Tuesday, 16 September 2014

WWE OMG! Volume 2 - The Top 50 Incidents in WCW History DVD Review

WWE's OMG! Volume 2 - The Top 50 Incidents in WCW History is out now on DVD (There's a Blu Ray version too), available from www.wwedvd.co.uk. The three disc set, features a countdown of the (WWE Home Video's version of) the Top 50 Incidents in WCW History (surprising, huh?). Detailing the some of the most memorable moments in the history of WCW, some of which many wish they couldn't remember. There's also fourteen complete matches, featuring The Road Warriors, Cactus Jack, Sting, Big Van Vader and Randy Savage.



The cover of this DVD tells you pretty much all you need to know about the tone of this three disc set. If you're expecting a lot of vintage WCW moments, just like the original WWE version of the DVD presented, then you'll end up very disapointed. Instead the countdown focuses, almost exclusively, on those moments when WCW had wrestling fans everywhere shaking their heads.

It's strange that WWE still feels the need to take shots at a company that not only no longer exists, but they own. Especially with WWE using WCW PPV's as a big selling point for the WWE Network, it seems a bizarre decision to ridicule the company in such a manner. Yes, there are some terrific moments included in the countdown, like Magnum TA and Tully Blanchards "I Quit" Steel Cage bout and the formation of the NWO, but not enough to really justify everything else. Yes, a lot of WCW's later output was abhorent, but I'm sure there was enough good stuff to make this countdown worthwhile (especially considering the WWE version was almost all positive)

To add to the clips shown for each moment, there is a selection of interview clips to give depth and context. Again, if your expecting new insight on these moments, you'll most likely be disapointed, as the interviews are a hodge podge collection of interviews from other sets. If you're a regular to WWE Home Video releases you'll recognise a lot of what is included here. There's also a couple of times where an interviewee pops up for a matter of seconds, before disapearing to be never seen again. A prime example of this would John Cena, who turns up to give an incredible insight, by saying putting the World title on David Arquette was a bad idea, without any explanation as to why.

There some entertaining moments and moments where terrible moments are made entertaining by the surrounding interviews and production. This is a fun DVD to watch with a couple of mates and a few beverages, and have a bit of a giggle at some of the ill-advised antics of World Championship Wrestling, but that doesn't make it a very good documentary. It's lacking any real love and attention that made the previous 3 disc release Ladies and Gentleman...My Name is Paul Heyman such a pleasure to watch. 

Matches & Moments

Similar to the main feature, the matchs and moments included on the next two discs are a selection of WCW's most face-palmable moments, lightly seasoned with some good wrestling at times. 

The set kicks of with the Midnight Express tackling the Road Warriors in a Scaffold match at Starrcade 1986, adding context to Jim Cornette's horrific fall that was included in the countdown. I've never been a fan of Scaffold matches and this slow, plodding and mainly awkward affair didn't do anything to change that.

Despite Jim Ross's best efforts on commentary, Robocop saiving Sting from the Four Horseman at Capital Combat 1990 is a kayfabe-shattering pile of shite. The excitement continues as the Chamber of Horrors from Halloween Havoc 1991 is presented. Whilst the majority of the cometitors try their hardest to create a believable and fairly brutal battle, the match was never going to be able to get past what is a terrible, terrible concept for a match. Two of the competitors from the match, go on to have the first enjoyable tussle of the set. Cactus Jack and Big Van Vader have a back and forth brawl, on a April 1993 edition of Saturday Night, that suits both men down to the ground. It's a shame that the finish of the bout leads to the mind-boggling Jack amnesia angle. 

Things return to normal as Dustin Rhodes and The Blacktop Bully go at it in the King of the Road match at Uncensored 1995 Seriously, why did anyone think this was a good idea? Even the commentary is dire. WCW's obsession with vehicle based wrestling continued at Halloween Havoc 1995, with Hulk Hogan and The Giant going head to head in a Monster Truck Sumo match! It's as bad as it sounds, a complete waste of money and does nothing for nobody. The closing stages of the moment are even worse, as WCW continues it's effort to destroy kayfabe. The two go on to have a wrestling match on the same show, which only really shows up just how green The Giant was at this point, before an overbooked to shit finish. 

A run of moments focus on the formation of the NWO, as Scott Hall debuts on a May 1996 episode of Nitro, with a cool promo, heaped with intrigue for what was to come. Hall is joined by Kevin Nash at Great American Bash 1996, with Hall absolutely nailing it once again on the mic. Eric Bischoff is a good stooge, but in hindsight this makes little sense. It's then time for the big one, as Hall & Nash battle Randy Savage, Sting and Lex Luger at Bash at the Beach 1996. It's easy to forget just how good this match is, when the closing moments is so iconic. Three good moments in a row? WCW was on a roll in 96.

That roll continues into early 1997 as Sting hands his decision to the NWO at Uncensored. Even without the months of build, it's easy to see that this an important moment, that sets up Sting vs Hogan superbly. The run continues to a July episode of Nitro, when "La Parka" takes on Randy Savage. The match itself isn't anything special, but it's what happens in the closing stages and after the match that makes this such a great moment. However, signs of the oncoming shit-storm appear with the NWO's parody of Arn Anderson's retirement speech. It's not particularly and certainly isn't tasteful. To make things even worse, it sounds like there's absolutely no heat and not even a chance for Anderson to get retribution. 

Goldberg vs. Hulk Hogan from a July 1998 episode of Nitro is next and whilst it's easy to argue that this match should have been on PPV, it's still a very cool moment with an uber hot crowd. The match is booked down to a tee and Hogan allows Goldberg to look like a star. Another WCW movie crossover see's Rick Steiner lock horns with Chucky. Jesus Christ. It's made out that the doll is an actor, but is for some reason still called Chucky. Just stupid. Before the madness truly sets in, Bret Hart and Goldberg keep the dream alive on a March 1999 episode of Nitro, with a well worked swerve segment that get's a great reaction from Hart's home crowd. 

From this point on it's diaherea-esque stream of sloppy shits. WCW in the Year 2000 should be avoided with a barge poll. Firstly, Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff "reboot" WCW, in another segment full of kayfabe breaking references, that only the "dirt-sheet" readers would get. There's references to guys wrestling on the other channel at the time, who jumped ship from WCW, surely this is counter-productive exercise? Vampiro and Sting's Human Torch match from The Great American Bash 2000 (certainly not as Great as Dawley) is up next. For a big gimmick match with a long feud behind it, the crowd couldn't give a shit about the match and rightly so. It's a stupid match, with a ridiculous looking stunt. On the same show, Kevin Nash and Jeff Jarrett wrestle a piss poor, over-booked build up match to Goldberg's heel turn at the end. Nash' no-selling is at it's worst here. 

Judy Bagwell on a Pole match. Vince Russo winning the World title. The San Franciso 49'ers Match. That's what this DVD closes with. By the end of the 49'ers match, I was ready to give up entirely on wrestling. All four are over-booked with some of the stupidest gimmicks ever to grace the circle that is squared. I don't want to see these matches ever again, please stop putting them on DVDs!

Finally...


Whilst the documentary had, at least, some redeeming features, with the terrible moments being fleeting and supplemented with interviews, as the other two discs are at times painful to watch. Seeing some of the moments in full back after back could very lead someone to hard drugs. I'm sure the experience they had would be infinitely better than watching the last hour and a half of the third disc. WWE's representation of WCW...Just Say No.



Friday, 12 September 2014

WWE NXT Takeover: Fatal 4-Way Review

After two critically acclaimed NXT specials for WWE, did NXT Takeover: Fatal 4-Way with Adrian Neville defending his NXT Championship against Sami Zayn, Tyler Breeze arecreate the magic of the first two?  Let's take a gander. 



NXT CHAMPIONSHIP FATAL FOURWAY MATCH -  

Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville (C)

 

 

Before getting into the main event, let's talk about the pre-match build up. WWE used four seperate build up packages, placed throughout the show. Each package focused on a different participant in the main event, including short interviews with each man. It was a simple but effect method that made the match feel not only important, but got over each man's character for anyone new to the product. All four men put in competent efforts, with Neville's promo sewing seeds cleverly for the upcoming match, Kidd continuing to develop his new heel persona, Breeze nailing it with the line "Everything I wear matches gold" and Sami Zayn managing to be more likeable than the entire WWE roster in less than minute. 


The match itself, may be one of the best Fatal Fourway bouts that I have ever seen. Whilst the wrestling was (more or less) spot on, it was the booking that made this match so special. By having Neville on the outside for most of the match, it meant his exciting highflying offence was kept to a minimum (which is a strange thing to say as a positive, because I do like me some flips), whilst Sami Zayn was left to battle Tyler Breeze and mainly Tyson Kidd. This got the crowd firmly behind Zayn, who's selling is some of the most believable in wrestling. With a handful of false finishes, like a flurry of offence from Breeze, Breeze almost stealing a pin off a Shooting Star Press from Neville on Kidd and Breeze almost tapping whilst in a Sharpshooter from Kidd, with which the match could have ended without a whole lot of complaint, the stage was set for Sami Zayn to win the NXT title. 

A terrific sequence of action, taking in a crazy suicide dive to Neville, a Tornado DDT (Similar to the ones on Cesaro in their clashes) on Breeze and a Helluva Kick to Kidd, the crowd (and myself) was convinced that Zayn was about to walk away with the title. However, Neville made enough of a recovery to pull the referee out of the ring, hit Zayn with a Superkick on the outside and hit Red Arrow on Kidd, allowing him to hold onto his title. This is where having Neville spend most of the match on the outside paid off, as it was clear that he probably didn't deserve to win the match, and after seeing Zayn battle so hard throughout the contest, it was difficult not to feel aggrieved that he wasn't walking away with the title. Obviously, this is exactly the reaction WWE was after, and they got it with the live crowd and social media both seemingly frustrated that Neville retaining, whether they knew they had been manipulated or not!


With just enough of a tease at what Zayn vs Neville could be like during the match (despite the only botch of the match, where it appeared Neville was attempting a Reverse Rana) to get the fans wanting to see another one on one clash, the stage is set for the next special already. Will Neville's heel turn be effective? Against Zayn most likely, as it's easy to hate anyone attempting to do damage to the former Generic Luchador. Elsewhere, Neville would almost certainly have to drop a lot of the highflying elements of his moveset, for something a little less flashy. A competitve rivalry over the title however, with Neville remaining babyface could be the most effective decision. 


NXT Women's Championship Matc

Bayley vs. Charlotte

 


This match got the pre-match vignette treatment as well, with a very effective video package. Similar to the build up videos for the Fourway, both wrestlers were interviewed about the upcoming match. Both characters were set up nicely, and it made it even easier to become invested in the match. Bayley's promo in particular was a pleasure to watch, conjuring up real emotion, showing just how far the character has come over the last six months. 

The match itself didn't do a whole lot for me. As far as women's matches in WWE go, it was above average, there's no doubt about it, but in the big wide world, it wasn't quite what it could have been. Bayley spent a long time in a Figure Four Headlock, including some very cool roll throughs, which was an interesting variation on the rest hold and got the crowd fully behind Bayley. This made a lot of sense, as it would weaken Bayley for Charlotte's Natural Selection finisher, unfortunately, Bayley didn't sell the neck. It may sound to many, like I'm being picky, but if Bayley had sold the neck, not only would it have increased the audience's empathy for the character, but also would have been a perfect way to keep Charlotte in the match with the preceeding run of roll up's from Bayley. If we'd have seen Bayley grab hold of the neck, allowing Charlotte to kick out at two, it would have made this match so much better. 

There were some impressive moments that made this stand out from a regular "Divas" match, like Bayley's Super Hurracanrana and some creative sequences of reversals, but these lacked the flow they needed to really elevate this match. Charlotte went on to pick up the victory, with an awkward Moonsault, followed up with Natural Selection to retain her title. It wasn't quite the feelgood moment that I had been expecting,o and the lack of story direction in the closing stages of the match left me feeling a little numb, when the pinfall was counted. This was a decent WWE women's match, but it could have been so much more with a few extra touches.

Following the match, Sasha Banks attempted to attack Bayley, with Charlotte making the save. It would appear we'll be seeing Sasha Banks vs Charlotte for the title in the near future, with Charlotte turning face in the process. I'm worried Charlotte will struggle as a babyface, because of her size, and after seeing her work so effectively as a heel opposite Bayley, I'm not sure I particularly want to see this either. Sasha Banks has developed enough on the mic to make this feud work however, so I'm happy to see how this one develops over the coming months.

Undercard

 


The most eye catching thing on undercard was the debut of KENTA who was introduced by NXT General Manager William Regal. Everything about this segment made KENTA (renamed Hideo Itami) look like an absolute star. There was a real focus from both Regal and the commentary team to get over Itami's achievements and just how much of a big deal him signing with WWE is. Even if you had no clue at all who KENTA was, you knew that he was someone to watch out for.

This continued, as The Ascension came out in an attempt to show up Itami, but got royally schooled by the newcomer. Itami took them down with a flurry of offence, finishing up with a Double Dropkick sending Konnor and Viktor to the outside. Taking out the most protected entitity on the NXT roster in your debut is always going to make you look good. WWE clearly has high hopes for Itami, it will interesting to see who they pair him with for his first match next week. 

The Ascension were in action earlier on in the show, defending the tag team titles, against Sin Cara and Kalisto, in a solid opening match. Again this match was made by the booking, with The Ascension dominating early, allowing for a terrific hot tag to Kalisto, who has some very cool offence. It wasn't a particularly complicated match, essentially sticking to a basic tag team format, but the crowd was very into it, with an exciting closing sequence, ending with Kalisto hitting Salida del Sol on Viktor to pick up the win and the tag titles for the newly christened Lucha Dragons. It was a good surprise victory to open the show, with many expecting The Ascension to retain the belts, there's now every possibility the two will be promoted to the main roster soon. 

Enzo Amore and Sylvester LeFort attempted to go where many had failed and create a decent Hair vs Hair match. Did they succeed? Not really. The match was fairly basic, in both structure and the wrestling in the ring. Whilst there was a nice pace to the beginning of the match, it soon broke down and I quickly found myself losing interest. A decent false finish off a Lariat for LeFort was the only thing of any note. Amore's charisma on the microphone and entertaining partnership with Big Cass managed to keep this afloat, but not delivering on shaving LeFort bawld, made a mockery of the stipulation. We did get a bawld Marcus Louis however, due to some magic hair removal cream. 

Rounding off the show, were two squash matches, with Bull Dempsey running through Mojo Rawley in a sloppy brawl, that was difficult to care about. I cared even less when Dempsey attacked Rawley post match. My indifference towards CJ Parker was also rewarded as the debuting Baron Corbin made easy pickings of "The Moonchild" picking up the win in a matter of seconds. 

Finally...

 

For two hours of wrestling, this was a good show, I wouldn't argue if you said a very good show. The Fatal Fourway was an incredible twenty minutes plus of action and even with my complaints about the Women's match, it was still a decent match. Did it live up to the other two NXT specials? I don't think so, but I think that says more about the quality of those shows, than it does about this one.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

WWE Payback 2014 DVD Review


WWE Payback 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 Allstate Arena in Chicago,  Illinois, USA on 1st June 2014, the show is main evented by The Shield facing off with Evolution in a No Holds Barred Elimination Match, supported by John Cena and Bray Wyatt attempting to be the Last Man Standing and Cesaro challenging Sheamus for the United States Championship, alongside five other matches. The special features include one other match and one additional segment from the Payback Kick-Off show. The commentary is provided by John Bradshaw Layfield, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler.





WWE's PPV offering in June was the second outing for Payback. The main event of the show saw Evolution's Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton take on The Shield's Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in a smashing No Holds Barred Elimination match. Full of all the drama that had become a calling card for The Shield, this is a well put together match, that builds nicely towards each spot, which are, for the most part, excellent. Through in some terrific visuals, like the entire Evolution beating down Roman Reigns, and you have all the ingredients for a superb main event. This match won our Match of the Month vote for June, as well as qualifying for our Match of the Year Poll and it's difficult to argue against. 




Elsewhere on the upper card, John Cena and Bray Wyatt go to war in a belting Last Man Standing match. With a supporting cast of The Usos, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper to keep things interesting, this match concludes Cena and Wyatt's feud nicely. 






WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan turns up to answer Stephanie McMahon threats of firing his wife Brie Bella or making him drop his title due to injury. I can't see why WWE opted to put this on PPV, as it would have been better suited to Raw.





Sheamus puts the United States Championship on the line in an intense, physical brawl. After a slow first couple of minutes, the match builds nicely with both men proving why they deserve a renewed focus in WWE storylines. 






Whilst the upper card on the show is strong, it is let down by the under card. Bad News Barrett and Rob Van Dam's Intercontinental Championship match, misses it's few opportunities to become an interesting match. Cody Rhodes and Goldust taking on Rybaxel is a decent tag team match, but nothing you wouldn't see on an episode of Raw. Alicia Fox challenges Paige for the Diva's Championship in a match that is refreshingly aggressive, but lacks any real pace or selling. Big E and Rusev do the best the can do with the slightly over three minutes that is handed to them. Bo Dallas and Kofi Kingston's walk to ring can barely be called a match, although it's worth it Dallas' promo work.


Payback Kick-Off


The special features are exclusively from the Payback Kick-Off show from the WWE Network.

A Byron Saxton interview with Nikki Bella would be entirely pointless, if it wasn't for Nikki's chest. Look what you've done to me WWE, I used to be a respectable gentleman (I was never a respectable gentleman)

El Torito and Hornswoggle go balls to the wall in a Hair vs Mask match, it's a little bit of fun, with some mildly humourous spots. The real credit has to go to 3MB and Los Matadores who pull off some impressive flips at ringside.



Finally...


Three matches on this show deliver, luckily these are the three matches from the upper card. Everything else could either have appeared on Raw, misses opportunities that guys at this level should be grabbing with both hands or just isn't very good to start with. Personally I think the three matches that deliver are worth the price of the DVD, with three Match of the Month contenders and one Match of the Year contender included.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Short Interview with TNA's Gunner & Samuel Shaw

We recently took part in one of TNA's monthly conference calls, this time to promote One Night Only - World Cup, with Gunner and Samuel Shaw. The full conference call can be downloaded here.

However, there were a few problems with the system, meaning there were long gaps with no questions and some quite frankly rather boring questions, which seemed designed more to get the interviewers point of view over, rather than to actually ask questions. So I decided to take just my questions out and transcribe them for you good folk, underneath. Enjoy.




ATPW - Hi guys. My first question is to do with the move from the Impact Zone in Orlando, to the Manhattan Center in New York. How do you think the move has affected the product? And have you noticed a difference in the makeup of the crowd?



Gunner - I think it's really improved the product a lot. We were in Orlando for I don't know how many years, but I know they were there since 2008/9

Samuel Shaw - 2005, I think.

Gunner - So, you have to think that the crowd had seen everything down there. Not taking away from the fans in the Impact Zone in Orlando, but they'd seen everything. So it was really hard sometimes to do something different, where they were like "Wow". When we took it to the Manhattan Center, you had these old ECW fans, you had diehard TNA fans, they were really itching to see it, so everything you did, they reacted to everything, so it made our jobs easier. We still worked just as hard. We're doing some shows in Bethlehem, PA, as well, and it's the same there. It's a different crowd, new crowd, new faces. I look forward to doing some new stuff at the Manhattan Center. 

Samuel Shaw - To add to that, I'd just like to say, Gunner and I had been working in the Impact Zone since late 2008, and like Gunner said, they'd seen it all. When you present a wrestling product, pretty much every week, I feel like the fans become accustomed to that. They feel like "Oh so and so's not wrestling this week, so I don't need to go", so they'll just go the next week. It just becomes a vicious cycle. I think when it's available every single week, it loses it's value, in a sense. I think getting out of there and getting to a place like New York, where the fans were just begging, for that, in that environment. I think we delivered, without a doubt. 






ATPW - Gunner, about four months ago you came off a lengthy feud with James Storm, before that you'd been teaming together, I think it was this partnership that made people sit up and take notice of you as a wrestler, what did you learn from working with James for so many months?


Gunner - I think you're right, that was really the opportunity that TNA gave me to step up and we got a long five month feud. The matches that people saw on TV, we were doing those on live events, we were beating ourselves to death. The things I learnt from James as far as being a tag team, he just knew what he was doing in the ring, he always knew where to be, what to do and how to win. You gotta think how many times he's been World Tag Team Champion, I believe twelve or thirteen. When we started wrestling singles, I knew who he was, I knew how he moved and how he worked, I think we both knew each other better than we knew ourselves. I won't take anything away from James, he's tough, he is tough, he's a tough a opponent, he's a good friend, he was a better enemy, but he really taught me to fight and never give up. "I Quit" match was a bloodbath, I think we gave each other our all, I got respect for him, even after he bashes my Dad with a beer bottle, and I'm pretty sure he's got respect for me. He taught me a lot on the road, we travelled together when we were a tag team, had a lot of talks together and he really loves the business. He taught me many things about being in a tag team and about being a singles wrestler too.







ATPW - Samuel Shaw, you seem make a real focus of getting your character over on Twitter, is that an effort that you've gone to, to develop the character more? Do yu think more wrestlers could benefit from this approach?


Samuel Shaw - Good question. I just feel like that with the advances in technology and with social media being such a huge part of our business now, it's almost, I like the idea that fans have access to us, in a more personal way, but I also feel like that fans don't need to know every last detail of my private life. I really want to present who Samuel Shaw is, they way TNA presents it. I can add little things, here and there, to sort of give you more of what Samuel Shaw is all about. 





--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We'd like to thank Gunner and Samuel Shaw for their participation in this, and for being very cooperative with the questions, as well as Simon Rothstein for allowing us to take part.

You can follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for all our coverage of TNA and more. 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Kamikaze Pro Lethal Weapon Review

Following a terrific Shropshire Wrestling Alliance show (Review - http://www.acrossthepondwrestling.co.uk/2014/08/swa-summer-blowout-review.html) the night before, Kamikaze Pro had the unenviable task of being the difficult second show of a double header weekend. With many of the same talents used by SWA the previous night, as well as former NXT Tag Team Champion Joel Redman (fka Oliver Grey), how did Lethal Weapon presented at The Collingwood Centre in Great Barr (As great as Dawley? I think not) live up to the expectations? Let's find out.






Match 1 - 
The Hunter Brothers (c) vs. Miracle Violence Connection (c)
For the Undisputed Tag Team Championships



After Born and Raised saw the Tag Team titles held up, following a double pin, this was the rematch to see who would take both title belts. 

This was a decent opening contest, but I feel that it barely scratched the surface of what these four guys could be doing. The match was very slow to get going, with the referee having to step in between the two teams a total of four times, this harmed the pace of the match and left me a little bit restless to actually see some wrestling. This would have been fine if the match was placed anywhere else on the card, but in the opening contest it was a bit of an overkill. 

Once the match got going, there was some nice moments, like Dan Maloney attempting to block a punch and ending up on the receiving end of a DDT, and the majority of the wrestling was strong (bar a slip up on a hurracanrana, credit goes to Maloney for not selling). A handful of nice false finishes warmed the crowd up towards the end of the bout , including a nice tease at the finish as Miracle Violence Connection attempted a Doomsday Device, that was reversed into a victory roll, getting a nice reaction out of the crowd. The finish saw Hunter land on his feet following a second Doomsday Device, only for Maloney to strike with a Lariat to pick up the three count. A nice twist on the Doomsday Device, which kept the two sides looking pretty even, I'd expect a rematch between the two, hopefully it will be given an extra five minutes or so. 

Following the match, it seemed there was tension between Maloney and Bate, as Maloney attempted to walk out with both of the tag team titles. I'm not quite sure where this had come from, as there was no tension teased in the match or any real reason for this to be the case. MVC didn't seem to heel it up as much as they usually do for Kamikaze, a prime example being the use of a delayed vertical suplex, which is always going to get a pop out of the crowd, and rightly so. I am interested to see where this is going, because I think Bate is much stronger as good guy, whilst the opposite is true for Maloney, so a feud between the two could be interesting, but if that's the direction Kamikaze is going, I'm not sure why MVC won the tag titles here. 

Match 2

Violet Vendetta vs. Nixon Newell




This was Violet Vendetta's debut match in Kamikaze, opposite Nixon Newell who has become a popular face since debuting at Broken Down City in May. The crowd certainly didn't warm to Violet, giving her a reaction of utter indifference, and this match gave them no reason to change their minds. Whilst there was a good deal of intensity, as Violet charged Nixon back first into the ring post and went on to deliver a vicious looking kick off a chair, there was no real reason for this to be taking place, and even then it wasn't picked up on later on in the match. Violet did seem to be working the back following the attack on the ring post, but it was quickly dropped, following a lack lustre boston crab. 

Violet got in the majority of the offence until Nixon pulled a Superkick out of nowhere to pick up the victory. Whilst this was a good way to continue to present Nixon as the Face of the "Fighting Females" division (I imagine a title is on it's way once the division builds up), it certainly wasn't the match that the first One on One women's match in Kamikaze should have been. 

Following the match, Marshall X came through the crowd and was setting up to attack Nixon with a steel chair, before Chris Brookes ran out to make the save. A nice bit of extra build up for Marshall and Brookes match later on in the show, giving the feud an extra bit of depth. Good stuff. I was however a little disapointed to hear Ring Announcer and General Manager Lawrie Neal announce "I'm sure we'll see the rest of that STORY later", erm... story? Really?

Match 3

Dick Riley with Chris Walker vs. Joel Redman




Former NXT Tag Team Champion Joel Redman took on The Magnum's Dick Riley in an interesting contest. I say interesting because both men seemed to be working babyface at the start of the match, with the allegiance switching a handful of times during the match, which gave it a rather unique dynamic. 

The action in the ring for the most part was strong, and after struggling to connect in the early parts of the match, Redman and Riley grew into the bout, putting together a series of entertaining sequences and began to show signs of a real chemistry in the ring. Riley reversing a powerbomb attempt on the outside into a top rope crossbody and the pair trading lovely German Suplexes were both particular highlights. Oh yeah and there was a Reverse Freaking Rana from Riley, that I don't think anyone saw coming. 

The closing stages of the match however really elevated the match in my eyes. Redman had been wearing a huge knee brace throughout the match, and therefore I was disappointed when it seemed that it would not play a part in the match. However, that would change as after Redman had done a series of moves using his knee, he seemed to tweak it, and with Walker doing some great work at ringside, Riley kicked Redman in the knee allowing him to hit a Superkick for a good near fall. Riley continued to work over the knee effectively, removing the brace, before the finish saw Redman make a comeback with a powerful lariat, before struggling to climb to the top rope, continuing to sell the knee to hit a big knee drop for the victory.

A good debut match for Redman, possibly the strongest on the show and definitely the best match of the first half, whilst also giving extra depth to Dick Riley's character and The Magnums as a tag team in general. I'd happily see Redman return to Kamikaze Pro as he certainly has a lot to offer the promotion, I'm also looking forward to seeing where The Magnums go from here as well.



Match 4

Marshall X vs. Chris Brookes with Nixon Newell




With the previous encounter between the two, this was always going to be a heated affair. Add into the mix a solid pre-match promo from Chris Brookes, which managed to get the crowd to chant "Silly Bugger" and this feud was beginning to heat up nicely. 

The two brought a good energy into the match, with Brookes hitting an impressive Tope Conhilo at the start of the match to set the tone. The two traded moves on the outside, including a nasty vertical suplex from Marshall onto the wooden floor, given all the more reason to do so by the previous encounters between the two. The match flowed very nicely, both men hitting some nice looking moves for near falls, with Marshall coming close with a Falcon Arrow, before Brookes almost got the win with a Michinoku Driver. 

The finish was one of the cleverest of the weekend, as after Marshall had produced a bottle of Talc earlier in the match, it played into the finish as Marshall through talc into Nixon's eyes, before throwing Brookes into position for a blinded Nixon to hit a Vulture Culture Destroyer, accidentally handing Marshall the victory in the process. A great way to have Marshall pick up the victory, whilst also giving the fans a chance to see the Nixon's exciting finish move. A side note on Nixon's selling of the talc, which was spot on, and made the finish even more effective.

After the match, Marshall continued the attack. Unfortunately, a pair of handcuffs, supposed to be used to trap Brookes to the ring rope, didn't seem to function correctly which lead to an awkward exchange between Brookes and Marshall, luckily the pair improvised something that would the same effect, with Marshall going back to the talc again. This would allow Marshall to take down Nixon with the steel chair from earlier, before delivering a vicious double stomp with Nixon's arm trapped inside a steel chair. The moment was sold very well by Nixon and a few of the Kamikaze Pro roster who came out to help. The rivalry is building up nicely, I'm very much looking forward to seeing how things develop over the next few months.


Match 5 Damian Dunne vs. Ryan Smile (C)


For the Kamikaze Pro Championship




Heading into this one I wasn't completely convinced, Heel vs Heel matches are a rarity, and despite a similar match between Smile and Eddie Dennis at Sky's The Limit in May working very nicely, I still wasn't sure if lighting would strike twice.

There was a lot of stalling early on in the match, with the two best friends not wanting to fight each. So when Smile quickly picked up the victory with a remake of the infamous "Finger Poke of Doom" I was a little worried that that could be all she wrote for this match. Luckily, Kamikaze Pro isn't WCW and decided not to devalue their title belts, as the match was quickly restarted, and with a few clauses in place, we got a proper match after all. 


I like the story being told throughout the match, with the idea being that Smile didn't want to fight Dunne, at one point offering him Chicken Nuggets and Onion Rings (which got a duelling chant going), with Dunne doing what he had to do to try and win the title. The two created nice spots, like Smile hitting a suicide dive that sent Dunne through the chairs at ringside, which usually I'd pull up as being a babyface move, but seeing as both men are supposed to be heels I don't think it mattered quite as much here. 

After some solid near falls, including a beautiful Blue Thunderbomb from Smile and a very well done sequence that culminated in a two count for Dunne off a Brainbuster, the match reached it's conclusion with Smile hitting a Cross-legged Samoan Driver to pick up the win and retain his title. With all the stalling and the restart, this match did feel a little short, but it did what it needed to do with the time given.

Following the match, Acting General Manager Lawrie Neil revealed Smile's opponent for Line in the Sand in September, as former TNA X-Division Champion Doug Williams. This has the potential to be an outstanding match and with Smile pulling out a blistering promo on Williams post match, I'm sure the two will have something special for the crowd at the Cadbury Club come September 21st. 


Match 6

Robbie X vs. Pete Dunne vs. Jay Lethal (C)

For the ROH World Television Championship





The second ROH World Television Championship match I'd seen in two days, had an awful lot to live up to, following Lethal's terrific clash with Tyler Bate the previous night at SWA Summer Blowout. What made the previous match so good, was what was lacking from this one. Drama. There wasn't a point in the match where I believed Lethal wasn't walking out champion. Now, obviously that's a very hard task to pull off when Lethal is defending a different companies belt, but if the previous match could make me suspend my disbelief, then adding two more guys into the mix should have had even more chance of doing so. 

That's not to say that this match wasn't entertaining because it was. There were some really nice moments that used that extra body in the ring to the matches advantage, like Lethal looking Robbie in a Figure Four Leglock, before catching Dunne in a Crossface and an Inverted DDT/Neckbreaker combination from Dunne. There was also some nice back and forth exchanges, with all three men exchanges chops and forearms, before Lethal delivered a sweet Superkick to Robbie. 

As is important with big US names, those that came specifically to see Lethal were treated to the majority of his signature moves, including the Lethal Combination, Hail to the King and after a few attempts the Lethal Injection that would eventually get the win. Lethal looked very much the professional in the ring, and as with his match with Tyler Bate, it's the little nuances to his performance that really help elevate his match, specifically going to battle Robbie on the top rope after Robbie took a little too long on a dive to the outside. This meant there was no awkward standing around for Lethal and Dunne and allowed the match to flow nicely, as Robbie eventually hit his move. 

I was interested to see how Robbie X worked as a heel, after turning on Dunne at the previous show, but apart from refusing to get in the ring at the start of the match, I didn't really see much of a difference. His move set was essentially the same, a Moonsault Plancha is never going to get you any heat, is it? There was also very little follow to his attack on Dunne during this match, the opportunity was there to further the feud between the two, building to a one on one match down the line, I don't feel like that was fully realised at any point. This might be a bit premature, but after seeing Dunne work heel elsewhere, it might have best if Dunne had been the one to turn instead.

Finally...


It would be unfair to compare this show to the one the previous night, as on it's own merits this was an enjoyable show. Certainly not the strongest I've seen out of Kamikaze Pro, but it still had it's moments with the two matches either side of the interval battling it out for my match of the night. There were a few things that niggled me, and I feel like the main event was a missed opportunity, but with most of the show being used for furthering storylines, it did it's job quite well. I'm interested to see where a number of the feuds are heading, and I'll definitely be back at Kamikaze later in the year.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

SWA Summer Blowout Review

It's been a while since I've reviewed any British wrestling, so I thought I'd returned with a double header of excitement. Kicking of said double header, will be a look at Shropshire Wrestling Alliance's Summer Blowout show, presented on 29th September 2014 at Dawley Town Hall in Dawley (which is great).

The venue itself was superb, with the shape of the room and height of the ceiling, providing some great acoustics for the loud crowd. Although, calling this crowd simply loud feels like I'm doing them a disservice. This was perhaps the loudest wrestling crowd from start to finish I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. There was no lull in this crowds enthusiasm and it certainly gave the performers in the ring a great soundscape to work with.

Let's take a look at the matches then...



Match 1 - 

Damian Dunne (C) vs. Mark Andrews 

for the British Lions Championship




The show kicked off with Damian Dunne defending the British Lions Championship against Mark Andrews. This match worked very well as an opening contest, with the two guys giving just enough of a taste of what they can do in the ring to get the crowd warmed up for the rest of the evening.
The wrestling throughout the match was clean and crisp, with Dunne spending a lot of the earlier stages of the match working over Andrews arm. Andrews was effective whilst working from underneath, as always he is an instantly likeable babyface so seeing him cut off everytime he attempt to make a comeback, meant that when he finally get in some sustained offence the crowd was red hot. It certainly helps that Andrews has one of the most exciting movesets in British wrestling, when you can pull out Super Hurracanranas and Standing Shooting Star Presses with ease, you're always going to get a great reaction. 

The finish saw the dastardly Dunne distract the referee with the championship belt, allowing him to hit a low blow on Andrews, rolling him up to get the three count and retain the title. A solid finish to the match, unfortunately I felt the referee took a little too long to turn around and make the three count, meaning Andrews was down for a very long time. It was a little disappointing to see the earlier work on the arm not come back into play, but I'd certainly like to see what these two could do in a main event, compared to this opener.


Simon Brown suspends Damage, Joey Sanchez Open Challenge


I spent the entire of this segment, completely and utterly confused. That's partly my own fault for not being familiar with storyline and the wrestlers involved, but the poor PA system and talent speaking to closely to the mic. From what I deciphered General Manager Simon Brown suspended wrestler Damage for attacking an official on a previous show, whilst Joey Sanchez issued an "Open Challenge" to G John Chase. Less of an open challenge, more of a.....erm.....challenge. G John Chase then came out an made it a Gauntlet match, with Sanchez' first opponent being Chase' new client. It's difficult to really say if this was a good segment or not, or even if the promos were any good, because I just couldn't hear what was being said! 


Match 2 

Sebastian Radclaw vs. Marshall X vs. Robert Rochester Rose



Before this match started, Sebastian Radclaw got on the mic to explain the history of his valet, a cuddly toy by the name of Skat Monkey. I really like Radclaw's character, but after the previous lengthy talking segment I found myself switching off from what was happening as Marshall X turned to attempt to steal Skat Monkey. Again the segment was hurt by the PA, I was relieved when Robert Rochester Rose came out to put an end to it. 

This match never really clicked for me, for a number of reasons. Firstly, Marshall using Skat Monkey directly in front of the referee made absolutely no sense, especially when there was an extra man in the ring to create a distraction for the referee. Secondly, Rose added very little to the match, his moves were a little sloppy and he only hit a few of them anyway. Personally, I think this match would have been far better off as a singles match between Radclaw and Marshall X.

Radclaw went on to pick up the victory with a roll up on Rose, hopefully this will lead to a bout between Radclaw and Marshall X later on down the line, as I think the two characters could work very well together if given the opportunity. 



Match 3

The Vulture Squad vs Second City Collective 




The first half main event began with...more talking. I understood why Ryan Smile was explaining the importance and background of this contest, I just could have done without it following on from one long talking segment, and the previous match that included a lot of talking. Credit to Smile who managed to come through quite clearly however, as he held the mic a little further from his face. 

However, once Pete Dunne hit Nixon Newell with a strong forearm to the face to open the match, things really got going as the four competitors put on an exciting tag team bout. The in-ring action was technically sound, with a real intensity and depth to it, especially when Nixon and Dunne were in the ring together. The action was well paced, building nicely to each moment, with a good array of tag team moves like The Vulture Squad's Camel Clutch/Front Kick combination, and solo efforts like Smile's early Tope Conhilo.

Dunne spent a long time working Nixon's knee, which seemed to simply be a way of building for a hot tag to start with, so I was very happy to see it factor into the finish of the match, which saw Dunne kick Nixon in the knee and slap on a Texas Cloverleaf. Nixon did manage to make it to the ropes, but with the referee down he unable to stop Dunne dragging Nixon back into the centre of the ring for the submission victory, just after the ref came to. Big thumbs up from me on this finish, and with the teams now level on one a piece I certainly wouldn't say no to a rematch.

The dynamic of Dunne and Ryan Smile as a tag team was an interesting one, with Dunne working as an out and out heel, whilst Smile worked more of a tweener role. This idea could have fallen flat on it's face, but the Birmingham two pulled it off very well. As with another rematch, I'm intrigued to see where this partnership leads, it's certainly grabbed my attention.


Match 4


Joey Sanchez vs. Marc Morgan with G John Chase





Following the interval, G John Chase brought out his newest client, Marc Morgan to be Joey Sanchez's opponent. It was my first time seeing both Sanchez and Morgan and I have to say I was impressed. 

After some work on the outside before the bell rang, including a nasty looking baking tray shot to Morgan's head, the match settled into a strong storytelling bout. The psychology was spot on, as Morgan spent the entire match focused on Sanchez's arm. Things were kept interesting with some really nice offence from Morgan including an Old School transitioned into a Leg Lariat focused on the arm! A number of times Sanchez would attempt to fight back, only for Morgan to land another move on the arm. This would lead Sanchez getting caught in a Crossface, who managed to hold on despite Chase holding the ropes away from him. 

With Sanchez seemingly gaining an upperhand with Morgan in a Sharpshooter, Chase distracted the referee, allowing a mystery man to run in and attack Sanchez and allow Morgan to pick up the victory. Another strong finish that advanced the storyline, as the mystery man was revealed to have joined Chase's stable alongside Morgan and Damage. I couldn't make out the name of the attacker on the night, but it would turn out to be Darvien Vayne, another name new to me. 

Sanchez gets extra points for continue to sell the arm injury for the rest of the night, including when coming out sing "Happy Birthday" to young fan at ringside. It was something he didn't particularly have to do, but to those fans sitting directly opposite him as we were, the slight winch when clapping his hands was the icing on the cake. 

Any review of this match would be incomplete without a mention to perhaps the greatest piece of heckling there has ever been at a wrestling show. With Sanchez gaining an advantage, some fine chap, belted out the words "Thunderfuck him" in reference to Morgan. I have no idea what "Thunderfuck" means, but whoever it was that shouted it out, I will find you and I will shake your hand for reducing grown men to giggling like girls for the majority of the car ride home.


Match 5 - 

Dan Maloney vs. Edwards




Before this show, I had never heard of Edwards, let alone seen him wrestle. But that wasn't the case for the crowd in Dawley Town Hall, who gave him a terrific pop upon his entrance. He's certainly doing something right here. 

The match was a lot of fun and a nice change of pace from the previous contest, mostly made up of a brawl on the outside, before the bell, including the use of a mop, an ice bucket and at one point a small child, in what became known as "child slam gate". 

Bell to bell, the bout was relatively short, as Edwards hit a Rock Bottom and Swantom Bomb, which Maloney no sold, before hitting a Lariat to pick up the pin fall victory. Whilst I understand the reasons behind having Maloney no sell the Swanton Bomb, a move like this from a man the size of Edwards shouldn't have been brushed off in such a fashion, it makes it very hard to suspend disbelief in such situations. 


Match 6


Tyler Bate vs. Jay LethalFor The ROH World Television Championship




What a terrific match this was. It's not often that single match is worth the admission price alone, but this certainly was. 

Face vs Face matches have the potential to be very flat, but the crowd split nicely between the two, including some electric duelling chants. The wrestlers returned the favour keeping a good pace throughout the bout, which went back and forth with a number of impressive reversals and sequences. 

Lethal certainly wasn't turning up expecting an easy payday either, delivering some loud chops to Bate early on in the match, with Bate giving as good as he got. The match built nicely towards it's finish, with Lethal attempting to hit his Lethal Injection finisher a number of times, with Bate coming up with some inventive reversals, including a Reverse Aeroplane spin which got a nice pop out of the crowd. 

When it's clear that one wrestler is going to win, it can be very difficult to get a crowd invested in the false finishes. Therefore, it's a credit to both involved that the false finishes were so good, that the crowd, including myself, were completely and utterly invested with everything they did in the ring. The false finishes came thick and fast towards the end, and at times I was convinced Bate was walking out with the title, especially following a Yakuza Kick into Sitout Powerbomb combination. 

When Lethal did pick up the win, via Lethal Injection, the crowd was on their feet, applauding the sublime performance the two men put in. The crowd getting in the ring to lift Bate into the air is one of the strongest visuals I've seen at a show. Bate might have lost here, but it's a loss that has elevated with the SWA ranks, and in the eyes of the fans. 

 For a 17 year old, to be able to step into the ring with a man of Lethal's calibre and not look out of place is a testament just how far Bate has come in the last year. Has there been a more complete wrestler at such a young age?

Finally...


The most important question following a wrestling show is "Would I go to this promotion again?" and the answer here would be a resounding yes. From the incredible crowd and venue to the top notch main event, I was entertained for the majority of the show. Whilst there was a few problem with the PA and maybe a bit too much talking in the first half, for £6 it was more than value for money. 

Thanks for reading, if you'd like to know more about ATPW, check out our Facebook and Twitter pages.