Saturday 11 November 2023

Russo is a hypocrite and JR’s AEW Future

So, it's been a while, a long while, since I posted anything on this website, the reason, well, I don't really watch wrestling anymore, I watch some older stuff every now and then, I sort of keep an eye out on happenings within wrestling but I just don't have the get up and go to really watch it this day and age. Even when I stopped watching wrestling I kept listening to podcasts that covered wrestling in one way or another, I would listen to a wide range of them but then really cut down as my podcast listening time was taken up listening to podcasts on other subjects but then, I just got totally disillusioned with the ones I was listening to, so I just totally stopped altogether. 

I got into a position to be able to listen to Vince Russo's 'Castrating The Mark' podcast. At first I did find it funny in parts where he, and his lapdog, sorry, his co-host, Jeff Lane would mock the likes of Dave Meltzer, Mike Johnson and people of that ilk but I think, his main target is Tony Khan. 

These people don't do themselves any favours however, I can't listen to Russo and not think he is just a hypocrite. The CTM podcast relies on listeners sending in tweets or clips they find online that Russo/Lane will read/listen to and then rip the you know what out of them. I said above, I think Russo is a hypocrite, he takes the piss out of wrestling fans and the 'dirt' sheet writers for being obsessed with wrestling, he often mocks Meltzer for not having anything in his life other than wrestling, the thing is, these two (Russo/Lane) do countless podcasts, they may make a pretty penny off them but are tons of them really needed?

They rip on Meltzer for talking about the amount of fans in a crowd yet they will constantly talk about ratings even though he is not involved in wrestling anymore. I have emailed Jeff Lane as he wants listeners to send in submissions but to no surprise, they have brought up my points on their show. CTM is behind a paywall but if you can get the chance to listen to it, give it a go to see what I am talking about, you will find some stuff funny, I have no doubt of that, you just won't hear Lane disagreeing with Russo, and the fact Lane has the nerve to rip on wrestling fans, writers etc. is laughable, this is a grown man who films himself playing video games.

Anybody who has known me for a while will know I have a hang-up so to speak regarding ratings discussions. most that do these podcasts or write for websites are just fans, should it really matter to a fan what ratings say  WWE RAW or AEW Dynamite do? For me, no, let those in power in the respective companies worry about that, fans should just enjoy the product if they can and if they feel they need to talk/write about wrestling then do that. To put a bow on this, if talking about ratings is something you like to talk about then that's cool if that's your thing, it's not my place to say what you can or can't talk about I just think, fans shouldn't care.


So, what else has been happening, well, I saw a graphic saying Jim Ross was leaving AEW and he would give an update on his contract situation soon. I then thought I'd listen to his podcast for the first time in a while to hear if he covers it with Conshill Thompson, after 15 minutes or so of talking about college football they eventually talked about it, he basically said, his doctor has advised him to take time off, when he flies, his leg hurts him quite bad, for those who don't know, Ross was diagnosed with skin cancer sometime ago and he recovered somewhat but still has issues and as stated, after he flies, he has issues with his leg for a while. Ross is 71yrs old now, he has been well-regarded as the best commentator in wrestling history, some will say Gordon Solie was and maybe even Lance Russell but those who were fans of the NWA and then WCW in the late 80's and early 90's and of course, fans of the WWF from 93 onwards through the Attitude Era until he finally parted ways with the company do regard him as the best. I have to say, I always thought Ross in AEW was a strange combination, of course, you never know why Vince McMahon would not want Ross on TV but people have their own thoughts. Although a great catch by Khan to get him for AEW, not just for his commentary skills but his overall, knowledge for wrestling, of course, while in the WWF/E, one of his jobs was head of talent relations so you'd think that would be a great help to AEW BUT, I said earlier I thought it was a strange combination, Ross and AEW and I mean, Ross has always been a bit of a wrestling traditionalist, yes, he had to commentate through the Attitude Era, which, although was very successful for the WWF featuring some absolutely ridiculous stuff that frankly shouldn't have been anywhere near a wrestling show but AEW, well, although a lot of it is the style of wrestling I was big into as I was a huge fan of independent wrestling and many of the guys in AEW came through the indies (some in the WWE too of course) and I would've thought Ross wouldn't have been a fan and tbh, listening to his podcast since he has been in AEW I have heard little comments here and there that you can hear him pretty much state this.

I wish JR all the best, if he carries on in AEW (or goes to work elsewhere) or just retires and enjoys his family, and carries on his podcasting, maybe if he does retire he can do a college football podcast rather than talk about it on his wrestling one 😉

Thanks for reading guys, my email is on the right hand side if you want to get in touch or you can get me on twitter or X or whatever @WLHSTU

If you want to write for the website, again, get in touch

Tuesday 15 January 2019

WWE Best Of PPV Matches 2018 DVD Review By Martin Bentley



In a very mixed year overall for the WWE, their pay-per-view offerings at least provided some great moments for viewers of the WWE Network along with the fans in attendance, and WWE’s latest collection, “Best Pay-Per-View Matches 2018” brings together 17 of last year’s best big show bouts. As with prior collections in the series, matches from end of year PPVs such as Survivor Series and TLC aren’t included for timing reasons, but there is enough variety over the course of the three disc set to keep fans happy.

Disc One kicks off in a huge way with the Men’s Royal Rumble Match from the 2018 edition of the Royal Rumble PPV. Although it sat in the middle of the card while the first ever female edition headlined the show, it was the best Royal Rumble match in many years, with Finn Balor anchoring the match as the Iron Man, some surprises from both the past and from NXT, and a dramatic finish between Roman Reigns and Shinsuke Nakamura. Another of WWE’s tentpole matches is next, as Reigns, John Cena, The Miz, Seth Rollins, Elias, Balor and Braun Strowman entered the Elimination Chamber to claim a shot at the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania 34. With an extra body involved, the match was more chaotic than usual, and had a key storyline in Cena being desperate to win the match in order to secure a big WrestleMania match.

Fastlane 2018’s contribution is a polarising bout for the WWE United States Championship between champion Bobby Roode and Randy Orton, which is definitely slow-paced, but showed that Roode when on his game could fit the in-house WWE style, a match very much suited to Orton’s taste. The last bout on the disc is the main show opener from WrestleMania 34, as The Miz defended the WWE Intercontinental Championship in a Triple Threat Match against Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. The Kingslayer had gained momentum following a gauntlet match on RAW where he lasted over an hour, and this match showcased why Rollins ended up being the WWE’s male workhorse of 2018 – though Miz and Balor hold up their ends of the bargain as well in a very good match.

Roode vs Orton (Fastlane)
Disc Two remains at the Showcase of the Immortals with the in-ring debut of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, as she teamed with Kurt Angle against Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. The former UFC Champion delivered beyond expectations in her first ever public wrestling match, judo throwing McMahon from hither to yon, and also outclassing The Game on a few occasions, while Angle threw back the years with his own great performance. One of the more underrated PPV matches of the year is next, as Seth Rollins defends the Intercontinental Championship against The Miz at Backlash 2018. The first non-Big 4 PPV where both RAW and SmackDown Live would host matches (due largely to the single brand PPVs not performing well on the WWE Network) saw Miz try and take the title over to his new home of SmackDown, with Rollins fighting tooth and nail to keep it on RAW, resulting in a great contest that ranks at the top of Miz’s long career.

Both matches featured from Money in the Bank 2018 are from the women’s division, the first being the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match, where RAW stars Sasha Banks, Ember Moon, Alexa Bliss and Natalya faced off with SmackDown’s Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Naomi and Lana, producing a pretty violent match that showed the levels WWE’s female talent were prepared to take things going forward, and one which two of the competitors went on to replicate later in the year. The winner of the match also proved to be a key factor in Nia Jax’s RAW Women’s Championship defence against Ronda Rousey, where the Rowdy One stunned fans with how good her selling was for someone so inexperienced at the profession, making Jax look super intimidating.

A strange inclusion in the set is Braun Strowman’s steel cage bout with Kevin Owens at Extreme Rules 2018, although it includes Owens taking an insane bump off the top of the cage through a table, the spot was rendered meaningless by the subsequent booking on TV. A better bout from the same show saw Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley go one-on-one, a rare time where WWE booked the former ECW and Impact Championship effectively, although once again, the next night’s TV booking overruled it. SummerSlam 2018 featured two old TNA rivals going at it over the WWE Championship, with AJ Styles defending against Samoa Joe. A slower-paced match than their past bouts, the drama of their storyline more than makes up for it, although the finish is a bit of a let-down.
AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe (SummerSlam)
Disc Three remains at SummerSlam with the renewal of a decade-long rivalry between The Miz and the returning Daniel Bryan, as both men delivered on their hatred for each other, stemming from how Miz treated Bryan while Bryan was the general manager of SmackDown Live. The story sees Miz claim that he’s better than Bryan, only to be outwitted at nearly every turn, until a familiar saviour emerges. SummerSlam’s main event saw the conclusion of one of the most disappointing rivalries of 2018, but at least this bout between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship didn’t outstay its welcome – in fact it’s a pretty action packed six minutes, although Braun Strowman’s presence with his Money in the Bank briefcase is very confusing.

Hell in a Cell 2018 is represented by three matches, the first of which is Jeff Hardy’s very first match inside the demonic structure against Randy Orton. Although the Cell presented its obvious dangers, the most memorable spot sees Orton jam a screwdriver into Hardy’s pierced earlobe in one of the most squeamish spots in WWE history. Following a heel turn at SummerSlam that instead helped make her the most popular Superstar in WWE, Becky Lynch got her one-on-one shot at Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, and shows why she’s such a problem for the Queen as the Lass Kicker had a counter to nearly everything thrown at her. The last bout is another Cell match, as Braun Strowman cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase against new Universal Champion Roman Reigns. It’s a brutal bout with an ugly conclusion, but sadly one that proved to be Reigns’ last singles PPV match for the time being, as he would vacate the title in October following the reoccurrence of leukaemia.

Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair (Evolution)
The final match of the set was the one voted on WWE.com as the best main roster match of 2018, as Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair met once again in a Last Woman Standing Match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Evolution, the first ever WWE all-women’s PPV, this time with Lynch defending the title. The two rivals went all over the building, using many weapons, stealing the show on one of the most important nights in recent WWE history. This is also the match where Lynch moved on from being just the Lass Kicker, and ended up becoming The Man, and the person hotly tipped to have WrestleMania 35 built around her.

'Best Pay-Per-View Matches 2018' is a mixed bag in terms of quality, but the majority of the great PPV bouts from 2018 have made it into the collection, ranging from world title bouts, to some of the big marquee gimmick matches, to the further emergence of the women’s division. The DVD set is a good snapshot of the highs and lows of WWE’s year, with plenty to learn from heading into 2019 and you can buy it from https://www.wwedvd.co.uk.

Monday 5 November 2018

WWE: AJ Styles – Most Phenomenal Matches DVD Review By Martin Bentley



Since making the move to the WWE nearly three years ago, AJ Styles has proven himself to be one of the promotion’s most elite and dependable stars, and his quick rise to the top of the card is documented in his first WWE DVD collection, “AJ Styles – Most Phenomenal Matches”.

With the WWE Network allowing the ability to tell Styles’ story in previous documentaries, including his 365 special, “Most Phenomenal Matches” features just under 9 hours of The Phenomenal One’s best matches since his arrival in WWE at the 2016 Royal Rumble, where he was a surprise entrant after finishing his storied run in New Japan Pro Wrestling. The collection features short interview segments where Styles goes over various events in his WWE career, including the possibility that he could have been introduced with a new name, but the giant “AJ” tattoo on his ribcage led to the decision to stick with the name he had been using for his whole career. Anyone wanting footage from his time in NJPW as well as Ring of Honor or TNA have to make do with various still photos in a short summary of what he accomplished before arriving in WWE.

 Disc One starts the night after his Royal Rumble debut, and the beginning of his first WWE rivalry with Chris Jericho. Their bout on the January 25th 2016 episode of RAW is a decent introduction for Styles to a new audience, giving a taste of what was to come. Styles and Jericho then formed a short-lived alliance known as Y2AJ, which came to a head when they challenged The New Day for the WWE Tag Team Titles on the March 7th 2016 episode of RAW. The conclusion of a well-worked tag bout led to Jericho turning on Styles, setting up Styles’ first appearance at WrestleMania, where he and Jericho had a good bout which could have been capable of better, but was still one of the highlights of a not-fondly remembered WrestleMania 32 in Dallas.

Styles vs Jericho At Wrestle Mania 32
Styles eventually gets the better of Jericho in a Fatal Four Way also involving Kevin Owens and the returning Cesaro the night after WrestleMania on the April 4th episode of RAW, which made him the number one contender for the new WWE Champion Roman Reigns. Their two PPV bouts are shown back-to-back, the first at Payback 2016 is affected by the stop-start nature near the end that served to build up a storyline at the time between Shane and Stephanie McMahon, but the in-ring work is exemplary. The follow-up at Extreme Rules 2016 is a step up, even with interference by The Club and The Usos, and it showed that Styles was more than capable of hanging with “The Guy”. The end of Disc One details Styles’ heel turn on John Cena, skipping over their forgotten Money In The Bank 2016 match to go right to their first classic encounter at SummerSlam 2016, where Styles got his first marquee victory in WWE.

Disc Two begins at the start of the most recent WWE brand extension, which saw Styles head over to SmackDown Live. It would not take long for him to begin his dominance of the Blue Brand, as The Phenomenal One wins his first WWE Championship against Dean Ambrose at Backlash 2016. Styles would go on to feud with The Lunatic Fringe over the title for the rest of 2016, culminating in their crazy Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at TLC 2016 which demonstrated their hatred for each other, although interference by James Ellsworth throws things off a touch.

Styles’ first reign with the title comes to an end with another classic with John Cena at Royal Rumble 2017, which gave Cena his WWE-recognised record-equalling 16th World Title reign, but this was an incredible performance by Styles in what was regarded as the best main roster match of 2017. Cena and Styles met again on the February 14th 2017 episode of SmackDown, but by this point, Cena had lost the WWE Championship to Bray Wyatt, so the two challenged the Eater of Worlds in a great Triple Threat bout in what was by far the highlight moment of Wyatt’s lacklustre title reign.
Styles then began a rivalry with SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon over what was perceived as a lack of respect, leading to their bout at WrestleMania 33 in Orlando. Styles and McMahon engaged in a fun weapons brawl which set a pace that the rest of the card struggled to live up to, and not long afterwards, Styles turned back babyface after having earned McMahon’s respect. The final bout on Disc Two saw Styles welcome Sami Zayn over to SmackDown Live as part of the Superstar Shakeup on the April 11th 2017 episode of SmackDown, in another fun Triple Threat match also involving Baron Corbin, which made Styles the number one contender for the United States Championship.

Styles vs Shane McMahon At Wrestle Mania 33

Disc Three begins with a fun TV bout against Chad Gable on the July 4th 2017 episode of SmackDown, three days before Styles would win the United States Title from Kevin Owens at a Madison Square Garden house show. Styles lost it back to Owens by accident at Battleground 2017, but two nights later, Styles wins it back in a Triple Threat match on the July 25th episode of SmackDown which also includes his old rival Chris Jericho. The rivalry with Owens over the summer of 2017 didn’t have the killer matches fans hoped it would, which is why it does not feature heavily in the collection.

By November 2017, Styles had lost the US Title, but would surprise fans by claiming his second WWE Championship against Jinder Mahal at the November 7th episode of SmackDown in Manchester, marking the first time in the over 50 year history of the title that the WWE Championship had been won outside of North America. It also began a year-long reign with the title that Styles still holds as of the release of this DVD collection and the publication of this review. The title win set up a Champion vs. Champion showdown with Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2017, where Styles put on the best one-on-one bout with The Beast in the last couple of years, despite ending in defeat.

2018 began with a rivalry against Shinsuke Nakamura, following The King of Strong Style’s Royal Rumble win. Their WrestleMania 34 bout in New Orleans was billed as a dream match following their classic at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 10 in 2016, and while this bout was very good, it failed to live up to their Tokyo Dome showdown. Nakamura turned heel on Styles following the match, setting up a series of matches throughout the summer, culminating in their Last Man Standing Match at Money In The Bank 2018 which did a great deal to make Nakamura look good in defeat, and make Styles look strong as champion. The collection unfortunately cuts off before Styles’ current rivalry with Samoa Joe, with the last match being a very good TV bout against Andrade “Cien” Almas on the July 17th 2018 episode of SmackDown.

Styles vs Nakamura At Wrestle Mania 34
Most hardcore AJ Styles fans will own the various collections of his matches issued by Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling, and will have access to New Japan World to see his legendary NJPW bouts, and “Most Phenomenal Matches” will sit along nicely with those collections. As Styles heads towards the tail end of his career, “Most Phenomenal Matches” demonstrates that he certainly isn’t letting up into his early forties, and that his WWE run is more than a match with what he accomplished earlier in his career.

You can purchase this great DVD set right NOW over at https://wwedvd.co.uk/