Friday, 27 February 2015

Kamikaze Pro Hostile Takeover 2 Review

Kamikaze Pro's first show of the year took place at the Collingwood Centre in Great Barr on 21st February 2015, with former WWF Tag Team Champion's Too Cool in attendance, challenging So Scandalous' Ryan Smile and Damian Dunne. Elsewhere on the show, Marshall X went up against The Magnums' "Dirty" Dick Riley and Robbie X put the Kamikaze Pro Championship up against El Ligero. It had been three months since the last Kamikaze show, but would it be worth the wait?


Tag Team Match

Too Cool vs. So Scandalous 


 



I had one request going into this match, and I'm many people shared the same request. I wanted to see Scotty 2 Hotty hit the Worm on someone. I didn't care who, I didn't care how, but I wasn't leaving the Collingwood Centre without seeing a Worm. I would have literally caught Scotty 2 Hotty in a net, and forced him to perform the move if by the end of the show he hadn't performed that move. Luckily for Scotty, he did perform the move and to the delight of the fans in attendance it was to both Ryan Smile and Damian Dunne. I lost my head as the nostalgia mist descended, belting out "DOUBLE YOU-OHHHH-AAAAARRRR-EEEEEEEMMMM" at the top of my voice.

Apart from the Worm, how did the rest of match fare? Entertaining is the word, that would most fairly some up. Whilst I don't think anyone would tell you the match was a technical masterclass, everyone involved in the match worked hard to make it as entertaining as it could have been. Hotty and Sexay clearly know their limitations in 2015 and Smile and Dunne's sneaky heel tactics to stay in control of the middle section of the match kept the crowd engaged in the action. As larger than life as Too Cool can be, So Scandalous matched them every step of the way. 


The match was laid out nicely, with a few big spots that allowed the match to peak at the right times. Smile teasing hitting Sexay's signature Hip Hop Drop on Hotty, whilst bad mouthing Sexay, only to miss the move, felt like a big moment because of what was built around it. Classic tag team moves like the Double Noggin' Nocker and just whipping your opponents into each other were also on offer from Too Cool. The strongest wrestling section of the match came between Hotty and Dunne who did string together a decent sequence of action.

With Smile and Dunne picking up the win, with Smile escaping the first Worm attempt with a roll up whilst holding the ropes, it gives them momentum as a team going forward, as even though they got battered post-match they can talk about how they beat former WWF Tag Team Champions, and get even more under the fans skins. Personally, with Smile and Dunne part of a three way bout for the Relentless Championship on March 8th, I would have liked to have seen one of the pair leave the other to take the Worm solo, to add an extra element to their bout on the next show. 


Singles Match

Dick Riley (with Chris Walker) vs. Marshall X


Dick Riley gives one lucky fan some attention.


Beginning the second half, this match may very well have stolen the show. Two (or three) big characters going head to head in a psychology-based match up, it was almost as if they knew I'd be reviewing the show! Following an arm wringer that caught Riley across the top rope, Marshall X (No relation to Kamikaze Pro Champion Robbie X) went to work with a series of moves focused on the arm, including a lovely arm-trap scoop slam and a dropkick with the arm caught in the ropes. Of course, this type of match would fall apart without the appropriate selling, and luckily Riley pulled this off almost perfectly, with little hints and touches throughout his comebacks to how much pain his arm was in and the match was all the better because of it.

The match built well towards it's climax, with all participants got involved as both Riley's tag team partner cum manager Chris Walker and the referee were dragged into the action. With the ref down, Marshall took out Walker with a steel chair, before Riley managed to dodge the chair himself, meaning the chair ricocheted off the ring ropes hitting Marshall in the face. But with the ref down and Riley unable to get the pin, that left things open for another chair shot from Marshall, this time directly to the injured arm of Riley, before locking in the third cross-armbreaker attempt of the match, with the referee making his recovery, Marshall made it seem like Riley was tapping out. A finish deserving of play-by-play, had me hooked and kept Riley looking strong, whilst keeping the heat on the dastardly Marshall X.

Despite an enjoyable technical encounter, it was the sheer adolescent enjoyment of hundreds of men shouting "We Want Dick" and various other chants, that had me howling in my seat. The comedy wasn't just bound to the fans however, as both Riley and Walker played up their Magnums personas, gyrating on fans laps, crotching Marshall on the ringpost and even getting some kids involved in the action, it was difficult not to get behind these two. Even Marshall has an air of comedy to his character, his over-the-top persona can be laugh out loud funny, whilst seeing him fail can be even funnier. Whilst this comedy could have potentially have detracted from the match, it was done sparingly and timed-well, allowing the more serious action to breathe.

After the bout, Marshall was straight out for a promo, asking for a match with Juventud Guerrera on 1st May, however General Manager/Ring Announcer Lawrie Neal revealed that the Rumble winner at Over The Top 2 on 29th March in Birmingham would win the right to face Guerrera on 1st May. However, Marshall would face an international star on 29th March, as he will take on TNA's Robbie E. To finish the segment Marshall lost his shit delivering telling Robbie that come 29th March it would be "GYM, TAN, WASTEMAN" A short segment, that set up two future matches nicely, can't really complain with that!


Kamikaze Pro Championship Match 

Robbie X (C) vs. El Ligero




If you've got us liked on Facebook, you'll most likely have seen El Ligero delivering a beautiful sit-out powerbomb to Robbie X during this match (in slow-motion for fulling effect). However, that was just the tip of the iceberg in what was a belting back and forth outing, with each man throwing a number of heavy hitting moves into the mix, with Ligero's aforementioned Sitout Powerbomb, as well as Robbie X's Brainbuster and Jumping DDT standing out as particular highlights. Seeing two men go at it like this made the title seem like something that was worth winning, and hopefully would have had those fans who'd come in for Too Cool chomping at the bit to make a return to Kamikaze Pro in the future.

Alongside the big moves, there was a strong foundation of storytelling, with a clear and visible divide between Ligero's excitable, Masked persona and the brash, annoying nobhead character of Robbie X. Robbie's really grown into this role, since turning heel at Born and Raised in July, and has added a few little touches to the character that make it easier to boo to him and get behind his opponent in a match. Teasing a Standing Shooting Star Press and not delivering is the mark of an utter bastard, as we all know. I haven't seen as much spitting since my last trip to the Llama enclosure at Dudley Zoo! Of course, it isn't exactly hard to get behind Ligero anyway, he wasn't one ATPW's Top British Babyfaces of 2014 for no reason! 

The two performers were clearly comfortable together in the ring, having worked together previously in Kamikaze Pro as well as other companies around the country, and bar a few minor slips on more high risk moves, the action was crisp throughout the match-up. Both men showed what they can do in a brawling scenario as well, battling around the crowd at the merchandise stands, before Ligero hit a dropkick on a seated Robbie. Robbie returned the favour by irish whipping Ligero into multiple chairs on the other sides of the centre. This intensity that the two bought to the performance made me clamour to see them put into a stronger feud, as you could sense that if given a full storyline to get their teeth into Robbie X and El Ligero could really shine.

After Robbie X picked up the win, following a Schoolboy roll up and with more than a handful of Ligero's colourful tights, he moves to face the veteran Jonny Storm at Storm Warning in Bournville on March 8th with the title on the line. It's a big match for Robbie both the performer and character, as a match with a British Cruiserweight pioneer and World travelled athlete with hopefully offer Robbie the opportunity to grow even further as performer, whilst a win over the veteran gives the cocky and arrogant Robbie X character something to play off and boast about heading out of the victory.

Four Way Elimination Match

Tag Team Champion Dan Maloney vs. Omari vs. Sam Wilder vs. Lee Hunter


Tasked with opening the show, this was an entertaining bout that settled the crowd into the show well. The encounter featured strong storytelling, with Lee Hunter and Omari pairing up, whilst Sam Wilder and Dan Maloney formed a tentative partnership that clearly wasn't as comfortable as the babyface pairing was. This played into Wilder's exit from the match as Hunter ducked an attack from Wilder, who collided with Maloney, allowing Hunter to hit a nice DDT. There was one moment that jarred a little however, this being Maloney preventing Wilder from getting a pin on Hunter, despite the match being an elimination bout. 

A lot of credit has to go to Maloney, who has come on leaps and bounds over the last year or so, and his performance here was impressive throughout. Most notably his character work and crowd interaction were spot on, garnering decent heat from the crowd. The finish had one eye on Storm Warning on 8th March in Bournville, as Hunter and Maloney (who will be on opposite sides of Tag Team Championship match, also featuring Jim Hunter and Tyler Bate respectively) were the final two in the match. Wilder managed to distract the referee for long enough to allow Maloney to hit Hunter with his title belt and pick up the victory. A post-match promo from Maloney, explaining issues between himself and partner Tyler Bate, was short and sweet, and adds an extra dimension to the aforementioned tag team match on 8th March.

Singles Match

Danny Steel vs. Clint Margera





Hmmm...I'm not sure what to make of this match. Danny Steel came in as a replacement for the advertised Morgan Webster and offered a completely different match to what I'd been expecting. Steel is clearly a more than competent worker, but his "Shall I hit him?" approach rarely gets me engaged in a match, although he did manage to get a decent reaction out of some of the crowd. Of course, this is a personal preference, but I also felt this style didn't gel well with Margera's more in-yer-face offence, or, at least, this clash wasn't played up to as well as it could have been by either man.

For someone coming in as a big heel for the promotion, having attack Chris Brookes at Frost Fight 2, Margera didn't really get a lot of offence in here. Beyond a bit of brawling and the huge out of nowhere, Top Rope Death Valley Driver that finished the match, we didn't get to see a whole lot of Margera. Usually this wouldn't be too much of a problem for a heel, but on a debut I would've expected a little more out of the Fight Club: Pro regular to build him up as a force to be reckoned with in the promotion and someone who could genuinelly make Brookes' life hell, as promised at Frost Fight 2.

Singles Match

Pete Dunne vs. Chris Brookes




Perhaps not what I was expecting from a Pete Dunne vs. Chris Brookes, it was almost certainly not as long as I was expecting. To compensate for the lack of time, Dunne and Brookes went hell for leather with a series of big moves early, sitout powerbombs, tope conhilos, Regal Suplexes and some lovely reversal sequences as Brookes looked to lock in an Ankle lock. The bout was however cut short by Clint Margera who distracted Brookes and allowed Dunne to hit an enziguiri and a DT3 to pick up the win. As a clear set up to get Margera and Brookes feud over, the fact that Dunne is also a babyface hurt the reaction that the finish should have gotten from the crowd, which was a shame. Hopefully the feud is allowed to grow a bit more, with Brookes getting a shot the Relentless Division Championship at the next show there's another perfect opportunity for Margera to cause shit for Brookes.

Finally...


The top three matches on the show all delivered and remained varied enough that the audience didn't seem to lag at all, perhaps only quieting for the Dunne-Brookes Face vs. Face bout. A little too much stalling for my personal taste with almost all the heels engaging in such tactics, with similar effects, a little more creativity would be nice in this area.

A very good show from Kamikaze Pro and certainly an improvement from the product I reviewed over the Summer. I look forward to being able to catch another show soon.

Kamikaze Pro can be found on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links. Credit to David Marston for the photos, mucho respecto.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Announcement

ATPW is raising money for MIND - The Mental Health Charity - You can donate at the following link - www.justgiving.co.uk/acrossthepondwrestling

www.acrossthepondwrestling.co.uk's James Marston will embark on an epic challenge, starting directly after WWE's WrestleMania event ends at 4am on 30th March. 24 blog articles, in 24 hours (No copping out, these will be full ATPW articles) Reviews, Previews, Opinion pieces and interviews will all be included before the time runs out. Topics will include WrestleMania, mental health within the wrestling community and topics suggested by the ATPW Social Media fan base. 

The event will be broadcast LIVE in it's entirety via Youtube, so you may very well get to watch a man crumble before your very eyes.

Get excited for the big WrestleMania challenge! 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

WWE Fastlane 2015 Review

I berated this PPV in the Preview, giving it the name "The B PPV to end all B PPV's" but would Fastlane be as half-assed as I was expecting it to be? Let's have a look! 


Singles Match for the WWE United States ChampionshipJohn Cena vs. Rusev (C) with Lana






Getting slightly more of a focus on the show than the Bryan-Reigns bout, this in many ways felt like a more significant bout. Reminiscent of Cena's match with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2014, this saw Cena getting dominated for large portions of the match by the psedo-Russian. But this wasn't Cena facing an established draw in WWE, this was Cena going up against an unproven entity, someone who has managed to garner a lot of heat alongside his manager Lana, but is yet to show that he can be a reliable main event draw for WWE going forward. This was WWE taking a risk. Now, even if Cena wins a rematch later down the line, Rusev' stock has risen considerably already from this one match.

Besides the result, this was a good bout, completely watchable from start to finish, telling a solid story. The two connected nicely early on, with a brawling style that sold their heated rivalry, before moving onto Rusev attempting to finish the match as quickly as possible, attempting pinfalls at every opportunity. The pair worked well together in ring, with some well timed reversal sequences, including Cena turning a Swinging Side Slam in a Crossface submission, that actually looked like Cena was applying some pressure to the hold! Rusev also being able to hit a number of big impact moves on Cena's back and neck played nicely into the Accolade finish, had Cena bothered to sell the back or the neck things would have been even better.

On that note, Rusev's selling and performance overall in the match was strong. A moment that stood out for me was just after breaking out of Cena's crossface, Rusev hit an Alabama Slam and quickly grabbed the neck. It's little touches like these that have lead to me really warming to Rusev as a performer over the last six months or so and it's little touches like these that will keep me interesting during matches. Being able to perform this style, which is often lacking from WWE's larger competitor's is what will make Rusev stand out from his contempories and should lead to Rusev becoming a big player over the next few years. 

Going forward, the finish would suggest this isn't the last we'll see of the Rusev-Cena feud with a WrestleMania match seeming likely. It's almost inevitable that we'll see Cena get his revenge on Rusev because that's how wrestling storylines have worked since the dawn of time. Depending on how that's handled and who WWE has lined up for Rusev's next opponent, the loss shouldn't harm Rusev one bit, especially if his individual performances continue to be as strong as this one. I'd also expect a rematch between the two to be a much richer bout, as it felt like the two were holding back just a little on what they could do here. A good match, nothing more, nothing less.


Singles Match for the Number One Contendership to the WWE World Heavyweight ChampionshipDaniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns






Whilst I felt that Rusev vs. Cena was the more significant of the two marquee matches, this was the match of the night. Power and Strength vs. Speed and Technicality. It's an age old formula, that's been tested time and time again and almost always pays off. It's an easy story that anyone can follow. Both men were able to tweak their style slightly, in order to play to the face vs. face dynamic that could have caused the match to fall apart. Bryan brought a more vicious side to his game, focusing on Reigns' previously injured stomach with some vicious kicks at one point, whilst Reigns added some vulnerability to his power, in an attempt to garner some crowd support against the clear fan favourite Bryan.


The back and forth nature of the bout set both men as more or less equals, with neither able to take the upper hand for any real period of time. This not only leant itself nicely to the face vs. face dynamic by allowing each man to roam closer to being the heel at points in the match, but also set up some well-worked near falls. Reigns' getting two from a Superman punch and Bryan's near falls after reversing a Spear into a Small Package and hitting his signature Running Knee were the stand outs in terms of near falls. However, both men delivering punches and kicks whilst on the mat was the highlight of the bout for me.

Where this match stops at being "just" a good match, instead of a very good or great match, is on the little intricacies in the story telling that weren't quite present. Elements of the story being raised and then dropped, such a Bryan working the leg early on before never going back to the injury and Reigns' not selling it either, hurt the flow of the match ever so slightly. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Reigns' selling his stomach a little bit more, especially after managing to powering out of Bryan's Triangle Choke. A little indication that it was the stomach that caused him not to be able to get to his feet (even if this had been from the commentary team) would have made all the difference to this moment.

Did this match change anyone's opinions of Reigns? Hmmm...maybe. But I'd suspect his most ardent "haters" (Fuck, I hate that term) will pass of the match as Bryan "carrying" Reigns, which was always going to be the case. Whilst Bryan's performance was unselfish, Reigns put a shift in himself, and whilst he's still not a completely polished performer, I'm glad to see WWE, at least, attempting to build new stars. Reigns now has to prepare for the biggest match and moment of his career, against a potentially hostile crowd, I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do when the lights are on bright.


Six Man Tag Team Match
Seth Rollins, The Big Show & Kane with J&J Security
vs.
Ryback, Erick Rowan & Dolph Ziggler





Yes, he's back. After almost four months off television, Randy Orton made his WWE return after the conclusion of the six man tag team match. Making a run in after The Authority's Seth Rollins, Kane, The Big Show and J&J Security had battered Ryback, Erick Rowan and Dolph Ziggler, delivering RKO's to Kane, Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury before Big Show was able to save Rollins from Orton's Rope Hung DDT, with Rollins legging it all the way out of the arena. A cool moment and a timely return for Orton at a time when WWE is lacking star power. A feud with Rollins heading into WrestleMania should provide some entertaining encounters, as well as elevating Rollins further setting him up nicely to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. 

The match was a decent trios encounter, whilst never threatening to become a must-watch bout. The Authority's team spent most of the match working over Rowan's leg after Rowan missed a Spin Kick on Big Show and connected with the ring post. Unfortunately, this story element wasn't used to it's full potential, as whilst The Authority did a good job working quick tags, Big Show randomly letting go of Rowan with a modified cloverleaf locked in for reasons known only to Show and Rowan using a Spin Kick on Rollins' in order to make the hot tag really letting down the good work that was put in elsewhere. 

Rollins and Ryback probably had the most entertaining section of the match, putting together a decent sequence of moves, capped off by Ryback catching Rollins' as he attempted a Diving Neckbreaker in an impressive show of strength before turning the move into Shellshocked. Whilst Ryback was making the most of his PPV time, Big Show looked slow and sluggish, seemingly out of place for a number of big spots, including the finish in which it seemed to take an age for Show to hit Ziggler with the KO Punch, meaning Kane had to look a bit of a nob holding Ziggler in place for the move. 

I'm sure whether having The Authority go over here was the best decision, as it did end up making the three babyfaces look a bit shit. They'd already lost the match and then got the shit kicked out of them, only for one man to be able to clear the ring of the Authority. I'm all for keeping Rollins strong, but it wasn't Rollins who got the pin and he wasn't even involved in the finish of the match. A pinfall could have done much more for Ziggler, Ryback or Rowan, whilst enhancing the beatdown at the end of the match. It's not like Big Show or Kane particularly needed to be protected for any real reason, and pre-match attack from Rollins would have only helped his stock to rise amongst WWE's heel pack.


Triple H and Sting come Face to Face





 Pretty much a paint-by-numbers segment to set up a match for WrestleMania, we've seen these kind of things a number of times over the last few years. Luckily then, it was kept relatively short (hence finding itself this far down the review) and included a number of nice little touch that managed to keep my attention despite knowing exactly how the segment would play out. Touches like Triple H coming out in a leather jacket and jeans, as opposed to his suit, and looking like a legit bad ass in the process, having Sting remain silent throughout and the comparison between Sting's baseball bat and Triple H's sledgehammer.

Despite ending up on the receiving end of a Scorpion Death Drop, it was Triple H who stole this segment for me. His promo delivery was spot on, and with some nice references to the Monday Night War such as "My legacy is putting your legacy out of business". If things continue to move in such a fashion this feud should have heated up nicely come WrestleMania. I'm still not sure how much I want to see this match, but there is no question that it will appeal to those fans who may not have watched wrestling for a while and draw them in to watch WrestleMania.

Singles Match
Goldust vs. Stardust






There was a surprising amount of focus on the show for Goldust vs. Stardust, with both pre and post match backstage segments. The match was unremarkable, lacking the aggression that Goldust had promised in his promo earlier in the night. However, there was the nice story element of Goldust trying to hit his big moves (such as Golden Globes and the Director's Cut) early on in the match to try and get things finished quickly, unfortunately no one on the commentary team picked up on this, so the majority of the audience will probably not have noticed what was going on. The finish (and subsequent post-match promo) sets things up nicely for a WrestleMania rematch between the two, where they will almost certainly have to up their game.


 with Stardust's being particularly impressive. Delivered with a passion that has been missing from Stardust's performance for sometime, targeted as his father and following an attack on Goldust, Stardust claimed that his father killed "Cody" by sending his brother to tag with him, finishing with the line "I am not living in your shadow, you're living in mine". I was hooked for start to finish for this segment, as Stardust nailed the promo hitting the right highs and lows at the right time. If Stardust can bring this aggression into the feud heading into WrestleMania, and is matched by his brother, we could have a rather intriguing programme and hopefully a WrestleMania match that is stronger than this bout.


Tag Team Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Tyson Kidd & Cesaro with Natalya vs. The Usos (C) with Naomi






Cesaro and Tyson Kidd picked up their first Tag Team Championship as a duo (Kidd's second reign with the title having won the belt as part of The Hart Dynasty back in 2010) in a solid tag team bout with The Usos. The focus of the match saw Cesaro and Kidd focus on Jimmy Uso's leg, with a series of impressive maneuvers, including a beautiful one legged Cesaro Swing. The leg also played nicely into the finish with Kidd able to hit his Swinging Fisherman Suplex following a kick to the injured leg. Whilst the action was mostly strong, there were a few times where things weren't quite as slick as they should have been, whilst Jimmy failing to sell the leg for any prolonged period of time (especially after the match) did hurt the story that was being told some what.


Singles Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Bad News Barrett (C) vs. Dean Ambrose




This bout showed that these two have some real potential as opponents, however it failed to fully cash-in on that potential. Barrett and Ambrose connected nicely with a handful of impressive reversal sequences, involving each man's signature moves, showing some decent chemistry in the ring. Unfortunately there wasn't much holding together these sequences and the finish was rotten. As a concept I have no real problem with Disqualification finishes on PPV, as long as they feel important and drive the story forward, having Ambrose DQ'd for refusing to stop stomping on Barrett in the corner was a cop out, why not have him lose it and hit Barrett with the title belt? This match needed, at least, five more minutes and much more creative finish than what was provided.


Singles Match for the WWE Diva's Championship
Nikki Bella with Brie Bella 
vs. 
Paige



This match was better than I had expected in the preview, but still my personal highlights came from people other than the performers in the ring. Lilian Garcia seemingly not having a clue what was going on as she announced Nikki as "Women's Champion" after fumbling her words for thirty seconds and Jerry Lawler saying the word "belt" both managed to get a pop out of me. In all fairness so did Nikki hitting a relatively competent powerbomb, but unfortunately this match lacked any real depth from the performers (Paige not selling her back following getting rammed into the apron and barricade really hurt the match). Nikki winning with a roll up, whilst apparently holding the tights, slotted in well to what was a basic match.



Bray Wyatt Promo






It was finally revealed to everyone missing half a brain who Bray Wyatt had been talking about for the last month or so on WWE programming. Of course, it was The Undertaker. Wyatt's entrance with Druids carrying a coffin to the ring to Undertaker's music, only for Wyatt to be revealed inside looked really quite good, even if anyone who's watched WWE over the last ten years knew exactly what was going to happen. It was Wyatt's promo however that truly stole this short segment, challenging Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania, with more mysticism and mythology than the Ancient Greeks. "It's time for him to go home".



Miscellaneous


 WWE aired Seth Rollins' social media altercations with Jon Stewart, the most interesting part being Stewart calling Rollins' a "toady" which I believe to be a reference to popular Australian Soap Opera Neighbours. I imagine this was done to bring in Toadfish Rebecci to reprise his role as The Lawman. The promo video for WrestleMania ran three times during the show, reminding us that the show was only 35 days away, which was nice of them. A recap of Paul Heyman's interview with The Miz from the Kick-Off show was also shown, with Heyman reminding us that the winner of the Reigns-Bryan match would be facing Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Eva Marie and Cameron were at The Oscars apparently, good for them, a win-win situation considering I didn't have to watch them wrestle either. WWE Immortals also continued to be heavily promoted with another promo airing during the show. Flintstones & WWE: Stone Aged Smackdown also received a promo, in what looks like a truly awful straight-to-DVD film.


Finally...



Where this PPV falls apart and become less than the sum of it's parts, is the sheer repetition of the matches. Three matches involved someone working the leg, three matches included someone getting rammed into the apron and then the barricade. Two talking segments is too much for a PPV, in my opinion. To add to this the crowd was dead throughout the whole show, one of the worst WWE crowd's I've ever seen (Apart from the guy with the "Barnet 1 Grimsby 3" sign). Whilst many of the matches straddled somewhere between average, decent and good, when put together in this order, in front of this specific crowd, it just didn't quite work overall.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

WWE Survivor Series 2014 DVD Review

 WWE Survivor Series 2014 is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now, available from www.wwedvd.co.uk. Broadcast live on Pay-per-View (and the WWE Network) from the Scottrade Centre in St. Louis, Missouri, USA on 23rd November 2014, the show features John Cena, Ryback, Erick Rowan, Big Show & Dolph Ziggler battling Seth Rollins, Rusev, Luke Harper, Mark Henry and Kane in a traditional Survivor Series elimination match, Bray Wyatt taking on Dean Ambrose, Goldust & Stardust defending the Tag Team Championship against  Los Matadores, The Miz & Damien Mizdow and The Usos and three other matches. The special features include one other match, the return of Bad News Barrett and two interviews. 






The Pay-Per-View


The show begins with a vignette detailing that this is a one match show, the main event featuring Team Cena vs. Team Authority is all that get's a look in. Things continue as Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield welcome us to the show, reminding us of the importance of the main event. A completely superfluous in-ring segment featuring Mr. McMahon telling Triple H and Stephanie McMahon that if their team loses tonight, John Cena is the only man who can bring them back follows, and the shows theme of filler is introduced early on.


The first bout see's Los Matadores, Miz & Mizdow and The Usos challenging Gold & Stardust for the Tag Team Championship in an average, slightly sloppy bout. The finish raises the quality of the bout, with an exciting series of moves that get's everyone in the match involved well. Backstage, Adam Rose and The Bunny challenge Slater Gator to a match later on, because reasons. A four on four Survivor Series Elimination match pitting Alicia Fox, Emma, Naomi and Natalya (accompanied by Tyson Kidd) against Layla, Summer Rae, Cameron and Paige features some questionable booking and clumsy wrestling, although at least it does attempt to tell some sort of story.




Highlights from the Kick-Off show are shown next, including Fandango taking on Justin Gabriel and the return of Bad News Barrett. The Kick-Off panel also get involved, as Renee Young asks Booker T, Alex Riley and Paul Heyman about the upcoming main event, because there's no other matches on the show. Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt put together a good solid bout, but there's clearly more than an eye on next month's TLC pay-per-view. It's let down slightly by teasing a big spot and not delivering it, but still an entertaining watch.

Backstage, Triple H gives Team Authority an impressive pep-talk, whilst Stephanie continues to steal the show with her performance. Adam Rose and The Bunny takes on Slater Gator in a match that happened. Roman Reigns returns to our screens in an awkward interview with the commentary team. John Cena decides his team also needs a pep talk, although he can't quite deliver the intensity of Triple H's promo and most of his team don't seem that arsed anyway. AJ Lee defends the Diva's Championship against Nikki Bella (accompanied by Brie Bella) in a super short match, as Sheamus and Daniel Bryan's WrestleMania 28 match is referenced for the umpteenth time. 




The main event of Team Authority's Seth Rollins, Rusev, Luke Harper, Mark Henry and Kane (accompanied by J&J Security, Lana, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H) taking on Team Cena's John Cena, Ryback, Erick Rowan, Big Show and Dolph Ziggler in a story-driven, character-based epic. Ziggler is the stand out of the bout, looking like a star throughout, with fantastic selling and some great sequences opposite Rollins and Harper. Throw into the mix the surprise WWE debut of a wrestling legend (spoiled on the box art) and you've got a masterclass in sports entertainment. One of the strongers matches from the latter half of 2014, this match makes the rest of the show just about bearable.

Special Features


Fandango (accompanied by Rosa Mendes) takes on Justin Gabriel on the Kick Off show match, that is essentially a squash that's good while it lasts. Bad News Barrett's return is used to push the main event even further, and brings plenty of Bad News in an entertaining promo. Byron Saxton interviews Dean Ambrose, with Ambrose continuing to nail his character, whilst furthering his feud with Bray Wyatt nicely. Saxton also speaks to Nikki and Brie Bella, in which nothing is actually revealed about Nikki's match earlier in the night, a rather pointless inclusion.

Finally...

 

 


There's no doubt that WWE saw this as a one match show, with almost all the focus landing on the main event. Whilst that main event does deliver in spades, the rest of the show lacks any real attention and the performances are mostly flat. Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt give it their best shot, but the finish would have been more fitting if there was anything else going on elsewhere on the show. Certainly not a classic Survivor Series, but the fact that the Best PPV Matches of 2014 DVD release stopped at October, means this is currently your only way of physically getting your hands on a slice of sports entertainment gold.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

WWE Fastlane 2015 Preview

It's the B Pay-Per-View to end all B Pay-Per-Views, WWE Fastlane! The anticipation is about as warm as Lucy Beale's body and you could cut the tension with a spoon. Hopefully this preview get's you a little bit more hyped for the show...but probably not.






Singles Match for the Number One Contendership to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns


Norman Smiley ain't having any of Bryan's shit.

Head to Head Record - Bryan, 1 win. Reigns, 1 win.

In an attempt to garner some support for Roman Reigns, WWE put him in a storyline opposite the most popular babyface in the company. It's a risky decision...but it could pay off. Reigns and Bryan seem to have chemistry when opposite each other, as well as an odd-couple tag team as demonstrated on Smackdown last week and hopefully that will feed into their contest here. Reigns will need to put in a performance of his career to quell the "smart" fan uprising against Reigns that was seen during his Royal Rumble victory, if he's going to go over Bryan and head to WrestleMania. A dusty finish would almost seem like the easy option for WWE, having Bryan compete in the Triple threat at WrestleMania, whilst still allowing Reigns to win the title, by keeping that vocal section of the fanbase happy. 

Prediction - Roman Reigns wins, fans say Bryan "carried him".


Face to Face Confrontation
Triple H and Sting


Naitch forgot to flush again.

Face to Face confrontation. A confrontation that will happen face to face. Sting and Triple H will look at each other for the first time since...last month. LAST MONTH! FACE TO FACE CONFRONTATION! LAST MONTH! Triple Aitch will most likely pull out one of his long meandering promos, and reference the Monday Night Wars and such other things. Eventually Sting will arrive and there'll be some WrestleMania challenge thrown down. FACE TO FACE! CONFRONTATION! 


Prediction - There will be a FACE TO FACE CONFRONTATION!


Singles Match for the United States Championship
Rusev (C) vs. John Cena



Rusev have boo boo spot.


Head to Head Record - FIRST TIME MEETING

John Cena's spent most of the last month taking the piss out of Rusev's accent and Lana's breasts, because he's John Cena and can do what the fuck he likes. Suddenly being portrayed as the old man veteran of the roster, whilst Kane and Big Show whizz about like spring chickens, Cena has been having trouble with his eye as of late, so expect that to be a large focus of the match on Sunday. Rusev's proved he's best when given a good story to tell in the ring, see his SummerSlam bout with Jack Swagger, so Cena's eye injury and the fact that Cena is the first real threat to Rusev's undefeated streak should provide enough for these too to put on, at least, a decent match. Although, I wouldn't expect a squeaky clean finish just yet.

Prediction - Cena wins via Countout, Rusev retains the United States Championship.



Singles Match for the Intercontinental Championship
Bad News Barrett (C) vs. Dean Ambrose

Who knew Dean Ambrose was a Manchester United fan, eh?


Head to Head Record - Barrett, 1 win. Ambrose, 2 wins

When he's not engaging in bants on Twitter with Wayne Rooney, Bad News Barrett is loosley involved in a feud with Dean Ambrose over the Intercontinental Championship. Ambrose has become obsessed with joining the "Wall of Champions" in WWE HQ, seemingly forgetting that he held the United States Championship for almost a year.These two have the potential to put together a very good match indeed, with their brawling styles matching up nicely, whilst still being different enough to make an in-ring battle an interesting watch. Neither man can really afford to lose this one so close to WrestleMania, but Ambrose's failure to win a PPV match since the break up of The Shield means that it needs to the Lunatic Fringe who goes over here.

Prediction - Ambrose wins, to gain his first ever Intercontinental Championship.

 

Six Man Tag Team Match
Dolph Ziggler, Ryback & Erick Rowan vs. Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane

 
Is Rowan checking out Ziggler's arse?







Head to Head Record - FIRST TIME MEETING

Nothing says "We have no idea what's going on?" more than a six man tag team match announced the day before the PPV! Essentially a rehash of the Survivor Series main event, with some loose build up on television over the last few weeks, but nothing particularly substantial. I guess there's the intrigue on the situation between Big Show and Kane, although I genuinelly couldn't care less about guy. Why have a Ziggler vs. Rollins match on Raw and then this match on Pay-Per-View? I'm sure the match will be watchable, six man tags usually are in WWE, but I just don't really understand why it's on PPV.

Prediction - Ziggler, Rowan and Ryback pick up the victory.



Tag Team Match for the Tag Team Championship.
The Usos (C) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd



The return of Natalya's farting gimmick.


Head to Head Record - Usos, 1 win. Cesaro & Kidd, 1 win.

I have hope that this match is going to be an improvement on the build to this match. The Usos seem to be being pushed as a modern day Team Extreme with Naomi by their side, whilst Cesaro, Tyson Kidd and Natalya are involved in some kind of kinky three way of sorts. These teams can certainly string together an entertaining tag match, if given enough time, it would be nice to see this one go, at least, ten minutes. Hopefully the involvement of the Diva's is kept to a minimum, as whilst Natalya and Naomi may be two of the strongest on the roster, their involvement will almost certainly detract from what could be a physical tag team tussle. I'm not sure WWE is that invested in the Kidd and Cesaro tag team going forward following a mixed bag of luck of the past few months, so I can't really look past The Usos in here.

Prediction - The Usos retain the Tag Team Championship.



Singles Match for the Diva's Championship
Nikki Bella (C) vs. Paige




Nikki Bella cutting another incredible promo.
Head to Head Record - Nikki, 0 wins. Paige, 2 wins.

        Paige says she's an Anti-Diva, The Bella Twins say Paige isn't an Anti-Diva. That's the long and short of it, but at least they've had time to build up an actual feud. Nikki has improved slightly in-ring over the last year or so, but like all Diva's pay-per-view bouts this will be harmed by a lack of time and a lack of crowd investment. WrestleMania tends to feature the Diva's in some kind of multi-person fracase, so it doesn't really matter who wins here.

Prediction - Nikki Bella retains the Diva's Championship



Singles Match
Goldust vs. Stardust



Gold...always believe in your soul.


Head to Head Record - FIRST TIME MEETING

With Stardust finally turning on his brother on this week's Raw, thanks to Dusty Rhodes attempting to get involved in the pairs crumbling tag team. Personally, I was hoping we'd get to finally see these two go at it at WrestleMania, but hey ho, maybe we'll get a gimmick match at The Show of Shows? It's time for Stardust to cash in on all the promise we'd seen from him during his feud with The Authority in 2013 and break out of the shadow of his brother.

Prediction - Stardust wins.



Finally...


Whilst I wouldn't say I'm looking forward to Fastlane, there are a number of matches on the card that could prove sleeper hits. Barrett vs. Ambrose would be the standout amongst the possiblilities, due to the similar styles of the performers and the fact that the match could go either way. Many of the matches are dependent on the length of time they will recieve, so hopefully Sting and Triple H's confrontation is kept fairly concise to give the regular performers the best opportunity at putting on a good match. It's the last stop before WrestleMania, so hopefully we'll see a few twists and turns thrown into the PPV as well, with Seth Rollins, Kane and Dolph Ziggler all conspicious by their absence on this card.

Enjoy the PPV, look out for coverage on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, before our full review goes live on Monday.

Point of Joe Return

     
      The surprising news that TNA stalwart Samoa Joe has parted ways with the company that has more or less been his home for ten years, has left many wondering what the future holds for the Samoan Submission Machine and what exactly lead to his departure from the company in the first place?  

      Joe fans need not worry too much though, as he was still involved in the recent UK tour and involved in matches at both the Manchester and London TV tapings, wrestling two matches with Austin Aries that are set to air on the 27th February and 20th March respectively, so you've still got a month of the former TNA World Heavyweight Champion on Destination America, Challenge, Ma Chaine Sport or whatever channel carries Impact Wrestling in your neck of that woods. 


Samoa Joe in TNA


Credit - CANOE


     Joe came into TNA in the summer of 2005, debuting in a dominating effort against Sonjay Dutt at Slammiversary at the Impact Zone, whilst still working for Ring of Honor at the time, even defending the companies Pure Championship the night before his TNA debut against Colt Cabana in New Jersey. Joe split much of his early time in TNA with Ring of Honor, as well as various Indy companies across North America, England and Australia, such as FIP, 1PW, IWA Mid-South and PWG. 


     Placed immediately into an Undefeated Streak angle, Joe began to fluorish under the wider spotlight offered by TNA, and it didn't take long before he put in his first world class match up for the company, opposite Chris Sabin at No Surrender in July. Joe's debut year may be the strongest in terms of match quality that TNA has seen, as he continued to put in belting matches including two cracking PPV outings against AJ Styles, picking up his first X-Division title , as well arguably the finest match TNA has ever put on, the Unbreakable triple threat match with both Styles and Christopher Daniels. Whilst also being portrayed as an unstoppable and undefeatable force, things looked bright for Joe as TNA began to grow as a company. 


Credit - YourWrestlingWorld

     As the undefeated streak continued, Joe's three way feud with Styles and Daniels continued with strong bouts across the first three PPV's of 2006, although they failed to capture the initial magic from Unbreakable, Joe still managed to pick up his second X-Division title from Daniels at the 10th April iMPACT tapings. Joe moved up to play with the big boys over the summer of 2006, beginning in a feud with Scott Steiner, that included teaming with Sting at Sacrifice, and singles bout at Slammiversary, both of which produced surprisingly good results from a 43 year old Steiner. Following a Falls Count Anywhere against Monty Brown and Rhino at Hard Justice, Joe's form stumbled a bit as he struggled in a dodgy storyline with Jeff Jarrett and Sting. However, the arrival of one man kept Joe on track, that man being Kurt Angle.

     The pairs feud produced some of the most iconic imagery in TNA's history, from Angle's initial debut on iMPACT in October and into three back-to-back PPV outings between November and January 2007. Although Joe lost his 18 month undefeated streak to Angle, it was clear that working with the WWE Champion was the biggest moment of Joe's career so far. It could even be argued that Joe never managed to reach such a peak again, as the influx of ex-WWE talent began.




Credit - PWK-Bloggers

     Joe spent most of 2007 chasing the NWA and TNA World Heavyweight Championships, being part of exciting title bouts with Christian Cage and Kurt Angle at Destination X and Hard Justice respectively, whilst also competing in the King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary. Whilst the World title eluded him, Joe did manage his third X Division title in on iMPACT in June beating Jay Lethal and Chris Sabin in a three way, as well his first World Tag Team Championship alongside Angle from Team 3D in July. A Bound For Glory bout with Cage was perhaps Joe's stand out match of the year, as knee injuries began to take a toll on the big man. December's Turning Point featured Joe's infamous shoot promo on Scott Hall who no showed the PPV, which supposedly upset a number of TNA higher ups, including Dixie Carter, who was at ringside. 

     After struggling in a poorly structured on-off feud with Kevin Nash in early 2008, Joe came to life at Lockdown, winning his first and only TNA World Heavyweight Championship, in a career defining steel cage match with Kurt Angle. Going on a 182 day reign with the belt, Joe had successful title defences against Angle, Kaz, Scott Steiner, Booker T, Christian Cage and Robert Roode. Despite this, Joe's matches failed to reach the levels we'd seen previously, and whilst no one would argue his defences were of a poor standard, coupled with lacklustre feuds, Joe's one and only run as World Heavyweight Champion failed to live up to the expectations of the masses. It was unsurprising then that Joe dropped the title to Sting at Bound For Glory.



Credit - Fan Pop

    As Joe transitioned into his ridiculous "Nation of Violence" gimmick, that saw him "torturing" opponents backstage for reasons unknown, he was placed in a storyline involving the Main Event Mafia. The storyline initially pitted Joe against the MEM, before it was supposedly revealed Joe had been working for the group the whole time, despite several glarring plot holes, turning on AJ Styles to allow Kurt Angle to win the King of the Moutain match at Slammiversary. Despite picking up his fourth X Division title reign from Homicide at Hard Justice, Joe was lost in the mix with the Main Event Mafia, Taz debuting as his manager and quickly joining the commentary desk did little to help. With the group folding at Bound For Glory, Joe was free to compete in his last truly great match at Turning Point, a re-hash of the Unbreakable three way, this time for Styles' World Heavyweight Championship.


     If 2009 hadn't been Joe's year, 2010 and 2011 would only get worse. On 18th February, Joe was kidnapped by ninjas, on 19th April Joe returned to TNA and the abduction was never mentioned again. Feuds with Jeff Jarrett, D'Angelo Dinero and Crimson failed to set the world alight, and Joe was put on a losing streak. Unable to win a match for love nor money, losing every single match in the Bound For Glory series. This may have been alright, if Joe's matches at this time were actually worth watching, with a Destination X bout with Kazarian the only stand out bout during this time.



Credit - The Sun

    Joe's career saw a revitalisation of sorts, as he was paired with Magnus in a floundering tag team division. Not only did the pairing give Joe his second World Tag Team Championship at Against All Odds, it also saw Joe register his best yearly win-loss ratio since his World title year of 2008, as well as a return to form inside the ring. Whilst the pairs battle with Christopher Daniels and Kazarian at Sacrifice was perhaps the only real gem of their run as a team, much of this was down to the lacklustre nature of opponents like Matt Morgan & Crimson and Mexican America, and it was clear that Joe was enjoying his wrestling and mentoring the younger Magnus at this point. Strong contests with Austin Aries, Kurt Angle and Magnus showed signs that Joe may be ready to take a step back into the main event scene.

     That proved not to be the case as the next two years proved both creatively fruitless and gave Joe worse win-loss records since joining the company. Whilst Joe did manage to return to the main event with a bout against Magnus at Lockdown 2014, the last two years were marred by hot and cold booking and Joe's inability to pull out a single remarkable singles bout. Joe's last title reign came as X Division Champion, defeating Low Ki and Sanada for the belt at Impact tapings in June, however an injury cut short the reign before it could get vaguely interesting. 


Credit - CAQ


     This year saw Joe working more of less as a bouncer for MVP's Beatdown Clan faction, a role that didn't seem to capture Joe's attention as he looked noticeably sluggish and almost bored whilst on screen with the group. Although we'll never get to see how the situation may have played out had Joe remained with the company, I wouldn't have held out much hope that we would have seen anything close to the Samoa Joe that captured the world wide spotlight in '06 and '07.


The Departure



So, what exactly lead to Joe deciding to move to pastures new? It's clear that Joe's relationship with the company has been fragile at best over the last few years, it even seemed like he would leave the company at the end of 2010. The fact that Joe only capture the World Heavyweight Championship once in ten years with the company is testament to TNA's failure to turn Joe's early momentum into anything lasting, instead they opted for the quick fix of handing runs to ex-WWE wrestlers like Mick Foley, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson during a time when Joe should really have been coming into his own as a franchise player for the company. 



Credit - Daily DDT

It's impossible not to draw parallels between Joe's time in TNA and AJ Styles' who departed in 2013. Both were overlooked by TNA for a long time in favour of ex-WWE competitors, and both should have been the cornerstone of TNA's main event scene for years, ending up in a similar situation to what we John Cena feature in for WWE today. However, the real difference between Styles and Joe is Styles' attitude, as he continued to look motivated with the company, pulling out solid performances throughout his tenure, often in spite of piss-poor booking, whilst Joe appeared to become disenchanted, gaining weight and losing the pace that made him stand out in the first place. Of course, Joe's well documented knee injuries also added to the situation. 


What next? 


At thirty five years old, Joe could still have a good few years of regular performances in him. That's if he regains his mojo and puts the work in, and of course, depends heavily on how his injuries are holding up. 


Credit - Wrestling-Edge

WWE, at this point, wouldn't seem like an option, as whilst many cite Triple H apparently being a big fan of Joe's work, it's Vince McMahon that would ultimately stand in the way of Joe turned up in the 'E. Whilst matches with the likes of Cesaro, Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose would certainly get the fans talking, I can't imagine McMahon would see much value in Joe debuting straight onto the main roster and whilst a stretch in NXT wouldn't be entirely out of the question, with Joe able to offer a lot to the likes of Hideo Itami, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, it would most likely be in the role of a trainer in the Performance Center, which houses a number of performers who never made it to the WWE.

The most likely outcome though, is that we'll see Joe return to the Indy scene. I'm sure Ring of Honor has already been on the blower to try and sort out some kind of deal, even if that's only for a handful of matches, rather than a full time contract. Matches with Christopher Daniels, Jay Briscoe and Adam Cole could prove fruitful for both Joe and his opponents as well as PPV buys. Japan is also becoming an increasingly appealing alternative to the main US companies, with New Japan the biggest of these options, and Joe's previous experience with Zero-1, Pro Wrestling NOAH and Wrestle-1 could prove vital in getting a deal done.



Credit - Noe Entertainment

Whatever Joe chooses to do with his time, we hope to see him return to enjoying his wrestling and produce the quality of match-up that we've seen him produce in the past, whilst also giving back to the younger up and coming talents with his knowledge of the business. We'd like to wish Joe the best in whatever he does. 
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