the back. They are both on the top rope. Kicks by Sabin. Top rope hurricanana semi-botches hurts Bully’s shoulder. He screams in agony. Hail Sabin attempt won’t work. Suplex by Bully Ray. Bully tries to go out of the door. Sabin brings him back in. Sabin runs between Bully’s legs and tries to get out and can’t. Hebner is KO’d twice by a boot and a splash into the cage. Sabin dropkicks Bully Ray headfirst into the cage Sabin goes to the top rope and missile dropkicks Bully. Sabin covers, but the referee is out. The door is still open. Sabin crawls towards it. Mr. Anderson slams the door in Sabin’s face! Anderson blocks the exit. Anderson shouts, “You shall not pass!” Greatness. The Mafia runs down forcing him to unblock the door. Tito nails Rampage with the hammer in the head! Bully Ray powerbombs Sabin to win the title! New champion! Winner: and NEW TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray in about 18 minutes Rating: ***1/2 Bully Ray and Tito Ortiz begin hugging each other. Tenay is upset with the cheap shot. Tito stands there with the hammer. Rampage is out cold. Anderson, Ortiz, and the new World Champion Bully Ray pose to close the show. Overall Show Rating: 8.5/10

Tryout: Scott Newman

For those of you unfamiliar with my work – most likely reading this as a tryout on the BLOG OF DOOM!~! – my name is Scott Newman and I’ve been watching MMA religiously now since 2003 and have been writing show reviews since 2004 at The Oratory. I’ve got an archive of all the UFC shows from UFC 1 up to this one there, as well as plenty of PRIDE, WEC, Cage Rage, etc, so check it out if you wish. Otherwise, enjoy this review (hopefully!). -This was of course one of the biggest money matches of 2012, with GSP finally returning, after nineteen months on the shelf rehabbing a torn ACL, to face off with Interim Champion Carlos Condit to decide the undisputed Welterweight Champion. And where else to do it but in Montreal? While the Nick Diaz match at this point (if he’d beaten Condit) obviously would’ve drawn more in terms of a PPV buyrate, personally I’d wanted to see this fight for a long, long time anyway, so I was pretty stoked. UFC 154: St-Pierre vs. Condit 11/17/12 Montreal, Quebec -Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. Featherweight Fight: Darren Elkins vs Steven Siler This was an interesting fight actually given it was buried on Facebook, as Elkins had quietly put together a very impressive run at 145lbs – 3-0 with wins over Diego Brandao and Michihiro Omigawa – while Siler was unbeaten himself in the UFC coming off his TUF run. Even fight to call but my money was on Elkins. Round One and Elkins lands a couple of decent punches right away but they don’t seem to have much effect. Leg kick connects for Siler. Right hand to the body from Elkins. Good right hook follows and he clinches for a moment but Siler breaks off. Another flurry sets up the clinch and this time Elkins forces Siler into the fence. Nice trip takedown from Elkins and he almost gets to mount right away, taking a low Kawajiri-esque mount. He turns that into side mount, but Siler does a good job of sliding his legs back through into full guard. Elkins postures up to deliver a couple of nice right hands, and then really drops a pair of hard punches from standing down into the guard. Siler keeps getting his legs up, but Elkins passes the guard by dropping some more punches. Siler again manages to slide back to half-guard, but it looks like Elkins is considering a top side guillotine. Short punches land for Elkins and he gives up the guillotine. Siler slides back to full guard and manages to reverse to his feet, but Elkins trips him back down into guard. Triangle attempt by Siler is shrugged off and this time Elkins grabs a guillotine and looks to drop to guard, then rolls through into top position, but Siler manages to survive nicely. Exchange ends up with Elkins in half-guard, where he drops some hammer fists to end the round. 10-9 Elkins. Round Two and Elkins narrowly misses a combo as Siler keeps his head waaaay too high. Takedown from Elkins follows and he’s back in half-guard again. It looks like he might go for the guillotine once more, and then seems to be turning it into a neck crank attempt, but Siler pops his head free and gets to full guard. Good left hand from Elkins from the top and he keeps Siler down when the TUF veteran attempts to escape. Good upkick from Siler though. Elkins stands over him and eats another hard upkick, but he makes Siler pay with some hard punches and then takes the back with both hooks in a scramble. Body triangle now for Elkins and he looks for the rear naked choke, but he can’t lock it in and Siler survives. Short punches land for Elkins from back control but Siler throws some nice back elbows of his own. He’s bloodied from Elkins’s punches though. Big shots land for Elkins now as he flattens Siler out, but the TUF veteran manages to roll to avoid a stoppage. It looks like Elkins has the choke locked up now, but Siler is clearly a tough guy as he manages to free himself again. Less than a minute to go and it looks like he has the choke sunk again after softening Siler up with more punches, but he still can’t get it and a bloody Siler throws loads of punches from there to pop the crowd. Round ends with Elkins in firm control. I’d call that a 10-8 in fact. Round Three and Siler comes out swinging, but he takes a couple of shots from Elkins on the way. Good combination from Elkins to counter a flurry from Siler. Got to give Siler credit here as he’s really trying. He’s got his head way too high though and Elkins is landing the better shots. Bodylock from Elkins and he gets Siler down again into side mount, but Siler quickly gets to full guard. He works his way to his feet, but Elkins stays on him like glue before breaking off surprisingly. Siler presses forward, but his punches look stiff now, likely due to him being tired from grappling. Single leg attempt from Elkins but Siler stuffs it initially. Elkins keeps going though and gets him down into guard again. Some good shots connect for Elkins again as Siler tries to stay active from the bottom, but Elkins passes the guard into half-guard. Siler gets his guard back and looks for the rubber guard now, but it’s too late for that sort of thing and Elkins postures out and stands to drop some punches. Triangle attempt is shrugged off but it allows Siler to stand with a minute to go. Elkins tackles him right away though back down to guard. This is looking like a shutout. Into half-guard and Elkins takes the back with no hooks as they stand, but Siler turns into him in the clinch. They break with seconds to go and Siler stuffs a takedown and looks to set up an anaconda choke, but Elkins slips free before the buzzer. 10-9 Elkins and 30-26 overall. Judges officially call it 30-27 all round for Darren Elkins. Clear result there but I really enjoyed this fight actually, as Elkins looked excellent and kept a nasty pace throughout, but Siler was good enough defensively and kept active so much that he never truly seemed out of the fight until really late in the third. Good opener. Bantamweight Fight: Ivan Menjivar vs Azamat Gashimov Canadian-based Menjivar was looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Mike Easton in this one – hard to believe he’s only 30 given how long he’s been around! He was the firm favourite here against newcomer Gashimov despite the Russian bringing a solid 7-1 record into his UFC debut. Fight begins and Gashimov opens with a quick inside leg kick. Body shot connects for Menjivar but Gashimov counters with a fast combo. Good leg kick and an uppercut land for the Russian too, and then he shoots on a single and manages to bring Menjivar down despite an attempted sprawl. Full guard from Menjivar and he ties the Russian up tightly. Menjivar begins to look for an armbar and despite taking some hammer fists it looks like he might have it. Good job from Gashimov to lift Ivan up and shake him off though. Upkick lands for Menjivar before Gashimov drops back into the guard. Menjivar begins to set up for the armbar again, but Gashimov avoids. Ezekiel choke (!) attempt from Gashimov but he can’t get it, probably due to lack of gi. Short punches from the Russian but Menjivar locks up the armbar and this time it’s sunk, and in a really sick finish Gashimov tries to slam his way out, but ends up swinging Menjivar into extending the arm and that’s enough for the tapout. Looks like it might’ve popped in fact. Sick stuff. Really, really slick work from Menjivar from the bottom there as he just caught Gashimov in a picture-perfect technique. Best UFC showing from Menjivar thus far in his career in fact. Fun little fight too. Welterweight Fight: Matt Riddle vs John Maguire This was a fight totally changed by injuries, as it was originally Stephen Thompson vs. Besam Yousef! First Thompson was forced out and replaced by Riddle – coming back from a positive test for marijuana at UFC 149 – and then Yousef was injured and Brit Maguire stepped in on short notice. Despite the short notice I was taking Maguire, for no good reason other than he’s British and I don’t really like Riddle’s attitude. First round begins and it’s clear right away that Riddle has a huge size advantage. Little action in the first thirty seconds with Riddle landing a leg kick. Kick from Maguire is caught and Riddle counters with a couple of punches. Right hands land for both men. Body kick glances for Riddle. Nice right hand from Maguire on the counter as Riddle throws out some punches. This round has sucked so far to be quite frank. Good short elbow from Riddle but he takes a right from Maguire for his troubles. Left hand comes over the top for Riddle. Body kick is caught by Maguire and Riddle tries some sort of Pettis-style kick but it doesn’t come off at ALL. Kick is caught again by Maguire and again Riddle tries some sort of flashy kick, but it allows Maguire to go for a takedown. Riddle stuffs it and they wind up clinched with a minute to go, but nothing really happens and they break. Couple of jabs glance for both men before Riddle sprawls to avoid a takedown. Into the clinch again and Maguire just avoids a trip attempt. They exchange a couple more punches and that’s the round. 10-10. Boring stuff. Second round and it picks up where the first left off, with Riddle backing Maguire up without really landing much. Decent body kick does connect though. Right hand follows over the top. Clinch from Riddle and he forces Maguire into the fence. They break after little happens and a nice combination lands for Maguire in an exchange. He lands some more shots, but Riddle catches a kick and shoves him down. He stands over him and looks a bit wary of entering the guard, but drops some punches for good measure anyway. Finally he drops into the guard. Not for long though as he stands and kicks the legs until the ref calls Maguire up. Good left hand from Maguire and then he shoots on a single leg, but Riddle stuffs it pretty easily. They break off with a minute to go and exchange some more strikes with Maguire again getting the better of it. Riddle shoots, but Maguire tries a guillotine, but can’t get it and they come back to their feet. Flurry from Riddle backs Maguire up to end the round. Tricky round to score. Fuck it. 10-10 again. Third and final round and Riddle lands with a sweet right hook in a brief exchange. Looks like he’s outlanding Maguire in the early going here. They clinch, but Maguire breaks with a nice short right forearm. Brief exchange sees both men land. This fight is really bad. Just loads of striking that’s not really successful for either man. Good flurry does land for Riddle. Takedown attempt from Maguire but Riddle stuffs it and pins him into the fence. Good knee inside from Riddle and it looks like it might’ve hurt Maguire. He doesn’t really follow up though, instead keeping him clinched. Trip attempt by Riddle is blocked. They break with seconds to go and Riddle lands a couple more punches and then looks for the takedown. Maguire grabs a front choke though and rolls through with it, but the fight ends before he can go for the finish. Probably just about for Matt Riddle, 10-9 and 30-29 overall on my card. Judges don’t agree with my scores naturally but they do give it unanimously to Riddle, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. I thought this fight really sucked though; just loads of nothing going on and neither man got hurt or came close to a finish really. Blah. Featherweight Fight: Antonio Carvalho vs Rodrigo Damm The first fight following TUF Brazil for Damm then, and he was faced with a Canadian veteran in Carvalho, who was looking to follow his beautiful knockout of Daniel Pineda at UFC 149 in July. Quite a tough fight to pick actually but I was leaning slightly towards Pato who’s shown better striking than Damm overall in my eyes. Round One and both men come out looking tentative. They circle around for a while and it’s thirty seconds of no contact to begin before a leg kick glances for Carvalho. Right hand connects for Damm. Another leg kick glances for Pato. Random observation time – Carvalho’s usually huge beard is trimmed to a handlebar moustache here. Wouldn’t normally mention it but there’s not much going on. Solid leg kick connects for Damm. Carvalho answers with a nice one of his own. Head kick misses for Pato. Leg kick from Damm. Carvalho answers with one of his own and it’s a better one, too. Another follows and you can see Damm beginning to hurt from them now. His leg is all marked up from them. Crowd begin to sound frustrated with about a minute to go as there’s not much action. Inside leg kick lands for Carvalho. Both men land leg kicks but Carvalho’s clearly connects with more force. Another one follows. Damm is really swinging here but not connecting with anything major. No sooner have I typed that than he lands with a stiff jab. Pato fires back with another leg kick and that’s the round. 10-9 Carvalho but it wasn’t a great round. Round Two and it looks like Carvalho’s going to go right back to the leg kicks as he glances on one and then lands flush with another. Head kick misses, though. Front kick to the body from Damm forces him backwards. Yet another leg kick from Carvalho and he follows with a head kick that glances as Damm looks to fire back with a combo. Couple of pawing jabs from Damm and he lands with another front kick to the body. Carvalho slips on a head kick attempt and goes down, and Damm looks to get on top and then takes the back in a scramble. Carvalho quickly scrambles from there though and explodes to his feet in a nice move that pops the crowd. Right hand lands for Damm. Two minutes to go and sections of the crowd are booing again. Damm keeps pushing forward but can’t really land cleanly. This is beginning to suck, unfortunately. Big left hook glances for Damm but Carvalho comes back with a leg kick. One minute to go in the round now. Solid leg kick into a one-two from Damm and he follows with a jab. Damm really pushes the action from there but soon slows down. Combination lands for Damm with thirty seconds to go but he doesn’t follow up and Carvalho NAILS him with a hard right hand right before the buzzer. I’d go 10-10 there as Carvalho landed the slightly better shots, but didn’t really do enough and Damm was the aggressor throughout. Round Three and neither man comes out with any sense of urgency. Right hand glances for Damm and forces Pato onto the back foot a bit. Inside leg kick from Carvalho. This is SO FRUSTRATING as these guys are high level grapplers and they’re having a dull kickboxing match. Damm is at least pushing the action here but outside of the odd leg kick he isn’t landing enough to be winning the fight. Mouthpiece is dropped by Carvalho and they have to stop things to wash and replace it, frustrating the crowd further. Damm’s leg is BADLY marked up. Good combo from Damm and that finally gets the fans fired up as he backs Pato up, but then he slows right back down. Short trade follows but then they slow right back down again. Nice head movement from Pato to avoid some punches. Good right hand from Carvalho to counter a left hook. Inside leg kick from Carvalho and he glances on a head kick. Head kick answers for Damm. Inside leg kick for Carvalho. Glancing strikes from both men. YAWN. Damm with a flurry with seconds to go. Round ends with a sort-of trade. Flying knee misses for Pato as the buzzer sounds. 10-9 Damm I’d say for a draw but who the hell knows? Judges have it a split decision; 29-28 Damm, 29-28 Carvalho and 29-28 Carvalho. Well, there you go. Really annoying fight in my eyes, as while some of the exchanges were decent and Carvalho’s leg kicks looked really good, it’s two high-level grapplers having a stand-up fight and yeah, that can be fun sometimes if it degenerates into a sloppy brawl, but this just DIDN’T and neither man showed much in the way of urgency. One to skip over for sure. Lightweight Fight: John Makdessi vs Sam Stout Battle of strikers in this one then, with the more traditional Muay Thai striking of Stout taking on the unorthodox karate of Makdessi. I was taking Stout to win basically because Makdessi looks so small for 155lbs, and a larger Muay Thai guy in Anthony Njokuani had been able to comfortably outpoint him earlier in the year. First round gets underway and Makdessi starts throwing a left side kick right away as they circle and Stout looks to fire off with some jabs and an overhand right. Nice side kick from Makdessi and he uses some quick movement to avoid a Stout haymaker. Good right hand from Stout but Makdessi sticks him with a jab. Beautiful counter right from Makdessi as Stout rushes in. Combo glances for Stout but Makdessi fires back with a jab. Leg kick from Stout. Side kick from Makdessi forces him back. Makdessi is using his jab nicely here although he does take a solid right from Stout too. Leg kick connects for Stout and he follows with a left to the body. Big uppercut misses for Stout. Makdessi connects on a couple more jabs. Heavy leg kick from Stout but Makdessi counters with a right hand down the pipe. Stout is looking marked up. Potential takedown is avoided by Makdessi’s footwork. Stiff jab again from Makdessi. Stout tries a takedown but Makdessi does well to shrug it off and he lands with the jab once more. His movement is looking great here as Stout is barely landing with any of his shots. Jab lands flush for Makdessi and snaps Stout’s head back. Spinning back kick to the body from Makdessi and he follows with the jab. Makdessi is getting out of the way of Stout’s big combos by INCHES here. Awesome movement. Round ends on the feet. Good round for John Makdessi; 10-9. Second round and Makdessi opens with a HOPPING SIDE KICK that misses. Dude had to try it! Stout keeps pushing forward and Makdessi continues to counter well with the jab. Left to the body from Stout but Makdessi counters with a left of his own that lands hard. Body kick from Makdessi. Another jab connects for the Bull. This is basically looking like a very good striker being picked apart by an even better one. A thousand times better than the previous fight! Good left uppercut from Stout and he shoots on a double and gets Makdessi down, but Makdessi immediately springs back to his feet. Solid right lands for Stout. Makdessi catches him with another counter jab though. Sick head movement allows Makdessi to slip a big combo, but a kick does connect for Stout. Good body kick from Stout but he takes another jab. Stout walks in with the left to the body but eats a pair of counters from Makdessi. Stats show Makdessi is WAAAY ahead in the total strikes, basically just by landing clean counters. Leg kick from Stout but it allows Makdessi to catch him with a right. Jab snaps Stout’s head back. Nice jab from Stout to answer. Side kick to the chest from Makdessi. Big combo again misses for Stout as he makes the error of chasing Makdessi, who uses slick movement to avoid and sticks him with the jab. More of the same follows and Stout needs to change his gameplan up badly. Takedown attempt indeed comes, but Makdessi manages to stuff it and remain standing. 10-9 Makdessi. Third round and I’d say Stout needs a finish here. He pushes forward but walks right into a jab and almost a turning heel kick as Makdessi slips out of the way of Stout’s swings. Makdessi is looking great here, best I’ve ever seen him look. Side kick and an ultra-rare HOOK KICK!~! land for Makdessi although Stout has the chin to take them LIKE A MAN. Nice counter left hand from the Bull as Stout pushes forward. Good leg kick from Stout though. Another one follows but Makdessi catches it and lands a stiff counter. More of the same follows as Makdessi uses Stout’s aggression against him to land the slicker counter shots. Stout continues to walk right onto the end of stiff jabs. Sick head movement allows Makdessi to slip a combo and he catches Stout with a solid head kick. Big right hand snaps Stout’s head back. Guy has an excellent chin as always though and keeps coming forward, landing a leg kick. Takedown attempt is beautifully avoided by Makdessi like a matador. Couple of kicks glance for Stout but not enough to really damage Makdessi. More of the same follows and it’s largely advantage: Makdessi. Seconds to go now and another jab snaps Stout’s head back. Brief clinch almost allows Stout to land a knee but Makdessi avoids and then dodges another takedown too. Crowd are LOUD as Stout really tries to push it to end the fight, but he can’t catch Makdessi and that’s the fight. Shutout for John Makdessi in my eyes. Official scores are 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 for John Makdessi. Story of this fight was basically as I said – Makdessi using Stout’s aggression against him to constantly counter and land the cleaner shots while avoiding being hit himself. I mean sure, he didn’t come close to finishing or even stunning Stout really, but it was still a fascinating fight to watch to see a good striker like Stout being picked apart and Stout’s iron chin sort-of excuses Makdessi from not *really* hurting him. Decent stuff and Makdessi’s first impressive showing since that spinning backfist back in 2011. Light-Heavyweight Fight: Cyrille Diabate vs Chad Griggs After a surprisingly successful run at Heavyweight was brought crashing down by Travis Browne, Griggs was making his first foray into the 205lbs division here, facing off with the Snake, who had last been seen in March taking a decision over prospect Tom De Blass. With Diabate being a much cleaner striker than Griggs who is more of a crude brawler, the smart money was likely on the Frenchman to win, but with his habit of leaving his chin open a victory for Griggs wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. Fight begins and Griggs looks to close the distance as Diabate stays on his bike. A rushing attack forces the Snake backwards, but he fires back with a straight left counter that drops Griggs. Diabate pounces and drops some elbows as Griggs tries to hold on, but the Snake manages to get into side mount. Griggs uses brute force to hit a reversal and get to his feet, but Diabate stays on him and trips him back down. Whoa! Griggs gets half-guard, but Diabate controls him from the top and passes into side mount again. Looks like Griggs’s nose might be bust. He tries to get to his feet, but gives his back in the process and Diabate hits him with a vicious knee as he stands. Trip from Griggs though allows him to take top position and he tries a guillotine off the scramble. Diabate takes him back down and escapes, and this time he takes the back with a rear waistlock as they stand. Griggs trips him but that allows Diabate to slap both hooks in, and from there he gets a rear naked choke and Griggs taps! Wild to see the Snake pull off a submission like that, but there you go. Big difference here was that Diabate was using skill and technique and Griggs was using brute power and force and just like in the old Royce Gracie days, the cleaner technique paid off. Exciting little fight actually. Middleweight Fight: Patrick Cote vs Alessio Sakara After a disappointing UFC return in his loss to Cung Le, this was Cote’s chance at redemption and on paper it seemed like a good match for him, as in my opinion Sakara’s stand-up is overrated and he doesn’t have much else in the toolbox, while Cote hits harder, has a better chin and is decent on the ground too. My pick was Cote via early TKO, ala Sakara’s loss to Brian Stann. Round One and both men come out looking to strike. Early leg kick lands for Cote and he avoids a combo from the Italian. Decent jab connects for Sakara. Leg kick again from Cote. Clinch and Sakara tries to land some knees, but Cote breaks off and rocks him BAD with a combination. Big right hands from Cote back Sakara up, but the Italian does fire back and manages to force Cote into the fence. Suddenly HE opens up with a big right hook and a CRUSHING OVERHAND ELBOW and now Cote is rocked! More knees and a series of elbows stun Cote and a big one sends him crashing down. He tries to go for a single leg, but Sakara absolutely HAMMERS him with punches to the back of the head and from there the referee steps in. Crowd are booing as the finishing blows looked potentially illegal. Replay confirms the elbows that hurt Cote initially were legal, but indeed, the final hammer fists were literally all to the back of the head. Damn. Bad break for Sakara but you have to follow the rules, dude, even though it’s hard to in that situation given the adrenaline rush and the position of Cote’s head as he’s going for the takedown. Official call is a DQ win for Patrick Cote, which probably saved his UFC career actually as he was likely cut with a TKO loss. I would’ve tried to book a rematch as the fight was incredibly exciting while it lasted, but Cote’s since dropped to 170lbs so c’est la vie. Post-fight Sakara apologises for his actions in a really classy moment. Featherweight Fight: Pablo Garza vs Mark Hominick I was pretty pumped to see this fight despite both men being on pretty bad skids – Hominick losing three in a row and Garza two, albeit all against pretty decent opposition – mainly because I’m a big fan of the Scarecrow and love his style and while I’m not as big on Hominick, the guy nearly always puts on an exciting fight regardless and he was back in his home country of Canada where he usually (Korean Zombie fight notwithstanding) delivers the goods. My pick was Garza based on the thinking that Hominick had looked like a potentially shot fighter in his loss to Eddie Yagin. Round One and Hominick comes right out and walks Garza down, as the taller man looks to fire some knees at him. Good leg kick and a jumping kick land for Garza. Hominick keeps pushing forward though, obviously looking to negate the reach of Garza. More kicks from Garza before both men land combinations. Left hand connects for Hominick and he follows with a sharp combo. Big knee from Garza backs him up a bit though. Hard leg kick into a right hand from Hominick but again Garza backs him up a bit with kicks. Another nice combo lands for Hominick. This is a really high pace they’re keeping. Combo into a leg kick from Garza. Body shot answers for Hominick. Pair of heavy right hands get through too. One-two looks to have Garza stunned a little but he recovers well. Leg kick from Hominick is caught and Garza looks for a takedown, but Hominick reverses and hits a nice throw to land in half-guard. Garza gets full guard back quickly though and immediately locks up an armbar. Hominick lifts him up to try to shake it off and manages it, then lands some solid punches from the guard. Excellent submission defense there. Hard shots to the body connect for Hominick before Garza kicks him away and gets up, following with a knee to the body. This has been a hell of a round. Brief exchange and then a BRUTAL LEFT TO THE BODY from Hominick absolutely FOLDS Garza, dropping him HARD. Hominick pounces and starts pounding the body looking for the finish, but Garza guts it out and gets to his feet, and now HE opens up, landing a heavy right that busts Hominick open! Crowd are going crazy. This is AWESOME. Big left lands for Garza and Hominick looks wobbly, but still fires back with a left hook. Garza walks through it though and lands another combo before absolutely OPENING UP on Hominick on the fence, leaving his face a bloody mess. Hominick manages to stay standing though and the round ends there. That was a great, great round. Really difficult to score too but I think Garza just about stole it there at the end. 10-9 Garza. Round Two and Garza comes out with the HELICOPTER KICK!~! Unfortunately Hominick jumps out of the way. Left hook to the body from Hominick and he follows with a big left that misses. Garza comes back with a GSP-esque combo ending in a leg kick. Combo from Hominick but Garza comes back with a glancing head kick. Takedown attempt from Garza and he gets Hominick down, but Hominick rolls and looks for a reversal. Garza uses that to almost take the back, but Hominick shifts his weight and in the end Garza takes top position inside Hominick’s guard. Action finally slows down a bit as Hominick ties him up from the guard, restricting him to some short punches to the body. Garza does get through with some short elbows, however. Referee Marc-Andre Cote warns Garza for inactivity, and that triggers him to REALLY open up, posturing up in the guard to deliver some nasty punches down onto his opponent. Hominick suddenly looks in trouble, as his face is really badly busted open now. Big chant for Hominick and he tries for an oma plata, but Garza avoids it and stays on top, dropping a big elbow for good measure. One minute to go and this round has been all Pablo Garza. Vicious elbows begin to land with about thirty seconds to go, slicing Hominick’s face up even more, and the round ends shortly thereafter. 10-9 Garza and Hominick needs a stoppage most likely now. Round Three and Garza fires off with the front kick to the face right away. Hominick pushes forward, obviously recognizing the urgency, but Garza lands on him with a sharp combo and a powerful leg kick. Hominick replies with a nice right hook. Clinch from Garza but Hominick shrugs it off and opens up with a combination. Head kick is blocked by Hominick but a takedown attempt is not and Garza winds up on top in the guard again. Big elbow lands for Garza and he shrugs off an oma plata attempt easily. Hominick tries to kick him away, but to no avail as Garza uses his length to land some more punches from above. Hominick is looking a bit tired now too which is unsurprising given he’s been trying to defend for a long time now. Big elbow lands for Garza as he continues to work the Canadian over. Hominick manages to escape to his feet and then sprawls to avoid another takedown, but makes the mistake of taking a risk and going for the oma plata and instead he ends up on his back in half-guard. And of course, Garza goes back to feeding him a steady diet of elbows. Armbar attempt by Hominick with seconds to go, but Garza pulls out and the fight ends there. I have this 30-27 for Pablo Garza in a comfortable win in the end. Official scores are 29-27, 30-26 and 29-28 for Pablo Garza. Well, first off that was a great fight – best of the card so far. First round was absolutely outstanding and while the second and third weren’t as great, mainly because they were one-sided, it was still an exciting fight from bell to bell. Secondly, not to take anything away from Garza, because its arguably the best win of his career, but I think I was right about Hominick being a bit of a shot fighter, as he was much more easily rocked standing than he’d been in the past and he didn’t seem to have any answer for Garza on the ground once he took some damage to his face. He’s since retired which I think is the right move for him coming off this loss along with the losses to Yagin, Jung and Aldo. Not that he won’t be missed though as he was always an exciting fighter. Garza’s actually since been cut from the UFC himself, but that’s another show, so let’s just dwell on this fight, which was fantastic. Lightweight Fight: Rafael Dos Anjos vs Mark Bocek This one got elevated to the main card to replace Costa Philippou vs. Nick Ring, which was cancelled when Ring got sick. Personally I wasn’t impressed with the choice given it’s MARK BOCEK and I can’t even remember the last exciting fight involving the guy, but I guess RDA is pretty exciting and had been on a good run coming into this, so there was the off chance of it being something watchable at least. To say I was pulling for RDA would be an understatement, of course. Fight gets started and they circle around before Bocek closes the distance and forces RDA into the fence. Right hand quickly breaks for Dos Anjos. Couple of kicks glance for the Brazilian and he’s moving around a lot here, obviously looking to avoid the takedown. Body kick from Dos Anjos but Bocek closes the distance and forces a clinch again. Bocek tries to get him down, but Dos Anjos looks too strong and separates with a pair of hard knees to the body. Good right hook connects for RDA. Nice combination follows and ends with a sweet uppercut. Bocek’s stand-up isn’t looking great here and he’s beginning to eat some shots. Bocek grabs the plum though to force another takedown attempt, but evidently Dos Anjos has been working a ton on his wrestling as Bocek can’t get him down. Flying knee glances for the Brazilian. Body kick follows. Leg kick lands but Bocek goes for the takedown, but again Dos Anjos stuffs it. Bocek is in trouble here if he can’t get RDA down. He really goes for a single leg, but fails on it and takes some elbows to the head for good measure. Dos Anjos breaks and lands a sharp leg kick, then clinches and lands a decent elbow and knee to end the round. 10-9 Dos Anjos. Into the 2nd and both men glance on a couple of shots before a kick lands to Dos Anjos’ groin. Ref calls time and warns Bocek although he doesn’t take a point. Dos Anjos recovers quickly and they restart. Takedown attempt is easily stuffed by Dos Anjos, who follows with a hard straight left and a takedown of his own. Bocek tries to reverse position on the ground, but gives his back and takes a couple of shots before standing. Dos Anjos avoids a kimura attempt and drops into side mount as he drags Bocek back down, and now Dos Anjos looks for the kimura. Looks like he’s got it from north/south, too, which is always dangerous. He decides to switch to an armbar, but Bocek manages to avoid and looks for a reversal. He goes for a takedown, but Dos Anjos sprawls out and continues to control him, before taking a rear waistlock and using it to get Bocek on his back. Bocek looks busted up. He stands, but Dos Anjos cracks him with a left-right and separates. Another takedown is easily stuffed by Dos Anjos and then he hits a takedown of his own again. This time he takes the back with one hook and begins to land some hard punches, and it looks like Bocek is beginning to break. Bocek tries to roll, but he can’t get out of the bad position and Dos Anjos continues to land to the head while looking to get both hooks in. Bocek manages to stand, but Dos Anjos stays on the rear waistlock and then manages a slam to put Bocek on his back. Another scramble almost allows Bocek up, but RDA won’t let up and he continues to land hard shots. Back to the feet with seconds to go, but Bocek can’t land anything and that’s the round. Clear 10-9 for Rafael Dos Anjos. Third and final round and Dos Anjos looks confident, rightly so. Bocek’s left eye is a MESS. Body kick connects for Dos Anjos. Right hand follows. Bocek’s punches are coming up way short. Takedown attempt from Bocek is shrugged off, but he manages to hit a switch and take top position when RDA tries a takedown of his own. Right away though RDA reverses back to his feet. Bocek keeps trying to get him down, dropping for a double leg, and he manages to get the Brazilian down for a split second before he springs back up. Dos Anjos is looking awesome here. Good knee to the body from RDA and he follows with a big slam that dumps Bocek onto the ground. Kimura is wide open but he takes the back instead and lands some shots. Bocek manages to get to his feet and goes for a standing kimura (!) but Dos Anjos spins right out of it. Nice combination from RDA and he lands a jumping knee to the body too. Left hand fires back for Bocek. Can’t fault him for effort. He tries the takedown again but it’s still to no avail and they wind up clinched. Single leg attempt from Bocek fails again and RDA makes him pay with a pair of knees from the plum clinch. Referee breaks them up with seconds to go and Dos Anjos just misses with a hopping front kick. Slip sees Dos Anjos go down but he’s back up immediately. Another takedown is avoided and in a weird moment Dos Anjos stumbles right into the cage. Bocek begins to push forward towards the end of the round, but he can’t land anything significant before the buzzer sounds. Clear-cut 30-27 for Dos Anjos; literally no other score would be possible in my eyes. Indeed the judges all have it 30-27 for Rafael Dos Anjos. This was total domination as Bocek could literally do NOTHING with this guy, couldn’t come close to taking him down and got owned in all areas basically. Credit to Bocek for not giving up but he was totally outclassed in this fight and Dos Anjos did everything but get a finish, basically. He might be *the* most improved fighter in the UFC right now when you consider what he looked like in his early UFC fights with Jeremy Stephens and Tyson Griffin – basically a one-dimensional grappler with little striking and wrestling – and I think he could turn out to be a legit contender at 155lbs when you also take into account he’s still only 28. Fight was surprisingly okay to watch given it involved Mark Bocek! Middleweight Fight: Francis Carmont vs Tom Lawlor Well, I seem to be a rare online fan who actually LIKES Carmont – dude is a physical beast so of course I do! – and so I was excited to see him make another step up in competition after comfortably running over lower-level opposition in his first three UFC fights. Lawlor had looked impressive in his previous fight – a knockout win over Jason MacDonald – and the question was whether Carmont’s super-physical game could overcome the superior wrestling of the TUF veteran. I was betting on yes. Round One and Lawlor quickly pushes forward and closes the distance, forcing Carmont into the fence. Carmont manages to stay vertical and lands a decent knee to the body, but he can’t seem to separate. Carmont gets a reversal in position for a second, but Lawlor manages to spin him right back around. Ref finally calls a separation which DISGUSTS Joe Rogan, but c’mon Joe, they weren’t exactly doing much and clinch work isn’t great to watch in my opinion. Carmont is using this weird stance with his left hand waaaay extended here. Couple of good kicks land to the body for the Frenchman. Lawlor manages to clinch again and goes for the takedown, but Carmont defends nicely. He goes for a standing kimura, but can’t quite get it locked up correctly and Lawlor manages to break free. Takedown attempt from Carmont now but Lawlor stuffs it and we’re back to the stalemate in the clinch. Lawlor breaks with a glancing left. Solid right hook from Lawlor as Carmont pushes forward. Carmont answers with a body kick and manages to avoid the clinch this time. Right hand and a body kick from Carmont and he goes for a takedown, but Lawlor grabs onto a guillotine and pulls guard. This looks TIGHT and Carmont is in some trouble, but it’s an arm-in guillotine and Lawlor makes the error of pulling back rather than squeezing forward, and that basically allows Carmont to survive and escape right before the buzzer. Big elbow lands on the buzzer in fact. I’d go 10-9 Carmont there as the guillotine wasn’t THAT close and Carmont was outstriking Lawlor and stuffed all of the takedowns too. Round Two and Carmont makes some weird hand gestures before landing a leg kick. Both men miss with combos before Lawlor glances on a left hand. Straight right from Carmont. Lawlor looks for a takedown but Carmont blocks it and lands a NASTY knee to the body. Leg kick follows. Lawlor manages to close the distance though and forces him into the fence again. Right uppercut breaks for Carmont. Good right hand from Lawlor gets through in an exchange. He’s pushing the action more now as Carmont stays on the outside. Right-left from Lawlor and he walks through a right hand to go for the takedown. Carmont again blocks it, and man, these clinches are KILLING ME. Crowd too evidently as they begin to boo. Left hook connects for Carmont but Lawlor drops for the takedown and finally gets it. Full guard for Carmont and he immediately looks to get towards the fence. Lawlor postures up to drop some shots, but Carmont uses brute strength and gets his back to the fence to stand. Nice knee by Lawlor as he gets up though and he looks for the takedown again. Good knee inside from Carmont as he blocks, but Lawlor drags him to the ground again and looks to pass the guard this time. Carmont looks for a triangle, but Lawlor postures out and uses it to take side mount. Guillotine attempt again from Lawlor but he makes the same error as before, and with seconds on the clock like last time it looks like Carmont will survive. Again the round ends with Carmont breaking free and dropping some punches. 10-9 Lawlor for me as he did better standing in that round and hit two takedowns as well. Round Three and both men miss on some punches before Carmont glances with a straight right. Good leg kick from Lawlor is answered by a body kick from the Frenchman. Jumping knee attempt from Carmont glances, but Lawlor grabs him and drives him into the fence looking for the double leg. Carmont stuffs it and lands a couple of elbows to the head, and the crowd begin to boo as Lawlor can’t get him down. Referee decides to separate them and a weird moment ensues on commentary as it sounds like Goldie is gasping for breath for a moment. No clue what that was about. Good leg kick inside from Carmont. This fight, it must be said, is nowhere near as bad as I remembered it being when I saw it live. Left hand from Lawlor sets up another clinch, but he can’t get Francis down and he takes some more elbows to the head. Both men look tired at this point as this is a SLOOOOOW clinch. Lawlor almost gets him down but Carmont manages to slip away. Right hook connects for Lawlor. Body kick glances for Carmont. Good combination lands for Carmont to answer a Lawlor right hand. One minute to go now. Kicks from Carmont back Lawlor up a little. Leg kick from Lawlor. Nice body kick from Carmont as Lawlor comes forward. Another clinch follows to the boos of the crowd. This time Lawlor goes for the Ruas foot stomps, but he finds himself down for a second only to get up on the buzzer. Crowd are booing as the fight ends. Incredibly close fight to score but I’m leaning to Carmont, if only because he stopped Lawlor from doing what he wanted to do and just about landed the better strikes. And it’s a split decision – 29-28 Lawlor, 29-28 Carmont, and 29-28 for Francis Carmont to pick up his fourth UFC win in a row. Crowd seem pretty split over this which is surprising given Carmont is practically a hometown fighter. Erm, a lot of fans online claimed Lawlor was robbed here but I don’t see it myself – I just can’t agree with the idea that a guy is winning by shoving the opponent into the fence, sorry. Granted, Carmont didn’t exactly do a ton to make it clear that HE was winning either, but even so – I thought he landed the better shots standing and the two guillotine attempts just weren’t as close as they first appeared to be, so I have no problems with the decision. The fight was definitely killed by all the clinching though and while it wasn’t quite as bad of a stinker as I thought it was at the time, it wasn’t good or anything. Welterweight Fight: Johny Hendricks vs Martin Kampmann This was being pegged – quite rightfully so – as a #1 Contender’s fight, as both men were on pretty impressive streaks – Kampmann had beaten Rick Story and then finished both Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger, while Hendricks had knocked out Jon Fitch for his biggest win but had also beaten Josh Koscheck earlier in the year. I personally loved the fight too as it meant whoever won, GSP (or Condit I guess…) would get a fresh opponent. I was leaning towards Hendricks to win as not only did he have the wrestling to be able to ground Kampmann if need be, but the Dane had also shown a shaky chin in the past and Hendricks evidently hits HARD. Still, after seeing the Alves and Ellenberger fights, you couldn’t count Kampmann out. Fight gets underway and Kampmann looks to gauge the distance before Hendricks comes forward swinging with intent. Kampmann avoids it and backs up, then pushes forward with a jab that misses. Kick misses for Kampmann and Hendricks LANDS WITH THE LEFT HAND AND KAMPMANN GOES DOWN LIKE A CORPSE!~! He’s out before he hits the ground but Hendricks lands another for good measure and naturally IT’S OVER. Scary, scary knockout from Johny Hendricks. I mean after the Fitch fight it was clear that the dude has bricks for hands, but to see Kampmann go down in pretty much EXACTLY the same way as Fitch did – stiff before he even hit the ground – was really eerie. This was expected to be a tough fight for Hendricks and instead it was a MASSACRE. Post-fight Hendricks basically begs for a title shot and well, the expectation was that it’d happen, but….well, it is happening in November now so it doesn’t matter so much, but naturally shenanigans ensued and Johny ended up fighting another time after this. As for poor Kampmann, it’s back to the drawing board for him again and I doubt he gets this close to a title shot again realistically. Regardless, this was one of the most memorable knockouts of 2012 and really got this show back on track after the previous slower fight. UFC World Welterweight Title: Georges St-Pierre vs Carlos Condit Well, talk about a highly-anticipated fight. This was one that I’d personally wanted to see since Condit first arrived in the UFC in 2009, as while he isn’t the absolute best in any area, he’s a FIGHTER and has the ability to force anyone into a wild fight, and so I thought it’d mean GSP would really have to open up in a way that he didn’t have to against the likes of Shields, Koscheck and Hardy. Throw in the fact that GSP was of course coming back from a very serious knee injury and a long time on the shelf, AND Greg Jackson having to distance himself from the fight due to his ties to both men, and you had the makings of one of the most intriguing bouts of 2012. Admittedly for the casual fans the shine had come off Condit a bit post-Diaz fight, but ignoring that fight (which I actually liked due to the smart gameplanning of Condit), the Natural Born Killer had pretty much always lived up to his nickname, and so I was RIDICULOUSLY excited. As for a pick? Well, I never pick against GSP to begin with, but I also had a massive amount of faith in his ability to recover from the injury and thought he’d be able to ground Condit and weather a few storms to win by decision or a late stoppage. And HERE WE GO!~! Condit circles on the outside as GSP moves forward right away, and they trade some feeler strikes with GSP looking to establish the jab. Crowd are already DEAFENING with the OLE OLE chants. Right hand glances for St-Pierre. Condit is staying way on the outside here. Combination is blocked by GSP. Nice jab into a leg kick from Condit. Takedown attempt from GSP and he gets Condit down. Rubber guard from Condit but GSP postures up and breaks out of it before chopping at the body. Armbar attempt from Condit is avoided and GSP drops some punches to make him pay. Into half-guard but Condit regains guard quickly. GSP is beginning to wear on him though with short shots from the top as well as using a can opener to force Condit to open his guard. Into half-guard again for GSP but Condit once again scrambles back to guard. Flurry from the top lands for GSP. Good left hand from GSP as he stacks up, but Condit is getting his legs up high looking for submissions. Flurry again from GSP but Condit seems fine. Seconds to go though and GSP is really beginning to land with some hard shots. BIG LEFT ELBOW opens Condit up before he uses a leglock attempt to scramble to his feet. Condit is cut badly. Round ends there. 10-9 GSP and he didn’t seem to have lost a step. Into the 2nd and GSP again pushes forward, forcing Condit to circle out although he is throwing combinations. GSP moves nicely out of the way though and lands a stiff jab. Head kick misses for GSP but a right hand connects. Good right hook from Georges. Right hand answers for Condit. He looks a little gunshy though, possibly due to the threat of the takedown from GSP. Another jab lands for St-Pierre. Condit fires right back with a nice combo of his own though. Left to the body follows and Condit begins to come forward a bit more, but GSP immediately makes him pay with a counter right. Jab lands for Georges. Condit’s face is totally busted up. Body kick is caught by St-Pierre and he tackles Condit to the ground and passes into half-guard, where he opens up with elbows to cut Carlos further. Good scramble from Condit but GSP connects with a nasty left hand. More good shots land for GSP and there’s literally blood everywhere at this point, but Condit to his credit is landing shots from his back too. Scramble allows Condit to his feet, and from there they outright trade briefly with both landing punches before the round ends. Great round; 10-9 GSP. Third round and GSP dodges out of the way of a combo nicely. Good inside leg kick from St-Pierre. Spinning kick misses for Condit. Wild left-right misses for Condit but a BIG HEAD KICK CONNECTS AND FOLDS GSP! Holy shit. Condit pounces and looks for the finish, dropping BOMBS as GSP tries to cover up and desperately grabs onto guard. Sweep attempt from St-Pierre but Condit stays on top and lands some more shots, and then almost gets to half-guard before GSP gets guard back. Big elbows by Condit though and GSP’s face looks badly swollen now. GSP kicks him away and scrambles to his feet, but he still looks a bit stunned. Crowd are going BATSHIT now. Stiff jabs land for both men. Big right hand lands for St-Pierre and now HE opens up with a combo before getting a big takedown into Condit’s guard. Condit again stays active from his back, keeping a high guard and landing shots from there to the swollen eye of the champ. St-Pierre returns the favour of course with more short elbows and punches. Condit manages to reverse to his feet, but GSP gets a single leg. Condit grabs a kimura to prevent it though and then drops for it, but he can’t lock it up and GSP takes top position in the guard again. Massive GSP chant from the crowd as he works with elbows and punches while Condit tries to sweep. Into half-guard for GSP with seconds to go, but Condit again rolls for a kimura. No dice as GSP breaks free and lands a couple of elbows, and that’s the round. 10-9 Condit though as despite GSP controlling more of the round in a time sense, Condit clearly did the most damage. We’re into championship territory (or main event territory if you will!) now, fourth round. The right side of GSP’s face looks badly swollen. Couple of early kicks from Condit come close but don’t land flush. GSP keeps pushing forward and almost eats the head kick again en route to landing a jab. Head kick from GSP and he fires off a flurry before hitting a takedown. Condit sits up though to look for a switch, but GSP passes into side mount. Condit quickly sneaks back to half-guard though. Dude really is excellent from his back. GSP tries to work him over but Condit quickly slips back to full guard and lands some nice shots to the head with punches and elbows. GSP passes back into half-guard though and lands with a pair of really hard right hands. Condit works back into full guard though once more. Armbar tease from Condit and then he tries to turn it into a possible leglock as GSP postures out, and from there he goes for a triangle but GSP postures out and makes him pay with some more ground-and-pound. Condit manages to reverse to his feet, but GSP still has him tied up. He hits a reversal though as GSP takes him down and now Condit is on top! Before he can do anything though GSP reverses him and gets him right back down. Condit goes back to full guard and we’re back to square one really. There’s a TON of blood coming from both men now. Announcers keep talking about GSP possibly fighting Anderson Silva and they even show Silva at ringside which is annoying given neither man really seems to want the fight. Round ends with Condit trying to scramble to his feet. 10-9 GSP. Fifth and final round of what has really been a great fight. Right hand lands for Condit as GSP moves forward. Superman punch into a leg kick (!~!) from GSP. Condit is throwing combos but not landing cleanly. Good leg kick again from GSP. Condit fires back with a spinning back kick that glances. Beautiful low single leg from GSP but Condit uses a switch to escape to his feet and then breaks off with a side kick. Georges fires back with a hard right hand. Combination from Condit answers right back. Left hand connects for GSP in an exchange. Jab lands to counter a Condit combo. Another one follows to counter a leg kick and a double jab followed by a right hand comes after. Takedown from GSP and it looks like he might get full mount, but Condit immediately sneaks into full guard. GSP passes back into half-guard and it looks like he’s trying to pass that, too, pushing down onto Condit’s leg to free his own legs up. Condit proves to be a tricky customer though and avoids that. One minute to go and Condit gives up his back, but he doesn’t allow GSP to get his hooks in and tries to free himself in the scramble, but GSP is too good for that and winds up on top in guard again. Kimura attempt from Condit again but GSP avoids it and they trade from the guard to end the round. Crowd are blowing the roof off the building. Tremendous fight. 10-9 GSP and I have it 49-46 overall. Judges have it 49-46, 50-45, and 50-45 for the UNDISPUTED UFC Welterweight Champion of the World, Georges St-Pierre. As if there was any doubt! Well, to be fair when that head kick landed there was – that was the first time GSP had been in legitimate trouble since the first Matt Serra fight and coming off such a long layoff, Georges did an incredible job to not only survive it, but come back and win the round on two of the scorecards. Overall this was a tremendous fight in my opinion – low-end FOTYC when you consider all the aspects coming into it with GSP’s injury and stuff – as it went exactly how I’d hoped, with Condit really making a fight of it and busting GSP up even when he was being controlled on the ground, and Condit’s gameness made it a far superior fight to GSP’s last few – I’d say it was his best fight in terms of entertainment value since the Jon Fitch fight in fact. To see GSP return from an injury like a wrecked ACL to fight an awesome fighter like Carlos Condit and to beat him in that way just cements his greatness even further. Forget the haters – GSP is the best fighter in UFC history in my eyes. Post-fight GSP discusses his ring rust and again dodges the question of the Anderson Silva fight, and to be frank I wish they’d just forget about it now because it’s a silly idea anyway and both men have more intriguing opponents in their own divisions. But that’s another article. Condit then says he’s disappointed and thought he had Georges with the head kick, but he loved putting on such a great fight in Montreal anyway. Word. -Highlight reel rolls there and that’s our night, baby. Final Thoughts…. A handful of slower fights (Maguire/Riddle, Carvalho/Damm, Carmont/Lawlor) keep this show from being up there with the very best of 2012, but I mean, the main event delivered hugely, Hendricks hit one of the best knockouts of the year, and Hominick/Garza was a fantastic fight too as was Cote/Sakara while it lasted. If you’re a GSP hater you should probably stay away but outside of that I’d definitely give this one a high recommendation – just skip over those slower fights and don’t waste your time with them. Best Fight: St-Pierre vs. Condit Worst Fight: Riddle vs. Maguire Overall Rating: **** Until next time, Scott Newman: [email protected]

Tryout: Luigi Evangelista

Hello folks. I’m Luigi Evangelista and I’ve been a wrestling fan since the first Wrestlemania. I’ve got WWE Classics on Demand as part of my cable package and Mr. Keith has graciously allowed me a tryout, so if things go well, I’d be able to review some of the programs on this great station. I hope if and when the WWE Network is up and running, it’ll have similar programming to what they’ve got on demand right now-it’s incredible to think of what’s in the vault. Anyways, this first review is going to be a house show from the Boston Garden on May 18, 1985 under the WWE Old School block of programming. Just a bit of background going into this event to get everyone up to speed. The WWF is just coming off the biggest gamble in the company’s history with the wildly successful Wrestlemania 2 months ago and Hulkamania is one of the biggest things going in the USA. The WWF’s national expansion is in full swing and they are selling out arenas all over the country. In fact, this broadcast is the first wrestling card aired on the NESN regional sports channel in New England and its taking place 1 week after the very first Saturday Night’s Main Event. Your champions as of this date are: WWF Tag Team Champions-Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff WWF Intercontinental Champion-Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine WWF Women’s Champion-Wendi Richter WWF World Champion-Hulk Hogan Now, on to the show! Your commentary team is Gorilla Monsoon and ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund and Gene is already in hard-sell announcer mode that’s going to get old in a hurry. It’s a good thing they came to their senses and put him in the back doing interviews because commentary is just not working for him. First match is Salvatore Bellomo vs. Moondog Spot and the crowd booed the face and cheered the heel, so in case you were wondering-that’s not new. Very slow start with wristlocks and arm bars and the crowd is booing them already. Spot and Bellomo trade headlocks, the crowd is chanting ‘Boring’ and Monsoon and Okerlund acknowledge it. Things finally pick up a little from Moondog Spot as he goes to the 2nd rope with a fist drop on Bellomo and sends him out of the ring, then rams him into the barrier. When Bellomo gets back in, Spot follows up with a chin lock and a reverse atomic drop. Bellomo with a standing dropkick out of nowhere but Spot fights back and catches him off an Irish whip with a shoulder breaker for the pin and the crowd cheers. I’m not sure if they cheered him or the end of the match. Monsoon and Okerlund are struggling to make sense of the crowd’s reaction. Next up is Steve Lombardi vs. Swede Hansen and the crowd goes mild for Hansen. Lombardi takes forever taking off his ring jacket, then stalls by adjusting his kneepads and by doing stretches in the corner. Okerlund passes the time with mother-in-law jokes for your entertainment while we wait. Eventually they lockup and Hansen grabs a hammerlock, then works on the elbow and Lombardi makes it to the ropes. More stalling and the crowd is getting restless. Hansen catches Lombardi in another hammerlock and then to a face lock where he’s lifting Lombardi right off his feet. Steve Lombardi’s facial reactions keep this thing entertaining-like he’s genuinely upset about everything that’s gone wrong for him in this match. Lombardi-ring general that he is-gets a chin lock and keeps the hold on while Monsoon complains about the refereeing and Okerlund comments on a fan wearing a tux at ringside. Hansen eventually traps Lombardi in the corner and the future Brooklyn Brawler looks like he’s just encountered Freddy Kruger in a nightmare. Hansen gets a weak splash for the pin. Monsoon can barely keep from laughing at Lombardi’s reactions at the end of the match. Big John Studd vs. Rocky Johnson is next. Bobby Heenan is managing Studd and the crowd is starting to wake up with big heat for the Brain and loud cheers for Rocky. Heenan talks trash to Johnson and Rocky spits right in his eye. Heenan goes nuts and so far, it’s the most entertainment we’ve had tonight. Rocky hits a body press but then makes a mistake by going for a body slam and Studd takes control. They do a test of strength and the crowd gets really into it when Rocky gets Studd to his knees and stomps his hands. Studd takes back control with a bear hug. Rocky keeps the crowd into it by punching and head-butting his way out of it. Johnson goes for the body slam again and Studd holds onto the ropes, falls on top of Johnson and gets the pin. Monsoon accuses Heenan of tripping Rocky but the replay shows he wasn’t nearby. Quick match but the crowd was into it and you can see where The Rock picked up his showmanship from. He’s like a chip off the old Rocky. Thank you-that took a while to come up with. We have Tito Santana vs. Brutus Beefcake with Luscious Johnny Valiant as his manager. Tito is one of the top faces in the WWF and Beefcake is just starting to develop as a character. In fact, Tito would regain the Intercontinental title in July and Beefcake and Valentine would take the tag titles in August, so both guys are on the upswing of their careers at this point. Okerlund makes fun of Beefcake’s choice of ring attire, comparing him to a Chippendale’s dancer. Okerlund then reveals that Beefcake is no longer from ‘Parts Unknown’ but billed from San Francisco and Monsoon gives a sarcastic laugh at that. At the start Monsoon mentions an attack from Beefcake on Hilbilly Jim that caused a knee injury and put the big guy on the shelf. Santana has a wristlock and Beefcake body slams him. Santana keeps the hold on throughout and Beefcake manages to get to his corner. Back in and Santana and Beefcake trade shots before Beefcake goes back to his corner again. This time Valiant tries to get involved and Tito nails them both with what Monsoon calls a double noggin-knocker. Beefcake recovers with a reverse atomic drop and a body slam, then goes to the good old-fashioned choke after a failed pin. More cheating and Okerlund is screaming at the ref to disqualify Brutus. Beefcake hits a backdrop and does the Barber strut version 1.0 to boos. Beefcake goes to the middle rope and hits an elbow but a weak pin attempt gets Monsoon to take him to task for that. Santana fights back again after Beefcake misses a splash and Tito hits an elbow off the 2nd rope, then a figure four leg lock. Valiant distracts him and all three guys end up outside the ring, where Valiant and Beefcake double team Santana and get him bleeding, but Tito wins by count out by just barely beating Beefcake back into the ring. The crowd really got into it when the guys went to the outside. I’d guess that would’ve led to a rematch at the Garden between these two later in the year. Ken Patera vs. Tony Garea is up next with Bobby Heenan managing Patera. Garea gets on the mic and taunts Heenan for getting fired by Paul Orndorff a week ago on national TV. The “Weasel” chants start up as Heenan loses it again. Just a note: this is 5 months after Patera and Studd cut Andre the Giant’s hair and Ken Patera is still getting big heat from the crowd. Monsoon evens gives him props for retiring him years ago at the Philadelphia Spectrum. Patera gets Garea in side headlock and tries for a quick pin while pulling the tights. The tide turns when Patera poses for the crowd and Garea hits a nice dropkick. Garea getting a little offence but Patera attacks with some cheap shots and chokes him out by the ropes. Patera goes back to choking while Heenan distracts the ref in a classic heel move. Monsoon and Okerlund are both berating the ref for a doing a lousy job while the Patera keeps alternating between a chin lock, a hair pull and a good old-fashioned choke. Patera tosses Garea outside and they end up scrapping out there for a bit before Garea gets control back in the ring. Patera goes for a knee lift but misses and hits a turnbuckle and Garea goes to work on the knee and follows up with an abdominal stretch. A sunset flip into a pin doesn’t work for Garea, so he tries to send Patera into the corner. Patera moves while Garea goes for the attack and drops an elbow and covers for the pin while grabbing the tights like a good heel would. Garea looked horrible in the match and the crowd died halfway through it. By August, Ken Patera would be in prison serving a 2 year sentence for assault. His comeback as a face went over like a lead balloon before injuries started to pile up, so it was interesting seeing the end of his glory days as a heel here. The IC title match is up with Greg Valentine defending against Junkyard Dog in a Wrestlemania rematch. Jimmy Hart is in Valentine’s corner. I’m hoping this will be a better match than what we got at Wrestlemania. JYD has the crowd in the palm of his hand tonight and plays up to them. A standoff between the two ends when Valentine hits JYD with an elbow to the head with no reaction, so he bails outside. Back in and JYD goes to work with an arm-wringer that puts Valentine down. Stalling by Valentine, so Okerlund and Monsoon start talking about the history of Boston wrestling. Valentine gets control with a few elbow drops and some pinning attempts with no success. The crowd is chanting ‘JYD’ and get behind their guy while Valentine keeps working on the arm on the mat. JYD finally fights back by raking Valentine’s face, then biting him and choking him, like a good hero would. JYD attacks with his running head-butts while on all fours and Valentine does a flop, then ends up outside the ring. Hart gives himself a hernia trying to drag Valentine back in the ring, where JYD goes for a falling head-butt that misses. Hart distracts the ref to get Valentine back in it and that backfires when JYD tosses Valentine into Hart. The match ends suddenly when JYD hits a power slam and Valentine rolls it into a pin while grabbing the tights and wins the match. JYD attacks Valentine and chases Hart around a bit afterwards. It was more entertaining than the Wrestlemania match but still not that great. Barry O vs. Ivan Putski is up next and Putski build like a brick shithouse while Barry O is definitely not. Gorilla goes out on a limb and predicts that Putski will win the match. I’d put some pretty big money on Putski here too, Monsoon. Putski with some power moves to start and Barry O tries a full nelson that clearly is a bad idea. In what has to be either a mistake or a very poorly planned spot, Barry O tosses Putski to the ropes but instead of coming back Putski trips into the top rope and chokes himself out. Barry O goes to work but he gets almost no offence before Putski turns the tide, hits his Polish Hammer sledge shot and gets the pin. Okerlund congratulates Monsoon on calling the outcome of the match and Gorilla’s reaction is simply a chuckle and an “Oh my God”. Pete Dougherty vs. Mario Mancini in a sure to be classic is on the docket. Dougherty is loud and annoying and Monsoon thinks he’s great. He’s known as the Duke of Dorchester and he celebrates every move he hits as if he’s won a championship. Dougherty starts off with shots and throws Mancini outside, when he nails Mancini with an elbow and follows up with another attack when Mancini gets back in the ring. Dougherty stays on him with a body slam, a leg drop and an elbow drop and that gets the pin. His celebration was pretty impressive with a jig and a dance afterwards. Main Event time is next and it’s a tag team match between Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Snuka vs. Bob Orton and Don Muraco with Mr. Fuji as their manager. The crowd explodes for the Hulkster before they even see him and all four men scrap in and out of the ring to start, then Orton pairs off with Snuka and Hogan attacks Muraco before the match starts for real. Every move that Snuka hits gets a pop and he attacks Orton’s arm (which has only been broken for about 2 months now). A tag to Hogan results in the champ nailing Orton’s arm with an elbow off the 2nd rope. Back to Snuka with more work on the arm, then back to Hogan with more offence and an atomic drop. Eventually, Orton gets Hogan to his corner where Muraco tags in and the tide turns. Muraco keeps Hogan in his corner where the heels take turns attacking Hulk. Orton back in with more shots to Hogan and a suplex where he holds Hogan up for about 30 seconds and it looks impressive. The action has really slowed down now and Muraco and Orton double-team Hogan and taunt Snuka at the same time. Hogan eventually makes the tag to Snuka who cleans house and attacks Muraco and Orton. Mr. Fuji distracts the ref, and when Snuka goes for a splash, Orton nails Superfly in the head with the cast and Snuka gets cut from that. Hogan gets attacked by Muraco outside the ring and Snuka is bleeding like a stuck pig. It’s so bad that Orton’s cast is turning red with Snuka’s blood. Muraco in and bites Snuka and he’s got blood all over his face. For those of you who watch the show “True Blood’, the opening credits that show a kid with his face smeared with blood is what Muraco looks like here…only with much more insanity in his eyes. Snuka eventually makes the tag to Hogan, but he gets double-teamed by Orton and Muraco. The bell rings and it’s a DQ against Muraco and Orton. The match is over but a melee erupts and all four men are outside with chairs. The police are outside to get control back and Muraco and Orton escape. Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund recap the night and thank us for joining them for the first wrestling event on NESN. Thanks for indulging me and I hope you all enjoyed the recap!

Tryout: Kyle Warne

RoH TV: June 9th Edition Kyle Warne here filling in for Adam Curry as weekly RoH recapper. The show opens on the announce desk with Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness. They explain that RoH hasn’t heard from Corino since “last week” when he threw a bitch fit about Lethal becoming the #1 contender to the TV title. They hype the Wolves vs Briscoes main event. Out comes Truth Martini with Matt Taven and 2 “Hoopla Hotties” (though I question that description for the chick on the left) and I groan at the prospect of Martini cutting a promo. Truth says he has something to say and the crowd jumps down his throat immediately. He rambles on for a while with the gist being “Lethal sucks.” He then Issues an open proving ground challenge, where should Taven be defeated the man who beats him will receive a TV tittle shot in the future. Personally I love the cocky heel issuing an open challenge angle just to piss himself when the big scary baby face answers, and here comes Ciampa to a monster reaction Pepper Parks to absolute silence. OK then, some jobber half the audience didn’t recognize at first works too, even Kelly doesn’t know who he is referring to him only as “This Man” when he enters. Parks takes the mic from Truth and slanders his “Willy Wonka hat.” Oh, burn—how will Truth ever recover from such nastiness? Parks sucker punches Taven and we head straight into… Proving Ground Challenge: Pepper Parks VS Matt Taven Pepper starts on offense until Taven turns it around with an Irish whip into a rebound back body drop. Parks gets up and attempts a suplex, but Taven slips out and drops him and elbows Parks in the mouth. They trade reversals until Parks hits a big knee strike to Taven’s jaw, and then hits the chin lock. Taven fights out but gets caught with a shitty dropkick and Russian leg sweep for 2. Parks runs the ropes and gets a spin kick to the face for his trouble; it gets 2 for Taven. Taven looks to press the advantage but Parks gets a vertical suplex to regain control. He whips the TV champ into the corner but eats boot when he runs in and Parks ends up on the apron. Taven brings him back into the ring with a hangman’s neck breaker and climbs the ropes. Frog splash misses and now its Parks turn to climb the ropes. Taven cuts him off and looks for the Superplex, but Parks reverses it into a sunset bomb from the top. That isn’t enough to beat Taven so Parks scales the ropes one final time. His dive misses the target, and Taven hits his modified DDT finisher for the three count. *1/2 This whole thing was not very good, Truth’s promo skills (or lack thereof) have been well documented by Adam, and Parks seemed off his game tonight, which didn’t help the crowd’s apathy to him. Rip Impact VS Tommasso Ciampa Side rant: what the fuck kinda name is RIP IMPACT. So after some great “crazy” mannerisms from The Sicilian Psychopath he agrees to the code of honor. Rip Kicks him during the handshake and the announcers praise his gumption. Ciampa shrugs Impact off and proceeds to beat him down in the corner. Ciampa pulls down the kneepad and gives the seated Impact two running knee strikes. Tommasso loads the poor bastard up for project Ciampa but Rip sweeps the leg and rolls him up for 1. Ciampa gets a lariat for 2. Ciampa picks Rip up into a vertical suplex and holds him in the air for the crowd to count the seconds just like Elgin always does as a challenge, and Elgin comes out to join us as a result. Elgin hops up on the apron as Ciampa follows through with the suplex and starts jaw jacking with him. Rip takes advantage of the distraction to recover and manages to score a half-dozen big kicks on Ciampa in a desperate flurry, then gets a swinging neck breaker. Rip looks to go upstairs but Ciampa cuts him off with a VICIOUS knee strike. Ciampa climbs up and deliver a Celtic Cross off the second rope on Rip to let him R.I.P ** Much better squash then the Taven match, with Impacts offense coming across as nothing more than hopeless desperation against the beast that is Tommasso Ciampa. I’d gone way to long without seeing Ciampa, the guy’s knee strikes look brutal and he shows more intensity then 90% of the RoH roster combined. Ciampa and Elgin are my favourite wrestlers in the company, and their match at Best in the World should be killer. Next we head inside RoH. A replay Package of Ciampa destroying QT Marshall and RD Evans. Kevin Kelly stresses that Elgin vs Ciampa will be Ciampa’s first PPV match in 10 months. We cut to comments from Elgin. Elgin says that he welcomes Ciampa’s challenge, and that he’d have done the same, picking a fight with the biggest dog in the yard to make an impact. Elgin tells Tommasso he made a mistake, and all he did was insure his return is short lived. Elgin says that “When they said all men are created equal, they were wrong” Adam Cole cuts a promo next on how he’s pissed people are questioning his integrity. He also says he’s realized that winning and losing is all that matters. Steen is the last guy to get time as he talks about what he and Matt Hardy were doing 10 years ago. That Kevin watched Hardy dive through tables ladders and chairs to make a name for himself. Kevin tells Matt he’ll be wishing for TLC, because what he’s going to do to him In Baltimore is far worse than any of that. We come back from break with S.C.U.M. entering through the crowd. Steve Corino says this company has made nothing but mistake after mistake for 10+ years. Corino says he can forgive the mistake of not giving Matt Hardy the first shot at Jay Briscoe, but draws the line at the “Limey no good piece of Garbage” Nigel McGuinness not including his boys in last week’s #1 contender matches. Things get heated and Nigel ends up nose to nose with Corino. Jay Lethal and C & C run out as reinforcements. Corino draws a chuckle from me and a “that was racist” chant from the crowd for referring to the coalition gathered in front of him as “Ring of Homies”. Corino screams that Lethal lost CLEAN to Jimmy Jacobs and that C & C lost CLEAN to Rhett Titus and Cliff Compton. The man has a good point. Everyone in the ring starts brawling except Corino and Nigel who just stare at each other, security hits the ring to clear it up as we go to commercial. If Nigel is healthy enough to wrestle I’d pay to see it against Corino, they’ve really built things up well between those two. Jay and Mark Briscoe VS The American Wolves And with the ring cleared it’s time for our main event with 20 minutes left in the show. The story here is about whether Jay and Mark can get along while they’re feuding. The Wolves have never defeated the Briscoes in a tag team match. Mark and Eddie start the match with some mat wrestling, they just keep countering each other with no one gaining ground until they both pause ready to throw a chop in a humorous spot that gets a good reaction from the live audience. Double tag puts Jay and Davey in. They take turns shoulder blocking each other, but neither guy will go down. Richards breaks the stalemate with a dropkick that knocks Jay right outside the ring. Davey looks for the big dive but gets cut off by a stiff elbow from Jay; he rolls in the ring and tags in Mark, and a double shoulder block takes down Richards. Things break down and everybody’s fighting; Eddie gets a body slam and kick to the back of the head on Mark outside the ring. Edwards throws him back in the ring which gets Richards a 2 count. The Wolves look to double team mark but he rolls through and tags in Jay for the hot tag. Jay cleans house and hits a neck breaker on Richards. Things break down again and both Briscoes end up outside. Davey gets the running kick on the apron, while Eddie wipes out Mark with a suicide dive. Back in the ring the Wolves gang up on Jay, Eddie hits a gourdbuster to set up a Richards dropkick. Eddie rams Jay’s head into Davey’s for the tag as we cut to commercial. We return with Richards applying the cloverleaf to Jay, Mark breaks it up. Eddie comes in and starts chopping the hell out of Jay’s chest in the corner. Jay escapes a chinchecker attempt then delivers an awesome spin buster and collapses. Both men are down, and we get the double tag. Mark starts whipping Davey around with his Redneck Kung-Fu, but Davey takes control with some kicks in the corner. Crowd chants YES! For every kick, so Davey turns around and yells NO! for a huge reaction from the crowd, the distraction lets Mark take control however. Mark gets a half dragon suplex for 2, then props Davey up on the turnbuckle. Edwards looks to intercept but gets a death valley driver from a newly revived Jay Briscoe instead. Mark slingshots Davey into a super kick from Jay, then lifts him up for the razor’s edge and Jay gives him a neck breaker on the way down. Eddie manages to break up the cover just in time, and then rolls out again. Mark climbs for the Froggy Bow but is stopped by Richards, Jay arrives on the scene however and hoists Davey on his shoulders for the doomsday device. Before Mark can get the diving clothesline he’s Enzugiried by Edwards who came out of nowhere. Davey slips of Jay’s shoulders an falls behind him. Jay then elbows Eddie in front of him, then super kicks Davey behind him, Then he GETS super kicked by Edwards—but he gives him the All-Japan no sell and boots him in the face, but he turns around into a head kick from Davey which sets up a textbook German suplex which Richards rolls into a cross Armbreaker. Things look bleak for Jay, but Mark comes flying through the air with the Froggy bow to break it up. Crowd chants this is awesome, fuck yeah it is—they’re going a thousand miles an hour in there now. Eddie and Mark get into a chop fest until Eddie throws him into the air to eat the alarm clock kick from Richards on the way down. Eddie then kicks Jay’s head off to take him out of the equation. Both wolves get double stops on Mark, but he kicks out at 2. Jay scrapes himself of the floor to distract Davey, while Mark reverses out of a power bomb. (Don’t ask how, shitty camera guy missed most of it) Mark looks to hit Davey with a Dragon suplex, but he lands on his feet—a second attempt puts the former world champ down however. Mark lifts Richards up across his shoulders for a tag team maneuver but Eddie stops Jay. Mark drops Richards to deal with Edwards but punches Jay by accident and sends him to the floor. (all those who didn’t see that coming say aye…really, no one?) Davey takes advantage of a distraught Mark and puts him in position to be tombstoned, Eddie kicks the upside down Briscoe In the head—and then Davey drops him with the pile driver for the win. ***1/2 THANK GOD, The Wolves have used that killer kick/tombstone combo in every match they’ve wrestled since reuniting and it WAS NEVER THE FINISH, even though the match is better if they just let it end there! A great main event with a really hot finish that furthered the ongoing World title feud, I can’t ask for anything else. A Really good show this week, the first 3rd dragged with Martini poisoning the airwaves, but everything after that was good stuff, Recommended for viewing—especially the main event.

Tryout: Bob Colling, “Reliving A Title Run”

After years of being one-half of the tag team known as the APA, Bradshaw suddenly changed his attitude after his longtime partner and friend Faarooq was fired by then Smackdown General Manager Paul Heyman. Bradshaw would soon change his name to John Bradshaw Layfield and embraced his wall street attitude to a higher level. He felt that he was better than everyone and wasn’t discreet about how much money he made. Two months after his attitude change, the previously midcard level talent wrestler, JBL found himself in the main event scene challenging Eddie Guerrero. They originally had a match at Judgment Day on May 16th, 2004. Prior to the event, JBL made things really personal between himself and Eddie. At a live event JBL confronted Guerrero when he was celebrating with his family. In one of the more shocking moments in WWE history, JBL caused Eddie’s mother to suffer from a heart attack. Going into the pay per view, JBL had promised to walk out the champion. JBL would win the match at Judgment Day, but only by disqualification. It ended up just being a matter of time before he would win the gold, though. The next month they would meet at the Great American Bash. There feud was still red hot as their issues continued to become more and more personal. JBL was given the chance to pick the stipulation for the match by the new General Manager of Smackdown, Kurt Angle. JBL ended up choosing a Texas Bullrope match. Naturally both JBL and Guerrero bled quite a bit throughout the match. This time around, JBL was able to fulfill his destiny and won his first WWE Championship. Two weeks later on Smackdown, Eddie Guerrero would get a rematch against JBL inside a steel cage.
Guerrero wasn’t able to regain the championship due to Kurt Angle screwing him over. JBL escaped the cage and retained he precious championship. It didn’t take long for a new challenger to step up, though. The next week on Smackdown, the Undertaker made it very clear that he wanted JBL at SummerSlam. However, the champion wasn’t too interested in that challenge. On the August 5th edition of Smackdown, JBL mocked the Undertaker by calling out a midget dressed liked the Undertaker. This obviously didn’t sit well with the Undertaker. There was a brief scuffle but JBL was saved by Orlando Jordan. The next week, Jordan had a match with the Undertaker but JBL got involved to cause the DQ. JBL wasn’t able to keep the Undertaker down with the Clothesline From Hell and it was clear the champion was afraid of the Undertaker. At SummerSlam, JBL escaped the gold yet again, but lost to the Undertaker by disqualification. You wouldn’t have realized that JBL was the winner, though. Taker had bloody the champion and ended up choke slamming JBL through his limo. The issues between JBL and the Undertaker weren’t over. On the next Smackdown, JBL declared that the Undertaker was evil and he would never get a rematch against him. Undertaker wrestled Orlando Jordan on Smackdown again but this time if he won he would win the WWE Championship. Once again, JBL got involved to cause a disqualification. Teddy Long, the new General Manager of Smackdown booked JBL in a Last Rites match against the Undertaker at No Mercy. In a blast from the past, JBL brought back Gangrel and Viscera to attack the Undertaker. The Undertaker took care of his former alliance members from the late 1990’s in a handicap match on September 23rd. At No Mercy, the Undertaker was moments away from putting JBL in the hearse to regain the championship. However, the deranged Heidenreich appeared and helped JBL retain the championship. JBL got past perhaps his toughest challenger on the Smackdown brand. Who could possibly stop JBL? After No Mercy, JBL had a short program with Hardcore Holly. After Holly beat JBL by count-out, they competed in a hardcore match on Smackdown in England. JBL predictably retained the championship after hitting ring steps into Holly’s face. On the October 21st edition of Smackdown JBL was turned on by Booker T who had given the impression to JBL that he was going to help him win a six man tag match. Booker T shocked JBL by pinning him in the ring. This would lead to Booker T becoming he new number one contender for the WWE Championship. JBL discredited the win by Booker saying that Booker was a good tag team wrestler, but JBL was better as a singles wrestler. Booker continued to embarrass JBL and Orlando Jordan leading into their Survivor Series title match. On November 4th, Booker T teamed with announcer Josh Matthews to beat JBL and Orlando Jordan in a tag match. Matthews had grown tired of being assaulted by JBL and that led to a match between them. Booker clearly had the number of JBL. At Survivor Series, Booker T came incredibly close to winning the WWE Championship, but Orlando Jordan distracted Booker T to allow JBL to hit him with the championship and was able to retain the championship in a hard fight contest. As long as Jordan is by his side, JBL is able to retain his championship it seemed like. On the November 18th edition of Smackdown, Teddy Long announced that JBL would defend his WWE Championship against the three men he has previously competed against. Yes, he would defend against Booker T, Eddie Guerrero and the Undertaker at Armageddon! There was no way JBL was walking out with the gold, right? In the weeks leading up to the match, JBL hired the Basham Brothers to his team to beat Booker T and Eddie Guerrero in a tag match. It would appear that JBL realized he needed to beef up his team in order to hang onto his precious championship. The Smackdown before Armageddon saw JBL continue to be at a disadvantage. Teddy Long revealed that JBL wouldn’t be allowed to have any of his members at ringside for the title defense. Also, later that night he teamed with the Basham Brothers and Orlando Jordan in a handicap tag match against all three challengers for his championship. JBL’s team was on the losing side yet again. At Armageddon, JBL was able to find a way to walk out with the WWE Championship. Heidenreich made another appearance to screw over the Undertaker again, which greatly helped JBL. JBL ended up hitting the Clothesline From Hell on Booker T to prevail. JBL had a celebrating ceremony on the next Smackdown, but it was broken up by his former friend, Kurt Angle. Angle believed that he was the greatest WWE Champion of all-time and not JBL! They had a match, which ended in a disqualification when Big Show came out and cleaned house. So, now both Angle and Show are in the hunt for the WWE Championship. Two weeks later on December 30th, JBL rigged a drawing for a challenger for his championship. He had a short match against Shannon Moore, but it was revealed that every piece of paper in the drawing had his name on it! So, Long booked JBL into a triple threat match against Kurt Angle and the Big Show at the Royal Rumble! On the January 6th edition of Smackdown, Kurt Angle was tricked into thinking he was going to hookup with Amy Weber. Instead, he found himself in a shower with Joy Giovanni, who was a special friend of the Big Show. So, when the Big Show found out what happened, he chased Angle and attacked him, Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns. It was revealed that this was JBL’s master plan. The following week, Kurt Angle got in on the mind games by having Joy Giovanni trapped in JBL’s trunk and made it appear that JBL had done it. Once again, Big Show took out JBL and his buddies as the build for the Royal Rumble continued. Despite what they had been doing to each other, JBL and Angle formed an alliance to take Big Show out on the following episode of Smackdown. They brutally beat Big Show down and left him bloody. On the last Smackdown before the Royal Rumble, Teddy Long booked JBL in a Last Man Standing match against Kurt Angle. They beat the crap out of each other and it ended in a draw. It was revealed that the Big Show suggested the match between Angle and JBL to take place and now believed he would win the championship at the Royal Rumble! Do you think that JBL’s luck would run out? If this title reign was proven anything, it’s that JBL always finds a way to retain the gold. That trend continued when after the Cabinet interfered and Angle’s buddies got involved, JBL hit Angle with the Clothesline From Hell to continue his unlikely long title reign on the Smackdown brand. Teddy Long booked JBL in a barbed wire steel cage match for No Way Out against the Big Show. JBL tried to find a way to prevent the match from happening and ended up acquiring a tranquilizer gun. JBL attempted to attack Big Show on February 10th edition of Smackdown, but that backfired on the champion. The barbed wire steel cage match was the main event for No Way Out. Now, there was no way for JBL to find a way past Big Show inside a cage with barbed wire surrounding the top of the cage, right? Think again, folks. These two had a bloody match which saw Show choke slam JBL off the top rope and the canvas broke as a result. Show attempted to leave through the door, which was locked. He broke the lock, but JBL prevailed by crawling under the ring and touched the floor to miraculously retain the championship. With John Cena becoming the new number one contender at No Way Out, JBL had another challenge to face. These two were set to compete at WrestleMania, but that was over a month away. JBL and his Cabinet got a big advantage over Cena when JBL cost Cena the WWE United States Championship by hitting him with the WWE Championship. Orlando Jordan was then able to pick up the win and the title. The following week, JBL destroyed the spinner US Championship and brought back the old one. JBL tired to get Teddy Long to suspend John Cena for hitting the FU on the General Manger. Instead, Long said that Cena will lose his shot at the title if he puts his hands on JBL outside of a wrestling ring. JBL tried his hardest to get Cena to strike him, but wasn’t successful in getting that to happen. On the March 24th edition of Smackdown, JBL had a debate with John Cena. The segment saw Cena damage JBL’s limousine by popping a tire and spray painting “JBL sucks” on the limo. JBL was obviously pissed off, but assured Cena he would crush his dreams at Mania. Cena continued to get under JBL’s skin by dumping water into his hat, painting a yellow streak on the champ’s back and painting FU on the front of JBL’s shirt! The final Smackdown before WrestleMania saw JBL get Cena arrested for what he did last week and ended up kicking Cena in the groin because Cena made a move towards him while in handcuffs. The time has come for these two to meet at WrestleMania. JBL’s WWE Championship reign, which no one expected, comes to an end when John Cena pins him after hitting the FU. JBL was champion for 280 days. And so begins the era of John Cena, folks.

Personally, I really enjoyed JBL’s title run. His character reminded me of Ted DiBiase, whom I was a big fan of. The title run started off great with his feud against Eddie Guerrero. The personal issues those two had for each other provided some bloody brawls and memorable moments. Then the feud with the Undertaker brought the reign down a little bit. It was obvious they were next to feud, but their matches failed to deliver. That was kind of surprising to me as I thought to guys with similar wrestling styles would’ve put on a better match. His feud with Booker T wasn’t all that great, either. For some reason in 2004 Booker T didn’t come across as a champion contender and the angle behind their match at Survivor Series was rather weak. When the feuds with Angle and Show started in January the title reign became more enjoyable. The angle between those three with the mind games and whatnot provided for some entertaining television. JBL was a damn good heel and was able to get any crowd riled up. Almost all of his major wins involved some kind of cheap finish, but that was what made it a great run. He was able to find a way to retain the championship and continue to piss fans off in the process. In my opinion, JBL was the perfect heel to have lose to John Cena at WrestleMania. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t hate JBL back then. Overall, I’m going to say that JBL’s title reign was enjoyable and one of the better ones to ever happen on the Smackdown side since the brand split occurred. JBL took his moment at the top and he succeeded on every level. That shouldn’t be all that surprising, though. After all, he is a WRESTLING GOD! What are your memories about JBL’s title reign in 2004 – 2005? Feel free to share. Thanks for reading.

Tryout: Dan Selby on TNA

TNA Impact Wrestling Review First off, I just wanted to quickly introduce myself and explain my review system. My name is Dan Selby and I’d like to thank Inside Pulse and Scott Keith for this opportunity. Secondly, here’s how I’ll be doing these reviews. Each match/segment will be scored with a positive (+), a negative (-), or a neutral (N). These will then be calculated to give a fair overall rating for the show. Impact kicks off with it’s usual opening package highlighting the main storylines going in to Bound for Glory. I have to say, I don’t get the impression this is a ‘big’ Pay-Per-View. It doesn’t have that big fight feel to it. It doesn’t help that the bout that’s been built up for a year has a largely unknown MMA fighter injected in to it (Roode summed it up best with “I don’t give a damn about some Bellator fighter!”). Either way, it looks like a poor man’s Brock, or a rehash of Austin/HBK/Tyson. But, from a business perspective, it’s cross-promotion, so… Our other main angle featured is the Aces & Eights blow-off: Who will partner The Icon? Bully Ray, apparently. I’m happy to eat my words, but this is set up for a pretty obvious turn, in my eyes. I just feel TNA has lost momentum over the past month, after they were absolutely on fire. But they have tonight to change some opinions for this viewer, as this is the last show before Bound for Glory. So tonight it will be Storm/Aries, and Roode/Hardy. Logical booking, and at least makes a change from WWE’s “tonight’s main event, is gonna’ be a Tag Team Match, playa’!” (and yes, that script still loosely applies whether it’s Booker, AJ, anyone..). It’s a stark reminder that TNA has the more talented roster right now, something which I can’t remember happening for some time/ever. James Storm Vs. Austin Aries Aries is still getting a predominantly face reaction, with a smattering of boo’s. I figure they’ll end up (Hardy/Aries) embracing after their match after the old heel turn tease spot. Aires gets the better of Storm, as Storm then returns the favour. Aries escapes. Austin re-enters and gets the upper hand on Storm once again, begins gaining momentum until Storm stops him in his tracks with a Clothesline. Aries sells like a champ (get it? Champ? Yeh!) as he jelly-legs Storm’s right hands. Storm goes for the head of steam, but Aries moves. Storm ‘skins the cat’ (he needs to cut down on his HBKisms – he’s a great talent, but don’t sell yourself short by looking like a 2 bit Michaels) while Austin slides under him to the outside. Storm goes for the Plancha, but Aries escapes once again as The Cowboy lands on his feet. Aries then nails him with his bottom rope Plancha and they both crash in to the steel barriers. Always a cool spot. Aries with a nicel Neckbreaker over the second rope. Austin then applies a standing Chinlock as the Impact Zone rallies behind the Cowboy. A Jawbreaker turns the tables as Storm pummels Aries in to the corner, but his comeback amounts to nothing. The two exchange chops, followed by Aries nailing Storm with a second rope Dropkick to the back. Near fall. Storm fights back and is this time successful, as he backs Aries in to the corner and goes for the 10 mounted punches spot, but the champ pushes him off after 5 and suckers him back in to the corner. Aries tries 10 punches of his own, but gets pushed off by Storm after 5 (oh well, at least together they made 10, right?). Storm barely connects with a big boot and quickly transitions in to a nice Russian Legsweep. The two take a breather. Exchange of blows. The Cowboy looks to hit the Eye of the Storm (Sprinning Powerbomb), but Aries slips down and tries to toss Storm over the ropes, but he reverses. Aries then drops the throat of Storm across the top rope. Aries misses a Missile Dropkick, then goes for a Codebreaker, but Aries blocks. The two exchange holds ending with a clash of heads. But here’s Bobby Roode (I still prefer ‘Robert’) who sends Storm head first in to the ring post, and posts his body right back to Austin Aries, who was conveniently chatting to referee Earl Hebner. Big time Brainbuster spells the end for this one. Winner – Austin Aries VERDICT: Storm’s kind of frustrating. Before his leave of absence, he was the hottest act in TNA. Somewhere along the line, it’s all been derailed. You sense a slip in motivation after plans were changed (Roode keeping the belt and defending against Storm). This was a good match. Nothing ground breaking, but a good PPV quality match. + So this long-haired Briscoe is leaching on to the closest big name backstage, once again. We need a reason to care about this guy soon, please? He’s now tagging along with Kurt Angle to Bound for Glory. Consider me sold! AJ Styles isn’t so elated by the news. He questions Angle’s commitments to their tag team. AJ claims his ‘head is still in the game’ despite also being attacked by the Aces and Eights. Angle reckons The World Tag Team Champions of the World are playing him and AJ against eachother. AJ walks off. VERDICT: Fine for what it was, but I like the team of Styles/Angle, and more importantly, I like tag team wrestling. TNA back in 2009-10 had easily one of the best tag divisions in some time, but that’s all fallen apart. They’re finally rebuilding, but splitting these two won’t help. – Highlight package shows Hogan/Sting from BFG ’11, in what could only be classified as ‘a match that wasn’t as bad as it should have been’. Speaking of the devils, out come Hogan and Sting. First off, I have to say, I don’t think Hogan’s got enough credit for his role as GM. Sure, he still has some of the old Hoganisms now and then, but I credit him for not using a reharsh of the WWE GM script, consisting of hogging airtime with no benefit for anyone, and creating predictable matches. Both guys basically go over the current storyline on how they have to strike a ‘deal with the devils’. They wanted Anderson (for whatever reason), but now they got Bully. Out come Daniels and Kaz. Daniels is unhappy they chose Bully over them. Daniels nearly calls Bully a ‘son of a bitch’, but stops himself at the ‘bitch’. Kaz has a solution: Cancel the Tag Team Title match on Sunday, and tell Bully ‘thanks, but no thanks’. Also, Kaz’s final suggestion is they instead pick Kurt Angle. Out comes the Bully. He agrees Angle would have been a great choice, but this ‘isn’t going to be a wrestling match. This is going to be a fight’. The dynamics of this promo basically make Bully the face. He clearly states, though, that he does ‘not need to be friends’ with either Hulk or Sting. They share a common enemy in Aces and Eights. He proposes that in order to earn their trust tonight, they should book Daniels/Kaz against the Bully and Sting. Crowd pops hard. Hogan obliges. We have our main event for the evening! VERDICT: Good segment which served its purpose without waffling on. Bully Ray is gold, and TNA did a good job resigning him. + In other news, Wrangler Jeans now use Crash Holly’s theme. Ok! Hernandez Vs. AJ Styles You have to love Chavo’s TNA theme. Generic TNA Mexican theme, then for 4 seconds turns in to the Amazing Red’s theme, then back to generic. I genuinely do like it, just find it highly amusing. It’s speed vs. strength to open things. AJ gains momentum with a big Enziguiri style kick. But AJ can’t stop arguing with Chavo. Hernandez picks up the slack. Big Bearhug from Big Mex. AJ with a false comeback. Hernandez goes for a Powerslam, AJ slips back and ends up nailing him with probably the best standing Dropkick in the business today. He then dropkicks the big man to the outside. Plancha to not much reaction from the crowd. I guess they’d seen that in the previous match. AJ’s once again distracted by Chavo (why? I havn’t specifically been told why. I was ill last week and missed a few segments – why not show us a quick clip during Hernandez’s entrance?), which leads to him getting hit with the huge shoulder tackle by Hernandez. Cool move. And that’s all she wrote! Winner – Hernandez VERDICT: Just a TV match. Nothing great, nothing awful. N Leader of the Aces and Eights is shown in their shack. Joseph Parkes is shown behind them scoffing on some food. Poor guy can’t have eaten in weeks. The leader says picking the Bully as your partner was somewhat of a ‘surprise’, but a surprise they can overcome. VERDICT: Just the same as most of the other Aces and Eights segments, which, I was a big fan of. ‘Was’ being the key word. But, you needed an appearance from them, so there you have it. N Zema Ion comes down with a belt I can’t quite make out… I’ve seen it somewhere before, I’m sure of it. Oh yeh! The X-Division Title! He says holding the X-Division Title is ‘bittersweet’, because he has no match at BFG. He has taken out the whole X-Division. Out comes RVD. Great call. The guy needs something to do and will give that belt some purpose again. I felt they should have handed the TV Title to him, but this works. RVD said he was just talking to Hogan about him not having a match at BFG, either. Van Daminator in to the belt, in to Ion! Cool spot, havn’t seen that in a while. Ion Vs. RVD for the X-Division title at the PPV! Should be good. VERDICT: This might hopefully motivate RVD again. Plus, you have to imagine Ion will be going for it in this bout, which will surely be his final X-Division title defence. + Hogan and Sting are on tenterhooks. Bully comes in and asks if Sting’s ready. Hogan doesn’t trust Bully and tells him this. Bully basically says, in kayfabe terms, you’ve been heel for ages, and so have I, so what’s the difference? Sting has enough and tells the two that we must get on the same page. He loves Hulk, but he needs his endorsement. Hulk tells Bully he has one chance tonight. Tension is well and truly in the air of the Impact Zone… VERDICT: Bully Ray is gold. That is all. + Uhhh here’s Brooke Hogan making a bad joke about ‘Tara’ing’ her hair out. Wowzers. Here comes Tara who has a ‘media list’ stating what she should be demanding after winning the title. Brooke rips it because she isn’t champion yet. Brooke looks fake stunned after a crappy insult from Tera. Yeh, I’m not keen on this angle. VERDICT: Tara’s good, I just don’t buy this angle. Brooke’s bad, and I don’t buy any of her angles. – Here’s our main event. I guess they meant main event of hour one… World Tag Team Champions of the World Vs. Bully Ray/Sting Big time match up here. Daniels and Bully start out. Daniels gets the upper hand, but Bully changes things with a big shoulder block. A plate of chops are served, and sold like hell in turn. And again. Daniels is bouncing all over the place. Bully locks Daniels in a wristlock and asks everyone if they want Sting, and begins a Sting chant. Yeh, Bully won’t turn at BFG……… Sting bumps Kaz a few times, as Bully and Sting then hit a double team Hiptoss. Bully’s back in and ‘decks’ Kaz. Big time Side Suplex gets a 2. You can hear Daniels breathing like a mother in the corner. Get this man an asthma pump. Kaz is now in the wrong side of town as Sting is tagged once again. A Suplex gets a two. Back in comes Bully. Frequent tags. Bully then says I’ll take that Suplex and I’ll double it. Massive impact. Sting’s back in and he’s looking for a Sting Splash, but Daniels catches his breath and saves his partner by dragging him out, followed by sending Sting nuts first in to the ring post. The Tag champs then double team Sting on the outside. Bully’s waving a chair around. Some great workers in the ring here. Crowd are hot as the beatdown continues now in the ring. Daniels hits a slingshot elbow, followed by Kaz. 2 count only. Cross arm lock wears Sting down in the middle of the ring. Crowd rally behind the Icon. Kaz cuts off Sting’s comeback and tags in Daniels. Daniels announces he’s going to go up top. This always ends bad… Sting chucks him off in a Flair spot. Hot tag! Bully cleans house in a big way. Over and out with a pair of back body drops. Big Samoan Drop on Kaz, but Daniels makes the save. In comes Sting. Daniels goes to hit Sting with the belt, but Bully see’s it first and nails him with a Big Boot. Sting then moves Bully out of the way of a double axe handle. They shake hands. See, they ARE on the same page! Sting demands that Bully ‘gets the tables!’. Funny stuff. Bully gladly obliges. Crowd go nuts. Scorpion Death Drop takes out Kaz. Bully goes up to the second rope. Sting mounts Daniels up. Bully Bomb from the second rope through a table! Hebner’s a party pooper and apparently didn’t enjoy this moment as much as the rest of us, and calls for the bell. Winners: World Tag Team Champions of the World VERDICT: This was really well done. You want to get behind the team of Sting/Bully, even though I’m sure we’ll see the turn. Perhaps they shouldn’t have given away Sting wrestling on Impact, but this was a fun match either way. + Highlight package for Aries/Hardy. This would be a cool angle if it weren’t for Punk/Cena’s ongoing feud. It’s not the same, but it’s close enough to notice. Still, should be a good match. Jeff Hardy does a Jeff Hardy promo about how he’ll get what he deserves, the TNA World Title, and become the best on the planet. I can’t help but feel like this would be much better if Hardy was the heel rather than Aries (whose somewhere in between merely for the purpose of this match). Hardy had the best run of his career (creative wise) as Immortal’s Jeff Hardy (the only positive to come out of that mess of a stable). The pre-taped promos were immensely effective, and suited Hardy down to the ground. VERDICT: Jeff’s sometimes been ok on the mic since he’s cleaned up. This was just a bit of a nothing segment for me, and pains me to think how much better it could be with heel Hardy. – Al Snow/Joey Ryan package. Different way of building a match, that’s for sure. Ryan makes a valid point that BFG is in the West Coast, the origins of Joey Ryan. Expect a decent reaction. He was pretty big on the indy’s there. VERDICT: I’m not 100% invested in to this one, but like I said, I appreciate the different route they’ve taken. N Magnus interrupts Joe and makes a TV Title match for BFG. But Joe wants it tonight instead. Magnus calls that swerve ‘original’. Magnus reminds Joe that the people are meant to pay for title matches, a fact often overlooked by any writer these days. VERDICT: Magnus is improving rapidly. TNA needs to hold on to this guy, as he’s one for the future. He also seems to have garnered a lot of support backstage recently. Match should be good. + We check out Christy’s hooker boots as Gail Kim makes her entrance. God, whatever happened to Gail? The KO Division has really been the red-headed stepchild over the past year, hasn’t it? We’re now treated to Brooke Tessmacher stripping. Only shedding her jacket.. Gail Kim Vs. Miss Tessmacher Gail Kim splashes Tess in the corner early on. Tess comes back with a nice headscissors as Taz patronisingly tells her ‘well done!’. She goes for a Stink Face (ok, maybe Taz wasn’t being patronising), but Gail escapes and regains control. Gail’s looking smoking tonight. Ok, so you can tell I’m not paying a great deal of attention to this match, but neither are Taz and Tenay, who are joking about Taz’s birthday. It’s kinda funny, but it does set the tone for the KO division. Backbreaker from Kim. The crowd are kinda rallying behind Tess. Gail hits the big head of steam in the corner (the one she usually misses). Gail then begins clapping to get the crowd in to the match. Not sure whether that was meant to be mocking or what, but the crowd oblige. Tess catches the legs of Gail and catapults her in to the turnbuckle. Forearm shots in the corner followed by a big clothesline. Tess then nails her with a Legsweep in to a sitout. Cool move. She then goes up top but gets the ropes shaken by Gail. She then picks her up in a DVD position, but Tess reverses in to a crucifix pin for the 2. Huge Sitout Powerbomb by Kim. Crowd and commentators are now in to this. Gail goes for a top rope move, lands on her feet, and Tess hits her finisher for the fall. Winner: Miss Tessmacher Out comes Tara who hits the Widow’s Peak. No, Tess slides down and hits her with her finish instead. The KO champ is left standing. VERDICT: Kim’s a great wrestler, but they need to dig out some sort of character for her. Tess is alright in-ring, but you can’t help but feel like she’s reaching the top of her abilities. Match ended up gaining momentum, after match angle was strange leaving Tara lying. N Roode says Hardy is in the same shoes as him last year. Here comes Storm who is not a happy bunny. He says he knows it was him that took him out in their match tonight, and asks him to do it again face to face. The two brawl. Here comes King Mo out of absolutely nowhere and breaks things up. Because he’s the ENFORCER. VERDICT: King Mo doesn’t interest me (as mentioned above), but this was fine. N Another BFG recap of yesteryear. Hardy’s absolutely mental 25ft Swanton bump. Don’t see bumps like that anymore! He says the only reason he did it was because it was Bound for Glory. Hype package for Sting’s Hall of Fame induction. Pretty cool. Shame they can’t use the WCW footage. There’s a nice clip of a chair in the middle of the ring with Sting’s attire and bat on it. Would have meant a lot more if it was legit his retirement, but still, it’s good for packages such as these. Taz sounds even more high than usual. He’s bumbling a lot of his words. Bobby Roode Vs. Jeff Hardy This one kicks off on the outside and Jeff Hardy’s got a gut full of guard rail. Roode rolls him in and the bell sounds. Crowd solidly behind Jeff. Roode works the crowd some more. Cue Hardy comeback. Jeff hits the Hardy comeback spot (Inverted atomic drop, legdrop between the legs, kick off the ropes). Jeff then slows the pace down. Odd way to start, but different. That’s the main thing. Exchange of blows. Roode takes a Flair-esque back body drop out of the corner and gets sent to the outside. Roode goes to drag Hardy out, but Hardy pushes him in to the barriers. Yet another Plancha, this time courtesy of Hardy. More Flair tributes as Roode begs off back in the ring. Hardy doesn’t care and pummels him back in to the corner. Roode ends up coming back with a big-time Clothesline to the face of Hardy. Roode ends up tossing Hardy back to the outside. Hardy nails Roode with a winding Suplex on the floor. Back from the break, we see Hardy throw Roode in to the ring post. But something must have happened between then, because we have Hardy in the rest hold/advert break spot. Crowd chant ‘Lets Go Hardy’. Jeff Hardy with a false comeback. Roode goes up to the second rope and sizes Jeff up. Sommersault Neckbreaker gets a 2. Back to the outside again. Lots of this tonight. Roode looks smugly at the crowd as they chant for Jeff. Nice touch, not enough working the crowd from heels these days. Hardy, meet the steel steps. Slow Neckbreaker back in the ring only gets a 2. Roode starts to look frustrated. Another false comeback lands Jeff in a sleeper hold. Hardy’s style is completely different to that of ten years ago, and probably a necessity to his career. Taz sells that Jeff’s passed out, but of course, this is not the case. Jeff teases breaking out of the hold, but goes back down. This is simple, but the crowd are buying it. Hardy introduces Roode to the turnbuckles, and in turn hits him with the Whisper in the Wind. Both men down. Jeff gets a near fall with his trademark caught spin kick. A cool second rope splash from Hardy. Two count only. Off the ropes and Roode nails him with a ‘Double A’ Spinebuster for the two count. Hardy fights back and ends up missing a Swanton, followed by a Spear (for whatever reason) from Roode. Close fall again. Roode looks for the Fisherman’s Suplex, but Hardy reverses in to the Twist of Fate (Stunner style). He goes for another but Roode nails him with a low blow. Ref’s not happy. DQ. Winner: Jeff Hardy VERDICT: Good match that was definitely of PPV quality. I do worry they give too much away on TV these days, though. Why am I meant to buy the PPV? Also, why should I watch the TV shows if all these big matches end in DQ’s? It’s hard. Wrestling’s got itself in to a bit of a rut. I just feel like someone needs to take a risk and shake up the format, as it’s all been done before. I don’t mean to sound negative about the match itself, though, as it was well done. + Roode isn’t done and grabs a chair. Brian Hebner snatches it away, and in turn Roode finds another Twist of Fate. Hardy celebrates as Austin Aries music hits. He says he won’t let the night end with Jeff Hardy sitting in the middle of ‘his ring’. Aries has the show format in his hand and says he will not be reading off of this, and screws it up. Aries says how he’s been directed to embrace the fans and change his direction, but that will be no more. He says he’s only jealous of one thing – People catering to Jeff Hardy. Aries says he wanted new entrance music, but they were too busy shooting Hardy videos. Nice touch. Aries says he works best against the system, and against the world. Jeff snatches the mic. He says his nuts hurt, his neck hurts, and on Sunday, he’ll ‘end his cocky ass’. Austin gives him an opportunity to have a moment with the fans, and then respectfully asks Hardy to leave so he can have a moment to ‘bask in his glory’. Hardy does so, but Aries kicks the second rope as he leaves, then nails him with the Brainbuster to end the show. VERDICT: Good ending that put heat on Aries, and was entirely necessary. Austin’s great on the mic, so much to the point where it made Jeff’s few lines (don’t snigger..) sound a little pathetic in comparison. + OVERALL – This fell in to the category of ‘just another Impact’, as it has done over the past month. It seems as though TNA almost spunked their wad a little too early, and have now realised they have to drag out angles (or create last-minute matches, somehow) until the PPV. Fortunately, this episode was boosted by another solid performance from Bully Ray, and some good PPV calibre match-ups. It wasn’t BAD by any means, but I wouldn’t consider watching it again. +