Sunday, 31 July 2011
The episode of Raw from 25/07 where John Cena once again became the WWE Champion brought an abrupt end to a lot of potential excitement from fans. A mere eight days after losing the title to CM Punk at the MITB PPV and in storyline being fired it's a pretty quick return by anyone's imagination. Worse yet CM Punk after leaving the event and the company with the championship returns to the company after missing a total number of one episode. What a way to kill interest in a storyline.
Believe it or not the plan was for John Cena to leave Raw as WWE Champion although earlier in the day he was supposed to beat The Miz for the title rather than Rey Mysterio. I personally think putting the title back on John Cena is a mistake, he frankly doesn't need to be WWE Champion. The fact that only a week before Vince was on the verge of firing him and thus the 8 man tournament did not feature Cena. And what a way to destroy the credibility and future drawing power of those wrestlers to ensure that the winner only got to hold the title for 90 minutes before we got the message that Cena is a much bigger star than anyone else on Raw and that the company needs him as champion.
Even stranger in some ways is that the episode of Raw was not designed to put over John Cena as the biggest star on the show. That honour went to the new Chief Operating Officer of the WWE: Triple H. Again there were different plans earlier in the day though thankfully they were not played out. Triple H was at one stage supposed to beat up CM Punk on the show setting up a Punk vs Triple H at SummerSlam. Hunter got to make R-Truth look like an idiot which unfortunately did not do anything for R-Truth apart from making it very clear that he is nowhere near the level of Triple H. What a great way to utilise the man who was in the main event of Capitol Punishment PPV. I do think it's important to get Triple H across with the fans in his new position and don't have any issues with him bringing back Jim Ross or taking the piss out of Michael Cole. He is currently in a babyface role and lets face it fans would prefer to listen to Jim Ross and like to see Michael Cole taken down a peg or two. The rating for his quarter does show that he is still a major TV attraction but I really didn't think that he had to bury R-Truth.
The biggest disappointment to me was that CM Punk returned to Raw, if he had been in the crowd that would have been one thing and it would have worked much better. Instead he had his own ring entrance and entered the ring for a staredown with Cena to end the show. By doing so it became clear that Punk was back on the active roster and that Triple H had done what Vince could not. He had brought Punk and the WWE title back to the company what a way to make an impression. By coming back in a mere eight days this could potentially really weaken the Punk character going forward. In the run-up to the Money In The Bank PPV, Punk said over and over again how he couldn't wait to leave the company, how he was tired of Vince, tired of Cena in short he wanted out of the WWE badly. Now we all knew that Punk hadn't really left the company and that he'd signed a new contract but what we probably didn't expect was that the WWE would basically book several weeks of TV in a mere two episodes of Raw. The character of Punk which had reached a new level in the run-up to the last PPV as become less convincing by his earlier return. That return made him just another WWE Superstar and although it won't cancel out all of the good work that as occured in the last few weeks it as certainly taken an hit.
We are basically two weeks away from SummerSlam and so far we have one match confirmed. That is Randy Orton vs Christian seemingly for the 300th time and with every match they have, the less it seems to mean. Although the fans in Chicago popped big for Christian winning the title when Orton got disqualified, the WWE seem keen to ensure that we all know that Christian can not beat Orton fairly and I don't see Christian getting the win in their Last Man Standing match. The John Cena vs CM Punk (Title vs Title) match will no doubt be confirmed on the next episode of Raw. I would also expect to see R-Truth vs John Morrison named for the show, as for the rest of the card it's a case of waiting and seeing. I can see Sheamus vs Mark Henry, Alberto Del Rio vs Rey Mysterio and possibly The Miz vs Alex Riley. SummerSlam for a very long time as been seen as the third biggest WWE PPV of the year behind Wrestlemania and the Royal Rumble. But here with just two weeks of television to go we have very little idea of what as fans we are going to see.
The long term plan for months was a main event of John Cena vs Alberto Del Rio and indeed that seemed to be the plan even a few days ago. But the curse of Alberto Del Rio knows no bounds, Del Rio was first supposed to win the World Heavyweight title at the Rumble though he at least got to win the Rumble itself. He was then virtually locked in to beat Edge at Wrestlemania and again plans changed. Edge's sudden retirement meant that the WWE chose to give Christian a feel good moment and Del Rio was thwarted for a third time. Finally the plan was for Del Rio to cash the MITB case on Punk after the main event and become the WWE champion. That was the plan even on the day but the WWE are now booking by the hour and his moment was again put on hold. Where Del Rio fits in on the SummerSlam card is not clear, he is clearly the main heel on Raw as it stands and he needs a clear victory to keep him strong. I think he'll be booked against Mysterio and get the win. The plan is still for him to win the WWE title in the next several weeks with the feeling that by having Del Rio either winning the title or already holding the WWE title when Raw is taped for the first time in Mexico that will help to keep the business in Mexico strong as it is clearly an important market both for touring and for PPV revenue. However he as already been booked to win the title on four occasions and found out that each time that the direction had changed again.
Another interesting thing to watch is what the future holds for The Miz, his performances at the MITB PPV and then the following night's Raw where he defeated both Alex Riley and Kofi Kingston despite selling a knee injury. The fans reacted to these performances and everything seemed to be pointing to The Miz turning babyface. However after losing the final of the tournament to Rey Mysterio he later did a backstage interview in which he ripped on Triple H. So this indicates that he's staying as a heel and if that's the case then I think the WWE are missing a trick if they don't pick up on what seemed obvious is that the fans want to get behind The Miz. So as it stands the three biggest figures on Raw are all babyfaces those being John Cena, Triple H and to a lesser extent CM Punk, I think that it's likely that at SummerSlam one of those stars will be moving to the heel side of the fence.
Thursday, 28 July 2011
At the time of this writing, one of the rumors floating around the Internet, is that the WWE are signing The Kings Of Wrestling. Not only are Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli are about to fulfill their wrestling dreams of joining the number one company in the world, they even get the respect of the corporate office in being allowed to skip developmental and heading straight to the main roster. Now on the surface this is a great move for both side. The Kings will be allowed to perform in front of millions and millions of people and make a considerable amount of money. The WWE gets two young stud performers who are not only great in-ring workers but also solid on the microphone. But will this marriage bloom into something beautiful or will it turn into yet another example of wasted potential.
The Kings of Wrestling are arguably the best tag team in the world today. They have "graduated" so to speak from Ring of Honor and are now ready to shine on a national stage. Their tag team work over the last couple years is exemplary. They have made young tag teams such as The All Night Express and the Adam Cole/Kyle O'Reilly tandem and made them look good. They have had epic battles with Jay and Mark Briscoe and now The World's Greatest Tag Team. Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. They have conquered tag team wrestling in Ring of Honor and have almost looked bored over the last few months. The time is right for the KoW to move onto to bigger and brighter lands.
But is the WWE the right landing spot for The Kings. The WWE haven't had a strong tag team division since the days of The Hardy's, The Dudley's, Edge and Christian, and The APA. That's almost 10 years ago. We have been forced to suffer through make shift tandems and random pairings of guys who couldn't get over as singles performers over that time. WWE has used tag team wrestling to try and make new stars out of guys. We have seen them do this with The Miz and John Morrison. Teams that do come in as pairs seem to get a one year shelf life, then the company breaks them up. We saw this with Deuce and Domino, then later Cryme Tyme and most recently, The Hart Dynasty. Right now, there is only one pure tag team on the roster and that is The Uso Brothers. So when you look at this history, things don't bode well for The Kings.
But this is a new WWE, well at least they want us to think that. We see a WWE that seems to be catering to the Internet fans more and more. We see CM Punk becoming a legend, not just a superstar. We now have Daniel Bryan in the World Title hunt. We see Zach Ryder getting TV time on Raw and soon to be the face of Smackdown, along with the New World Champion, Christian. This is the dawning of a new era in WWE and maybe, hopefully, we can see tag team wrestling come back to the forefront of the shows. I think we would all love to see The Kings become the foundation for a rebirth of tag team wrestling in WWE. When you open up a division and look for new talent, you can bring in guys who normally would never fit into your storyline. Think of what TNA is doing now with rebuilding their X-Division. We are seeing guys like Austin Aries and Kid Kash get a chance to rebuild themselves ina division that was just featured with their own PPV. Could we see WWE go after other ROH tandems or a team like the Young Bucks, who remind a lot of wrestling fans of a young Hardy Boyz. Could we see the WWE put the Hart Dynasty back together as both Tyson Kidd and David Hart Smith struggle since their split. Not only will the Kings of Wrestling help build this division but it will also help push any of the current guys on the roster. The Usos will be allowed to showcase their tremendous teamwork and the current champs, McGillicutty and Otunga, will have the step their games up and quit resting on their names alone. A year from now I hope we are all looking back and marveling at how great the tag team division in the WWE became and not chastising them for once again wasting talent and letting it rest at the bottom of the roster. I tip my beer to The Kings of Wrestling and wish them the best. Heres your opportunity. Take the ball and run with it and show the world what tag team wrestling is all about.
Follow me on twitter @captainomg.
You can also check me out on the Still Real To US podcast from time to time at wheelhouseradio.com and wrestlechat.net
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
“TYSON AND AUSTIN!! TYSON AND AUSTIN!! ALL HELL IS BREAKING LOOSE!!” – Jim Ross, Monday Night Raw, 19th January 1998.
“The boyhood dream has come true for Shawn Michaels.” – Vince McMahon, Wrestlemania 12.
“The irresistible force, meets the immovable object” – Gorilla Monsoon, numerous WWF shows, mid 1980s.
“DANGEROUS!!!” Gabe Sapolsky (as Jimmy Bower) – countless ROH shows from 2002-2004.
“Oh my GOD!!” Joey Styles – ECW, 1993-2001
Those are just a few of my favourite commentary lines during the past twenty or so years that I’ve been watching pro wrestling. I’m sure you’ve got your own favourites. With the wealth of commentary talent that has worked in wrestling down the years, no doubt there are hundreds of great lines people can instantly remember. The kind of great commentary call that sticks with you to such an extent that when you think about a certain wrestler, you instantly remember that one piece of commentary that relates to them.
Hell, Jesse Ventura, Jim Ross and Bobby Heenan could fill at least 3 IPods each with their fantastic commentary work. Let alone some of the best commentators of the ‘old days,’ guys like Gordon Solie, Lance Russell or Larry Matysik, who most wrestling fans of today won’t have even heard of, let alone heard commentate. What a crime.
So, commentators. The Voice of the show. Without a doubt one of the most important elements to a successful wrestling show on TV or PPV. So what the fuck happened? Where did all the talent go? How did we end up where we are today? Let me explain...
While watching the Money in the Bank PPV these questions hit me. I was enjoying the show immensely (as I mentioned last week) but I found myself on at least three occasions shouting at the TV, “will you fuckers just shut up and call the damn match!?” Something I’ve found myself doing regularly when it comes to WWE and wrestling in recent years.
At two points during the show, mid way through another pointless, boring and cringe worthy bickering session between the horrendous Michael Cole and the unintelligible Booker T even Jerry Lawler was moved to say, “how about we talk about these guys in the ring?” I’m not sure if that was a call from someone in the back – word is Stephanie was producing the announcers for this show rather than Vince. But I’m certain I wasn’t the only one watching that was agreeing wholeheartedly with The King – who in his prime was one of the best colour commentators around.
If you think about it, it really isn’t that difficult to create effective wrestling commentary for your viewers. Of course it takes a high level of skill, charisma and chemistry to be able to convincingly comment on what is happening in the ring and draw the viewers at home into the action. I’m not saying anyone could walk off the street and call a Wrestlemania main event. But let’s be honest, in terms of production and execution, it’s not rocket science. Even the most low level indy show should be able to put together an effective commentary team to enhance their product.
The tried and tested method for the past twenty five years or so (bar ECW where Joey Styles was assisted no end by an off mic Paul Heyman) has been to employ a straight laced play by play guy (Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Gorilla Monsoon) and a smart ass, wise cracking heelish colour commentator (Bobby Heenan, Jesse Ventura, Jerry Lawler). One guy calls the action, sells the angles, focuses the viewers on what’s important and why they should care about what’s happening on the screen. The other guy adds the colour to the presentation. A few jokes, maybe a wise crack about why this heel is better than that babyface. He’s the counter balance to the play by play guy, as JR himself loves to say, “the steak and the sizzle,” which we know every wrestling show needs.
It’s a simple formula that most viewers are accustomed to and one that down the years has resulted in some highly entertaining moments and most importantly of all helped to greatly enhance certain characters and angles. Which should be the ultimate goal of all commentators. It’s about getting over what’s happening in the ring or on the show in general – not about giving the mic men a chance to get themselves over.
So where did it all go wrong? How did we end up in a situation like Money in the Bank, where a heelish play by play guy was arguing about what the cartoon character colour commentator did in high school, while at that exact moment 8 guys were risking their lives in a chaotic ladder match for a shot at the World Title!?
Just think about that for a moment. Cause that’s what they were doing. That’s what they do every damn week on Smackdown. It’s eased up on Raw since the seemingly decade long feud between Cole and Lawler ended a few months back. But seriously, consider some of your favourite commentary moments. Remember the emotions they stirred up. Remember how much they enhanced and improved what you’d just saw on TV…now think about Michael Cole and Booker T arguing about who was the bigger nerd because one was a band major and the other was a cheerleader in school. Yeah, no fucking wonder Lawler had to step in.
As always, in WWE, the blame lies with one man. The man who has final say on everything we see on WWE TV. The man who for over two decades was a commentator himself and should fucking know better. Yep, Vince McMahon. I always wonder if Vince’s father would have let Vince spend most of his time on commentary putting himself over and bickering like a fishwife with his fellow commentators. I highly doubt it. There were angles to put over. Wrestlers to push. Up coming events to hype. MONEY TO BE MADE.
So why has Vince allowed WWE’s commentary team to become such a mess? Personal amusement? Boredom? It can’t be to enhance his product because all it does is hurt it. I mean, Michael Cole? Seriously. Lead commentator as a heel? The lead commentator is the guy who is the voice of the company. He is supposed to talk directly to the fans. He is supposed to sell the angles. Enhance the talent. Hide their weaknesses and spotlight their strengths. That’s his fucking job and Michael Cole, for what feels like over a year, has failed at every aspect of what a play by play man should do.
I know Cole gets tremendous heat coming to the ring and that perhaps that’s why Vince has him act the way he does on commentary. But there’s an important point being missed here. Cole didn’t and still doesn’t get that heat because he’s an effective heel, it’s because he sucks as a commentator and everyone wants Jim Ross back. He receives ‘go away’ heat which is the death knell for any performer. Cole is so bad I know of one popular Facebook group that is petitioning for him to be replaced with a mop! Plus, how does Cole being a heel on commentary draw any kind of money for WWE? Unless he’s going to be constantly feuding with people and NO ONE wants to see that.
Vince obviously enjoys living vicariously through Cole. See his rants against Daniel Bryan and the internet fan base for proof of that. Cole was also especially verbally vicious in the Lawler feud any time Jim Ross was involved, belittling him and everything he does and stands for. Which as we’ve seen for the whole time JR has been in WWE is one of Vince’s favourite pastimes.
Unfortunately all this ranting and raving and heeling up all over the show by Cole does very little to enhance anything. Angles can’t be taken seriously. Great matches are ruined with pointless bitching. Cole could be a great manager, but as a commentator he’s one of the worst things to happen to WWE in quite some time. A lead commentator should never make you want to change the channel and Cole has done that to me regularly for far too long.
This dearth of good and effective commentary is not limited to WWE. TNA suffers badly from a commentary team in Taz and Mike Tenay who have very limited chemistry and who come from two completely different styles of commentating – which don’t mesh very smoothly. Thankfully they don’t spend too much time bitching at each other. They’re too busy reading 6 inch thick scripts (on camera on occasion) to try to cover and explain the multiple zany plot lines Vince Russo has ‘expertly’ woven into the show. Sometimes Taz and Teney must be just as confused as the viewers watching at home!
They also have to talk so fast and reel off so much content that I rarely hear much of what they say. Plus this constant ‘storyline explanation’ means there a lot of occasions where they talk right over whole matches. That isn’t an exaggeration folks, an Impact match will regularly go under 3 minutes and I’ve heard Tenay talk about shit that went down earlier in the show through a whole match, bar screaming about the finish. And I still have no clue what’s going on.
Even the indy scene isn’t safe from this commentators curse. ROH have recently employed Kevin Kelly and Eric Santamaria on their IPPV and DVD releases. Kelly is a solid play by play man who works hard on putting over angles and has vastly improved his knowledge of moves and holds since his WWE days. But that Santamaria guy!? My God! Without a doubt one of the most boring and uncharismatic commentators in history. He makes Jonathan Coachman sound like fucking Jesse Ventura!
His terrible commentary work was particularly evident on recent ROH DVD releases, ‘Revolution Canada’ and ‘Revolution USA.’ I’ve never heard anyone reel of a list of moves in such an uninspired manner. He actually made a Davey Richards vs. Kenny King match boring! The Briscoes vs. Hass and Benjamin was nearly dragged under by his coma inducing comments, which are delivered with all the enthusiasm of a man ordering his final meal on Death Row, from a list which contains ‘cow shit, dog shit and Amy Winehouse’s spit’ as the only choices.
He is so bad during his in-ring pre show intro at Best in the World IPPV he was getting booed by the crowd before he could finish the intro. Just because he sounded like a nerd who shouldn’t be in the ring talking about the hard hitting ROH product! I have no doubt he’s a good guy who loves wrestling but seriously, his lack of any kind of charisma on commentary really brought the usually exciting ROH product down a few notches. Dave Prazak has never been more missed!
PWG is an indy promotion that takes a different approach to most things and commentary is no exception. They use a funny and charismatic masked man called Excalibur to provide the play by play and various wrestlers on the show join him to provide the colour. This can work really well when a wrestler like Austin Aries, Chris Hero or Kevin Steen joins him. Those guys are students of the game and they really add some great insight and genuinely funny moments to the matches they commentate on. This formula can fall apart though when too much time is spent on cracking in-jokes at the expense of the action in the ring. Or when someone who isn’t quite as good on the mic as those three joins the commentary - it can become pretty clunky.
Sadly, the best commentary team of the last few years no longer gets to work together and that’s Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard. Leonard can still be heard plying his trade in EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA where he excels. Leonard has just the right mix of play by playing calling but also filling in the characters and different moves of the various wrestlers (many of whom will be new to viewers.) He also has a true sports commentator delivery and a passion for what he does that elevates a lot of what he says and really does help put the product over. His work with Prazak in ROH a few years back is greatly missed these days. I have no doubt if Leonard was 15 years young and about 100 pounds lighter, Vince would’ve hired him a long time ago.
You guys should know, despite the previous 2000 words, I don’t actual like to be negative about wrestling. I try to find the best in bad situations and give the benefit of the doubt. But this lack of good commentators, from WWE all the way down through the indy scene, really does grind my gears. It’s such a lost art but one that is essential to any wrestling product being successful. A great commentator can make an average match seem good. A poor commentator can make a good match seem average.
There may be a light at the end of the tunnel though, at least where WWE is concerned. With the recent happenings on Raw resulting in JR returning to the commentary booth we can at least be safe in the knowledge that important angles will be given the focus and support they so badly need. Younger wrestlers won’t be buried, they will be enhanced and some of their characters will be pushed and explained to the viewers. Maybe some of them will start getting over.
With the good though, must come the bad and no doubt we can also expect more ribbing of JR through Vince’s mouth piece Michael Cole at the expense of the product. Although I’d expect JR to just brush it off and get on with his real job. A small price to pay for some decent commentary on Monday nights again!
As a side note, anyone wanting to get a real insight into the importance of the commentator should check out the book, “Drawing Heat The Hard Way – How Wrestling Really Works,” by the extremely knowledgeable Larry Matysik. A man who made his name as a commentator in St Louis back in the 70s and 80s (on Wrestling at the Chase, one of the hottest and most watched wrestling shows of all time) and also worked for Vince for over a decade. His knowledge and experience of being behind the mic on TV every week is truly eye opening and his thoughts and opinions on the subject really do need to be read and appreciated.
Well I’ve kept you long enough this week folks. Before I go, a few questions. Who’re your favourite wrestling commentators? Any great calls or moments of commentary that stand out for you? Am I completely wrong, is wrestling commentary as good as it always has been? If you’ve got an opinion, then I’d love to hear it.
Remember you can follow me on twitter @EFKDuckman and I’ll be back next week with more wrestling related rambling! Thanks for reading.
Monday, 25 July 2011
Massive thanks to http://www.pinfallmagazine.com/ for allowing us to use this great Kevin Steen Interview
As you can probably tell from the interview, I’m a Kevin Steen fan. Dude just brings something to the table that I don’t see from anyone else in the business. His work is a crazy combination of violence and comedy, and it works on a level all his own. When I asked for this interview I didn’t actually expect a response, but as you can see Kevin Steen took the time to make it happen, which makes me an even bigger fan. I hope this interview will create many more “Mr. Wrestling” fans, as the man loves the business, and deserves all the respect he can get…
What is the funniest thing you can remember saying to pop a crowd?
I don’t know if there’s any specific line but I’ll never forget one night in particular, when PWG was doing a show in England. It was their first time there, mine too. I think it was in 2006. I had a match with Generico and I was spitting out one-liners all match long. At one point it seemed like I was a stand-up comic beating the shit out of some poor fuck. The crowd was in stitches. I remember Generico used to tell me he hated being in that match because all that would happen was he’d get hit hard and then hear 400 people laughing. Not a good feeling. The match was great though, and my comedy act was never better than on that night.
When you said “Fuck ROH” did you mean anyone in particular, or just the entire organization in general?
I mean everyone. If I learned anything from my time away, it’s that nobody in that company, from officials to wrestlers, care about anybody but themselves…actually that’s not true, two people still seem to know I existed. Their names are Todd Sinclair and Shane Hagadorn. Everyone else can kindly go fuck themselves. And I feel that even though I made that challenge to Generico for Final Battle, they should have let me back when I was ready to return. But no. What they said was ”we don’t want you here, you’re too crazy, you’re too dangerous, you’re a hazard bla bla bla”
Sure, I may be all those things but the bottom line is in 2010, nobody came close to me as far as making things interesting and fun to watch. Guys like Roddy, Davey, Eddie, Hero, Daniels, they all had absolutely incredible matches night after night but I truly believe it was my antics and actions that made people want to keep up with what was going on in ROH and not just check out shows that might have a good main-event they’d like to see.
How did Steve Corino approach you about “Steen is change”?
Steve was always about finding a way to bring me back. But when he started talking about changing, conforming…that made me sick to be honest. I didn’t want to tell him that because I respect the man like nobody else in wrestling but then I saw with my own eyes the stuff he was going, coming out to the ring and apologizing…I just couldn’t accept that.
Your battles with Super Dragon are what brought Pro Wrestling Guerrilla into my life, what memories from that time stand-out to you?
The first time I ever wrestled him, he hit me with a forearm and my vision got blurry. That moment changed me and the kind of wrestler I am forever. I decided right then and there that I was going to beat the fuck out of him and everyone else. And beat the shit out of each other, we did. And we did it well. I have very fond memories of all those crazy battles and those matches are what shaped me to be who I am today as a performer. Super Dragon may not be around anymore but I always try to bring a sense of what he used to bring to the ring every time I go out there. In a weird way he’s a part of me…I know that sounds really strange but he was and still is a huge influence on me and without Super Dragon, there would be no Kevin Steen. At least the Kevin Steen that would be here wouldn’t be what he is today, that’s for sure.
What is it like working against Akira Tozawa, and what is it like working with him?
Both are a blast. I will say this about myself, and anyone that knows me well can attest. I may not have dedicated my life to working out in the gym, going tanning, eating well, doing all the stuff you should do to be a typical pro wrestler, but I am one of the most passionate wrestlers out there and nobody can deny that. I care too much about wrestling. I’m obsessed with it. My family will tell you. My friends, the few I have, will tell you. People I work with will tell you. I breathe wrestling and I am constantly thinking of what to do and how to make people talk.
Tozawa shares this passion. The guy has a love for pro wrestling that is so pure, it’s hard to imagine him doing anything else in life, ever. In that respect, we both got a long great from the moment we met in 2006 and getting to work with him and against him these past few months has been an incredible experience. I honestly miss him.
Do you have any interest in working with Gabe Sapolsky (Evolve/DGUSA) in the future?
Well, I’m sure you are aware of the recent news regarding this matter. I haven’t really talked to Gabe…but I will be at Evolve’s next event. We’ll see what happens.
Is El Generico a better French speaker or Spanish speaker?
He sucks equally at both.
What is the most violent thing you’ve ever done?
It’s not in a ring. The most violent thing I’ve ever done is trying to pick a fight with a group of guys at a gas station that were fucking with the employee and spitting on cars and stuff. They were giving the poor dude a hard time, and then spit on my car as I was getting back in it after having paid for my shit…it was just 4 punks trying to cause shit because they thought they could get away with it. I decided that the dude that spit needed some retribution and I knew that the cops were on their way from the employee calling them while I was in there to get rid of these guys, so if it ended up being 4-on-1, I’d have back up soon enough.
So I got back out of the car, with my keys in my hands, with the pointy ends of the keys coming out of my knuckles and punched that guy in the face. He didn’t put up much of a fight because the key got him right above the eye and cut him open. His buddies freaked out and just got him away from me, which is good because they probably could have really made a number on me, had they chosen to.
I’m not a violent person outside of the ring, since I take my aggression out in there enough as it is but on that night, I just wasn’t in the mood to take shit. Plus I’ve worked at a gas station. I know how bad it sucks, and seeing them fuck with the poor attendant who just wanted to get through his shift and go home set me off.
How do you feel about working multiple matches in one evening?
It depends when. But at PWG, for some reason…I love it. I almost feel like it’s redemption for me. I was away for so long…I had to cancel a show a few months ago because of a family emergency.
I feel I’m making up for that by working as hard as I can for them and the fans. The people there, in the crowd and in the company, they appreciate it and I really like it. I love wrestling there and getting to do it more than once is like a bonus. PWG is what wrestling should be.
When you take time off from wrestling, what do you miss (if anything)?
I never take time off. The only time I have off is because I just didn’t manage to find a show that weekend. Even if I’m hurt, time off isn’t something I do. I need wrestling.
On Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling, you were cut-off as you were about to start a Zandig story… Would you please continue that here?
I guess I don’t have several stories so much as one general story of my dealings with him while I was working for his company. But I don’t think writing about it will do things justice…I’d rather save that for an audio interview eventually.
Is your son the youngest person to ever win a match in professional wrestling history?
I would assume so…he was 5 months old at the time. He’s also the only (I hope) person to have won a match while having a pacifier in his mouth. And the only child El Generico will ever hold in his entire life, because he will never find a woman desperate enough to be willing to bear his child.
I asked PINFALL Magazine readers to come up with questions for you, and one constant that they were all wondering is… What is your favorite match of all-time?
I assume they mean a match that I wasn’t in…and this will sound RIDICULOUS but I mean it…my favorite match ever to watch is Brock Lesnar vs Big Show at Survivor Series 2002. Lesnar throwing Big Show around and giving him the F-5 is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I was popping HUGE for that match and to this day, whenever I come across it, I find myself loving every minute of it.
I’m going to give you some names, and I want you put down whatever comes to mind…
Talented, entertaining, perfect for WWE, grossly underrated by the fans currently.
I like Jimmy. He was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong frame of mind though. But he’s like me…passionate. Too much for his own good.
Smartest wrestler I know. I am jealous of him for the way he adapted his style of wrestling to the current MMA craze and managed to make get his ”knockout” stuff over with the fans. I wish I had thought of it first but I don’t think I have the talent and mind to get it over like he did.
The Young Bucks:
I say a lot of shit about those dudes but they are two of the most talented people I’ve ever wrestled. And more importantly, they are good persons. That matters.
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla:
After my wife and my son, it’s the love of my life.
Without CZW I wouldn’t have gotten where I am now. But man, those last few months I spent there were FUCKING BRUTAL!!!!!111
How did you celebrate Canada Day?
I went to see Kung Fu Panda 2 with my kid, I believe.
What is your favorite word in the English language?
Do you play an instrument?
I play the butcher knife better than anyone.
Favorite Sports Teams?
I don’t watch sports. I don’t talk about sports. When people talk about sports I don’t listen. I don’t care about sports.
Worst thing you ever wasted money on?
A lot of wrestling PPV’s that made me question my sanity for thinking ”Well, I got nothing else to do…maybe it’ll be good”.
If you could dropkick anyone in the face, who would it be?
Any member of the ”royal” family.
Favorite on-the road activity?
Sleeping in the back seat.
Do you play video games?
I wish. I had a PS3 that I owned for a year and had time to play with 4 times. I sold it. I had a Wii that I played with 5 times over 6 months. I sold it. I bought an X-Box 360 and it’s been collecting dust for a few weeks now…I just don’t have time to play. I have a wife, I have a kid, I have a sick obsession with wrestling. That takes up too much time already.
Favorite weight lifting exercise?
If someone saw you out on the town, and wanted to buy you a drink… What would you want that drink to be?
A Pepsi. I very rarely drink, and I wouldn’t drink just because someone wants to buy me one.
Do you have Any upcoming events PINFALL Magazine readers should know about?
Yes, I will be murdering ROH as a company for the next few months, whenever I decide to show up. Keep an eye out!
Personal Website/Twitter/Other Plugs?
Other plugs: I like Quizno’s.
Where do you get your wrestling gear/attire?
The wrestling gear store.
There you have it… Mr. Wrestling himself!
Sunday, 24 July 2011
All the talk in the wrestling world has been about CM Punk, work or shoot, will he return to the WWE or not, I think it's pretty clear that it's a work and if he has short term deal or signed a normal 3-5 year deal I think it's pretty easy to say he is under some sort of deal. On the independent circuit, there is a Canadian worker named Kevin Steen who was a Ring of Honor mainstay from 2007 until 2010. He lost a career vs. mask match to his former partner El Generico at ROH Final Battle 2010 but behind the curtain, Steen's ROH contract had expired due to financial budget concerns on November 4th to be exact and with that was gone from the promotion.
Steen continued to work on the independent scene and he had a notable run in PWG's DDT4 tournament with Akira Tozawa beating first The Briscoe Brothers then the Kings of Wrestling who were the ROH tag team champions at the time. Steen & Tozawa who were calling themselves Nightmare Violence Connection made it to the finals of DDT4 but were defeated by The Young Bucks.
On June 26th 2011, ROH had an iPPV called Best in The World 2011 and in the weeks leading up to the iPPV, ROH veteran Steve Corino as well as Jimmy Jacobs were saying how they wanted to be forgiven for past discressions in ROH and they were accepted back into the fold by the ROH fans and rumours were abound that Corino wanted Steen to be given a second chance by ROH and he would actually turn up at the iPPV. The night went on and then it was time for Corino's match with Michael Elgin, Corino had Jacobs in his corner and Elgin was accompanied by Truth Martini. Corino got on the mic and gave a speech about giving people second chances which led to him calling Steen out who then came through the crowd but he was cut off at the guard rails by ROH officials. Corino had his match with Elgin and at the end of the match out came Steen again, this time he did make it to the ring, where he cleaned house which included taking Martini out with a great superkick. Jim Cornette and the ROH officials came out again but Corino got on the mic again and got the crowd to chant "let Kevin speak" and Cornette did. He spoke in a soft voice pandering to the crowd but then just screamed "Fuck Ring of Honor" and then blindsided Jacobs and then Corino and he hit him with a package piledriver and he was smirking as he was carried out through the crowd while flipping the bird to the fans. This was a HOT topic at the time and even after the excellent main event of Davey Richard winning the ROH World Title from his American Wolves partner Eddie Edwards all the talk afterwards was about Steen.
In the days and weeks following Best in The World Steen has been getting his name out there, and shortly after the iPPV Steen released an 'open letter' and this is below -
Steen's Open Letter To ROH
"The second I heard it, I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I will never forget.
So many things went through my mind...how could I end up in this situation? What can I do to fix it? Is it too late to change things? And most of all...how could I live without Ring Of Honor?
I heard the sound that signified my career in ROH was over and my heart sank. Actually, it felt more like it started bleeding.
You have all figured out by now that the sound I'm talking about is the referee coutning to 3 as Generico is pinning me for the victory at Final Battle. But many people thought that feeling in the pit of my stomach was regret...but as I showed everyone at the iPPV, it wasn't.
I spent 6 long months trying to get rid of that feeling...the feeling of undeniable rage and betrayal that festered inside of me ever since that phone call. Remember that call Jimmy? The one where you told me back in October that if Generico and I didn't stop this war immediately, one of us would have to go? I told you there was no way you'd have the guts to get rid of one of us and the next week, I decided to call your bluff and lay out the challenge for Final Battle.
I expected you to lose your fudging mind after I did it and I was right. You did. What I wasn't right about is the fact that you'd beg me to reconsider. I'll admit it, on that one, I was way off. I realized pretty quickly that you weren't going to be manipulated like everyone else I dealt with. You made the match official and it got quite clear quite quickly who you and every other ROH ''official'' were rooting for.
The match was 2 months away and I could already see all of you plan for ROH without Kevin Steen. It made me sick. I knew there was no way I could win this thing. Regardless of how the match went you'd just screw me over if you had to. You couldn't have me running around beating the crap out of everyone and licking people's blood when you were negociating with that nice big corporation that wanted to buy the company, which would ensure that the almighty Jim Cornette would always have a job in ROH and still matter in the wrestling world.
I really tried to let go of that anger but nothing I did helped. The closest thing to relief was when I got to compete in a PWG ring. But even that was bittersweet because after every match, people would come up to me and say ''How are you not in ROH anymore?''
Then I saw what they made Steve do...and that was the straw that broke the camel's back. Steve Corino is the best. My idol. He is an exemple for everyone that wants to leave a mark on this industry. He's one of the guys I watched as an aspiring wrestler that made me say ''I want to be like that guy!''
Of course, that was before he sold his soul for that company. That was before Steve Corino made the decision to cut his own balls off so that he could stay in ROH.
Steve Corino is a fudging legend and instead of embracing that, he turned himself into a apologetic, self-deprecating, pathetic shell of what he really is.
Steve used to come to the ring and beat the crap out of people. He used to come to the ring, bleed buckets and make people bleed. Now he comes to the ring wearing hockey jerseys and says he's sorry so that fans applaud him. He wants to help the younger generation. He tries to make buddy-buddy with a fudging lumberjack. What kind of bullcrap is that?
Where's the Steve Corino that would take a fork and cut people open? Where's the Steve Corino who pushed me to get more sadistic and evil than I ever even knew I could? Where's Steve Corino, King of Old School?
I don't know whether he genuinely believes this crap or whether he's doing it to kiss ROH's ass but I'll say this, fudge him for demeaning himself and fudge ROH for either LETTING him or FORCING him to do it! And as far as Jimmy Jacobs is concerned, I don't know him as well as I know Steve but it seems to me he got brainwashed into ripping his own balls off too. The unfortunate part is Steve made the mistake of thinking that he could change me as well. I actually can't believe that possibility even occured to him. Maybe Jacobs put that in his head?
All I know is this: Steve, you need to understand that I don't hate you. It's quite the opposite. You are still my idol. I still respect you more than anyone I've ever met in the wrestling business. I still think of you and Colby as family.
But I will never castrate myself in order to make ROH, Cary Silkin, Jim Cornette or you, happy. I am the monster I am and I will never change. My name is Kevin Steen and I am the Antichrist of pro wrestling. I don't need to drink or do drugs to be who I am. I am here to beat the fudge out of people and create as much chaos, pain and mayhem as I can and that's always going to be my purpose.
I waited for 6 months to get a chance to come out, stand in the middle of an ROH ring and scream to the world what I've been feeling and I finally got to do it at Best In The World. But I didn't do it just for me. I did it for a lot of people. I did it for the guys that gave years of their careers to ROH and got discared with no explanation like Necro Butcher, Austin Aries and Jimmy Rave. I did it for Gabe Sapolsky. I did it for my buddy Adam Pearce who poured his soul into that company before being thrown out like garbage. But most of all I did for myself, my wife and son, and for the old Steve Corino... the one that died in December when I got kicked out of the company.
There's so much more I want to write about here but I feel this has been long enough already so let me close this off with one last thing.
Jim Cornette, please remember this:
You cannot keep me out of ROH. You can swear on your mother's grave all you want...your mother's grave doesn't mean crap to me.
I will show up in ROH again, sooner or later. And when I do, it'll be with one goal in mind...
To bring the whole fudging company down, for good.
See you soon...
Recently it was announced about his open mic opportunity on the EVOLVE 9 show which airs this Tuesday coming on iPPV (look on the right side of the page to see ordering details). And he then ask for someone on the ROH forums to let him post some comments which I posted earlier but it is here again, just click on the picture so you can read it -
And then this past Saturday, on PWG's 'Eight' show, Steen beat PAC in a singles match and then teamed with CIMA to beat The Young Guns and then after PWG champion Claudio Castignoli beat Chris Hero, Steen challenged him to a title match which he accepted and Steen once again won the PWG title.
This story has the indy fans wondering as much as they were wondering about CM Punk when his did his 'shoot' promo but unlike that story, we really don't know what's going on with Steen, but I am really looking forward to seeing how this develops.
Follow mw on twitter @WLHSTU
Last week on The Indy Corner on the pre show for The Total Wrestling Show (http://totalwrestlingshow.com) I spoke of the stacked card for the PWG 'Eight' and now that show is over some dramatic things took place. We know Kevin Steen is banned from ROH and at the PWG he was booked to face the UK’s PAC and then team with Dragon Gate’s CIMA to face Matt & Nick Jackson aka the Young Bucks/Generation Me, worked these two matches but then, after PWG champion Claudio Castignoli had defeated his Kings Of Wrestling partner Chris Hero (was supposed to be a three way but Davey Richards had to pull out with a staph infection) Steen came back to the ring and challenged CC for a title match, he accepted and now we have a new PWG champion and that is Kevin Steen.
Steen is next set to appear for EVOLVE promotion on July 26th where he will be given an open mic, of course EVOLVE is run and booked along with Dragon Gate USA by former ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky.
For those who haven't seen it, Steen used someone else's ROH forum account last week and posted the following, just click on the picture to enlarge it:
Follow me on twitter @WLHSTU
Friday, 22 July 2011
Infinity is Dragon Gate's 1 hour TV show and these four shows cover April 2011. Due to the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March, Dragon Gate were forced to cancel their March PPV which is considered to be their second most important show of the year. As a result the card was split up and held over a couple of different cards in April. These TV shows cover basically the build up and the matches of the cancelled PPV.
Infinity 212 - This show features just two matches. In March, Masaaki Mochizuki and Gamma had a feud built on who was going to challenge Masato Yoshino at the Sumo Hall show. Although Mochizuki won the feud, Gamma is not one to let a thing like that go. Mochizuki is in possession of a plastic golden key which looks to have been taken from a Christmas cracker which signifies that he's the number challenger to Yoshino. The first match is Mochizuki & Kennichiro Arai vs Gamma & Dragon Kid, this is a pretty fun tag match with the emphasis being that Mochizuki is on a big roll and despite Gamma stealing the key and celebrating by doing a lap of honour round the building he is yet again thwarted by Mochizuki who gets the pinfall over Gamma yet again. The main event is Blood Warriors vs World 1 match where wrestlers are eliminated by either being pinned or thrown over the top rope. You can then be brought back into the match by having a member of your team eliminating an opponent and so on. This continues until all four members of one team are eliminated. Confused? Probably but it's easy to follow when your watching it. The rules also mean that it is very quick with plenty of eliminations as both teams take turns having the advantage. Blood Warriors (CIMA, Ricochet, Naruki Doi & Naoki Tanizaki) are still in their tweener phase while World 1 (Yoshino, PAC, BxB Hulk and Susumu Yokosuka) are clear babyfaces. What is clear in the booking of the match is that Dragon Gate know exactly what they want their fans to go away thinking. Ricochet continually goes after PAC and this match is merely a stepping stone in Ricochet quest to beat PAC who is the Brave Gate champion.
Tanazaki also repeatedly tries to convince his team-mates that he as things under control but continually comes up short until he sacrifices himself in what turns out to be the turning point. Yoshino as the Dream Gate champion is pushed as the main man, never looking like being eliminated while eliminating Blood Warriors over and over again. In the end though Blood Warriors finally get a 3 on 1 advantage over Yokosuka and CIMA gets the final pinfall. With Blood Warriors trying to eliminate all other factions they demand that if World 1 fail to win the Triangle Gate titles then they must split up. That match features on Infinity 215.
Infinity 213 - Out of the four shows, this is probably the most laidback show. Not that this doesn't feature some well booked action. We start with Don Fujii beating cult comedy wrestler Stalker Ichikawa, here we see Fujii hitting some of the weakest chops ever seen, Ichikawa walking the top rope all around the ring until he crotches himself on the last section. He also nearly breaks his neck when he messes up a handspring elbow type move. Fujii finally ends the fun by hitting a choke slam. Up next Mochizuki continues his run to the title defeating KAGETORA there was nothing wrong with this but the fans really did not react well to this and were very quiet. KAGETORA is in an angle where he feels that he's no longer valued by the Kamikaze faction so he's doing a fair amount of sulking. Our main event sees the build up for the Twin Gate defence. Ryo Saito (who holds the belts with Genki Horiguchi) teaming with fellow Blood Warrior Tanizaki against YAMATO & Cyber Kong. Here the story telling is simple that the Kamikaze team needs the win to continue their challenge for the tag titles. Even by losing Saito can argue saying that Kamikaze did not beat the champions so that they will still be favourites. Here Kong gets the win over Tanizaki which is the right result. YAMATO will be joined by Shingo in his attempt to bring the gold to the Kamikaze faction.
Infinity 214 - Founding Kamikaze member Taku Iwasa makes his long awaited return from injury to team up with Cyber Kong to face Don Fujii & Super Shisa. This is a pretty standard tag match and Iwasa is certainly a bit ring rusty but the fans seem happy enough with his return. It didn't stop him having to take the pinfall loss to Fujii though. Up next is Mochizuki teaming with special guest Shinjiro Ohtani against Gamma & Yasushi Kanda.
This show was a charity event and the fans were definitely here to have a good time. Ohtani especially took the opportunity to explore the use of comedy in the match. To very little surprise Mochizuki yet again gets the better of Gamma. This leaves us with our main event which is Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi defending the Twin Gate titles against YAMATO & Shingo which was built up from the previous show. This is a fantastic tag match which certainly benefits from having two established tag teams facing each other, in the end though it was perseverence that mattered most as Genki finally used his 'Backslide from Heaven' to put Shingo down for the loss at the third time of asking.
Infinity 215 - This could be seen as the most important Infinity show of 2011 as it features three matches that would have appeared on the Sumo Hall PPV. With that all the matches are edited down especially the main event although I would say that the editing is very well done. Opening up the how is YAMATO defending the Freedom Gate title (which is the DGUSA title) against Kanda, now with the fact that Kanda as so far not appeared on a DGUSA event and YAMATO is considered to be in the top five of Dragon Gate you wouldn't need to be an expert to work out that YAMATO was going to be victorious, however that doesn't stop the fact that Kanda is booked very strongly throughout the bout and dominates the majority of the match. A good example of how to try and elevate a wrestler up the card and this is something that continues for Kanda in May and June. Next we have Blood Warriors (CIMA, Dragon Kid & Ricochet) defending the Trianngle Gate titles against World 1 (PAC, Hulk & Yokosuka) which was set up on Infinity 212 show. This was very entertaining and would have been even better but we only get to see half of the match due to time constraints, a typical Dragon Gate 6 man tag and with the stipulation of World 1 having to disband if they lost than the fans were very much into this. In the end it was the Blood Warriors who again emerged victorious when CIMA pinned Yokosuka to force the end of World 1. This leaves us with Yoshino defending the Dream Gate title against Mochizuki, again we only see about half of the match. Yoshino as been pushed really strongly since beating YAMATO at the Kobe show in July 2010 and this is his 5th title defence. As we have seen Mochizuki as also been a strong roll scoring numerous wins to become the number one challenger.
That form continued here as Mochizuki finally captured his second Dream Gate title, his first reign started in December 2004 when he defeated CIMA to become the second man to win the title and he held the title until November 2005. Mochizuki noted that it might be a good idea if he affiliated himself with a faction. This is the set up to the formation of Junction III although nothing was arranged here. At the end of the show they set up three matches for their Dead or Alive 2011 PPV which were Mochizuki vs YAMATO (based on YAMATO defending the title against Mochizuki in his 2010 run and now Mochizuki is returning the favour), Saito & Horiguchi vs Hulk & Yokosuka with the champions mocking their opponents after World 1 had disbanded and finally Naruki Doi announced that he would beat PAC for the Brave Gate title.
Infinity is certainly not a TV show like Raw, Smack Down or IMPACT. Although Dragon Gate do obviously use angles and are big fans of faction warfare, their TV show is first and foremost a show that features a lot of really good wrestling. Matches are not interrupted by advertisements and as I mentioned earlier when the matches are not shown in full are skillfully edited. The fact that Dragon Gate only run 5 PPV events (and in 2011 it should only be 4 with the Sumo Hall show cancelled) it does mean that their TV cannot be used in the same way as WWE or TNA use theirs. I would encourage anyone to seek out Dragon Gate Infinities as I found all four shows to be very enjoyable.
Recently, Steve Austin tweeted and I quote "WWE should sign @SamoaJoe as soon as his TNA contract is up. One of my favorite workers in today's game. Needs a full green light push."
I am not alone as a Samoa Joe fan, I loved him in ROH where his style fit so well. Back in 2005 when CM Punk was being linked with the WWE under the advice of Mick Foley, Samoa Joe was also being touted by Foley to the WWE as a possible addition to the roster and I asked this to Foley on camera and for anyone who has seen the Universal Uproar Q&A from the same day of the show will may remember the question being asked and Foley did say he tried to get WWE to sign Joe. Obviously it didn't happen and Joe signed with TNA.
He debuted with a bang at the Slammiversary PPV of 2005 with a win over Sonjay Dutt. Joe went on an amazing undefeated streak and he was being built up as a monster so to speak. Joe faced Chris Daniels & AJ Styles in an amazing 3 way match at the Unbreakable PPV and this is still to date, the ONLY five-star rated match by the Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer. Some may say, it was Daniels & Styles that made it such an amazing match but Joe needs to be given credit too.
While Joe was working in TNA, he continued to work with ROH and Dave Meltzer gave him another five-star rating in a match when he faced Japanese legend Kenta Kobashi in October of 2005 and this was voted the match of the year. For whatever reason, on January 31st 2007, Joe announced he would no longer be a full-time performer with ROH after March 4th, on that day he wrestled Homicide and won which is strange having the wrestler on the way out get the victory, but anyway that was his last match in ROH but he did return on November 22nd 2007 and he beat ROH champion Tyler Black in a non title match. As of now, that was Joe's last ROH match.
Back in TNA, Joe had very good run in the first few years, a 4 time X Division champion, a 1 time tag team champion and he did win the TNA world title at Lockdown on April 13th 2008 in a 'six-sides of steel' match. In later times though, Joe hasn't been used the best and it's a shame, he is easily one of the better workers on the roster.
On the recent TNA Destination X PPV, Joe was on the card but in the opener and against a guy I don't really rate, that being Kaz (Frankie Kazarian) - Anyway, Joe looked really in the mood for this match, I thought finally, they are going to give Joe a good win and start to use him but no, they had Kaz do the better work in the match and look the part but they had Kaz go over with a hokey finish.
Back to what Austin tweeted, I'd ideally like to see Joe go back to ROH but that's for selfish reasons as I am a big fan of the promotion but if Joe went to the WWE with the way they are going now could be a great thing. I am not sure when his TNA contract is up but it would be a good move for the WWE to get him in and a good move for him for exposure and of course for financial reasons.
What I want to ask you readers is what do you think of Austin saying on twitter WWE should sign a contracted TNA worker albeit when available? Do you think it would be a good move for both parties? And one final question, who else should WWE go for from either TNA, ROH or elsewhere?
Thanks for reading, hit me up on twitter @WLHSTU - email me firstname.lastname@example.org - check out http://wlhdvdsales.webs.com for great ORIGINAL DVD's and if you have a smart phone, get the WLH app http://mappin.com/app/WLHBlog
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Hello folks, Duckman here, back again for another week of comment and opinion here at Wrestling’s Last Hope! I’ve got to give thanks to all the people who left feedback on my first post here. It’s really appreciated guys and hopefully I don’t prove to be a one hit wonder! I’d like to also give thanks to the guys who are now following me on Twitter (@EFKDuckman) and to those of you who have been making suggestions for future articles. These have been stored in the Duckman Ideas Trunk and will be opened and brought to the public in the coming weeks and months!
So, much been happening in the world of professional wrestling since last week? Anyone? TNA doing much? No? Well then…what to talk about today?? Ah sarcasm, the lowest form of wit and yet I can’t stop relying on you!
Let’s be honest, even the most hardened of cynical smarks would have to admit that it has been one of the most headline grabbing and exciting months in WWE for YEARS. Now that the dust has settled and the hysteria of Money in the Bank and CM Punk is over for the time being, I’ve had a chance to reflect on what we saw at the Pay Per View and on Raw the following night. Yes, I know this is similar to another article on here but lets be fair – what else is there to talk about? Joker Sting? Give me a fucking break.
First off the Money in the Bank PPV. It was tremendous. I mean one of the top five best PPVs I’ve seen from WWE in the last 10 years. Now I appreciate that may sound like an over excited exaggeration but from the quality and downright excitement of the matches, to the nuclear level of crowd heat, to the overall feeling of ‘man that lived up to the hype’ of Cena vs. Punk, I think it’s a fair assessment.
The biggest shock of the night had to be Daniel Bryan winning the Smackdown MITB match. As a long time fan of his work and a long time complainer than WWE need to do more with the guy, I was extremely happy and utterly stunned to see him win the match. The super hardcore crowd really reacted to his old ‘MMA elbows of doom’ spot that used to be one of his ROH trademarks. When he got the case the place exploded in a way that I sure as hell hope opened a few more eyes backstage in WWE to how good the man is at what he does.
The indy fan in me is preying that people in positions of influence in WWE are starting to realise that Bryan is a guy who they can rely on both from a professional and personal point of view. He is a clean living, professional guy who has an in-ring style that stands out from the norm, can work a ton of different styles and when given the chance, he can cut a hell of a promo as both a babyface and a heel. Plus despite their best efforts with Michael Cole running him down every fucking week, Bryan is over with the live crowd.
As far as feel good moments go to get people into the show, WWE hit this out the park. Plus the follow up to his win on Smackdown sounds like it’s going to be a long angle that could really showcase Bryan and make him the focus of things moving forward – trying to avoid Smackdown spoilers here folks! Watch it this week.
The match itself came off well, it didn’t appear to rushed and they managed to keep it straight forward even with a stupidly high number of people involved in the match. My highlights being Sin Cara getting his ‘wellness policy violation’ powerbomb from Sheamus (shit, that looked horrific), Gabriel with his dangerous as hell looking 450 off the ladder, Cody Rhodes continuing to show a lot of poise and getting a lot of heat throughout and Wade Barrett showing a ton of charisma through the whole match. Barrett vs. Sheamus has a lot of interest to me as a future feud on Smackdown. Everyone in the match worked their ass off and I personally enjoyed this match more than the Raw MITB later on. Though I may be biased because one of my favourite wrestlers of all time won it!
The Diva’s match was Botch-a-mania without the funny music and clips of Booker T retarded and unintelligible commentary. Horrible. Kelly Kelly is lovely to look at but the girl is just not cut out to be a wrestler. She tries hard but it’s just embarrassing to watch now. What’s worse is they have talents like Beth Phoenix, Nattie Neidhart and Gail Kim just sitting around doing nothing who could light up the Diva’s division for all the right reasons. Instead we have to watch the likes of Kelly and the Bellaends screw up sunset flips every damn week. Lame.
Show vs. Henry was what it was. Two huge dudes hitting each other in a WWE style. The video package made this look like the one of the most intense feuds of all time. The match, while good for Henry and Show, was still slow and plodding, although actually a welcome change of pace from the rest of the show. Apart from Henry throwing a drop kick. Where did that come from? Also, how the hell did he do it without blowing out his knees, back and rupturing at least three major organs?
The post match was suitably intense and obviously gives Show some time to sell the injury. Although I saw him getting run over by a car on Raw last month and three weeks later he was sprinting (well sprinting for Show) down the ramp…and WWE wonder why injury angles never get over like they should do (and this show had three of them!)
Henry is doing well in his current role and the finish helped continue to build him up which is vital as Smackdown is light on top line heels. Although I worry he’s being built up simply to be fed to Randy Orton at some point in the future.
The Raw MITB had the winner I think most people saw coming. Evan Bourne is insane. That shooting star press off the ladder on the outside will be played on highlight reels for the next five years! DANGEROUS!! The match had some good spots, although guys like Riley, Kingston and Swagger did feel like they got a bit lost in the shuffle. The crowd booing Rey and cheering Miz when he came back out showed just how hardcore the Chicago crowd were. Lot of 10 percenters (quote Eric Bischoff) in the crowd – guess we do buy tickets after all! Usually when something is logically booked and interesting...
The finish with unmasking Rey was creative and really popped the crowd. It was a shame the ladders tipped when they did but it was in keeping with the chaotic and messy style the match had throughout. I thought Del Rio’s reaction at the end was priceless. The guy is so into his character he came across as legitimately being ecstatic at winning the match. An entertaining mess of a match – but in a good way.
I might be in the minority here but I thought the finish to the Orton/Christian match was well done. For a start, we now know Christian spits (he always looked like a swallows kind of guy to me) and we also know that Christian will hold the Title until Summerslam when he’ll no doubt drop it back to Orton. The finish was in keeping with the storyline running up to the match and for once a dumb stipulation in a World title match in WWE meant something. I’m not a fan of changing the Title by DQ but that’s the story they were telling. I thought both guys looked great in the match, Christian especially looked much more confident in his heel persona in this one.
They couldn’t do the epic style match because of the main event but it was another in a long series of solid matches between these two. Plus Orton was super over with the crowd after the two RKO on the table spots and his selling of his frustration and fury was excellent. Christian also got a lot of good heat after the match which was surprising given how much the people were cheering him during the match and at the Title change. So mission accomplished all around.
And so to the main event. Without a doubt the hottest crowd reaction I’ve ever seen for one guy in WWE. Not just the pre-match chanting, but the noise when Punk came out? Holy shit!! Apparently you could hear the crowd perfectly outside the building! Just a stunning reaction. One of those crowd reactions where I find myself giggling at how amazing it is. It had all the intensity of the original One Night Stand crowd, but multiplied by about 10,000 people and then overdubbed by a Road Warriors pop from the mid 80s. How Punk didn’t shit his pants when he walked out there is beyond me. In fact he probably did. I would have.
The anti Cena reaction was also absolutely vicious and I LOVED the fact that Cena sold it to perfection. No gay salute. No stupid running about looking like a 12 year old twat. Just a serious expression and a walk to the ring with his head down. EXACTLY how he should have sold it. Little touches like that are usually missing from the Cena character so it was good to see this attention to detail.
As for the match itself? It’s top three MOTY for me. Up there with HHH/Taker and Richards/Edwards from ROH Best in the World. The crowd heat obviously pushed it along to another level but I think Punk and Cena both carried there sides of the match to perfection. One botched cross body because Cena wasn’t standing in the right place doesn’t take anything away from the match for me. The emotion, the way they built the match, the selling by Cena of Punk’s resilience. It all just clicked perfectly. Also, how cool was it to see Ace Steele and Colt Cabana at ringside in the front row, along with I believe Punk’s Mum? They were marking out just like everyone else watching.
I was relieved to see they didn’t go with the 1 millionth repeat of the Montreal Snorejob. Plus Cena really smacked John Laurinaitis – which you know most of the wrestlers in the back would have loved! Cena then getting pinned clean just put Punk onto the true superstar level. Even the run-in by Del Rio at the end was well worked and Punk’s facial expression after landing the high kick on Del Rio was utterly priceless and swerved a lot of the predictions about how the night would end – including my own.
Punk’s escape through the crowd as well was in keeping with the whole tone of the angle and the most important thing for me was this – when the show ended, I was smiling, I had popped a couple of times during the finish when Punk had kicked out and I REALLY wanted to watch Raw to see where they were going next. NOTHING in WWE, especially at the end of a PPV, in recent years has brought that kind of reaction from me. So well done Punk, Cena and Vince. Job frigging done!
As for Raw the following night? I’m in two minds about it. Personally I got why they downplayed Punk because in a shoot situation, they wouldn’t be promoting him or going on about what happened. They’d do the usual WWE thing and brush it under the carpet.
The tournament sucked balls. Simply because apart from Miz, ADR and Rey, no one else has been presented in a manner that would make me give a shit about them or see them as a potential WWE Champion. So many stop start pushes for them that they aren’t legitimate contenders in the eyes of fans. This was one of the most telling examples of WWE’s constant failure to create new stars in recent years or even have a solid upper mid card that people can at least believe they might have a chance in winning the WWE Title. Also, a lot of the guys were obviously hurting from the PPV and as a result the matches were pretty basic and quite sloppy at some points.
On the plus side I thought the angle with Vince and HHH at the end was excellent. Of course it’s the same thing we’ve seen for the last 5 summers – Vince is gone from WWE TV. What was different this time was the way WWE once again played into this worked shoot ethos they’ve started with Punk.
I’d also like to point out that Vince McMahon is without a doubt one of the best guys in wrestling history at selling by using facial expressions alone. He turned that crowd from laughing at him, to sympathising and respecting him all without saying a word. That takes talent folks.
Back to the worked/shoot situation. It’s no coincidence that Punk mentioned ‘Vince’s doofus son in law’ running the company one day when Vince was gone in his big promo a few weeks back. I think it’s safe to say that was the set up for what we saw on Monday and for what I hope will be Punk’s eventual return – a modern day Austin vs. McMahon with Punk and HHH playing those roles. It’s worked before and it also really helped WWE when their product was seen as stale and not edgy enough.
Now some people might not think that’s the way to go but in my humble opinion I think it would rock and here’s a few reasons why:
1. Punk and HHH going against each other on the mic would be must see TV.
2. HHH trying to keep his corporate face on while Punk is running amuck as ‘the TRUE WWE Champion’ would be entertaining as hell.
3. They can have a match at some point – which I’m sure would be fantastic.
4. Punk, if it’s booked correctly, would get such a rub off being involved in a central feud on Raw with HHH.
5. With HHH in charge - NO MORE FUCKING LAPTOP GM!!!
To be honest, number 5 is the main reason I’m excited by HHH being in charge! God I hate that laptop angle.
So while we’re no doubt only a few chapters into this story I’m still excited by it. As a member of the demographic that WWE are trying to entice back with this angle it’s working for me. Plus it feels long term. Punk will be gone for at least a couple of months – I’d expect him back at or just before Survivor Series but then again they could hold off till the Royal Rumble, it has been seen in recent years as THE event for big time surprise returns. HHH being in charge isn’t something they’re going to blow through in a few weeks.
I hope they hold off any kind of Vince vs. HHH angle though because everything at the moment feels unpredictable and fresh and going down that route right now would take a lot of the shine and interest off the angle.
Looking even further ahead you have factor in Cena and The Rock in all this plus The Undertaker who I’m sure has a match with HHH at Wrestlemania next year and it’s safe to say this whole deal will have a lot more twists and turns before we get to Miami next year.
And to think, it all started with one breakout promo from CM Punk and the whole WWE universe has been knocked off its axis! That’s the power of Punk and hopefully this is just the start of what, if they book it correctly, could be a money drawing and interest grabbing time for WWE in the months to come.
Well, that’s my take on it. What’s yours? You hate what you’ve seen? Love it? Agree, disagree? Then leave a comment and have your say on the most talked about month in WWE in years. As always thanks for reading and I’ll see you guys back here at Wrestling’s Last Hope next week.
Recently I have come across a Youtube video of Jeff hardy with a bit from Matt Hardy where they are both in a drunken state, the video is not new apparently in fact it's from 2010 but it got my attention because CM Punk is in the news at the moment, no CM Punk IS the news. But I recall the feud the two had a feud back in 2009 where in reality Hardy was the star and Punk was just someone on the roster 'getting the rub'. CM Punk came out of this feud as the world heavyweight champion which ended with him defeating Hardy in a 'loser leaves WWE' match.
Many will say, Punk has won two Money In The Bank matches, been world champion twice with the second time using his MITB win to beat Hardy for the belt so in his own right, he made himself a star. The fact that the WWE powers that be chose Punk to be the only person to win a MITB match twice makes you think they saw something in him, but overall, his two runs with the strap were not the most successful.
Jeff Hardy we all know has been his own worst enemy with his battles with various demons but does he have a point at all? Did the matches he had with Punk make him a star?
It's a point worth discussing, but I expect many to say Hardy is full of sh*t. Let the debate begin.
Hit me up on twitter @WLHSTU
Here is the video I spoke of.
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
So Money in The Bank 2011 is over, all the questions have been answered as far as what would of happened at the PPV concerning CM Punk and his future. Well, as we all know now, Punk won the WWE title in Chicago and the crowd was AMAZING. In short as I guess you have seen the PPV, Vince McMahon came down with John Laurinaitis and as soon as John Cena put Punk in a submission move, he told Laurinaitis to get the bell rung, Cena hopped out the ring clocked Laurinaitis and told Vince he's not winning like that, Cena jumped back in the ring and Punk got hit with the GTS and CM Punk was the WWE champion. Punk celebrated in the ring and around ringside and then went through the crowd after blowing Vince a kiss.
I think the bigger story from the PPV for me was Daniel Bryan winning the Smack Down MITB match. Listening to the the Total Wrestling Show on Sunday they were doing predictions for the PPV, each presenter had theirs and it was open to the chatroom, no one picked Bryan but one person as far as I know sent in a text to the TWS text messaging service saying Daniel Bryan for the SD MITB match and that was myself. OK, so I picked Bryan probably because I actually wanted him to win but the MITB should be there for making stars and even though I and many more have always classed Daniel Bryan or more so Bryan Danielson as the best wrestler in the world but since his move to the WWE, he is not the wrestler we know and admire from his ROH and independent days so he needs to be made a star once again. I am glad he won MITB, I hope he gets a run with the strap but I hold no illusions, I don't expect him to be a success as a world champion much like a certain CM Punk in his his previous 2 world title runs in the WWE.
The ending of the PPV was what I thought, Punk won, took the belt and went through the crowd, annoyed me there was a camera up there where he actually left the seating area but hey, if you didn't think it was a work before that then you should do now.
Fast forward to the next night and on RAW, Punk wasn't there, which was good for storyline reasons and Vince wouldn't even announce his name. Vince said he would mention John Cena's name and he would have to pay the price for not beating Punk on the PPV. Before that, Vince said he would hold a one night, 8 man tournament to crown a new WWE champion - First round results were Miz over Riley, Kingston over RAW MITB winner Del Rio, Mysterio over Ziggler & R-Truth over Swagger, semi-final results had Mysterio over Truth & Miz over Kingston. Vince came out again, and told Mysterio that the final match would take place next week as there were bigger things to deal with so he would have to wait until next week, Mysterio pleaded but that was the final decision. Vince said then he would now have to do what is needed for business, John Cena let him and the company down and actions would need to be taken. Out came Cena and Vince rambled on, Cena rambled on and the one thing that stood out of the promo was Cena saying if it was to end tonight if he was to be fired then as he loves this, he would have to go on somebody else's TV show brother. Vince proceeded and as he was about to fire him Triple H's music played and down he came dressed to the nines. Again, in short, Triple H said he was at a board meeting where the outcome was they were taking away Vince's powers and he was taking over the general day to day running of the company. The crown sang the old yeah yeah, good bye to him and then when he began to cry they were chanting "thank you Vince" - Hilarious.
The PPV is getting rave reviews and maybe it's deserved, RAW however is being slammed and the latter I agree with, why? Because I don't want to see The Miz or Mysterio as WWE champion but I think next week we won't see that match, here's hoping fans, here's hoping.
That's it for now, hit me up on twitter @WLHSTU or email me at email@example.com
Sunday, 17 July 2011
WWE's Money in the Bank is now less than 24 hours away,
I'm going to go ahead and make my predictions for what's going to go down.
In my view Money in the Bank has been the best built Pay Per View of the year,
and of recent memory.
I can't remember the last PPV to have a build up like this.
Perhaps the most thought provoking main event of the year, maybe even since the
attitude era itself.
The buzz created ever since Punk's historic worked shoot promo has been nothing
short of unbelievable.
I couldn't believe how my facebook and twitter feeds lit up right after it went
There were theories flying out left right and centre, is Punk staying, leaving,
winning the title, being squashed by Cena, myself I cannot wait for this.
I think that CM Punk is going to win and then he's going to be cashed in on by
the Raw MITB winner.
Result - CM Punk wins, only to lose the title to the MITB winner.
Raw MITB match.
I know it, you know it, it's going to be Del Rio. And he's walking out as the
WWE Champion after cashing in on Punk.
Smackdown MITB match.
I'm torn on this on, I think it'll either be Sheamus or Sin Cara. Why? Well in
my view Sin Cara hasn't recieved the push I thought he would on joining the WWE, perhaps winning this match will be the start of that.
As for Seamus, I just like him and feel he needs to get back on track and go
after some gold again.
Roll on Sunday night already.
I know I've missed off the other matches but if you're like me, you'll probably
guess, quite correctly, how they will go. WWE has become predictable recently. I hope this PPV may be the start of some unpredicatability.
Indy Corner competition brought to you by http://wlhdvdsales.webs.com
Here is your chance to win a ROH DVD, brand new & sealed. There will be a choice of 3 to choose from and they are
1. Gold Rush (19/3/10, featuring ROH World Champion Tyler Black & ROH Tag Team Champions The Briscoe Brothers vs. ROH TV Champion Eddie Edwards, Davey Richards & Chris Hero)
2. Blue Grass Brawl (22/7/10, featuring ROH Champion Tyler Black vs. Claudio Castignoli – non title and the main event was The American Wolves – Richards & Edwards vs. The Briscoe Brothers)
3. Hate Chapter II (23/7/10, featuring The Kings of Wrestling & Sara Del Ray vs. The Briscoe Bothers & Amazing Kong – WWE’s Kharma, Grudge Rematch – Kevin Steen vs. El Generico and a ‘must see’ tag team match as The American Wolves face Generation Me.
To be in with a chance of winning any of these 3 DVD’s then first you have to ‘LIKE’ the facebook pages of BOTH The Total Wrestling Show & Wrestling’s Last Hope and you have to enter this question – Name the show where Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards got the name The American Wolves. Send in any answers with your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org with INDY COMP in the subject line. Closing date for entries is 12 mid-day on Saturday July 23rd 2011.
Saturday, 16 July 2011
Every WWE & TNA PPV anyone who enters the prediction league has to predict the result for each match on the PPV, if you get the result right, it's 2 points for you in the league the first counting of points will be after the WWE Summer Slam show in August and then after the final PPV of the year. The winner of the league will have a choice of a DVD of their choice from a list to be determined. I must say, don't want to annoy any American readers but this is for UK readers only for a DVD, any American readers that take part will get a PAYPAL payment instead.
Obviously, you don't have to predict for every PPV but the more PPV's you do, the better chance you have of getting more points.
Email ALL predictions to email@example.com
1. RAW Money in The Bank Match: Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Alex Riley vs. R-Truth vs. The Miz vs. Evan Bourne vs. Jack Swagger
2. Smack Down Money in The Bank Match: Kane vs. Sin Cara vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater vs. Sheamus
3. Diva's Title Match: Kelly Kelly (c) vs. Brie Bella
4. Big Show vs. Mark Henry
5. World Title Match: Randy Orton (c) vs. Christian
6. WWE Title Match: John Cena (c) vs. CM Punk