Sunday, 23 February 2014

WWE Elimination Chamber Preview By Adam Ferguson (@ElloJasonIsaacs)

It’s the final stop on the road to Wrestlemania, and normally a reliably entertaining pay-per-view. Elimination Chamber, once a match, now also a three hour extravaganza, will clunk its way into the Target Center in Minneapolis through an air of all too familiar predictability. Because for all the pre-Wrestlemania dressing up the PPV wears, at the time of writing tonight’s show does appear to be a fairly generic box-ticking offering - though this is wrestling, and I could be eating those words by tomorrow.

Lets have a look at the card.

Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback, part of the Kickoff

I cannot help but feel disappointed at the Rhodes brothers’ lack of Tag title action tonight, given they have been a popular mainstay in said title picture since last autumn. In all honestly, this Kickoff placement feels a bit like an unnecessary demotion, and who’s forgetting that awful action figure segment on a recent RAW? The pair should win tonight against Rybaxel, another case of two flailing singles wrestlers being paired up in an odd solution attempt by creative.

Winners: Cody Rhodes and Goldust

Darren Young vs. Titus O’Neil

Having missed the last few Smackdown shows - rather, choosing to watch the best bits on YouTube - I don’t really know what’s going on here. The Prime Time Players were a fine team, and splitting them up before Wrestlemania reeks of nonsense. Both guys are decent, but I’m not really interested in a singles run for either. Titus by tallness default.

Winner: Titus O’Neil

The New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos, for the WWE Tag titles

So let me get this straight: it’s 2014 and a censored Road Dogg and hair-struggling Billy Gunn could be on their way to Wrestlemania as the champs? Lets be honest, we’re no longer in a New Age and these two are most certainly not the outlaws they used to be, if even at all. The Usos are terrific, always buoyed by charisma as they inject energy into everything they do; from an intimidating entrance, to an simultaneous over-the-top rope dive. Give ‘em the gold.

Winners: The Usos

Big E vs. Jack Swagger, for the WWE Intercontinental title

A mid-card filler match pitting two powerful and athletic guys against each other in a battle for the now dilapidated IC title. Swagger is good, but always seems to spend his time in the shadow of a tag team partner (first Ziggler, now Cesaro). New to the roost, it would seem Big E still has a lot to bring forth and those ‘higher-ups’ apparently like him. This one will be hard-hitting, and although he’s recently lost a name, Big E wont lose his title.

Winner: Big E

Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio

After the Royal Rumble debacle, I really enjoyed the fire Batista showed when hammering Alberto Del Rio through the announce table a few weeks back. Finally big Dave showed some fire, seemingly turning on the ignition as we approach Wrestlemania. An ignition screechingly brought to a halt at the announcement of this bout. What is the purpose behind a match between Batista and Del Rio on pay-per-view? The chaps over at Inside The Ropes put it best during their Elimination Chamber preview show: “Pay $50 to see Batista shoot fish in a barrel this Sunday”.

Winner: Forgot about this match, go give Inside The Ropes a listen instead

The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield

Now we’re talking. Absolutely the most anticipated match on the card, fans have been waiting for this clash of clans since last summer. Both factions have had a tremendous start to 2014; The Wyatt Family having targeted John Cena after beating Daniel Bryan, on the same night as The Shield’s tremendous performance in the Royal Rumble match. It’ll be interesting to see who the Minneapolis audience favours during this encounter, though given Roman Reigns’ ascending popularity The Shield is a good bet. Prepare for organised chaos, a Shield dissemination, a Wyatt victory and probably match of the night.

Winners: The Wyatt Family

Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Cesaro vs. Sheamus vs. Christian vs. Daniel Bryan, for the WWE World Heavyweight title inside the Elimination Chamber

Unlike past outings involving brutes like The Great Khali, all of the guys in this chamber match can go, therefore we should be in for a cracker. Recently returned Sheamus wont win, nor will Cesaro (although expect a massive showing from him, and maybe even a final three appearance). Christian might not even be in the match, signifying his fodder status. Although betting against John Cena is like betting against a Vladimir Putin election victory (in that a win is always probable, not that you’ll be assassinated for favouring Cena’s opponent), it appears Cena and Bray Wyatt are marker-ed in for Wrestlemania. That then leaves Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan. The immediate backlash to Bryan’s non-involvement in the Rumble match was almost disastrous for WWE, therefore a Bryan win to appease the masses could conceivably happen here. I smell shenanigans though, in the form of Triple H and his monstrous pecker costing the bearded warrior a truly deserved moment of glory. Looks like Orton vs. Batista is going to happen in New Orleans. Oh lord.

Winner: Randy Orton

There we have it! Who knows, the beast Brock Lesnar may even show up in his hometown. Elimination Chamber 2014 ain’t the best February card we’ve ever had, but it does boast one, maybe two, potentially great bouts. As if Vinnie Mac gives a damn about this PPV anyway, he’s got a Network to launch on Tuesday.

Follow me on Twitter @elloJasonIsaacs for more wrestling talk, I’ll be tweeting during the PPV tonight!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Jim Cornette LIVE - The Glee Club, Birmingham, UK (19/2/14) By Matt Bayliss

This isn’t exactly a review since I don’t want to go into too much detail about everything that was said during this fine show in the heart of Birmingham – for a start if you want to know you should head over to and pre-order the DVDs from all the UK shows, but more importantly there is no way I could do justice to the stories he shared! My Iron Sheik impression is not up to scratch for a start!

But I felt the need to write about the show all the same, I guess it is my little way of saying thank you for the amazing experience.

The whole thing was organised by Alex Shane and the guys from Wrestle Talk TV, for Alex this is the fulfillment of a dream and I for one am very pleased that I was able to share in the outcome. For those that don’t know, the main reason that Cornette has never been to the UK previously is because he seriously hates flying so this is a big deal for him too. A little persuasion from Alex and -likely far more importantly - from Mrs Cornette finally convinced him to take the trip. Alex told me before the show that they are using a different format each night to make each night unique, this is a great idea so each nights DVD is different and people going to more than one show don’t just hear the same things repeatedly – obviously this also means that people are encouraged to buy more DVDs but I can honestly say, based on the Birmingham date they would be well worth it!

As a bit of a mark I opted for the Meet and Greet + Premium Seats, this meant that I had the opportunity to meet Jim before the show and get sme stuff signed as well as getting a couple of photos taken with him. I don’t really like getting my photo taken, I am not exactly a photogenic person so when possible I try to have a bit of fun – with Jim it was easy … hit me with your racket! Which he obliged of course and I have a great pic. Meeting him was a great experience, he seemed genuinely pleased to meet everyone and have a little chat.

I ended up with a front row seat for the show, well worth the extra expense since it meant I wasn’t having to look around or over anybody else, anybody sat behind me was not so fortunate which I always feel a little bad about, especially when I found out the person beyond me was Georgia Smith, the daughter of the British Bulldog!

The show opened with a bit of a warm up from comedian and wrestling fan Chris Brooker, who people should know from the Eros Comedy shows which have bought Mick Foley, William Regal and Nigel McGuiness to stages around the UK. Brooker is funny and as he’ll always say it’s great to be amongst fellow wrestling fans because everyone has the same point of reference.

Joel Ross and Dave Bradshaw are the hosts for the night, I am sure they divide opinions in the wrestling world but Ross in particular seems to be in his element in this set up, and a lot less orange than he does on TV! To be fair, having met him a few times I do actually quite like him and good to see him in the limelight. The format for the show tonight is an intimate Q&A with Joel Ross on stage with Jim and Bradshaw amongst the audience looking for questions – of which there were plenty.

When Cornette hits the stage you can tell straight away that you are in for a good night, he seems full of energy and really gives off the aura that he wants to be there and wants to share his stories.

As I said at the start I am not going to divulge what was said but subjects covered include the Iron Sheik, his relationship with Vince Russo, ribs with Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith, Mid-South Wrestling, Terry Funk stalking him at the start of his career, training developmental talent in OVW including John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton and the Boogeyman and much much more in and out of wrestling.
Keep a special eye out for the story about the double reverse rib … it had me literally crying with laughter!

With a short intermission Cornette was on stage for about 3 hours but the time flew by, I could easily listen to him for hours on end, his stories are great and really well told and he has strong opinions on a lot of topics.

Overall the show was great and really entertaining and I wold love for him to come back and do more shows, in the mean time I will be ordering the DVDs so I can re-watch this show as well as hearing stories from the other nights too. If you couldn’t make it to any of the shows on this tour I highly recommend that you pick up the DVDs, whether you are a big Cornette fan or not!


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

More Wrestling Gems By Keith Bennett (@HugaKitty)

The matches I am about to recommend are not all five star classics but I do feel that they are worth your time and attention as a wrestling fan

CHIKARA - Mike Quackenbush vs Colt Cabana "SHOOT A CROOKED ARROW"

This is more of a tribute to the old style of british wrestling than an actual wrestling match Quack and Colt put on a clinic of counter hold after counter hold if you have never seen the likes of Mark Rocco, Johnny Saint, Tony St. Clair, Fit Finlay ect in there prime this is a good place to start and if you like this match you will love the british world of sport wrestling.

AJPW - Kenta Kobashi vs. Takao Omori "Champion Carnival finals" (4/15/00)

This being the champions carnival final the crowd is ready for a strong style classic and Kobashi & Omori deliver by the truckload with stiff moves and high drama this is a world class showing by both men Takao Omori always deserved more attention and he shows why here this match is definitely worth your time .

NJPW - The Great Muta vs. Masahiro Chono (9/23/94)

Chono and Muta always worked will together and this match is no exception Keiji Mutoh hams it up as the Great Muta as he always does and Chono is his no nonsense self mutas ring psychology is always worth a watch but be warned there is a bit of blood in this match.

CZW - Sami Callihan vs. Drake Younger 60-Minute Ultraviolent Iron Man CZW World Jr. Hwt. Title Match "New Heights 2012"

The fact that both men manage to hold your attention for one hour speaks volumes about how talented and innovative both wrestlers are there is a little bit of everything in this match strong style highspots and this being CZW of course some hardcore brawling both men work so hard in this match that they both deserve to be household names.

AJPW - Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi (Tag League, 12/3/93)

More puroresu gold from All Japans golden era if you ever wanted to try some japanese wrestling but did not know where to start this match is an amazing showcase as all four men are legends they tell a story in the ring perfectly this is a great match with great storytelling great psychology and a world class workrate.

Monday, 10 February 2014

“The way I see it ….” Part Four By Matt Bayliss (@MattMatt316)

I am back after a brief hiatus, for those that don’t already know my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on January 21st so I have been a bit busy for a while with nappies and bottles and sleepless nights … oh my! So what does this have to do with wrestling? Absolutely NOTHING! I am just very proud that have now made 2 beautiful babies!

Knowing that the Clara was going to arrive at some point I didn’t commit to any shows during January so with the exception of the TNA show at the Birmingham NIA I have not been to any live wrestling in 2014 so far! That being said I have an awful lot booked for the next few months that will surely make up for it, including long overdue trips to Southside and PCW which I am genuinely excited about as well as a little trip to London for when ICW invade!

On the subject of the TNA show, which by the way was amazing, it was great to see a lot of people from the British wrestling scene at the event, I was able to have a chat with a few people I know as well as meet some people in person for the first time, and especially nice to hear that people have actually read what I have written! I got to catch up briefly with Alex Shane who I haven’t seen for about a year – along with the likes of Spud and Jonny Storm, Alex was a key factor in my getting into British wrestling. Also in terms of the wrestling itself Spud is absolutely amazing and especially with it being a homecoming for him his performance was brilliant, also Eric Young had a great night too, he comes across to me as an Indy wrestler trapped in the career of a Pro! The only downside of the night was a really poorly booked 6 Knockouts tag match which featured Alpha Female but didn’t give her an opportunity to get over.

At this point I would love to say “On to business …” but as much as I would like to really focus my column onto a specific topic I seem far more at home with unfocused waffle.

Somebody who is the opposite of the above statement is one Mr Harvey Dale, if you haven’t been reading his weekly column you really should! Harvey Dale is somebody that I personally admire for the work he does as a performer, his love and knowledge of the business as well as his column. I look forward to his new column each week and he always brings up some good points and his take on things is always honest and interesting.

In this weeks episode of “The Golden Truth” (which can be found here ) he covers something that I have given a lot of thought to too – and no it’s not the “Shit Wrestler Exposed” stuff although I have to admit that it did keep me amused for quite some time, Stixx and RJ Singh worked it really well! He compares wrestlers and entertainers. This is something I have had many conversations about. Some guys are where they are purely on their talent as wrestlers and deservedly so and their talent is entertainment in itself, but then there are guys like Grado and Manson who are pure entertainment, but clearly can wrestle otherwise it would be pointless.

The lines are really blurred on this though because the list of guys who are top of their game as wrestlers are also great entertainers - Ligero, Kirby, Travis, Cruz, Dar all fall into this category along with many others. These guys can clown around with the best of the entertainers then go ahead and put on 5 star matches with the best wrestlers, Kirby and Travis, especially when they are teaming up as Project Ego are two of the most fun guys I have had the privilege of watching, but they have also had some of the best wrestling matches I have ever seen too. Cruz has a far more serious character for the most part but he is incredibly entertaining and captivating, if you haven’t seen the work he did in NGW in the first half of 2013 I highly recommend you look into it.

Some guys are really funny and entertaining and often put this over ahead of their in ring ability, Sebastian Radclaw would be my example here, such an amusing character and you really buy in to it but then it turns out he is a really good wrestler!

Then there are guys with all the talent in the world but for whatever reason their character lets them down, whether it is just nervousness or them not being creative or eccentric in that way I suppose the reasons may vary. Shelton Benjamin being a prime example of this, in the ring he is one of my favourite wrestlers of all time, but he was never very good when it came to promos.

Wrestler and Entertainer combinations also put over talent very well and help people who are less confident or capable on the microphone still get over – Sabre Jnr and Scurll are probably the best example of this as the LDRS, Scurll provided the mouth piece for the team as well as being a great wrestler in his own right whereas Sabre Jnr comes off as a quieter character and lets his ring work speak for him.
I am watching more and more wrestling all the time lately and one guy that has really impressed me in a way I didn’t expect is Kid Fite. Having seen him in the ring a few times it is safe to say that he is a very accomplished wrestler with a lot of talent, only recently I’ve discovered how entertaining he is too. Check out his recent ICW promos set in his wrestling school and you will see what I mean.

It is possible to have any combination or the “Wrestler” and the “Entertainer” I think the simple truth is that you need to stick to it and find a way to work with it. I appreciate quality wrestling and love to see the 5 star matches but it is, after all, entertainment so I guess the guys I like the most or look forward to the most are the ones who give the best of both worlds.

The shocking conclusion to this column is something that I didn’t expect to be writing when I started to think about this a couple of days ago. I have become a fan of someone new over the weekend, somebody that I had seen a little bit from in the past and was definitively indifferent about and though no more of it, however having watched quite a lot of wrestling on YouTube today, predominantly from PCW and possibly since I had these thoughts about wrestler/entertainer on my mind he really stood out. In terms of wrestling ability he is good in the ring, his promo work is very good and he plays his character incredibly well, taking every opportunity to get himself over and to ENTERTAIN people at all times. He is definitely somebody that you hate to love, and love to hate probably all at the same time! Today I can say I became a fan of Dave Rayne … hashtag BOOM! I know he won’t be new to a lot of people but like I said I have only really seen a lot of him today for the first time and was honestly impressed and most importantly entertained!

As I always say this is just my opinion, feel free to disagree, feel free to add me on Twitter and let me know that you disagree, or maybe you totally agree with me and want to send me some love. I don’t mind. This is simply the way I see it!


Sunday, 2 February 2014

WWE: Does “Big Guy = Big Draw” Still Apply? By Adam Ferguson

It’s been a dismaying week for wrestling fans. Particularly if, like me, you’re of the WWE persuasion. On Sunday night, although geographically separated - some in the arena, some in a pub, some in bed - we all (and that’s probably not an overstatement) were left extremely annoyed, intensely angered, a tad unsurprised, but mostly utterly perplexed at the non-inclusion of Daniel Bryan in the Royal Rumble match. Given he’d lost to Bray Wyatt earlier in the night, and that he’s the most ‘over’ professional wrestler on the planet at the moment, the authority’s (the real one, although pot/kettle black etc) decision not have the bearded warrior enter at number thirty was an abysmal one. In fact realistically speaking, forget about simply being entered into the match, Bryan should’ve won the whole thing.

Then the coffin was hammered with a sharp nail on Wednesday when reports emerged that shockingly signalled CM Punk’s apparent decision to walk out on the company. Effectively, to “take his ball and go home”. To leave the WWE. Anything is possible in the wrestling stratosphere, and while there’s still a minute chance that Punk’s departure is all a part of a grandiose storyline, there’s a very unsavoury and realistic feel to the current dire situation. When Punk left and placed his newly won WWE title amongst his refrigerated goods back in the summer of 2011, everybody knew that the scene was more or less a cemented plot advancement. However, this present predicament has come absolutely out of nowhere and given Punk’s past misgivings towards bigger stars (at least, of the WWE mindset) coming in before Wrestlemania and taking a spot - looking at you Dwayne - we shouldn’t be shocked if Batista’s immediate propelling to the Wrestlemania main event has irked the Best in the World a touch. In actuality there have been a mountain of other reported reasons behind his leaving, but until the entire unfortunate situation is made clear it’s probably best not to base our thoughts on speculation.

Two wonderful professional wrestlers seemingly held back in a torrid week. Two hugely popular stars. But also two quote-unquote ‘smaller guys’. Which begs the question: as the tarmac on the proverbial road to Wrestlemania hardens, does the WWE really have any ingrained faith in the wrestler, in the more-normal-looking-than-Hulk-Hogan athlete? Or, will the company continue to push their own muscle-men and chisel-bodied stars?

To get things going, lets undertake a lesson in recent WWE history:

Wrestlemania 28 & 29 - The past two showcasing of immortals have indeed showcased immortals. That is, if immortals are guys who’ve seen the spotlight for well over a decade. Twenty-Eight was headlined by the ‘Once in a Lifetime’ bout between The Rock (that’s the guy who headlined a Wrestlemania before the millennium) and John Cena (that’s the guy who has headlined every Wrestlemania since 2005, which we’ll get to later). The co-main event saw Triple H, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels put on an immensely dramatic show inside Hell in a Cell. Though, I should point out that one of the three guys is retired and the other two only wrestle once or twice a year. Oh, and the Cell itself has been irrelevant for at least six or seven years - a poignant and symbolic indication of the times, perhaps. CM Punk and Chris Jericho were squashed in between these behemoth bouts, with the WWE title pretence hanging over their knowing heads.

A year later and Twenty-Nine and the MetLife Stadium held The Rock versus John Cena. Twice in a Lifetime then. Also Triple H versus Brock Lesnar. Brock who? Oh, he left back in 2004 and returns every so often boasting his reportedly high-paying contract. To their credit, WWE gave The Streak to CM Punk. Although apparently it was Taker who asked for the match. The pair stole the show, of course.

It’s also worthwhile noting that Daniel Bryan lost in 18 seconds to Sheamus - a big dude who also happens to be a WWE dude - at Twenty-Eight, before tagging with Kane - a big dude who also happens to be a WWE dude - at Twenty-Nine.

I should make it clear that seeing guys like Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker appear and wrestle is a without doubt a privilege. Specifically, Lesnar is a monster and an unpredictable presence who often delivers. Undertaker defines professional wresting - the histrionics and character-based nature, the skill and perseverance, but also the dedication through years of aches and pains. Guys such as these two absolutely should be paraded at Wrestlemania. It’d be a waste and disservice not to have them on the biggest show of the year.

But maybe just not all at once. And not at the expense of ‘smaller guys’, simply because they are smaller guys.

I’ll keep the revision short from now on. Here are some more Wrestlemania main events.

Wrestlemania 27 - John Cena & The Rock, featuring The Miz; The Undertaker vs. Triple H.

Wrestlemania 26 - The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels; John Cena vs. Batista

Wrestlemania 25 - Triple H vs. Randy Orton; The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

Wrestlemania 24 - The Undertaker vs. Edge; John Cena vs. Triple H vs. Randy Orton

Wrestlemania 23 - John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels; Batista vs. The Undertaker

Wrestlemania 22 - John Cena vs. Triple H; Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon

Wrestlemania 21 - Triple H vs. Batista; JBL vs. John Cena

Essentially, a variation of Triple H, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Batista and John Cena has headlined the past nine Wrestlemania’s. And undoubtedly they’ve made WWE an ocean-load of money and put on some outstanding matches in the process.

But 2005 was the last time WWE propelled new, thriving talent to the top on the biggest stage. Both John Cena and Batista were given the spotlight at Wrestlemania 21 as they defeated mainstays Triple H and JBL and won the World Heavyweight and WWE titles respectively. Since then, the pair have gone on to consistently dominate the pinnacle of the company, with enormous success too. Cena is a dynamism, an emotion-generator if there ever was one and, most importantly, a guy who for the last nine years has worked his ass off to be number one. Batista, although never quite on the same popularity level as Cena, has spent the majority of his WWE career headlining shows and competing in World title matches. He’s even edging closer to a Hollywood breakout. And Randy Orton, who wrestled an excellent match with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 21, has also gone on to dominate the main event.

So what does this tell us? Well, two glaring things. Firstly, that pushing new, hot talent at Wrestlemania can and often is a springboard for a successful future. And secondly, that the same guys who nine years ago were in a situation similar to that of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan (and Dolph Ziggler etc), the same guys who were once were heralded as the future of professional wrestling, have now become a stagnant present. And it’s not even that as individual contributors these guys are stale, it’s that they are as a collective main event body. Of course the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista and further back The Rock and Triple H are hugely valuable players in today’s game. They draw in the masses. Often, they provide professional wrestling - the cult phenomenon that we as fans always moan never gets the light of day or adequate respect in ‘real life’, in the mainstream - with a platform to showcase itself to the rest of the world.

But it can’t begin and end with the same faces. Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, along with guys like Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler and Antonio Cesaro, are all ‘smaller guys’ who should have bigger futures. Unfortunately the future of professional wrestling, at least peering through WWE spectacles, is looking exceedingly mirror-esque at present.

We need another reset. A reboot, similar to that of 2005 (and 1997). Not a complete overhaul, but some fresh ideas and youthful heartbeats. There are a couple of these around, a few shining lights. Daniel Bryan is one - proving he is rewarded for his hard-work, having spent a lifetime of professional struggle that’ll eclipse any reward ten-fold. Roman Reigns is larger guy, but also a newer guy, someone the fans want to see given the ball to run with (as evident on Sunday night).

I guess I should wrap up by coming full circle. The original question then, has this “big guy = big draw” notion that once reigned supreme in wrestling and WWE, gone?

No. Not entirely anyway.

It has certainly diminished to an extent, otherwise guys like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk would probably have never been anywhere near the top of WWE, purely because that’s not what ‘the boss’ would’ve wanted. Yet there’s still an existing and, provoked by this past week, a very real anxiety amongst many of us wrestling fans - hardcore, smarks, IWC, WWE Universe or whatever, we all love and appreciate the art at the end of the day - that the usual suspects will continue to rule the roost.

Maybe not, maybe we’ll see Daniel Bryan main event Wrestlemania after all, and so he should. The same way that guys such as The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar should be high on the card - just not exclusively on the card.

Wait, what? Who? Hulk Hogan and… St- Sting? Sting and Hogan for Wrestlemania 30?

Never mind.