Wednesday, 31 July 2013

WWE Raw 29th July 2013 Review

This week’s episode of Raw was ok, not spectacular, but just ok. Whilst we were presented with two legit main events, with Daniel Bryan facing Kane and WWE Champion John Cena facing off against Ryback in a tables match, nothing really happened. Story lines were left fairly stagnant, or segments were repeated from previous weeks. So whilst, the majority of what was presented was entertaining, what was presented wasn’t really new.



Daniel Bryan 

vs.

 Kane



Raw kicked off this week with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and Raw General Manager Brad Maddox in the ring. They went over old ground, with Vince admonishing Maddox for allowing John Cena to pick his opponent, and listing the reasons he dislikes Daniel Bryan. Of course, Daniel Bryan came out to reply to Vince. It was interesting to hear that McMahon hates John Cena, and it did kind of remove the element of reality that had been injected into the rivalry before. It’s clear to anyone that McMahon loves Cena, he’s the company’s biggest draw and merchandise seller, why would the chairman not want him as WWE Champion? It could have worked if it had been explained a little better, but I just ended up shaking my head. McMahon also told Bryan that John Cena had lied to him, when he picked him two weeks ago, with Bryan finishing the segment by saying he would become the new WWE Champion at SummerSlam and the crowd strongly agreed.

As we built to the first main event, Kane went to visit Brad Maddox in his office. In Kane’s first appearance since he was attacked by The Wyatt Family on the July 8th episode of Raw, he was clearly out for revenge on Bray Wyatt and his brothers. Maddox told him that he should send a message to The Wyatt’s by defeating Daniel Bryan tonight. It was a good move by WWE as it gave Kane a reason to fight against his former tag team partner and helped build the contests up further, with both men having something to prove. Elsewhere, Daniel Bryan searched out John Cena in the locker room to ask if Vince McMahon was right. In another nothing segment, Cena talked about never trusting Vince, before Cena asked if Bryan thought he was a liar. Once again, the possible tension between Bryan and Cena was teased, it will be interesting to see if this capitalised on further during the next three weeks.

The match between Kane and Daniel Bryan was as good as I had expected, with the action going back and forth throughout, it was nice to have a change from what you’d regularly see when a big man and little man face off in WWE. It’s amazing to me that Kane is still able to go at the pace he does, especially when in the ring with Daniel Bryan whose pace has been incredible as of late. A lot of the action was stuff we’ve seen before out of Bryan and Kane, but the way it was put together and paced made it still an entertaining watch. The only glaring error for me, was a edit from WWE with Bryan pulling Kane out of the ring, which certainly slowed down the match a little and distanced me a little from the bout. Bryan went on to pick up the victory with an awkward looking small package reversal to Kane’s chokeslam attempt. Whilst, it did look slightly awkward, I think it added to the ending of the match, as a totally clean looking small package would have made the victory look almost too easy. It was important win for Bryan heading into SummerSlam and shows he can beat men much bigger than him, as he will have to do if he wants to capture the WWE Championship.

After the match, The Wyatt Family turned up, with Erick Rowan and Luke Harper going after Kane in the ring, Kane made a beeline from the leader, Bray Wyatt. Harper and Rowan quickly double teamed to take down Kane, before Bray Wyatt hit Sister Abigail to finish him off. It was pretty similar to what we’d seen three weeks ago, as well as The Wyatt’s other attacks on R-Truth, 3MB, Justin Gabriel & Tons of Funk. There was then another creepy promo from Wyatt, as he talked about Kane no longer being the Devil’s Favourite Demon. It was probably the best promo we’ve seen from Wyatt on main stream WWE, as his delivered was a lot calmer and he took his time, which isn’t something you see too often in WWE. I’m really interested to see what’s to come between The Wyatt’s and Kane, as it feels like we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of this rivalry so far. Daniel Bryan's story continued with Vince McMahon, WWE COO Triple H and Stephanie McMahon discussing his future, with Stephanie coming up with the ridiculous idea that Bryan needed a corporate makeover, I'm not a religious man but please God don't let this happen.


Tables Match: 
WWE Champion
 John Cena 
vs. 
Ryback


 I wasn’t exactly riveted when this match was announced at the end of last weeks Raw, we’d already gone through a fairly boring Ryback and Cena feud a few months ago, and that feud had already included a Tables Match, as part of the Three Stages of Hell Match at Payback, which wasn’t particularly something I wanted to see again. Plus, after seeing Ryback put Cena’s SummerSlam challenger Daniel Bryan through a table last week on Raw, it did feel a little bit like WWE pulling a TNA and ending up with the focus on the wrong characters. Building up to the match, we saw Ryback get into a confrontation with a member of staff backstage, with Ryback pushing the person around, before picking them up and slamming them through a nearby table. WWE are seemingly pushing Ryback into a cowardly bully role now, Ryback is actually looking fairly comfortable in the role, the only problem is Bully Ray does it better.

I was actually pleasantly surprised with the Tables Match, it was very watchable television main event. With some inventive spots, including tables bringing the ring and the steel steps, it kept me involved in the match from the offset. However, there were a number of problems with the match, that stopped it from being any better. Firstly, John Cena’s STF looks weak as hell, leaning into an opponent whilst in an STF makes it look like you’re giving them a hug, he should really be pulling back to make it look painful. Cena also has a tendency to pre-empt moves, such as when Ryback swung him into the steel steps, and Cena clearly stopped before throwing himself into the steps. I’m not the biggest John Cena critic and will praise when he deserves it but moments like this are things you can get away with at a small house show, you can’t when you have a load of cameras aimed at you.


The finish saw Ryback dominating Cena hitting a few power moves, before a Meat Hook Clothesline. As Ryback set up Cena up for another, this time with Cena positioned in front of tables, Cena reversed sending Ryback through the table with an Attitude Adjustment. As endings of Tables Matches go this was fairly good, and whilst we all knew Cena would be picking up the victory in made Ryback look just strong enough to not bury him too much. I am surprised they had Ryback in this match at all, as he really could have done with sometime away from the main event scene to rebuild, and another loss in a big match certainly won’t help him with that.

To close the show, Daniel Bryan came out and teased he would hand Cena the WWE Championship, instead pulling it away from Cena, much to the delight of the crowd. Cena eventually snatched the championship back, in a move we don’t see a lot out of Cena. It’s interesting to see Cena displaying signs of jealously towards the popularity of Daniel Bryan, as it’s helping to bring a bit of dimension to the character and the storyline that was missing in his feuds with Mark Henry and Ryback.

Christian 
vs. 
World Heavyweight Champion
 Alberto Del Rio


In another main event quality match up, World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio faced off against Christian. With Alberto Del Rio picking his SummerSlam opponent on this week’s Smackdown, I was extremely intrigued by this match. Christian, along with Rob Van Dam, was one of my top picks to get the nod to face Del Rio at SummerSlam, after WWE took Dolph Ziggler in a different direction. So the way this match played out would really show if WWE considered Christian to be a top contender to the title, if he lost clean it was pretty much over for Captain Charisma and back to the mid card.


Christian and Del Rio have faced off a number of times before, mainly during Edge’s rivalry with Del Rio building to Wrestlemania 27, with Christian actually winning his first World Heavyweight Championship in a Ladder Match with Del Rio soon after. However since then, the two have been keep on the same side of the fence for a long time, after Christian’s heel turn, and then both turning face again. Therefore, this felt like a fairly fresh match up which WWE doesn’t exactly have too many of any more. The majority of the bout saw Del Rio work over Christian, specifically his arm for the Cross Arm Breaker submission hold, with Christian doing a great job of selling the arm, and building for a comeback.

After an exciting closing section with a number of reversals, Christian rolled out of the Cross Arm Breaker to pick up a pinfall victory over the World Heavyweight Champion, with a small package. The match built to this moment really well, as it was clear that Del Rio was building up for the Cross Arm Breaker, and that if he locked the move in that it would be the end of the match, due to Christian’s top notch selling, so when Christian quickly evaded the submission hold it was a satisfying ending to the bout. Yes, we got two roll up victories in major matches on the same show, but both made sense to the story that needed to be told, so I’ll forgive here.

Now, the smart money would say that Del Rio won’t be choosing Christian to face him at SummerSlam. Why would you put your title on the line against someone who has just beaten you? Especially when you’re as slimy as Alberto Del Rio. However, I can’t imagine it’s going to be that simple on Smackdown. Vickie Guerrero never really said that Del Rio would have the chance to choose his opponent, just that he had a week to think, so I can see a swerve happening there. I would be very surprised if come the end of Smackdown, either Christian or Rob Van Dam isn’t proclaimed Number One Contender to the World Heavyweight Championship.

Best of the Rest (In The World)


In a rematch from both Payback and Money in the Bank, Divas Champion AJ Lee faced Kaitlyn, this time with no title on the line. In terms, of Divas Matches this wasn’t too bad, but couldn’t live up to their original Payback contest, at times looking a little bit sloppy and lacking the psychology that made the original one of the best women’s matches on television this year. In a surprise victory, Kaitlyn picked up the pinfall following a spear, as WWE continues to play on the down fall of AJ Lee. Surely, this gets Kaitlyn another Divas Championship Match soon, I know we’ve seen it before, but I’d much prefer this than one of the Bella’s ending up with the title on the back of Total Divas.

After this as Big E tried to comfort AJ, Dolph Ziggler turned up on the entrance ramp and challenged Big E to an impromptu match. Now, I was surprised at this as I had genuinely expected to see this match on the SummerSlam card. The bout was decent with Langston throwing Ziggler around the ring, as The Show Off sold his arse off. However, it was cut short after AJ had seen enough and attacked Dolph giving him a disqualification victory. Langston obviously wasn’t happy at losing and some tension between he AJ was teased. I’m not quite sure where they are going now with this heading into SummerSlam. They could have Big E vs. Dolph again, but I can only see a similar finish taking place, as the real feud is between Dolph and AJ. Maybe a mixed tag with Kaitlyn involved as well, but I’m not sure how they’re going to tie up this story at the moment.

Elsewhere, Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel was in action against R-Truth. With Paul Heyman doing a good job of pre-match promo, talking about both Brock Lesnar and CM Punk, before moving onto his youngest star Curtis Axel. Even Axel did a good job with his promo, even if he continues to leach of his father’s legacy to get heat. Axel quickly dispatched of R-Truth in what was essentially an enhancement match, with Truth getting in very little offence between Axel hit the Axe Driver for a pinfall victory. WWE clearly has no plans for R-Truth at the moment, and he must be another name on the list for the next lot of WWE releases.

After the bout, CM Punk made his presence felt, as he tried to attack Paul Heyman. With Axel protecting his manager, allowing Heyman to escape through the crowd, Punk turned his attention to him throwing him into the barricade amongst other things. This was a good way to keep the story moving along heading into SummerSlam without Brock Lesnar being present, essentially keeping it warm. I’d like to see Punk vs. Axel next week on Raw, with Brock Lesnar making a return to continue the rivalry, especially with WWE not seemingly having plans for an Intercontinental Championship Match at SummerSlam.

Cody Rhodes was also in action this week in a good short match with Wade Barrett. There was a lot of back and forth, and WWE talent would do well to look at this match as how to put together an interesting contests that only lasts three minutes. The ending was beautifully worked with Cody Rhodes slipping seamlessly out of a Barrett Pumphandle slam to hit Cross Rhodes for the pinfall victory. After the match, Damien Sandow came out to cut a scathing promo on Cody, which is probably the best I’ve seen out of Sandow, it was nice to see him cut a 100% serious promo to really sell this rivalry. With Sandow cutting into Rhodes’ family for being clowns, I wonder if we’ll see any appearances from Goldust and Dusty Rhodes on Raw anytime soon.

In another match that had been rumoured to take place at SummerSlam Mark Henry teamed with The Usos to take on The Shield. It was another entertaining six man involving the Shield, and while it wasn’t quite as epic as their battles with the likes of Team Hell No, The Undertaker and Randy Orton, it told a good story and the in ring action was solid throughout. The Shield picked up the victory, after Mark Henry had been taken out by a Roman Reigns spear, Dean Ambrose hit the Headlock Driver on one of the Usos for the pinfall. It looks like the Usos push as opponents for the Shield could be coming to an end after this match, as they both took quite a beating for Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns. Whilst Mark Henry was made to look strong throughout, dominating the action until the spear from Reigns. It’s another case of me not quite knowing where this is heading, which is good as long as WWE knows where they’re going. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Big Show make his return to form a team with Henry soon, maybe even a two-on-three handicap match at SummerSlam.

Elsewhere, my other favourite to face Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam, Rob Van Dam, was in action against Fandango, who had Summer Rae at ringside. After an awkward start, the match started to pick up with some nice shows of athleticism from Van Dam and Fandango, both bringing some nice kicking combinations. Just as Van Dam launched into the familiar routine we’ve seen in recent matches with the likes of Darren Young and Wade Barrett, including the Rolling Thunder and springboard thrust kick, WWE threw us a curve ball. With Van Dam in position for the Five Star Frog Splash, Fandango exited the ring and left up the entrance ramp, giving Van Dam the countout victory. It was interesting to see WWE not having Fandango lose cleanly to Van Dam, somehow protecting him, they obviously have big plans for him coming up.

In the second women’s bout of the night, two of the stars of Total Divas were in action as Brie Bella faced off against Natalya. This match was pretty poor, with the idea behind it being that The Bellas had called Natalya the “ugly duckling” of Total Divas, which isn’t something WWE should really be saying about any of their talent, especially when they want us to take their Be A Star campaign seriously. The two basically trod water until Nikki Bella came out with Kazoo, yes a Kazoo, to cause the distraction and allow Brie to pick up the victory. It’s frustrating to see WWE use one of their top in-ring female talents in Natalya in such a way, when the Bella’s are still to show any real talent for the wrestling business, beyond sharing certain biological traits with another person.

Finally...


What did I learn from this week's Raw?

1. Daniel Bryan and John Cena do not need any outside interference to help build to their match at SummerSlam.

2. But it is nice to see a heel Vince McMahon again.

3. The Raw announce team needs JBL to keep things entertaining. Left to their own devices Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler just spout the same rubbish they have for the last four years. 

Five Questions With... Grado

Yes, it's a Scottish Double Header of interviews this week, and after spending time with Scottish Wrestling Ring, it's now time to step back into the ring, as we speak to Fighting Spirit Magazines Most Underated UK Wrestler 2013, it's Grado!



Ring Name(s): Grado
Age: ???
Hometown: Glasgow, West Central Lowlands, Scotland.
Height: ??
Weight: 230 lbs
Promotions Competed For: 

Scottish Wrestling Alliance
British Championship Wrestling
Scottish Wrestling Alliance: Source
Insane Championship Wrestling
Triple X Wrestling
Union of European Wrestling Alliances
Premier British Wrestling
International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom
Pro Wrestling Elite
Insane Championship Wrestling: Fierce Females

Championships and Accomplishments:

Two Times SWA Tag Team Champion (with Grant Dunbar)


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

I first got into wrestling in 2002.  I trained briefly with Red Lightning, Kid Fite and Drew McIntyre at BCW.  I was only 13 at the time so my parents didn't like me travelling alone each weekend and I stopped. I then went back to train a few years later with SWA as they were a lot closer to home, trained by Conscience and Adam Shame.  I was never committed, wasn't really good and in hindsight probably got put on shows too early on in my career. I wrestled for a few years, with limited experience and jacked it in when I hit that period of going out at weekends and hanging with pals outside wrestling. It's only in the last 18 months I've got into it seriously, through the popularity of my Youtube videos, my time in ICW and getting regular work with talented guys across the British Wrestling scene, learning on the job!  Guys like The Rock and everyone from the Attitude era drew me to wrestling.  Waiting every Friday night for RAW on Sky Sports and then Smackdown on the Saturday morning.  Then staying up for the PPVs and going into school on the Monday morning bushed with 2 hours sleep, those were the days!



2. What do you consider the next step for British Wrestling, in terms of both growth and recognition?

More exposure on the telly. We've been saying the same thing for years but I think we could possibly close to it, something like a weekly  national TV slot. There's enough talented wrestlers and characters in Britain to pull off a tidy wee hour to 90 minute show. I'd obviously love to see ICW get back on telly, proper telly with the right channel and funding.  The current BWC roundup show is great for British Wrestling just now as well, as fans are getting to know the wrestlers who are doing the local shows and will hopefully entice a fan watching that program to go to a local event.



3. Who has been your favourite person to step into the ring with and why? 

Can't name just the one but have enjoyed thoroughly wrestling Red Lightning, Noam Dar, Mikey Whiplash, Zack Sabre Jnr, Andy Wild and Mark Haskins.  True pros!




4. What are your Top Three matches of all time and why?

1.  The Rock v Stone Cold at Mania 17, the culmination of the Attitude era IMO.  Excellent build up (the "My Way" video package show before still sends shivers up my spine!), massive crowd, had everything in it and I was in my element watching it.

2. Just realising I probably dont have a top 3 but other shout outs go to Punk v Cena at MITB, HHH v Taker WM27, HBK v Flair WM24. I also have random matches that I love and always go back to from the 'Tape Trading' era, the Jonny/Jody matches specifically in CZW, Doug Williams v BJ Whitmer in ROH, Joe v Kobashi.  I was also a big mark for the deathmatch stuff back in the day and would get more excited for Cage of Death before Mania!

3. Red Lightning v Grado - match where I "won" the ICW title, not the best wrestling match by any means but the crowd in that building that night were off the scale and I'm no joking, old firm football atmosphere.  And for the fact I was in it!




5. Where can our readers catch you in action next and how can they get in touch?

I have a website that I usually put up my dates when I get round to it, www.gradowrestling.co.uk but I'm mostly talking shite on twitter, @gradowrestling.  Cheers!

Five Questions With... Alex and Rob from Scottish Wrestling Ring

After last weeks interview with Squared Circle Cafe, it's time to for another multi person interview with Alex and Rob from Scottish Wrestling Ring.



Name: Scottish Wrestling Ring (Alex & Rob)
Age: (35 and 39)
Hometown: Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Known For: Running ‘Scottish Wrestling Ring’.


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

When we were very young we used to watch world of sport religiously every Saturday afternoon with our nana Betty who was as much into it as us. Then in 1985 when we were of the ages 7 and 10 our dad borrowed a video tape from his friend, this video tape had an event called Wrestlemania on it from a company called WWF which had aired on cable TV a few days earlier.

Our dad and the us sat down and watched this tape and were instantly hooked. I think a few weeks later we had cable TV in the house as well as our bedroom and from then on we watched every bit of wrestling we could. It was something that a lot of our friends were just getting into as well and we used to hold massive royal rumbles with all of them.

As kids of 7 and 10 we had no grasp of the fact that the matches were pre-determined so it was really story line based for us in the early days. The wrestling addiction continued for both of us through WWF/WWE, WCW, GLOW and Japanese wrestling too whenever it was shown which wasn’t very often.

We used to get the WWF magazine as kids and I remember going home from school at dinner time to watch the WWF cartoon.

This escalated up to the attitude era and later days of WCW and the ECW which we would record and then watch with our pals after the pub (we used to share a flat before we got families).

Now this day in age we can both be found still watching wrestling except it’s usually with our kids now too.

2. Tell us a little about Scottish Wrestling Ring and how it all came about? As mentioned previously we are both massive fans and go mental when there are Scottish wrestlers doing well, Piper (although not really Scottish) as kids to when The Highlanders came in to WWE and then to present with Drew. Recently though the wrestling scene in Scotland has been in such a increase in popularity with the promotions now into double figures as well as a few schools throughout the country. With this the standards of matches and shows have been increasing tenfold with many saying we have the best female division in Europe with ICW: Fierce Females as well as Nikki Storm who is Scottish being the current Pro Wrestling EVE Champion. Wrestling in Scotland is in such a great place and we noticed the upturn of fans and people looking for more information on the promotions and wrestlers. Then one day whilst Rob and his family were at mine we were on YouTube watching Scottish wrestlers and promotions like ICW, SWA, Wrestlezone, Noam Dar, Wolfgang and BT Gunn with both of us seriously impressed fan-boying out and then the idea came about. After both then getting into the Scottish scene, going to events and watching videos from most promotions in Scotland we decided to just go for it and here we now are. 3. What're the main promotions to watch out for in Scotland and who are the hottest Scottish talents at the moment Rob: - Wrestlezone, ICW and SWA as promotions are going great just now with Noam Dar, Nikki Storm and Grado as wrestlers with a shout out to Sterling Oil. Alex: - Like wise to Rob I prefer the promotions that have a touch of a story line to them as it allows you to feel more invested into the match. Wrestlezone, ICW, SWA and SWE are good at keeping an online presence with Wrestlezone, ICW and SWE especially good at keeping you in touch with what is happening storyline wise with their online presence and promos. Wrestlers who are ‘hot’ I would say is BT Gunn, Noam Dar, Kay Lee Ray, Solar, Aspen Faith, Joe & Mark Coffey,  Andy Wild and Ian Ambrose all have a great future but there are many more who could be added, like I could mention another 20 off the top of my head easily. A shout out to some wrestlers who don’t get enough credit they should like Euan G Mackie and Scotty Swift but I don’t want to just name them because everyone attached to the industry in Scotland should be proud of their input.

 4. What are your Top Three matches of all time and why?

  Rob: -
Macho Man Vs. Steamboat at Wrestlemania 3
 Macho Man Vs Steamboat was the first one I watched and thought holy shit and the match I show non wrestling fans.

 Punk vs. Joe in Ring of Honour 2004 Punk vs. Joe I always get emotionally invested in even though I know who wins (WWE should have had a try with Joe like they have Punk, Danielson, Tyler Black and Jon Moxley who are of course doing amazing as Rollins and Ambrose in the shield)

 Lesnar vs. Angle at Wrestlemania 19 Lesnar vs. Angle at wrestlemania 19 ,2 of the greatest wrestlers of all time in my eyes, Lesnar would of had Cena's spot as top man if he never split and didn't like the travel, that wasn't meant as a slight on Cena, I just think its fact and Angle is a machine, that match is the single reason I want Angle back in the WWE, for one more match at the Granddaddy of Them All to avenge his loss the last time and retire but I may be in a minority there.


Alex: -   A.J. Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels (Unbreakable 2005) Another one of my heroes is AJ Styles and I think I have yet to see him put on a bad match and in this match for the X-Division championship it is no different. I am a massive comic book fan as is Christopher Daniels and as we are both X-Men guys I mark for him most of the time so when you throw in Samoa Joe it’s an amazing mix. These guys have met a few times and was probably the my reason for starting watching TNA. Hulk Hogan WHAT HAVE YOU DONE…… The audiences  chanting "Awesome" through the match should tell you how good this is.

 Low Ki Vs. Bryan Danielson Vs. Christopher Daniels – The Era of Honor Begins (2/23/02) Another of my guys is Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson) so its no surprise he and Christopher Daniels make my list but this match is special. Mentioned before I am RoH guy and love the promotion but this match kind of started it all. Not long after WCW and ECW had finished and people were screaming out for something different and then this match took place and put RoH firmly on the map. I am not surprised in the slightest at how well D Bry is doing.

 Undertaker v Mankind at Hell in a Cell Undertaker is one of the best WWE has ever had and Mankind (Foley in general) is one of my favourite wrestlers of all time. This match is one I can re watch over and over. The beating that Foley took and then Undertaker injured his ankle in the match too when he jumped down from the top of the cell which was the root cause for why he was on the shelf for about 10 months starting from Summer 1999. WWE just doesn’t have matches like this anymore (unless you are Punk and Bryan).


5. Where can our readers find your work and what have you got coming up? Main site = http://scottishwrestlingring.com/ Facebook = https://www.facebook.com/ScottishWrestlingRing Twitter = https://twitter.com/ScotWrestleRing

 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ We'd like to thanks Alex and Rob for this great interview. Next week: Discover Wrestling

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

WWE Smackdown 26th July 2013 Review

Smackdown this week was one of the strongest episodes of the show for a long time. This was for a number of reasons, there were a number of intriguing contests, such as Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam, some significant storyline progression with Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow and some top notch promo work from CM Punk, AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler.



Rob Van Dam 

vs. 

World Heavyweight Champion 

Alberto Del Rio




This match had been announced on Monday’s Raw and I was intrigued from the moment it was announced. Firstly, I’d put Rob Van Dam as one of my picks for a possible opponent for Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam and felt that this match would provide a lot of the answers heading into the pay-per-view. Secondly, we were yet to see Van Dam lose since returning to WWE, after victories over Chris Jericho, Darren Young and Wade Barrett over the last week and a half, and WWE would clearly want to keep their newest acquisition looking strong for the time being, however Alberto Del Rio is the World Heavyweight Champion and him loosing matches will only help to devalue the Championship around his waste, and after a loss to Randy Orton on last week’s Smackdown, Del Rio couldn’t really afford to lose for the second week running.

We got a glimpse of what was to come in a backstage segment, with Alberto Del Rio meeting with new Smackdown General Manager Vickie Guerrero. Del Rio was attempting to get Guerrero to give him the same chance that Brad Maddox gave John Cena on Raw, allowing him to pick his opponent for Summerslam. Vickie agreed to give him one week to think about it. It was nice to keep the authority on the show very simple, with few shenanigans it allowed the real talent to shine through. Rob Van Dam then turned up, to put his case forward for why Del Rio should choose him as his Summerslam opponent. It was a nice set up for the match later on, that gave an extra reason for Van Dam to pick up a victory.

The match, unfortunately, didn’t really get going, with Van Dam using his strong kicks to beat down the World Heavyweight Champion, with Del Rio running to the outside. It didn’t take long for the match to go for a finish, as after Del Rio came back into the ring, Van Dam once again gained the upperhand, with the referee keeping Van Dam away from Del Rio who was in the corner, Del Rio used the opportunity to hit a Superkick for the pinfall victory. Whilst I felt this match could have been a really good contest given some extra time, it did a good job of keeping both men looking strong and developing Del Rio’s role as heel role, whilst also setting up for a potential rematch later down the line.

Whilst Van Dam’s loss here doesn’t totally rule him out of facing Del Rio at SummerSlam, I’d be surprised if WWE ran with it now. It’s a match up with a lot of potential, if done correctly, but there are more interesting match ups to include Van Dam in on the pay-per-view and I couldn’t believably seeing him winning the World Heavyweight Championship, not at this point anyway. I also wouldn’t expect Del Rio to be allowed to pick his opponent, as his character would surely choose someone he could easily beat, like Zack Ryder or Yoshi Tatsu. So, I’m interested to see how the decision will be made and who will get the nod, hopefully we’ll find out next week on Smackdown, rather than on Raw. 

WWE Championship Money in the Bank Winner 

Randy Orton 

vs. 

World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank 

Damien Sandow


We kicked off Smackdown this week with the two Money in the Bank winners facing off. Whilst the action in the ring was solid, for the most part, I wasn’t really given any reason to care about the outcome of the match. There was no prior explanation as to why these two were facing off on Smackdown and it really could have done with a bit of a build up, similar to what they did with Van Dam and Del Rio, for me to fully invest in the action I was seeing in ring. Orton did his usual going through the motions, something we’ve also seen out of Sandow as of late, and it felt pretty flat throughout as the two basically trod water as they waited for the finish to take place.

That finish involved Sandow’s former tag team partner Cody Rhodes, who came down to ringside and took possession of the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank briefcase, with the distraction allowing Randy Orton to get in the ring and hit an RKO for a pinfall victory. It was the only way they could end this match, without making one of the Money in the Bank holders look weak, so I was just glad that Sandow didn’t lose to Orton clean. If I’m being honest the finish was the only thing that really caught my interest during the match, and I’m hoping Orton and Sandow both pick up their games big time once they get their pushes with the respective championships.

What followed however was pretty interesting and enjoyable, with Damien Sandow attempting to locate Cody Rhodes, who had absconded with the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank briefcase. We saw humourous exchanges between Sandow and other wrestlers and personalities, like Sin Cara, Mark Henry and Hall of Famer Booker T, which ran throughout the show. Sandow did a good job of treading the line between comedy and serious here, as while I’m not of the “Funny ain’t Money” school, I certainly think if you over play those moments, people will become disengaged with the angle.

Finally, in the final segment of the show, Sandow went back to the ring in attempt to find out where Cody Rhodes had got to. Rhodes turned up on the big screen, standing by the Gulf of Mexico. Of course it’s some kind of unwritten rule, that whenever WWE is in Corpus Christi there has to be an angle involving the Gulf of Mexico, we’ve seen CM Punk and Chavo Guerrero battle it out in a Gulf of Mexico match on ECW, as well as Kane chokeslam Rey Mysterio into the sea on Smackdown. Sandow, of course, went after Rhodes and apologised for everything he had done in a grovelling attempt to get his briefcase back. I really enjoyed this moment, as it showed Sandow as a really spineless character, which is certainly a role that suits him well. Rhodes threw the briefcase into the Gulf anyway, and Sandow attempted to jump after it, but it was revealed he couldn’t swim! We ended the show with Sandow lying exhausted on the pavement, whilst the briefcase sunk under water. I actually really enjoyed this angle throughout the show, it was a little goofy at points and maybe a little clichéd, but I felt genuinely invested in the feud and wanted to know what will happen next.

Best of the Rest (In The World)


Elsewhere, CM Punk also made a rare appearance on Smackdown, and this time did a much better job than a few weeks ago. Punk delivered a well-structured promo on his upcoming SummerSlam match with Brock Lesnar. Punk once again put over Brock well, before moving onto Paul Heyman. Punk said he would exploit Lesnar’s only weakness and that would be his trust of Heyman. It added a nice extra layer to match at SummerSlam and where Heyman’s involvement will surely be key to the outcome of the match. WWE need to be careful not to have Punk and Heyman repeat themselves in these promos we’ve seen from them in the last few weeks, as we still have three more weeks until SummerSlam, if we see the same thing for the next few weeks, the angle will lose its current red hot momentum. 

With Punk hitting his stride, surprisingly he was interrupted by Fandango, who got seemed to get real heel heat for the first time since the post Wrestlemania Raw, there wasn’t a lot of Fandangoing going on here. After Fandango’s theatrics on the way down to the ring, with valet Summer Rae, Punk quickly took down Fandango attacking him as he entered the ring and finishing him off swiftly with a GTS. I liked this moment, because it showed off Punk’s emotional state and also made him look like an arse kicker, which is something that WWE needs to do, with Punk heading into a match with the much bigger Brock Lesnar. I’d like to see Punk in a number of matches on Raw and Smackdown in the next few weeks, ploughing through mid-card opponents, to help demonstrate his state of minding heading into the pay-per-view.




The AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler angle continued this week, with AJ Lee giving her “State of my Mind” address. AJ cut one of the best promos I’ve ever seen from a woman on WWE television, bringing a lot of intricacies in to her performances, as she revealed she still had the keys to Dolph Ziggler’s house but wouldn’t use them. Dolph then came out and continued to wind up AJ, talking about new lovers, with some content that didn’t feel very PG. AJ moved onto plan b, as she destroyed items from Ziggler’s wallet and suitcase, with Ziggler batting off the attack on his belonging further frustrating AJ. I think what works well for me here, is that whilst the things Ziggler are saying aren’t exactly face comments, we’ve all had that one crazy girlfriend and it’s good to see Ziggler getting one over on her for us! With AJ angered she attempted to get at Dolph, but ran straight into a spear from Kaitlyn. With Big E attempting to help AJ, he got a Fame Asser from Ziggler for his troubles. With Kaitlyn being added to the mix, I’m wondering if WWE will go with a mixed tag for SummerSlam instead of the rumoured one on one match between Ziggler and Big E.

In what was essentially a squash match, Mark Henry teamed with The Usos to take on Wade Barrett and The Prime Time Players. After Barrett and The Prime Time Players had took control of The Usos, it built to a hot tag to Mark Henry, who quickly ploughed through his opponents picking up a pinfall victory on Titus O’Neil after a World’s Strongest Slam. The match was enjoyable, but it was pretty clear who was going to pick up the win and how the match would unfurl from the outset, as Henry and The Usos sent a message to The Shield. It really is a shame to see Wade Barrett fall even further down the card, WWE really seem to have soured on the Preston man. The Prime Time Players are currently in limbo at the moment, it seems that WWE is going to split them up soon, but if they keep putting them in position’s like this, no one will care when it happens and Young and O’Neil’s singles careers will be no different to their tag team one.



Christian was also in action this week, against Jack Swagger. Of course, Zeb Colter cut a promo before the match again, but I’ve already said all that needs to be said about that in this week’s Main Event review. Anyone who watched WWE’s revival of ECW will know the history between these two and I was actually pretty excited to see them in action again. The bout was a fairly good technical battle that was well paced, and given just enough time to allow Christian to look good. After Swagger’s poor match with Sheamus on Main Event, I was glad to see Swagger could still go, I just think he needs the right opponent to go against, he isn’t someone who can have a good match with a broomstick. Christian picked up the victory, in a nice closing section, after rolling out of a Patriot Lock and sending Swagger shoulder first into the ringpost, Christian hit a Killswitch for the pinfall. Christian has picked up a number of victories following Money in the Bank over the likes of Damien Sandow, Fandango and Titus O’Neil, and therefore I think he is a strong candidate to get the nod to face Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam.




The Wyatt Family’s Luke Harper and Erick Rowan made their in-ring debut this week, as they took on Tons of Funk. It was quickly over with The Wyatt’s dominating and Erick Rowan picking up the victory with a running splash on Tensai. It was a disappointing generic big guy finish that I think most of WWE’s bigger stars use, including Tons of Funk, so hopefully it doesn’t stick and they get a better finish. After the bout, Bray Wyatt came into the ring and took out Tensai with Sister Abigail, before cutting another disturbing promo on Kane. With Kane in action against Daniel Bryan on Raw this week, could we see The Wyatt Family get involved? I sure hope so. 

Finally...


What did I learn from Smackdown this week?

1. Sometimes, like with RVD and Alberto Del Rio, less is more. As I know want to see a rematch more than I wanted to see the original.

2. Damien Sandow can't swim.

3. Michael Cole reads the same damn facts on every show. I know John Cena is the only person not to cash in Money in the Bank successfully. At least, JBL seems to do some research! 

TNA Impact Wrestling 25th July 2013 Review

Impact Wrestling this week was actually a fairly enjoyable watch, with a solid overarching storyline tying the show together in an attempt to keep the viewer watching for as long as possible, with some good wrestling action thrown in for good measure, with two championship matches and three Bound For Glory Series matches, there was certainly a lot to keep me entertained for the two hour duration.



TNA World Title Decision




This was the story than ran throughout the show, from opening segment to closing segment and did a fairly good job of keeping my interest throughout. Firstly, we start off with The Main Event Mafia in the ring, with Kurt Angle talking about the end to last week’s show, which saw a new World Heavyweight Champion crowned in the shape of Chris Sabin. Angle called out Sabin to talk about his victory, and whilst everything Angle said was true and he delivered his promo well, it just didn’t quite feel right to me. Once again, the spotlight wasn’t truly on Chris Sabin, it was on Kurt Angle and the Main Event Mafia, and really wasn’t helping Chris Sabin seem like the star that he should have been in this segment. Instead of the Mafia putting over Sabin, we had Sabin putting over the Mafia and it just didn’t feel right at all. Bully Ray then came out accompanied by lawyer, and demanded that if Sabin didn’t hand back the title, he would sue TNA. I actually quite liked this development, even if it was making the best of a bad situation after having Sabin use a hammer to win the belt, and was surprised that I hadn’t seen this used before, as it’s such a perfect heel tactic and worked well with Bully Ray here.

So throughout the night, we caught up with both General Manager Hulk Hogan  and President Dixie Carter as they flapped around backstage trying to come up with a solution to the problem. They way they built up was actually quite nice, as we got glimpses of Hogan and Carter backstage separately which set the tone for a meeting between the two later in the night. The content of the meeting between the two was strong, with it being made to look like Hogan and Carter had no choice but to strip Sabin of his championship, even if Carter’s emotional connection with her staff seemed a little contrived after the release of Jesse Sorensen recently. The only part that bugged me was that it was shot from outside of the office through blinds, I felt a little bit like my intelligence was being insulted, like I was meant to believe Hogan and Carter weren’t aware they were being filmed when it’s their television show! I do actually quite like the backstage stuff that TNA is doing at the moment, with the quick interviews from Jason Hervey bringing a nice feel to the show.

The final segment of the show, saw Bully Ray come out to demand his World Heavyweight Championship be giving back. I can’t praise Bully’s promo ability enough, his work over the last two years has been superb and even when he’s working with horrible storylines, like the one he had with Brooke Hogan, he’s hit the ball out of the park. Sabin obviously refused to give the title to Bully, so the decision was left up to Hogan, once again taking the spotlight from the companies new World Heavyweight Champion. Hogan came out and it was made to look like he’d be switching the title back, but he obviously didn’t, ripping up Bully’s legal paper work and booking a match for three weeks’ time, at a Hardcore Justice themed Impact Wrestling, inside a Steel Cage. Hogan’s promo was pretty weak, as he repeated a lot of the same points, and said the word Justice so many times I expected The Shield to jump him on the entrance ramp. He’s getting worse with his promos which is to be expected with his age, we’ve seen it happen to a number of older wrestlers, but are no longer holding major roles on television.


Overall, this story was a pretty enjoyable one episode thing, even if it had a few plotholes, such as why Bully Ray didn’t just sue anyway, was he scared by how Hogan tore up the legal documents? The idea of the special editions of Impact Wrestling seems to be sticking, after a successful Destination X, the week previously. It’s a good idea to help bring in good ratings,  if they can consistently deliver matches and stories that people will tune into see, and the more the special editions deliver in quality, then you’d think that the ratings would continue to go up steadily, which can only be good for wrestling as a whole.  


Bound For Glory Series Match: 
Jeff Hardy 
vs. 
AJ Styles




The main event of the evening was a big Bound For Glory Series match, between Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles. Now, whilst it’s clear to anyone that Hardy and Styles are two of the biggest stars in the company, I find it frustrating that TNA attempted to market this one as a dream match, again! Yes, this probably was a dream match back in 2004, the first time it happened, but 2013 we’ve seen this match before and whilst it usually delivers, to call it a dream match just makes TNA look a little bit silly. Whilst Styles has been a focal point of Impact Wrestling recently with his transformation into the Lone Wolf being a big storyline for the company, Jeff Hardy has kind of taken a backseat after the culmination of his rivalry with Bully Ray in the Full Metal Mayhem match, a few month ago.


The match was a good television main event, with a lot of action in a short timespan. It was nice to see Hardy bring out some of the old AJ Styles, as Styles brought back some of his more fast paced action that we saw before the Lone Wolf development, it was great to see moves like the Pele kick thrown in amongst AJ Styles current moveset. It’s matches like this one where the Bound For Glory Series really works, where the match is given enough time to tell the story and when it looks like both competitors are giving their all in an attempt to get the points, as was helped here by the selling of both Hardy and Styles, as well as the intensity with which the moves were delivered.

If Jeff Hardy had brought us glimpses of an old AJ Styles, it was the new AJ Styles that helped secure the victory, as he rolled with ease into a Calf Killer submission hold, and after sometime Hardy submitted, giving Styles ten points in the Bound For Glory Series. It was a nice ending to the match, with Styles looking strong in picking up a major victory over on of TNA’s biggest names. It made sense to have Styles win here, as the company clearly has an idea where they are heading with Styles, whilst Jeff Hardy currently seems in a state of limbo.

As the Bound For Glory Series develops it’s becoming pretty obvious, to me anyway, who we will see in the Top Four come the end of the series and I’d be extremely surprised if anyone else takes one of these spots. The four for me, have to be Magnus, Samoa Joe, Mr. Anderson and AJ Styles, as they are the four guys with the strongest direction in the Series and it would also lead to an interesting dynamic with two Main Event Mafia guys, one from Aces and Eights and then the Lone Wolf in AJ Styles, but out of those four I can’t currently pick an overall winner, although I’m edging closer to either AJ Styles or Mr. Anderson. Jeff Hardy on the other hand, looks to be heading for a mid-table finish, and the company doesn’t seem to have any clear plans at the moment for Hardy heading into Bound For Glory, which is strange considering he is one of the companies biggest draws. I’m beginning to wonder if Hardy will be around TNA for that much longer.

Best of the Rest (In The World)




The opening match of the show, was the Ultimate X match featuring Greg Marascuilo, Manik and Sonjay Dutt attempting to capture the vacant championship. For me, this is one of the strongest Ultimate X matches they’ve done in a while, because it used the three way concept and the Ultimate X match to it’s advantage, unlike the Ultimate X match at Slammiversary were it felt like both things were getting in the way. Marascuilo, Manik and Dutt all brought something to the match, with some nice spots throughout the match and unlike the majority of Ultimate X matches actually managed to tell a good story throughout.


The ending of the match also managed to feel climactic and purposeful, which really does make a change to other matches of this type. With Manik took out by Marascuilo on the ramp, with a sick Crade Belly to Back Piledriver on the hard Impact Wrestling ramp. With Manik out, this allowed Marascuilo and Sonjay Dutt to put together a fantastic section that had me on the edge of my seat. With both men climbing the outer steel support, they ended up on top of the structure trading blows, in what felt incredibly dangerous, helped by the rocking of the structure. With Marascuilo falling through the structure landing on the ropes, Dutt kept him in place, stopping him getting at the title, whilst Manik recovered and eventually managed to detach the new X Division title belt. Whilst it’s great to see TJ Perkins pick up the X Division belt, I still struggle to see why he’s been kept under the Manik costume, especially after cutting a promo without the mask earlier in the show!

Elsewhere, Kurt Angle and Sting were included in a backstage segment, as they talked about the Main Event Mafia ongoing feud with Aces and Eights. Sting and Angle spoke about still having one major goal to complete in finally destroying Aces and Eights. It wasn’t anything we’d hadn’t heard before, but was a good way to keep the fire burning for the feud whilst not actually developing it. It was nice to not have too much Aces and Eights involvement this week, as it has been a little heavy handed at times and gave the story time and space to breath, which it will need if it’s going to last until October.

The Knockout’s Championship was also up for grabs this week, as Mickie James defended her strap against Gail Kim. Velvet Sky cut a promo before the match, which seemed out of place, I’m pretty sure her story with Mickie James was finished about a month ago, and I’m hoping TNA don’t choose to resurrect it, over a fresh feud between Mickie James and Taryn Terrell. I was actually really disappointed with this match, as it should have been a solid matches between two of the best females in the business, instead it was pretty sloppy and didn’t feel like a title match. The most awkward section seeing a strange exchange of holds in the corner of the ring that looked like neither woman knew what they were doing. After Gail Kim slapped referee ODB, Mickie James managed to pick up the victory with a roll up. Brooke Hogan then made an appearance to admonish Gail, reminding her ODB was still an active competitor. It’s great to see ODB finally out of the referee role and if this poor match achieved one thing it’s that we will get to see ODB back in the ring again.



After a pep talk from Bully Ray about the new importance of the Bound for Glory Series, Aces and Eight’s Vice President Mr. Anderson was in action against Hernandez. It was a decent, yet forgettable contest, with the some strong ideas, like Anderson teased attempting a run up on Hernandez only to hit him in the face, but the majority being a pretty basic television contest. After Anderson had dominated most of the bout, Hernandez had a comeback which lead to the ending, after SuperMex missed his Air Mexico run, allowing Anderson to hit the Mic Check and pick up the seven points in the BFG Series. I liked the ending as it suited Anderson’s character as a sneaky and clever heel, and felt like it had been thought through well. The match was around the right length, as any longer than this and it might have become a little repetitive and boring.

The other Bound For Glory Series match, is one that TNA should be marketing as a main event contest. That being Samoa Joe against Christopher Daniels. This match has the potential to be an absolute classic, and we’ve seen classic matches from these two in both TNA and ROH before. So it confuses me a little why TNA would choose to throw this match away with little promotion and little time here on Impact this week. It was a decent match, and did the best it could with the time it was given, before Mr. Anderson came back out to distract Joe and allow Daniels to pick up the victory after two Best Moonsaults Ever. Like a lot of the TNA product recently, the idea seems to be in place, but the focus is slightly to the left of where it should be.


We also got a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel in the Joseph Park and Abyss storyline, as in a backstage segment, Eric Young showed Park footage of his match against Jeff Hardy, where Park attacked the referee. With Park having no recollection of events, Young said he’d get to the bottom of things. I don’t care how it happens, Eric Young can use his newly found magical powers for all I care, as long as TNA replaces Joseph Park with Abyss, and brings back The Monster, sooner rather than later.


Finally...


What did I learn from this week's Impact Wrestling?

1. The right ideas are in place, but the focus is wrong, for the majority of Impact Wrestling.

2. I'd be very surpirsed if the final four for the Bound For Glory Series aren't Magnus, Samoa Joe, Mr. Anderson and AJ Styles.

3. I am not missing Taz on commentary one bit. Jeremy Borash and Mike Tenay are doing a fine job in his absence. 

Bound For Glory Series Standings


1. Magnus - 49 Points (Non-Mover)

2. Samoa Joe - 26 Points (Non-Mover) 
3. AJ Styles - 22 Points (Up Three) 
4. Christopher Daniels - 21 Points (Non-Mover)
5. Jeff Hardy - 17 Points (Down Two)
6. Austin Aries - 14 Points (Down Two) 
- Mr. Anderson - 14 Points (Up One)
8. Hernandez - 7 Points (Down One) 
9. Bobby Roode - 0 Points (Non-Mover)
- Jay Bradley - 0 Points (Non-Mover)
- Kazarian - 0 Points (Non-Mover)
12. Joseph Parks - -10 Points (Non-Mover)

Sunday, 28 July 2013

WWE NXT 24th July 2013 Review

In a week on NXT that included appearances from Triple H, Sheamus, Antonio Cesaro, Zeb Colter and The Wyatt Family, it tells you something that I’ve chosen to run with Paige vs. Emma as my main feature of this review. Whilst the rest of the show was strong, even with a number of enhancement contests, both Paige and Emma stole the show in their quest to become the first ever NXT Women’s Champion. 


NXT Women’s Championship Tournament Final Match: 

Emma 

vs. 

Paige





Heading into the final we’d seen Emma pick up victories over Aksana and Summer Rae, whilst Paige had been victorious over Tamina Snuka and Alicia Fox, and after three out of the four of those contests had been exciting women’s contests I had a inkling that we might have been in for something special here, in the opening match of this week’s NXT. The dynamic between the two worked well, as shown in pre-match comments from Paige and Emma, as whilst both were playing faces and were major fan favourites in the Full Sail Arena, both characters had completely different outlooks when it came to the ring, with Paige being the no-nonsense fighter, whilst Emma represented the dancing, showy Diva, making a nice contrast between the two.

With no clear heel within the match, it allowed both women to play with the dynamic of the contest, each spending lengthy periods in control with some nice submissions holds and transitions, as the match got warmed up. Unlike a lot of WWE women’s matches, the moves looked crisp and precise for the entirety of the contest, and it was clear throughout what the women were trying to do. The match developed well as it went along adding new layers of competition, made even more convincing as the bout was visibly taking its toll on Paige and Emma. A highlight for me was Paige catching Emma’s leg in the corner and managing to transition beautifully into her RamPaige submission hold, with Emma doing a good job of selling the hold, it looked like it could be over until Emma managed to get free. Another strong moment, saw Emma hit a superplex on Paige. How often in WWE women’s match, do you see a superplex? It wasn’t the best looking superplex you’ve ever seen, but at this point in the match, that actually helped to tell the story.

The ending saw Emma attempt to lift Paige of the floor, only to receive a quick kick to the gut, followed by a Superkick and eventually finished off with the Paige Turner, to give Paige the pinfall victory and allowing her to become the first NXT Women’s Champion. It was a great ending that really helped to show the guts and determination of Paige, as she fought back to pick up the victory, whilst also allowing Emma to stay looking strong as she took one of hell of beating out of nowhere to end up losing the bout. Personally, this was the best mainstream women’s match that I’ve seen this year, combining the hard-hitting nature of Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell and the storytelling of AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn to create a superb contest that will be remembered for a long time amongst those of us who watch NXT.

After the match, a number of the NXT women’s roster made their way out to the ring to celebrate with Paige, before WWE COO Triple H made a surprise appearance to raise Paige’s arm, in what was a clearly emotional moment for the twenty year old from Norwich, Norfolk. Whilst, it was sort of obvious from the outset of the tournament that Paige would be winning the NXT Women’s Championship, it was a nice idea that was well executed, allowing Paige to pick up some big victories and come out looking better by the end of the tournament than she did at the start, and certainly better than if she’d have simply won a battle royal. I’m also curious what’s next for Emma, surely after that contest, she’ll be getting a rematch on NXT soon, but will we see a new side to Emma, maybe even a heel turn after seeing all the Divas celebrate with Paige? Either way, right now this week’s NXT belongs to that girl from Norwich, Paige. 

Best of the Rest (In The World)


Elsewhere, the good action continued as Sheamus took on Luke Harper of The Wyatt Family, who of course had fellow family member Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan at ringside. This match was set last week, after The Wyatts had attack Sheamus back stage during an interview, with Sheamus returning the favour in the main event, taking out Bray Wyatt and allowing Adrian Neville and Corey Graves to win the NXT Tag Team Championships from Harper and Rowan. This was far and above the best contest that Sheamus had on Wednesday evening, after his poor showing against Jack Swagger on Main Event, this bout showed that when tasked, Sheamus can deliver the goods, as well as providing the WWE audience a first chance to see what Luke Harper can do in singles action.

What I liked about this match so much it’s almost complete change of pace to what we’ve seen in WWE recently, yes we’ve seen some fantastic technical matches from the likes of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen a good old fashioned brawl like was seen here. This is definitely the style that Sheamus is most effective in, and Luke Harper is more than familiar with this kind of wrestling after a lengthy stint on the Indy circuit as Brodie Lee. After some fantastic back and forth fighting, Sheamus eventually picked up a pinfall victory, following White Noise and a Brogue Kick. If only WWE would utilise this side of Sheamus more often, he would certainly be much more over with the audience than he currently is. After this bout, it feels like the Wyatt Family could be over full time on NXT for now, which can only be good news for Raw and Smackdown.

Antonio Cesaro was back on NXT this week, this time accompanied by manager Zeb Colter, as Zeb cut a decent promo on Cesaro’s long time rival, Sami Zayn. It was long and rambling, but this seemed to work well for Zeb as it molded into the idea that he was actually completely off his rocker, and the bizarre statements he’d make throughout about the legality of Zayn being in the country really helped to add to this, I do hope this was the effect that WWE was going for! We even got a reference to Zayn’s old Indy character El Generico, with Colter talking about Zayn wearing a mask in his past and we all know Zeb hates masks. The Real Americans said they wanted to find out who Sami Zayn really was, here’s hoping El Generico will be heading to NXT soon, but I won’t hold my breath.

The new version of The Ascension made their tag team debut this week, against the pairing of Mickey Keegan and Aiden English in an impressive squash match. Conor O’Brian and Rick Victor got in every ounce of action, showing a good combination of speed, power and teamwork to eventually pick up a victory after a Spinning Low Kick/Spinning Jumping Elbow combination. Personally, I think The Ascension as a tag team have a lot more potential than either man on their own, as as a team they cover up each other’s short comings, however it will be interesting to see how they fare in longer matches.


There was also the NXT in ring debut of Tyler Breeze. I’m not quite sold on Breeze’s gimmick at the moment, which is that of a male model who continually takes pictures of himself on his phone. It was used a little bit too much before the start of the match, when we’d got the idea about two minutes earlier. In the ring Breeze looked fairly competent in his enhancement match with Angelo Dawkins, after Dawkins got tired of Breeze taking photos of himself. Breeze quickly gained the upperhand with a number of kicks and strikes, taking time for one last picture, before finishing Dawkins off with a huge double heel kick for a pinfall victory. I think Breeze has potential in NXT, but the gimmick is definitely going to need a little more work, but that’s what NXT is for.

Finally...


What did I learn from this week's NXT?

1. The future of WWE's Divas Division looks bright in Paige and Emma.

2. Sheamus needs to be used more like he was in NXT, on Raw and Smackdown.

3. Brad Maddox still ain't no Man's Man.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

WWE Main Event 24th July 2013 Review

This week’s Main Event was the first episode in a while that didn’t feature a top notch main event, with Sheamus and Jack Swagger not quite being able to live up to previous weeks. Main Event seems to be there to give wrestlers a chance to show what they can do when given the time and the spotlight, and this did happen elsewhere in the show with Damien Sandow, Sin Cara, Justin Gabriel and Drew McIntyre all getting more time than they would usually be afford on Raw or Smackdown, but with the Main Event of the show focusing on two wrestlers whose stars seem to be fading as of current, it didn’t feel like the show lived up to its potential this time round.



Sheamus 

vs. 

Jack Swagger with Zeb Colter


Before the match, we got another promo from Zeb Colter. Now, when these promos started I was a big fan of Colter and his character, but having him perform one before every single one of Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro’s match is beginning to get a little tiresome. Zeb seems to go over the same ground time and time again, and has resorted more and more to simply attempting to garner cheap heat, which is a shame for a character that showed so much promise just six months ago. I simply find myself zoning out every time Zeb begins to speak, as I’ve heard it all before, and rarely does it bring anything that is going to be particularly relevant to the match I’m about to watch.

The match in question here pitted Colter’s charge Jack Swagger, against The Celtic Warrior, Sheamus. Both were involved in losing efforts on Raw, against Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio respectively, so neither could really afford another defeat here if they wanted to stay within the upper echelon of talent in WWE. Similar to Sheamus’ match with Del Rio on Raw, this bout focussed heavily on Sheamus’ injured leg, with Swagger performing a number of attacks and holds in it, including wrapping the leg around the ringpost, throughout the match. In this sense the match told a decent story, with each time Sheamus attempted a comeback his leg would let him down allowing Swagger to get back in control. However, it was stretched out to almost tedium, with the match lasting over fifteen minutes of television time, about five or six more than it actually needed.

The ending saw Sheamus fight back, as Swagger was attempting to wrap his leg around the ring post, Sheamus pulled Swagger into the post. When Swagger recovered and got back into the ring, he received a swift Brogue Kick at Sheamus picked up the victory. A solid ending to a long contest for these two, with Sheamus being the logical winner, as it seems like they have absolutely nothing for Swagger right now, and only vaguely more for Sheamus. I found this match difficult to get into, because it was pretty slow throughout, with nothing really to latch onto, whilst there was strong moments, like Swagger taking an impressive back body drop to the outside, they were few and far between in this stretched out bout.


Sheamus and Swagger both seem to be in career ruts at the moment, with neither really going anywhere. Swagger’s may be self-inflicted with his extracurricular activity certainly causing harm to his status post-Wrestlemania and I wouldn’t expect him to be moving any higher up the roster than this, at the moment. The best he can hope for is to be teamed with Antonio Cesaro for a run at the Tag Team Championship, but I’d much rather see Cesaro break out on his own, than to stuck with someone who WWE clearly is no longer high on (pardon the pun) Sheamus on the other hand is simply in the position because his character has failed to evolve and is no ultra-stale, we’ve seen these routines before, we’ve heard the Irish Jokes, Sheamus can truly go in the ring when he has the opportunity but without a believable and coherent character we won’t see him move back to former glories any time soon.

Best of the Rest (In The World)



Elsewhere, World Heavyweight Championship Mr. Money in the Bank Damien Sandow was in action against Justin Gabriel. Sandow also got the pre-match promo treatment, and did a pretty good job of it.  Sandow’s tone draws you in to what he has to say, even if what he has to say is insulting you, and the Money in the Bank briefcase has given him a new set of material to play with, keeping his spiel fresh. Justin Gabriel was a good opponent to have Sandow face here, as Gabriel of putting on good short matches and does a lot to help his opponent, whilst also being able to produce those high-flying moments that “Wow” a live crowd.

The match was a decent television bout with Damien Sandow getting the majority of the offence in, with Gabriel working mainly in shorts bursts of high octane action, before being grounded once again by Sandow. The action wasn’t exactly enthralling, and I’d probably say I was a little disappointed, given the time that Sandow and Gabriel were afforded the could have done a lot better, with the sections with Sandow in control being very slow and mainly involving rest holds. The end saw Gabriel miss a Stinger Splash in the corner, allowing Sandow to hit another new finishing move, a Full Nelson Slam for the pinfall victory. I’m not sure why WWE insists on give Sandow new finishing moves, we’ve seen him use a version of Matt Hardy’s Side Effect recently, when his Terminus Neckbreaker was a solid move in the first place.

The other match of the evening saw Sin Cara face off against Ayr’s Drew McIntyre, who was accompanied by 3MB teammates Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal. For a short three minutes match, this was an entertaining contest, with a number of decent spots, and Sin Cara even managed to show some personality as he mimicked Drew! Sin Cara was actually pretty crisp throughout the bout, hit his moves with a precision that has become rare during his run with WWE. Sin Cara ended up picking up the victory, with a Hurricanrana Driver, that didn’t quite look right. I know that’s how the move is supposed to look, but it looks like a botch. Either way the contest was a solid television contest with plenty to keep the attention off the viewer, whether it was the antics of 3MB, the jumping acrobatics of Sin Cara or the fact that Drew McIntyre used to be Vince McMahon’s Chosen One. 

Finally...


What did I learn from this week's Main Event?

1. WWE don't seem to have any plans for Sheamus or Jack Swagger.

2. Even Damien Sandow is capable of phoning in what should be a straight forward contest.

3. Josh Matthews reads the same facts about a wrestler in every match they are in.

ROH TV 20th July 2013 Review

This week’s Ring of Honor television had been built up for quite some time, with Matt Hardy’s quest for a World Championship match being a focal point of the show for a few months. Of course, once again the show was harmed by being taped so far in advance, and by ROH already announcing that Jay Briscoe had left the company and vacated the World Title.



World Championship Match: 

Jay Briscoe © 

vs. 

Matt Hardy with Steve Corino




Matt Hardy has had something of a career renaissance in Ring of Honor the last ten months, creating a fantastic character that is easy to hate and performing consistently good promos and video spots to back it up. He’s also been helped by the ongoing SCUM storyline which has developed well over the last year and a half, as it gave him a reason to play the character he was and a group that has become not too dissimilar to the Mattitude Followers in 2003/04. The relationship Hardy has developed with SCUM leader Steve Corino is also an interesting one, with Corino seeming to worship Hardy, but you kind of get the feeling that if Hardy stepped out of line, Corino would kick him to the curb, just like he did to Kevin Steen.

Whilst, Matt’s promos and character have been top notch during his ROH run, his matches have been distinctly average, and unfortunately this was the case here, as well. Whilst the match told a decent enough story with Hardy taking advantage of Briscoe’s injured shoulder, Hardy was for the most part over reliant on his Twist of Fate move, which he used a total of four times throughout the match, and after the second attempt had failed to get a pinfall, as an audience member I wrote the move off for the rest of the match, I’m sure in Hardy’s long storied career, he’s picked up more than that move to use as a false finish. Each time, Briscoe would look close to mounting a comeback Hardy would pull out another underhanded tactic, such as hitting Briscoe with his boot, to regain the upper hand, which at times became frustrating to watch as it meant the majority of the match was worked at walking pace.

The ending saw Hardy go for his FIFTH Twist of Fate attempt, only for Briscoe to block and pull Hardy into a small package to pick up the pinfall victory and retain the World Championship. The ending wasn’t exactly an original one, and the fact that we’d seen Hardy hit the Twist of Fate four times before and fail to get a pin cover, it didn’t really have the element of danger that it should have. It’s a shame that such a strong story going into the match couldn’t deliver in terms of what we saw in the ring, as it left the whole build up feeling a little bit flat. It wasn’t an awful match, and technically there weren’t many areas that you could pull the match up on, it just needed a bit more variety and some insertion of pace to help it round of the story well.


After the contest, we went straight into the build for next week’s Steel Cage Warfare match, with SCUM’s Rhino coming out and annihilating Jay with a GORE. Whilst Jay’s brother Mark made a surprise return to attempt to even the odds, SCUM quickly gained control. With fellow SCUM member Jimmy Jacobs, Rhett Titus and Cliff Compton brawling at ringside with Team ROH member Michael Elgin, BJ Whitmer and Jay Lethal, SCUM took control using their signature zip ties to attach Team ROH to the ring ropes, allowing for the real destruction to take place in the ring. With Rhino destroying Mark Briscoe with multiple concertos (he’s obviously been learning from former stablemates Edge and Christian) Matt Hardy headed to the middle rope to take out Jay Briscoe’s arm once and for all with front elbow drop onto a chair that was wrapped around Briscoe’s arm. It was a good finish to the show that built up well for Steel Cage Warfare next week, as well as providing a storyline reason for Jay Briscoe to vacate the World title. 

Best of the Rest (In The World)


The only other match of the night pitted rivals Roderick Strong and Adam Cole in a rematch from June’s Best in the World iPPV. This match wasn’t advertised as it looked like we were getting an enhancement match with Cole facing Will Ferrera. However, with Strong coming out to talk about what happened at Best in the World, where Cole won by countout, with Cole apologising and challenging Strong to a rematch tonight. Strong accepted and we had our opening contest. It was a good set up to a highly anticipated rematch, their contest at Best in the World was one of the best matches on the show, that was left open for a rematch with the countout finish.

In comparison to the World Championship match, this was a much better encounter. The match had the changes in pace that the main event didn’t and therefore allowed them to tell a different story, with each man having periods in control of the match in what was a ultra-competitive contest, with a good combination of strikes, submissions and grapples keeping the match fresh. With the reversals coming thick and fast, as well as a number of near falls, a wrestling cliché appeared as Strong was sent crashing into referee Paul Turner who went crashing to the mat. After both men took each other out, it didn’t take long before Steve Corino, who was on commentary, threw a chain into the ring for Cole, only for Strong to get hold of the chain. With Cole taking Strong out with a Superkick, he saw the chain on Strong’s hand and decided to use it for himself, resulting in a Disqualification victory for Strong. It was another frustrating ending for Cole and Strong, and hopefully the two will be booked against each other in a rubber match soon.


There was also a nice package of interviews from Michael Elgin, Jay Lethal and BJ Whitmer building to next week’s Steel Cage Warfare match. All three men talked about Kevin Steen’s addition to Team ROH, with the trio all seemingly apprehensive about Steen’s involvement. Cleverly, we’ve seen very little of Steen and his team mates in the build up to this match, so it’s been left wide open to how Steen will react in the contest and how all the competitors will interact. We know Team ROH doesn’t like Steen, but they’re going to need him on side if they’re going to defeat SCUM next week, it’s an interesting concept. 

Finally...


What did I learn from this week's ROH on Sinclair?

1. Matt Hardy is currently a lot better at creating a character, than creating a wrestling match.

2. Adam Cole's slow heel turn is working well, the rubber match between he and Roderick Strong should be superb. 

3. Steve Corino is one of ROH's best assets at the moment, both on commentary and elsewhere.