Sunday, 30 June 2013

WWE NXT 26th June 2013 Review

This week’s episode of NXT wasn’t quite as good as we’ve come to expect since it’s revamp, it was still enjoyable but rested too heavily on enhancement matches, which gave the show an unimportant feel for most of the hour.



NXT Tag Team Championship Number One Contenders Match: Corey Graves & Kassius Ohno vs. Scott Dawson & Garrett Dylan with Sylvester LeFort




This match was set up last week by Commissioner Dusty Rhodes, and was really the only match they could have put together in terms of a number one contenders match. These are currently the only two teams (and I use the term loosely for Graves & Ohno) on NXT, bar the champions themselves The Wyatt Family, and it is probably the weakest area of the show. Dawson and Dylan have impressed me over recent weeks, with some old school style tag team wrestling, but they haven’t yet been involved in a match against with anyone of the calibre of Graves and Ohno so I was interested to see how they would deal with this type of match up.

The match for them most part told the basic tag team story that we’ve all seen time and time again, with Dawson and Dylan, working over Graves building towards a hot tag. This section was extremely slow at time, and whilst it’s sometimes good for a match like this to slow the pace right down, it felt like it lasted a little too long. There was a surprising turn shortly after the hot tag with Dawson and Dylan managing to hit their Southern Pride double team finisher, it was a shame then to see Graves break up the pinfall before the referee had even managed to start a count, as this would have been a nice false finish.

The match picked up from here with Ohno doing a good job of fighting from underneath with some nice defence as offense including turning a back body drop into a sunset flip attempt. With Ohno making the second hot tag to Graves, who looked a lot more comfortable in the position of aggressor with tying Dylan up in the corner with a figure four around the rope being the highlight of this section. With Ohno taking out Dawson, Graves worked Dylan’s leg again before getting the submission victory with Lucky 13. The match certainly got better as it went on, but didn’t quite live up to the sum of its parts, at times feeling a little disjointed.

After the match, The Wyatt Family stormed the ring and took down the number one contenders. Adrian Neville attempted to even the numbers, before Dawson and Dylan recovered to foil at 450 splash attempt. With the heels beating down on Ohno, Graves and Neville, it was left to commentator William Regal to try and make the save, only to get taking down by The Wyatt Family and Dawson and Dylan. After a while Dawson and Dylan looked a little awkward in the ring with The Wyatt’s, especially manager Sylvester LeFort who did very little for his team all night. After Dawson and Dylan left, allowing The Wyatt Family to celebrate before putting some final boots to Regal. The ending was probably the best part of the show as it really left things open to where this will go in the next few weeks.

Best of the Rest (in the World)





New NXT Champion Bo Dallas had his first match since winning the championship against the newly christened Mickey Keegan (formally Axel Keegan) with Leo Kruger sitting in the corner of the arena after his match with Dante Dash (more on that later). The match wasn’t anything special from the NXT Champion who certainly isn’t liked by the NXT Arena, who even started a short chant for Keegan. This was estentially an enhancement match with Dallas getting in pretty much all of the offence, which at times looked a little awkward as Dallas seemed a little disorientated in the ring. Dallas picked up the victory with an odd looking belly to belly suplex which definitely didn’t look anywhere near like a finishing move, the match would have been better off ending with Dallas’ version of the Dudley Dog.

With Kruger still at ringside, it didn’t take long for the South African to enter the ring. Surprisingly, he decided to take out Keegan with a nice arm trap suplex and finished him off with a Slice lariat. Kruger and Dallas had a stare down, with Kruger attempting to touch the NXT title, before saying something “Tata” repeatedly and leaving the ring. I have to say I like Kruger’s strange nature and he is certainly something different to WWE programming, whether Bo Dallas will be a good opponent for him in terms of a rivalry, I’m yet to be convinced.

The Women’s Championship tournament continued this week with the last quarter final, pitting Emma against Aksana. Emma did a nice comedic backstage interview with Renee Young pre-match, that really got over the character well, with the comedy suiting the situation and allowing Emma’s character to feel genuinely likeable. She’s certainly over well with the crowd inside the audience the NXT Arena, with plenty joining in with Emma dance on her entrance. The match itself, was probably one of the best Aksana matches I’ve seen as she worked hard in her heel role, controlling most of the match. The finish could have been worked a little quicker with both Aksana and Emma looking a little awkward, although once Emma’s submission finisher DilEmma was in place it certainly looked an impressive hold. I’m certainly interested in the Semi Final contests, and hopefully Paige vs. Alicia Fox and Emma vs. Summer Rae will live up to my expectations.

I mentioned Leo Kruger’s involvement with Bo Dallas earlier in the review, but Kruger was also in action himself against Dante Dash. Another enhancement match here with Kruger dominating Dash throughout the match. Kruger worked over Dash’s arm for most of the match, including the arm trap suplex he later used on Mickey Keegan. Kruger eventually got the win via submission with the GC3, a moved of course focussed on Dash’s arm. Kruger certainly brings a certain presence to the ring which draws you in when he’s competing. I’d like to see how he functions in a feud soon and certainly would like to see him in longer more competitive matches than this.


Big E Langston also had his first appearance on NXT since losing the NXT Championship to Bo Dallas two weeks ago. Langston faced Aiden English in what was less enhancement match, more squash match, with Langston completely bulldozing English. Langston picked up the win with the Big Ending, before the crowd called for “Five!” so Langston hit his finish again for a five count. I’m not quite sure where this will go, with Langston’s days on NXT surely numbered as he continues to impress on the main roster, possibly a rematch against Bo Dallas for the title with Dallas finally making the heel turn to finish Langston’s time off in NXT. 

Finally...


What have we learned from this week's NXT?

1. The NXT Tag Team Division is needs to bolster it's ranks with some new pairings.

2. Bo Dallas needs to step up his game to be considered in the same bracket as former NXT Champions Seth Rollins and Big E Langston.

3. William Regal is a great commentator on NXT, but I'd much rather see him lock it with some of NXT's young talent.


Saturday, 29 June 2013

WWE Main Event 26th June 2013 Review

The impressive thing about Main Event this week was that it featured two matches that on paper could have held the main event spot, with one cut short by interference, the other was a solid contest that showed off what the men involved can do well.



Chris Jericho vs. Cody Rhodes


For me this match felt like WWE taking a look at what Cody Rhodes can still do when tasked with a longer contest, such as this one. It’s been a while since Cody was in a position to have a match anywhere near this length on either TV or PPV, after kind of getting lost in the mix on Raw and Smackdown after the original break down of Team Rhodes Scholars in February. He hasn’t really been given anything to get his teeth into in terms of a feud, apart from a bit part in the Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow feud. It truly is telling that with Money in the Bank coming round, Cody isn’t being talked about as a potential winner, as he’s been the first name on most people’s lips for the last few years events.

The match was a back and forth type of contest, with each man being given just enough time in control of the match to showcase what they are capable of in the ring. The majority of the contest focussed around an injury to Jericho’s eye, caused after a stray thumb from Cody Rhodes. It was nice twist on the heel taking advantage of an injury type of match, which would usually see the heel work on the arm or leg. Rhodes used a lot of his signature moves throughout the contest including a beautiful moonsault onto a standing Jericho, the Disaster Kick (taking advantage of the Jericho’s eye) a huge Alabama Slam and Cross Rhodes all of which got him a two count. Rhodes managed to keep himself looking strong enough with by getting his foot on the ropes after a Codebreaker.

The end of the match saw Jericho block a kick from Rhodes, and after a long struggle eventually manage to turn it into the Walls of Jericho, resulting in the submission victory. I enjoyed this ending, as with Cody reaching and clawing to get to Jericho’s eye before he was turned over it felt like the storyline running throughout the match had led somewhere and brought a satisfactory conclusion to what was a good contest, for both men.

Chris Jericho has been known over the last few years for helping young talent get over with the WWE audience, mainly due to his selfless style of wrestling which allows his opponents to look as good as possible, as well as years of wrestling knowledge built up from around the world. Cody Rhodes certainly benefitted from being in the ring with Jericho for this amount of time and the psychology and story throughout the contest was spot on. It would seem Rhodes is being positioned for another repackage soon, after a long losing streak and having seen his finishing moves kicked out of by a number of opponent on the way. WWE would be foolish to let a talent like Rhodes go without ever giving him a proper chance to run with the ball.

Best of the Rest (in the World)


 


I mentioned at the start of this review that there was another match that could have potentially taken the Main Event spot, and if the rivalry hadn’t been completely missed from Raw this week it probably would have been. The match in question was Christian against the United States Champion Dean Ambrose of The Shield, it certainly had potential to fill the fifteen to twenty minute slot and with the rivalry behind it could arguably been a bigger draw than Jericho-Rhodes.

The match was essentially a brawl between the two spilling to the outside before Ambrose took control with a nice version of an STF. With Christian hitting a number of familiar moves, this match finally looked to be getting going, but was the unfortunately cut short as Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns interfered to push Christian off the top, to give Christian the disqualification win. It was a shame to have this match end so quickly, especially with a number of Ambrose’s matches having had similar endings recently, he hasn’t had much time to show what he can do on his own as of late. With The Shield beating down Christian, the number one contenders The Usos made the save, seeing off The Shield in style. Whilst both Christian and The Usos deserve to be in this position with The Shield, it’s difficult to see either in the same position as some of The Shield’s opponents over recent months.

Before Tons of Funk made their entrance to face The Prime Time Players, they were given a new entrance with The Funkadactyls and new Diva Jo-Jo (who’ll be appearing on reality show Total Divas in July) sang the entrance theme. It really was awful to watch and I felt pretty uncomfortable watching the three young ladies struggle in the ring, luckily this wasn’t Raw and hopefully it never happens again. Luckily the match was good tag team fare, with both teams looking good in the ring. It’s a shame we don’t see enough of Clay and Tensai as a duo, because as big men go they’re pretty good in the ring. The Prime Time Players needed the win to go into their match on Raw with CM Punk and Curtis Axel looking strong and duly delivered when Darren Young hit Brodus with his afro comb, allowing Titus O’Neil to get the pinfall, in a nice ending to develop the heel duo.

For the first time this week, I was disappointed with a Zeb Colter promo. I was behind the partnership with Antonio Cesaro to start with, if it emphasised how Colter had back tracked from his previous position, however that does not look to be the case. What was presented here was a over long rambling promo that took way too many tangents and seemed to forget that Colter was now aligned with a foreigner. Cesaro attempted to pull it back with a decent promo of his own, but it couldn’t quite paper over the cracks in the logic of their relationship. I'm sure the crowd chanting U-S-A was not the desired reaction! 

Announced For Friday's Smackdown:


Christian & The Usos vs. The Shield




Friday, 28 June 2013

WWE Raw 24th June 2013 Review

This week’s Raw couldn’t quite live up to the week before in terms of excitement and action, however it was still another strong outing for WWE, with a number of strong matches and story development as we head towards Money in the Bank on July 14th.



Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton


It was nice to see this story get spotlighted this week, as it opened and closed the show with both competitor looking very strong throughout. The show kicked off with Daniel Bryan in the ring, who cut an entertaining promo about little man syndrome before claiming he would defeat Randy Orton tonight, which lured Randy Orton out to the ring. The two quickly went at it and seemed like the match would take place then, only for it to spill to the out side, before referee Charles Robinson was knocked down in the melee and called for the double disqualification. It was decent start to Raw, and we got to see a taste of things to come later on, with Orton and Bryan’s dislike for each other really coming through well here.

Street Fight: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton




As we built up towards what would now become the main event of Raw, we got a number of backstage segments. Firstly we saw Bryan rage at Raw Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero and her assistant Brad Maddox, even challenging Brad to a match if he couldn’t get the match with Orton later. Vickie agreed until Mr. McMahon turned up, to talk about how Daniel Bryan was too small. Even though it was little frustrating to see the McMahon’s get involved in this feud, I actually quite liked this moment, as it seemed to come from a real place and we all know that Bryan doesn’t exactly fit Vince’s idea of a what a WWE superstar should look like. With Vickie contemplating cancelling the match Triple H turned up to give an opposite view and even offered the idea of holding a WWE App vote to choose the match type. It’s interesting to watch Vickie agree with whichever McMahon spoke to her last and I’d foresee a split between Vickie and Brad with each eventually siding with a respective McMahon.

The WWE App vote included Lumberjack Match, Street Fight and Falls Count Anywhere match. With the WWE Universe opting for the Street Fight option, it was strange to see both Bryan and Orton come out in regular wrestling gear. For me, there is no real different between a Street Fight and a Falls Count Anywhere match except the street clothes. For someone reason WWE also decided that in a Street Fight pinfalls could only happen in the ring, it’s called a Street Fight! So what we basically got here was an Extreme Rules Match, but the two competitors in the ring did an amazing job as we got one of the best match up’s of this kind since WWE went PG. It was much more than your regular one weapon WWE No DQ match, as we saw both Orton and Bryan go through tables (Bryan a little awkwardly after a Exploder Suplex), chair shots to head (yes, to the head), Bryan take a back body drop onto the ramp and the use of what has become Orton’s signature weapon, the Kendo Stick (or Singapore Cane)

With all matches of this type, they’re made even better by good solid wrestling and a good story tell. This match had both in bucket loads, with a number of reversals including a nice powerbomb from Orton as Bryan jumped off the tope rope. The ending revolved around Bryan’s No Lock and the Singapore Cane, with Orton able to get out of the hold first time round with use of the cane, however second time round Bryan had to move scouted and used the cane against Orton to get the Submission victory, in what felt like an extremely satisfying ending to a great television main event. After the contest the two shook hands, although I hoping for a bit more development post-match, I can see why WWE went for this ending and hopefully we’ll get to keep seeing this side of Randy Orton over the coming weeks and months.

CM Punk with Paul Heyman vs. Darren Young with Titus O’Neil


Before the match took place we saw CM Punk backstage in a segment with Vickie Guerrero. Guerrero attempted to inform Punk that he would be in a match later on, The Best in the World ignored her before using Vickie’s “Excuse Me!” catchphrase against her and informing her that if she saw Heyman or Lesnar turned up that she should let him know. It was a nice segment between the two, even if it did slightly damped Punk’s appearance later on. Guerrero is someone who probably doesn’t get as much credit as she should for her job, considering she has no sought of training in any field, it’s been fantastic to watch her develop since her 2005 debut. She has to do very little to garner any heat from a crowd, although that has made it difficult for her to transition into a more likeable role as of late.

Later on in the show, Paul Heyman came to ring and called out the Best in the World. What followed is difficult to fully describe, but we got a conversation between two of the best talkers professional wrestling has ever seen. The conversation they had revolved around Brock Lesnar’s attack on CM Punk last week and whether Paul Heyman was involved. Heyman of course denied any involvement blaming Punk and Lesnar’s respective egos on the attack. Heyman said it was up to Punk what he choose to do from then on, and after a long pause Punk apologised for doubting Heyman and the two embraced. The whole scene felt like something out some big budget US drama series with the hug at the end teasing that all was still not well within Camp Heyman.

The match that Vickie mentioned earlier was against Darren Young of The Prime Time Players. The match was a lot more competitive than I had expected with Young getting a fair amount of offence in on Punk, even hitting his Gut Check finisher for a two count. Punk eventually got the win after a Roundhouse kick followed by an Anaconda Vise for the submission victory. Young’s Prime Time Player’s partner, Titus O’Neil then entered the ring and the two began to beat down Punk, until Heyman’s other client Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel made the save, much to the displeasure of Punk. It’s interesting to see WWE playing around with the concept of what makes a heel and a face as of late, with this storyline and Orton and Bryan being some of the most interesting television WWE has put on in a long time.

Later on backstage we caught up with Punk and Heyman, with the Voice of the Voiceless not particularly happy with his best friend’s actions, he was even less happy to find out that he’d be teaming with Curtis Axel next week against The Prime Time Players. Punk cut a promo on his goals for the future, including beating Brock Lesnar, winning Money in the Bank and the WWE Championship. This feud involving Lesnar, Heyman and Punk (and to some extent Curtis Axel) feels like it could run and run, with a lot of avenues that could be explored and an eventual Punk-Lesnar contest (or even series) being a mouth-watering prospect for true wrestling fans. 

John Cena & Mark Henry


After the fresh feel to feud between these two last week, it felt like business as usual this week on Raw. It seems that every single feud we’ve seen from Cena at one point has featured these duelling promo type segments. We saw it recently with Ryback, we’ve seen it with The Rock as well. I expect the week before Money in the Bank we’ll see the Cena and Henry “face to face” segment make a return also. It’s a shame because this could rivalry really could’ve helped to freshen up Cena’s act as well as give the match a lot more importance come Money in the Bank. A regular match between Cena and Henry will be nothing special, a match with heaps of story and background could be extremely entertaining.

Cena’s promos as of late have been pretty poor, and that’s not just by Cena’s high standards, that’s in general. It used to be that the current WWE Champions promos were one of the strongest parts of his game, however this week like last he seemed to phone it in once again. It was basic cookie cutter Cena promo, as he spouted his Never Give Up, RTime=Now catchphrases and it didn’t particularly put over Mark Henry as all Cena wanted to talk about was himself. It’s definitely time to add some dimension to Cena’s character, I’m not talking about the myth of a heel turn, just some level to the character, have him talk to the audience for once, not shout at them!

Mark Henry on the other hand delivered a much better effort, talking about how he got the fans last with his faux retirement speech. He talked to the fans, making fun of them and really should have got more heat than he did, if it weren’t for a crowd that was dead for most of the night. The World’s Strongest Man manages to use humour in his promo that is actually funny, whilst staying within the parameters of being a heel, which definitely brings that extra dimension that all wrestler characters should have. Henry finished off by proclaiming he would win the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank, it was a nice follow up to last week’s segment and built up the match at the PPV well.


The positioning of the segments on the show certainly felt like WWE taking their foot of the gas for this rivalry, compared to last week. It didn’t quite feel as big as last week’s segment and a lot of other segments on the show felt more important than what we saw here. If this match is to main event the Money in the Bank show, which it could do if handled well enough over the next two weeks then we need to see it in a much more prominent position on WWE television, other wise what could be a good feud is going to get lost in the mix.

Best of the Rest (in the World)




In other action, there was a rematch from last Friday’s Smackdown pitting World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio against Chris Jericho. It was another strong contest between the two, even if it was similar to their original Smackdown contest. Del Rio worked over Jericho a lot of the contest, with a number of short lived comebacks from Jericho. With Y2J dodging Del Rio sending him into the ring post, the match really got going with some nice back and forth wrestling between the two, focussed on the pairs submission finishers. With Jericho getting Del Rio into the Walls of Jericho in the centre of ring, Ricardo Rodriguez had to inference with his trusty bucket to give Jericho a disqualification win. These two could have a great contest if given the time and a decent storyline, as well a clean finish, but for now I guess this match is more than good enough for Raw.

It wasn’t long before Dolph Ziggler came out to take on Del Rio, hitting him with a Zig Zag, whilst Jericho took out Rodriguez with a Codebreaker. With Ziggler and Jericho squaring up, supposedly over Jericho’s Code Breaker to Ziggler on Smackdown, it was Ziggler who attacked this time, hitting Jericho with a Zig Zag as he tried to leave the ring. I’m not sure why Jericho was added to this rivalry in such a way, it really didn’t need him to get involve to fuel it, whilst Ziggler attacking Jericho certainly won’t help his recent face turn get over with certain parts of the audience.

Stephanie McMahon was also involved on television this week, firstly in a backstage segment with Vickie Guerrero. McMahon was quick to show who was boss and questioned why Vickie hadn’t announced who was in the WWE Championship Money in the Bank Ladder Match, after they had previously spoke about it, referencing a conversation seen of screen is never fun as a viewer, imagine the same happening in Coronation Street and it could get very confusing. Personally any relevant information for the storyline should be seen on screen, if it isn’t seen it shouldn’t be mentioned, bar the occasional addition of background on characters.

Stephanie then went out into the arena to announce who would be taking part in this years WWE Championship Money in the Bank Ladder Match. The participants would be CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Christian, Kane and Rob Van Dam. This match sticks to idea featured in last years match of having former WWE or World Heavyweight Champions in the match, with only Daniel Bryan and Christian yet to win the WWE Championship. Some may moan that the Money in the Bank should be used to raise the profile of other talent, however personally I am not too bothered by the selection here and with a good storyline in place anyone should be able to win the briefcase regardless of past achievements. There’s a lot of different stories going into this one match and it will be interesting to see how they mess together to create the contest.

There was also Diva’s action with Kaitlyn (who for some reason was accompanied by Layla) taking on Aksana. Luckily, the match didn’t go very long before it was interrupted by AJ Lee, dressed as Kaitlyn complete with muscle suit. AJ cut a promo as Kaitlyn, in a segment reminiscent of the Piggy James angle from 2010. It finished with Big E coming out with flowers and carrying AJ away, it’s nice to see WWE hasn’t forgotten what happened a few weeks ago and this was done well, and with a lot more taste than Piggy James was. With Aksana trying to take advantage of the situation, Kaitlyn quickly fought her off hitting a spear for a victory. It’s simply good to see such a heated, dimensional rivalry between the Diva’s that is still grabbing my attention this far in, even if Layla does seem a bit of a spare wheel.

The Shield got a new contender to their championship as The Usos picked up a win in a Number One Contenders Three Way against Tons of Funk and 3MB’s Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal. It was decent quick match, which featured a nice spot with Brodus Clay diving off the apron, but it was clear who was going to win from the outset with The Uso’s being the only team in the match having anything resembling a push as off late, and it could even be questioned why Tons of Funk or 3MB deserved to be involved in a number one contenders match. After the match, The Shield came out but simply stayed in the crowd and pointed at The Usos, in what was a disappointing start to the rivalry.

Ryback was also in action this week against The Great Khali, in match that was set to delight wrestling purists. In all honesty, it was an abysmal match, with it’s saving grace being how quickly it was over and the impressive visual seeing Ryback deliver Shellshocked to Khali. After the contest Ryback went to Vickie Guerrero to demand he be added to the WWE Championship Match at Money in the Bank, whilst Chris Jericho also turned up asking to be added to the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Eventually, Vickie decided to put them in a match with each other at Money in the Bank instead. I’m not sure how good this match will be, but if anyone can make Ryback look a million dollars, it’s Chris Jericho.

The Sheamus/Damien Sandow feud continued with Sheamus teaming with Christian to take on Team Rhodes Scholars. The majority of the match was worked by Christian and Cody Rhodes, who did a decent job with the time they were given in the ring, Christian sold especially well meaning the hot tag to Sheamus felt more important than it really should have. Sheamus took out both Rhodes Scholars before eventually hitting a Brogue Kick on Rhodes for the victory. It was an okay tag team match, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary.  It would look like the Sheamus/Sandow rivalry is set to finish on Smackdown with the two having a Dublin Street Fight.

Vickie Guerrero, Brad Maddox and Jerry Lawler also revealed the cover for the new WWE 2K14 video game in what was a pretty poor segment. The idea of a create your cover competition was put over with covers from Guerrero and Maddox, in a segment that really should have been over quickly to simply show the cover and promote the game. The cover itself features The Rock, and personally looks like a fairly uninspiring cover.


Finally...

What have we learned from this week's Raw?

1. A street fight must finish within the ring, who'd have thunk it.

2. CM Punk and Paul Heyman of as much genius opposing each other as they were as partners.

3. The WWE App references slowing down, make the times it is referenced more significant, making me more likely to use the App!

Announced for this Friday's Smackdown


Fiesta Del Rio



Dublin Street Fight: Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow



Announced for next Monday's Raw


CM Punk & Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel vs. The Prime Time Players




Announced for July 14th's Money in the Bank


WWE Championship Money in the Bank Ladder Match: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. Kane vs. Christian vs. Rob Van Dam




Chris Jericho vs. Ryback


WWE: The Top 25 Rivalries in Wrestling History DVD Review

I'd like to start by looking at the chapters for the documentary part of the DVD, featured on Disc 1.

Chemistry

#25      Triple H vs. Mick Foley (Interview – Road Dogg)

#24      Tazz vs. Sabu (Interview - Shane Douglas) 

#23      Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero (Interview – Vickie Guerrero) 

#22      Bruiser Brody vs. Abdullah the Butcher (Interview – Mick Foley) 

#21      Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper (Interview – Ted DiBiase, Jr.) 

Radioactive

#20      CM Punk vs. John Cena (Interview – Paul Heyman) 

#19      Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar (Interview – Bret Hart)

#18      Randy Orton vs. Triple H (Interview – Cody Rhodes) 

#17      Verne Gagne vs. Nick Bockwinkel (Interview – Gene Okerlund) 

#16      Mankind vs. The Undertaker (Interview – Jerry Lawler) 

Underground Laboratory 

#15      Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven (Interview – Joey Styles) 

#14      Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (Interview – Michael Hayes) 

#13      Triple H vs. The Rock (Interview – Billy Gunn) 

#12      John Cena vs. Edge (Interview – Lita) 

#11      Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage (Interview – CM Punk)

Combustible 

#10      Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum T.A. (Interview – Dusty Rhodes) 

#9        The Undertaker vs. Kane (Interview – Jim Ross) 

#8        Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz (Interview – William Regal) 

#7        Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair (Interview – Shawn Michaels) 

#6        Von Erichs vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Interview – Ric Flair) 

Quintessential Elements

#5        Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock (Interview – The Miz) 

#4        Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan (Interview – Big Show) 

#3        Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (Interview – Tommy Young) 

#2        Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart (Interview – Dolph Ziggler) 

Nucleus

#1        Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mr. McMahon (Interview – Vince Russo) 

Interaction and Reaction





It would be easy in this review, to pick apart the Top 25 Rivalries in terms of the list of rivalries it presents, picking my own top twenty five and giving reason why each rivalry presented on this disc should be higher or lower, or why it doesn’t deserve to be on the disc. However, for the most part that is not what I am here to do. It must have been an incredibly difficult list to compile, as it not only has to look at making sure people’s most memorable rivalries are nearer the top of the list, it also doesn’t want include to my rivalries from around the same time period or involving the same competitor to close together. Therefore this set is to be commended for it’s placing of the rivalries, as well as looking at number of different promotions and eras, when it would have been easier to simply look at WWE, the only era that doesn’t get a mention on this set is WCW, which would seem to be a big overlooking, also it would have been nice to see a female rivalry make the set, I’m sure Trish Stratus vs. Lita would have fit onto the list nicely, to cover all bases.

The set is presented by Renee Young, who appears on the likes of Bottom Line and Experience, she does as good a job as she can with the material she is presented with, which in truth is abysmal. The DVD is held down by a bizarre chemistry idea that is present throughout. Renee teaches us a number of facts about chemistry in between every few rivalries on the list, I say she teaches us, she reads to us as though it is story time. It’s clear the Young has very little knowledge of the subject she is talking about, not only the chemistry element but a times the wrestling stuff as well. Luckily these segment are kept to a minimum, but you may be screaming at your television for them to end, if it gets too bad reach for the remote control. 

In a nice twist, each rivalry has a single talking head giving comments on the rivalry instead of the usual five or six. This gives each rivalry it’s own individual feel and the fact that each talking head either had something to do with the rivalry or is heavily linked with both sides of the feud, gives a much closer insight into what was happening at the time. Whilst most of the talking heads are obvious ones, it’s the slightly off field interviews that make for the best viewing, such as CM Punk discussing Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan or Bret Hart discussing Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle, these are people who watched the rivalries as a fan and therefore give the best insights on how the rivalries effected the viewing audiences. Some of the interviews don’t quite come off as good though, with Ted DiBiase Jr. discussing Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper and The Miz discussing Steve Austin vs. The Rock standing out as not quite seeming big enough stars to discuss the rivalries they are handed. 

It would have also been nice to see a few honourable mentions included as extras on Disc 1 as we’ve seen in previous countdowns, which really would’ve rounded out this Disc nicely, and possibly even allowed for a few more comedic rivalries to get an airing.

Match Listing

Disc 2

WWF Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
WWF War to Settle the Score 18th February, 1985

“I Quit” Steel Cage Match for the NWA United States Championship
Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum T.A.
NWA Starrcade 28th November , 1985

Bruiser Brody vs. Abdullah the Butcher
World Class Championship Wrestling July 1987

Badstreet Rules Match
Kevin & Kerry Von Erich vs. Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts
World Class Championship Wrestling February 1988

Hulk Hogan & “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant
WWF SummerSlam 29th August, 1988

Undertaker vs. Mankind
WWF King of the Ring 23rd June, 1996

Disc 3

Grudge Match
Tazz vs. Sabu
ECW Barely Legal 13th April, 1997

The Final Battle
Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven
ECW WrestlePalooza June 1997

“Winner Take All” Handicap Ladder Match
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mr. McMahon & Shane McMahon
WWF King of the Ring 27th June, 1999

WWE Championship Match
Triple H vs. The Rock
WWF Backlash 30th April, 2000

WWF Championship Match
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock
WWF Rebellion 3rd November, 2001

WWE Championship Match
Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
WWE SummerSlam 24th August, 2003

Steel Cage Match for the WWE Championship
John Cena vs. Edge
WWE Raw 2nd October, 2006

Choosing the matches for these types of sets is another difficult ask, because the matches chosen needs to be able to typify the rivalry that is being presented, however a lot of this ground has already been covered in a number of other DVD sets meaning the best matches have already been taken and nobody wants a set full of repeats. (The only match that sticks out as a major repeat is the “Winner Take All” Ladder Match which I’ve seen on at least two others sets over the last few years.) Therefore we get a number of interesting choices in terms of matches, such as the Rebellion contest between Stone Cold and The Rock as well as the less famous King of the Ring match between The Undertaker and Mankind. 

When scanning down the match listing the thing that stood out most for me was that the matches stop in 2006, and entire seven years before this set was released. I realised that everything post 2006 was included a part of the Blu-Ray exclusive content, that includes Shawn Michaels Tribute to The Undertaker from a 2009 episode of WWE Smackdown, Triple H, Batista & Shane McMahon vs. The Legacy from WWE Backlash 2009 and John Cena vs. CM Punk for the WWE Championship from WWE Night of Champions 2012. Not having the matches on the DVD come up to the modern day, certainly doesn’t allow for the type of finality you want after watching almost nine hours of footage, and although I can see the reasoning for having this content on the Blu Ray to encourage buys of the product, this should not come at the detriment of the other product. One match that seems ripe for the cull to allow for space, would be the Abdullah the Butcher vs. Bruiser Brody match, whilst by no means being an awful match, WWE holds so little footage of the rivalry that we’d already seen most of this match, including the ending, in the video package shown for the feud. 

My Top Three Matches on the Set.

1. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle from WWE Summerslam 2003.
2. Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven from ECW Wrestlepalooza 1997
3. Magnum T.A. vs. Tully Blanchard from NWA Starrcade 1985

Why should you buy this set? 

If you want a brief look at a number of different rivalries that shaped wrestling history then this is the set for you, if you’re looking for something a bit more in depth then prepare to be a little disappointed. Whilst each rivalry gets around seven minutes, it’s clear that there is a lot more to say about each with some rivalries going on for years meaning some elements are scanned over. 

If you’re after rare appearances from a number of ex-WWE talent, such as Vince Russo and Shane Douglas, this is also the place to be. You can’t imagine a lot of the talent interviewed getting as much time to talk in any other setting or disc and it truly is a pleasure to spend some time with some of these lesser seen stars in 2013. 

If you haven’t got a Blu Ray player. Yes, the majority of the content is on the DVD set, but with the matches ending in 2006, if you’re anything like me you’ll be looking for a final ending with the set being brought bang up to date. The John Cena vs. CM Punk match certainly would have done this for me and probably would’ve made it into my top three list.

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This DVD is currently available to order now from www.wwedvd.co.uk , as well as all good DVD and Blu Ray retailers.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Five Questions With... J.J. Dillon

After last week's interiview with Leah Von Dutch, it's time to get all Hall of Fame, with James J. Dillon.



Ring Name:  James J. Dillon (also J. J. Dillon)

Age: 70
Hometown: Trenton, NJ (currently reside in Smyrna, DE)
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 250lbs
Promotions Worked For:

World Wrestling Federation
National Wrestling Alliance
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
All Japan Pro Wrestling
Championship Wrestling From Florida
St. Louis Wrestling Club
Central States Wrestling
Continental Wrestling Association
Maple Leaf Wrestling
American Wrestling Association
World Championship Wrestling

Championships and Accomplishments: WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2012, Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2013, PWI Manager of the Year Award 1982, 1983 and 1987, NWA Florida Heavyweight Champion, NWA Macon Heavyweight Champion, NWA International Heavyweight Champion (Amarillo Version), NWA Florida Television Champion, NWA Western States Television Champion, NWA Florida Tag Team Champion, NWA Central States Tag Team Champion, ESA International Heavyweight Champion, ESA North American Heavyweight Champion, ESA International Tag Team Champion,

Wrestlers Managed: The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard), Abdullah the Butcher, Buddy Landell, Waldo Von Erich, The Long Riders (Ron Bass & Black Bart), Ox Baker, Moondog Mayne, Brute Bernard, The Mongolian Stomper


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

I started as a wrestling fan at about age 15.  I was a referee in Eastern PA and NJ for about eight years.  I started to wrestle part-time 1968-1970.  In 1971, I started full-time as a wrestler in Charlotte, NC, months before turning 29.  I managed the Mongolian Stomper in October of 1975.  I continued to manage and wrestle until I retired from the ring in January of 1989, though best remembered as The Leader of the Four Horsemen (certainly the highlight of my career), I had over 3200 actual wrestling matches during my career including holding several titles.



2. You experienced a number of different roles within the wrestling business how did you enjoy each role and what was your particular favourite?


I enjoyed all aspects of the business.  Because I was a fan, I was able to step in and referee one night when no referee showed up.  During the time I continued to referee, I was the third man in the ring for many of Bruno Sammartino's epic championship battles. That experience helped me be a better wrestler when I was given the opportunity.  I think I was a better manager because I had been a referee and wrestled.  When I retired I continued my career at the executive management level because of all the years I had been a referee, wrestler and ringside manager.  The combined experience over a lengthy career gave me a foundation to be involved and successful in creative and talent relations for the two major wrestling promotions.  Though my years with The Four Horsemen would be hard to top, my initial dream was to become a professional wrestler and maybe someday to appear myself in MSG (Madison Square Garden) where I had gone as a fan.  In 1984, I had one match in MSG, so, I lived my dream.  I guess for that reason it had to be my favorite moment.

  

3. If you were managing talent today, who would you like to be involved with and why?

The business has changed so much, that there really hasn't been a role for the typical manager.  That changed with the arrival of Brock Lesner.  Brock would be the only one that I would have had interest in managing because he is a real monster.  However, Paul Heyman is doing an excellent job as Lesner's manager.  I have the utmost personal and professional respect for Paul Heyman.  Paul and Brock have a lengthy relationship and are friends, and I doubt that I could have done as good a job as Paul is doing right now.


 4. How does the wrestling scene of today, compare to the wrestling scene you were involved in?


Wrestling has changed.  I was a product of the regional territory days were we appeared often weekly in small population centers compared to only the major arenas these days on a sporadic basis.  Wrestling today has in many ways become a novelty attraction much like the Harlem Globetrotters are to basketball.  Yet, the WWE has become a successful global brand.  It is hard to argue with success.  At the same time the current product doesn't seem to have the diverse characters that were a big part of the success of wrestling in the day.  There was more attention to logic and continuity with a lot of emotion ... much like an ongoing athletic soap opera.  The NWA World Heavyweight Championship was very prestigious and when the title changed hands (which didn't happen very often) it was big news.  Those were great times and I cherish those memories.

  

5. Where can our readers catch you next and will you be making your way across the pond to the UK anytime soon?

I suggest that everyone check out www.jjdillon.com which is my personal website.  There are lots of pictures and information including details about my autobiography and how a fan can obtain a signed copy of the few that remain.  I am an active lifetime member of Cauliflower Alley Club and I am on the board of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. Which is a one of a kind place for the preservation of our history.  I still make the occasional personal appearance and in August I will be a guest of the Mid-Atlantic Legends Fanfest in Charlotte, NC.  It has been a number of years since I last visited the UK.  I would love to come back one of these days.  I enjoy any opportunity to visit with wrestling fans.  Without our great fans there would never have been a J. J. Dillon, Four Horsemen or professional wrestling.  I never miss an opportunity to say 'Thank You' one more time!


We'd like to thank J.J. Dillon for spending the time to answer our questions, we hope you enjoyed this interview as much as we did conducting it. 
You can find us on Twitter @ATPWrestling and Facebook by searching for Across The Pond Wrestling

ROH Best in the World 2013 Review

Best in the World was another solid iPPV outing from Ring of Honor, with a number of interesting dynamics in the matches, throughout the show, which certainly helped to keep the show going forward. I didn’t manage to catch the show live, so couldn’t comment on the problems that occurred in the live iPPV stream, however having experienced the problems before I have to say I’m not too upset that this is the last of ROH’s live iPPV’s.



World Championship Match: Jay Briscoe © vs. Mark Briscoe




For me, the idea of two brothers fighting to see who is better, is a much more relatable idea, than say two brothers who had each other. Therefore, I anticipated this contest a lot more, than if say one of the Briscoe’s had turned on the other brother. The build to the contest was handled well with Mark being a logical challenger for Jay and making use of the years they had teamed together, with a quality contest against The American Wolves on ROH Television a few weeks ago. The face vs. face concept is one that is seen a lot more regularly in Ring of Honor than it is in either WWE or TNA, and this allows the competitors to focus on the more competitive element of the contest, rather than worry if they are getting the desired reaction from the crowd.

The contest started off well with some amateur style wrestling, each man exchanging a number of holds, with neither coming out on top, leading to separations each time. This set up the idea of how evenly match the brothers were well, with neither brother showing any signs of domination in the early goings. After the match settled down, it was Mark who took control of the bout, managing to frustrate Jay by outsmarting him on a number of occasions. There was an interesting spot where both men helped each put up a table at ringside, which I’m not sure how it was explained how the use of the table was legal, but it was certainly a unique moment, certainly something I haven’t witnessed before.

In the latter stages of the match, both men took a number of painful looking bumps, with Mark being power slammed from the top rope onto the outside, whilst Jay ended up being put through the table after a Froggy Bow from Mark. The match certainly needed these big moments to lift it to the next level and they worked in terms of pacing the match towards the finish. The finish the contest saw both men going back and forth with punches, even some redneck kung fu from Mark, until Jay eventually hit the Jay Driller for a two count. It took two further Jay Drillers and a Superkick but Jay eventually retained the ROH World Heavyweight Championship.


It was a good match between the two that flowed well and elevated as the match went a long. However, the ending may have been a little too over used by ROH, as we’ve seen similar ending to contests between Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards in 2011-12. Moving on from here, Jay would appear to have a number of challengers including Michael Elgin and Matt Hardy, both of which could produce some great matches, although if the rumours are to be believed The Briscoes are done with Ring of Honor, what that means for the World Title, I don’t know. 

No Disqualification Match: Kevin Steen vs. Matt Hardy w/Steve Corino




I’ve enjoyed the development we’ve seen from Kevin Steen and has probably been the most effective attempt at long term booking we’ve seen from any of the bigger American promotions over the last couple of years. I was sceptical of Ring of Honor bringing in Matt Hardy though, when he made his return last September, however I think they’ve made good use of his popularity whilst also playing to the diehard Ring of Honor, by playing on the reason he is disliked by some internet wrestling fans. The rivalry has been built up to well, since Hardy joined SCUM at the 11th Anniversary show, with Steen’s reason for disliking Hardy’s participation in the group feeling legitimate and mirroring the feelings of a lot of the fans. ROH’s lean towards the longer build certainly allows these kinds of matches to feel a lot bigger than they would do in WWE with a month build to PPV.

Before the contest, SCUM leader Steve Corino cut a promo putting over Hardy, as well as attempting to get some cheap heat by insulting local heroes. It was a good promo, although I’m not sure how much it was needed, Hardy is more than capable of getting the heat on his own, especially when up against Kevin Steen. Steen replied by asking ROH Commisioner Nigel McGuiness to make the match a No Disqualification Match, Nigel quickly agreed to the change. This was a good decision by ROH, as I don’t think the match would have been nearly as it good as it turned out to be. Steen definitely benefits from this match type, as his style of wrestling works a lot better without the restrictions of a regular wrestling match.

Steen took an early advantage of the No Disqualification rules, with the use of fans crutch and sending Hardy crotch first in the ring post. Starting off so quickly certainly gave the match a fast pace throughout, and definitely brought a new element to the show. The match went on to include a dust bin, using in a nice cannonball spot from Steen, and each one of the tables, ladders and chairs that originally made Hardy a star. With Steen looking to F-5 Hardy through a table, the rest of SCUM quickly came out to help Hardy out. Rhett Titus got a package Piledriver for his troubles, with Hardy getting a near fall soon after with Side Effect. This became a running theme throughout here on in, with everytime Steen would look to be in control, a member of SCUM would come down to turn things around for Hardy. The match could be compared to the Bully Ray/Sting match from Slammiversary this year, however the main difference for me here, was SCUM members inferring separately to help Hardy regain some control, whilst Aces and Eights interference during the pre-mentioned contest, saw four member enter at once and get completely taken out by Sting!


With both men kicking out of the others respective finishing moves, you knew it was going to take something that utilized the No Disqualification gimmick to pick up the win for either Steen or Hardy. Hardy attempted to do so with a Side Effect onto the Ladder but this only managed a near fall. With help from Cliff Compton, Hardy set up two chairs, it was teased for a moment that a defiant Steen who spat in Hardy’s face might pull off a repeat of what we’ve seen a number of times in ROH and F-5 Hardy onto the chairs, however this was not to be the case with Hardy quickly gaining control and hitting a Twist of Fate onto the chairs for the victory. It was a decent enough contest and allowed Hardy and SCUM to pick up a victory somewhere on the card, but when compared to Steen’s similar matches against the likes of El Generico and Jimmy Jacobs, it doesn’t stand up that well. 

World Tag Team Championship Three Way: C&C Wrestle Factory vs. reDRagon © vs. SCUM (Cliff Compton & Rhett Titus)




The dynamic here was another interesting one, as we had the heel tag team champions reDRagon, defending their gold against the face team of C&C Wrestle Factory, as well SCUM’s team of Cliff Compton and Rhett Titus, with essentially two heel tag teams, the make up of the match should have been cut and dry, however with one of the heel teams still representing Ring of Honor the other representing SCUM, it certainly gave it an air of unpredictability. The way the match was built up also gave it an exciting feel, with C&C winning a number one contenders match, but with SCUM already holding a victory over C&C, it was difficult to really say which of the two contenders had the momentum going into the bout.

Early on in the bout reDRagon and C&C Wrestle Factory worked together to take out SCUM, but drawing on the elements talked about earlier reDRagon quickly turned on C&C and the dynamic of the match was laid out clearly for all to see. ROH went for the idea of two people in the ring at one time, with the other four on the outside waiting to get tagged in. I can’t say this is my favourite configuration for this type of match up, mainly because someone usually has to take an illogical tag at least once during the match and eventually has to break out of the mould to head towards a finish. The better parts of this match for me, were the parts pitting reDRagon against C&C Wrestle Factory as the two strung together some exciting move sequences, unfortunately Compton & Titus didn’t quite seem to fit with the style of the match those two teams wanted to have and don’t quite work as a team for me.

Unfortunately, it was the sluggishness of the SCUM team that let the ending of the match down, with Cedric Alexander hitting Overtime on Kyle O’Reilly, it took what felt like an age for Compton and Titus to pull O’Reilly out of the ring to prevent the pinfall. SCUM were then out of place for a Caprice Coleman dive, making it seems like Coleman hardly touched them, yet they were meant to stay down for the finish of the match. reDRagon retained the title after Alexander hit a Brainbuster on O’Reilly only to receive a kick to the back of the head from Bobby Fish who draped O’Reilly over Alexander for the victory. This finish would have been helped from being worked a lot quicker and closer and generally felt like a bit of a let down.


The match itself wasn’t an awful contest, we aren’t talking Great Khali in terms of slowness either by no means. It was enjoyable, but I feel it would have been a lot better match if it were just a straight forward tag team match between any combinations of these teams, unfortunately attempting to mix all three styles of these tag teams didn’t quite pay off. I know I’ve said a lot of negative stuff here about Compton and Titus, however I actually do like both men, I just don’t think they make a particularly great team to watch in the ring, hopefully they both find new roles in ROH once the SCUM angle is over and done with.

Best of the Rest (in the World)




Matt Taven defended his World Television Champion in a Three Way with a similar dynamic to the Tag Team Championship Three Way, seeing ROH face Jay Lethal and SCUM member Jimmy Jacobs going after the belt. Personally, I felt that the styles of these three men meshed together a lot better than the tag team match, certainly made for a much more enjoyable contest to watch. The match also made a better use of the dynamic it had present, with each of the competitors happy to take out anyone in the match, we didn’t see a lot of double teaming because of this. I’ve said before that a three way type bout is at it’s best when all three competitors are involved for the optimum amount of time, however in this match we had more than three people involved, we had six! Yes, Television Champion Matt Taven was accompanied by not just Truth Martini but two Hoopla Hotties as well, all of whom got involved during the contest.

 In between the interference there were number of nice three man spots, the highlight for me being Jimmy Jacobs stopping Taven’s Arm Trap Headlock Driver attempt on Lethal, to hit a Sliced Bread #2 on the Television Champion and straight in a Spinning Head Scissors on Lethal. The ending saw all three of Taven’s associates get involved, including Scarlett losing her top, much to the delight of the Du Burns Arena, until Jay Lethal hit Selezia with a Superkick as the powerful Hoopla Hotties looked to be attempting a version of Sheamus’ White Noise. Jacobs some how managed to hit Lethal with a version the Lethal Injection but with  Truth Martini holding onto Jacobs, Taven slid in to retain his championship. It was an enjoyable match, and the ending would seem to tease future face turn for Jacobs as he really should have won the championship, a possible match with Matt Hardy could be on the cards.




In another interesting twist of dynamic, we had two faces go at it once again, in Tommasso Ciampa and Michael Elgin, to finish up the first half. However, with both men taking similar paths in Ring of Honor after leaving two major heel groups in ROH, in The House of Truth and The Embassy. The match proved that two big powerful men in the ring doesn’t have to be boring. The match was brutal contest, with a number of painful looking spots, including use of the hard floor on the outside (the mats had been removed) with Elgin suplexing Ciampa onto the floor, as well as a Kryptonite Krunch from Ciampa.


It was hard hitting through out, with some nice selling (and no selling) from both men. It looked like Ciampa might have got the win after managing to hit Project Ciampa on Elgin, only for Elgin to get his foot on the rope. Elgin eventually picked up the victory, after a number of hard strike and finishing up with the Decapitation Lariat for the pinfall. It was an unusual ending, after such a spot laden brutal match, but certainly helped to make both men look very credible competitors and allows Elgin to go strong into his ROH World Title match in August. QT Marshall tried to pick the bones after the match, but Elgin and Ciampa had enough about them to see off QT with just a look. QT seems to be becoming ROH’s comedy heel along side R.D. Evans, a role which is perhaps below him. 





Adam Cole and Roderick Strong were also in action in a singles contest. As expected the match was a great technical display by both men, with a number of different holds exchanged throughout. Cole logically focused on Strong’s leg for most of the match, in an attempt to soften up the leg for a possible Figure Four Leg Lock latter on in the contest. The end of the match saw Cole superkick Strong through the timekeepers table, with Cole attempting to get Strong back in the ring for the pin, he instead decided to take the countout victory. It was a clever move, that finally seemed to cement Cole’s slow heel turn that we’ve seen since his title shot at Border Wars. I’m interested see where Adam Cole goes from here, and hopefully a much more heated rivalry with Strong could be on the cards.




The under card also featured a very good tag team contest between The American Wolves and Adrenaline Rush. The Wolves certainly did a lot to help the younger team in this match, in terms of making them look like a credible tag team, with the match being pretty much even for most of the bout. There was some great double team work through out from both teams, but Adrenaline Rush’s offense certainly stood out because it looked like they might pull out an upset victory during these times. The ending saw ACH miss a 450 splash allowing Davey Richards to pick up the victory for the American Wolves. With ROH losing a number of tag teams of the last two years including Kings of Wrestling, Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, The All Night Express and now The Briscoes, Ring of Honor could really do with some more new teams, like Adrenaline Rush, I look forward to seeing more out of them in the future.


The show kicked off with BJ Whitmer taking on Mike Bennett. It was decent opening contest but nothing particularly out of the ordinary. Bennett worked over Whitmer for a lot of the match, until Whitmer began to no sell punches to make a comeback, which involved some nice suplexes from Whitmer. The ending saw Brutal Bob Evans try to get involved, only to get dispatched by Whitmer, with Bennett distracted by Evans, Whitmer hit an Exploder Suplex for the victory. It was a good ending but only to set up what happened afterwards with Maria Kanellis blaming Brutal Bob for the loss and Bennett to seemingly dump Evans from the group. This seemed like a logical move and probably should have been done a long time ago with Brutal Bob seemingly like a third wheel for the entertaining duo of Bennett and Kanellis. 


Finally...


What have we learned from Best in the World 2013?

1. The Briscoes are as exciting to watch as opponents as they are as a Tag Team.

2. Matt Hardy is still capable of putting on a good match, even if it wasn't one of Steen's bests (He's set the bar pretty high in those kinds of matches)

3. Steve Corino and Nigel McGuiness are both entertaining commentators, but I couldn't listen to Corino for an entire iPPV.


Monday, 24 June 2013

WWE Smackdown 21st June 2013 Review

WWE have put together a strong string of show’s lately with Payback and Raw both being up there with the best shows of the PG Era, this continued Friday Night on Smackdown with a number of good quality contests, as well as a little storyline progression heading into the A show on Monday.



Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan




In a good move by WWE, the originally advertised main event of Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose was switched to re-match from the Raw match that was called off by doctor’s stoppage after Daniel Bryan suffered a “stinger”. Switching the main event allowed WWE to capitalise on what happened on Monday, whilst it was still fresh in the audiences mind and also allowed them to keep the story going between Orton and Bryan losing very little ground in terms of what was lost due to the ending of the Raw match.

The show opened with Bryan coming out to talk up never having a match stopped due to injury before and it only happened this time because people viewed him as the weak link. Bryan’s development as a character has been interesting to watch over the last three months or so, although the weak link stuff is becoming slightly tiresome now. Bryan also talked about Orton hugging him after the finish and called Orton patronising, which drew Orton into the ring. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Orton and Bryan here, with neither playing what could be defined as a heel or face, with Orton saying he respected Bryan, but would hurt him in the match later on.

The match between The Submission Specialist and The Viper was another exciting contest. It was hard hitting bout with neither Orton nor Bryan holding anything back which sold the seriousness of the rivalry well. There were a number of dangerous looking spots, including a Suplex attempt from Orton from the apron to outside, which sent Bryan crashing to floor. It looked pretty painful for Bryan, but certainly build him back up after the referee stoppage on Raw. Orton dominated most of the contest with Bryan helping to add a little something extra to Orton’s regular routine of rest holds with some nice transitions.

The end came with both men hitting a number of impactful moves on the outside. Orton with a back suplex onto the barricade and Bryan hitting a diving running knee from the apron which resulted in a countout win for Daniel Bryan. It was a good ending, in terms of keeping the rivalry going, added to by the fact that Bryan refused to accept the victory, and will build up any future matches the two have, giving the final decisive winner a much more satisfying victory.

Chris Jericho vs. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio with Ricardo Rodriguez




I was pretty excited when this match was announced during the show, as I enjoy watching both Jericho and Del Rio in ring, even more since Del Rio’s heel turn, and thought they would mesh well together, we also haven’t seen these two face off for some time. I was a little disappointed that WWE didn’t play on the fact that Jericho and Del Rio had been partners the week previously, as this would have added a little extra spice to the bout.

The match was not a disappointment though, with some great action throughout. The action was pretty quick throughout, with the pace of the match rarely dropping. As expect Del Rio and Jericho worked very well together, with both getting an equal amount of offense with the momentum switching quickly from wrestler to wrestler.  Considering both men are over thirty five, some of the spots in this match were pretty impressive, with Jericho moving out of the way off Del Rio double footed attack, sending Del Rio throughout the ropes to the outside and Jericho even hitting the Lionsault which I’m pretty sure has never happened before!

The ending saw some great chain wrestling from the two, based around the Walls of Jericho and the Cross Armbreaker. With Ricardo Rodriguez attempting to get involved, Jericho ended up putting him in the Liontamer. It was good decision to have Rodriguez get involved as Rodriguez was probably more over as a face then Del Rio was, and these kinds of actions will certainly help reverse that reaction. With Jericho busy, Dolph Ziggler jumped on Del Rio in the ring to give the World Heavyweight Champion the Disqualification victory. With the two biggest matches on the show ending in indecisive victory, it could have been a little frustrating as a viewer, luckily the matches went long enough, and had story developing finishes that left me wanting more, rather than feeling we had missed out on something.

After the match, Ziggler continued to attack Del Rio until the Mexican Aristocrat managed to escape through the crowd. With Ziggler distracted by Del Rio, Jericho grabbed Ziggler and the two argued until Jericho hit the Codebreaker. I’m interested by this move and have begun to wonder if Jericho is turning back heel, although I’m hoping he isn’t added specifically to this rivalry. As good as triple threat has the potential to be, I’d much rather see a satisfying conclusion to the Del Rio and Ziggler storyline in the form of a one on one match. Jericho left the ring and Del Rio re-entered, having Rodriguez hold Ziggler, before delivering a Superkick. I liked this finish, as I felt it worked well in getting Ziggler over as a sympathetic face and will hopefully get people interested in seeing him finally get one over on Del Rio sometime in the future.


Best of the Rest




Wade Barrett also received his Intercontinental Championship rematch against Curtis Axel this week. Heel vs. Heel matches are usually interesting to watch on television but elicit very little crowd reaction as the crowd are unsure who they dislike the least and tend to sit on their hands. This was the case for this match, and certainly took a little of the shine off of what was decent battle between these two. Neither man really took control of the match with each have a period in control, before they headed for the finish, it certainly could have been paced bit quicker with the length of the match not really allowing for some of the slow methodical action.

The end of the contest saw Barrett miss an elbow drop, with Axel hitting a hitting a Spinning Neckbreaker for the victory. It was a slightly disappointing finish, as we’ve seen both John Cena and Triple H kick out of that neckbreaker already and therefore it feels like a weak finish, and for me damaged Barrett by getting pinned after it. Axel had also debuted a new finishing move on Raw, so why not use it again here? After the match, The Miz who was on commentary entered the ring and looked to be attempting to get into a fight with Axel, as he began removing his suit. Personally, I was hoping Axel would knock the smug look of Miz’s face, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t the reaction WWE was after.

The newly returned Christian was back in action on Smackdown taking on 3MB’s Drew McIntyre. Christian is extremely good at working these short television matches and manages to make even a four minute match feel action packed. Although it was clearly to help build Christian, a win over Drew at the moment means very little, as I don’t think he’s won a match in over a year. Christian picked up the win with a Killswitch after fending off all of 3MB. Unfortunately for Christian he could fend off The Shield, who attacked him after the match with a triple powerbomb eventually finishing Christian off. I’m interested to see where this goes, with Christian possibly challenging Ambrose for the US Title, or maybe even reforming his team with Chris Jericho to go after Rollins and Reigns tag title. Either way, I would definitely be interested in seeing those matches.

Renee Young interviewed Paul Heyman backstage about what happened between CM Punk and Brock Lesnar on Raw. Heyman cut an unbelievably good promo about how this was personal matter and listed a number of things about Young’s personal life. It left the book still open on Heyman’s involvement in the rivalry and I’d hope that this continues for a number of weeks with Heyman disassociating himself from Lesnar, before he is finally revealed to be behind the attacks. It might be predictable, but would allow the rivalry to build well heading into Summerslam.

Diva’s Champion AJ Lee was involved in a match with Natalya. It was another good outing for AJ Lee, against a Diva I’d like to see in action a lot more often on Raw and Smackdown. There was some good actual wrestling throughout with the finishing helping to build AJ’s submission hold with Natalya attempting to fight out but failing. With former champion Kaitlyn watching backstage with Layla, Aksana turned up and said something to Kaitlyn which caused her to get attacked with a bottle of water, before the rest of the Diva’s had to separate the two. I’m enjoying this new side to Kaitlyn and has certainly helped to make her a more dimensional character.


The Damien Sandow and Sheamus rivalry also continued, with Sheamus facing off against Cody Rhodes. It was another decent match between these, although not much that we haven’t seen before. Sheamus kicked Damien Sandow for no particular reason towards the end of the match, it’s difficult to like Sheamus at the moment and this really didn’t help. Sheamus brought back the Cloverleaf hold to win by Submission. Sandow went on to retaliate Sheamus’ earlier attack, by delivering a kick to the head with Sheamus still holding onto the submission hold. I’m unsure how I feel about this rivalry because, to me, Sheamus feels a lot more like the heel within it than Sandow ever has. 

Finally...


What have we learned from this week's Smackdown?

1. It's great to have something nearing the old Randy Orton back.

2. Jericho might be one of WWE's oldest regulars, but he can still go with the best of them.

3. The Miz is possibility the most unlikeable face character I have ever seen.