Friday, 31 May 2013

WWE NXT 29th May 2013 Review

This episode of NXT felt like a farewell/new beginning kind of episode, as we saw a number of Superstars final appearance for WWE as well as a number of debuts and a new number one contender.

18 Man NXT Championship Number One Contenders Battle Royal

Now I don’t know about you, but I love a good battle royal and with the amount of talent in the ring this should have been a fantastic exciting contest, and for the most part it was. With Corey Graves, Bray Wyatt, Kassius Ohno, Adrian Neville, Bo Dallas and Mason Ryan all involved in the contest it was difficult to pick a winner from this bunch, which always adds to match of this type.
The earlier stages of the match was dominated by former Nexus member Mason Ryan, who was given the hilarious nickname “Cardiff Colossus”, as he threw out over half of the competitors including Main Roster superstars Curt Hawkins and Yoshi Tatsu, as well as Briley Pierce and Sakamoto in their last appearance for WWE and the former El Generico, Sami Zayn. With the focus clearly on Mason Ryan’s power, it would seem that NXT is high on Mason Ryan, and personally though he is physically impressive, he doesn’t really offer a lot else and with Superstars like Ryback already occupying similar spots on the Main Roster I don’t really see where Ryan could figure. He was eventually eliminated by fellow Brit Adrian Neville.

With Corey Graves and Kassius Ohno teaming up to eliminate Conor O’Brian only to themselves be eliminated by Bray Wyatt, this sets up nicely for their tag team match with the Wyatt Family next week, it’s been a quick build up and I’m interested to see how Graves & Ohno play out as faces, hopefully they keep the edge that made them so great to watch in the first place. Bray then sped about the ring delivering damage to the former NXT Tag Champions, Neville and Dallas, showing why WWE has decided to move him up to the Main Roster soon, until Neville got another surprise elimination with a huge enziguri.

The final stages of the battle royal were enthralling with Neville and Dallas both hanging on to the ropes to stay in the match at various points. Neville particularly impressed me, with a number of small mannerisms which made it look like he was just about to be eliminated and raised the final moments of the contest. As the two exchanged blows it was clear who the crowd was behind, cheering Neville and booing Dallas, and I have to say I agree. Although, I believe Dallas is a talent young wrestler, I can’t see him ever progressing past a mid-card spot within WWE. Therefore it was even more surprising when Neville missed his British Airways finishing move and Dallas through him out of the contest. Big E Langston vs. Bo Dallas will be an interesting contest, but doesn’t quite have the same feel as Langston vs. Adrian Neville for me.

Best of the Rest

Langston was in action earlier in the evening against the departing Derrick Bateman. The match was quick squash match with Bateman only getting a little early offence, including a nice front kick in the corner before Big E ploughed him down and hit Bateman with the Big Ending for the win. As usual Langston went on to hit his finisher again for a count of five which the audience lapped up. With Langston appearing more and more on Raw and Smackdown it can only be a matter of time before Langston drops the title and disappears from NXT altogether.  

Elsewhere, there was a rare appearance from Stephanie McMahon, who hasn’t been seen on WWE TV since the Hall of Fame ceremony. The Billionaire Princess was there to announce the brand new NXT Women’s Championship and a tournament for the belt starting next week. It is clearly a good idea to introduce the title as it gives the younger competitors something to work for and build storylines around. It will be interesting to see who goes on to eventually win the belt with the early front runners being the likes of Paige, Summer Rae or Emma.

Speaking of Emma she was also in action against a departing Audrey Marie. Emma’s dancing gimmick seemed to get over with the Orlando faithful with plenty joining in with her strange arm movements, however it’s worth wondering if WWE really needs another dancing gimmick, with the likes Fandango, Tons of Funk and R-Truth already occupying spaces on the Main Roster. The match itself was short and messy, with a number of awkward looking moments between the two. Audrey Marie should little to prove that WWE should not have released and she would’ve added little to the Diva’s division which needs stronger performers and characters to build it back up. Emma’s new submission finish, the Emma Lock was probably the best part of the match and was executed well by the young Australian Diva.

There was also two tag team squash matches on the show, the first featuring current NXT Tag Team Champions Luke Harper and Eric Rowan, the Wyatt Family taking on rarely used talents Sawyer Fulton and Travis Tyler. The Wyatt Family dominated the match that went no longer than a minute and a half with Luke Harper pinning Travis Tyler after a Discus Clothesline. Somehow, in such a short match there was an awkward moment where Sawyer Fulton dropped off Harper’s shoulders and attempted to reach for the tag, unfortunately he was way too close to Tyler and this removed any believability to the contest. Neither Tyler nor Fulton did anything to show me that they should move further up the NXT ranks anytime soon.

The other Tag Team contest saw the debuts of Scott Dawson and Garrett Dylan, alongside their manager Sylvester LeFort. Dawson and Dylan play the classic Redneck tag team, whilst LeFort plays an over the top Frenchman in a Leopard print coat, imagine Cade & Murdoch managed by Rico and you’ve pretty much got this team. They faced the now release Brandon Traven and Vader’s son Jake Carter. Teaming up Dawson and Dylan seems like a good idea by WWE, as neither quite has that star power on their own, but as a team they seem to come into their own, producing hard hitting tag team action and could find a niche within the Main Tag Team Roster in the future. Their sit out spine buster/sit out axe handle combination finish was an impressive finish and I can see it getting over with the crowd. LeFort brought little to the team and I’m sceptical about the whole Frenchman leading Rednecks thing, as it just wasn’t done strong enough, although I’m happy to see how it plays out in the coming weeks.


What did we learn from this week’s NXT? 

1. Bo Dallas is destined for NXT Championship match, though we’d rather see Adrian Neville get a shot 
2.  WWE won’t regret any of its recent developmental releases.
3. Brad Maddox is hilarious on commentary.

Announced for next week: Kassius Ohno & Corey Graves vs. The Wyatt Family 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

WWE Main Event 29th May 2013 Review

For me, this weeks Main Event showed how the concept should be used. To offer lengthy matches to allow superstars an opportunity to show what they can do when given the time to do it. Sheamus and Wade Barrett proved it, this week.

Sheamus Vs. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett

Now this isn’t a fresh match, we’ve seen these two face off on numerous occasion on both Raw and Smackdown over the last year and a half, with little storyline to propel the match forward other than WWE’s logic that they are both “European” and should be thrown together, however the majority of these match had between these two have been fairly short, usually ten minutes at maximum and involved some kind of dodgy ending involving interference or Countout. This was not the case with this match.

The match was given at least twenty minutes, which was enough time for these two to have a barnburner of a contest. With both men hitting hard and the match going back and forth it was clear to see why the crowd began a “This is Awesome” chant towards the end of the contest, how often do you get one those chants on WWE Television? With each man reversing the others big moves and and number of moments where it seemed the match was over, including the return of Barrett’s old finisher The Wasteland, the match was well paced throughout and each move felt like a natural progression from the last.

Barrett’s aggression brings a legitimacy to his match that WWE sorely needs as of late and even managed to bring a different side to Sheamus than we have seen recently, as he dropped the grating smiling Irishman gimmick and instead focussed on what he does best…fight. The ending of the contest felt fitting with Barrett looking strong throwing Sheamus in the ring post twice, only to get hit with a messy Brogue Kick to the face as both men fell to the floor. Sheamus’ slip during the Brogue Kick didn’t bother me, in fact if anything it added to the contest as both men looked as if they gave their all.

Hopefully WWE finally allows Barrett to break through the “glass ceiling” soon as he brings something different that the Main Event seen seems to be lacking lately. That thing is legitimacy, Barrett’s aggression during his contests helps to drive the contest and you really begin to believe that he hates whoever he is in the ring with. However, they will have to be careful who they choose to have Barrett drop the Intercontinental Championship too, and I don’t think Fandango, who Barrett has been involved with in recent weeks, is the person for the job, just yet.

Best of the Rest

Main Event also present two short contests that did little for the competitors involved. Firsty, Antonio Cesaro took on Justin Gabriel. Now, followers of both men will know that they could potentially put on a fantastic contest, given the time and backing from WWE’s higher ups. However with empathsis being taken of Cesaro recently and Gabriel trapped working on B shows for the last two years, this match did not get the time it needed.

Cesaro is someone who takes longer than five minutes to get going during his contests and this was evident here, as the match felt slow and never really got going. It’s obvious that the Swiss Superman is frustrated with his WWE experience as it felt like he was simply going through the motions of this contest. The finish of the match was also awkward, as Cesaro went from a rest hold straight into his neutralizer finish. It will be interesting to see what happens to Cesaro in the next few months, and I can’t really see a position for him higher up on the card as things stand.

Also we got a kind of rematch from Raw, with R-Truth replacing The Great Khali to team up with Tons of Funk to take on Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal of 3MB in Six Man Tag Team Action. With Tons of Funk of dominating throughout, with some nice moments and an interesting finish, with both member of Tons of Funk charging at Jinder Mahal, followed up with a little Jimmy from Truth. For a short match, (little over two mintues) it was fun to watch and action packed, and goes a long way to show the talent of the guys in the ring. Surely, 3MB deserve some kind of reward for taking to such a terrible gimmick so well?

We also had a brand new commentary team this week, with The Miz, Josh Matthews and Ricardo Rodrigues. The Miz has proven on Main Event in the past that he can be a very competent commentator and I have to say that I’m preferring his commentating to anything he’s done in the ring as of late. Ricardo Rodrigues said very little and didn’t really bring much to the team, other than speak some Spanish. I will be surprised if he remains on commentary next week.

What have we learned from this week’s WWE Main Event?
1.       Sheamus and Wade Barrett would have an awesome rivalry, if only WWE would stop giving away their matches.
2.       Antonio Cesaro has had too many gimmick in his short WWE stay.
3.       Ricardo Rodrigues is extremely quiet at the commentary desk.

Thanks for reading. Follow us on Twitter @ATPWrestling. Next Review will of WWE NXT later today. 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Five Questions With...Josh Alden

It's back! Five Questions With... Returns with British up-and-comer Josh Alden. 

Ring Name: Josh Alden
Age: 22
Hometown: Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingston
Height: 6'2
Weight: 13 stone
Promotions Competed For: UKW
Championships Won: None (YET!)

1. When did you first get into Professional Wrestling and what drew you to the sport?

My first memories of wrestling are when I was at my cousins house when I was at a very young age like 4 or 5. He used to show me all of his wrestling figures and would lend me WWF videos which i would take home and watch. I became obsessed straight away and used to watch WCW Nitro every Friday night on TCM (TNT UK) and also got my Auntie to tape all of the WWF RAW shows and PPVs. I started to grow out of wrestling when I was around 14 and stopped watching for a couple of years but then fell back in love with it again and I am still a huge fan to this day.

I always wanted to do something with wrestling but never thought it would be possible until I got in touch with El Ligero over Twitter. He pointed me in the right direction which was UKW based in Wakefield, Yorkshire which is the closest promotion to where I live. MVK Valkabious who WWE signed last year and Danny Steel from Sheffield are my trainers. I have only been training for 9 months with only a few academy show matches under my belt so I am a rookie still with a ton of stuff left to learn. I'm just like a sponge at the moment trying to get as much training as possible and soak everything in.

2. If you could face anyone in the ring who would it be and why?

Liam Lazarus who is the UKW Academy champion would be someone I would love to have a match with. He has been training a couple of years and is starting to get bookings across the region and rightly so. He's a great talent and a top lad.

3. What're you're all time favorite matches and why?

One of the first matches which I recall being glued to was Shawn Michaels vs Steve Austin from Wrestlemania 17 (Editors Note - It was actually Wrestlemania XIV). Even though I was a kid at the time just the whole story leading up to it and all the hype sucked me in. HBK and Austin were and still are two of my all time faves. 

4. What's your opinion of the current state of the major wrestling companies as well as the scene here in the UK?

I think the PG era is what it is and as much as I don't like a majority of the things about it they probably won't change anytime soon. I mainly watch WWE and TNA whilst also trying to catch up in some indy stuff from time to time. I like most fans would love a resurrection of the attitude era but that ain't ever gonna happen. They are the biggest wrestling company in the world and will most likely remain so for as long as they are in business. TNA in '05 in my opinion were shit hot especially with the X-Divison guys but since they tried competing with WWE they fell flat on their faces. Since they went on the road permanently the product slowly seems to be getting better and moving from the Impact Zone in Orlando is the best thing they could have ever done and they should have done so a long time ago. 

UKW is taping a new TV series called Revolt with top talent from across the country after they move to their new venue. NGW in Hull is a fast growing company which is receiving a lot of attention and bringing up great homegrown talent. Preston City Wrestling are bringing in top international guys and putting on great shows. Also ICW in Scotland is getting a lot of attention and has the old ECW feel about it.

5. Where can our readers catch you next and how can your fans get in touch? 

The Beeston Festival, Leeds for UKW on Saturday 8th June.
Get in touch via twitter @alden90

WWE Raw 27th May 2013 Review

Last night’s episode of Raw was a bit of a mixed bag by all accounts, with WWE presenting some very good contests, unfortunately a number of bizarre booking decisions were also present throughout the show.

WWE Champion John Cena Vs. Curtis Axel w/Paul Heyman

For the second time in as many weeks Curtis Axel main evented Monday Night Raw against a bona fide future Hall of Famer. However once again it was more about the other people involved than it was about Mr. Perfect’s son. The match was made at the top of the show, just after John Cena had decided he had the power to alter his WWE Championship with Ryback at Payback. The match was changed from the Ambulance Match as previously booked into a Three Stages of Hell Match, with the first fall a Lumberjack Match, the second a Tables Match and finally finishing with the Ambulance Match.

For me, this is sign of the once again chaotic nature of WWE’s recent booking strategy. We saw this late last year with the Survivor Series PPV and even around the usually long term booked Wrestlemania. This makes for an awkward product on television that is constantly changing direction. Personally, I don’t feel this rivalry warrants a Three Stages of Hell Match, especially when you look at the rivals we’ve seen do battle in this type of match before, but that’s a problem to do with WWE’s gimmick Pay per views, after a Last Man Standing match for their first contest, WWE really booked themselves into a corner on this one.

After Ryback had accepted the challenge, Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel came out to throw down the gauntlet for Cena later in the night. Of course, Cena accepted and the match was set for the Main Event. As the show continued we saw both Cena and Axel preparing for the contest backstage, talking to WWE Hall of Famers Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart respectively, in nice segments which helped build the contest well. Axel’s conversation with The Hitman was particularly interesting with Bret attempting to convince Curtis to dump Heyman as his manager, with some nods towards the matches Bret had with Axel’s Dad, Mr. Perfect.

The contest itself was an okay, if unmemorable TV contest, with Axel getting in a surprising amount of offence in against the WWE Champion, including a near fall with Perfect Plex where the crowd thought it was over. However just as Cena was getting his usual comeback in and it looked like we were heading to our finish, sirens began to blare through the Saddledome and no it wasn’t Scott Steiner, it was Ryback and his newly acquired ambulance. This lured Cena to the entrance ramp for an attack with Ryback eventually running off after pushing Cena off the stage. With Axel picking up the victory via Countout, he is now 3-0 after opting to side with Paul Heyman, however WWE is going to need to give him a Pinfall victory over a big name soon if they wish to keep any momentum with this character going forward.

The Highlight Reel with Paul Heyman

It was another busy night for Paul Heyman. WWE seems to have recognised what an asset Heyman is to the company and how he can be used to get talent over with the fans, even when the talent themselves is unable to appear on the show, as was the case here. However, they are going to have to be very careful that Heyman doesn’t end up over exposed especially when the inevitable happens and all three of his clients are appearing on television at the same time. As much as we love Heyman here at Across the Pond, we don’t want Raw to turn into the Paul Heyman show.

Another star who WWE have used to help get talent over lately is Chris Jericho. Jericho’s ability to make his opponent look a million dollars has done wonders for Dolph Ziggler and Fandango recently as well as a number of other wrestlers throughout his career. In our Smackdown review, we hinted that we thought WWE might be going with a Chris Jericho Vs. Big Show match for Payback after their involvement with a steel chair on Friday Night, however that has either been dropped or was simply a way to write Show off of WWE Television for the time being as he made no appearance on Raw. 

The Highlight Reel was entertaining as always, with the Calgary crowd lapping up everything Y2J had to say, joining in with catchphrase and chanting “Walrus” at Heyman. Somewhat surprisingly, Jericho would go on to challenge, Paul Heyman’s client CM Punk to a match at Payback. We haven’t seen CM Punk since the night after Wrestlemania and it was expected that Punk would be taking much longer off than a few months.

With Jericho berated Heyman that Punk was no longer the “Best in the World” after not being on Television for six weeks, and that Jericho was truly “The Best in the World at What I Do” and if Punk had a problem with this he would turn up in his hometown of Chicago for Payback. This led to Heyman crumbling and agreeing to the contest. Although we’ve seen this match before with a similar storyline based around “The Best in the World” gimmick, with the roles now being reversed and with the addition of Paul Heyman it can be believed that this new contest will bring something different to the table and definitely injects some needed star power onto the Payback card.

United States Championship Match: Dean Ambrose © Vs. Kofi Kingston

Tag Team Championship Match: The Shield © Vs. Team Hell No

The disintegration of Team Hell No continued this week starting with a backstage segment where Bryan talked to himself about not being the weak link whilst Kane tried to convince him he wasn’t. This was until Bret Hart made his first appearance of the night and managed to convince Bryan that being the smaller man in the team didn’t make him the weak link. This upset Kane, with Bryan explain that Hart was The Best There Is, Best There Was and The Best the Ever Will Be and he was just Kane. It’s been really enjoyable to watch this story unfold and if done correctly could end up being a very memorable feud for WWE.

Before Hell No got there rematch for the Tag Team Titles, Kofi Kingston got his for Dean Ambrose’s United States Championship. This match was a hell of a lot better than the contest they had on Smackdown and was more up to the standards of their Extreme Rules outing. However the two still managed to bring a different kind of contest with a number of different spots, including a rather nasty looking trip from Ambrose which led to Kingston’s head hitting the steel steps. Ambrose seems to bring out the best in Kofi creatively and two clearly enjoy being in the ring together, bringing a nice intensity that is rarely seen on WWE Television. A few moves need to be worked on including Ambrose’s finish which looks difficult to get into and slightly awkward, as well as Kofi’s SOS move which I have never seen delivered in a convincing manner. It’s probably time for Kofi to drop this move from his arsenal. Ultimately Ambrose won, it being the right decision to keep the title with the Shield as they look to push further up the card in WWE.

For me the tag team contest was the best of the night. Going a solid twenty minutes, all four men proved why they deserve the accolades which have been bestowed on them in recent months. Daniel Bryan’s hot tag is probably one of the best in the business as he manages to change the pace of a match in seconds, allowing for the contest to feel fresh once again and keeping the audience glued to their television screens. It can only be hoped that Bryan’s work within the Team Hell No storyline, as well of that of partner Kane, is being recognised by those higher up in WWE and will be rewarded with stronger solo pushes once the story has been tied up.

The match finished with Bryan ignoring his partner’s argument and diving onto Reigns on the outside only to be driven into the mat, allowing Rollin’s diving knee attack to take out Kane for the pin. With both teams looking to be moving into separate stories at the next Pay-per-view, this was fantastic way to close out their long running rivalry. We here at Across The Pond Wrestling are interested to see how WWE will go with a Kane/Daniel Bryan feud and what kind of role each wrestler will play within it.

Best of the Rest
The continued absence of World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler was once again evident as Number One Contender Alberto Del Rio took on Ziggler’s “confidante” Big E Langston in a re-match from last week. The match was short and didn’t really do much for either man, apart from allow Del Rio to get his victory back as WWE continues to tread water with the Ziggler/Del Rio feud. The finish however was interesting with Langston’s manager AJ Lee removing the turnbuckle pad only for Langston to go crashing head first into the turnbuckle to the closing stages.

It will be interesting to see if WWE decides to break up this new faction so early after its formation, as it seems like it would still have some legs once Ziggler is back on Television. However, it’s clear that someone high up in WWE, is high on Big E and he has the look that Vince McMahon tends to go for, as well as being entertaining with a microphone and competent in the ring, I would suspect it’s only a matter of time before Big E breaks out on his own and possibly gets a shot at Ziggler’s championship.

Randy Orton and Sheamus teamed up once again, with Michael Cole continuing to use the hideous name “Celtic Vipers” to refer to the team. This time they squared off against Team Rhodes Scholars in a brief continuation of the bemusing “Gordian Knot” segment from Smackdown. In another case of WWE creative lacking direction, Sandow and Rhodes returning as a Tag Team every few weeks after retiring more time than Terry Funk, is wearing thin, with both men being talented it’s time to either push them as a Tag Team or allow them to continue solo paths.

The match was a strong contest as to be expected with these four competitors, however I found myself uninterested throughout as WWE has given me very little reason to care about Orton and Sheamus as a Tag Team, with both The Celtic Warrior and The Apex Predator looking stale in their face roles and needing a desperate change of scenery. With Sheamus picking up the win for his team with the Brogue Kick, the logical next step would be a feud with The Shield, and some entertaining contests with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns will hopefully reignite a bored looking Randy Orton.

WWE Active made a return this week and this time WWE actually took notice, with The Miz being chosen as Special Referee for a contest between Wade Barrett and Fandango. However, with the other options of Guest Commentator and Guest Ring Announcer it was always clear what the WWE Universe would choose. I find it insulting as a fan that WWE attempts to make itself look interactive when the options are so clearly weighted in favour of what WWE wants to go with. With The Miz costing Barrett the contest with a Skull Crushing Finale, only to attack Fandango as well after the match, and counting a goofy “pin fall” involving Summer Rae, it looks like WWE is cementing a Triple Threat contest at Payback for the title, which could be a very entertaining contest.

Elsewhere there was a number of throwaway contests that we’ve got used to since Raw went to three hours. Firstly, a six man tag team contest pitting Tons of Funk and The Great Khali, with more managers than you can shake a stick at, against 3MB. The match was quick and fun but has no real consequence on the wider picture of WWE. It’s interesting that none of the six in this match have really been involved in any feuds or storylines in well over a year. After the contest we got treated to The Great Khali singing happy birthday to his “Punjabi Princess” Natalya, whilst Khali’s singing is undeniably funny, it’s not something I’d want to see every week on Raw.

Natalya’s birthday celebrations continued as she teamed with Diva’s Champion Kaitlyn to take on the Bella Twins. The match was strong for a short diva tag team contest, with Natalya proving why she should appear on Raw more often, only to lose to an accidental Spear from Kaitlyn. Cole’s line of “So Natalya got beat in her hometown on her birthday” pretty much summed up my feeling towards this finish as WWE clearly doesn’t see in Natalya what the majority of the WWE Universe and what felt like the entire of Calgary does. And then the Bella’s started singing…

We also received a very good vignette hyping the debut of Bray Wyatt and his family including current NXT Tag Team Champions Eric Rowan and Luke Harper. It was creepy, unnerving and different from anything else on the show. It felt fresh and sent a decent amount of buzz over Twitter as people seemed genuinely excited to see this debut.

What was learnt from this week’s Raw?

1.       Curtis Axel needs a Pinfall win on Raw soon to keep up any form of momentum. 
2.       Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk is set to be match of the night at WWE Payback.
3.       WWE needs to stop pushing the App every five minutes.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

WWE Smackdown 24th May 2013 Review

Smackdown this week was an interesting show as each segment seemed very self-contained and had no impact on the rest of the show, however it looked like WWE were putting the wheels in motion for a number of future feuds for the next Pay Per View, Payback and we received two championship matches, albeit one being cut very short.

United States Championship Match: Dean Ambrose © Vs. Kofi Kingston/Six Man Tag Team Match: The Shield Vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus & Kofi Kingston

The original match here for the United States Championship wasn’t much to write home about, which was a shame because the contest between these two at Extreme Rules was one of the highlights of the show. It wasn’t helped by the fact it was cut so short to start the six man tag match, but Kofi Kingston’s awkward middle rope axe handle didn’t show much promise as they simply seemed to be waiting for the interference from the other member of The Shield, WWE Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.

The Shield continued to beat down Kingston until Sheamus and Randy Orton made the run in save. It seems pretty obvious where this storyline will heading from now on, with Sheamus and Orton getting a title shot in the near future, one can only think Orton’s now expected heel turn can only be so far away, with the ideal setting for a Sheamus-Orton show down being the biggest party of the Summer, Summerslam.

Of course after the interference, it was only a matter of time before Teddy Long realised there was an equal number of faces and heels in the ring and headed onto the entrance stage to make a SIX MAN TAG TEAM MATCH! The contest itself was, of course, another very good contest for The Shield. WWE seems to have got these Six Man Tags down to a fine art with the pacing of these matches as well as the booking of The Shield as a whole being some of WWE’s best work in the last few years. They even managed to fit in a major false finish, with a Brogue Kick from Sheamus on Rollins, followed by a Spear to Sheamus from Reigns, who consequently got hit with an RKO on the outside. With Sheamus reaching for the hot tag to Kofi Kingston who hit a spectacular spring board cross body on Dean Ambrose, it genuinely looked like it could have been over for The Shield. With the fact that this was Smackdown and it was unlikely WWE would have their hottest commodity lose on this show was a testament to how hard all the six of these men worked during this bout.

Dean Ambrose eventually picked up the win for his team, with his new finishing move, which is yet to receive a name on television. The only cause concern during this match was Roman Reigns, who appeared to injure his ankle on the outside, and limped throughout the rest of the match. Strangely the camera’s kept showing the injury, but it didn’t seem as if it was part of the story of the match. Hopefully it was merely a sprain as The Shield losing a member to injury so early could pop that bubble of momentum they have going forward.

Miz TV: with Fandango, Summer Rae & Wade Barrett/Intercontinental Championship Match: Wade Barrett © Vs. The Miz

I’m sorry but I still find it impossible to take The Miz seriously as a fan favourite. The guy is simply naturally unlikeable and seems uncomfortable in the role, awkwardly trying to get the fans to cheer for him. Miz TV continued the storyline from Raw, where Fandango cost him and Wade Barrett a tag team match versus Chris Jericho and The Miz, and Jericho danced with Summer Rae. It was quickly interrupted by Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. I don’t if it’s because I’m British but I find Barrett instantly more likeable than Miz. He doesn’t shy away from a fight and doesn’t mince his words, going straight to the point. Therefore once Miz and Barrett get into a physical confrontation into their planned Intercontinental Title fight, I’m feeling no sympathy for the smarmy Miz.

The match itself was a solid contest which we’ve seen these two are capable of on the Post-Wrestlemania Raw. With Fandango on commentary, the match continued to go back and forth between the two, including an impressive big boot from The Miz, until Fandango decided it was time to dance with Summer Rae at ringside. I’ve heard a number of people complaining about this as well as the similar moment on Monday Night, however I think if you’re complaining about the dancing, then Fandango is doing his job well!

A number of false finishes followed as both competitors got distracted by Fandango, in quick section of the match which really seemed to get the crowd going. This was until The Miz had enough of the ringside antics and hit a double footed dive to the outside. It didn’t take long for Fandango to retaliate which led to the Disqualification ending. Fandango and Barrett then continued to beat down Miz, and for a while it looked like a very strange new tag team was about to form. That is until Barrett hit the ballroom dancer with a Bullhammer Elbow.

Personally, I think this is the most exciting the Intercontinental Championship picture has been in a very long time, with a number of superstars going after the prize, which can only act as to raise the profile of the belt on television, and in return the superstars that hold the belt. WWE seems to have finally realised that they have more than just the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships to play with and have made clear efforts as of late to bring the Intercontinental and United States Championships back to prominence on their main television shows.

Best of the Rest
The newest Paul Heyman guy, Curtis Axel previously Michael McGillicutty and before that Joe Hennig, also turned up on the blue brand this week. Of course, Axel’s manager, Heyman was also there for a rare appearance on the show. Heyman cut an interesting and intelligent promo about his past successes and how he is going to do the same with Axel before handing the microphone to Axel, who it seems has improved his mic skills since his days on NXT Season Two. Curtis buried his father and grandfather before claiming to have caused Triple H’s concussion at the end of Raw on Monday. It was an obnoxious promo and will go a good way in the continued build of Axel towards supposed main event stardom.
A match with Sin Cara followed soon after. I’d like to know why Sin Cara still gets the treatment with the strange lighting during his match. I’m pretty sure it’s never been explained on television why this happens and it’s incredibly distracting during his match and has clearly done very little in helping Sin Cara get over. The match here was a nice quick TV contest with Sin Cara looking the slick in the ring and getting the majority of the offence in, until he missed a cross body and was hit with Axel’s spinning neckbreaker finish. I’m interested to see how WWE continue to build Curtis Axel as he does have the potential to be a major star for the company, especially with heat magnet Paul Heyman by his side.

The Team Hell No storyline continued with Daniel Bryan out to prove he is not the weak link, to who is trying to prove this is unknown. Bryan is arguably the most universally over superstars on the roster with both young kids and seasoned wrestling fans cheering him on and joining in with “YES” celebration. Bryan faced Jack Swagger, although there was no Zeb Colter promo pre-match as the character has gone off the boil as of late, with the controversial statements that made the character so entertaining and detestable in the first place being watered down, if WWE aren’t going to fully go for the gimmick then there isn’t much point it being there, however it does seem like Swagger could finally be getting his punishment for his extracurricular activity earlier in the year.

The contest was certainly not as good as it could have been, considering the in-ring ability of both competitors, because of the time constraints it was more or less each man’s regular spots as they went through the motions in this contest. With Bryan picking up the win with the No Lock, it seems Swagger is destined to drift back down the card for the foreseeable future. After the match, Bryan continuing the hold after the match, with Kane having to physically break the hold. With Sheamus and Orton seemingly in line for a Tag Team Title shot, could we about to see the disintegration of Team Hell No?

At first, I was confused by WWE opting to have Chris Jericho face The Big Show on Smackdown, it seemed like a waste of what could be a good Pay-Per-View contest given the proper storyline, which with the past history of these two as Jeri-Show wouldn’t be two hard to do. Big Show has had some of the best match of his career in the last year and this was another solid outing for the World’s Largest Athlete with Jericho also proving his worth to WWE as of late, helping to manoeuvre Dolph Ziggler and Fandango into higher spots on the card, and the two manage to put on another stellar contest with the classic Big Man Vs. Small Man thread running throughout the match.
With neither man being able to afford a loss at the moment, it seemed obvious the match would head to a Dusty finish and as expected Jericho won the match via Countout after a Codebreaker on the outside send Show over the barricade. In many ways, what happened after the contest was more interesting than the match with Show attempted to gain revenge on Y2J with a steel chair only for Jericho to reverse and beat down the Giant. Surely this is leading to a contest at WWE’s next Pay per View, Payback?

There was also a very strange segment involving Damien Sandow, Matt Striker, Sheamus and a knot. Sandow produced a solid promo which was as always a joy to listen to, about the contest between Sheamus and Mark Henry on Smackdown in recent weeks, which seemed out of place as Sandow was clearly seen cheering on Mark Henry in the truck pull on last week’s show! It continued with some goofy idea about being able to undo a knot, which neither Striker nor Sheamus could undo. Sandow produced bolt cutter to undo the knot, before dodging a Brogue Kick from Sheamus, only to have Matt Striker thrown in him. This whole segments seemed pretty pointless, as it doesn’t seem like the two will be entering a feud anytime soon, especially as the ending to the show with Orton and Sheamus turning up to face the Shield.

This was a fairly entertaining episode of Smackdown, which seemed to have more consequence than it has in recent weeks, with new feuds and stories developing, instead of just being a throwaway continuation of Raw. It was nice to see both the Intercontinental and United States Championships placed in prominent positions on the card, but the show was harmed by the absence of both World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler and his number one contender Alberto Del Rio. I understand Ziggler is suffering from a concussion and Del Rio appeared on both Raw and Main Event, but Smackdown is supposed to be their brand and there wasn’t even a mention of either of the Superstars.

Friday, 17 May 2013

We Are Coming Back

Across The Pond has been away for awhile as I've had to focus on my academic pursuits, however these will be completed by 23rd May and we shall return with a review of the 24th May Edition of WWE Smackdown.