Thursday, 19 March 2015

Another Note on Booking By Adam Timmins (@AdamTimmins83)

So I dashed off a less-than-200-word piece on Monday, emailed it to Stuart, and didn’t really give it much thought, but apparently it created quite a stir when it when was shared; some of it over the fact I called Brian Danielson, er, Brian Danielson. To avoid bringing Gottlieb Frege into things, I’ll refer to him as Daniel Bryan from hereon in. 

A couple of points came up after I wrote the original note which I wanted to address. I remember thinking last year when the whole Bryan/ Wrestlemania thing was playing out that it was a funny old world when a wrestling company has a guy who’s massively over and it’s a real problem. And history has repeated itself this year in terms of the problem of Bryan’s popularity; except that where the Fed acceded to fans wishes last year, this year it’s tough love.

Of course, the incongruous word in that sentence is ‘wrestling company’. Naturally for years the Fed has been referring to what it does as sports entertainment; but I always just rolled my eyes and thought “it features wrestlers, in a wrestling ring, having wrestling matches – it’s wrestling.” But when you reach the point we have now; where wrestlers are actually being punished for getting over (I’m thinking of Ryder here); or at the very least being held back even though you’re doing what you’re ultimately supposed to do as a wrestler – then they’re right – it’s not wrestling. When you reach a point where you’re violating the fundamental norm or rule of what is supposed to guide you, then whatever you’re doing becomes something else. So in a sense, Vince has now achieved what presumably he thought he’d done years ago – that is, created sports entertainment. 

The other point someone made to me on Monday night was that it’s not just Bryan who’s been subordinated to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania; John Cena finds himself scrabbling around in the mid-card for the first time in ten years or so. Generally I refrain from commenting on Cena, on the basis that no-one can agree on anything said about; the debate about Cena wallows in the sort of fragmented chaos that the historiography of the French revolution once did. Ultimately though, the difference between the current predicaments of Cena and Bryan is that on the eve of Mania Cena could squat down, defecate in his hand, and hurl it in Vince’s  face; and still be guaranteed a decent post-Mania push. Bryan, I suspect, has to tread a bit more carefully. 

I’m probably going to get hammered for referring to the French revolution here [you pretentious twat –Ed.], so I might as well finish with another historical comparison. In the twenty years or so prior to the Russian revolution, everyone knew that Russia was a mess internally, and that a revolution would happen sooner or later – indeed, there was an aborted effort in 1905. Of course, no-one knew the form that it would take, but it was bound to happen. It strikes me we’re in a similar situation with the WWE; indeed, we could take the Russian analogy further – an out of touch, autocratic leader is currently heading up a tottering empire. It’s unlikely however, that Vince will be overthrown by an uprising from below. It’s generally accepted though, that change won’t occur until Vince is gone (i.e. dies). And that will happen at some point, but no-one knows when. But until then, it’s a case of just marking time….

NXT Recap March 11th 2015 By Jeromme Graham (@JerommeGraham)

First match of the night is Enzo & Cass vs. the Lucha Dragons. Enzo & Cass aren’t accompanied by Carmella and it’s funny how much better their entrance shtick flows without her. The Full Sail crowd didn’t really seem to be all that into the Lucha Dragons, but Enzo’s comedic timing went over well. The match itself was pretty solid. Enzo & Cass got the win over the former NXT Tag Team champions and it wouldn’t be a shock to see eventually see them sporting the titles.

We then get a killer Kevin Owens video package recapping how he won the NXT title and showing how dominant he has been.

Next match up is Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss. If you’ve been watching NXT regularly, you know that the women’s division gets a ton of well deserved praise. However, that praise tends to largely be focused solely on Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Bayley. It’s nice to see Carmella and Alexa get some time to shine. The match felt a little clunky at points, but the potential of both ladies was very evident. Alexa got the win with the Sparkle Splash from the top rope.

We’re then taken to a backstage Alex Riley promo. To call this promo passionate would be an understatement. With his #FreeRiley campaign on Twitter, Riley made it very clear that he wants to be an in-ring competitor more than anything you can see that he’s serious about it and giving it his all.

CJ Parker vs. Alex Riley. It seems that CJ Parker is now the go-to guy for matches against returning stars or debuting acts. The crowd was soundly behind Riley and that was great to see. Riley looked good and picked up the win with a Blockbuster. This was a decent match designed to re-introduce Riley as a wrestler and it got the job done. NXT Champion Kevin Owens came out after the match to taunt Riley and to make his presence felt, building up tension of the Owens vs. Riley match.

From there, we get right into the main event.

Tyler Breeze vs.Hideo Itami. Both Breeze and Itami are beloved guys that fanswould love to see more of, so to see them main eventing the show is great. There has been a lot of talk that Itami was struggling to adapt to the WWE style, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue any longer.  Breeze picked up the win with the Beauty Shot after dodging a dropkick from Itami. I’m sure this feud is far from over.

Overall, this was a solid episode of NXT. It furthered along the Breeze vs. Itami and Owens vs. Riley feuds and we got to see Bliss and Carmella get more ring time. While this episode didn’t feature some of the top tier NXT names like Balor or Neville, the wrestling didn’t disappoint.

Monday, 16 March 2015

A Note On Booking By Adam Timmins

So I came across the final card for this year’s Wrestlemania this morning, and my reaction was “wow, this is pretty bad.”For a Wrestlemania anyway. But the one thing that really stood out was the placement of Brian Danielson in the IC Title Ladder Match. Here’s a guy who’s over like crazy; probably the most over guy in the company…and he’s lost in the shuffle.

Now this got me thinking about booking in general. In any other promotion, wrestlers are told “it’s your job to get yourself over.” It is your goal as a wrestler; it’s how you know you’re doing your job correctly. If you’re over, then you’ve earned your shot at titles, main events, decent payoffs etc.

Unless of course you’re in the WWE. You have to wonder what’s going through Danielson’s mind at the moment. If he’s making decent coin, and obviously he has his beautiful wife, maybe he’s not too fussed about. But there must be part of him, somewhere, that’s saying “this isn’t right.”

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Bill DeMott Issue Raises It's Ugly Head Again

So, more former WWE developmental wrestlers have come forward with stories of Bill Demott's treatment of them while they were there. The first time I'd heard of DeMott's abuse towards trainees was way back on the Two And A Half Wrestlers podcast which is hosted by Kevin Matthews.

Some time back I interviewed former developmental talent Rampage Brown on  The Indy Corner and I did mention to him what I had heard but he couldn't shed any light on the matter.

However, there's no smoke without fire, I know many will say it's just disgruntled wrestlers who didn't 'make it' in NXT but I think there is more to it than that. Even people who had dealings with DeMott in the past who were not actual talent have said he was a bit of a hard ass so again, I think there is something in this story and I  advise you to seek out Kevin's podcast to hear what he and his guests had to say about DeMott.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

TNA Glasgow By Craig Hermit

 When the final episode of Impact Wrestling aired on SpikeTv last year, fans in the UK were concerned about what might happen regarding the Maximum Impact Tour and the future of TNA itself in 2015

Despite not having a television product in America, in the UK however, Challenge TV, treated fans and kept them interested in the TNA brand by presenting with the second series of British Boot Camp. 

This second outing is regarded by fans as widely superior setup to the previous series. With a new format to the show, this proved to be more successful in demonstrating the variety and the depth of talent that the UK had to offer also with Jeremy Borash and Rockstar Spud on commentary, who were passionate in the words for the praise they gave the wrestlers.

Even towards the end of the series, British Boot Camp did everything it could to make sure fans were aware that TNA was coming to the UK in 2015. A prime example was when Grado challenged one of the judges, Al Snow to a match in his home town of Glasgow after he was let go from the competition.

Alternatively, the three finalists, Mark Andrews, Kay Lee Ray and Rampage Brown en route to the final had matches with the stars from TNA and looked every bit as there equals during the bouts.
The finale saw Mark Andrews winning the contract to become a TNA Star, and that was when any doubt that fans may have had about the company continuing were laid to rest. 

Fast forward to January 29th after Impact Wrestling has produced three successful shows on Destination America and Challenge TV, TNA arrived in Glasgow.

Dixie Carter had this to say about the UK tour and the fans "Our fans across the UK know TNA for the unmatched professional wrestling we deliever each week on Challenge. We are thrilled to once again showcase internationally through our flagship program, Impact, the energy and excitement of the rowdy UK crowds by televising all three of our MAXIMUM IMPACT 7 events in Glasgow, Manchester and London. After the incredible energy the UK fans gave the IMPACT shows broadcast from these three cities this past January, I decided we had to try and raise the bar even higher in 2015. Several talent such as Lashley, Bram, Angelina Love and TNA Knockouts Champion Taryn Terrell will be making their first appearance on a TNA UK tour or returning after several years' absence"
As a fan who attended the Maximum Impact Tour in 2014, I was keen to see if there would be any differences this year.

The Fan Interaction session was alot more organised this year and more planning had been done to make it run smoother. The fans got to speak to, have autographs and photos taken with, Gail Kim, Angelina Love, So Cal Val, Mr Anderson, Bram, Samuel Shaw and Matt Hardy. It must be mentioned that all the stars were on fantastic form and were entertaining from start to finish.
As the interaction finished, fans only had to wait an hour, or for fans who arrived earlier to the show, were greeted by five finalists of British Boot Camp, Mark Andrews, Kay Lee Ray, Noam Dar, Grado and Rampage Brown. 

The five stood with the crowd, taking selfies, answering questions and autographs for fans as well. This was a brilliant touch by TNA who recognised that the fans would enjoy this way to talk to there stars better for a better interactive experience.

For fans who got to the seats early or were close to the ring got to meet, TNA President Dixie Carter who was fantastic to talk to and took every chance to interact with the crowds.

The show started with a brilliant tag team match featuring Kay Lee Ray and Noam Dar facing Gail Kim and Rampage Brown, the Hydro crowd were cheering for more when the ICW regulars Ray & Dar triumphed in a hard fought bout that demonstrated that the three British Boot Camp finalists were ready to compete on the main stage.

From there fans were entertained by an amazing wrestling match between Austin Aries and Bobby Roode that paved the way for a segment between Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley and MVP.

The matches continued when Bram destroyed Crazy Steve, Awesome Kong dismantled Madison Rayne, a great bout in three on two match between Tryus and EC3 against Rockstar Spud, Mark Andrews & Jeremy Borash that saw highflying highlights from Spud, Andrews and even Borash himself. The first part of the show closed with the main event having Samoa Joe & MVP defeat Bobby Lashley and Kurt Angle.

Inbetween the matches, it has to be said that So Val Cal and Jeremy Borash were fantastic at keeping the fans entertained.

The next part of the show, the fans witnessed a brutal Street Fight between Eric Young & Tommy Dreamer. There was a Knockouts Championship match that saw Taryn Tarrell face Angelina Love and even had an appearance from Awesome Kong and Gail Kim that excited the fans.

Matt Hardy was later saved from an onslaught by all the members of The Revolution as The Wolves intervened and left the fans wanting more.

But the next segment had fans in awe, (only the second biggest surprise of the night) as Mickie James arrived to the ring and had a verbal showdown with Bram. Then the fallout of the EC3/Rockstar Spud feud added another TNA star to the mix, Mr Anderson, there was indeed a "scalping" that had the crowd shouting with delight.

Next was the twenty man gauntlet match and it was an explosive bout seeing Kurt Angle, MVP, Kenny King and Austin Aries all having key roles in the chance to become the No1 Contender for the TNA Heavyweight Championship.

And finally, the last match witnessed Grado against Al Snow, it was a good match that both men delivered and Grado would defeat the man who would refuse to shake his hand on British Boot Camp but at the end of the bout the two would join forces to leave the crowd with a happy ending...
Or so it seemed, as they stood with the crowd cheering, all the members of the Beat Down Clan invaded the ring and attacked. The cheers turned to venom as the fans witnessed there hero and his ally being assaulted, then suddenly a hooded man entered the ring with the steel pipe and chased the attackers away, it was Insane Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion Drew Galloway much to the shock and amazement of the crowd.

The three men stood tall in the ring as the fans chanted ICW and on this night, there was no better way to end this event and conclude the storyline left open at British Boot Camp to make it a success for everyone involved.

Overall, it was amazing to think that a year ago, TNA hid the ICW chants from fans. This year, they embraced and welcomed those reactions from a red hot crowd as the company at least for a short time has an alliance with the well known Scottish Wrestling Company. It shows that within a year the growth and maturity Impact Wrestling has developed, even recently they have named other wrestling companies on Tv, acknowledging the wrestlers histories, and this shows that a new beginning on Destination America really is an exciting new e
ra for the company and their fans.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Roman Reigns: Ready For The Number One Spot?

I'm listening to a certain wrestling related podcast and the hosts are banging on about how Roman Reigns, in their opinion, is not ready for the top spot in the company stemming from his winning of the Royal Rumble recently.

Now, I understand the longtime fans say more negative than positive stuff about the current product but when you have the likes of Vince McMahon & Paul 'Triple H' Leveque at the helm with their pedigree, excuse the pun, you'd think choosing Reigns must be the correct choice, wouldn't you?

These hosts are saying he's not ready, one PPV match as a singles wrestler, not the best on the mic but a way they think around it could be if Reigns was to turn and align himself with Paul Heyman which in turn sends current WWE champion and as of now, Reigns' opponent at Wrestle Mania, Brock Lesnar, the other way as "the fans really want to get behind him".

Going back to the Royal Rumble, the fans booed the fact Reigns won the 30 man over the top rope battle royal, this lead to a trending hashtag on twitter for people to cancel their WWE Network subscriptions, not quite sure how many actually did but those fans have to ask themselves, who else should of won the match? Daniel Bryan has just come back from a serious injury and I'll be honest, I personally can't buy him as a credible opponent for Lesnar at Mania, yes, the plucky underdog fighting from the bottom up bit nothing else.

These are my views from the outside looking in, I'm sure there are more 'hardcore' WWE fans than me reading this so I welcome your views on what I have written and what you think about the whole situation concerning Reigns and his spot.

Hit me up on twitter @WLHSTU

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Notes from the Rumble By @AdamTimmins83

Wrestling fans could be forgiven for having a feeling of deja vu the morning after the 2015 Royal Rumble. Following the mauling the live crowd gave the 2014 edition of the event, surely 2015 couldn’t be any worse? Alas , not only was the said crowd as unreceptive to the PPV, but the Twitter hash tag #cancelWWENetwork trended worldwide for several hours after the event, forcing the WWE to rush out an anniucement claiming that Network subscriptions had hit the 1 million mark.
Obviously much has been written about the events and what they portend for the WWE; the following is no attempt at an exhaustive analysis, but rather addresses a few things that stood out for me from the whole affair…

The Court of the Tsar – much has been made of how it’s now clear that ‘Vince is out of touch’; but the truth is this has been the case for years. Like many dictators, Vince lives in a bubble, surrounded by yes-men such as Kevin Dunn. The only ‘resistance’ that the real world provides to what he’s told largely comes in the form of TV ratings and stock prices. If it is indeed the case that the WWE Network has hit 1 million subscribers – and personal I’m not entirely convinced about those numbers – then Vince’s attitude is likely to be “what’s the problem? A few local difficulties in Philly?” This idea that Vince is purposely sabotaging his product just to piss the fans off is not beyond the bounds of possibility; but I suspect the truth is he’s so far removed from popular opinion he is legitimately surprised about the backlash. 

WWE FC – the divided reactions of fans to the #CancelWWENetwork episode reminded me of the situations recently at both Arsenal and West Ham: where fans were (literally) fighting among themselves over whether their respective managers should be sacked or not. In many ways WWE does resemble a football club, in that although in theory in theory it’s a ‘brand’ or a ‘product’, it inspires the kind of loyalty that you don’t display towards say, Persil. Indeed, like many football fans, many WWE loyalists pride themselves on supporting the product particularly when it’s bad – a variation on the “you’ve gotta get behind the lads” rubbish you hear from fans even when there team’s performances clearly don’t warrant such backing. You can take the football parallel further – just as pissed off fans of a big team will protest by going to watch a smaller team – Manchester United fans going to watch FC United of Manchester for example – so annoyed WWE fans can go off and watch NJPW, ROH, or even TNA if they get really desperate (zing!). 

Too Big to Fail? – it shows the measure of dominance that WWE has that despite woefully underperforming creatively for many years now, the company itself is fairly stable in terms of its financial viability. The general feeling is that even if Stephanie was booked to hold the WWE title for a year at some point, the company will still be around for Wrestlemania 40. Then again, ten years is a long time in wrestling. The WWE could never go pop like WCW….could it?