Sunday, 25 January 2015

WWE Royal Rumble 2015 Preview and Predictions

        It's one of WWE's biggest and most popular events of the year, jumping starting the road to WrestleMania, so what has Vinny Mac got in store for us this year? Let's have a look, shall we?


The Royal Rumble Match


It's the match that get's everyone talking! Who is going to eliminate the most people? Who is going to last the longest? Will there be any surprise entrants? And most importantly...Who is going to win and main event the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania?

Here we'll take a look at the bookies favourites (We used the best odds from www.oddschecker.com) and consider their chances of winning it all!

Dolph Ziggler (16-1)


Ziggler qualified for Rumble with a win over Bad News Barrett on Thursday Night Smackdown


Ziggly puff has been on a bit of a run as of late, getting a lot storyline attention in his battle against The Authority, as well as a number of runs with the Intercontinental Championship over the last few months. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ziggler enter early in this one, possibly even Number One, the role would suit him well and fit nicely with his continuining feud with the Authority. However, whilst I see The Show-off playing a big part in the match itself, I would be extremely surprised to see him pull out a victory.



Dean Ambrose (16-1)


Ambrose picked up a big victory over Bad News Barrett on Monday Night Raw.



       Ambrose had two major feuds last year, including ATPW's Feud of the Year opposite Seth Rollins, however, despite The Lunatic Fringe's surge in popularity, he was more often than not on the losing end. In fact, Ambrose hasn't won on PPV since the break up of The Shield. Therefore I'm doubtful that we'll be seeing Dean standing tall at the end of the night. Ambrose needs some big wins heading out of WrestleMania, but I'm sure where he's going to fit into the event itself at this time.


Randy Orton (12-1)


Orton lasted over 48 minutes to win the 2009 Rumble, eliminating Big Show, Kane and Triple H! 

      Orton hasn't been seen on television since 3rd November edition of Monday Night Raw, after turning babyface on The Authority and ending up on the recieving end of a Curb Stomp from Seth Rollins. However, appearances on house shows at the end of December point to possible return for Orton at the Rumble. With the popularity of the "Outta Nowhere" vines now long since gone, I can't see Orton picking up his second Rumble win here. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see him costing Seth Rollins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, either during the match or during a Money in the Bank cash-in.
      


Daniel Bryan (13-8)


Bryan kept his place in the Rumble by defeating Kane in a No DQ match on Thursday Night Smackdown


      Certainly the "IWC"'s pick to win the Rumble, but what do they know, eh? Bryan missed nearly 9 months of action following neck surgery and has returned with some impressive performances against the likes of Kane and Bray Wyatt on television recently. Bryan winning the Rumble would be met with almost complete acceptance from the audience and a title match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania could be a triumph of storytelling, however it does run the risk of ending up a little too similar to the previous years show. WWE was reluctant to pull the trigger on Bryan last year, so it'll be interested to see if they put their faith in him for the second year running.


Roman Reigns (4-9)


Reigns teamed with Bryan and Ambrose to defeat The Authority a week ago on Thursday Night Smackdown

      The outright favourite to win the Rumble, Roman Reigns appears to have been handpicked as WWE's next "Chosen One", protected for a long time as a member of The Shield with a series of dominant performance, including breaking Kane's elimination record at last year's Royal Rumble event. Probably since last years WrestleMania, Reigns had been my pick to win the Rumble, he does seem to posses all the qualities WWE goes after in a leading star. However, missing three months of action following surgery on an incarcerated hernia have cost Reigns some of the momentum he had heading out of a victory over Randy Orton at SummerSlam and feud with Big Show that no one asked for hasn't helped The Powerhouse either. Reigns is still my pick to win, both because I think WWE will go with Reigns over Bryan and because I think they should go with Reigns over Bryan. For years WWE was criticised for not attempting to make new stars, this is a big opportunity to turn Reigns in a bonafide star.



Outsiders


Although still to be pinned, Rusev suffered a countout loss to Ryback on Thursday Night Smackdown


       Notice something about all the favourites? They're all babyfaces! Yes everyone loves a feel good Rumble, but what if John Cena pulls out the victory in the World Heavyweight Championship match? Perhaps Rusev (18-1) could be the best option, the character alongside Lana is over and has momentum, but perhaps a Mania main event could be stretching it. How about Bray Wyatt (20-1) who's only lost one match on TV since returning in November? Could Triple H (25-1) get involved in the Rumble this year? It could tell an interesting story of The Authority stacking the deck, but I doubt we'll see The Game in the title match at Mania. Speaking of The Authority's Big Show and Kane trail behind at 40-1, and although I see dominating performances from both men again this year, neither would seem capable of WrestleMania main event status at this point in their careers. Rounding off the heels is Adam Rose (bizarelly at 50-1), maybe if all the Exotic Express enter as well, he has a chance?


The Stingers back! But has he got his eye on the gold?


      At the back of the babyface pack, how about the man that made his Monday Night Raw debut this week, Sting! (25-1) If Sting does enter the Rumble the roof may very well leave the Wells Fargo Center, however I think it's much more likely that we'll see Sting facing off agaisnt Triple H, rather than chasing the title come WrestleMania. Current NXT Champion Sami Zayn (33-1) and Adrian Neville (50-1) could also end up being surprise entrants, we've seen both Bo Dallas and Rusev turn up in the Rumble over the last few years, and both men have proved extremely popular over on NXT. However, I wouldn't get your hopes up for a WWE vs. NXT title showdown at Mania. Finally, there's that bloody rascal Ryback (35-1), who's had his own trouble with The Authority. If WWE really want to CM Punk spontaneously combust, they'll have The Big Guy win and main event WrestleMania.

ATPW's Pick - Roman Reigns


WWE World Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat Match
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins


Lesnar stood tall at the end of Monday Night Raw, after battering Rollins' allies Big Show and Kane


      Brock Lesnar (4-9) has been one of WWE's best used assets over the past 12 months, used sparingly and making it feel like a special occasion every time he appears on screen, with Paul Heyman crafting some excellent promos to keep the story ticking. Even with rumours that Lesnar could be heading back to MMA (either for UFC or Bellator), I'm expecting him to hold onto the title until WrestleMania, mainly due to that being the biggest stage for him to give back and pass on the rub that he recieved from The Undertaker last year. John Cena (12-5) would, of course, be more than capable of main eventing another WrestleMania with the title around his waste, but I feel Cena has much more to give in a separate "main event level" match on the card. Seth Rollins (13-2) is the dark horse of the match, and I do expect we'll see Rollins attempt to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase directly after the match, with Randy Orton potentially making his return to thwart Rollins' attempt.

ATPW's Pick - Brock Lesnar

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
The Usos (C) vs. The Miz & Damien Mizdow


The Miz suffered singles defeat to Jey Uso on Monday Night Raw


          Based around The Miz attempting to get Jimmy Uso's wife Naomi a job in Hollywood, this has been a rather inane storyline over the past two months or so, but at least it's a storyline for the tag division. The duos have faced off in numerous combinations recently with the results ranging from dull to not bad, and therefore I haven't got my hopes up for a tag classic here. The Usos (2-7) would appear to be the favourites having only won the titles from Miz and Mizdow (7-2) at December's TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs...and Stairs PPV. I'm seeing a Miz vs. Mizdow match at WrestleMania (possibly a Pre-Show Lumberjack bout?) following some shenanigans involving the two in the Rumble, so if they do win back the titles here, expect them to drop them pretty sharpish, either on the preceding Raw or the next PPV, Fast Lane.

ATPW's Pick - The Usos to retain.

Tag Team Match
Paige & Natalya vs. The Bella Twins


Paige and Natalya were at ringside for Brie Bella's win over Naomi on Thursday Night Smackdown

      I'm half expecting this one to get turned into a Fatal Fourway. It just seems an odd decision to have a Diva's tag match on a PPV. But again, at least these ladies have been given some time to develop an intriguing feud and add depth to their characters, Paige especially has excelled over the last month or so. If this match is given enough time and focuses on telling a story, then I think it could surprise a lot of people. Paige & Natalya (8-15) would make sense as winners here, and would allow for something interesting develop heading into WrestleMania, however I wouldn't be totally surprised to see one cost the other the victory and allow The Bella Twins (6-4) to walk out victorious. If this match does get turned into a Four-Way then I wouldn't be shocked to see Brie Bella walk out with her sisters title.

ATPW's Pick - Paige & Natalya


Tag Team Match
The Ascension vs. The New Age Outlaws



The New Age Outlaws joined forces with The APA, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and X-Pac to take out The Ascension on Monday Night Raw.


       After a month of mouthing off about being the Most Powerful Tag Team in WWE History and running down the likes The Road Warriors, Demolition and The Powers of Pain have The Ascension (1-6) met their match in the New Age Outlaws (5-1), who are, of course, reknowned world over for their power. This is a non-starter, isn't it? The Ascension will dominate, New Age Outlaws will have a comeback, before finally falling to The Fall of Man. It's simple, but could prove effective for The Ascension.

ATPW's Pick - The Ascension



There's a bloody lot of tag matches on this show, isn't there? Especially when you take into account that Adam Rose, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd (5-2) will take on The New Day (1-3) on the Pre-Show. I wouldn't say I'm particularly hyped about any of the undercard, an Intercontinental Championship rematch between Bad News Barrett and Dolph Ziggler could've really brightened it up a little and I expect the first hour and half of the show to draaaaaag. However, I am looking forward to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship bout, as their seems to be a lot of possibilities with the three guys in the ring and the build up has been strong and, as always, I'm hyped for the Royal Rumble, because it's the Royal Rumble and I'm intrigued as to whether WWE will side with Daniel Bryan or Roman Reigns to headline WrestleMania XXXI. See you tomorrow for the review! 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Impact Wrestling 8th January 2015 Review

Impact Wrestling is back! Yes, TNA's flagship TV show returned to our screens on 8th January (Yes, I'm playing catch up already with reviews!), and promised a big show, with Bobby Roode defending the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against ex-champ Bobby Lashley, Kurt Angle returing to action after eight months on the sidelines in Street Fight against MVP and more. But was the debut show on Destination America actually any good?

TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match
Bobby Lashley vs. Bobby Roode (C)




      Correctly so, this match was hyped throughout the show, beginning with the brawling opening segment. Followed up with the highlights video of the original Bobby Lashley vs. Bobby Roode match from No Surrender in September and a backstage segment that teased some tension between Lashley and stablemates MVP and Kenny King, with those two having another segment later on, that was almost completely drowned out by background noise. Through in a recap of the second Lashley vs. Roode match from October and you had a pretty solid amount of build toward the main event, with the recaps especially making it feel like the main event was going to be something worth watching.

     And for the most part that's exactly what this match was. Something worth watching. Did it reach the heights of the previous two matches? Not quite, but that's got more to do with the ending than anything else for me, but we'll get to that in a minute. Lashley continued to repay TNA's faith in him throughout, he looked every bit the star they've attempted to build him into, his facial expressions whilst no selling clotheslines from Roode were spot on and meant that when Roode eventually knocked him it felt more important than it probably should have. On the other hand of the coin, Roode has grown into TNA's biggest home grown star over the last two years, and looked very crisp in the ring throughout, a lovely flying neckbreaker was particular high point.

     The match built nicely towards it's closing stages, with Roode and Lashley throwing there best shots at each other to attempt to get the victory, even stealing each others finishers. The two flowed nicely during this stage, as they did throughout the entire match. However, with MVP, Kenny King and two mystery guys coming out, I began to lose interest. With the referee being pulled out of the ring with Lashley about to tap in the crossface, everything went a bit nuts. Angle ran in, but got battered by the four guys, with the two mystery men being revealed as Low Ki and Samoa Joe (this turning them heel), with Eric Young scaring off the heels, he himself then turn heel nailing Roode with a chair and allowing Lashley to hit a spear to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship for the second time in his career. Now, I usually go with the idea that if it's mouthfull to say and confusing to read, it's probably not a great finish to a match. Personally, I think allowing Roode and Lashley alone would have sent out much better messages about the new direction of the product.

     Whilst, Low Ki, Samoa Joe and Eric Young all turning heel in the space of two minutes did have a degree of shock value, it felt like TNA were giving away at least three weeks of booking in one segment. Surely, having one guy turn each week would have extended the "Impact" of the turns? With Eric Young booked against Bobby Roode in a Falls Count Anywhere match on this weeks, it's difficult to not think TNA is simply going to repeat the same mistakes it has done in the past, rushing angles and not giving them enough time for anyone to get invested in what is actually going on in the ring! 


Street Fight
Kurt Angle vs. MVP




       Yes, Kurt Angle returned to in-ring action at the tender age of 46 years of age! This, of course, was holy unadvertised, because that would be silly, wouldn't it? Yes, instead of having weeks or even months of build to Angle's return to the ring, it was rushed into the opening segment of the show! Angle's return match would surely sell tickets and boost ratings (maybe even sell PPV's) if advertised and hyped correctly.

     Now the segment itself started nicely, with a well directed video package that saw a number of TNA wrestlers recieving an invite to the show (complete with new music that was featured throughout the show), eventually leading to them brawling outside the Manhattan Center and then into the building. A decent attempt to try and get as many guys and gals on the start of the show and create a different feel to what WWE is doing at the moment. Personally, this brawl went on for a bit too long, but it seemed to get the crowd really pumped for the show, as they remained very loud throughout the broadcast.

      After Angle had put all Championships on the line for the night (again, would it not have been wise to advertise this?), MVP attempted to interupt Angle and after some back and forth Angle made the announcement that he was no longer Director of Wrestling Operations and would resume his in-ring career, booking his final match as a Street Fight against MVP. Again, it all comes down to promoting big matches, even having Angle announce that the match would open the second hour of the hour would have been an improvement on it happening straight away!

     However, for two men wresting in street clothes, MVP and Angle made the best they could out of the strange booking. The wrestling was sound, only Kurt Angle could make German Suplexes look so beautiful whilst wearing a suit at 46 years old and there was some solid psychology with MVP focusing his antention on Angle's knee, referecning the ACL tear that had kept Angle out of action, with a chair shot on the steel steps. The two strung together some nice sequences and when Angle picked up the win with an Angle Slam, I was more than satisfyed with the opening match of the show. I still hold out that this match shouldn't have opened Impact (without prior advertisment anyway), but this was a solid out for Angle and MVP, with the result sparking a chain of events that would impact on the rest of the show.

TNA World Tag Team Championship Match
James Storm & Abyss (C) vs.  The Wolves





       Before this match took place, TNA cleverly hyped their new Impact Unlocked series, by broadcasting a teaser of the footage that one could expect when tuning into the show. This footage was a pre-recorded one on one sit down interview between Mike Tenay and one half of the TNA World Tag Team Champions James Storm. The style of interview presented here felt fresh and most importantly it used Mike Tenay to bring a touch of reality to Storm's larger than life character. Many viewers will have created a connection with Tenay over the year, so seeing him in this situations, not only made for uncomfortable viewing (in a good way) but also allowed Storm's character work to come to the forefront.

    It was straight into the match following the interview, with The Wolves being revealed as Storm and Abyss' challengers. This was an adequate tag team bout, if not a little short. The Wolves impressed throughout, with both Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards taking turns bumping for Storm and Abyss, before both men showed some sound athletism, including both flipping out of a chokeslam attempt from Abyss and delivering a handful of double team moves, such as the Backstabber/Double Stomp combo that earned them a two count. A personal highlight of the match was seeing Abyss catch Edwards during a handspring elbow attempt before delivering Shock Treatment for a great near fall. The finsh wasn't to my taste however, with The Hardys getting involved to attempt to even the field by taking out The Revolution's Manik and Great Sanada who were at ringside, before Jeff Hardy ended up bumping into Edwards, allowing Storm to hit a Last Call Superkick to pick up the win and retain the titles. Whilst the original Hardys vs. Wolves match and the subsequent tag series with Team 3D were all good matches, I'm personally not interest in a rematch between the two.

TNA X Division Championship Match
Low Ki (C) vs. Austin Aries 





      With Low-Ki's challenger for the evening being revealed as former TNA World Heavyweight Champion Austin Aries, it was difficult not to get hyped for this match. Given more time and I'm sure these two would have put on an absolute clinic in X Division style wrestling. There wasn't quite enough time for these two to put things into top gear, but it was still an entertaining seven minutes of action, with the two going back and forth with mainly strike based offence. The closing stages especially showed that this match up had a lot more to give, with a beautiful modified dragon sleeper reversal from Low Ki to escape a brainbuster attempt, before Aries was able to catch Low Ki with a dropkick with Low Ki perched on the top rope, before delivering a brain buster to pick up the victory and become a SIX time X Division Champion! These two deserved at least an extra five minutes.


TNA Knockout's Championship Battle Royal
Velvet Sky vs. Angelina Love vs. Gail Kim vs. Tarynn Terrell (C) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Havok vs. Rebel





KNOCKOUT'S BATTLE ROYAL! Fuck that, AWESOME KONG IS BACK! Yes, after a rather uninspiring battle royal that saw Tarynn Terrel hold onto the TNA Knockout's Championship by last eliminating Gail Kim and Havok, Awesome Kong (last seen on TV as WWE's Kharma) returned to TNA after a five year absence. Kong made her presence known by chokeslamming the referee and staring down with Havok. TNA's knockout's division hasn't been the same since Kong left in 2010, so hopefully with near 300lb'er back on board the Impact Wrestling train, we'll see an upturn in the division fortunes in 2015.

EC3 shaves Jeremy Borash's head!!!





       With cameras supposedly installed "everywhere" in the building, Ethan Carter III and Tyrus attempted to hijack the show, appearing in a number of backstage segments calling out Spud for a little trim. When EC3 made it out the ring, his crowd work was impeccable, he knew exactly what he needed to do to get the reaction he wanted from the fans in attendance. The rest of the segment however, I'm not quite sure about. Spud was carried to the ring by Tyrus, before ring announcer Jeremy Borash attempted to stand up for Spud, with the camera unforgivably missing the big moment of Borash slapping EC3 hard in the face! This eventually led to Borash getting his head shaved by EC3. Erm... Erm... I don't know! Was this great television? Was it another bizarre piece of booking? Did Jeremy Borash just want to shave his head? All this and more will probably never be answered.

Finally...


       This was an entertaining episode of Impact Wrestling, with the majority of the matches being extremely watchable. 
 Josh Matthews was a fresh addition to the commentary team alongside Taz and seemed to push his partner on, the two made a compelling duo on commentary, perhaps the best change to the broadcast style. I still have a few reservations about TNA rushing storylines, with both the turns of Low Ki, Samoa Joe and Eric Young and the in-ring return of Kurt Angle all not feeling quite as big as they could have, if given the correct time and attention.


Over the Border IV - A New Hope: Ones to Watch 2015

       In my first foray into blogging on Across the Pond Wrestling for 2015 I’m going to take a look at wrestlers that I predict will have an outstanding year and for you, dear reader, to keep an eye out for in a town or TV screen near you. I have picked the following with valid reason.

Sammii Jayne

http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20140906212526/prowrestling/images/4/47/Sammii_Jayne.jpg


Consistency is difficult when it comes to wrestling and Sammii Jayne consistently puts 100% into every match. Many, including myself, saw 2013 as Sammii’s breakthrough year but 2014 has seen her become a staple for Fierce Females among other companies and putting on great matches on a consistent basis. 2014 was just the start and 2015 will be the year that Sammii continues to put on great performances and getting the opportunities she deserves.

Check out Sammii Jayne on Facebook and Twitter:

Also check out my chat with Sammii Jayne:

Joe Coffey

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HNrDHsRY4V4/U9a-j5DCTjI/AAAAAAAAAww/1Hbp3Hy82Ns/s1600/coffey.jpg




        The Iron Man has long been tipped as being the next big thing in professional wrestling, battering all that come near with forearms or twisting opponents like pretzels. He can work long endurance matches, earning the title of Iron Man, tag team matches with his brother Mark and can adapt to nearly every match type. A cameo appearance on RAW as a Rosebud and winning the SWA Zero1 Heavyweight Championship in 2014, Joe will be looking to build towards regaining that title in 2015 from Doug Williams plus he will be facing the ICW Heavyweight Champion at The Barrowlands in March for Barramania. Coffey will have plenty of opportunities to cement his name as a main event guy for any company he works for.

Check out Joe Coffey on Twitter:

The Gatecrashers
(Chris Saynt, Dave Conrad and Courtney)







     Saynt and Conrad are a young tag team with a tonne of potential. They recently added the stunning Courtney to their ranks, who will have a great 2015 in her own right. All three are improving at a very fast rate and with Saynt and Conrad showing more confidence and chemistry with every performance whether it’s at Pride Wrestling, ICW or Reckless Intent, it won’t be long before they are a sought after tag team up there with the likes of Just Uz.

Check out everything Gatecrasher related on Facebook and Twitter:

Joe Hendry



http://www.reckless-intent.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/1624371_10151918946616262_1096791463_n.jpg  

     
      As soon as someone asks me who the future is in professional wrestling this guy is the first name to mind. 2014 was his first full year in professional wrestling. He appeared on RAW…twice, won countless titles in numerous promotions, won amateur wrestling matches, wrestled in Europe. Global Hero is not just a cocky moniker. 2014 was just the practice run and I predict big things from Joe Hendry in 2015 with titles, accolades and great matches to follow.


Check out Joe Hendry on Facebook and Twitter:

Lou King Sharp



https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/542026104513761280/erJm5cdV_400x400.jpeg


     2014 was just the start for the young Lou King Sharp and 2015 will be his year to make a statement. The latter half of 2014 saw Sharp facing big names like Chris Renfrew and Grado. he will be looking to keep that momentum going. He’s your Mothers Favourite Wrestler, ripped, jacked and counting fat stacks. The guy talks the talk and thus far has been walking the walk. I can see Lou King Sharp being a star attraction in the future and a great 2015 will certainly help that.

Check out Lou King Sharp on Twitter:
Also check out my chat with Lou King Sharp:


Lionheart


http://www.lep.co.uk/webimage/1.6319961.1387221895!/image/1363339169.jpg_gen/derivatives/articleImgDeriv_628px/1363339169.jpg



     2014 wasn’t the best year for Lionheart after suffering a neck injury that many would retire because of. He became GM of PCW and started his own podcast From the Heart which boasted a stellar guest list including Grado, Mark Dallas and Wolfgang. Due to make his in ring return in March for PCW and ICW, Lionheart will be looking to make up for lost time and will be proving that he still has a lot of mileage left in the tank. The showdown with Jackie Polo in The Barrowlands for ICW in March will be a mouth watering affair.


There you have it, just a couple of my picks for wrestlers that you should keep an eye out for in 2015, some veterans, some just into their first full active year but all have the talent and ability to be game changers. This of course has only scratched the surface and there are many more names that come off the top of my head of guys and girls that will be pushing themselves to the limits this year and beyond to make a name for themselves in a business that is a hot property in Scotland and the whole of the UK. Do you have a particular favourite that you think should be on people’s radars this year? 






Contact me at VoiceOfOSW@gmail.com

Friday, 9 January 2015

Lucha Underground 7th January 2015 Review

           Those Lucha Underground chaps only went and crowned their first champion on their first show of 2015! But was the show actually any good? Let's take a look

Lucha Underground Championship Aztec Warfare

Fenix vs. Johnny Mundo vs. Mr. Cisco vs. King Cuerno vs. Son of Havoc vs. Pimpinella Escarlita vs. Prince Puma vs. Ivelisse Velez vs. Drago vs. Bael vs. Cortez Castro vs. Ricky Mandel vs. Big Ryck vs. Pentagon, Jr. vs. Super Fly vs. Chavo Guerrero, Jr. vs. Mascarita Sagrada vs. Sexy Star vs. El Mariachi Loco vs. Mil Muertes






       Aztec Warfare is essentially a Twenty Man Royal Rumble, but with pins and submissions instead of over-the-top rope eliminations. This style of match, of course, suited Lucha Underground's performers much better than your traditional battle royal, as it allowed them to pull off some exciting flips and tricks over the top rope, whilst also allowing the ring to be cleared at times to allow for some more exciting action inside the ring. Unlike your traditional WWE-style Royal Rumble, which more often than not has a lot of guys standing around or dicking about by the ropes, this match was full-on action from start to finish.

      Alongside the quite frankly ridiculous action, a few storylines and feuds were weaved into the match. There was the struggle of Big Ryck's Crew to stay in the match before Big Ryck arrived, in which they ultimately failed, leaving Big Ryck to get eliminated thanks to a three pronged flippy floppy attack by Johnny Mundo, Prince Puma and Fenix. There was rascally veteran Chavo Guerrero, Jr's steel chair based madness, as he twatted many a wrestler in the head, before Sexy Star continued the pairs feud. The return of Blue Demon, Jr. to attack Guerrero felt like an important moment and the set up to a chair shot from Star allowed that story to reach a satisfying conclussion in the match.

    The final two in the match were Prince Puma and Johnny Mundo, with Mundo having been in the match since the very beginning. With the pair having main evented the first Lucha Underground, this felt like fitting finish to the match to crown the first champion. The pair had an engaging battle, with both going back and forth with a series of exciting moves. A top rope reverse rana from Mundo was perhaps the highlight of the bout for me. Puma's selling was also particularly impressive, especially with Mundo looking to see up for a Spanish Fly on the top rope, Puma looked genuinelly out of it. The finish saw Puma knock Mundo off the top turnbuckle, crotching him on the rope, before delivering a kick and a beautiful 630 splash to pick up the victory and become the first Lucha Underground Champion. It was refreshing to see a match end in such a fashion, as both men are big stars for the promotion so to see one of them gain a clean victory over the other on TV, was a nice change to WWE's usual shitty finishes. 


      This was a great watch from start to finish, which felt like the action didn't stop one bit, and the action was always exciting, with each wrestler getting an opportunity to show off, at least some of their style in the ring. If you hadn't seen Lucha Underground before this would be a good match to start with, as you get to see twenty of the promotions top stars, pulling out some of their most exciting moves. Put quite simply, this match was an awful lot of fun to watch.

Finally...


I thought having only one match take up the entire show was an interesting concept that having only an hour long show affords Lucha Underground the chance to do. As the show went to commercial breaks you had a reason to continue watching to see how the match would unfold, and unlike WWE's commercial breaks you didn't go into the break with a rest hold, you went in with a Tope Conhilo or some other flippy move.  This show is steadily become on of the strongest and most unique on the market at the moment, if you're not watching Lucha Underground, you should be.

WWE Raw 5th January 2015 Review

        First Raw of 2015, y'all! So they're gone make it big one, right? Explosion and shit, perhaps? Midgets on unicycles? Big Show in a diaper? Let's find out! 


John Cena Appreciation Night





     The main storyline this week centered around the return of The Authority and there attempts to get to John Cena. Following a recap of the end of last week's show, the show opened with the "entire" roster in and around the ring, although the focus was clearly on the red and yellow clad John Cena. Cena cut a promo about going back on his word last week, with his usually angsty facial expression, I don't think this promo was particularly needed, neither was it particularly impressive. Everything Cena said had been communicated to the audience in the recap at the start of the show. Luckily, after interupting Cena, Stephanie McMahon did a much better job, playing her patronising boss character perfectly, with Triple H also doing a decent job, gaining the group a decent amount of heat. The Authority thanked Seth Rollins by placing him in the World Heavyweight Championship bout with John Cena and Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble, which definitely makes the match more interesting for me. Finally, the duo announced that tonight would be "John Cena Appreciation Night", which would clearly be the main event segment. 

       To tie in with the John Cena Appreciation Night theme, a number of vignettes featuring big moments from Cena's career, starting with Cena's debut answering Kurt Angle challenge on Smackdown in 2002, winning the WWE Championship for the first time from JBL in 2005 and being drafted to Raw on an edition of Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel also in 2005. These clips have been pretty much played to death over the last few years and I'm not sure if they were supposed to be annoying to play into The Authority's ideas behind the John Cena Appreciation Night deal.

      The main event segment started with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon winding up John Cena in the ring, by going over how much they appreciated him bringing them back. Stephanie was once again on point here, but Triple H launched into one of his rambling promos that never quite goes anywhere. Eventually, Ryback, Erick Rowan and Dolph Ziggler were bought out to the ring, with The Authority talking about their futures as if they weren't in the ring. This worked really nicely, as I think a lot of the viewers would be able to relate to having a condescending and frustrating boss talk in such a manner. 

    Eventually with The Authority retreated to the ramp, they revealed they had decided the fate of the three member of Team Cena, with Stephanie doing her best Mr. McMahon "You're Fired" impression. With Cena continuing to pull his conflicted face, streamers and balloons came down from the ceiling for his Appreciation Night, contrasting with reactions of Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan as they left the ring. This gave a nice visual for the end of the show, whilst also leaving a number of open questions, that made me want to tune in next week. It's important that Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan aren't seen for sometime in my opinion to push the fact they have been fired and to get the biggest reaction out their respective returns. Personally, I would want them all to have, at least, a month off television and perhaps even longer, a Ziggler return at WrestleMania to return the favour for Sting could get a huge reaction and be well worth the time off.  

Ambulance Match
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt




      This match would the be the zenith of the Wyatt vs. Ambrose feud that's been raging on since late October. This was confirmed in a pre-taped promo from Bray Wyatt that aired earlier in the night. It was Wyatt's usual style of promo, talking about Ambrose's father and the devil. I think having a clear direction for where the promo should go helped Wyatt here as this was one of his stronger efforts as of late. Dean Ambrose also had an opportunity to get the match over on the microphone, with his own pre-taped promo. Everything he said, the way he said and his expression made me want to watch a fight. Can't ask for more than that really. 

      I'm not a big fan of Ambulance matches, and I also haven't been convinced by the majority of the Wyatt and Ambrose's feud, however I rather enjoyed this bout. Almost certainly the strongest match on the card and pretty much the only bout that the crowd gave a shit about either. The early brawling between the two was convincing and it got across to any new viewers that these two didn't like each other a whole lot. The pair fighting out in the crowd and near the Ambulance early was a nice twist to the regular pattern of the Ambulance match. It was here that the story of the match really came together, with Wyatt slamming the Ambulance door into Ambrose's leg, going on to focus a lot of his offence onto this leg. Again this was another welcome addition, and suited Wyatt's character down to the ground, whilst also allowing Ambrose to really show off his selling ability. 

       The spots were kept simple and used at effective point during the match, which gave the bout a strong flow. Ambrose's unique offence and character worked was more often than not tied into these spots, hitting a lovely version of his pendulum lariat using a stretcher, as well as the stand out spot of the night hitting an elbow drop off the top of the ambulance through a table (which was painted white with a red cross, which looked ridiculous). All the time Ambrose was selling the leg, aiding his crowd reaction as a babyface, whilst Wyatt's offence was kept simple and dirty, which is all good with me.

      The finish played into Ambrose's leg injury as he grasped at his leg following the elbow drop through the table, which allowed for Wyatt to hit a Sister Abigail into the ambulance, followed by one onto the concrete and pick up the victory. This worked as a satisfying finish to the match as the story all came together, but I'm not sure how Ambrose will be effected going forward from losing this feud. However, I also think Wyatt needed to win this one, after his feuds with John Cena and Chris Jericho in 2014, so I am a little conflicted. I am happy to see how things move for both men going forward and I'd still expect both to featured in big matches on WrestleMania in March.
  


Intercontinental Championship Two Out of Three Falls Match
Dolph Ziggler (C) vs. Bad News Barrett



         Part of the show opening segment involved the announcement that Dolph Ziggler would be defending his Intercontinental Championship against Bad News Barrett, with the reasoning being that Barrett had never lost the the title, after having to vacate the title back in July. I was left a little confused, as on the previous weeks Raw Barrett had returned and appeared to be a babyface, defeating Cesaro after Cesaro had cut a heel promo and offered an open challenge. Now, was this match just to make Cesaro look silly for his previous comments about the company, or do creative just not give enough of a shit to bother with something silly like consistent storytelling? 


     The first part of the match saw Barrett completely dominate, using mainly strikes and rest holds. The Corpus Christi crowd didn't seem to be into this at all, being very quiet, with a mild clap for Ziggler whilst Barrett had him locked in a headlock. I'm not sure if like me they were also confused with Barrett's sudden and unannounced switch back to a heel. Pretty much out of nowhere Ziggler managed to steal a victory with a rather nice crucifix pinning combination as a reversal for Barrett's Wind of Change. This first part of the match wasn't anything near what these two are capable of doing, their match on Raw last June would prove that.

     However, the pair would be given a reprieve, as after losing the match Barrett went on to absolutely batter Ziggler around the ring. Using everything around the ring, Barrett's insensity here was particularly impressive. He looked strong and showed a different side to his character that we perhaps hadn't seen in a while, it made sense that he would be frustrated after dominating the match, but it also made it easy to see him a "sore loser" type guy, meaning he should have gotten a bit more heat that he actually got from a rather quiet crowd. After Barrett had finished his beating, Kane made his presence felt by revealing that the match was supposed to be Two out of Three Falls and hence the match would continue. 


      With the match continued and I still found myself feeling a little disapointed with the quality of the action. Barrett quickly got a cover after a big boot and Wasteland, meaning the match was tied at 1-1. Following this there was just far too many rest holds for my liking, especially considering how long the match was and how quiet the crowd was, neither guy really attempted to get the crowd into the match. The closing stages bout something a little extra than the rest of the match, with a decent sequence that ended in Barrett hitting the Bullhamer elbow to pick up the win and pick up his fifth Intercontinental Championship. Personally, I would've liked Ziggler to have got a lengthy title reign heading into WrestleMania at least, but with the event elsewhere, it was clear that the title needed to be drop for that storyline to work.

Two-on-One Handicap Match
Ryback vs. Seth Rollins & Kane




     Ryback's initial punishment from The Authority was a handicap match against Seth Rollins and Kane. Ryback was one of the most over guys on the show with the crowd, with numerous "Feed Me More" chants throughout the match, and the Big Guy did a good job of playing to the crowd and for the most part looked good when on the offence, a nice belly to belly suplex in particular stood out for me.

      Where this match fell apart for me was an over reliance on rest holds, Kane in particular seemed to be in love with headlocks. The match could have easily been four or five minutes shorter and been much better off because of this. Rollins and Ryback did seem to have at least something regarding chemistry when allowed to go at it, with a nice sequence building towards a spinebuster from Ryback. Rollins picking up the victory following two Curb Stomps after Kane had recieved a Shellshocked, was a strong and satisfying ending to the bout that finished up the numbers game story that the match told.


Singles Match
Big Show vs. Roman Reigns



        The build up to this match began with a video package detailing the rivalry so far, which has essentially been each man tipping the announce table on each other, for the craic supposedly. A Roman Reigns interview with Renee Young was also presented, in which Reigns explained what Big Show could expect in the match later on. I couldn't help feeling that Reigns is trying too hard with promos, I'd like to see him relax a little and allow that natural charisma to he does have to come through, because everything here felt a little too forced. 

      I was pleasantly surprised by this match, as Show and Reigns worked around their limitations by presenting a decent story to follow of Show working over Reigns stomach, which as the commentary pointed out would be where Reigns' recent surgery took place. Reigns' comeback is perhaps the strongest part of his game, as many would have known from his days in The Shield, and we saw some of that here when Reigns exploded out of the box with multiple close lines and an impressive Samoan Drop. Unfortunately that was cut short with a DQ finish after Show used the steel steps, before Reigns hit a Spear on the inside meaning the steps landed on big show. Personally, I think this should have been a clean victory for Reigns, as whilst this match wasn't bad I have no desire to see the feud continue and Reigns could have used the momemtum heading into the Royal Rumble.

Six Person Mixed Tag Team Match
The Usos & Naomi vs. The Miz, Damien Mizdow & Alicia Fox



       There was a surprising amount of build up going into this match, firstly with a recap of last weeks show which saw The Usos regain the tag titles from The Miz & Damien Mizdow, followed up by a backstage segment that saw Alicia Fox attack Naomi. It was a shame that this attack seemed to be forgotten about by these performers once the bell rang, as there was a lack of any real aggression between the two women in the match. The rest of the action between the men in the match was dull, as Miz spent most the match in control, and as soon as the hot tag was made for the Usos, the match was over with a confusing finish that saw Miz pick up the win with a school boy roll up.

Special Guest Referee's Match
Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper



       The Authority continued to punish the members of Team Cena by placing J&J Security as the special guest referees for Erick Rowan's match with Luke Harper. As you could guess this was a very quick match, with Noble & Mercury's antics getting in the way of Rowan's attempts at victory. Harper picked up the victory after a clothesline and a quick count from the pair, with the three continuing the beat down after the bell. I'd like to see what these two could do when given a bit more time, as I think an extended feud with Harper could do wanders for Rowan, both in terms of in-ring work and getting more over with the crowd.

Singles Match
Adam Rose vs. Big E 



       Going less than a minute, it was difficult to get much of a feel for either Big E or Adam Rose, who now seems to be a full on heel, in this one. Even then the bout included a headlock, which there really was no need for at this point. It was caught short when two of the Rosebuds, dressed in morph suits attacked Big E and the rest of his New Day partner, giving Big E the DQ win. The two men hit a terrific double team move, before revealing themselves as Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. If the two teams get given time for their feud this could potential provide some entertaining match ups, whilst also elevating both teams at the same time, but that's a big if in today's WWE.

Singles Match
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya





     Before this match, Paige came out to show support for Natalya, with the pair sharing a hug at ringside. This again, showed a lack of consistency for WWE, as to the best of my knowledge Paige has been playing a heel on television for the last six month. This was too short to really get anything going, although Nikki did pull off a rather nice headscissors which would be my highlight of this bout. Natalya picked up the win with a roll up, following Nikki getting distracted by Paige and Brie on the outside. Nikki attacked Natalya after the match, Paige would make the save hitting a Superkick. Perhaps, if Paige had made a run in, rather than coming down to the ring earlier, the moment would have had a lot more impact.

Tag Team Match
Ascension vs. ???



     Ah, The Ascension. What has happened here? Before the match Konnor and Viktor cut a shouty promo running down Demolition and the Road Warriors, which was very odd indeed. Are the Road Warrior going to make a run in? No, one of them is dead! So don't trash talk about them! Their match against a pair of unamed local talent, was dominated by JBL talking about how pissed off he was that they mentioned the Road Warrior and he did seemed genuinely annoyed. The match was less than a minute and the Ascension picked up the victory following the Fall of Man.

Rusev & Lana Promo



       United States Champion Rusev and Lana were involved in a short pre-taped promo segment, which was essentially all the stuff we've heard from Lana for some time. Rusev did get some time to talk and wasn't awful, but did nothing that particularly made him stand out either. This seemed to be included just give the pair some face time on a packed show.

Finally...


      Bar Ambrose and Wyatt's enjoyable Ambulance match, these wasn't a single match on the card that looked to stand out as better than average, whilst a number of the matches were dull or felt unimportant. Elements of The Authority storyline worked, especially Stephanie McMahon's performance which was spot on all night long, and created a number of interesting possibilities going forward. This was a great Raw to start the new year on, it's time for WWE to kick it's self into a new gear, as WrestleMania is only three months away! 
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