Tuesday 31 July 2012

CM Punk Anti-hero On the Rise By Dani Mitchell

Well after talking about it for months, the WWE finally decided to do what I have been wanting. CM punk heel-turn! Let's face it, CM Punk is the ultimate Anti-hero, you love him for all the reasons you should hate him. Cena's storyline has just been bland as of late , and finally at RAW 1000 the two were to meet.

Cena was suppose to cash in his MITB for a win (never in the history of Money In The Bank, no winner has ever lost when cashing it in). The face of WWE was the first to let it be known when he was going to cash it in, and well what could go wrong with that.. Ohhh yeah I know, the fact that BIG SHOW has it out for you and is bent on destroying you. I mean really would it never cross your mind that he could interrupt the match and cause a DQ , forcing you to ultimately lose your MITB win? Duh.

Well , once the DQ happened, CM Punk looked on struggling with what he should do, when The ROCK entered the ring. The Rock the only man right now the trumphs Cena's popularity wise with all ages. Of course earlier in the night he announced that he was given the chance to face the WWE champion at the royal rumble. This obviously is everything the Punk is against. The fact that he has worked so hard to get to where he is while people like Cena are given all the glory. Cena's the Hulk Hogan of the Industry (just okay skills but loved by all due to his image and like-ability). Now, the Rock who has been off in Hollywood has come back and just automatically given a shot to face the Champ... Of course that is going to piss off our anti-hero. Punk has worked his way up the ladder, He's been a joke, a heel, a face, now we are gonna see heel again. Let's face it... Some Superstars are just more loved, more cheered as Villians. People love the bad guy.

Punk who has been known of setting off "Pipebombs" about the industry and the stars , has said before "the only person better at kissing Vince McMahon's ass (then Cena) was Hulk Hogan" .. then he continued with "Duane's a pretty good ass kisser too". So now, what does CM punk have ahead of him... He's still the WWE Champion, he could be pursued by Cena (although, now I think there is going to be more of a Cena / Show dispute). His Rivalry with Daniel Bryan has gone stale. The Rock obviously isn't going to be back week after week, I suspect we can see him more often though now til Royal Rumble. So whose left... Is he just going to turn on the WWE world, all the fans, and anyone else that gets in his way? And now with A.J. as the RAW GM, hows HEEL CM PUNK going to handle that, we all know he's not one for sucking up to authority figures.

The Weeks leading up to Summerslam are going to be exciting. Storylines are beginning to evolve, change, and take shape. Randy Orton is set to return after his suspension and make an appearance on Raw.. and I am sure the Raw Champion Punk won't hold back his feelings on this. This might be the beginning of some change in the WWE... Could we start weeding our way out of the PG era, and back to the attitude era! We could use it. With way too many faces in the WWE, We need Heels. CM Punk turning heel, Maybe Randy Orton returning as heel (which he does much better than being a face) , there's even been hinting on twitter via Kevin Nash of a NWO revamp/reunion, maybe with a new member or two.. ahem our new heels...Would be an awesome way of kicking off new RAW.

As CM Punk would say..... "ITS CLOBBERIN' TIME"

Thoughts as always can be tweeted: @Buckeyebrain

-Dani Mitchell

Monday 23 July 2012

Podcasts To Checkout By Stuart Rodgers

Wrestling podcasts play a big part of my spare time so I thought I'd share with you what I listen to and maybe you can give them a go.

Now, all will know the indies are my thing, I don't really listen to podcasts for Indy news as I cover that myself with Paul on The Indy Corner but I do listen to other podcasts that cover the mainstream stuff. From the US I listen to the Still Real To Us show which is presented by 'The Champ' Jeff Peck and WLH writer Trey ' Captain Obvious' Dent. The guys pretty much cover the 'big two' but are also up to speed with the indies too. Give these a guys a go, as I said, Trey writes for WLH and Jeff has always been a big supporter of us, you never know, maybe one day I'll be back on there as a guest host as I have in the past. Look for the guys on facebook by searching for the Still Real To Us show and the same on iTunes or you can look on the right hand site of this very site and click on the SRTU banner for previous episodes.

In the UK, the best show by far covering the WWE & TNA is Inside The Ropes, based in Glasgow, Scotland the hosts Kenny & Robert are very smart to the WWF/E and have been watching from a young age and this all goes towards a very informative podcast. The guys often have guests on from the world of wrestling and this current episode that is up now has numerous interview snippets from various personalities that were part of the WWF/E's RAW program which as you all know celebrates 1000 episodes this week. Oh and of you're available on Thursday nights you can listen to the show LIVE at 22:00 GMT, details on their faceboook page which you can find by searching for The Inside Network. Follow them on twitter @Inside_theropes

And finally, sticking with another UK podcast that covers WWE/TNA  how can I fail to mention the former home of The Indy Corner, the Marks For Xcellence podcast with my former co-host Duckman who is joined by Sir Ian Trumps. These guys while very knowledgable make the show very entertaining with their light-hearted look at the wacky world of pro wrestling. Look for them on facebook & iTunes and follow them on twitter @mfxpodcast

Another wrestling podcast I enjoy listening to is the MLW Radio Show which always features former WCW star Konnan who of course is still a massive name in Mexico and some times features former MLW booker & WWE creative writer Court Bauer. Again, MLW Radio on iTunes.

And checkout The Don Tony & Kevin Castle Show that is available on iTunes and their show airs live at 23:15 Eastern time in the US this is 04:15 am here in the UK but I'm not sure how this will change due to RAW going 3 hours, check out the site where you can listen to the show live and join the chat room over at http://wrestling-news.com

I've told you all the good ones I think are out there, not mentioning what I consider the poor ones, one because who am I to say that (any of you who have heard me on podcasts or radio shows will concur) and two, I'd be here all day.

Friday 20 July 2012

EVE Special Edition By Adam Joyce

In it’s short run on My Channel ICW main evented one of it’s early shows with a female death match where Kaylee Rae defeated Carmel in a great segment that went somewhere around the 20 minutes mark. A few short years ago in this country it almost certainly wouldn’t have had so long and definitely wouldn’t have gone on last. This is a sign that, at least some people, are preparing to give women’s wrestling a chance. While there is a number of reasons that could have lead to this change there is defiantly a large number of people who would argue that Pro Wrestling EVE has certainly had a major impact in this.

Back in February they broke another barrier with being the first European wrestling promotion to do an iPPV (and a live one at that) following on from the first crossover event with a female Japanese promotion back in October. With two such groundbreaking achievements following on from each other it seemed a bit of a letdown that the most recent outing was being presented as more of a traditional event and the next iPPV being held off till November. While there were some promising matches on paper the only thing that really stood out was that EVE were showcasing men’s matches courtesy of Lucha Britannia and Scottish Wrestling Alliance in an attempt to seemingly appeal to people who may be quick to shun straight woman’s wrestling.

Either that tactic worked, or the iPPV drew in some more audience as there certainly seemed to be more people in attendance then any EVE show I’ve been to. Also as an added bonus to those who came to see the show Kat (Nikita/Katie Lea/Winter) Waters of TNA fame was also on the card to give some added star power. The set up was more scaled back then the last few Sudbury shows which in my mind gave this show a smaller feel then previous efforts but I can’t say I heard anyone else mention this.

The first match was an attempt to get the crowd into it from the offset. Billed as a European Dream match featuring the former champ, Jenny Sjodin, taking on the returning Blue Nikita. Nikita quickly established herself as the heel by spitting her gum at a ringside fan. Jenny seems to be more over as a face now that she has lost the title and if her and Alpha have a third match the crowd will probably be louder then ever. The match itself was a great technical affair with some early ringside brawling to help get the fans involved and some excellent psychology that the crowd really got behind which really showed when Nikita spent a couple of minutes fighting off the cross armbreaker that Jenny has won many of her matches with. Jenny eventually got the pin with a German suplex, which sent Nikita into a rage about how wrestlers like her were getting overlooked while clowns like Kirsty Love were on every show.

The next match featured SWA wrestlers Damien O’Conner and Mark Anthony go at it. The match between the two was a good solid match but it was obvious that the crowd were here for the girls, which in itself is an interesting contradiction to your usual wrestling show. The match was a great showing for the two who most in attendance would never get to see usually and had some great sequences including the finishing sequence that saw Mark pick up the win with a victory roll.

The next segment saw Rockstar Spud take to the mic in an unannounced appearance that showed just why he is probably one of the best entrances and promos in the UK right now with his ability to get under the skin of the audience so easily. Spud went on to say how he felt that the premise of EVE itself was sexist and he challenged any woman to come out and try and take him on in a no DQ match, his challenge was answered by the EVE champion Alpha Female. What followed I would argue was more of an entertainment segment then an actual match with Alpha beating Spud out of the ring and powerbombing him through a table before rolling him into the ring for the win. The thing about this that stands out to me about this is that the last time this happened was at a Southside show back in February when it was Nikki Storm who would face off with Spud but only to end up losing to him, meaning that while the current EVE champion has a win over the Rockstar her next challenger hasn’t creating another obstacle for Nikki to overcome on her way to the title.

The next match was a high stakes match for Rhia O’Reilly as she took on Kirsty Love with her spot on main EVE shows on the line. Rhia seemed to be playing it a bit cool for a lot of the match, which seemed odd for someone with so much on the line. But it soon became clear something was afoot when Ayesha Ray appeared on the stage to watch the match. Kirsty got the crowd going with her more comedy style but Rhia kept turning it back in her favor with her cheating ways. While Ayesha didn’t get physically involved it seemed to have some effect as Rhia picked up the win and added more thread to a storyline that wouldn’t become obvious till later in the evening.

The last match of the first half featured Nikki Storm challenging Kat Waters of TNA and WWE fame. While on TV due to whatever reason she never seemed to really stand out but here Kat certainly seemed to bring a star quality to the show with the way she connected with the crowd well one thing that particularly stood out to me was the way she connected with the cameras. A lot of wrestler seem to forget most of the way new promoters will see them is DVDs so trying to connect with your audience behind the screen makes winning over those members of the audience a lot easier. The match itself was a great match, probably my MOTN if you pressed me, with Nikki looking on the same level as Kat eventually getting the win with her Perfect Storm Neckbreaker.

The first match back after the break was a first time ever as two sets of female twins going against each other with the ever popular Blossoms going against Ireland’s Owen twins. There was an interesting twist to the classic switcheroo with the Owens having tattoos on opposite shoulders so while the referee might not notice a switch the Blossom in the ring with them would. It came up quite a few times as the ref looked perplexed at points to whether one pair had switched while he was distracted or not. While the Owens looked good here the difference in experience between the two teams was noticeable. Towards the end it looked like the Owens had pulled off the switcheroo but the Blossoms cleared the illegal twin and scored the win with Hannah(?) getting the victory with a splash off her sisters shoulders.

Immediately following the Blossoms victory Rhia came out accompanied by Ayesha Ray and made an impromptu challenge for the Blossom’s place in the EVE Tag Title tourney. In a short match the Blossoms fought hard but the fresher team shined better with Ayesha taking Holly out of the ring and Rhia getting the win after clipping Hannah’s knee. This certainly created some intrigue as it means that the Blossoms are now out of the tournament despite none of the other qualifying teams even being announced yet but the Blossoms will likely be back in OVW by the time the next show comes around so there is some sense of logic so it writes them out of that show with a feud set up for when they come back.

The next match was a crossover match with the Lucha champion Leon Britannico going against James ‘Darkside’ Scott representing SWA. I’ve always been a fan of Leon and think outside of Lucha he is incredibly under utilized and felt this match showed why. He was some amazing agility that James did well to be able to keep up with. Of the guys matches this one was probably the best, unfortunately there was a botch towards the end where James caught Leon with a nasty looking knee and had it not been for the referee calling a phantom kick out would have legit ended the match. Fortunately Leon managed to pull it together and grabbed the win with a hurricanrana.

The last guest match was an all Lucha Britannia affair as the Santarea took on the Bengal Tiger. It’s interesting that no matter how bad the heels were up to this point the only one to really seemed to unnerve the large family based audience was Santarea, I guess that’s a sign about how in this day and age if you have the right gimmick you can still make a very real impact on the crowd. I’ve never experienced a Lucha show but as far as I’m aware you need more then just a match to really experience all of what goes on at it’s events. I liked what I saw in the match with a lot of dives and general ariel tactics, especially from the notably bigger Santarea, that got the crowd into the match quite well. There was one point that was a little unnerving as Bengal Tiger hit the ropes, which had been very loose all evening, and fell through them. He managed to recover from this though but still lost following a ropewalk neckbreaker from Santerea, which with the ropes so loose meant he was essentially walking at the level of the middle rope.

The main event was a hardcore match featuring the former Amazon Ayesha Ray taking on The Alpha Female for the Pro Wrestling EVE championship. Ayesha came out accompanied by her new accomplice Rhia but she was quickly sent to the back following some early interference, this didn’t stop her from constantly peeking out the curtains to keep an eye on the proceedings though. The match was a very hard-hitting affair featuring the use of kendo sticks, a fire extingisher, a car door and more. In fact the pop when Alpha pulled the car door from beneath the ring and hurled it through the ropes was quite impressive, as were the aesthetics. While it was no master piece, and was probably one of the nights shorter matches, it did everything it needed to.

Ayesha looked like a true force to be reckoned with while Alpha didn’t lose any of her dominance. Alpha’s powerbomb finish didn’t look too impressive but with the fatigue both were probably suffering after going at it full force it was understandable. All the stories from earlier in the night came to play as Kirsty Love tried to stop further interference from Rhia only to be attacked by Blue Nikita. Jenny Sjodin also came down to take out Rhia to see her former rival, Alpha, got a fair shake. To finish the nights events Nikki Storm came down to officially announce that she would be facing Alpha November 10th on iPPV and offered a handshake only to spit in her face when she hesitated.

Overall a great show. It managed to do a great job of bridging the gap between the two iPPVs without seeming like just a filler event. It was nice that there was a running story that got tied together at the end, it’s a small thing but it can add a new level of interest for your audience if done right. It was here and has built a few matches for the next few shows. Kirsty Love and Blue Nikita look like a lock for November, a Jenny/Rhia rematch looks like a strong possibility at the next show and the Blossoms are going to be looking for revenge on Ayesha/Rhia if not in November then certainly somewhen in the future.

Another thing that this show seemed to sort out was the heel/face alignment of the EVE roster. Since the separation from WAW the heel/face alignment has been very heavy on the heel side with some having to tween. But with Jenny being a decided face here (possibly meaning her tag partner April will follow suit) as well as the Blossoms making more and more appearances as well as an apparent push for Kirsty Love it certainly helps bolster the face side of things.

My only real criticism is the ring ropes. While it’s not EVE’s fault it does make the promotion look very indy when your ropes are rippling every time someone brushes against them. I mentioned earlier how the staging set up looked very scaled back compared to previous set ups but if they had’ve had their previous set up it probably would only have looked worse.

With a growing audience and ever strengthening roster EVE looks to be going strong towards it’s next iPPV on November 10th.

Love it or hate it? Send me some feedback via twitter @el_j, there are times I will even respond.

WWE Champion CM Punk on The Bower Show 19/7/12

WWE Champion CM Punk returned to "The Bower Show" this Thursday July 19th to promote the RAW 1000th episode this Monday July 23rd @ 8pm ET/5pm PT on the USA Network. In the interview Punk talks about the upcoming #RAW1000, he tells us if he has already purchased his tickets for "The Dark Knight Rises," we reveal what a #SquishyPuff is, we play another round of "I bet CM Punk has never..." & more!

"The Bower Show" airs Monday - Friday from 3pm ET - 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT and ESPN Radio 1300 in New Haven, CT. You can also listen online at www.979espn.com.

You can check out the interview below:

97-9 ESPN


‎979 ESPN, Hartford's FM sports station.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Top 5 RAW Matches - The Obvious List By Trey Dent

So, next week is Raw 1000. I must be old because I watched Raw 1 and i think Ive seen over 900 of the episodes ever since. I'm either old or I have the social life of Sheldon Cooper with mononucleosis. Raw has become entwined with American pop culture and a world wide event. There are moments in time on Raw that have stood the test of time and make people actually remember where they were. I still know where I was the night Mick Foley won his first world title. I know where I was when they announced Chris Benoit's death. I recall the night Stone Cold came out with the beer truck and the night Kurt Angle brought out the milk truck. For a wrestling fan, Raw is like going to Church. We may not always enjoy the sermon but sometimes we do see miracles take place. This is the countdown of my favorite 5 Raw matches (apologies to Booker T. It's on like neckbones.)

Match 5: January 16, 2006 - Ric Flair vs. Edge for the World title in a TLC match.

Growing up in North Carolina, you either loved Ric Flair or you despised him. there was no middle ground. As a young boy, I could not stand him. I didn't like his arrogance or his dirty tricks. I didn't like how he always overcame the likes of Sting, Dusty Rhodes, and Nikita Koloff. As I grew older I learned to appreciate more and more of the nuances of his character and became a big fan of his. the same could be said for how I felt about Edge. When he debuted in WWE, I thought he would be around for a couple years and gone to be repackaged as someone else in WCW. He just didn't seem to have a personality for a long time. Then the real Adam Copeland seemed to come out during the days of E&C and I became a fan. When this match took place, Flair was in his twilight and Edge was at his peak. I never thought I would see Flair in a TLC match but it fit his style perfectly. In many ways, Flair was fighting a younger version of himself and everything came together seamlessly in this match.

Match 4 - May 2, 2005: Shelton Benjamin vs. Shawn Michaels

As some of you who listen to The Still Real To Us show may know, I'm a pretty big mark for Shawn Michaels. He was my favorite wrestler ever since throwing Marty Jannetty through the window of The Barber Shop back in January of 1992. When Shawn came back after his back surgery, you could always tell he was cautious in the ring for the first couple years. He only really wrestled guys he trusted. Then around 2004, he finally trusted his body again and we got to see some incredible matches. One of these was the match with Shelton Benjamin, who in my opinion, is the most athletically gifted athlete the WWE ever had. This match is known for the superkick Shawn delivered to close out the match but if you watch the match, it is a stylistic blend of technical skills and amazing athleticism.

Match 3: July 1, 2002 - Jeff Hardy vs. The Undertaker- Ladder match for the Undisputed World Title.

On paper, this looked more like an execution than a world title match. Jeff hardy had only recently embarked on a singles career and had yet to reach main event status in the WWE. The undertaker was going through his American Bad Ass stage in his career and most people thought this was his way to avenge a partial loss he had to RVD just a couple weeks earlier. The match itself may not have been the best ladder match of all time, but in retrospect it solidified Jeff Hardy as a guy who could step onto the big stage and help carry a match. this is also one of, if not the only, ladder match i can recall Undertaker being in. The match really plays on the whole rooting for the underdog vibe. Even if you are not a Jeff Hardy fan, you find yourself pulling for him and hoping he can come out with the win. In the end, you wind up with Undertaker coming out on top but giving Jeff the Rocky_Apollo creed moment of mutual respect.

Match 2: April 23, 2007 - John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels.

Now, I am no John Cena fan nowadays. I have not been a fan since he was with B squared in his early rapper gimmick era. But, the guy can put on a good match when he has to and if your wrestling Shawn Michaels then you know you have to. This match was a rematch from Wrestlemania 23 match and this one topped the Wrestlemania match. These two men went at it for over 45 minutes with more near falls than little boys wearing John cena wristbands. There were multiple F-U's and sweet Chin Musics done in the match and no outside interference. just a classic 45 minute match on Raw. I can' even remember when we had a good 30 minute match on Raw. Just a classic of a match between two stars who had tremendous chemistry in the ring. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRk42W0wUVA

Match 1: June 11, 2001 - Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit - Steel Cage Match

This was not their best match between them. This was not the prototypical technical opera that one might expect from these two grapplers. This match was a showcase in story telling and building an angle. A science that seems to be lost in most professional wrestling realms. The match featured two men at the height of their careers telling a story in the ring that was so eloquently done, De Gas couldnt have painted it better. Another great aspect of this match was having Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler call the match along with Stone Cold Steve Austin playing up his heel character. Hearing Ross call Austin a psycho still cracks me up to this day. This match was brutal and hard hitting all the way through and had two spots from the top of the cage; Angle missing a moonsault and Benoit hitting the top rope headbutt. This match is really underrated in the annals of wrestling lore and should be looked upon with respect for the battle waged in the ring and not for what happened outside the ring years later.

That is my rundown for my favorite 5 Raw matches from the first 999 episodes. http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifHopefully, You guys will be reading me when we get to Raw 2000 a mere 19 years and 3 months from now. I'll be watching. maybe Bob Backlund will be there for that one too. Until next time, It's been OBVIOUS!

"Captain Obvious" Trey Dent
Follow me on twitter @CaptainOMG for all my writing links and links to the amazing world of VCW

Be sure to check out The Still Real To US show every Thursday at http://wrestlechat.net or http://facebook.com/WLH11

Sunday 15 July 2012

State of the WWE in Summer 2012 By Daniel

We have another new writer here at WLH, I'd like to welcome Daniel to the team. Left we have Alberto Del Rio who Daniel writes about below, I think ADR could be world title bound over the summer months but read on to see what Daniel thinks

Big Show

He has been around for a long time and granted he was somewhat entertaining 12 years ago. However, now; I don’t like to use the phrase “sell-out”; but I have to. Big Show has changed from heel to face and back to heel more times than Triple-H has buried an up and coming star…Okay so maybe not quite that much but the fact remains; he is only there because of his loyalty to the company and because of the fact that he’s a ‘giant’. Quite frankly; I can’t sit through any of his promos or his matches because they are terrible and far too long. He’s just not interesting anymore, it’s not his fault. WWE’s two main weekly shows often feature Big Show, plus there’s at least one PPV each month which Big Show is also usually a part of. In actual fact not only is he a part, he’s a main part. He should really be used in a special attraction sort of way like Andre the Giant was. It’s too late for that now though. I was a fan of him in WCW and a fan of him in WWF up until around 2001. Even Vince McMahon said he’s not been relevant since the 90’s and I think it was a shoot if I’m honest.

Alberto Del Rio

It’s funny. Alberto Del Rio has a good look. He is fairly big, he has that beach muscle look that Vince likes and has good ring work. His mic skills however and charisma; are nonexistent. I’m not implying you need to have mic skills to be successful. Look at Goldberg, Lesnar and Benoit. But Del Rio is missing something. I’m not sure exactly what though. He needs to be more aggressive, generate more heat, attack the crowd more in promos etc. He has started doing this more now but he still lacks something. He doesn’t have to be Gold on the mic but just do and say simple things like criticizing the city they’re in and the fans for some cheap heat. It doesn’t help that he walks around with Rodriguez either. Don’t get me wrong, I like Rodriguez in the sort of way I like Zack Ryder. He’s a fun/joke gimmick which you need in a PG Show. But Alberto Del Rio, a guy who gets ‘Vicky Guererro – get the f-out heat’; more than heat for being a good heel; needs a good manager. That’s what is meant to happen. If you can’t talk you have a manager talk for you. The only reason guys like Goldberg and Benoit got away with it was because of their gimmicks. Benoit was in a group at first and he was a fantastic wrestler so people didn’t care. Goldberg had the streak and the powerhouse look etc. I’d have put A.W. with Del Rio instead of the Prime Time Players; but then again; there’s not exactly a great tag division in WWE at the minute, is there?

Jack Swagger

Alright, so, I’m the first person to tell you that Vicky Guererro sucks. There’s nothing impressive about the ability to scream ‘Excuse Me’ in an annoying voice. However, Swagger carries himself poorly and has worse mic skills than Alberto Del Rio. He has absolutely no charisma, horrible entrance music and has the same attire and moves as Kurt Angle. The least you can do is keep him with Vicky because, as much as I don’t like her, she can talk better than Swagger can and Swagger on his own, in my opinion, will just fail completely.

The ‘not so' Great Khali

He’s 7’3, 320 lbs and has worse wrestling ability than the 7’8 Giant Gonzalez. He will go down in history as being one of the worst World Champions ever. Where did the Khali that came in and fought Undertaker go? He wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination but he was believable and had a manager. Now he just jobs and doesn’t talk. He is now the modern day ‘Fat Albert’ – massive man used as a jobber.


Speaking of Fat Albert…this guy went to Japan and made something of himself, good for him, doesn’t mean to say that he is WWE main event material. He gets no response from the crowd when he’s in the ring except from the odd ‘Albert’ chant. He was so bad that he got replaced in the feud with Cena by Big Show and even lost to Tyson Kidd. He has to change his look: get a mask or face paint, or different attire, change his entrance theme to something more upbeat.

Alex Riley

So, he’s a part of the Wrestlemania 27 main event in the corner of WWE Champion at the time – The Miz; who is facing the face of the company – John Cena. He has an argument with The Miz at a later date and ended up defeating him. Fast forward a year and he’s being used as a jobber. Are you kidding me? Why does WWE have a tendency to push people to a point and then all of a sudden with no reason what so ever; let all the hard work go to waste and let them slide back down to where they started off…or worse?

CM Punk

In July 2011 everyone’s talking about this man and how great his character is and how much of an impact he is going to make. By the end of July 2012 everyone that isn’t already; will be talking about this man and how watered down he is and how much of an impact he could have made but didn’t because WWE dropped the ball with him. The AJ, Daniel Bryan, Punk angle is good; with Kane it was also good but will they end it well? I hope so, but I doubt it. Where will Punk go after this? Where will Bryan go? Where will AJ go? I’m curious to see if this is WWE picking back up from where it left off after Extreme Rules. With Money in the Bank and Summer Slam coming up as well as RAW’s 1000th Episode, The Rock is set to make an appearance as well as HBK, Brock Lesnar, Triple-H and more. Still though; had they not water down Punk so much maybe we wouldn’t have had 2 months of forgettable RAW’s and PPV’s not worth watching let alone buying.

WWE NEED a new creative team. WWE NEED to revamp the roster and freshen things up a bit. And for goodness sake WWE NEED to make CM Punk Ice-Cream Bars!

CM Punk Returns to The Bower Show - ALL the info is here

The Bower Show on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT; ESPN 1300 in New Haven, CT announced that current WWE Champion CM Punk will be returning to the show this Thursday July 19th to promote the upcoming RAW 1000th episode.

You can listen to The Bower Show Monday - Friday on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT & ESPN 1300 in New Haven, CT from 3pm ET - 7pm ET. You can also like their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/979espn

If you missed the last time that CM Punk was on The Bower Show live in-studio you can check out Part 1 & Part 2 of the awesome interview here...it is a MUST listen:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Are You Ready? By Dani Mitchell

The past month the buzz on Twitter , blogs, and fansites have all been about the same thing. Raw's 1000th episode... and for good reason! It's going to be a Superstar packed event. The real question is though, what are they gonna do with all those superstars under one roof?

If you have been watching raw, which unless you live under a rock, i'm guessing you have.. they have been teasing us with promos and superstars. Mainly, we have watch Heath Slater come out sing his little "one man band" out of key only to be interrupted by past superstars. We have seen Vader, Sycho Sid, Roddy Piper, Doink, and the most recent Bob Backlund. He defeated Doink when his victory was cut short when we all heard the entrance music of Diamond Dallas Page, which he then suffered the diamond cutter....I felt like the words "FATALITY" should have been stamped on the screen. Now I am wondering... whose next?? And is this really gonna pay off in some big way for Slater at 1000??

The 1000 should be pretty amazing. I mean the crowd's reaction to these Former superstars makes you appreciate the fact that Raw has been around so long. It's like they never missed a beat.. and for the most part the former superstars looked really good!

One of the biggest stories for the 1000th episode is this is when Brock Lesner is going to respond to Triple H's challenge for Summerslam. Is this going to be the perfect set up for .. Dun dun dun the DX reunion. We all know they are suppose to reunite.. and well without Vince Mcmahon or John Laurinitis to torment, who better to turn their attitude on then Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. It would be a great feud. The only problem is no matter what they do with DX , we all know Shawn Michaels isn't coming back to wrestle to do a long stay in WWE so whatever they do is going to be limited. Fans have been driving HBK crazy with questions about this, so let me inform you .... No, he has no idea (or atleast he's not telling us) what he's doing there and No he doesn't have a match.

Another BIG question .. Who is going to be the new GM? This is a tough one. In my opinion, I'd love to see Mic Foley be GM... then we could have Cactus Jack be RAW GM and Mankind could be Smackdown GM. How freaking great would that be? Socko making all the decisions? Hmmmmm.. could be pretty entertaining!

With all the amazing things that will be happening, I don't know how many people have thought about the fact that Fan Favorite Randy Orton could be missing out with his suspension. Which Sucks for him since its in St. Louis! Bummer Orton.
We can expect some superstars like the Rock and Shawn Michaels.. I have also heard Undertaker, Bret Hart, and Stone Cold (and others that we are being kept in the dark about!) Im excited to see how they will all play a role in the episode. Anyone else have any thoughts on whose entrance music we will hear and be shocked about?

I'm gonna close with one last thought on the episode... within the last so many years we have lost so many great wrestlers I wonder if they will do some kind of tribute/memorial for all them? It would be pretty monumental considering what a huge event this is...

Well C'mon July 23rd, Im ready to party like it's the 1990's again! Bring on the superstars!

Follow me & give me your thoughts- @BuckeyeBrain

Thursday 12 July 2012

Austin Aries - Faith in Wrestling Restored By Duckman

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” - Michael Corleone, Godfather III.

This must be what it feels like to be one of those women you used to see on Cops back in the day. You know the ones I’m talking about; those fat, drunk, highly emotional women who call the cops to report that their partner is beating them up, only to immediately change their story when the cops arrive. They stand outside their trailer in their night gown saying things like, “he didn’t mean it. He’s a good man. Don’t take him away. I love him. Look, he’s over there sleeping under the trailer with his dog Skeeter.”

It’s probably quite important that I explain I’m not making light of domestic violence in any way, shape or form. And I’m not saying I’m a victim of domestic violence. And I’m not saying I’m a fat, drunk emotional woman from the mid 90s who lives in a trailer park and appeared on a sleazy tabloid style police documentary show. I’m actually writing about wrestling. Trust me, this is going somewhere.

It’s been about three months, give or take a few weeks, since I made a decision that I never thought I would make - I gave up on professional wrestling. After watching for over twenty years I was finished. No more professional wrestling for Duckman. At least, no more professional wrestling as it’s presented by WWE and TNA. I still heartily consume every New Japan show I can get my grubby little paws on. Same for DGUSA, EVOLVE and PWG. I just couldn’t take the unrelenting pile of shit that seemed to be thrown in my face every week by the two major companies. What I love about wrestling was so far away from what I was seeing on TV each week, I might as well have been watching a documentary on how to make traffic cones.

I even gave up on ROH – something I NEVER thought I would do in a million years. I’d have stuck with them if they could’ve got a fucking IPPV show on air during that period but unfortunately that kinda important aspect of their business seemed to be beyond them. Things are better now though. Although the whole, ‘Kenny King to TNA drama’ hasn’t exactly restored my confidence that ROH actually know what the hell their doing in terms of the management and public face of their company. Never mind the fact they billed me three times instead of once for my ringside subscription! But hey, we all make mistakes and they gave me my money back pretty quick. No doubt I’ll be back in the ROH fold before long. We’re probably just on a break right now.

As for WWE? I’d been hanging on with my finger tips for a long time. I was considering giving up completely until this time last year when CM Punk and John Cena made Money in the Bank the kind of can’t miss PPV that WWE seemed incapable of producing. Of course we’re a year down the line and NOTHING has changed in WWE. All the same people. All in the same positions. The same storylines. They had a chance to do something special after MITB last year and well, if you can explain the Nash/HHH/Vince/CM Punk/Cena/Del Rio/Laptop GM/John Laurinaitis storyline - that word being used in the loosest possible form - that followed MITB then you’re a better man than I. You also might be a schizophrenic.

Of course I stuck around for Wrestlemania. I even enjoyed it for the most part. Then they brought Brock Lesnar back on RAW. THEN I really started to care. As someone who has drifted away (actually less drift and more run) from WWE and towards UFC in the past seven years seeing Brock come back and be booked as a major fucking deal really did hook me. I cared again. Here was an angle that I could invest in, just like MITB last year. Something new. Something different from the norm. Something that almost felt real. WWE had worked their magic and I was back. For one PPV…

It wasn’t even the fact that Lesnar lost to Cena in his first match back that pushed me over the edge. Although I can see now that did play a huge part in my levels of ‘not-giving-a-fuckness’ rising sharply. It wasn’t even HHH’s ridiculous arm brace he wore on Raw a while back. The one that looked like the fucking leg of one of those big ass walker things from Empire Strikes Back. I swear to God that thing had gears on it. I hope you all remember that spectacular arm brace. It was the one he forgot to wear when accompanying Floyd Mayweather to the ring LIVE on PPV. Why didn’t he wear it and sell the major injury angle with Brock? Who knows? Maybe he didn’t want to look like a pussy in front of Justin Bieber. I do know if anyone else bar HHH had no sold an injury angle like that, in front of millions on PPV, they sure as shit wouldn’t be in the main event of Summerslam this year!

So it wasn’t Brock losing and then having to disappear off TV that broke me. Or even HHH’s amazing arm brace that had me walking away from WWE. I think it was just the frightening realisation that thanks to WWE’s consistently bad storytelling, the way they constantly belittle their talent both on commentary and in promos, combined with their damaging stop/start pushes for so many of their young talent, RAW had simply become a bad parody of itself. Watching it felt more like watching The Muppets than watching wrestling. Which would be cool if I wanted to watch The Muppets. But I didn’t. I wanted to watch wrestling.

Watching Raw is a chore. It’s something I have to get through, not something I eagerly await every week. I found myself doing the same thing every week: record the show, read the reviews the next day, find NOTHING of interest, delete the show without watching. The feeling of relief at deleting that large chunk off my Sky Plus planner was so uplifting. The knowledge that I could go through the week without having to see Zach Ryder’s gormless hair made me smile.

I just couldn’t watch Raw anymore. Everyone on that show, bar about two guys, are presented like jokes. They’re all losers. None of their matches mean anything. None of their stipulation mean anything. None of their Titles mean anything. There is no interest. No spark. It’s homogenized, corporate, mindless, nonsensical, childish, cruel and unfunny, boring bullshit. It just took me a long time to finally accept that and walk the fuck away.

I can’t say for certain when I gave up on TNA. I think it was probably just around the time they finally got rid of Vince Russo. I’d given the product a chance when Russo was still there. I’d listened to people who said the show was getting better. I watched and I watched and I just didn’t care. There was nothing on that show that ignited a spark of interest in me. It was better. But it was still horrible. It was still Russo written garbage.

The kind of TV show that a 14 year old boy with slightly below average IQ would write. None of the characters had any consistency other than a lack of consistency. All the woman spoke to each other like they were auditioning for Jersey Shore. There were plot holes big enough to drive the last episode of Lost through. I could see Russo’s influence had lessened but his greasy, pizza stained finger prints were still all over it. And if the last 15 years have taught me anything about wrestling it’s simply this – fuck Vince Russo.

So I drifted away from TNA. They fired Russo and I cheered outwardly but inside I’d already given up. It was too late. Bruce Pritchard and Dave Lagana become prominent creative forces in TNA and I still didn’t go back. I read the shows were getting better. They had some great PPVs. People were buzzing about this improved, focused and interesting TNA. This TNA that was booking storylines about wrestlers and the Titles they fought for. This new TNA that made sense. It sounded too good to be true. I refused to go back.

I just didn’t want to be like that fat, drunk, emotional woman from Cops. I’d been smacked around the head with a lamp enough times. “No more,” I cried. “I won’t do this again,” I wailed. “I’ve given up on wrestling and you fuckers can’t make me come back.” I screamed. “Yes I want to press charges, against him and Skeeter.” Ok, now I’m confused...where was I? Oh yeah, wrestling, right.

What I’m saying is I was done. Stick a fork in me kind of done. I was free. No more shitty wrestling shows that make me hate the thing I’ve always loved. No more getting excited about something only to see it destroyed by forces that seem to work against making their shows entertaining or able draw money on PPV. No more John Cena grinning. No more Hulk Hogan hobbling. No more not being able to see ROH IPPVs. It felt great. I always thought I’d be a wrestling fan for life but in the last couple of months I’d come to accept that maybe wrestling just wasn’t for me anymore. That perhaps what passed for pro wrestling in 2012 in the ‘big two’ was something I couldn’t be a fan of.

And then something happened. The rumblings started a few weeks back. TNA really had turned the corner. They were putting a lot of focus on one of my favourite wrestlers of the last 6-7 years. A new star had been pushed and he was now on the cusp of greatness. His performances in the ring and on the mic reminded many of the very best in wrestling history. His name is Austin Aries. And he has made me a believer in pro wrestling again.

If you don’t know the story of Aries rise to become TNA Heavyweight Champion, then you are missing out on one of the best COMPLETE storylines in TNA history. In fact, probably the FIRST complete storyline in TNA history. It wasn’t anything controversial or groundbreaking. It was just wrestling booking at its finest.

A new star was established by winning a mid card Title and then cleaned out his division. Those wins, along with the excellent work by Aries on the mic and in the ring, propelled him to move up the card. With each match and each promo Aries got more over with the TNA fans. He was presented like a star and he acted like one. He was someone to watch. Someone you could support in his climb up the ranks. And support him TNA did until eventually he secured a World Title shot against the long time World Champion and the single biggest heel in TNA – Robert Roode.

But unlike in WWE where Aries would be ‘Swaggered’ back down the card after his segment drew 0.01% less ratings than the week before, TNA actually followed the story to its logical conclusion. Aries won the World Title. They did what no one expected but exactly what should have happened. Finally, for once in wrestling these days, the payoff was the right one. No stupid swerves. No parity booking. They pushed him, he got over and then when the time was right (thanks to TNA’s booking) they pulled the trigger and made him World Champion. The reaction of the crowd at Destination X proves without doubt that the whole thing worked to perfection. It’s very rare people jump out their seats and hug each other in joy at wrestling events these days. That’s EXACTLY what happened when Aries got the three count on Roode and became a true star in TNA.

Just as a quick side note. It’s worth remembering that this is the same Austin Aries who despite all his skills and all his charisma that he showed on the independent scene for years, was deemed not good enough to get on WWE Tough Enough. Remind me, at which WWE PPV did ‘Silent Rage’ win the WWE Title?

TNA’s booking of Aries and his own excellent performances have restored my faith in wrestling. THIS is the wrestling I want to see. Compelling new characters. The climb up the rankings to Title shots. The younger generation of wrestlers being showcased and given a chance to show what they can really do. TNA now appear to be a company that understands how to promote a new star. You make him a big fucking deal. You take the time to let him get over with the audience. You do everything in your power to present him as special and hopefully, when the time is right, the stars align and you get a moment like we got at Destination X on Sunday.

The funny thing is, I’m not even going to worry about how TNA follow this up. I expect Aries to keep the World Title for a month or two but then drop it back to Roode for the logical blow off to Roode/Storm at Bound for Glory. But even if they don’t do that and this is just a short reign for Aries, all the hard work has been done. Aries is a star in the eyes of TNA fans. He’s not a former WWE guy who would go back there in a heartbeat if he could and he’s not an old time wrestler living off a career that peeked 15-20 years earlier. Aries is TNA’s success story. If they continue to book the guys they’ve chosen to push with the same logic, natural storyline progression and great pay off that they have with Aries, then I’m in for the long haul and maybe, just maybe, I won’t ever again feel the need to give up on something I’ve loved most of my life.

I’m not being unrealistic here. I understand that wrestling is never going to be perfect. WWE is still childish fucking nonsense. I will still suffer through what has become the weekly televised breakdown of Vince McMahon’s creative genius. I know TNA won’t always be perfect. I know ROH will fuck up and forget to plug the computer in at the arena for a IPPV.

But with the story of Austin Aries I can be safe in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, still understands what professional wrestling is and is able to convert that into a weekly TV show that I will go out of my way to watch. It’s amazing what a good bit of booking and a super talented wrestler can do to the soul of a jaded 31 year old wrestling fan. Thank you TNA and thank you Austin Aries.

So I’m back. I might be the wrestling fan equivalent of an abused spouse from Cops but you know what? Fuck it. Destination X and Austin Aries reminded me why I love professional wrestling. It’s moments like that that are worth all the other crap. It’s so refreshing to see someone with real talent and passion for the business being rewarded in this way. It’s the same feeling I had when WWE realised how good CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are. Or when Samoa Joe and Desmond Wolf had their initial runs in TNA. My faith has been restored.

I urge everyone reading this to check out Aries win from Destination X. The booking of the match is fantastic. Robert Roode puts in one hell of a performance and proves that a heel can lose clean and not lose anything from it. And above all else, it proves how simple, logical booking with a beginning, middle and end can work wonders.

Well, that’s all from me this time. Thanks for reading guys. Remember you can follow me on Twitter at the slightly amended new handle of @MFXDuckman – yes I’m even back on Twitter! If you’ve got any comments or want to share your thoughts on Aries, TNA, WWE or anything wrestling related feel free to do so. Of course any good ideas will be stolen and reworked into future articles. That’s just how I roll. Now, where is that damn dog? “Skeeter, Impact is on, come on, let’s go.”

Until next time…



Wednesday 11 July 2012

Past, Present, Future... Taker and Ziggler By Stel Stylianou

Following Wrestlemania, two questions came to my mind; Which individual stands out as the potential “future star” of the company, and what next for the Undertaker?

In the strange world of Wrestling, anything can happen. More often than not, those who have studied the industry for a long time can predict the outcome of matches and how some storylines will pan out. At the same time, there are individuals who have reliable sources who can help them ascertain as to what the future holds for certain Wrestlers.

From time to time I do enjoy doing my own bookings and linking stories together.
A couple of weeks ago, I suggested to a friend that we do some sort of “fantasy booking” (no, not in a perverted sense), using the existing WWE storyline, but also including wrestlers from TNA and ROH.

It sounded like a good idea at the time, but since I do a lot of travelling around with work, and he’s too busy kicking lumps out of drunk people in Camden (he’s a security guard), it wasn’t feasible.

Even so, it hasn’t stopped me from doing my own creative take on things. Whilst listening to the Don Tony and Kevin Castle podcast, something dawned on me.
As it stands at the moment, one wrestler is coming to the end of their career and another is in the perfect mould to be a future world champion and HOF inductee. Their names? The Undertaker and Dolph Ziggler.

Now, before you say “but Ziggler has already been a world champion”, I already know this – but as Kevin Castle often says “The WWE recycle old stories because they think that fans forget the past” (or something along those lines), and he’s spot on with that statement. There are too many examples to give, so I’ll let you think about that.

Ziggler is the one for the future in my eyes and these are the reasons why.
When you look back at the great champions in the past, what is the one thing above all else that they have in common? Read the question again. I said GREAT champions.
In my opinion, all the great champions have an aura about them. A charismatic personality which makes you like them, regardless if they’re a face or heel.
Dolph Ziggler has this by the truckload.

There are other factors and similarities with previous champions which make me believe this.

Can anyone name me one person who can sell a move as well or better than Ziggler, because I can’t think of anyone?

In fact, a lot of his manoeuvres and ability to sell moves remind me a lot like Shawn Michaels, during his time with Sensational Sherry as his valet.
Hmmm, come to think about it, Ziggler has sided with another “cougar” in Vicky Guerrero. Coincidence? Maybe.

HBK’s entrance music was “Sexy boy”, whereas Ziggler used to enter the ring with “I am perfection”.

As a matter of fact, I seem to remember that Michaels mic work increased as he slowly drifted apart from Sherry – which is pretty much what is happening now with Ziggler.

Here’s another coincidence. Rumours are flying about that Mason Ryan could be introduced as Ziggler’s bodyguard. Could it be another HBK-Diesel storyline? You never know.

There are many other coincidences and/or similarities between the two. Both were in tag teams when they first started out (Rockers & Spirit Squad), and later went on to be IC champions.

I could harp on all day about this, but then I’ll be going totally off track.

Moving swiftly on to the Undertaker, and what a career the bloke has had.
Multi time world champion, innovator of gimmick matches (casket, burnt/buried alive, Hell in a cell) and classic storylines coupled with 5 star matches.
It isn’t just the above mentioned factors which will make him a future HOF’er. As a true performer he has managed to tweak his character and in ring skills in order to adapt to the ever evolving industry. You name it, ‘Taker has done it.

Given his loyalty and value to the company, it is no surprise that Vince has given him an unbeaten streak at Wrestlemania

Admittedly, I was petrified of him when I was a kid. Everything about the Undertaker “package” scared the s**t out of me. Who could forget the eerie entrance music, Paul Bearer wailing like a banshee and the Undertaker’s zombie-like movement in the ring?
It is so difficult to pin point exactly the best storyline he’s been involved in, as there have been so many. Having thought about it a bit more, he’s feuded with practically all the best the industry has produced in the past 2 decades – with Sting as possibly the only exception.

Since Wrestlemania, there has been a lot of speculation as to who the Undertaker will face next year. Originally, it was suggested that Brock Lesnar would be his opponent, but given the bad blood between the two and Lesnar’s petulance/greed, I doubt this will happen.

Stone Cold Steve Austin has also been mentioned as another possible threat to “the streak”. However, given his long spell away from the ring, coupled with his neck injury, it’s another no go. Of course, we’d all love to see the two battle it out again, but can you imagine how awful this match will be? Both ring rusty, both past their best – It would be almost as bad as watching a modern day Flair vs Hogan match.

So, who should the Undertaker face next? If you ask me then my answer is Ziggler.

Picture this scenario. Ziggler is moved well away from Vicky and is pushed heavily as a heel.

From now until the Rumble, he’s a nuisance: Interfering in matches involving the top faces, getting on the mic and talking about himself – really being an arrogant b*****d and even attacking the likes of Lawler and Booker T. He’ll gain “cheap heat” by winding up the audience, calling them “losers” and “fat”, saying that everyone wants to be like him.

At the Survivor Series, wins a traditional elimination match as the sole survivor. In fact, at the same PPV he could cost one of the faces the world title. This would set him up nicely for the Royal Rumble.

Ziggler enters at number 30, wins the Rumble and for weeks to come he brags about this achievement. People will no doubt become even more irritated as they’d feel that winning the Rumble after coming in at number 30 isn’t any major achievement – but he plays on it.

Nevertheless, Ziggler’s arrogance is stretched further as he decides that the world title shot isn’t his main goal and refuses to use it at ‘Mania citing the Undertaker’s streak as the one he wants to take.
No one has beaten the Undertaker at Wrestlemania – not Austin, not Michaels, not Hogan, not HHH, no one. Ziggler is adamant that he’ll be the one to do it, but ‘Taker doesn’t bite, so Dolph decides to take it to the extreme.

Kane is violently attacked by Ziggler as his first statement of intent, a week before the Elimination Chamber PPV which effectively puts the big red machine out of commission for a while.

Ziggler then refuses to take part in the Elimination Chamber main event saying that he is “too good for this” and decides to stay home. However, before the first match on the card, Ziggler enters the ring, casket in tow. He takes the mic and trash talks ‘Taker, calling him a “coward” and says that inside the casket is a surprise. He opens it up and Paul Bearer is there, unconscious. This is another ploy to provoke a reaction from the Undertaker. Cue more heel heat.
This is the final straw for ‘Taker, who appears on RAW 2 weeks before ‘Mania – and boy is he p***d off!

“Dolph, you have crossed the bridge between the mortal world and Hell! You want your Wrestlemania dream? You’ve got it..blah blah blah”. Ziggler appears out of nowhere and lands the Zig-Zag on the Undertaker, before fleeing into the crowd.

The scene is set.
During the final RAW before ‘Mania, Ziggler cuts a promo saying that he doesn’t want just any match and demands a No Holds Barred bout. The lights go out and ‘Taker appears on the Titantron. He cuts an eerie promo and promises that Ziggler will pay heavily for his actions.

This match at Wrestlemania is a classic, reminiscent of ‘Taker-HHH at ‘Mania 28. Ziggler sells moves extremely well (as per usual), which makes it seem that ‘Taker still “has it”.

It ends with Ziggler hitting ‘Taker with the Zig-Zag on the steel steps in the centre of the ring. As Dolph is about to go for the cover, Paul Bearer comes out from under the ring and points the Urn to the sky – with the trademark “ooooooohhhh yeeeeeaaaahhhh” screeches.

The ref counts… 1, 2 - but ‘Taker kicks out!! Ziggler is stunned. He goes to the top rope but lands right into a chokeslam. ‘Taker then nails him with a Tombstone onto the steel steps for the win.

Crowd goes crazy and the streak continues.

Nevertheless, the night isn’t over for Ziggler as he later does something unprecedented by attacking the newly crowned WWE/World Champion (whoever he may be), cashing in his number 1 contender prize from the Royal Rumble and becoming champion.

This would benefit both ‘Taker and Ziggler for numerous reasons.

The Undertaker’s legacy continues as he gets to keep the streak, by beating the biggest prospect in the company.

In putting on such a match, the torch is passed over to Ziggler who proves that not only can he perform on the biggest stage, but the character remains strong due to him capturing the title later on in the night.

Seth Mates (former WWE creative team member) often points out that storylines and who is put over in matches, is determined by “if there’s money in it”. It is clear to everyone who knows the industry that Ziggler has bags of potential and talent. Putting him in an angle with the Undertaker would provide the perfect path to being the number 1 heel in the company.

HEW Age of Blaze Review By Adam Joyce

HEW’s Age of Blaze had a strong buzz going in, the poster alone is easily my favourite event poster HEW have produced, following on from the heated ending at the end of the last show. The word certainly seems to be spreading as every seat in the building was taken, the staff even had to take down one of the merchandise tables to make space for the extra crowd. On paper the card stood out a bit featuring for the first time in ages the Devil’s Playboys weren’t booked and the first time in even longer none of the Knights were on the card. It also featured an extra match giving the crowd on hand more bang for their buck. The production over the last few shows has also stepped up for each show with this one looking as professional as any other match has. While there were some last minute changes to the card the matches everyone had come to see were the same.

The match that opened the show featured “World of Sport Legend” Danny Boy Collins taking on Marco Marinelli in a fantastically hot opener. Collins can move as well as some of the cruiserweights on the scene right now despite having 15-20 years on some of them. Marco plays the evil foreigner very well but it was Danny who was bending the rules to get, at times, unfair advantages, including getting a number of kids from the audience to grab Marco’s legs and post his on the ringpost. While Marco had control for most of the match up Danny managed to grab a flash pin for the finish with the crossbody, considering he is the HEW no 1 contender it makes the most sense for him not to be beaten before he faces Erik Isaksen.

The next match of the night featured Danny Blaze taking on ‘the Bully Buster’ Milky O’ Hagan. I can’t decide if it is a stroke of genius or a stroke of irony having a skinny, pasty ginger guy playing a bully buster character but the kids in the audience seem to have really connected with him. It also helps that Danny seems to be one of the most hated people on the roster right now, this match does seem a step down for him thought when you look at the level on some of his other opponents. That didn’t seem to stop Milky bringing his working boots and at times looking like he could pull off the upset. Danny pulled off the win in the end by hitting his new impaler/unprettier finish, the End of Blaze, pulling Milky up at 2 and rolling him over into the crossface for the submission win.

The last match of the first half saw the HEW debut of King Kendo, accompanied by Jetta, as he took on Brad Slayer. Kendo was sporting a lot of the old Kendo Nagasaki gimmick with the entrance robes as well as the ceremonial salt throwing at the start of the match. I noticed a couple of Brad Slyer shirts in the audience showing how you don’t need to win all the time (I don’t remember Brad’s last HEW win offhand) to get over with the crowd. The match started off with Brad getting most of the crowd to get on the case of Kendo setting the pace for the rest of the match. Jetta wasn’t endearing herself to the crowd much by interfering whenever she could. Eventually Brad ducked a baseball slide from Kendo that took out Jetta. It still didn’t help Brad who was flattened by a Vader Bomb for the Kendo win.

The first match of the second half saw Mitchell Starr take on Aaron Frost. Originally Aaron was supposed to be facing Danny Collins to decide the undisputed number one contender following Aaron being taken out before his title match back in January. Mitchell seems to improve every time I see him with his inring work getting smoother, his gear is looking the part and he has the attitude to match. The match went together really well with both guys looking great. One botched spot does stand out in my mind where Aaron went for a frog splash and Mitchell rolled the wrong way taking Aaron’s knees across his back. The match picked up again after that leading to Aaron picking up the win with his finish.

The next match saw the ladies mix it up with Skarlett taking on Finland’s Aurora Flame. I don’t know if it was the fact it was the first HEW women’s match (to my memory) that didn’t feature a Knight but the crowd really weren’t into it. Skarlett tried her hardest to get the crowd into the match. Aurora didn’t seem to have the same connection, while technically there was nothing wrong with what she was doing and she definitely has a good look, she seemed to lack any character and didn’t have any real fire to what she was doing. Skarlett dominated a lot of the match with her submission moves but eventually lost to a surprise roll up. She didn’t react too well to this as she fought Aurora all the way to the back.

The main event saw Death Row (The Rage and Dominator), accompanied by Danny Blaze and Skarlett, take on the Young One (Alex Young and TJ Daniels) for HEW contracts. The match itself made a lot of sense. When Death Row attacked the Devil’s Playboys at the end of the last show it was the Young One’s who they’d just beaten and with the Playboys banned from the arena it the Young Ones were the logical choice to take their place. The trouble is it made it difficult for the crowd to believe the Young One’s could ever really win it as they wanted to see Death Row/Playboys and only a Young Ones loss would lead to this. That didn’t stop the Young Ones from putting on some entertaining sequences with the two bigger men. The trouble is, from where I was sitting, the most entertaining thing was when Skarlett and Danny Blaze hijacked the announce table. Death Row picked up the win following The Rage’s moonsault, which was impressive not only because of Rages size but the height of the ceiling in the venue as well.

Much like the last show it was what happened after the main event that the crowd really got behind. Following the match the Commissioner informed Death Row that while they had won contracts they weren’t allowed to come into contact with the Playboys outside of a sanctioned match. Danny then got on the mic and claimed that with the match done Death Row were now officially employed and it was time to go and walked out the door. There was a crash heard outside and Danny crawled in bleeding. During the commotion the Devil’s Playboys had snuck in behind Death row and a massive brawl erupted between the two teams resulting in the whole locker room coming down to try and pull them both apart. Eventually Commissioner Cox split them up and informed them that if they weren’t to touch each other again if they wanted to have a match. The challenge was then made and accepted for the next show to feature the two teams facing off in a Street Fight for the Playboys Tag Titles at the next show in Braintree with the added stipulation that if the Devil’s Playboys won then they would have 5 minutes in the ring alone with Danny Blaze.

The last few HEW shows have certainly all been worthwhile lately. The always hot crowd seem to be really behind the Age of Blaze/Devil’s Playboys rivalry. The lack of the Knights and the Playboys surprisingly didn’t stand out too much as the rest of the roster more then made up for the gap they left. The build up to the next showhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif has been incredibly well done and I’m more then looking forward to heading to Braintree to check it out. While there was no standout match the overall story of the Age of Blaze takeover more then made up for it. I only hope that the Braintree main event payoff lives up to the hype.

For more on HEW check out www.hewwrestling.com

For feedback you can find me on twitter @el_j

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Gone Too Soon: Deaths That Changed Wrestling Book Press Release

“Gone Too Soon: Deaths That Changed Wrestling” is a new book that takes a look back on the life and times of three wrestlers whose lives - and deaths - left a permanent mark on the business.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, an alarming number of men who had previously plied their trade inside the squared circle passed away. Although the industry as a whole seemed to have become numb to these deaths, there were three men whose passing made people sit up and take notice.

Owen Hart, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit led three different careers, and died three completely different deaths. From the writer of “Wrestling’s Sinking Ship” comes the stories of these men, and the changes their deaths forced upon the wrestling industry. Available now in paperback, on the Amazon Kindle, on iTunes, the Nook and for all good e-readers.

Paperback available via Amazon and via www.tinyurl.com/gonetoosooncs
Available via searching for “Gone Too Soon: Deaths That Changed Wrestling” in the iTunes Bookstore, the Kindle bookstore, the Nook store, or for all other e-readers via www.tinyurl.com/gonetoosoonereader

More info at:


Monday 9 July 2012

Fight Club: Pro, Die Harder – Review By Derrie Catton

(Left: MK McKinnan dropkicks Eddie Edwards from the top turnbuckle - Picture credit to John Searle)

Highly anticipated would be the words to plaster all over the poster for Fight Club: Pro’s latest show. Die Harder boasted the return of an international star and champion, as well as the much sought after opportunity for a homegrown fighter. It’s an event which hinges on the main event, but in true FCP fashion they a still intend to offer much more in only four matches.

Trent Seven & Dave Mastiff vs. Rockstar Spud, Dave Williams, Dan Ryder & Bobby Barratt

The problem with only boasting four matches however, is that once you tie up feuds and guest stars in their respective battles, there’s not much room for the wealth of talent that fans want to see. Cue this match. Trent Seven, a man more akin to the main event, opens the show with talk of how he is unneeded. Enter the undefeated Dave Mastiff, who is quick to think of a need for Seven and challenge him to match. Just before said match can get underway, we are joined by the ever entertaining Rockstar Spud and his posse who feel the need to get involved. Just like that we have a 2 on 4 Handicap Match, and an opportunity to showcase wrestlers who if absent would have left audience members saying “You know who I wish were here.”

The match was an opportunity for Mastiff and Seven to please fans, as they dominated the early going and delivered impressively stiff chops. Against them, Spud is once again the man capable of stealing the show with everything he does, whether it be in the ring wrestling or just outside as he watches. One hopes that if this event hits DVD there is a special feature called ‘Spud Cam.’ Surrounding Spud are three wrestlers who just exude the power of being disliked as they naturally generate chants of “Purple Wanker” simply for a choice of attire, and receive an Addams Family theme rendition simply for a lack of a hair. Never the less, they fed of the hate from the crowd as they get their shots in. Extending a feud, the previously wronged Blue Dragon hit the ring to take revenge on Dan Ryder with a Diving Hurracanrana which would then see the pair depart, evening the scales a little. It was on Mastiff to make the comeback with a great display as he cannonballed two opponents in one corner before powerbombing one onto the other. However as Seven tried to pick up the pieces, Mastiff had heated words for the man trying to steal his victory. Before they could come to blows they decided to first deal with the attacking Bobby Barratt. In keeping with the Die Harder theme, Barratt made like John McClane and became ‘the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time’ as he received a flurry of trademark maneuvers which gave Mastiff and Seven the victory. As usual, the man to watch was Spud who had been comically sneaking around the ring on all fours and after being caught entering the ring with a weapon, quickly scampered. To wrap things up, Mastiff had strong words for Seven before he departed.

It was match which showed off wrestlers who fans were glad to see and each showed the talents well, whether it be British Strong Style, total dominance or pure entertainment. It also presented the prospect of a possible collision between Seven and Mastiff in Fight Club: Pro’s future.

The Leaders vs. The Hunter Brothers

Some confusion was shared through The Planet as electronic/techno theme for Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr boomed through the room. Not only was the music a change from the norm, but the team itself looked out of place among FCP’s alumni. One cannot deny however that Scurll has attracted a lot of attention for his appearance on Take Me Out and is considered by some as a big name. Their opponents however, hailing for Tipton and debuting their own t-shirt this month, are perennial favourites in the FCP collective and considered to be one of the top teams in the UK. This leaves both with something to prove in this clash.

From the beginning of the match and going forward, the Leaders began to squash belief that they didn’t belong here, as each in turn showed off their strengths with Sabre Jr holding up on technical wrestling and with good use of his feet. Scurll brought some interesting cards to the table, with a few unique moments that made him stand out between a good showing of strength and technical ability. What they seemed to miss however was the tag team prowess that Hunters could claim to have written the book on. They relied on each other more, utilised each other better and flowed well together, while their opposition simply looked like a pair of singles wrestlers. Impressive singles wrestlers however, Scurll surprised everyone with a sudden dive through the ropes to the outside and Sabre brought the crowd in on reciting a one count as he repeatedly exchanged pins with a Hunter Brother. As the match progressed however, The Leaders showed more cohesion as they reeled of a double team combination which saw the Hunters tied up and held in Camel Clutches simultaneously and this would be followed by more tag team ingenuity. The Hunter Brothers could rival that however as came back with their trademark moves which always invigorate the crowd. The Hunters were determined to match The Leaders in every way they could. When Scurll an amazing Tornado DDT, Lee hit a great Flipping Inverted DDT. When the Leaders reeled of a devastating double team maneuver, The Hunters reeled of a famously devastating double team maneuver. As this battle progressed the real winners were the fans, and a chant of ‘this is awesome’ was evoked. After continually strong displays, it was on Scurll to steal a pin with his feet on the ropes.

Both teams looked very strong, whether it was expected or a pleasant surprise. As Fight Club: Pro are so capable of doing, they invited down stars which the audience can now put on their list of favourite wrestlers. The true fan favourites are still the Hunter Brothers though, who are always loved in the Wolverhampton based promotion.

Death Match - Chris Brookes vs. Clint Margera

The journey Chris Brookes has been filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, and has always been interesting. Away from his collisions with Spud for the moment, Brookes is currently locked in a three match trial designed to make him prove himself and earn a spot on the FCP roster. At the mid-way point comes another speed bump Brookes must overcome in the form of a Death Match against a Death match connoisseur. Clint Margera has spent the past few months building his name as a death match works, and he’s always looking to build a little further. The concept enough is enough to make mouths water.

Brookes received the always encouraging ‘please don’t die’ chant as he nervously awaited his opponent. The two started gently, but Brookes set Margera off with a well delivered kick which would see him bounced from ringposts to cage wall repeatedly. Margera would quickly move to a kendo stick which he put to good use, then present a board with electrical plugs attached to it, which would ominously show its blunt prongs in the corner of the ring. Margera then sought to unlock a mean streak from Brookes, provoking him to again use his best asset in the form of his legs and return the kendo stick to its sender with strong shots. The match had seen some shakey moments but was now fully underway, as Margera continued to collect weapons and the two traded offences that were befitting of a death match. Brookes would show blood after taking a VCR to the face and Margera would make sure a chair was never used as seating again after being backdropped on it. With Brookes taking the lead, he decided to bring in the weapon that always gets a warm welcome from the crowd, drawing pins. With those scattered in another corner, the crowd now hanging on the moment that one might take the fall on to a nasty looking item. Brookes was the one driven into the tacks, but moments later Margera would take a Hip Toss onto the plug ends which would do his back no kind favours. It was however a Death Valley Driver onto a chair wrapped in barbed wire that would secure Margera a victory.

While there were some moments of sloppiness (one feels for Margera’s knee which came down hard on the thumbtacks after a misplaced dropkick) the match delivered on its promise as a Death Match by presented a lot of violence and some awe evoking moments. Margera again looks good as a Death Match specialist and probably has a lot more where that came from. Brookes while sporting a losing effort has earned more respect for what he was willing to do to earn his spot and is only becoming more recognised by the Fight Club: Pro crowd. After the interesting road he’s taken, one excitedly waits his third and final trial match.

Fight Club: Pro Championship Match – MK McKinnan vs. Eddie Edwards

After a solid show, this is the match everyone has been waiting for. McKinnan has received a lot fan support towards getting a title shot and this is the culmination in which the deserving homegrown star can establish himself as the best on the roster. Eddie Edwards is however, by many meanings of phrase, the best in the world. A former Ring of Honour champion being no small accolade, Eddie Edwards has been touring the world with the Fight Club: Pro championship in his possession which he managed to pry from Trent Seven and keep from him in defence. Not only does McKinnan have a fanbase to please, he also has FCP’s crown jewel to retrieve, making for an intense battle before the bell even rings.

When that bell does ring, the atmosphere is loud as dueling chants switch between support for the challenger and champion. While McKinnan is a fan favourite, there are pockets of respect and love for Edwards which rival his support. The chants endure for several minutes at a time without dying, and one could argue that it’s the most excited a Fight Club: Pro crowd has ever been. The two begin well with technical wrestling and they exchange blocks and counters as they tease what they are capable off. The two then collide and exchange offences, making their rounds by the cage walls and putting them to good use. The crowd is fifty/fifty as they invent new chants to support their chosen favourite. Eddie Edwards work is always impressive as he flows seamlessly from move to move and displays that famous ‘Die Hard’ attitude as he battles with his opponent. The crowd blows up however when McKinnan manages to land his offence, and the audience seems to have more invested in bringing the title home. McKinnan manages to show off trademarks such as cannonballing to the outside of the ring, and he also manages to present flowing combinations of moves which compete with Edwards. Edwards manages to be slight more dominate however as he continues to lock in submissions and works towards victory. In time Edwards reels off his own trademark moves including the Backpack Stunner. With so much still to go, a ‘this is awesome’ chant surfaces, the first several as things continue The two continued to trade offences which never lost the crowd until they hit the highlight of the night. As Eddie seemed to have knocked McKinnan out in the same way he had with Seven, the referee looked set to end the match before McKinnan came to life and grabbed his foot. With emotions now running high, McKinnan would soon reverse another submission attempt into a small package to get the tree count and ignite the crowd who promptly blew the roof of The Planet with cheers and applause.

Eddie Edwards put in an impressive performance and there was no doubt that he would, but what was more impressive was how McKinnan matched him and went the distance. More important than all of this was how the match created investment from the fans, and created ultimate satisfaction when the victory brought the title home. A more deserving competitor could not be found and an exciting title run awaits him.

Die Harder was an event that was solid in its first three matches alone, before it put on it’s tremendous finale which was not to be missed. As usual they presented some special guests, complete with a chance to meet and greet. And as always you will be reminded that this high quality of wrestling only asks for five pounds, and that if you have not yet been willing to take the plunge, you must.

Derrie Catton can be found on twitter at www.twitter.com/DerrieCatton just as Fight Club: Pro can and should be found on both twitter and facebook at www.twiter.com/FightClubPRO and www.facebook.com/pages/Fight-Club-PRO/234516669556

Sunday 8 July 2012

Looking at TNA's Three Big Angles By Shaun Nichols

I just want to point out right at the start of this latest blog, is that I am writing this before the Destination X PPV. Right, now that I've got that out of the way its on with the show.

Austin Aries's Elevation Up The Card

Aries is a great talent and has been for a number of years as most long time ROH fans will surely testify. A fantastic wrestler with the ability to cut an entertaining promo, he easily stood out. His second ROH World title reign in 2009 was far more about him growing as a character and performer rather than his wrestling ability. However one thing he couldn't change was his height, he's about 5"8 tall I think which greatly reduced his appeal to the WWE. They thought so little of him that although he tried to get on WWE's Tough Enough they didn't think he was good enough. Wanting more than ROH, Aries didn't have any option apart from returning to TNA, his first run as Austin Starr was not successful and he wasn't shy about putting the blame on TNA management when he returned to ROH in 2007.

That being said, when he did make his return to TNA at least he had the advantage of going back as Austin Aries. He was a much stronger TV performer when he returned than he was on the initial run. Giving him the X-Division title was an obvious good move and made him a regular PPV performer who was given a little bit of time to get his ability across to the fans.

More importantly he was given lots of wins, plenty of TV time both in the ring but also backstage where he was slowly allowed to reveal that he was someone who could in theory make the jump to the main event scene. Although TNA do have the occasional moment of madness where someone like Bully Ray destroys the entire X-Division in seconds, Aries was just about spared. In his PPV match he even went over against Bully Ray which was a key moment for him and allowed the fans to see him as something more than just the X-Division champion. Another PPV win over Samoa Joe continued his elevation and showed that he could beat guys that fans saw as bigger stars but also that he has good matches. He has outgrown the X-Division, he had already beaten most of his natural rivals a number of times, Alex Shelley had left and Chris Sabin is injured again.

At this stage of the game, he should really mean more to the company then wrestlers like Rob Van Dam and Mr Anderson. TNA have already booked Jeff Hardy and Sting against Bobby Roode so it really does no good to book the same matches over and over especially as Roode isn't losing until Bound for Glory. His opponent then will be James Storm, so TNA have a couple of PPV main events to fill and it makes sense to introduce a new talent into this main event mix. It makes even more sense if that wrestler as the skills and the ability to take advantage of the opportunity, I'm sure Austin Aries will do just that. He will not defeat Bobby Roode on Sunday, but he could become in the eyes of the fans a genuine threat going forward and that will be a very nice success for both Aries and TNA.

Bully Ray, Abyss & Joe Park Esq

This is a far more straight forward angle to watch, the story here is that EVERYONE knows that Joe Park Esq (a lawyer) who is trying to find his brother (Abyss) is getting bullied by Bully Ray but the great punchline is that Joe Park and Abyss are one and the same but Bully Ray doesn't realise it. All the fans know that at some point, Bully Ray is going to realise that the guy he's trying to bully is going to reveal that he is Abyss (multiple personality disorder??) and then the dumb heel is going to get his ass kicked and all the fans are going to have a good laugh about it.

In some ways its a pretty stupid angle because you can see the payoff a mile away, but both Bully Ray and Joe Park have been fantastic in their roles all the way through. Park especially deserves credit because at the last PPV in their match he had to make out he'd never been in a match, didn't know how to throw a punch and it worked. The match itself wasn't good but the storyline is, Bully Ray in their next match as it in the contract that Abyss is banned from the building, causing poor Joe to nearly have a panic attack. The truth will probably be revealed at Bound for Glory, but until then just enjoy one of the most entertaining storylines of this year.

AJ Styles, Dixie Carter & Claire Lynch

Out of the three, this was had the potential to do more for the company than the other two combined. When they started this angle it became clear that TNA were onto something, it was clearly the most watched part of the Impact TV show. The company just had to make sure that they had reasonable end to whatever Christopher Daniels was holding over them.

It was pretty obvious that the reveal would not be that AJ Styles was having an affair with Dixie, although the time when they showed Dixie screaming at the production staff in the truck got her booed the following week. Sadly it was not an affair that was going to be revealed but Dixie and AJ had been helping a former drug addict get back on track. Now can someone explain to me why either Dixie Carter or AJ Styles would in any way be upset if Christopher Daniels announced this?

Another pointless angle was Kazarian trying to get Hulk Hogan to agree that he should no longer team with Daniels because he felt that he had been lied to and he shouldn't have turned on AJ weeks ago. Hulk refused this, and to no surprise Kazarian after teasing problems waffled AJ with a chair and Daniels & Kazarian were back as TNA tag champs.

The next problem is that when they brought Claire Lynch, the fans struggled to find any reason why they should care about her. They were in the audience to watch a wrestling program, they were not looking to watch something that resembled an episode of Jerry Springer. As it turns out, our Claire is pregnant with the early indication being that AJ Styles is the father and that's why they were trying to hide it. Styles has been portrayed as the clean cut babyface and I don't see any chance that he will be revealed as the father, I can see Kazarian as the dad to be otherwise there isn't a real reason why he's playing a part in this. The whole pregnant or worse still a potential miscarriage angle I also see as a major negative to this angle.

This story worked well where there an element of intrigue but as soon as we had the introduction of the Claire Lynch character it seems that most fans are losing interest in it. Still at least we get to see yet more AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels matches so it's not all bad.