Thursday, 21 July 2016

The WWE Future Has Finally Arrived By Gary R. Ward

 While most expected it to happen, it was still the biggest news of the night as the WWE shook things up again with the WWE Draft.

Finn Bálor went 5th overall in a pretty exciting first round in the 2016 WWE Draft, Finn went before some established WWE Superstars such as John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Randy Orton and The WWE World Tag Team Champions The New Day, what surprised my most wasn't that Bálor a former 3 time  IWGP Jr Heavyweight was drafted it was with what pick.

Bálor has shown since joining the WWE in May 2014 that not only does he have a unique look and ring style, it's that he can continue to improve in every aspect of being a sports entertainer, once Finn joined WWE's developmental NXT it was obvious to most that he didn't need to improve much inside the ring, infact as shown on his WWE Network special, close friend Matt Bloom (head coach in NXT) confirmed that the WWE didn't need to improve his in ring work, if like myself you've watch Finn as Prince Devitt in NJPW or anywhere across Europe you'd of expected his ring work to be some of the best the WWE has, my initial thought was that Bálor might struggle with his promo work, now as any followers to my twitter will know, I'm a Pro Wrestling fan, I want a storyline to follow, some unique look, mixed with great inring work, the promo/mic skills doesn't really matter to me unless you're on commentary.  

Where I believe  developmental has helped Bálor is infact with his mic skills, if you go back to when he debuted in May 2014 he seems a little awkward and maybe not too sure on what he was saying, what I think we need to understand is that in NJPW he could and mostly did say what he wanted being the leader of the Bullet Club, if you watch NJPW now you can see that the American wrestlers seem to have a licence to say and do as they please, now we all know this wasn't going to be the case with the WWE so this is where I think Finn struggled as following a script didn't seem quite him.

Recently following some fantastic feuds with Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and an extremely well built match with Shinsuke Nakamura, it really hit me that Bálor 's microphone skills has massively improved, enough so that once he moved to the main roster on promo heavy shows like Raw he wouldn't look out of place while building a storyline, I had the same doubts over AJ Styles as well, WWE and more importantly Raw is so promo heavy that hugely talented in ring workers like Styles and Bálor might struggle with the long drawn out promos, safe to say that following the 14 month stay in NXT  Bálor now has all the tools ready to be an instant success on the WWE main card.

Once Finn was drafted by Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon on Tuesday night, my mind instantly started to dream up matches for him and what's likely to be in his immediate future. The Bálor Club is surely something the WWE is going to go with, before they were drafted I tweeted out saying that Gallows/Anderson is going to be on Raw and with this as a reality I can't not see the original Bullet Club reforming under the WWE umbrella.

As the night continued I took a keen interest on my favourite wrestlers in Balor, Rollins, Styles, Owens and Bray Wyatt, but mostly in Finn Bálor, once the draft began to end I looked at the possibilities open to the WWE and Raw for future matches with the likes of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens... again, Y2J, Cesaro and even the Beast himself Brock Lesnar, these are all WrestleMania matches in themselves.

I truly hope the WWE give Finn Bálor the debut he deserves and build him into the mega star that he's been outside of the main roster, I don't think I've met or spoken to anyone that doesn't enjoy everything that Bálor brings to the ring with his outstanding entrances, the paintwork and he's in ring work, this is truly a once in a generation type star, Triple H has seen what this man can do in NXT and now the future of the WWE has arrived on its flagship show Monday Night Raw.

Let the fun begin.........

Untill next time

Twitter - @GaryRWard

Monday, 4 July 2016

Living on the Razor's Edge - The Scott Hall Story DVD Review By Richard Edmund

Disc 1: Living on the Razor's Edge

The latest DVD release from WWE Home Video focuses on the life and career of one of wrestling's most iconic and controversial figures, Scott Hall, AKA 'The Bad Guy' Razor Ramon. As with most WWE documentaries, the main feature here is a well produced piece that does an excellent job of providing insight into the ups and downs of Scott's story, with interviews from his friends and family and a multitude of clips from his wrestling career. We see how a young Scott fell in love with wrestling, how he got his start in the wrestling business and how a traumatic event would haunt him for years to come. Through interviews with his peers we see the passion and drive Scott had to become a success, including a few words from the late, great Dusty Rhodes, Scott mentioning that being hired by Dusty and given his break in the wrestling business meant more to him than any pay cheque he ever received.

Scott's career hit a few bumps in the road and he tells us how close he came to quitting altogether, until his close friend and former AWA tag partner 'Mr. Perfect' Curt Hennig got him an opportunity in the WWF. It paid off big time, and 'The Bad Guy' Razor Ramon was born. We chart his rise through the WWF and, ultimately, the factors that led him and Kevin Nash to hand in their notices and jump ship to WCW. Vince McMahon talks in fairly open terms about the mistakes he felt Scott & Nash made, but also saying that the biggest mistake was on him for not doing enough to keep hold of two guys who, by their own admission, would have gladly stayed in the WWF. For their part, Scott talks about how the guaranteed money offered by WCW was too good to turn down, while Vince laments the structure of his business at the time that didn't allow him to match that, as well as his regrets about attempting to replace Razor & Nash with impersonators.
 
Curt Hennig & Hall as AWA TagTeam Champions
 The documentary takes a darker turn as we hear about the addiction problems that overtook Scott's life and the effect that had on those closest to him, as well as his career before and after the collapse of WCW. This section pulls no punches, as Scott recounts his bouts in rehab and we hear from the likes of Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash and Triple H, who talk about the effects a life on the road can have on a wrestler and the struggles they faced in trying to deal with a friend who was spiralling out of control. There's footage from Scott's most infamous indie appearance, where it seemed that his addictions had all but consumed the man he once was, but it was this footage that prompted Diamond Dallas Page and Jake the Snake to call up Scott and get him back on the road to recovery. 

It all wraps up on a much lighter note, as we see numerous examples of what an inspiration DDP and his program have proven to be in turning around Scott's life and getting him to tackle his problems head on. This all culminates with Scott's induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014, with 'The Bad Guy' looking better than he had in years as he addressed the crowd and relished his moment back in the spotlight. Kevin Nash mentions how his own induction the following year didn't mean as much to him as Scott's did, as there were times during Scott's darkest years that Nash couldn't imagine that his friend would recover a semblance of the man he once was. Suffice to say, he was happy to be proven wrong and the documentary closes with happy scenes of Scott and his son Cody Hall, who himself is making his own way in the world of wrestling, and Scott getting to impart his valuable knowledge to the young wrestlers hard at work in the WWE Performance Center.
 
The Diamond Studd w/Diamond Dallas Page
 Overall, this is one of the better documentaries I've seen from WWE Home Video as of late. It doesn't seek to gloss over the problems Scott faced in his personal life and his career, but rather frames its story around them. The opening scenes in the parking lot of an Orlando strip joint where Scott was forced to kill in self defence illustrates how Scott still has to deal with that trauma, before showing us how he got to that point, how he carried on after it and how he struggled to resolve his feelings of guilt. When the film returns to the parking lot, there's a sense of resolution and from that point on the tone becomes much more positive. It's difficult not to be touched by the way Scott has worked to put his life back on track and by the belief of those who did what they could to help him, while the dual message of not being afraid to seek help and to never stop dreaming is an uplifting note for such a comprehensive and unflinching documentary to end on.

Discs 2 & 3: The Matches

The second half of this collection starts with all the original Razor Roman vignettes, as well as some out-takes and a few stories that didn't fit in the main documentary, but the real meat of the set is in the matches and there's a wide selection of twenty three bouts curated from all the major sections of Scott's career. While there's just the one NWA match (Scott teaming with Dan Spivey as American Starship), there's a healthy selection of matches from Scott's time in the AWA, the highlight of which is a raucous AWA tag title defence for Scott & Curt Hennig at the AWA WrestleRock supershow. While these matches showcase Scott's early ability in the ring and his phenomenal look, it's not until the first WCW matches on the set that we see hints of the character he would become, as he teams with Diamond Dallas Page as the Diamond Exchange.

The first big match of the set is one of my favourites from both men's careers, as Razor Ramon challenged Bret Hart for the WWF World Heavyweight Title at Royal Rumble '93. This is such a well paced match that really holds up well today, it has one of my favourite near-falls ever (backslide counter to the Razor's Edge for a huge reaction from the crowd) and a very inventive finish as an injured Hitman has to find a way to get the much larger Ramon into the Sharpshooter. That's followed by another great match from a few months later, the famous meeting between Razor Ramon and the 1-2-3 Kid which in one fell swoop made the Kid's career and set 'The Bad Guy' on a path to becoming a huge fan favourite. There's a whole bunch of intercontinental title matches, including a nice little match with the often-underrated Rick Martel.
 
The infamous match vs 'The Kid'
But the crown jewel of the set is the Intercontinental Title match vs Shawn Michaels from WrestleMania X in 1994, a match that is full of action and drama and one that set in stone many of the ideas that make up what a ladder match should be. Later ladder matches may have taken things a step further, but this still remains a brutal, hard-fought match that really got over the intensity and passion of both men's desire to prove who the real Intercontinental Champion really was. Razor shoulder tackling the ladder and Shawn getting crotched on the top-rope is still a jaw-dropping moment of danger and that's what is so well emphasised here: the danger both men were putting themselves in to prove themselves and to win. Rounding out the set are some matches from Scott's second stint in WCW, including a fun Outsiders vs Harlem Heat tag match, plus his matches vs The Rock and vs Stone Cold from his WWE return in 2002.

In conclusion, this is a solid set for any fans of 'The Bad Guy'. The matches on offer provide a good cross-section of Scott's career, while the documentary is a well produced, well paced piece that doesn't shy away from talking about the difficulties that have beset Scott throughout his life. It was great to see the transformative process that DDP took Hall through, as well as seeing Scott get to give the gift of his knowledge to the next generation of WWE Superstars. Many wrestlers have remarked on what a great mind he has for the business, as guys like Triple H, Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels are keen to point out on this very set, so it's great that Scott's in a place where he can impart that valuable knowledge and experience. 

'Living on the Razor's Edge - The Scott Hall Story' is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray from WWE Home Video.

Friday, 3 June 2016

WWE Wrestle Mania 32 DVD Review By Shaun Nichols

This was the biggest and most successful Wrestlemania of all time from a commercial point of view but for those watching live it was widely considered to have been a bloated show that dragged badly at the end.

A DVD release gives a golden opportunity to put things into context, was this really as bad as the forums were saying? The answer to that is No, though some of the criticisms are certainly valid.

It's fair to say that this Mania did not have the classic match which generally makes fans nostalgic to a particular event. Nothing in the calibre of a Bret vs. Austin, Shawn vs. Razor, Savage vs. Steamboat or even Brock vs. Reigns from the previous year.

The two most pushed matches of the show were The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon and Triple H vs. Roman Reigns were unfortunately badly booked and with no real idea of how they would actually come across to the live crowd.

It was a terrible idea to give the Hell in a Cell match not including entrances over 30 minutes. Although the crowd cared at the start it became clear that they were losing steam and yet the smart move of wrapping the match up was ignored.

In time Shane's dive from the top of the cell may be re-packaged as the greatest Mania moment of all-time but live it was nothing of the short. The story itself wasn't helped by the fact that the fans didn't want to see either guy lose and the storyline as since has proved we shouldn't have cared anyway.

Triple H vs. Roman Reigns does benefit from the DVD treatment and not having to watch over 6 hours (including the pregame) to get there. Hunter wants his moment has a Wrestlemania main eventer, but this was similar to his Randy Orton match in that he failed to see how burnt out the crowd was. Here it was even more noticeable in that the live crowd did not want to see Roman win. It's not a Mania classic but it is better than you probably remember.

The early matches actually indicated that this could be a really good show, the 7 way Ladder match was a highly entertaining way to kick things off with particularly Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn standing out, though everyone had their moment to shine. In the end Zach Ryder got his very brief moment in the sun and Kevin Owens selling at the end was so good I thought he was seriously hurt.

That though was MOTN, the women's three way was also a contender for the MOTN honours and delivered an entertaining match but felt a bit hindered by the fact that everyone live wanted and expected Sasha Banks to have won.

Speaking of suspect booking decisions leads us directly to Chris Jericho beating AJ Styles which made even less sense when we realised that Styles would main event the next 2 PPVs for the World title. The match was good but not great.

Falling also into that category was Dean Ambrose succumbing to death by German Suplex at the hands of Brock Lesnar. I liked this more than a lot of fans but I do understand the criticism of how this match has done nothing for the career of Dean Ambrose.

Arguably my biggest complaint is the use of former legends to basically steal the show. The New Day although over with the live crowd were put clearly in their place by Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels and especially Steve Austin.


The Rock also got into the act in a segment that really wasn't needed with the Wyatt Family especially that late in the show, also featuring a cameo from John Cena.

Rounding off the Mania experience was the Andre the Giant Battle Royal which included a surprise appearance from Shaquille O'Neal. Just imagine that the WWE wanted to keep Shaq on the quiet.

The three pregame matches are all included and are perfectly fine in their spot although they don't add a great deal. Special note of acknowledgement to Lana's outfit in the 10 person Diva match though.

As well as the show itself we get the Hall of Fame 2016 event in which the highlights include speeches from The Freebirds, Michael Hayes is especially good and you won't believe how Jimmy Garvin has aged.

Sting is a worthy main attraction but he is outshone by a tremendous introduction by Ric Flair that is a particular highlight. Stan Hansen gives a nice speech as well and the HOF is a decent enough addition to the set.

As an event it doesn't deserve the criticism that was heaped upon it and it's nowhere near the worst Wrestlemania of all-time. It has a number of strong and entertaining matches and the biggest issue of watching the show live isn't an issue at all on DVD. It might just be time to re-evaluate the biggest wrestling of the year.

For European customers you can buy the Collectors Edition HERE

Friday, 27 May 2016

You All Know Who I Am But You Don't Know Why I'm Here - 20 Years To The Day That Scott Hall Appeared on WCW Nitro By Tim Ricketts




An immortal line in wrestling history, and if you're a fan of WWE then you've more than likely heard it a hundred times or so on DVD or the Network. Well that was now 20 years ago, and it is an anniversary of some note.

Some people may look at the first episode of Nitro, replete with returning Lex Luger and live-event atmosphere, as the first shots in the Monday Night War.  Some may point to the signings of Hogan and Savage as Ted Turner's first great body blows to the then WWF's New Generation, who were struggling to replace the Superstars of the 1980s and now competing for ratings with them.  However, in comparison, these were mere skirmishes, the rumblings of disaffection, the water straining at the dam.  Scott Hall's one-line introduction was wrestling's equivalent of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914.  War was not only inevitable, it was here.

Hall himself was on familiar ground, and some loyal stalwarts may have been forgiven for thinking “Yeah, you're the Diamond Studd!” after his previous WCW stint in DDP's Diamond Mine stable, but to the wider wrestling public he appeared in full gimmick as Razor Ramon.  No on-screen caption, no “It's Razor!” from the commentary desk; with the oiled-back hair, the toothpick and familiar grin, we were in no doubt as to who he was.  Most importantly, this didn't feel like a début.

With such blurred lines, in an era when kayfabe was still king, we didn't need the hindsight of 20 years of repetition to know this was going to be huge, ongoing, and industry changing.  Whilst it might not have been “still real to us,” after the McMahon court cases of the early 90's, mostly we were still reliant on dirt-sheets or the promotions themselves for news.  The curtain call incident at Madison Square Garden between the leaving (including Hall) and remaining members of the Kliq, was not common knowledge, nor was their industry influence, but it was still a potential threat to this angle.  Too little respect has been given to the WCW staff and talent for the sell they did on this, it was convincing, with the shock being palpable and making it seem for all the world like a genuine invasion from WWF.  Razor Ramon, the former Intercontinental Champ and star bad guy (pardon the pun) of the New Generation, was standing in a WCW ring with his ego showing for all the world.
 
Pictured: The following week when Kevin Nash joined Hall on Nitro
Like any War in all time though, no one can tell exactly what will happen once the first shot is fired.  We would undoubtedly have casualties, not least of which would be WCW itself; we would have stunning allegiances in the nWo and DX, both born from the ashes of the Kliq; and most importantly, we would have the fiercest battles in wrestling history. Mostly over ratings...

“You all know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here.”

Get ready for a summer of great 20th anniversaries of the Monday Night War and the birth of the “New World Order of wrestling, Brother!”

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Doing Business On The Way Out

Everyone remembers what happened in Montreal at the Survivor Series in 1997, Bret Hart was leaving for WCW but he still was WWF champion. He was of course booked to face Shawn Michaels that night and between the 2 of them and Vince McMahon they couldn't come up with finish that suited all parties. By the time the match began, Bret was under the illusion that a finish had been agreed, there would be run-in's that would cause a schmozz (DQ) and Bret would then drop the title to Michaels/someone else the next night or whenever. Of course, McMahon had other ideas, he thought 'business' should be done and Bret should drop the belt when he says (that night in Montreal) and so, the 'screwjob' was undertaken, Michaels left with the belt, McMahon stayed at ringside while Bret smashed the place up after spitting in his eye and we had a whole new era in the WWF while Bret went off to WCW and a huge payday.

Now, this little column is not me bringing up the 'Montreal Screwjob' again (although it is a topic I like to discuss) it's to do with what I put as a title, doing business on the way out. So if you're leaving a 'territory' the right thing to do is pass the torch on the way out, just like McMahon wanted Bret to do. So,I am sitting at home skipping through the new DVD release of WWE Our Nation's Pride: The Best Canadian Superstars and it features a match with Trish Stratus who is leaving the WWE, the match with women's champion Lita that night at Unforgiven 2006 will be her last in the company so instead of 'putting Lita over' and making her look strong as she'll be still there while Trish will be gone, they booked it so that Trish wins the title even though she's leaving. For me, reeks of double standards.

Some might say the issue with Bret is different, WCW was around at the time, McMahon was worried that Bret might turn up on WCW TV with the WWF world title and it was and the title win for Trish was a thank you and a moment for her and the fans as it was in her home town on Toronto but I'm sorry, for me, it has no bearing on the situation, double standards, McMahon all over.

The DVD, which of course is pictured above, features a good 20 matches over 2 discs and they are supposed to represent the 20 best matches featuring Canadian wrestlers,what do you guys think of the list which is below?

10. Zayn vs Cesaro (NXT Arrival, 27/2/14)
09. NXT Champion Zayn vs Owens (NXT Rival, 11/2/15)
08. Jericho vs I-C Champion Mysterio (No Holds Barred, Extreme Rules, 7/6/09)
07. Jericho vs WWE Champion Cena (Summer Slam, 21/8/05)
06. Zayn vs US Champion Cena (RAW, 4/5/15)
05. NXT Champion Owens vs US Champion Cena  (Elimination Chamber, 31/5/15)
04. Stratus vs Women's Champion Lita (Unforgiven, 17/9/06)
03. WWE Champion Edge vs Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Unforgiven, 17/9/06)
02. World Champion Jericho vs Michaels   (Ladder Match, No Mercy, 5/10/08)
01. Edge vs Undertaker (World Title, Tables, Ladders & Chairs, One Night Stand, 1/6/08)

Nothing before 2005, not sure if the critera for the voting, which was done by the 'fans' was for stuff in the 2000's but there are some glaring ommissions for me, notably the 1997 submission match from Wrestle Mania between probably the most iconic wrestler to come out of Canada, Bret 'Hitman' Hart (who's only appearence on the DVD was announcing Zayn for his match with Cena) against 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin (watch it in FULL HERE)

I am sure you guys can think of many of your own that would make the list, hit me up on twitter with your choices and thoughts overall with what I have written.


Wednesday, 4 May 2016

U.S. Championship: A Legacy Of Greatness DVD Review By Shaun Nichols

The latest WWE release celebrating the US title is a collection of 30 matches covering title matches from Jim Crockett Promotions, WCW and WWE and is hosted by John 'Bradshaw' Layfield.

The first disc covers the JCP years from 1977 to 1989 and the standout matches features Magnum TA. The first of these is the classic 'I Quit' match against then US champion Tully Blanchard at Starrcade 85 in a steel cage. Magnum in the introductions is actually labelled as the 'Vastly Popular' Magnum TA though sadly Tully isn't called the 'Despicable' which would have been awesome.

This isn't a great wrestling match but a vicious and violent war with great heat which is what it should have been. With double blood adding to the drama, Tully manages to get a wooden chair which he breaks so he can stab Magnum with it. The hero isn't done though and manages to reverse things as Tully quits in order to save his eyesight.

The challenge of Nikita Koloff is up next for Magnum and we get the final match in their best of 7 series for the gold, with the USA vs. USSR dynamic creating another heated feud. This again was full of drama and this time Magnum cannot beat the number games as Krusher Kruschev makes a late intervention to enable Nikita to use the steel chain for the wildly unpopular title change.

Other matches don't meet those high standards. Not even Barry Windham can do anything with the Junkyard Dog, Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine is a TV angle sandwiched between two Valentine interviews. A Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat match from 1977 is a rare find but is hampered by a non finish and unsurprisingly isn't helped by Andre the Giant getting in the way as special referee.

Rounding up the first disc are Dusty Rhodes and Lex Luger, their meeting in a cage at Starrcade 87 is a pale imitation of the Magnum/Tully a couple of years earlier. The main issue is that Lex just isn't very good at dominating matches for long periods and the match soon drags. Dusty's next opponent is Bobby Eaton and is much more fun but as an ending which defies any logic and comes out of nowhere.
Finally we see Sting challenging Luger in what was a good and well constructed match which shows that Sting was clearly going to be leading the company in the future but what was beginning to be a serious pattern the match led to a non-finish.

We then move onto WCW and matches covering 1991 to 2001. This is far and away the most disappointing disc of the three. Matches are full of cheap finishes, people interfering which led directly to the finish and lots of ref bumps. If you like drinking games then you won't be sober if you have a drink every time that Mickey Jay takes a bump.

Among the limited highlights are Raven doing a wonderful job in continuing the elevation of Goldberg as a major star for the promotion. This was a great example of the right way of doing things. Bret Hart was also a standout as the heel tormenting and controlling things against DDP in a match from October 1998, the only thing though is why WCW had Bret as a bad guy less than a year after his debut.

Steve Austin vs. Great Muta from Spring Stampede 1994 could have been a classic but suffers from a plodding place and a terrible finish when the top rope rule came into play. Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes from early 1993 was going in the right direction until Barry Windham wandered out to DDT Steamboat on the floor and that was that.

We did get a clean finish between Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho and everything looked great but they got less than 5 minutes. Eddy Guerrero's title winning effort against DDP was decided entirely by a nWo run-in. Rick Rude's victory over Sting in 1991 was down to pre-match attack by Luger, though at least Sting was polite enough to get a lift back to the arena in an ambulance rather than driving it himself as he made his return to defend the gold.

Rounding off the disappointment was Bret winning the US title against Goldberg despite not getting any offence and barely being able to walk thanks to yet another nWo attack. Curt Henning defending against the The Giant which only existed for a post match appearance from Sting which admittedly the fans reacted massively to. Finally Booker T won the title from Rick Steiner at WCW's final PPV which was entirely down to a run-in from Shane Douglas.

The WWE disc is the best of the three and is dominated by John Cena. First up we see the 'Doctor of Thugonomics' making his first Mania in-ring performance against the Big Show. It seems a different world to see him getting a universally positive reaction but he did. The match was pretty good as well.

Also featured was the first US title John Cena's open challenge which was accepted by Dean Ambrose and fought in front of a rabid post Mania Raw crowd which worked due to the main focus of teasing finishes and reversals. Cena's final appearance was to drop the title to the returning Alberto Del Rio, what stands out was the match really should have got at least another 5 minutes and even more clear is that the WWE got it badly wrong having Del Rio come out as a heel with Zeb Colter.

The 3 Way Submission Count Anywhere match with Daniel Bryan defending against The Miz and John Morrison was excellent and much better than I remember despite the efforts of Michael Cole to ruin it. Cesaro's title defence against Tyson Kidd was also a lot of fun and was wrestled in a very different and technical style which worked great in front of an appreciative NXT crowd.

Other highly entertaining matches were MVP defending and losing to Matt Hardy in a feud that I could barely remember, another MVP title run was also featured and ended this time by Kofi Kingston who was still in his Jamaican phase in a rare face vs. face battle.

In stiffer style battles was Rusev beating Sheamus in a WWE Network exclusive which was better than you may think and was a reminder that Rusev and Lana not that long ago were major and credible main eventers.
The main criticism that I have for the first two discs were the number of matches with poor finishes and that's where the final disc shines through as only one match as a DQ finish. That is Kurt Angle's title defence against The Undertaker and that at least is understandable as it was building up to the big WWE vs. Alliance match at the Survivor Series 2001.

I feel that this could have been a fantastic set but there are some really poor matches selected which would have been easy to swap them for other matches especially the WCW disc. A decent effort overall but the overwhelming feeling is that it is a bit of a missed opportunity.

The DVD/Blu-Ray goes on sale on May 9th - Get yours right HERE

Friday, 29 April 2016

Finn Bálor And The Difficulty With Moving A Weird Talent Up To A PG Roster By @JoeyLDG

Finn Bálor's trajectory in NXT is further, irrefutable proof that developmental is kicking the main roster's ass in every conceivable way. Built from mysterious newcomer into unstoppable champion, Bálor's title reign was the definition of hard-fought, his final victory over Samoa Joe at Takeover: Dallas an insanely tough, lengthy, nail-biting battle that left both men physically exhausted.
WWE would do well to learn from his extraordinary title reign. In Bálor's hands, the NXT belt had gravitas, it actually meant something. Now, with the Irish legend set to take on the main roster, he can probably kiss all of that goodbye. In comparison, we're currently dealing with a world heavyweight champ who can barely land a punch, let alone sell that he's bothered about, well, anything. 

That Joe stole the belt from Bálor at a house show, of all places, did nothing to dull his shine either. The Irishman emerged from the fray as a hugely impressive, strong, near-impossible to beat fighter who put it all on the line and still seemed unstoppable even though he was, technically, defeated.

Now, all eyes will be watching to see whether Bálor makes his long-awaited debut at this Sunday's Payback event, and what this will mean for the main roster. The stage has been set, with ex-Bullet Club leader AJ Styles taking centre-stage with current champion Roman Reigns, while his buddies Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows wait in the wings, hoping to cause some friction. 
 While Bálor's ascension to the main roster is, naturally, something to be celebrated it brings with it a certain amount of anxiety. In NXT, he was free to be as weird and as rough as necessary. What of his lengthy, theatrical entrance? His face-paint? Never mind the fact that, not too long ago, Bálor revealed in an interview that he wasn't too pushed with moving up, out of fear that doing so would dull his edginess somewhat. 
Given we're in the midst of the so-called PG era (groan), he's probably right to be worried. NXT has proven itself time and time again to be a brave, eccentric and utterly unpredictable showcase for up-and-coming, often weirdo talent that doesn't quite fit in elsewhere.

Consider The Ascension, who were almost immediately lost in the fray upon moving up to the main roster. Or even Tyler Breeze, whose fantastic gimmick has been reduced to nothing. New recruits Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady have fared better, but how long until their entrance is shortened to a walk and a quick pose?
In spite of being, by all accounts, a bit of an oddity, logically speaking Bálor shouldn't be too hard of a sell on the WWE main roster. He's a good-looking man, in fantastic shape, and he can talk (which is more than can be said for the likes of Ryback, or even current golden boy Reigns). But where exactly will he fit in amongst the current crop? He's not wild-eyed enough to be a Dean Ambrose, nor is his ring work fluid or clean enough to be a Kevin Owens. 
The easiest transition for Bálor will see him reform The Bullet Club alongside Anderson and Gallows, eventually breaking out on his own once he's over with the fans. But even this is a potentially troublesome route for the Irish powerhouse.

The tag team division has been struggling for a while, and The Bullet Club aren't the best showcase for a potential main event wrestler's talents. They're also a stable, not a tag team, so slotting them into matches on the likes of RAW and Smackdown won't be an easy feat. Especially not alongside The New Day, Amore and Cassady, etc.

Bálor has already proven his considerable worth throughout his tenure on NXT (and, of course, NJPW), and by right he should advance straight to the world heavyweight championship picture. The fact he doesn't have anyone in particular to spar with, 
à la Owens and Zayn, could also impair him.

There's only really one entry point and it ties him into a stable (which will be instantly reduced to yet another tag team) that can only go so far. And, as exciting as The Bullet Club in WWE will be, it's difficult to see them fitting in, or causing quite as much trouble, as they did in Japan. Ownership rights are still up in the air too - can WWE even call them The Bullet Club?
The best option for Bálor will see him feuding with Styles, as the two come head to head for the first time ever - a major selling point for the company as a whole, and them as athletes. This will give WWE the edge it desperately needs, as well as tying in fans of both wrestlers. And, hopefully, it will finally edge Reigns out of the title picture in the long run, too. 
It's difficult to gauge how likely Bálor's ascension to the main roster even is at this stage, especially since sources claim that he and Joe are set to headline the next Takeover event on June 8th, in another rematch for the NXT title. This announcement could be a swerve to throw us off the scent, to make his debut on Sunday more of a surprise, but only time will tell. 

As it stands, Bálor moving up could be the best and worst thing to happen to the WWE main roster right now.

@JoeyLDG