Saturday 22 December 2012
I say this every time, but it’s true - it’s been too long since I’ve written something for WLH. Actually, to be more accurate - it’s been too long since I cobbled together some of my half baked opinions into a barely legible article for WLH. It’s cool to end the year back here and it’s excellent to see the place keeps going from strength to strength.
What makes WLH different from many other sites is Stu doesn’t have any kind of editorial vice grip on what people write here. You want to write in a comedy style? No problem. You want to review books or DVDs? Always welcome. You want to write about UFC? Go for it. There’s no pretentiousness or ‘you must write about indy wrestling’ attitude here. Stu simply offers a platform for opinionated dicks like me to shout our mouths off about wrestling.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m full of Christmas spirit or because I’m slightly drunk, but I’m feeling quite sentimental and soppy today. Don’t worry I’m not about to start crying or awkwardly trying to hug everyone (I’ll save that for Christmas Eve). But I do want to give a shout out to Stu and say Merry Christmas mate and here’s to another kick ass year for both WLH and The Indy Corner Podcast!
Right, now I’ve got the sentimental crap out of the way, it’s time to get down to what I really came back to write about – my personal best of 2012! That’s right people, it’s the end of the year and the old faithful ‘get out of jail free card’ of every lazy writer is being played. It’s list time and no one does lists better or more often than me. I’m serious, this is probably the third list/awards style article I’ve written this month.
What makes this list article different from the others? Well, I’m not using as many Hulk Hogan sex tape references in this one and I’m going to try and make some semi-serious points. I know, boo, you want the Hogan jokes. Everyone loves a Hogan sex tape joke, right? Ok, maybe I’ll squeeze one or two in. No promises though.
So, this is my personal best of 2012 and there’s only one place to start:
Wrestler of The Year.
There’s really only one candidate for my wrestler of 2012 and that’s CM Punk. He has carried WWE’s flagship programme Monday Night Raw during his one year plus WWE Title reign. Look around and tell me who is more important to their promotion than CM Punk. And don’t say Hogan, you sarcastic bastards. The way I look at it, if you’re the top guy, in the top promotion and you hold the top Title for over a year, you’re pretty much over qualified to be wrestler of the year!
On the mic Punk is untouchable. Granted, the whole ‘whining about respect’ thing did start to grate pretty quickly. But his heel work on the mic has been a rare highlight on the relentless and often soul crushingly boring three hour episodes of Raw. A couple of weeks back in North Carolina Punk let rip with one of the best mic performances of the year. He was up there with Ric Flair in his prime. Maybe because he was in North Carolina he was channelling his inner Nature Boy. Whatever the reason, it was a fantastic verbal performance. He had the crowd hanging on his every word and his delivery was absolutely spot on. When he’s energised, when he’s into what he’s doing and when he’s pissed off, there are none better on the mic than CM Punk.
Punk has also had a great year in the ring with a solid body of matches against the likes of Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, John Cena and others. He deserves a separate award for being able to get semi decent matches out of the extremely limited and one dimensional Ryback. A few years back the ‘WWE brain trust’ used to constantly spout off about how Punk didn’t know how to work the ‘WWE style.’ This year Punk has changed what the ‘WWE style’ is while at the same time staying true to what makes a main event in WWE work (more drama, less crazy moves). No one in WWE has worked harder in the ring this year than CM Punk.
Granted there are other wrestlers who are more technically proficient than Punk. He does have a tendency to clown around when he doesn’t really buy into what he’s being asked to do (any time he interacts with The Miz) but that’s nitpicking. As an all round performer, on the biggest stage there is, this year CM Punk has truly lived up to his gimmick as the best in the world.
Honourable mentions: Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Okada, Tanahashi, El Generico.
Tag Team of the Year
Right, before anyone freaks out, I’m not picking Team Hell No or any other WWE tag team. Don’t get me wrong, Hell No are one of the most entertaining acts in WWE. The way WWE have slowly rebuilt their tag team division around them this year is both long overdue and encouraging. However when it comes to truly great tag team wrestling you don’t need to look any further than the independent scene and my pick for Tag Team of the Year – The Super Smash Bros.
I’m basing this purely off the matches I’ve seen them have in PWG this year. In particular their incredible performance in winning the DDT 4 tag tournament, as well as the INSANE ladder match they had with Future Shock and The Young Bucks at PWG’s anniversary show Threemendous.
The Super Smash Bros are the most entertaining tag team I’ve seen this year. I’d seen them around the indy scene over the past few years but their appearances in PWG seemed light years ahead of where they were as a team the last time I saw them. They appear to have worked hard on bringing their in-ring style up to the same level as their nerd friendly and super popular gimmick. It’s worked. Their matches are now even more entertaining with a perfect blend of double team moves, video game references and other comedic antics.
The Super Smash Bros are my tag team of the year for so many reasons. They’re funny, innovative, hard hitting and use a style of crowd interaction that has become a lost art in recent years. It always blows my mind that ROH did so little with them. Thankfully PWG recognised their skills and this year gave them the chance to shine. Here’s hoping in 2013 we see much more of the Super Smash Bros in PWG and elsewhere. A tag team that makes wrestling fun again.
Honourable mentions: Team Hell No, Daniels/Kazarian, The Young Bucks, The Rockness Monsters, The Briscoes.
Match of the Year
It’s safe to say it hasn’t been a great year for match quality in mainstream US wrestling. I’m struggling to remember any truly great matches in TNA this year. Joe vs. Aries from the UK Impact show was good. Aries against Bully Ray (not the most recent one, the one where Bully was the heel and Aries the face) was a lot of fun. So was Aries vs. Jeff Hardy in their Ladder match. James Storm and Bobby Roode had an intense and bloody brawl at Bound for Glory. Those were all good matches but nothing truly stands out as the best of the year in TNA this year.
In WWE they’ve faired better. CM Punk’s matches with Daniel Bryan were excellent. Sheamus and Bryan also tore the house down on multiple occasions (their 2 out of 3 falls match on PPV was the highlight of their series). It’s been a great year for Sheamus in the ring as he had one of the best matches of the year against Big Show at Hell in the Cell. He’s also been in good to great matches against a variety of opponents on TV each week. And who could forget that absolutely hellacious fight between Brock Lesnar and John Cena? One of the most intense, brutal and realistic matches of the PG era. Although obviously the wrong guy won.
I haven’t seen many great matches this year on the indy scene. Although that’s because I haven’t had the chance to watch as many shows this year as I have done in previous years. The PWG tag matches I’ve mentioned stand out. As does Davey Richards against Michael Elgin in ROH over Wrestlemania weekend. Kevin Steen and Richards also put on a great show at Border Wars. Steen and Elgin also tore the house down this year when they clashed for the ROH World Title. The Steen/Generico ladder war last weekend was fucking nuts. I’m going to make a concerted effort to watch more indy wrestling next year because I know there’s a lot of great matches I’ve not mentioned.
In New Japan the standard was set for world title main event matches with the two great IWGP World Title matches between Tanahashi and Okada. I loved the first match with Okada scoring the shock win but the rematch where Tanahashi reclaimed the Title was out of this world. In between those two matches Okada had a couple of classic Title defences including an unbelievable first defence against Naito and a brilliant clash later in the year with Goto. It has been a tremendous year for NJPW with Okada coming into his own as a young, fresh and exciting main eventer. Tanahshi continues to be the best heavyweight wrestler in Japan (and possibly the world) and their clash at the Tokyo Dome on 4th January will be a true must see match and the perfect way to kick off 2013.
It had to take something really special to top the second match between Tanahashi and Okada in June. When I was feverishly debating which match should top this list, all I could think about was which match did I emotionally invest in most strongly? Which match got me out of my seat? Which match had me marking out and thinking it was over when it wasn’t? Which match did I truly care about the outcome of? Which match left me feeling emotionally drained after watching it? After asking those questions there was only one choice for my match of the year – HHH vs. The Undertaker w/ HBK as guest referee at Wrestlemania.
Simply put this was sports entertainment perfection on the biggest show of the year. A 30 minute master class in ‘less is more’ by two of the best performers of their generation. That match literally had about ten moves in total but each one truly meant something. The use of facial expressions, body language and fantastic selling took this match out of the great category and into the best of the year. The strong storyline supporting the match was crucial and their match the previous year also played in well in building the match up. They had a crowd of 70,000 people in the palm of their hands from the moment they made their epic ring entrances, to the final scene of three legends at the top of the ramp saying their goodbyes to the fans in attendance. You can call me a sentimental old fool, you can call me a mark – I don’t give a shit. That match was everything I want from a Wrestlemania main event and then some.
Honourable mentions: Tanahashi vs. Okada 2, Richards vs. Elgin, Steen vs. Generico (ladder war), The Shield vs. Ryback and Team Hell No (TLC match).
Feud of the Year.
With the quality of storytelling being so disjointed in both WWE and TNA it makes coming up with a feud of the year in either company almost impossible. In WWE the roster of top line talent is so thin that any feud that starts off hot, ends up being stretched to breaking point with rematches (Orton vs. ADR, Sheamus vs. ADR, Punk vs. Cena, Sheamus vs. Show) that bring diminishing returns each time round. WWE’s over use of parity booking (guy wins one week, opponent wins the next) has meant no feuds have really had much heat or a must see feeling about them. I thought the build to HHH vs. Lesnar was solid but nothing that blew me away and too many arms got broken in that one for my liking.
In TNA James Storm and Bobby Roode’s feud went on so long and was so poorly booked that all the good work the guys did in the ring was completely undone by how poorly their story was told outside the ring. It’s also a feud that reached its natural conclusion about three times but TNA refused to let it die. Don’t get me started with Aces and Eights - I’ve wasted far too much time this year with that whole boring mess. Jeff Hardy and Austin Aries had a decent feud but Hardy’s lack of mic skills really took a lot of the heat out of that one. Hulk Hogan’s feud with reality has been fun to watch but he loses points for the fact that his daughter Brick is on my TV every week.
On the indy scene I can’t think of a feud that has really been at the level where you could consider it the best of the year. Steen vs. Richards, maybe…at a push? Personally there hasn’t been a feud on the indy scene this year that has made me sit up and take notice and more importantly – part with my money. I’m not saying there haven’t been any great series of matches on the indies. I know there’s been plenty. It’s just from a money drawing and interest grabbing point of view, nothing stands out for me.
Which is why this year my feud of the year comes from the UFC and is Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva. If you’re not a fan of UFC or don’t know the story behind Sonnen and Silva I would respectfully direct you to Google where you can find a plethora of articles, interviews and highlights of what was my favourite feud of 2012. This feud made me care. I was emotionally invested (there’s that phrase again) in both sides of the feud. I was thoroughly entertained by Chael Sonnen in the build up and when the fight did eventually happened Anderson Silva finally shut up the guy who had dogged him for over two years. Oh and they drew a shit load of PPV buys, around 900,000 plus.
Honourable mentions: UFC fans vs. Jon Jones (cancellation of UFC 151), Hogan vs. Gawker.com, CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan, Tanahashi vs. Okada.
Most Shocking Moment of The Year.
This is a tough one. Do I go with the comedic choice of Hogan’s sex tape, or do I stick with tradition and go with the much more serious moment of Jerry Lawler’s heart attack on Raw? Then again I was shocked at how poorly John Cena can kiss but was that enough for most shocking moment of the year? And the shock when Brock Lesnar came back to WWE after Wrestlemania nearly left me with soiled pants. So many choices. Given just how shocked I was when it happened, I’ve got to go with Lawler. It was shocking for all the wrong reasons. A horrifying moment of a man dying on live TV and the haunted look on Michael Cole’s face in the immediate aftermath really drove home how serious the situation was. The subsequent use of video footage of Lawler dead and receiving CPR backstage pretty much sickened me. I don’t tune in to wrestling to see real shit like that. Just tell me if he lived or died, don’t show me the video. It’s just good to see him make a quick and hopefully full recovery. I just wish they’d take him off commentary.
Honourable mentions: Brock Lesnar returns to WWE, Hogan’s sex tape, the fact Ryback hasn’t killed anyone yet.
Biggest Disappointment of the Year.
Given the fact I am both a sarcastic bastard and a snarky wrestling fan who spends far too much time online, the nominees for this award could take until next Christmas to go through. I’m followed around by a cloud of disappointment when it comes to wrestling, especially when it comes to WWE and TNA. A sad state of affairs I’m sure you’ll agree. However I’m going to throw something of a curve ball and say my biggest disappointment of 2012 has been Ring of Honor. The rest of this article will be written from the safety of my IWC backlash bunker.
I’ve been a fan of ROH for 7-8 years. In 2005 ROH saved me from giving up on wrestling completely. I have purchased hundreds of DVDs and other merchandise from the company. I was more than happy for my hard earned money to be spent on supporting ROH. Of course things have changed over the last few years and ROH’s repeated failed attempts to expand their fan base has resulted in changes in bookers and ownership.
I’m not one of those fans who bitches about the product value of the ROH TV show, although I can’t deny it looks like crap for a promotion owned by a TV network. Where ROH has really disappointed me this year is the way the promotion has been booked and the lack of interesting personalities on the roster.
ROH always felt cutting edge compared to WWE and TNA. It always felt like a company that was willing to push young talent and build them into stars of the future. ROH was a viable alternative to WWE’s campy, childish programming. But this year there’s only been one word I can use to describe ROH’s product and that’s boring.
ROH shifted from a cutting edge, modern presentation of wrestling and regressed back to what felt like a 80’s style wrestling tribute show with a few MMA inspired moments crow barred in. Kevin Steen and The Briscoes apart, no one in the promotion seemed to have much of a personality. They would go out, work hard, put on good matches but nothing really felt like it had any consequence. A lot of the guys on the roster seemed like replicas of each other, with similar looks, moves and promo styles. Those character who were a bit different came off like parody characters from a bygone era.
I’m assuming a lot of this will be resolved by Jim Cornette stepping away from the company and leaving the booking in the hands of Hunter Johnson. No more ether soaked rag spots and multiple time limit draws would be welcome. This isn’t a knock on Cornette who I admire and respect immensely but I don’t believe his vision of ROH in 2012 is what is going to help the company grow their fan base. I had high hopes for ROH this year but as the year progressed I found myself falling out of love with the promotion. My Christmas wish this year is simple – a good year of growth, interesting storylines and compelling characters in ROH. Here’s hoping.
Honourable mentions: The booking of James Storm, Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan at WM28, Three Hour Episodes of Monday Night Raw continue.
I don’t like ending on a low note, so let’s finish off with something positive:
I’m going to keep this short and sweet. You’ve all seen him Raw and now WWE PPV. He’s one of the most natural, compelling and believable performers in WWE today. His name is Dean Ambrose and if he stays healthy and walks the political tightrope of WWE carefully, he’s going to be huge. Trust me.
Honourable mentions: Antonio Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Adam Cole.
I think we can agree that 2012 hasn’t been a classic year in pro wrestling. It’s not all been doom and gloom though. Hopefully this ramshackle collection of my highs and lows of the year has kept you entertained for a few minutes and reminded you of some of your best moments from 2012.
If you’d like to continue this charade of being entertained by me, you can follow me on Twitter which is @MFXDuckman. And don’t forgot to listen to me rabbit on about wrestling in a vaguely entertaining fashion every week on the Marks for Xcellence Wrestling podcast. Just head over to www.mfxpodcast.com
Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a cracking Christmas and New Year! See you all next years.
Friday 21 December 2012
Here we are guys, I hope you heard them announced on the actual show but if you didn't here are the awards as voted by the listeners of the show. Just to clarify, the US people that voted didn't vote on the UK categories because the product isn't easy for them to see, yes there are DVD's available of many of the promotions, not all but most but that's how it is. Also, there were some guys from the UK who didn't vote in the US categories so it's swings and roundabouts and there was one UK guy who voted on the US indies but not the UK ones as he wasn't too familiar with what's going on.
There were some surprises for me but some obvious ones which I agreed with. So without further ado here you go, once again, thanks to all those who voted.
1. US Indy Wrestler of The year
1. Kevin Steen
2. El Generico
3. Adam Cole
2. US Indy Tag Team of The Year
1. The Young Bucks
2. Super Smash Brothers
3. The Briscoe
3. US Indy Match of The Year
1. Davey Richards vs Michael Elgin (ROH Showdown In The Sun)
2. Super Smash Brothers vs. The Young Bucks (PWG Threemendous)
3. No clear
4. US Indy Show of The Year
1. PWG Threemendous
2. PWG DDT 4
3. No Clear
5. US Indy Promotion of The Year
3. ROH & DGUSA (tie)
6. US Indy Moment of The Year
1. Kevin Steen winning ROH title
2. Kevin Steen getting Generico's mask in a box
3. The demise of Team Ambition
7. UK Indy Wrestler of The year
1. Noam Dar
2. Kris Travis/MK McKinnan /Jack Gallagher (tie)
8. UK Indy Tag Team of The Year
1. The Hunter Brothers
2. The Predators/Project Ego/The Models (tie)
9. UK Indy Match of The Year
1. Akira Tozawa vs El Ligero (PCW Guild Wars)
2. Jack Gallagher vs Davey Richards (FutureShock Super Show)
3. No Clear
10. UK Indy Show of The Year
1. FutureShock Super Show
2. IPW-UK Revolution/SouthSide Supremacy (tie)
11. UK Indy Promotion of The Year
1. Fight Club PRO
2. Preston City Wrestling
3. FutureShock/Progress (tie)
12. UK Indy Moment of The Year
There was no clear frontrunner for this but some of the ones mentioned were:-
Bubblegum selling the PCW title to Cash Converters (Video above)
The Davey Richards/FutureShock 'screwjob'
The IPW-UK split which also gave us the birth of Revolution Pro
The rise of Fight Club Pro
13. Indy Corner Interview of The Year
1. Steve Corino
2. Davey Richards/Fergal Devitt/Mad Man Manson/Chris Brookes (4 way tie)
Thursday 20 December 2012
While some people may point to my slight bias, due to visiting Cleveland twice on my travels this year, AIW is one of my top US promotions right now, and with the ever-improving SmartMarkVideo seal of DVD/mp4 quality and quick turnaround, it can genuinely stand alongside the likes of Chikara, CZW etc.
The show begins with a guest match presented by Beyond Wrestling(one of several working relationships AIW have).Nothing much to report here, other than the fact that I would not like to piss Biff Busick off, because this dude is VERY intense. My buddy Pat Lucey also does a decent job on commentary after being given a chance alongside Denver Colorado (the man, not the place) for this match.
Jaka picked up the win with a triangle-choke type move named “The Jaws of the Jaguar” and as the blood trickled down his face from a Busick strike, you couldn’t help but wonder if there would be lots more blood spilt by the end of the night...
AIW often start their DVD’s with backstage segments, comments or interviews with wrestlers on the card. Not only does this set the scene for the oncoming show, but if you are new to the product, it acts as a gateway into some of the characters. For example, if this is your first time seeing wrestlers like Jock Samson, Ethan Page etc - within minutes you have a pretty good idea about their personalities.
Old School Express vs Submission Squad
Now, I’m not going to lie – I am not the biggest fan of The Submission Squad, who, outside of AIW, are probably best known for their work in ACW down in Texas.
However... Jock Samson is one hilarious, beer-drinking, confederate flag-wearing, son of a gun. Having previously teamed with a cowbell (yes, an actual cowbell...), he brings out Marion Fontaine as his partner for this tag match.
Submission Squad eventually picked up the win by using the ropes for leverage, which did a good job of setting up the match where all three members will take on Samson & Fontaine, aided by Colt Cabana, at the next AIW show.
Josh Alexander vs Davey Vega vs Louis Lyndon
This was a fun match, the juxtaposition of a powerhouse (Alexander), a high flyer (Lyndon) and somewhat of a hybrid wrestler (Vega) leant itself to lots of interesting spots here.
If Alexander showed a bit more personality, he could go really far as he shows some freakish strength. This match has super-powerbombs, dives to the floor and reverse ‘rana’s.
If you like your three ways hard and fast, you’ll like this. (Couldn’t resist continuing the Aaron Bauer three way pun)
Ethan Page vs Colin Delaney
I actually saw Ethan Page’s debut match at AIW at the pre-show for a Girls Night Out card. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, and with the addition of Seleziya Sparx as a manager (or abused and underappreciated female companion, depending on how you see it.) he is rising through the ranks quickly.
Colin Delaney seems to be back to his best too – he looked like the Chikara Colin of old here, with suicide dive arm drags and monkey flips on the floor. I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes from here.
Page got the win after some help from Seleziya, who threw alcohol into the recovering alcoholic’s face. Maybe an intense division title shot is in his future?
In any case, I don’t think anyone will argue with him continuing to be featured in AIW, as every match he has, seems like a good one. (Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Seleziya once a month!?)
Veda Scott & Greg Iron Segment
I absolutely loved this whole segment and the resulting match. Veda Scott comes out, looking rather splendid (or as one member of the wonderful Cleveland crowd keeps informing her; “so fucking hot”) in new pin-stripe gear.
She introduces Greg Iron, who enters the ring to a certain AFI tune borrowed from his good friend “Phil” in his ROH days. (If I’ve lost you, just look up Greg and CM Punk on YouTube)
The two of them demand their respective AIW title shots, and out comes acting president Matt Wadsworth to inform them that there isn’t enough time for them to add two matches to the card (which ended up being true – its a long show!) but DOES have a title match for them...
AIW TAG TITLE MATCH
Veda Scott & Greg Iron (Hope & Change) vs The Batiri (c)
Lead by Veronica (who, in heels, looks huge compared to the 4 participants in this match), Obaryion and Kodama make their way out to the ring while the crowd politely requests that they “fuck them [Veda and Greg] up.”
Nowhere else on the planet would you expect a guy with a genuine disability, to be a hated heel... But this is Cleveland. Granted, he does have a few fans at AIW, but Greg Iron gets some crazy heat.
The match gets underway after a round of rock, paper, scissors (which Greg wins with “claw...”).
When the match progresses and it looks like The Batiri have the match won (a 3-count does win most matches, after all), we’re reminded that due to Greg’s cerebral palsy, it requires a 4-count to beat him!
After some exchanges of near falls (including one following that sickening knee to the head move from the Batiri), Greg eventually takes Veronica’s baton and strikes Kodama in the head with it. One beautiful, bridging, Veda back-suplex later, and herself & Greg Iron are the new AIW tag champions.
Whether intentional or not, Paul Rodgers summed it up perfectly in the course of the match: “We don’t see gender. It’s 2012.”
AIW WOMENS TITLE MATCH
KC Wharfield vs AK47 Allysin Kay (c)
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but Allysin Kay is a badass. Who really wants to face someone that enters the ring wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask and brandishing a machete!? Even the metal spike-clad top she wears is a borderline foreign object...
She’s been through cage matches, fans bring the weapons death matches, and even suffered broken bones for this belt in 2012, and with the greatest respect to KC, this would have been an absolutely huge upset if AK47 lost.
Allysin Kay proceeds to, for lack of a better term, beat the shit out of KC with an array of stiff kicks , and makes fairly short work of her, making her tap to the gogoplata submission hold.
Her next challenge will be an intergender (or would that be interspecies) affair against the goblin “Kobald” of The Batiri.
Irish Airborne (Dave & Jake Crist) vs Youthanazia (Josh Prohibition & Matt Cross)
The next match is a change of pace again: the high risk OI4K duo (one of my current favourite tag teams – 2013 will be their year), against the insanely underrated Prohibition and globe-trotting superstar M-Dogg. The winner receives a shot at Hope & Change’s AIW tag titles.
The four guys put on a display of hard hitting, quick action – no good or bad guys here, just handshakes and pro wrestling.
The finish comes when Dave Crist misses a dive, ending up on the other side of the guardrail, and Prohibition literally bounces Jake’s head off the mat with a piledriver variation known as “The Drunken Driver”
Just for the record, Matt Cross’ beard is DEFINITELY tough enough.
Johnny Gargano vs Michael Elgin
I’ve been lucky enough to see both these guys in 2012 (Gargano in England, Elgin in England AND America). Having watched Gargano for a few years now, I have been a fan for a while. I wasn’t sure about Elgin at first, but I am a total believer now after seeing him in some incredible matches this year. This one can be added to that list of incredible matches.
The match starts at a deliberately slow pace, Gargano plays the smaller guy, doing his best to damage the tank-like Elgin, while Elgin is brushing him off with power moves. They’re telling a story. It’s a good match. Then somewhere about 10mins in, something just clicks and it turns into an incredible match.
Counter after counter, ridiculous forearms from Elgin, devastating superkicks from Gargano. There is a lot of moments where I genuinely thought the match was about to end, and it just kept going, and getting even better. If you buy this DVD or MP4, I guarantee you will be rewinding moments from this match to watch again.
It’s such a good match, I’m not even going to give away the finish – you need to see it, and AIW need to give us round two in 2013.
Nixon & Necro Butcher vs Tim Donst, Eddie Kingston, BJ Whitmer & Chris Dickinson
Earlier in the review, I alluded to the fact there would probably be more blood. I just won “understatement of the year.”
By the end of the match – this is no exaggeration, there is literally several pools of blood on the floor of the venue.
The majority of it takes place outside of the ring, amongst the crowd, who have to part like the Red Sea (which is also a good way to describe the level of blood), and stay out of the way, or risk being seriously hurt themselves.
While there isn’t a single light tube or piece of barbed wire used, this match is about as violent as anything you’ll see in modern pro wrestling. Eight men, with no regard for safety, tearing each other apart.
If you are not familiar with AIW, the story told in this match could get extremely confusing, so I’m not even going to try and explain it. The ironic DQ finish (after horrendously violent chaos) annoyed me, but I guess that’s the point, and Duke owns 50% of the company so if he wants to bring in a referee – he can.
30 MINUTE IRON MAN MATCH
AR Fox vs ACH
Innovation, agility, athleticism and drama. This is what the people that left the venue after the previous match missed. For some crazy reason, dozens of people didn’t want to see the two guys who are at the forefront of pushing modern wrestling to the next level, tearing it up for 30mins.
ACH beat Fox 2-1 in the first match, so this would either even the score or confirm ACH’s dominance. Despite the smaller crowd, pools of blood on the floor and general wreckage everywhere, the people that stayed, got the match they were hoping for.
Within the first 10mins, ACH had took an early lead with a quick pin, and then doubled his advantage with a submission from a big swing cloverleaf, while Fox had used up some of his signatures (such as the breathtaking kickflip moonsault) to no avail.
Halfway through the 15mins, Fox finally managed to get a fall back, and the score was 2-1. Shortly after, following a series of high spots, Fox evened the score – game on again.
The two continued to battle, and at 27mins were incredibly still performing outlandish dives to the floor. Both men struggled to get back into the ring, with Fox narrowly making it before ACH, kicking him off the apron and gaining a countout, going 3-2 up in the process and winning the match with literally a couple of seconds to spare.
This now sets the score at one match each, and there seems to be only one way to end the argument: SIXTY MINUTES.
This is a very diverse show, with literally something for everyone. If you want to get into a new promotion, give Absolute Intense Wrestling a chance, and the intensity and unpredictability will probably hook you. They have a good online presence, including tons of backstage material and free matches, so check them out on Youtube & if you like what you see, grab a whole show.
Other AIW shows from this year that I’d recommend checking out include: JT Lightning Invitational, Point Break, Straight Outta Compton and of course, the Girls Night Out shows.
Cleveland – We might meet again in 2013.(Providing The Batiri don’t actually end the world)
Here is a DVD preview of the show:
At Final Battle 2010 Ring of Honor hosted a match one year in the making. At Final Battle 2011 ROH hosted a match two years in the making. At Final Battle 2012 ROH hosted a match three years in the making. Remarkably the each of these notions relate to the what is now the Kevin Steen, El Generico saga. These two professional wrestling superstars headlined what ROH likes to declare their largest show of the year for the second time in three years and it can hardly be argued the focus and perhaps the entire focal point of the event pointed to the Ladder War 4 between Generico and Steen. Despite that fact, the event served as a breeding ground for new tag-team champions, the return of an ROH legend in Jerry Lynn and a return to an ROH ring by Matt Hardy...version...not sure anymore. Toss in some entertaining bouts and Final Battle 2012 goes into the record books as something that will be remembered and deservedly so.
Grudge Match: Roderick Strong vs. Michael Elgin -
In a preview typed up on this event I stated the potential for the American wolves reunion match scheduled for this show could be the bout that comes to the closest to earning some type of "show stealing" label; and if there would be one match to contest for that label it would be the match that did in fact feature the second version of the full-on implosion of the House of Truth. Martini does not appear with any man prior to the opening bell hinting at some type of run-in, and truth me told it only took him about two minutes to make an appearance. As the match got going Martini made it apparent that his appearance is his attempt to support Elgin. This match really needs very little description to understand what was made available to the viewers by these two. The action went back and forth and each man showcased the best of their arsenal. Elgin hit all of the power moves necessary to remain as the most dominant superstar ROH has to offer while Strong used the level of psychology needed to tell a story each fan could relate to and furthermore understand and believe. Truth's post-match hinted at the culmination of this long, drawn-out feud by slapping Elgin in the face post-match, only to be driven hard to the mat by Elgin seconds later. For an opening contest on one of the largest independent pro wrestling shows of the year, one can not find much more to ask for from two of the very best available.
Special Challenge Match: Jay Lethal vs. Rhino -
Perhaps this bout served as one of the more predictable contests, in relation to match-quality, featured on this year's Final Battle. Perhaps that idea is based on how it came together and the on-going development of Lethal's killer instinct and ultimately his obvious issues with Kevin Steen. Nevertheless, a reason for the match came together and better yet the match took place, and what took place served as a respectable contest by two well-respected ROH Talents. It may have been an average bout but it seems fair enough to say that it filled-up any type of void in the card some fans felt could take place here. Not knowing what to expect past what these two are able to do in the ring, based on Lethal's pledge stating the match meant nothing to him, win, or lose, made this well worth it's time on the show. Corino makes an appearance on commentary for the match adding to the intensity based on his well-known dislike for Lethal.. Post match Lethal is attacked from behind by Jimmy Jacobs. Corino and Jacobs present themselves in full-fledged heel mode and constrain Lethal in a position that allows Rhino to take advantage of a gore...gore...gore! From bell to bell the antics kept the pace of the show alive and well and the post-match antics provided the back-drop that had been missing prior to these two locking up on iPPV. Should I dare mention later on in the show Lethal spits on Nigel McGuinness as revenge for Steen spitting on his mother? Should I dare mention he does this as McGuinness refuses to give him an opportunity at the world title on this night, or any type of future world title shot for the time being?
R.D Evans vs. Prince Nana -
It is safe to say the majority of the ROH faithful put a premature label on-top of the two names above. Long-before the opening bell a popular choice to consider this contest as a comedic spectacle for the ages was the word on the street; a spectacle of such comedic proportions, it may have never before seen in ROH prior to this. To say they were no laughs would be inaccurate, but to say this was a lackluster wrestling contest out-done by brilliant in-ring comedic work is also inaccurate. These two gave the fans in New York City and the fans watching on iPPV a wrestling match and a well-respected on on top of it. I feel workers like Nana and Evans are important pieces to a wrestling promotion and it seems reasonable to request for further viewings of what may not be the most intense of battles, but will always be worth the time you spend viewing it. Tommaso Ciampa would make an appearance post-match in an attempt to get at Evans, furthermore painting the picture of further events to come.
New York City Street Fight: Wrestling's Greatest Tag-Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) vs. Rhett Titus and BJ Whitmer -
For the majority of those following the ROH product leading into Final Battle 2012, the excitement level heading into this bout may not have matched-up against the excitement levels brewing for everything else this card had to offer. Despite that acknowledgement, to say the very opposite took place instantaneously upon the ringing of the opening bell, may be a slight exaggeration; but to say the crowd shocked themselves by the level of excitement these four brewed up during the match is dead-on accurate. What also may be dead-on accurate is the idea that if this would have been dubbed the "christmas decoration's are legal street-fight," it would have made a lot of sense. Take from that statement in whatever way you like; and in the favor of non-spoiling match material, expect a christmas tree and candy canes as the material used to create the worthy content this street-fight ended up dishing out. A nasty table-spot for a finish that a fan can safely recommend via confirmation that suggests Whitmer walked away as fine as any talent possibly can be, after surviving a street fight gimmick in pro wrestling.
Special Challenge Match: Mike Bennett vs. Jerry Lynn -
It was suggested in a preview of this event, on this very site, that "Boston's Bennett gets easy heat in New York City and potentially a legend puts him over." This pretty much happened here. What ensued here may not equal what another wrestling legend, in Lance Storm, and Bennett did together earlier in 2012. Nevertheless, unlike some of the more complicated aspects to Bennett's matches against Storm, the basics inside of this match is what made it deliver and getting to see Jerry Lynn go out in a tremendously well-respected fashion, earns this matches recommendation single handedly. Bennett and his two sheep, in Maria and Brutal Bob, would decide to go after Lynn post match despite a Bennett victory. However Lynn would get the better of all three in the long-run in an assault that includes a DDT on Maria and the return of one of the more devastating finishers in all of pro wrestling, the cradle pile-driver. Eventually all three heels would make their way to the locker-room as Lynn stood solo and triumphant in the ring. Lynn obviously needs to say nothing to earn the respect of the ROH fans but being the professional that he is, a few words capped off what he promised to be his final appearance in ROH. Members of the locker-room and Nigel McGuinness followed this up by presenting him a plaque for his contributions to Ring of Honor and ultimately his contributions to professional wrestling as a whole, as a superstar, and soon to be retired legend.
Tag-Team Grudge Match: The American Wolves (Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards) vs. Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish -
Sit back and enjoy the ride. What more can be said? If you are aware of The American Wolves as a tag-team despite their lack of fellowship in Ring of Honor over the past few years; Richards and Edwards together have always screamed the pinnacle of tag-team wrestling out-loud. The scream was just as loud as years past throughout the entire encounter. The match started after Fish and O'Reilly attacked Mike Mondo during a promo regarding how the rehab on his ankle is going. A dirty move, to get as much cheap heat as possible on Fish and O'Reilly before this match goes down leads into as many quick pops as possible when Richards makes the save. The drum roll begins, and Edwards joins in on the action, allowing for this roller-coaster to launch itself at a pace you can only describe as a thrill, a must see, or a must ride. A refreshing piece of tag-team action. The ROH tag-team division defined. Rapidly wide open back and forth action. A great ending seen on other occasions featuring Edwards and O'Reilly, but still worth seeing over and over again. If you have not booked your ticket to watching this contest, perhaps the need to buy one is there now. From a live perspective, I can only assume there was no way the crowd could not have been into every single minute of the 15'ish that made this contest up.
Special Challenge Match: Matt Hardy vs. Adam Cole -
Allow me to sum this match up as the introduction of this particular paragraph. An interesting contest with a very uninteresting finish. An above average match with a very below average finish. Many of us may have been spelling out rematch before the opening bell to this bout sounded...for better or for worse. The utilization of a "Hardy like figure" in a promotion visibly turned independent to corporate, did not seem far-fetched prior to the knowledge that this match would take place. Nor does it seem far-fetched to acknowledge the idea he could be returning for another chorus of boo's and be lit on fire by the heat. Despite the utter dislike displayed for Hardy , it worked in the sense these two went out and gave the fans a fair enough chunk of what they wanted to see, a full fledged heel in Hardy and a big-time face in Cole. The only significant piece missing to what was a high-end contest, is once again the low-end finish. Feel free to read into that as much as you like. Now for the second summary. Something was missing and more could have been there, but sometimes you can still have fun with missing pieces.
Three-Way ROH World Tag-Team Championship Match with Sudden Death Rules: SCUM (Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino) defend against The Briscoe Brothers (Jay & Mark Briscoe) and Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander -
The wide spread consensus on this match seems to be that it did itself a lot more justice with the live crowd than it did with those watching on iPPV. This did feel incredibly underwhelming considering it's position on the card and the significance of it being a title match. The outcome only makes the prior idea seem worse. A significant outcome that took place on one of the more significant events ROH has to offer each year, featuring the three most significant tag-teams in ROH, during a match with a set of significant rules...by pin-fall felt nothing other than insignificant. The bright side of this contest for many seems to be that The American Wolves are more than hinting at comeback to the tag-division and Fish and O'Reilly pair nicely together. If that suggestion does not draw some type of picture for this match, perhaps the fact it only took around five minutes to find itself a finish may do the job. A quick pace with the quick finish left much to be desired. Nevertheless history finds itself a place here and an era we have seen in ROH seven times prior starts over again.
THE LADDER WAR: Kevin Steen defends against El Generico
The Ladder War is a spectacle that cannot be defined by simply calling it a professional wrestling match. If you know anything about the storied past these two have there is no reason for you NOT to go out of your way, and if need be a far-far way, to experience what these two did at the highest level professional wrestling promotions can make available in present day. As far as professional wrestling goes, a war describes exactly what El Generico and Kevin Steen are all about. This match was about three years in the making. Does that simple fact not speak to anyone who can appreciate what it takes to keep a fans interest, a wrestling fan in particular...for that period of time. These two make magic inside of the squared circle. There is always an hour-glass, sometimes large, sometimes small, placed on what takes place in the wacky world of professional wrestling. However, what seems even wackier is the fact these two have tried to destroy that theory. Steen suggested in some promo work leading into the event, he and Generico are destined to do this forever. That may not be the case, but what has become forever, is some of the most entertaining, mind blowing matches that feature these two since December 2009. There is a truck-load of spots that will leave any fan dumb-founded by the action, and it is nearly impossible to suggest there was room for anything else to be piled on. One of, if not the most must-see finish in Ring of Honor this year, to any match, caps this ROH match of the year candidate completely off.
Tuesday 18 December 2012
Let’s face it the role lends itself more naturally to interference to cheat, to help the bad guy get over, to generate heat from the crowd, if this can be achieved then the manager is doing their job and doing it well and adding a lot of additional value to the show.
The dying out of managers by and large co-incided with the breaking of kayfabe and the movement of WWE into the PG era, yes I know that there have been managers during and since those events but if you compare the number during and since to before those two momentous events in wrestling history there has been a clear and significant reduction in their numbers.
Why is this? I am obviously not in possession of the WWE or other leading promotions answer to this but my take on it is that since the breaking of kayfabe it must be more difficult for a manager to do his or her job sufficiently well to generate the required reaction from the crowd, yes anybody with sufficient self confidence can stand outside a ring and make a noise, they can interrupt matches and they will automatically as a consequence generate a certain reaction from the crowd but purely by those acts alone these days they do not necessarily generate enough of a reaction to prompt the WWE or smaller promotions to employ them and put them onto shows, it requires these days something a bit extra, somebody who has the ‘it’ factor when it comes to doing all of the above but also naturally getting the crowd in such a frenzy over them that genuine heat is felt from the crowd toward this individual, the point where the person performing the role of manager and almost invariably a heel one annoys people so much that even people who are very well versed in wrestling’s ways, even people who may know that person out of character and who like that person out of character that even those people are quite literally wanting to trip them up or punch them as they walk past!!!
To me globally the best in that role today remains Paul Heyman, he is of course though restricted in what he can do to a certain extent by the PG environment within which he works but he is clever, he is inventive and he is obviously persuasive enough to be a key factor in a recently very heated moment mocking Jerry Lawler’s heart attack, he is also somebody, when you look at him and listen to how he speaks he comes across so naturally as immensely dislikeable that it works, he works and it is because he possesses the tools of the trade, not just the ability to speak on a mic loudly but the ability to speak with intelligence, to possess the wit to instantly put down any off the cuff remarks coming his way, to be able to verbalise his statements in the correct tone of voice, changing the speed at which he talks at the crucial moment to maximise the impact, using his body language to support his words and of course vitally using his facial expressions to really emphasise the point which he is making.
Back in August 2012 I was present at Southside Wrestling’s event in Nottingham and the feud between Southside and The House Of Pain had been going on for a few months and was doing well but suddenly it caught fire, it really caught my imagination and the level of intensity around the feud went up several levels as out of the curtain stepped forward an extremely mouthy unpleasant looking and sounding character who just looked arrogant and smug and with a highly slappable face, this person who I had never seen before turned out to be Harvey Dale, there was some outstanding wrestling on that show some of which will live forever in the memory but the highest impact person on the night, the one that got the Southside side of the crowd so worked up that one lady threw a glass of water at him and also physically battled with him over him trying to get hold of a chair to aid his guy in the match was of course the man himself Harvey Dale.
Since then I personally have witnessed Harvey Dale in action at two other Southside events and the debuting Maxd Wrestling show and on each and every occasion he had the crowd in the palm of his hand, he possesses the tools which just make him the most effective heel manager I have seen in years and why he has the potential to climb much farther in the business given opportunity and more experience.
The reason why I title this article Heel or Heal is because Harvey Dale has it within him to change the business’ attitude towards wrestling managers, yes he is not the only one in the UK or elsewhere but I have not seen anybody make such an impact so quickly upon entering the business.
It is not just myself who has been impressed by Harvey Dale, I publish some quotes I received about Harvey Dale from other people in the business some of whom have been prominent players for some time:-
Tyson T Bone (UK Heavyweight wrestler - recent WWE triallist)
One word I'd use is passionate! In life and in wrestling! He is what you see, real life or wrestling life! Some one who wants to help and make things a lil different along the way but has a determination to help in anyway he can.
Diamond Dale Mills (Long time wrestling announcer/manager/commentator)
It seemed very rapid to me. I knew he was doing some shows as an mc/announcer but the next thing I knew he was being used as the voice of HOP. Seemed like an over night success story to me.
Mark Haskins (UK Star Performer,Dragon Gate, Former TNA)
Harvey Dale, from what I understand, is a very opinionated person and has no issue telling you his point of view regardless of how obnoxious he may seem by doing so. I guess that translates when he's in front of a live crowd, which makes him easily dislikeable and a top candidate as a mouth piece for the unpopular. I don't know as to whether he would fit in to a company in Japan or America, but I do know it's good to see him get knocked flat on his arse regardless of what country he's in.
Maxd Wrestling (New UK Promotion)
We love Harvey .. he knows wonderfully how to turn a crowd and work them so well ... in the ring the guy is fantastic ... as back room staff he is invaluable.
Brian Elliott (Editor of FSM Magazine)
There are other managers on the UK scene, like Chris Egan and Melanie Price, who do a fine job, but Harvey has a quality that all heels wish they had: that characteristic that fans can't quite put their finger on, but know that they don't like. Although their levels of brilliance are quite different at this time, in some ways that's what's made Paul Heyman successful in his WWE career on-camera.
What I like so much about Harvey Dale and why I am so excited about his potential is that despite achieving so many plaudits so quickly he is not resting upon his laurels he is constantly pushing for self-improvement, he is hungry and full of desire to go as far in this business as is possible and he totally believes in himself, when I spoke to Harvey he revealed that he has recently been speaking to and seeking advice for the furtherance of his work with various names in the business including Nick Dinsmore (Eugene), Greg Lambert, Gilligan Gordon (managed Dave Mastiff) and Charles Boddingtons (manages in Scotland).
I asked Harvey who his favourite managers from yesteryear were and how they each fed into his character now:-
Bobby Heenan - The greatest of all time, a thinking man's manager who used what he had to outsmart everyone around him....with Heenan it was always a case of HE was the draw and the talent he was with were second to him, if a talent got put with Heenan, they were elevated up to main event stature straight away!
Jim Cornette - Again, it was Cornette's brain and ability to insight the hatred from the crowd that drew me in. Loved his work!
Jimmy Hart - Annoying as hell and another with great skills to get his guys over.
I just liked the whole culture of it all, Captain Lou, Paul Ellering, Mr Fuji....even Slick and Brother Love to an extent. And then of course there was Sherri who was the perfect heel valet to Elizabeth's babyface!
I also asked Harvey how he would feel about being a manager of faces which is a much more difficult skill to pull off to be the good guy on the outside yet still make a lasting impression, such is Harvey’s self belief that without hesitation he proclaimed himself more than ready to face that head on.
Then I chatted away to Harvey about the limits of what he does working within a family show environment as both Southside and Maxd are and the fact that he manages to tread that delicate line of inflaming adults but not going too overboard and doing something totally inappropriate in front of the kids.
Then I asked a couple of specific questions about working an over 18’s crowd:-
What do you reckon you can bring to an over 18 show which you cannot to a family promotion?
Ha ha.....personality for one....the ability to insight a crowd to near 'riot' levels without fear of overstepping the mark of a family environment!
How far would you push it?
I'd push it as far as I could mate....the angrier I can make the crowd, the better the reaction....!
Stood in middle of ring with plastic beer glasses travelling through the air at you…?
I asked Harvey how he would like the next twelve months or so to go and his response was to name the opportunity to work in the following promotions:-
"I would love to break through onto some of the other top shows in the UK today. I am particularly fond of the work done by NGW up in Hull, Futureshock Wrestling in Stockport, Revolution Pro and IPW down in Kent, Infinite Promotions in Liverpool, Preston City Wrestling and of course the opportunity to work on adult shows such as Fight Club Pro and the amazing 'Progress Wrestling' in London would be fantastic. There is also a newly formed adult show in Manchester due to launch in 2013 called HXC that I would love to be a part of. I start with Full House Wrestling in Peterborough in February 2013 and of course we have big things planned already for Southside Wrestling, House Of Pain and Maxd Wrestling, so watch this space!"
My thoughts on what I would love to see Harvey Dale do in the next twelve months or so is to form a stable of heels all of whom would act according to his instruction and who would go around various different promotions attacking and taking out the leading faces in those promotions and in time to see his stable have on board any number of the current UK titles - I appreciate given that a lot of the wrestlers wrestle in a number of promotions both as faces and heels that practically that would be difficult to achieve but there is no better guy to form a stable and to manage it and to really really get a crowd angry and edgy and involved in the show and of course once they are involved they come back again and again and they tell their friends…
In addition to his role as manager Harvey Dale with his various contacts and sheer hard working attitude which is truly no nonsense is proving a real asset to promotions he is working for in terms of getting publicity for the shows and putting them over extremely well, recently managing to obtain a slot on BBC Radio Nottingham at Drivetime to promote the Southside vs. House Of Pain feud, he also promotes endlessly shows by in character using social media to relentlessly put across his heel point of view on upcoming shows and is more than happy to engage the fans through the social media which again involves the fans, makes them feel more part of it all and enhances the likelihood of said fans coming to the shows and bringing their mates along.
If you hear that Harvey Dale is on a show you are travelling to just sit and enjoy, if you are on the front row watch out for flying water or other objects! But also watch Harvey’s face during a match he is on the outside of, you can live the match through his facial expressions, so natural and so perfectly timed and related to the in ring action, the guy takes super kicks from international wrestlers and will do whatever it takes to truly become the best in the business at what he does and the heal for the heels out there!
Can I please thank T Bone,Mark Haskins,Brian Elliott, Dale Mills and Maxd Wrestling for their time and input into this article.
If you would like to follow me on twitter the handle is @Shadetheshoot.
If you would like to follow Harvey Dale the handle is @TheHarveyDale
I've decided [for what may or may not be a one off occasion] that I am going to write this review in first person. I bought El Bandito with zero knowledge of Orig Williams or his professional wrestling background as a performer or promoter let alone his career as a footballer [soccer player]. Spotting a quote from Dave “Fit” Finlay on the back of the book combined with the reasonable price I decided to purchase Orig's book and hope it was a tolerable read.
What I found printed between the covers was more than I could have ever asked for, from the moment I started reading I did not want to put the book down. Personally, I have less interest in football than I do in the latest TMZ 'news' coverage, much to my surprise his tales of being both a player and a manager kept me interested with the antics he got up to. Then El Bandito grabbed my attention even harder as he speaks of his time on the legitimate traveling wrestling booths around England and Wales, which led to his first tour overseas to Pakistan. The chaos he wrote of didn't let me lose interest for a second. The next thing I realised I was reading stories of him promoting his own shows, training young aspiring wrestlers both male and female. I found myself fascinated by the troubles he encountered from priests and other large hall owners mixed with the business ways of the Irish which he recalled in great detail, especially when the women wrestlers were involved. All the time I was engulfed in his story something about the way it was told, the way it was written just captures your imagination, drawing you into Orig's world almost as if he is sitting there telling you the stories in person from the Welsh Football Association, to his many contacts across the world or just simply speaking of his patriotism for his beloved Wales.
When I had finished reading El Bandito: The Story of Orig Williams, my first thought was, I have to write this review in first person to truly express how much this book about a wrestler who never made it to the big time, had his own promotion with a television program on a channel that broadcast only in the language of Wales, a man I had never heard of, entertained me for the entire time of reading. My second thought was, I really don't know much more about Orig Williams now I've read his autobiography. I realised there had been hardly any dates through-out the book and in a lot of cases you could tell that huge parts of time and explanations for how he got to where he was and other background workings of the business hadn't been told, but during the book you're having so much fun you don't want to stop to think about it. I definitely was left feeling I'd read more of a memoir [as in a recount of certain events] rather than a full autobiography. Having said that though, if I were to go back and had the choice between buying or not buying the book, I would still choose to buy it again.
By Jimmy Wheeler
Saturday 15 December 2012
The event will take place at The Good Ship in Kilburn and tickets range from £12-£20. For full details and tickets please visit http://www.wegottickets.com/deathvalley at http://www.facebook.com/deathvalleypromo
Friday 14 December 2012
Ever since his return during the Best In The World Internet Pay Per View back in 2011, Kevin Steen has been causing controversy within the Ring Of Honor company and on the Ring Of Honor roster but a former “friend” could put the nightmare to rest in one of the companies rare stipulation matches at Final Battle 2012 .
The anti Christ of professional wrestling left the promotion in December 2010 after losing a Career vs. Mask match against former tag team partner El Generico at Final Battle; Steen stayed away from the promotion until he was invited by Steve Corino and Corino’s sponsor Jimmy Jacobs to announce that he has left his evil ways, Jim Cornette wasn’t convinced and but was convinced by Corino and Jacobs to allow Steen to return at Best In The World and to prove that he has changed for the good.
At the Hammerstein Ballroom the New York faithful blew the roof off the Ballroom when Steen returned through the crowd ready to what denounced his evil ways but Steen had other idea grabbing the ring mic and shouted “F*** ROH” then hitting a package piledriver on Steve Corino and was carried out of the Hammerstein Ballroom in the crucifix pose; in a interview with United Kingdom’s Powerslam’s (conducted by Fin Martin) Kevin Steen said
“The Best In World” was pretty emotional. It had only been six months since the match with Generico – but people might not just how dedicated and obsessed I was with ROH. Especially throughout 2010: 95 percent of my time was spent thinking about how to keep things interesting and what to do next in ROH. So, being away for six months was really tough.
Making that return appearance was something I had pictured in my head a thousand times before it happened. Literally, from the moment I got in the car and started the drive home from NYC in December Final Battle 2010, I was thinking (about) how it should happen, how people would react etc. So yeah, it was a big deal to me when I did go back. Very intense moment.”
It wasn’t till Death Before Dishonor X that Steen’s presents was felt again interfering in the match between El Generico and Jimmy Jacobs, Cary Silkin attempted to calm Kevin down but that never led to nothing when Steen attempted to package piledrive Cary Silkin but the ROH locker room came out to help Silkin and remove Steen from the building (after Jim Cornette got a shot on Steen); then he cut an anti Ring Of Honor promo outside the Manhattan Centre after Death Before Dishonor.
“Did you enjoy the Ring Of Honor event? Did you enjoy the Davey Richards match? Before you mother f****s cut this mike off me I have three things to say.
1 Generico I’m never going away
2 Corino your in Japan right now if you see Davey tell him he’s a f*****g p***y if he’s a real champ he’ll be right here.
3. Jim Cornette, Vince Russo can kick you a*s; and just to p**s him off “Let’s go Russo.” Even I won’t chant that but Jim, Vince Russo won’t kick your a*s but you know who would and you know who will ... me.
Jimmy Jacobs this is for you think you can change people all you doing now the same s**t you did with Age Of The Fall, back then you where changing people into a******s now your turning them into p***yies I think it’s time you start changing them into d***s mother f***r !
Let me wrap this up as I have a long drive home and so do you (reference to the Ring Of Honor fans surrounding Steen); Final Battle is going to be in New York City and I don’t know if you going to announce it; who you kidding its always in New York City this s**t started at Final Battle in New York it’s going to end at Final Battle in New York. Next time Final Battle in New York City I want to fight somebody I hope the person that person is Jim Cornette, I don’t care who it is; I don’t care its Delirious, I don’t care is if it is Cary f*****g Silkin. I’m coming to Final Battle for a f*****g fight whoever got the balls to stand in front of me and take a beating I’m waiting until then Kill Steen Kill ! Kill Steen Kill.”
Fans started to demand the return of Mr. Wrestling chanting his name at dvd and at television tapings but Ring Of Honor commentators never made reference to him by name nor Ring Of Honor officials addressed the situation this was until Jim Cornette gave his opinion the situation on Ring Of Honor TV
“Ring Of Honor will not to business with Kevin Steen and if he don’t like that he can sue me.”
Kevin responded to those comments by filing an injunction against the company and Jim Cornette, Steen asked to be reinstated to the Ring Of Honor roster or information about Cornette will be released. Kevin had decided to do things the Cornette way and he is coming back to Ring Of Honor and he’s not going away! He’s frustrated that he is not in the best company in the world because that is where he belongs and to prove it to Cornette that he’s best even if that means beating Davey Richards for the ROH Championship and he will.
Steen turned up to Television (with three of his lawyers in toe) to confront Jim Cornette, Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino; Corino offered Steen a match at Final Battle 2011 in which if Steen won then he is reinstated into the promotion and can be made reference in the company’s historical references; and as promised from the promo outside the Manhattan Centre at Death Before Dishonor it wasn’t a match it was a fight which saw Steen reinstated and putting the Generic Luchador through a ringside table.
Next time the Generic Luchador and Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare was at Wrestlemania Weekend during the Showdown In The Sun show night one where they met in a La Revencha Last Man Standing match and once again this wasn’t a wrestling match it was an all out fight seeing barricade’s, chairs, tables even the Canadian maple leaf flag used as weapons to render each other to answer the ten count; the lost for El Generico wasn’t enough, Jimmy Jacobs an ally El Generico thought he had collected in his battle against Steen turned his back on him to join Kevin Steen and spiked him in the head with a railroad spike. Next time El Generico stepped into the ring with Kevin Steen was at Unity where Steen teamed with his new found ally “The Princess Zombie” Jimmy Jacobs to take on El Generico and someone from Jacobs past who can brawl with best of them and was returning to the promotion after a four year absence BJ Whitmer (last appearance being back at ROH A Next Level in New York City); once again this wasn’t your bog standard wrestling contest this was another fight and saw Steen using a tennis racket as a weapon; although BJ and Generico won the match, Generico was attacked the following night at Rising Above 2012 and then disappeared from the promotion.
While Generico disappeared from the promotion; Jim Cornette’s nightmare was realised at Border Wars where Kevin Steen captured the ROH Championship from “American Wolf” Davey Richards. In a interview on Monday Night Mayhem Kevin Steen said
“Achieving that (winning the ROH World Title) is a great accomplishment and something I will always look back upon fondly when my career is over, but to be brutally honest, I wanted to win that title because it would help me kill the company. It’s not the same since Jim Cornette took over. I love Ring Of Honor, and I don’t want to see it in the state that is it now, so I figure why not put it out of its misery.”
Cornette hated the fact that Steen was ROH Champion; he threw challengers in Steen’s path from Davey Richards to Mike Bennett; Cornette got so desperate he even brought in Chikara’s Grand Champion Eddie Kingston to attempt to take the Ring Of Honor Championship from Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare but was unsuccessful. It was after the championship defense at Glory By Honor X against which got interesting.
After a hard fought victory against “The Unbreakable” Michael Elgin, Steen started to gather his breath back until Ringside Colour Commentator Nigel McGuiness stepped into the ring and handed Steen a package and in that package was an El Generico mask; Steen stood in the ring with a face like he’s just seen a ghost in which he thought he’ll never see again. It wasn’t announced till the television tapings by the new Ring Of Honor match maker Nigel McGuiness that Kevin Steen will defend the Ring Of Honor Championship at Final Battle in New York City in a Ladder War!
Outside the Ring Of Honor promotion Steen and Generico have been feuding in both the United States and in Canada. They have fought forty seven times with eleven of those matches being fought in Ring Of Honor, thirteen of them have been championship matches. Generico has beaten wrestlings worst nightmare in Ring Of Honor on two separate occasions one being the match that sent Steen packing from the company he much loved.
Can this Sunday mark the end of wrestling’s worst nightmare?
Will the nightmare continue in ROH ?
Find out this Sunday at 2pm eastern (7pm GMT) live from the Manhattan Centre New York City.
Wednesday 12 December 2012
As concise as the above quotation is, it appears as a perfect indication of what Final Battle 2012’s focal point is and has been since a specific turn of events took place at Glory By Honor XI in back in October. There is generous portion of go out of your way to see matches scheduled for the iPPV this Sunday. However it is no secret the ROH fan-boys that Matt Hardy has referred to, are in more of a dire need to pop for El Generico than for him and/or his match against Adam Cole. Allow that to stand as testament to the enormity of Final Battle 2012, rather than a partisan display of passionate fandom. The Ladder War 4 between El Generico and Kevin Steen is obviously the main-event; it obviously stands alone on the card. What seems like one more final battle to end a series of final battles obviously pulls the majority of the weight for this show. However, as I previously alluded to, this show contains plenty of time-worthy bouts, bouts that each and every ring of honor/independent professional wrestling fan should be able to appreciate, justify and furthermore enjoy. The matches below have the potential to range from just okay, to show stealer, to match of the year candidate. The card will be topped off by two men with two incredibly bloodstained resumes re-engaging in warfare; as these same two, two of the greatest stars of honor re-initiate one of the greatest rivalries this promotion has ever seen. Once again, from top to bottom ROH has put together one of the stronger cards the independent professional wrestling scene has produced throughout all of 2012. A succinct sample below, previewing what is to come at Final Battle 2012 on Sunday. December 16, will hopefully provide enough of a snippet needed to justify my eagerness to declare Final Battle 2012 as a spectacle, and nothing other.
Prince Nana vs. R.D Evans
Sit back and have a good chuckle. You will be hard-pressed to find better comedic work produced anywhere else in this entire industry. Case in point.
New York City Street Fight - Rhett Titus and B.J Whitmer vs. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag-Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin)
This match may be composed of less intrigue than a lot of the others set for December 16 but the added stipulation surely does more for this match-up, than less for it. Spontaneous is the word that defines how these four came to bumping heads. Kenny King leaves for TNA in the middle of a WGTT/ANX feud, Rhett Titus is left handicapped and BJ makes the save. End of story. It is simple enough, but incredibly real enough also, therefore as a bit of a closet Titus fan, this serves as a much better viewing opportunity than watching him be hung to dry following the loss of his tag-partner and tag-team championships. These teams have met before in the ring, including once before on iPPV at Glory By Honor XI. Whether you like the team of Whitmer and Titus or don’t, or whether you are fans of what WGTT has done in ROH or not, there won’t be much wrong with what these four could dish out in New York City under street fight rules.
Special Challenge Match – Jay Lethal vs. Rhino
After a spitting incident that led to a massive brawl between Cornette, Steen, Lethal and even Lethal ‘s Mother, back in October at the Killer Instinct event, Lethal was subjected to a stipulation claiming he cannot compete for the world title until Steen is no longer the champion. Therefore unfinished business with Steen has led him to new business that he would like to finish at Final Battle 2012 on Sunday. Wondering what happens to Lethal and where he goes from here stands as a solid reason for any potential intrigue regarding this match; but that is not to take away from what they can deliver in the ring.
Grudge Match – Michael Elgin vs. Roderick Strong
A lot can be said for the potential American Wolves, Fish/O’Reilly show stealing tag-team contest. Although I do believe if that label is going to be contested for, this match-up, that officially features the full implosion of the House of Truth, is the match that will make the attempt to do so. Elgin has not only had one of the best years in ROH out of anyone the roster dishes out to compete, and better yet the same can be said on a much larger scale. Elgin has had one of the best years in all of professional wrestling throughout all of 2012. These are facts and these facts are single handedly large enough to apply some rather hefty expectations prior to the opening bell on this contest. Meanwhile, remaining inside ROH, the build from disagreement to bitter enemy tells the tale of how these two ended up in a grudge match at a show known for putting together feud settling match-ups. This will be wrestling.
Special Challenge Match – Jerry Lynn vs. Mike Bennett
This Sunday, there may have been just enough room for one more Mondo/Bennett encounter but with Mike Mondo’s injury that took place against Bennett at Glory By Honor XI in October, Mondo’s bad-luck shifts into another crack at a wrestling legend for Bennett following his trilogy in ROH this year with Lance Storm. When someone like Storm or Lynn is there to carry you through a match, the content they are capable of providing shouldn’t take much thought, as it has been out of the bag since they became legends in this industry. Boston’s Bennett gets heat in New York and potentially a Legend puts him over, seems fair and justifiable enough to me. Lynn has an ROH resume that includes and ROH World Title run. Many may argue the final page of his resume should have been formatted a little differently, but with that said, Bennett or no Bennett, too many of us are looking forward to Lynn’s appearance, to over, or even under evaluate.
Tag-Team Grudge Match - Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly vs. The American Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards)
Bobby Fish will be making his ROH iPPV debut at Final Battle this Sunday and that fact alone suggests the effort put forth in this particular match-up will declare it as 15-30 of the most enjoyable minutes of the entire iPPV. Add the heart and soul of who is now a well-known Kyle O’Reilly. In addition, the hunt is finally back on for The American Wolves, who at one point in time stood alone as the most dominant tag-team in Ring of Honor. These suggestions probably do this match enough justice. What has been noted as depleting tag-team division in ROH, receives its largest infusion in recent memory. If there is any truth regarding the mal-nourished state of the tag division in Ring of Honor at present time, this is bound to not only be refreshing, but the potential for it to nourish the division is also there. Similar to the feeling behind the Generico, Steen reengagement, the past becomes the present and stale becomes fresh. Show stealing?
Special Challenge Match – Adam Cole vs. Matt Hardy
Hardy knows he is about to be eaten alive by the Ring of Honor New York City crowd, but that basic idea is partially what makes this match-up incredibly worth seeing and incredibly valuable to the delivery of Final Battle 2012 as a whole. New York City’s admiration for Cole, and furthermore the ROH faithfull’s admiration for Cole has soared since he pinned Davey Richards at the 10th Anniversary show inside New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. Those who have followed ROH all year long are most likely on the Cole band-wagon to some level, and the desire for his success in the company is overwhelmingly translucent right now. What is also translucent is the lack of appreciation for Matt Hardy’s return to a Ring of Honor Wrestling Ring. Despite all of the negative connotation placed on-top of this contest directly upon the announcement of it, more often than not fans find a way to appreciate high-end performance, and there is no doubting that both Hardy and Cole can provide that in awe-inspiring fashion Speaking exclusively for myself, I look forward to what could take place between these two on an “ROH level.”
Three-Way ROH World Tag-Team Championship Match - SCUM (Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino) defend against Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander and The Briscoe Brothers (Jay and Mark Briscoe)
The second most interesting outcome of the night is most likely this one, next to the main event of course. There is one question that will remain as the one and only question that can come out of looking at this match prior to it going down. Will SCUM retain the tag-team titles prior to Steen defending his World Title? A potential outcome that could bleed into the main event, literally, is the only thing in question here. After all who would dare to question whether these three teams can give us one of the better tag-team contests in Ring of Honor this year? Even though it is no secret that the ROH tag-team division has been stronger in years past, there is substance in saying The Briscoe Brothers and Coleman and Alexander are the most worthy opponents for Jacobs and Corino. Therefore, not only is there the need for this match to take place, but there is a desire for it to take place as well.
THE LADDER WAR 4 for the ROH World Championship – Kevin Steen defends against El Generico
Their feud inside Ring of Honors walls commenced at Final Battle 2009 and a final battle finally has potentially at Final Battle 2012. Hype does not describe this match whatsoever. Build-up barely describes it either. What does describe it is massive. I honestly leave it at that. If you have no idea about any of the history between Steen and Generico as enemies, inside and outside of Ring of Honor, looking at the opening sentence of this paragraph probably seems outright ridiculous. However, prepare to be told off if you have those thoughts. Very rarely do things feel like they happen at the perfect time in this industry, and I am almost certain that everyone, on both sides of the guardrail feel that way. The same cannot be said for this year’s Final Battle 2012 Main Event. El Generico has not been seen in ROH after back to back losses against Steen and Jacobs at Showdown in the Sun during Wrestlemania Weekend. His absence may have been one of the more bitter pills ROH fans have ever swallowed but a guaranteed buffet table is what Final Battle 2012’s LADDER WAR 4 seems like to most. This will be a spectacle. As I once again allude to the beginning of this entre piece, if there is any indication of what these two have given to those that put their butt’s in the seats at venues and order iPPV’s month in month out; you can confidently leave your expectations at the “Order Now” button or at the door if your just that damn lucky!
Nice Preview video right here:-
Above: Kane & The Undertaker squaring off as Shawn Michaels lays battered & bloodied in the first Hell in A Cell match back at WWF Badd Blood in October 1997
Hell In A Cell as been one of the better creations in the WWE over the last 15 years. The concept made its debut at the Badd Blood PPV in October 1997 when Shawn Michaels defeated The Undertaker to become the number 1 contender to the WWF Title.
The match was a fantastic one, with two great performances and a match which was filled with lots of drama. It was a tremendous success and was a definitely a step up from the old school cage matches we had seen before. The concept worked because it was billed as The Undertaker's match of choice and he was going for revenge against Shawn, the man who had accidently cost him the WWF title at Summerslam.
The second HIAC match was actually a tag match on Raw in June 1998 which ended in a no contest. But thankfully less than two weeks later was the match which made the HIAC a legendary gimmick. The Undertaker's victory over Mankind which featured two infamous spots which saw Mankind crashing through the commentary table right at the start and then later on was chokeslammed through the structure's roof. The match saw Mankind become a genuine main eventer and the HIAC had secured its status as the place where feuds should come to their conclusion.
The following few outings came nowhere near the quality, The Undertaker defeated Big Bossman in a decidedly average affair at Wrestlemania 15. However the following year we got the third HIAC classic. At the No Way Out 2000 PPV, Triple H defeated Cactus Jack to retain the WWF title in a match which saw Cactus Jack have to retire. Sadly he was back a few weeks later as a part of Wrestlemania 16's main event. Triple H's success against Cactus Jack helped him solidify his ability to be a credible top draw with an ability to produce strong and violent matches.
At this point we see a change of strategy from the company, it should be clear that HIAC works best when you have two main eventers involved in a strong and extended feud and the HIAC would be the final and fitting chapter. It's next outing was at the Armageddon 2000 PPV where Kurt Angle defended the title in a six way, despite the talent involved which included Triple H, The Rock, Steve Austin and The Undertaker. The main spot was Rikishi taking a fall off the roof. Although it was a good match it simply lacked the drama of the earlier outings.
Following HIAC matches of Triple H defeating Chris Jericho at Judgement Day 2002 and another Triple H win this time over Kevin Nash at Bad Blood 2003 were pretty underwhelming due to different factors. The Triple H vs. Chris Jericho lacked the intensity of the great feuds and wasn't helped by the fact that Jericho was booked in such a way that no-one saw him as any kind of threat to Triple H. As for the Kevin Nash feud, it was clear that Nash had his limitations that could not be hidden.
Between those average encounters was arguably my favourite HIAC match between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker for the WWF title. Although this wasn't the finale of a long and violent feud it told a simple and straight forward story. Lesnar was portrayed as unbeatable and went over all the top stars but here was a new challenge. Having to defend the title against The Undertaker, in a match that the challenger was considered unbeatable in, as the WWF did a nice job in re-writing the history so the fans forgot he actually lost the first HIAC match.
Lesnar was successful and was fully cemented as a main eventer for the rest of his first WWF run. Over the next few years we typically had one HIAC match a year. Some matches had more reason for taking place than others and it was the matches with the long and careful build that were to be the most successful and more memorable matches. The longest HIAC match took place at Badd Blood 2004 between former partners Triple H and Shawn Michaels which went over 45 minutes with the set up being that both men wanted to beat Chris Benoit for the World Heavyweight title and therefore kept interfering in one another matches so they met here to settle things once and for all.
Batista got a major win at Vengeance 2005 over Triple H, this again benefitted from a decent storyline. Batista had defeated his former Evolution partner at Wrestlemania and had gone onto successfully retain at Backlash. Frustrated Triple H had attacked Batista on Raw and challenged him to a HIAC match where he had enjoyed great success but also that Batista had so far not wrestled in a HIAC match. Putting Batista over gave him three straight victories over Triple H including wins at the biggest show of the year and also in the HIAC demonic structure.
Things started to go arguably wrong with the DX winning a match against Big Show, Vince & Shane McMahon where the big spot was DX forcing Vince's face into the Big Show's backside. Comedy had entered HIAC and at least in my view it wasn't particularly welcome. The Undertaker had two further HIAC matches against Batista and Edge in 2007 and 2008 which were reasonable but didn't leave the same impression as the great HIAC matches of earlier years.
From 2009 we have had the Hell In A Cell PPV which featured three matches all fought in the structure. The problem was now we had a PPV and therefore they had to book matches in the cell rather the match needed or should be put in the cage. Feuds were put in the cell halfway through the programmes when common sense should dictate that HIAC works best as the final installment.
At the 2009 show, the card actually opened with The Undertaker beating CM Punk in less than 15 minutes. DX beat The Legacy (Cody Rhodes & Ted Dibiase) and Randy Orton defeated John Cena. The HIAC was only a stepping stone in the Cena vs. Orton feud that dominated the second half of 2009 and at the next show they wrestled a 60 minute match and it was like their HIAC match counted for nothing.
I don't think any of those matches were particularly memorable and that's really been the story at least at those HIAC matches that have featured at the same titled PPV. In 2010 there were two HIAC matches which saw Randy Orton beating Sheamus in an entertaining affair and Kane beating The Undertaker in arguably the worst HIAC match out of the 26 that as actually occurred.
In 2011 it became clear that we had long since seen the end of blood in these matches, it also became apparent that making matches to take place HIAC without the proper timing is a underwhelming experience. There is little doubt that having HIAC as a PPV draw used to be a tremendous success but over time the concept as been over played to the point where it no longer as that special feeling attached to it. The lack of blood I think as also watered down the effectiveness of the HIAC match.
The Undertaker's victory over Triple H at this year's Wrestlemania was a rare example of a match which did deliver. But it did have the advantages of a long build up and the storyline that this match was the end of an era. They had Shawn Michaels as a part of the story with the intriguing question of if Shawn would call it straight down the middle or not. They also could get away with flaunting the no blood rule which I don't think any of the current roster would be able to do so at least not for the foreseeable future.
Looking back at the history of Hell In A Cell matches shows that it did deliver a lot of really good matches but not many in the last few years. So it might be time to put away the cell for a while or take a step back to realise what made the legendary HIAC matches so special. And it wasn't because it's October's PPV so we better put a couple of matches into the cage with no rhyme or reason. Which is what we have seen over the last four years.