Monday 31 August 2015

WWE Money In The Bank 2015 DVD Review By Nathan Hunt

Venue: Nationwide Arena (Columbus, Ohio) USA, Live PPV Date: 14th June 2015, Released On DVD: 24th August 2015

WWE's Money In The Bank 2015 is out now on DVD, boasting an impressive card with guaranteed excitement, highlighted by the titular match of the show and a main event Ladder Match between Seth Rollins and former Sheild teammate Dean Ambrose.  Definitely a disc which many fans have been eagerly anticipating, this event also featured some great undercard action from the likes of Kevin Owens vs John Cena and a decent tag team championship bout.
The two ladder-based outings bookend the show, starting with the multi-man Money In The Bank Ladder Match to open the disc in explosive fashion. This serves as an excellent stage for Neville & Kofi Kingston to showcase their creative aerial talents, Dolph Ziggler to demonstrate his superior athleticism and for Sheamus, Roman Reigns, Kane and Randy Orton to try to outdo one another with brutality and cunning. The performers all work to their strengths to make this a solid, varied and entertaining match with the usual highspots and dramatic devices, but delivered in a way that keeps the bout fresh and exciting throughout. While the ending is slightly underwhelming, the incredible action served up throughout makes this one you will certainly revisit and enjoy, especially along with some of the other excellent matches on offer.
The Divas Championship match between Paige and Nikki Bella is competitive and features some good exchanges. It is also one of the beginning moments of the current Divas Revolution, so may prove to be a historical point of interest in women's wrestling, depending how the plans for the division continue to unfold. Ryback vs Big Show for the Intercontinental championship is a brief encounter but has some impressive feats of strength and high impact power moves which make it watchable. It seemed to be a pattern up until this point on the disc that the action was highly watchable, but the endings were slightly disappointing or deflating for various reasons. The same could not be said for Kevin Owens vs John Cena. While the result may not please everyone, the brilliant bout ends in a suitably dramatic, gripping and exciting way, building to a crescendo which had fans on the edge of their seats and reacting to each man's every move. The crowd are audibly into the match from the outset, but are built to a frenzy towards the end, which always adds to the atmosphere when watching a match back after the fact. The gruelling back and forth warfare between the two is littered with thrills and ferocity, making it one to watch for anyone who has not yet had the pleasure, and one to own for anyone who has. An exciting post-match exchange means that those who didn't like the match result still feel satisfied with the way this portion of the disc comes to a close.
Not spectacular, but certainly strong, the tag team championship is an outing that you won't need to skip through as the New Day and Prime Time Players deliver a decent combination of styles, taking us into the main event of the show. The ladder match between Ambrose and Rollins is a complete war and the two make the most of the rules (or lack thereof) by taking the brawl outside the ring, around the arena and utilising the various tools at their diposal around ringside, making it stand apart from the ladder-based encounter from earlier in the evening. Given ample time, the two unleash an eclectic and well-told story of brutality and passion which sells their desire for the championship as well as their own heated rivalry. Inventive offense and a stellar finish leave the disc with a strong conclusion.
The discs extras are fairly average, although the Kevin Owens vs Neville match from Raw is certainly a welcome addition to the disc and adds some extra value and the Seth Rollins handicap match against J&J Security is entertaining too. Between the main event, the Money In The Bank Ladder Match and the Owens/Cena battle, MITB 2015 is a release which comes highly recommended and is well worth the pricetag. It is definitely an event that you will revisit time and time again, serving as a strong outing in it's own right and a welcome addition to any collection.

Purchase the DVD (or Blu-Ray) from  HERE 

Sunday 30 August 2015

Signature Sounds 'The Music Of The WWE' DVD Review By Dave Adamson

A home video presentation that focuses on the music of WWE, Signature Sounds explores the world of wrestler’s themes.  

Signature Sounds is a department from the recent glut of WWE Home Video documentary releases which have focused, primarily, on documenting the history of WWE, the wrestlers and the business at large.  This is akin to the countdown specials that Channel 4 broadcast, except without the annoying comedians who gurn at the camera as they deliver their banal judgement.

With Jim Johnston as the man behind many of the themes, this documentary showcases his work in the form of twenty five of the best themes, covering how the themes were developed and composed, with brief comments from the wrestlers (in the form of archive footage for those no longer on the roster).

Listening to Johnston pull apart some of the themes reveals so much depth to his work that is often missed. His worth across decades is covered, with Ultimate Warrior, Sunny, The Rock, Primetime Players and Fandango all featuring in the countdown.  Watching him perform the leitmotif of some of his work, on a variety of instruments, shows the musical versatility of a man whose work we all know, without really knowing who he is.

There’s some interesting trivia thrown in - how Johnston constructs the lyrics, the techniques he uses and how he occasionally eschews them, as well as the artists that were involved.  It’s also fun to hear some of the talent, including Vince McMahon, talk about their themes, though some are in character, whilst others don’t appear to be.

It is, however, a short affair, running at 52 minutes and lacks real depth, leaving the viewer with a fluffy, unchallenging affair.  Some exploration of unused themes (he talks about The Rock and what didn’t work), complete Titantron videos, more behind the scenes interviews from others involved in character development or how the entrances were choreographed - all this could have helped flesh out the story and given the work the treatment it deserves.

The Extras feature further tracks that weren’t covered in the Top 25 - a Top 25, it seems, that was chosen by the WWE. With six tracks in this section, it does beg the question of why not just include them in the main feature?  Johnston talking about Shawn Michaels’ departure theme and its original purpose and William Regal talking about his Real Man’s Man theme are the highlights of these extras.

Also featured on the DVD is the “making of Gold-lust”, giving the type of behind-the-scenes coverage that all the tracks should have had, and “The Music of WWE Studios” which also features Johnston talking about the films and the added stress that these presented - it’s not so much a feature as a chapter of something bigger.

Oddly, the DVD is available for around the £5 mark from most online retailers, which sets it as an ideal stocking filler, except it’s being released on 31 August 2015.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

WWE The Monday Night Wars 'Shots Fired' Disc 4 DVD Review By DaveAdamson

Disc Four of Monday Night War - Shots Fired - brings the first half of the series to an end with three episodes focusing on Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldberg and the cruiserweights that would further cement WWF as the place to be.

Episode 8 recollects the Steve Austin story, from his time in WCW as he tries to find his feet, despite some unusual choices during the Bischoff era and the arrival of Hogan.  Austin contributes to the episode with his usual outspoken candidness without every being truly egotistical - this is a guy who is comfortable with who he is and his contribution.

Moving to ECW, Austin found himself getting the perfect opportunity to vent his anger, much to the delight of his new employer, Paul Heyman.  Whilst Bischoff may not have seen the money, Heyman certainly could and capitalised on this.

It wasn’t until he moved to WWF, with his new-found promo skills and exceptional ring work, that he would eventually catch fire as Stone Cold Steve Austin… and the rest is history as he fought career threatening injury, returned to fighting fitness and took part of some of the defining moments of the Attitude Era, until injury would force him to retire from active competition and his legacy would be carried by other men, spurred on by his success.

The post show analysis sees Triple H and Sting talk about the impact of Austin and how both men worked with him in WCW, before Triple H explores how Austin moved up in WWF and became the character he would eventually become.  Renee Young asks possibly the most controversial question of these analyses so far - asking if Vince McMahon is occasionally behind the times with his character ideas, with Triple H talking about character, persona and the other aspects that create the superstars.

Episode 9 looks at the unstoppable rise of Goldberg, with his occasionally incomprehensible winning streak.

Unlike many of the stars that would elevate Bischoff’s WCW to its heights, Goldberg was a creation of WCW and catapulted into the main event picture at a phenomenal rate, steamrolling over many of his peers and contemporaries.  It was, it is suggested, a response to WWF’s ongoing development of new stars - creating the stars of the future, as opposed to WCW’s stars of tomorrow and yesterday mentality.

With Goldberg coming from American Football to pro-wrestling, he was trained at the WCW Power Plant before being fast-tracked onto Monday Nitro and the streak began.  It would be a fairytale rise for Bill Goldberg, though his new found fame would cause its own issues backstage as well as in the ring as WCW attempted to unseat the reinvigorated WWF.

“Egos, petty jealousies, just a lot of nonsense,” in one sentence, William Regal sums up the issues with WCW as Goldberg’s ascension is brought crashing to a halt at the hands of Kevin Nash as the company continues to unravel at the seams.

Sting discusses working with and around Goldberg, whilst Triple H talks about the character from a business perspective as Renee Young, once more, interviews the pair.  Triple H’s approach to the rights and wrongs of Goldberg is pragmatic, placing the responsibility firmly on WCW instead of Bill Goldberg.

Episode 10 focuses on the cruiserweights - the men who would see that, despite the initial popularity of their division, they were no longer needed, let alone respected, by WCW before moving, almost wholesale, to the greener pastures of WWF.

Having brought in talent from Mexico and Japan, WCW were able to capitalise on talent that the American audience hadn’t seen, including a whole new style of wrestling - Lucha from Mexico and Pureso from Japan.  By combining these styles, Eric Bischoff brought a new favour of wrestling to their audience.

With talent like Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, amongst others, a high-flying, fast and frenzied world was introduced to a big audience, contrasting with the slower, American style of WCW’s heavyweights.  The cruiserweight division - which also featured talent such as Jushin Thunder Liger, La Parka and Billy Kidman - would put on matches that were breathtaking in their artistry.

Whilst WWF, by contrast, brought in a Light Heavyweight division, but rather half-heartedly, WCW was suffering from its own lack of direction, with the heavyweight nWo continuing to dominate the company to the detriment of the product and audience.

Fuelled by the departure of Chris Jericho, who came to WWF with the type of response that he rightly deserved and instantly finding a place on the already high-calibre roster, others would soon join him.  Whilst Chris Benoit’s name is mentioned in commentary, his contribution is overlooked, with the focus being on Guerrero, Malenko and Perry Saturn.

The eventual collapse of WCW, the flight of the cruiserweights to WWF and the fans hunger to see this style of wrestling on the biggest stage of them all has led to the acceptance of the smaller guys as main event material.  “We gave them something different to watch and they were liking what they were seeing”, Mysterio points out, before reflecting that “it wasn’t easy, there were many walls.”

To this day, the arrival of these cruiserweights has continued to have an influence on the WWE and may have been the moment where, despite Bischoff being dismissive, WCW truly lost out.

Triple H and Sting both credit Rey with being the definitive cruiserweight, whilst Sting talks about the reception of the cruiserweights within WCW in the post-show analysis with Renee Young.  Triple H supports Sting’s point of view that the cruiserweights weren’t given the opportunity to develop a character, something that WWF/E was more than happy to do.

Monday Night War - Shots Fired is a superbly executed revision of the history of WWF and WCW during the infamous era.  Written by the victors, there’s certainly elements that have been glossed over, or totally whitewashed, but it still stands as a fine example of WWE’s ability to create compelling documentaries.

If there are downsides to this documentary series, it’s the lack of discussion from Stephanie, and those around Vince, of what it was like living with Vince McMahon during a period where their very livelihood could have been lost.  Much of the archive interview footage will be familiar to fans of previous WWE documentaries and the post-show analysis does feel a bit one-sided at times, let alone short - just as it really gets going, Renee introduces the next episode of the series.

Overall, though, WWE has excelled in the creation of this series and Volume 2 can’t come quick enough!

WWE The Monday Night Wars 'Shots Fired' Disc 3 DVD Review By DaveAdamson

Disc 3 starts by looking at Mick Foley, his struggle to be recognised and his departure as WCW took on a different direction.

Episode 5 of Monday Night War covers, in brief, Foley’s tenure in WCW and ECW before moving onto his time in WWF where he would become Mankind, reintroduce Cactus Jack and bring Dude Love to the world, all whilst WCW was moving forward with the behemoth that was the nWo.

Thanks to a reckless disregard for his own safety, Foley could have, in the wrong hands, been a one-dimensional character, but the likes of Heyman and McMahon, along with his many supporters, would allow Foley to develop and show the man behind the character and it’s difficult not to like Foley, even if his work can be an acquired taste.

With audience appreciation growing and changing McMahon’s feelings towards him, Foley was unleashed, launching his career to new heights and even greater fan appreciation right at a point where WWF was changing direction to take the WCW head on.

After the show, we get Renee Young interviewing Triple H and Sting for analysis.  Both guys speak respectfully about Foley’s contribution to both WCW and WWF, including the Hell in a Cell moment, before moving onto Bischoff’s attitude towards WWF

Whereas Episode 5 focused on a hardcore legend, Episode 6 brings us an entirely different type of wrestler as we revisit Bret Hart’s gloried tenure in WWF and his short lived, underwhelming tour of WCW.

With tensions between Hart and Shawn Michaels intensifying to the point of explosion, the departure of Hall and Nash, and WCW’s growing popularity as a result, things were looking dark for WWF and, whilst the company grew around them, Hart was unhappy with what was happening and grew despondent leading to his decision, albeit with encouragement from Vince McMahon, to jump ship.

The result of this became a defining moment in WWF and wrestling history as the Montreal Screwjob would create the character of Mr McMahon, the Cure for the Common Show promo, cement Shawn Michaels’ infamy and lead to many wrestling fans getting their first glimpse behind the curtain thanks to the Wrestling With Shadows documentary.  

With the hottest property in wrestling in their hands, WCW… did nothing significant with him.  Eventually, following the loss of Owen rocking his belief in the business, Bret’s career would end at the hands of Goldberg and he would eventually make amends - despite the deceit and double-dealing that had soured the business relationships - with Michaels, McMahon and others, returning to the WWE after more than a decade of animosity.

Reflecting on Hart, Renee Young talks to Triple H and Sting specifically about the Montreal Screwjob and events in WCW.  Triple H highlights the importance of the moment and recounts the moment where Bret hit Vince, remaining respectful of both sides of the business but revealing little new.  Sting talks about Bret in WCW, before Triple H moves the conversation onto Owen, Sting talks about Davey Boy Smith and the analysis comes to an end.

Episode 7 brings disc three to an end with Foundations of War, an episode that looks at two men whose “devotion never wavered” - Sting, the foundation of WCW, and The Undertaker, the mainstay of WWF.

In a time of over-the-top comic characters, The Undertaker was introduced as a silent behemoth, unstoppable and intimidating and would go onto to evolve into a darker, more dangerous character that appealed to the masses.  By contrast, Sting went from a colourfully painted wrestler into a dark anti-hero, a vigilante standing up to the bad guys and even greater success.

Both men, it seems, were able to navigate the choppy waters of wrestling politics, occupying the role of locker room leader in their promotions and gaining the respect of some of the best names in the business.

Despite Sting’s shifting popularity amongst those backstage of WCW, he was a consistent performer, moving aside to let others take the limelight.  The Undertaker, conversely, remained with WWF, occupying the role required of him by Vince McMahon.  Both were loyal, but their position within the behind-the-scenes business couldn’t have been more opposed.

The need to evolve, however, would redefine both characters - Sting became a “silent, stalking enigma”, The Undertaker became darker, almost Satanic - and become ever more popular and helping their respective companies gain the success that they needed.

With neither of the men speaking about their involvement, we get a number of those who know both men speaking positively about both men to paint the legacy of both men in glowing terms and discussion how they were important to the successes of WCW and WWF.

Triple H and Sting continue to talk to Renee Young about their memories of the timeframe of this episode.  With Sting now signed to WWE, he talks about WCW and the perception that he was overlooked, though doesn’t recall the “kill the business” conversation with Bischoff.  Triple H points out that many people say many things will kill the business and it’s just something that’s said at times of an uncomfortable shift.

Disc 3 of Monday Night War - Shots Fired focuses more on the characters that made the companies than the business decisions that informed them.  With the focus on Foley, Hart, Undertaker and Sting, we get a taste of what made these men popular - more of a highlight reel than an in depth exploration - whilst still talking about their impact upon the business and their dedication to their profession, sometimes misguidedly so.

For those of have seen them on the WWE Network, this series is still worth watching again, especially with the analysis after each episode, though it would be great if these were much longer.

As was the case with disc one and two, there’s some repetition of facts, but leaving these aside, the story of Monday Night War continues to be an engaging, though flawed, reflection on a period of history that is unlikely to ever be repeated.

The final disc review of this set will appear right here on tomorrow

Monday 17 August 2015

WWE The Monday Night Wars 'Shots Fired' Disc 2 DVD Review By Dave Adamson

Monday Night War - Shots Fired Disc Two continues with the story of the Monday Night Wars and, in particular, the change of direction that WWF undertook with the Attitude Era and D-Generation X.

Episode 3 starts with a look at the birth of new superstars, more adult content and the changes that would become the Attitude Era in response to WCW’s much edgier nWo-based content.

Much is made of the cartoon characters that occupied WWF during the time, whilst WCW was on fire week after week as wrestling fans abandoned Raw in favour of Nitro.  As the talent became less family friendly and more abrasive, it “became the age of the anti-hero”, as Paul Heyman would explain.  ECW had, at this stage, already pioneered many of the tropes that WWF would later adopt and this is explored in this episode, albeit briefly.

With Steve Austin at the forefront of the changes, with the Stone Cold persona and leading to the feud between Austin and Mr McMahon, other wrestlers would also be repackaged and become legendary names for WWE.  Whilst many of the officials and commentators would go onto embrace the Attitude Era, even if they did have their doubts, the audience - thanks to much more adult content - would were impressed with what they saw, especially with talent willing to take the risks to entertain.

With an audience skewing towards young adults, and WWF feeding the appeal of the anti-authoritarian, WWF heralded an era of strange, dark and dangerous characters.  It also showed that WWF was capable of playing the long game, investing in its own talent under the direction of McMahon.  Sex sells, violence sells, defying authority sells - and WWF capitalised on it in a time when those in charge of WCW were too cautious to react and presenting a washed out version of their competition, repeating their own past to the disappointment of fan.

Renee Young presents the post-episode panel, with Triple H and Sting once more reflecting on the past.  Triple H recalls the meeting of The Kliq and how this led to questions about why wrestlers need to be cartoon characters and how this led to changes.  Again, this time as it’s under five minutes, there seems to be so much more that could be told just within this particular moment of the story.  Sting talks about watching the Attitude Era from the view of the competition and how WCW reacted.

Episode Four looks at D-Generation X and the impact this group, led by Shawn Michaels and Triple H, alongside Chyna, had upon WWF and its reception as they set out to take no prisoners, push the boundaries of taste and completely reshape WWF.

With Shawn Michaels on a personal decline and Triple H wanting to be something other than a cartoon character, McMahon threw them both together and D-Generation X was born.  The move to over-the-top characters rejuvenated Michaels and transformed Triple H.  With Rick Rude and Chyna also involved, this “group of misfits” were the very embodiment of wrestling personas being real life turned up and, slowly, the ratings began to rise… and “suck it” was born.

D-Generation X didn’t just cross the line, they leapfrogged over it, as they sought to exploit the new Attitude Era, but some of the traditionalists in the locker room were concerned about the group.  Fans, however, were completely enamoured by the group and their antics.

The young male demographic may have enjoyed this, but networks and advertisers were less than impressed with the bawdy behaviour.  All of this changed when DX presented a response to the demands of the USA Network and, with McMahon firmly on their side, they went all out to show what they could do and how second-rate WCW had become.

As Shawn Michaels points out “NWO beat everyone all the time, DX got beat up all the time” and the nWo were “trying to be cool” whilst DX “ended up being cool.”  It’s this organic evolution that leads to the shifting tides of popularity that WWE, to this day, experiences - it’s difficult to create cool!

As the group became more popular, they would take the fight, quite literally, to WCW’s door.  

The post-episode panel is, once more, a short affair, with Triple H, naturally, occupying much of the short discussion.  Sting seems rather amused by Triple H’s story, possibly because WCW kept its performers away from what was happening outside.  Reflecting on the departure of Shawn Michaels, Triple H is, once more, candid about his feelings and the opportunity it gave him, whilst Sting looks at the impact DX had upon business.

As would become a feature of many of the episodes of Monday Night War, many points are recapped, as if it’s necessary to set the scene over and over to the viewers.  As this series premiered on the WWE Network and would likely have been watched as a series, it does seem that this is a bit of odd, though does mean that the viewer won’t forget that WCW signed Hogan, Hall and Nash at any point.

Whereas the first two episodes cast WWF as the helpless victim, these two episodes show the lengths of the brilliance of Vince McMahon and his vision as a business leader, against the threat of WCW, the protests of networks and advertisers, let alone the traditional family viewership of the product.

The story of DX is the best told episode thus far as most of the key players are, as is stated, friends beyond the business, giving the story a feeling of a bunch of mates doing what they love.

It feels, throughout these two episodes, that this was WWE realising that the key to success in sports entertainment was in its ability to entertain and this is a story well told.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

NXT August 5th 2015 Recap By Jeromme Graham

 1. Charlotte vs. Bayley

Charlotte makes her way out to the ring to get this episode of NXT kicked off. Bayley is out next. The former rivals shake hands in a show of mutual respect. In a great spot, Bayley hit a frankensteiner on Charlotte in the corner, with the commentary team dubbing it a Bayleycanrana. Charlotte leveled Bayley with a neckbreaker and spear. Later in the match, Bayley flipped out of the corner and hit Charlotte with the Bayley-to-Belly for a near fall. She followed that up with a German suplex, but Charlotte still kicked out. Charlotte had Bayley in the corner, but Bayley managed to plant Charlotte with a middle rope Bayley-to-Belly to pick up the win. After the match, Bayley hugged a young girl and presented her with her headband. The Full Sail crowd totally ate this match up. With Charlotte, Becky and Sasha working on the main roster, Bayley seems poised to be the centerpiece of the NXT Women's division.

We then get thrown to a video of an in-ring sit down interview between Kevin Owens and Michael Cole. Cole recapped what went down during the Balor and Owens contract signing and questioned the sincerity of Owens' apology. Owens went on to run down Regal and explained that he felt Regal might even try to get a crooked referee involved in his match, so he said that wants Balor in a ladder match at Takeover Brooklyn. Cole asked Owens if he felt that he could beat Balor, which led to Owens getting up and walking out of the ring.

From there, we go to Bull Dempsey backstage looking dejected while watching last week's Bull-Fit segment. We then see Bull training in the gym with some of the newer developmental hires.

2. Baron Corbin vs. Steve Cutler

Baron Corbin makes his way out the ring for the second match of the night. His opponent is Steve Cutler. Steve manages to get a punch in before being quickly demolished with the End of Days. Cutler is someone that's appeared on the show a few times, mainly just to put other talent over. It would be great to see Cutler get more screen time.

Bayley enters William Regal's office, where he congratulates her on her win against Charlotte. She asks if she could have an NXT Women's Championship match. Regal says that next week Bayley will take on Becky Lynch in a #1 Contender's Match. The winner gets a title match against Sasha Banks at Takeover Brooklyn. He then states that Bayley is his niece's favourite.

3. Tyler Breeze vs. Aaron Solow

Tyler Breeze struts down to the ring. His opponent for the night is independent talent Aaron Solow, who also happens to be Bayley's significant other. Breeze made quick work of Solow, finishing him off with the Beauty Shot in under a minute.

After the match, Regal makes his way out on the ramp. He announces that Jushin "Thunder' Liger" will be facing Breeze at Takeover Brooklyn. We then get an awesome Liger video package.
We get an Uhaa Nation video. Though the major difference this week is that he announces his new NXT name is Apollo Crews and he'll be Takeover Brooklyn.

Following that, we go to sit down interview Byron Saxton conducted with Finn Balor. Balor discussed the team atmosphere in NXT and that everyone down there is working towards a common goal. When pressed for his thoughts on Owens, Balor mentions that he shows no class or respect. Balor says that Sami Zayn has been helping him prepare for his match and told him not to underestimate Owens. Saxton asked if the Demon will appear in Brooklyn, Balor teases that Owens will find out that night.

4. Dawson & Wilder vs. The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder)

What initially seemed to be a thrown together one-off pairing of Rawley & Ryder is really clicking with the Full Sail crowd as they were firmly behind the energetic duo. Dawson & Wilder controlled a lot of the match, but Rawley turned the tide when he received the hot tag and hit a sweet fireman's carry into a flapjack. The Hype Bros picked up the win with their Hype Ryder finisher. As Rawley & Ryder were celebrating, Dawson & Wilder attacked them. They tossed Rawley out of the ring and leveled Ryder with the Shatter Machine.

The Vaudevillains are in Regal's office. English and Gotch were upset about the slaps they received from Alexa Bliss last week. Regal announced that they would have a rematch against Blake and Murphy for the NXT Tag Team Championships at Takeover Brooklyn. He suggested that they find a way to deal with Alexa Bliss.

We get more Bull-Fit with Dempsey. With the encouragement of the other developmental talents, Dempsey managed to flip a big tire. He struck a victory pose to close out the segment.

5. Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno

The main event featured a showdown between two of the veterans of the NXT roster, Samoa Joe and Rhyno. Later in the match, both guys traded blows before Joe hit an amazing kick off the second rope. Samoa Joe went for the Coquina Clutch, Rhyno hit Joe with a belly-to-belly suplex. The Manbeast went for the Gorge, but Joe got a knee up. Joe went for the Coquina Clutch yet again, but Rhyno sent him crashing down with a big clothesline. Rhyno went for the Rhyno Driver, but Joe was able to evade it. The finish came when Joe hit Rhyno with an enzuigiri and the crushed him with the Muscle Buster. This wasn't a blow away match, but it was pretty solid. Hopefully this win over Rhyno will be a jumping off point to bigger things for Samoa Joe in NXT.

Monday 10 August 2015

WWE The Monday Night Wars 'Shots Fired' Disc 1 DVD Review By Dave Adamson

 Monday Night War - Shots Fired covers the first ten episodes of the WWE Network series, with additional analysis provided by Renee Young, Triple H and Sting.

Told by many of the key players, current WWE roster and featuring archive interviews from some of those involved, it’s entertaining and informative to watch, giving some insight into the behind-the-scenes world of both WWE and WCW and the journey they all took through the era.

Monday Night War, alongside previous WWE documentaries covering the subject, is as close as WWE will probably get to telling the complete truth about what went on, albeit occasionally casting WWE in the dual role of unfortunate victim and all-powerful monolith, with WCW occupying the position of upstart and loudmouth agitator.  For fans of the various autobiographies (WWE published and otherwise), books on the topic (including RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez’s The Death of WCW) and the many other sources, Monday Night War is a fine addition to the narrative of the period and, quite rightly, became one of the most popular and talked about original products from the WWE Network.

With disc one presenting the first two episodes, we see the story from the evolution of WWE, the creation of Ted Turner’s WCW and the moment that would define a generation - the birth of the nWo.

Episode One plays out, for the most part, as a history of the immense success of WWF into the 90s, highlighting the distance between it and its nearest competitor, before Ted Turner acquired it.

With Turner talking about the struggles of running a successful wrestling promotion and various commentators talking about the decline of WWE - formulaic and tired, it was clear that evolution was needed, leading to the birth of Monday Night Raw - a live television programme that would change the industry forever.

With the focus on younger, technically gifted wrestlers, Hogan and McMahon would part ways and WWE would be without its biggest star, driving forward with fresher ideas and growing popularity, spiralling costs and new challenges.

WCW, on the other hand, would find itself in the hands of Eric Bischoff, moving from announcer to Executive Producer, amongst his many roles.  He would turn it from a “Southern promotion” to a contender, with focus on improving its quality at all levels, bringing on board recognised WWF names, from commentators to stars.  It was inevitable that going head-to-head would happen, and WWE Nitro would eventually be born, dirty tactics would come into play and the unthinkable, in the televised wrestling business, would happen… but, it sure made good television!

Episode One’s post episode analysis features Renee Young talking to Triple H and Sting.  Giving Sting a chance to talk about his experience of the time and hearing Triple H offer a remarkably candid insight into the business during the Monday Night Wars makes for compelling viewing and, with each episode of the series offering the same post-episode panel, it’s certainly worth watching these to see how their respective recollections develop, though they do feel a bit short - perhaps there’ll be an uncut series of these discussions released in the future..

Episode Two recaps the origins of the nWo as WCW’s ratings starting to improve and the acquisition of the biggest names in WWF continued.  

Still spoken about with reverence today, the original incarnation of the nWo, from The Outsiders, to the introduction of “the third man” and beyond was the period that transformed WCW’s fortunes and catapulted it securely ahead of WWF.

WWF and WCW were both suffering, with WWF presenting its cartoon wrestling in with the mix of captivating performers, whilst WCW, though successful, was seen as the home of the old guys.  To hear Kevin Nash and Scott Hall talk with humour and razor-sharp insight into what drove them from the comforts of WWF to the competition shows two men who are all business - as is often said, “you can make friends or you can make money.”

With Bischoff moving towards a less-cartoony approach to wrestling storylines and the fans perceiving this as an invasion, McMahon would move the fight into the courts and WWF would itself falling behind WCW week after week.

With Nitro being broadcast live, it was a perfect opportunity for Bischoff to create an element of surprise.  The biggest of these surprises was, clearly, Hulk Hogan becoming a member of the nWo after years of preaching prayers and vitamins.  Three guys, made huge by WWF would make WCW even bigger.

In response, WWF would fire back with some… interesting ideas, but be unable to unseat the nWo rollercoaster, but it would be WCW and its inner workings that would lead to its own derailment.

As WCW Nitro gave wrestling an edge that, at this level, hadn’t been seen before, WWF was continuing its stale, family friendly product.  Appealing to a much older audience, WCW found itself, thanks to the nWo, as the cool alternative.

With success, however, came a desire to be even bigger and the risks that Bischoff took paid off, whilst others led to overexpansion and dilution of the concept that had made them a success, though this wouldn’t, initially, alter the course that WCW was upon.

WWF, however, was far from dead and buried, with the birth of the Attitude Era, and this was where the fight turned into a war.

With the post-episode panel, Sting reflects on whether he was really supposed to be the third man, whilst Triple H looks at Sting’s position in WCW.  Sting gets time to talk about the Bash on the Beach and the famous Hogan moment and both men talk about the difficulties of staying popular as a character.

It’s easy to look upon the Monday Night War as two moments - the origin of the nWo and the Attitude Era.  Whilst elements of the relevant stories were definitely era-defining, it’s worth taking time to reflect on a lot of the product outside of this and seeing the ebbs and tides that they would still suffer.

The first two episodes of Monday Night War - Shots Fired set up a groundbreaking series that reveals a lot of what, to many casual fans, wasn’t commonly known, with those involved and the members of the current WWF roster, offering their insights.  Involving behind-the-scenes personnel - Michael Hayes and Jim Ross amongst them - along with the key players is a masterstroke, though it would have been good to hear from Bischoff and others in something other than archive footage.

Though the post-episode panels are interesting, they are do feel about short with their runtime of around seven minutes.  That said, with twenty episodes to cover, this would provide nearly two hours of additional insight.

Disc One of Monday Night War - Shots Fired sets up an era in wrestling that many consider pivotal and divisive.  Providing viewers with a look behind the business thinking from both companies and attitudes towards what was transpiring from employees, it’s a must see for any serious wrestling fan.

There are reviews to come of the other discs of this series but you can order this DVD (or Blu Ray set) NOW by clicking THIS link

Tuesday 4 August 2015

You'll Always Be My Number 1 Hot Rod By Steve Lazenby

Piper vs Bad News Brown At Wrestle Mania VI
People who know about my love of wrestling know that I was a massive fan of one wrestler and that never changed throughout my years as a watching.

Sure icons came and great ones went and everyone got an attitude but in my eyes one man still remained at the top of the wrestling tree.

My first experience of wrestling was what we would come to know as World Of Sport. 

Saturday Afternoons watching the likes of Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy while most were drawn to the top 2 guys, I was in awe of the rough brawling style of Rollerball Rocco this would be a theme that stayed with me.

The WWF wasn't as available in the 80's as it is now and occasionally world of sport would show some matches usually featuring  the honkytonk man, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man or Andre The Giant.

My first full PPV I saw was the 1990 Royal Rumble I was enjoying  the main event then entrant number 6 came out and I instantly forgot about the prospect of seeing the big men go at it. 

Jake 'The Snake' Roberts was getting a beating from the 'Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibease and the 'Macho Man' Randy Savage all hope looked lost for Roberts as his foes tied him up in the ropes the countdown began not knowing who many of the superstars at the time where imagine my surprise when a screaming lunatic in blue trunks came tearing down the walk way throwing punches to anyone who stepped in his way mainly Savage and Dibase.

As the match went on through the carnage of my first rumble match I watched this mad man more and more untill He was eliminated by Bad News Brown my disappointment didn't last long as both Hot Rod and Bad News  battled each other backstage. I enjoyed the rest of the rumble and the first confrontation between hogan and the Warrior felt special.

I did what any 15 year old would do after seeing something he liked I nagged and nagged and nagged untill my parents caved in and installed Sky TV.

Every sunday I watched WWF challenge and superstars and Saturday night main events. during the next 3 months I noticed feuds where been built between certain wrestlers the main focus been the Hulkster and the Ultimate Warrior but I wanted to see Piper and Bad News go at it, I was also drawn towards Brown as he too was a take no nonsense brawler.

Wrestle Mania VI came and I snuck downstairs turned the TV on and started to watch the event live the event will ever remain my favourite mania ever mainly for nostalgic reasons but it's an event I still watch regularly the wrestlers came down to the ring in electric carts it felt special. The video showed a brief history of the lead up to the Piper vs Brown match the screen cut to mean Gene and Piper with Roddy stood on one side facing Okerland he then said "some call me Hot Rod but some call me the Hot Scot" with that he span 180 degrees to reveal himself half painted black once again this lunatic captured my attention. 

With both men in the ring Jesse Ventura said "you're not gonna see too many hammerlocks you're not gonna see headlocks you're gonna see punching and kicking" I was shouting at the referee to get out the way and let them fight as we all know they can hear us through the TV set right?

The match ended in a double count out as both superstars just beat the living daylights out of each other. At Summer Slam I was disappointed  that neither Hot Rod or the Hot Scot where on the card until I watched it and he was on commentary instead of 10 minutes I got 3 hours and his colour commentary still has me laughing today.

Over the years like most UK fans in the 90's I collected Silver Vision video cassettes if it came down to a choice I would look to see which one had Hot Rod on.

I never got to meet Roddy and now I never will but I did get to see him wrestle on various UK tours .

He continuously pushed boundaries and made history the now infamous coconut segment will remain one of the most talked about in wwf/e history. 

He turned a potential train wreck segment into gold when he pulled Zach Gowan's prosthetic leg off during a Smackdown segment with Mr America (a recently canned Hulk Hogan in a generic American mask).

"I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and I'm all out of bubblegum"

Rest in peace Hot Rod 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper you will always be my number 1.

Monday 3 August 2015

NXT July 29 2015 Recap By: Jeromme Graham

Kevin Owens vs Danny Burch

1. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Dash & Dawson

First match of the night is Enzo & Cass vs. Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson. As always the crowd goes wild for Enzo & Cass, chanting every word of their entrance spiel. Dash & Dawson are a team that is only appears on NXT TV sporadically, but they are favourites of the live event audience. Later in the match, Cass had the momentum in his favor, using a boot to knock Wilder off the ring apron and hitting Dawson with a swinging side slam. Carmella pumped Enzo up on the outside and the fun loving tag team seemed poised to hit the Rocket Launcher, but Dash & Dawson fired back. Dash & Dawson finished the match with The Shatter Machine, essentially a pop-up Codebreaker. This was a really solid match. It was surprising to see Enzo & Big Cass take the loss, but it served as a great way to establish Dash & Dawson and add new depth to the tag division.

We then get a backstage interview with Jason Jordan and Chad Gable talking themselves up and explaining why they are above the other teams in NXT.

We're also treated to a video package recapping the feud between Dana Brooke and Charlotte.

2. Baron Corbin vs. Jesse Sorensen

Baron Corbin makes his way out to the ring for the next match. In a cool surprise, his opponent is former TNA talent Jesse Sorensen. There's not much to say as this was your run of the mill Corbin squash. Knee to the gut, End of Days and the match is over. At this point, it would be nice to see Corbin doing something new.

Backstage, Tyler Breeze begs William Regal for some competition. Regal says he'll go the ends of the Earth to find an opponent for Prince Pretty and that he should be careful for what he wishes. Ominous.

3. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan vs. Elias Samson and Levis Valenzuela Jr.

Right off the bat, it's clear to see that pairing Jason Jordan with Chad Gable has done wonders for him. They play off each other well and it genuinely seems like both guys are having a ton of fun. Jordan wasted little time in taking down Valenzuela, which sent him scrambling to tag in Samson. Samson made it known that he wanted to square off against Gable. Gable displayed his technical prowess on Samson, transition into different holds and reversals. Towards the end of the match, Jordan hit a huge belly-to-belly on Valenzuela. Jordan and Gable finished the energetic Dominican off with the move they call the Grand Amplitude, an aided bridging high angle belly to back suplex.

In the back, Dana Brooke is flanked by Emma and tells Devin Taylor that she's going to take over NXT and that she'll be serving Charlotte an eviction notice tonight. Dana teases not patting Devin on the head, but ultimately does it. It seems inevitable that we'll see Devin eventually face off against Dana Brooke.

We then get a video package of Bull Dempsey's miserable attempts to get in shape or "Bull-fit" as he calls it. The former "Last of a Dying Breed" seems to be on track to becoming NXT's lovable rotund comedy babyface.

4. Charlotte vs. Dana Brooke

The feud between Charlotte and Dana has been going on for a couple of months now, but this match didn't feel like it had any steam behind it all. With Charlotte firmly being on the main roster, it makes sense to have her tie up any loose ends in NXT, but a three minute match that largely had Charlotte in control isn't beneficial to Dana. Charlotte knocked Emma off the apron as she attempted to interfere. The finish came when Charlotte hit the Natural Selection on Dana after levelling her with a spear.
Samoa Joe is backstage, cutting a promo the camera. He says he wants the NXT Championship and calls out Rhyno for a match next week.

William Regal is wondering whether or not Kevin Owens intentionally meant to hit him. Owens walks up and apologizes in a matter that seems genuine. As Owens walks off, Regal says he can't wait to see Owens get beaten down in Brooklyn.

From there, we get a Rhyno vignette.

Devin Taylor is in the back with Eva Marie. Eva Marie says that she feels her hard work is starting to pay off and that she's got her eyes on the NXT Women's Championship. She tells Sasha Banks to watch out, which I'm sure will rile up smarks everywhere. 

5. Kevin Owens vs. Danny Burch

The next match up sees Kevin Owens taking on a returning Danny Burch. It's great to see Burch (Martin Stone) back in an NXT ring and it's clear that the Full Sail crowd felt the same way as the chanted Burch's name throughout the match. Burch barely got any offence in and was finished off with a pop-up powerbomb.

From there, we get right into the main event.

6. NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Blake and Murphy (with Alexa Bliss) vs. The Vaudevillains

This was a really fun match between two stand out NXT tag teams. The action went back and forth. Towards the end of the match, Aiden English was able to dodge out of the corner, sending Wesley Blake into the ringpost. Murphy tagged himself in and English was able to tag in Simon Gotch. Gotch house like a house on fire and stunned Murphy with a jumping double-knee strike. The Vaudevillains had Murphy in position for the Whirling Dervish, but Alexa Bliss interfered and grabbed English's foot, which led to him rolled up by Murphy for the win.
After the match, The Vaudevillains were able to fight off Blake and Murphy. They had Alexa Bliss surrounded, circling her. Being that they are chivalrous gentlemen, they ultimately held the ropes open for Bliss to leave the ring of her own accord. Bliss slapped both English and Gotch and left to join her boys on the ramp.