Saturday, 31 August 2013

WWE Main Event 28th August 2013 Review

This week's Main Event was helped by two strong supporting matches, after the main attraction didn't quite deliver as I had expected. Main Event continues to be an entertaining hour of WWE television, and in allowing those wrestlers poised for the real main event scene in WWE, such as Cody Rhodes to experiment in these longer matches, they can only end up coming off better than when they entered.

Cody Rhodes


Intercontinental Champion

Curtis Axel

with Paul Heyman

With a highlight package of Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel's attack on CM Punk on Raw starting the show, the Intercontinental Champion was in action against Cody Rhodes. This was a rematch from last week's Smackdown, where Axel got the victory following some distraction from Paul Heyman, so I was interested to see how this one would go, especially with Axel and Heyman now booked in a Handicap Elimination Match with Punk at Night of Champions. It seemed odd that the commentary team of Josh Matthews and Alex Riley didn't really mention the match they had on Smackdown, which would have allowed them to build up the contest more and make it feel more important for Rhodes to get his victory back, instead they focussed on the build to Night of Champions, making this bout feel pretty inconsequential.

Similar to the match on Smackdown, this one wasn't particularly anything special and I think the extra time it was given actually hurt the match. Rhodes is taking longer to adjust to his current face role, than I originally expected and hasn't quite got the psychology of being a face down yet, a longer period of holding Axel in a chickenwing was not going to help the crowd get behind him! After a nice period of amatuer style wrestling at the beginning, things did look promising for this contest, but it quickly fizzled out. Axel looked good in control, with his slow methodical approach picking Rhodes apart, but what was needed was a pacy comeback from Rhodes, which really would have got me interested in the bout. This however didn't really come, as when the time came for Rhodes' comeback, he was visibly winded, after a good looking Diving Moonsault. It was a shame really that conditioning played apart here, as this match could have worked extremely well. Rhodes is definitely going to need more of these longer matches to build his conditioning for a potential main event push.

The ending of the bout saw Rhodes trying to drag Axel back to the centre of the ring, but Axel holding onto the ring apron. The referee tried to get Rhodes to move away, only for Axel to hit a duo of kicks, one to the gut, one to the face, before jumping to his feet and hitting the Hangman's Facebuster for the pinfall victory and to go 2-0 over Rhodes. It was a bit of an “out of the blue” ending and seemed to come out of nowhere, blink and you'd have missed it. It was good however, to see Axel pick up a victory without having to rely on Heyman, who was pretty much a non-entity at ringside, as that was the main problem with Axel's match with CM Punk on Raw, without Heyman at ringside Axel never seemed like he could win, this will go some way to making Axel look like a more legitimate competitor in his own right.

So, with Axel heading to Night of Champions already (as you'd expect, him being Intercontinental Champion and all) where does that leave Cody Rhodes. A month ago, Rhodes was closing Smackdown with his Gulf of Mexico segment with Damien Sandow, now it feels like Rhodes is back to treading water. I'd suspect Rhodes will pick up on his feud with Damien Sandow at some point, but if WWE are planning for the two to be feuding over the World Heavyweight Championship, then why are they having both lose these kinds of matches? Yes, Axel needed a big win heading towards Night of Champions, but there are plenty of others that could have been thrown into this bout, that WWE don't seem to have any plans on having in their World Heavyweight title picture anytime soon.


Best of the Rest (In The World)

Elsewhere on Main Event, Kofi Kingston was in action against Fandango in what was essentially a rubber match for their series, with the two picking up victories over each other at the start of the month on Raw and Smackdown. This was by far the longest match the two have had on television and they were clearly relishing the opportunity. The match was quick paced from the lock up, but really got going with a nice spot, that saw Kingston land on his feet off a monkey flip from Fandango out of the corner, and go on to land his own version of the move. Both men had spells of control, with a number of quick paced reversals along the way, Fandango looked incredibly comfortable in control and you can see he has improved a lot since his days as Johnny Curtis on NXT.
With Kingston making the comeback that Rhodes' needed to make earlier, hitting a Boom Drop and building for Trouble in Paradise, the match was strangely cut short, when Summer Rae grabbed Kingston's leg and the referee called for the disqualification handing Kingston the victory. It was odd because both Kingston and Fandango continued to wrestle and everyone looked very surprised by what had just happened, it certainly felt very sudden and definitely wasn't the satisfying ending that the bout needed. Hopefully, they'll have a rematch soon, so we actually get to see the ending of the bout. Kingston's comeback from injury has been pretty disapointing, he's quickly been relegated to Main Event and Superstars, and this entertaining match will hopefully remind WWE that he still has something to offer, I'd much rather see Kingston feud with Fandango than The Miz!
There was also tag team action with Prime Time Players taking on Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro of The Real Americans. We've seen these two teams have a rivalry of sorts over the last two weeks, with a number of technically sound matches all won by members of the Prime Time Players. This was more of the same, with a basic yet entertaining contest. Cesaro and Swagger looked good working over Darren Young, before the hot tag to Titus O'Neil. O'Neil is great in this role, as he looks really impressive when ploughing threw his opponents. His Fall-Away Slam still impresses me, he seems to do it with ease. The finish saw both Young save O'Neil from being pinned by Swagger, with Cesaro taking out Young with a nasty looking dropkick, before Swagger walked straight into Clash of the Titus and with Cesaro unable to make the save, Prime Time Players picked up the pinfall victory. Hopefully, both teams feature in future plans for the Tag Team Championships, with a tag team scene which is really coming to life lately, although I'd much rather see Cesaro in singles competition.


My final thoughts on this week's Main Event.
1. Cody Rhodes needs to be working longer matches and picking up more wins, if WWE expect him to be a convincing main event competitor.
2. Kofi Kingston's return has produced nothing, but a costume change.
3. Alex Riley is actually quite informative on commentary, when he isn't talking about The Miz.

Friday, 30 August 2013

ROH TV 24th August 2013 Review

The ROH World Championship tournament finally began this week on ROH television, with Jay Lethal facing off against a returning Sonjay Dutt. This is definitely a good thing for Ring of Honor, bringing something fresh to our television screens, after the long running SCUM storyline came to a close a few weeks ago. With all tournament matches taking place on television and names like Brian Kendrick, Paul London and Karl Anderson returning to take part in the tournament we should be in for a treat, as we build toward Death Before Dishonor in September.

World Championship Tournament First Round Match: 

Jay Lethal 


Sonjay Dutt

It's been a long time since we've seen Sonjay Dutt in ROH, his last appearance coming at 2010's Final Battle in a losing effort to Eddie Edwards, and seeing him return for this tournament made it feel like a big deal. With returns from Brian Kendrick, Paul London and Karl Anderson for the tournament as well, I think this was a fantastic move from ROH. Not only do you get the added interest from people looking to see their return, it elevates the tournament and the World Championship by making it look like a prize that people want to win, something that is often forgotten in the world of professional wrestling. The other interesting element in this one was the amount of history between the two men, who have been competing against and even teaming with each other since way back in 2004, mainly in TNA, but with their last televised singles bout coming almost five years ago, I was wondering if the two would connect on the level we have seem them do in the past.

Of course, they did and this bout was fantastic start to the tournament. With Dutt mainly competiting for TNA over the last two years, most recently on this week's Impact Wrestling in a losing effort to Manik, this definitely had an old school X-Division style about it, with the action coming at a fast pace, with a nice number of spots thrown in as well, starting with a good looking hurracanrana on the outside, using the apron. It was an extremely competitive bout, with the momentum swapping a number of times between the two, with the crowd split pretty much down the middle with a number of duelling chants breaking out. The highlight of the match for me was a fantastically quick section, that saw Dutt attempt a leg scissor takedown, with Lethal managing to hold him in a Tombstone Piledrive position with Dutt somehow flipping out of it, before kipping up and hitting a Tornando DDT, it certainly raised the bout up a notch and got the crowd even more involved than before.

The bout built nicely towards the finish, with a number of near falls and Lethal and Dutt being unable to hit signature moves Hail to the King and Moonsault Double Footstomp respectively. The ending saw Dutt attempt a Sonjay Cutter, which was reversed into a Tombstone Piledrive attempt from Lethal, with Dutt managing to get a roll up for a near fall. With both men recovering, Lethal managed to hit a Superkick to the back of Dutt's head, before hitting the Lethal Injection to get the pinfall victory and advance to the Quarter Final's of the tournament. It made sense for Lethal to go over here, as he is the ROH regular and the win over Dutt will give him good momentum heading into the next round, against either Adam Cole or Mark Briscoe.

This match proved once again, what a giant mistake TNA made in releasing Lethal back in 2010. Yes, the Black Machismo character only had so far to go within the company, but as Lethal has proved in ROH and across the world over the last few years, he has a lot more to offer beyond the gimmick. TNA seem to be doing a similar thing with Sonjay Dutt at the moment, with him not under contract, his appearances are too few and far between to really mean anything, and with the X Division roster looking paper thin at the moment, TNA should certainly look at tying to the Dutt back down to the company, and having him help the less experienced members of the roster to get over with the audience, similar to how we've seen WWE use Chris Jericho and Christian. If they don't, I would much prefer to see Dutt come back to Ring of Honor where he'll be afforded more time in his matches and really be able to shine.

Best of the Rest (In The World)

Elsewhere, C&C Wrestle Factory were in tag team action as they took on #PartyBoys. I have to admit I found it really difficult to get into this one, the action wasn't really what we've come to expect from Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman being fought at a plodding pace that never really got going. At the same time you have the team of Mike Sydal and Zizou Middoux who are still trying to find their feet, with only three previous matches as a team, and it was clear that they have yet to gel as a team. Middoux, himself, has yet to show me anything that marks him out as ready to be competiting at this level. The South African hasn't had too many matches, looking awkward when in control and having a number of notable botches, one where he was lucky not to seriously hurt himself.

C&C Wrestle Factory went on to pick up the win, after hitting their Overtime tag team manouvre on Middoux, with Coleman picking up the pinfall victory for the team. #PartyBoys definitely have a lot of work to do, if they want to become a regular feature of the ROH tag team division, and whilst matches against the likes of American Wolves and C&C Wrestle Factory will help them, they have yet to show me anything to believe they can work as a duo. Coleman and Alexander on the other hand, usually have very strong match ups, and therefore it was a little disapointing to see them look a little lethargic here, seemingly just going through the motions, hopefully normal service resumes soon for the promising tag team.

There was also a Four Corners Proving Ground match, with an opportunity to face Matt Taven for the World Television Championship next week on television. With Vinny Marseglia making his first appearance since May's Dragons Reign, after spending most of his time working for Masschusets based Top Rope Promotions, the only other wrestler in the match to compete for ROH before was veteran Brian Fury, who's sole match prior to this came in 2007, Fury's fellow Chaotic Wrestling competitor Todd Hanson, alongside Kongo made their debuts for the company. This was pretty decent four way contest, even if the tag in, tag out stipulation was quickly dropped by the competitors. The strongest sections of the match were when Marseglia and Fury were allowed to go at it, with both men starting and ending the contest with some athletic action. Hanson looking good when given the opportunity, with speed and flexibility rarely seen from a man his size, whilst Kongo suffered from having a recycled gimmick, which has been used by better wrestlers than he, namely Umaga. I'm not really sure what happened at the end, as the camera was showing Truth Martini and Matt Taven on commentary, but Fury picked up the pinfall victory. From what I saw here, Fury vs. Taven for the Television Title next week should be an interesting confrontation.

The big news coming out of Inside Ring of Honor this week was that Forever Hooligans had dropped the tag team titles to the American Wolves at All Star Extravaganza, before the Wolves themselves dropped the titles back to reDRagon at Manhatten Mayhem. Obviously, ROH is hoping the quick title changes will build to higher buys for the DVDs of those show, and it's worked with me, at least, I can't wait to buy the shows. C&C Wreste Factory also through their hat into the ring, asking for another title shot from Match Maker Nigel McGuiness, both men looked very strong on the mic and certainly deserve another shot at those belts. Kevin Kelly also interviewed Adam Cole, about his match with Mark Briscoe next week, whilst Cole's always seems to perform in the ring, he could definitely do with some work on the mic, as he wasn't particularly convincing here. Steve Corino also resurfaced, trying to get himself a job as a reporter, hopefully this isn't about to be a rehash of the SCUM story, although with Adam Cole talking a lot about Corino in his promo, it looks like that's what we might be about to get.   


My final thoughts on this week's ROH on Sinclair.

1. Sonjay Dutt still has plenty to give whatever company he chooses to work for.

2. #PartyBoys still have a lot of work to do with their tag team, Middoux especially.

3. Brian Fury vs. Matt Taven should be a decent television bout next week. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Five Questions With... Dean Mitchell from British Wrestling Radio

After last week's interviews with Northern Irish wrestler Kacey Owens and former WWE and ROH wrestler Matt Striker, this week it's time of British Wrestling Radio host Dean Mitchell to step into the Five Questions With... hotseat.

Name:   Dean Mitchell
Age: 44
Hometown: Sheffield, Yorkshire, England.
Known For: Being the owner and presenter of British Wrestling Radio since day one.

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

1974, I was five and watching World of Sport and at 4 pm was professional wrestling and for the next 45 minutes, I was completely hooked and have been ever since. I think I was drawn into it by the fact you had a good guy and a bad guy and I loved booing and cheering at the screen also wanting to to do the same things with my younger brother and we always tried to copy our heroes on screen and I loved all that.

2. Tell us a little about BWR Radio and how it all came about?

British Wrestling Radio is a show that is about promoting all British wrestling no matter where the show is I will mention it every week. It came about after I was listening to a few online shows coming from the USA and no one was talking about the Brits like Regal, Williams, Magnus, all the great British wrestlers and I sat at home thinking I got to do something about this so I typed in Facebook Wrestling and lets see what came up and I saw loads of British wrestling promotions and went from there

3. If you were to build a dream card, focusing solely on British talent, how would it look? 

Mark Haskins vs. Dave Rayne
El Ligero vs. Noam Dar
Project Ego ( Kris Travis and Martin Kirby) vs. Fight Club
Marty Scurll vs. Robbie X
Stixx vs. T-Bone
Kay Lee Ray vs. Britani Knight
The Predators vs. the Hunter Brothers

Just for a start.

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

British Bulldog vs Bret Hart SummerSlam '92 -  I was there and was and always will be a huge Davey Boy Smith fan and that day was one of the best ever the match had everyone on the edge of the seats with it going from Bret to Davey and back to Bret you didn't know who was going to win and everyone still talks about the match

Les Kellet Vs Leon Arras - This is one of the earliest matches I can remember watching on TV and laughing the whole time and loving Les from this moment on a real wrestler who was twice as hard outside the ring and Brian Glover playing a great role too

El Ligero vs Ego Dragon, Mask vs Mask 2012 - No Ropes in this one and a end to the 2 year feud in Southside Wrestling the place was packed and rightfully so they went everywhere and did everything in a wrestling ring I was drained when coming home after seeing what I just saw a real class match by two gents who are awesome in all matches

5. Where can our readers find your work and what have you got coming up? 

All our details are;
twitter  @bwrradio
youtube   Bwronline for all our past shows
and to listen live its
Interviews are lined up with a few british wrestling peeps at the mo just got to confirm them and thank you for letting me do this a real pleasure


We'd like to thank Dean Mitchell for a top notch interview, and urge you all to check out British Wrestling Radio as soon as possible.

Next Week: Double Header of Interviews with Erik Vasquez from The Wrestling Chronicle and Michael Kingston.

WWE Raw 26th August 2013 Review

My overall feeling coming out of this week's Raw was that the show was saved by a few star performances, as whilst the direction for the main storylines, like Daniel Bryan vs. The McMahons and CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman, have been incredibly strong, a lot of the rest of the show has lost direction, for example guys like Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow suddenly feel lost after a very strong build into SummerSlam. Let's take a look at how it all broke down...

Gauntlet Match: 

Daniel Bryan 


The Shield

So the build up to this bout began at the start of the show, with WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H in the ring, delivering a surprisingly succinct heel promo, once again patronising Daniel Bryan, before going on to talk about how the ratings are up with Randy Orton as WWE Champion. I'm not a massive fan of on screen characters references ratings in WWE, but it worked here to further Triple H's heel turn, because we as fans know that people aren't tuning in specifically to Orton as WWE Champion, they're tuning into see Bryan get his hands on the belt once again. What had up until that point been a good opening segment, took a turn for the worse when Triple H presented Randy Orton with a car (I'm not saying the brand unless they wan't to pay me) and Orton didn't really know how to react, it was all a little awkward, and everyone knew what was going to happen to the car later in the show. Of course Daniel Bryan came out to reply to Triple H and Orton, thanking the fans for supporting him, it was clear that he meant what he was saying and was enjoying the fans response to him, so it was strange that the second part of the prom felt so forced as Bryan thanked John Cena, which felt as forced as the first time on Smackdown, unless this is leading to a Cena ambush a few months down the line, it's pretty pointless. Bryan went on to insult both Orton and Triple H, with Triple H placing him in the Gauntlet Match against The Shield as punishment in the main event of the show. The opening segment didn't really draw me into the show at all, whilst I was excited for the main event, the story was a bit of repeat of last week's Raw and Smackdown.

So after Orton's match with Christian (more on that later), Daniel Bryan appeared on screen next to Randy Orton's car. Bryan did his best with some awkward lines of dialogue about Orton being the face of WWE, before posing the question of if Bryan wins the title at Night of Champions would he be the new face of the WWE? Of course, the answer was YES, and was revealed by Bryan as being spray painted all over Orton's new car. I like the original reveal, and Bryan through in a nice little ad lib half way through, but again this segment didn't quite work. Mainly, because it felt too similar to when Kofi Kingston destroyed Orton's gift from The Legacy, another car on Raw in 2009, and it was so clear the Bryan was destroying the car, that the whole set up felt ridiculously contrived. With Triple H and Raw General Manager Brad Maddox surveying the damage, we found out that The Game doesn't know how presents work, and the same goes for the WWE Championship, as he still believed both the car and the championship to be his personal property. Triple H went on to tell Maddox that every WWE personality had to be out on the ramp for Bryan's Gauntlet match and if anyone did interfered they would be fired, and interesting addition to the match, and a good way to involve more wrestlers in the McMahon feud. Some really poor lines of dialogue throughout these segments.

Luckily, the final portion of the show was able to repair the damage the had been done earlier in the show. Whilst Renee Young interviewing Big Show and Dolph Ziggler on the ramp was a nice addition and some good follow on from last week, the interview with The Miz felt completely random and out of place, I couldn't see The Miz being someone to stand up to the McMahon's anyway. The opening bout of the gauntlet saw Bryan take on Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins. Now anyone that's been watching Raw since this years WrestleMania, will now that when you put Bryan and Rollins in the ring together you some incredibly good television wrestling. The pacing was great, with both men knowing when to raise it up and bring back down, including a nice little moment with Rollins imitating Bryan. The crowd, of course, lapped up every second of Daniel Bryan's now familiar comeback, before the two launched into a nice series of pinning combination, which when done properly like this is always a joy to watch. The ending saw Rollins attempt a Superplex, only for Bryan to slip free and hit a German Superplex that turned Rollins inside out. Unfortunately, the WWE crew missed the ending as they panned the crowd, but apparently Bryan got the win with the same version of the Knee Trembler he's been using since SummerSlam. It would have been a nice ending if we'd had seen it! United States Champion Dean Ambrose was up next, but the bout ending quickly with Bryan locking in the Yes Lock, only for Tag Team Champion Roman Reigns to make the save, giving Bryan the disqualification victory. They played out the same ending again for Bryan's match with Reigns, with Ambrose making the save this time. It was a good way to keep both The Shield and Bryan looking good.

After the bout, The Shield decimated Bryan with their usual pack mentality finishing him off with a spear from Roman Reigns, whilst the rest of the WWE roster looked on. Triple H then made his way back out to the arena, starring down with Big Show and Dolph Ziggler, before indicating to The Shield to hit the Triple Powerbomb. Randy Orton then entered the arena, and with Triple H's blessing headed down to the ring. With Rollins and Ambrose holding up Bryan for Orton, the WWE Champion hit an RKO on The Submission Specialist, closing the show up on the ramp with Triple H. I really enjoyed this ending, it once again put Daniel Bryan in an empathic role, we can see his fight, but the odds stacked against him are too great, we know he can beat Randy Orton one on one, but will he get that opportunity at Night of Champions? Bryan is someone who will get more over when he loses, he works tremendously in an underdog roll, and with Triple H and Randy Orton on the opposing side, it's shaping up really well at moment, as long as they stay away from bizarre segments with cars.



WWE Champion

 Randy Orton

So whilst the main storyline was thundering on Raw, WWE Champion Randy Orton took a nice Captain Charisma shaped detour. With Christian being interviewed by the ever annoying Josh Matthews, Christian's promo about living through the McMahon-Helmsley era felt a little nervous, I'm not sure if this was intentionally, but it certainly what we've came to expect from Christian. With Orton turning up, talking about how Orton had won at SummerSlam and Christian hadn't, before claiming history would repeat itself tonight. I thought with the history between these two they could have done a hell of a lot better with this promo, which never really clicked which was a real shame.

Fortunately, the two continued to click in the ring, and made up for a rather dull contest they had on the 5th July edition of Smackdown, as they returned to their usually form when going head to head. It was interesting to see the dynamic switched here as we had previously seen a face Randy Orton against heel Christian, or both men going in as faces. After a shaky start, Orton quickly ground Christian working him over well, with Christian's impeccable selling helping to keep the crowd interested in the bout. Now with Orton back to being heel, his use of the headlock as a rest hold makes a lot more sense, as it allows him to show of a nice array of facial expressions, whilst building for a comeback for the face. The moment when Orton foiled a Christian comeback with Christian selling as if he was out cold, lying in Orton's lap as the WWE Champion laugh was an especially poignant moment.

The final few minutes saw Christian and Orton launced into a top notch back and forth section of the match, with numerous near falls for Christian, his closest coming from Spear. The match however was of course, Randy Orton's as after reversing a Killswitch attempt, by sending Christian into the referee in the corner, Orton hit a thumb to the eye, allowing him to capatialise easily with an RKO for the pinfall victory. Whilst the ending screamed “I'M HEEL NOW!” it worked well enough to end the bout. This was a really strong television match that could easily have been the main event on a regular Raw, when Orton and Christian get enough time and enough story to tell they are a great pairing in the ring, with Christian quickly becoming WWE's go to guy for great television matches.

This match really got me thinking, WWE truly missed the boat in terms of giving Christian an extended main event push and run with the ball. Whilst, this would not be the right the direction for Christian now, I truly feel he could have made more of an impact in WWE when he returned to WWE in February 2009, with WWE missing out on a number of rivalries that could have resulted in successful programmes, Christian vs. CM Punk jumps instantly to mind. He is definitely in the right role now though, helping to get over talent that WWE needs to get over, similar to the role we've seen Chris Jericho in, but able to step into a big match spot if needs be, and always deliver.

CM Punk 


Intercontinental Champion 

Curtis Axel 

with Paul Heyman

 (If CM Punk wins, Paul Heyman will be forced to get in the ring with CM Punk)

This match was made on last week's Smackdown, with the stipulation been added just prior after receiving over 80% of a WWE App vote (with the other options being Paul Heyman being banned from ringside and Paul Heyman as Special Guest Referee). Talking of the WWE App, we got was apparently a WWE App “Exclusive” segment shown on Raw, which 1. Proved that WWE don't know what exclusive means and 2. Gave us a nice short CM Punk promo about how much he wanted to get his hands on Paul Heyman. I don't understand why WWE think I would download the app, when anything worthwhile is shown on the show anyway! We then got Paul Heyman and Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel's reaction to the segment, with Heyman twisting Punk's words superbly, and Axel's over-inflated ego being shown once again. Whilst I'm still not a fan of Axel using varations of “Perfect” as a catch phrase, the ending of the segment where Axel asked Heyman if he trusted him and Heyman replied with “As if my life depended on it” were very well written and worked as a good piece of build up heading into the bout.

Whilst I can't really fault the action that happened in the ring, I never really felt drawn into the match. I think this is because at no point during the bout did it feel like Curtis Axel was going to win, and I was more interested in seeing the aftermath between Punk and Heyman and how that would play out. One thing that worked for me during the bout, was Heyman's constant presence at the top of the entrance ramp, it gave Punk a reference point and constantly reminded the viewer what the match was really all about. There were some nice spots like Punk trying to run after Heyman only to to stopped by Axel, and a nice section with a number of reversals resulting in a neckbreaker from Punk. Axel's closest opportunity in the match was a Running One-Armed Swinging Neckbreaker (formerly known as the McGillicutter) but we've seen so many wrestlers kick out of that now that we know Axel isn't picking up the victory with that one.

The ending saw Axel taunting Punk with a slap to the back of the head, after his near fall, only for Punk to react with an instant GTS to pick up the pinfall victory and the opportunity get Heyman in the ring. It was a decent ending, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary. Now, however, was where the real fun started. After Heyman had tried to escape twice, only to be dragged to the ring by security, it looked like Punk would finally get his hand's on his former best friend. This was not the case, however, as Heyman had another ace up his sleeve. With Punk pushing Heyman into a corner, Axel recovered hitting Punk vicious low blow. Heyman handed Axel some handcuffs and things were about to get a little uncomfortable. I really enjoyed this swerve, as it felt like they might have been blowing off the angle on Raw at one point, but really I should have known better from the dastardly Paul Heyman!

Despite a brief fight back from a no armed Punk, a steel chair and a singapore cane allowed Heyman and Axel to take advantage. With Axel holding Punk again the ropes, Heyman delivered a series of vicious shots with the cane, whilst saying things like “You broke my heart”, this whole story has had shades of a dumped girlfriend, and this segment hammered it home. It was beautifully uncomfortable, and really made me sit up and take notice. What worked so well for me, was the amount of depth in the story. Yes, Paul Heyman is clearly a bad guy with twisted morals, but you can't help but feel for him at times, even as he beats his former best friend with a singapore cane! Later on, Renee Young caught up with Heyman and Axel, and Heyman once again delivered a superb promo, as close to tears, he discussed having to punish his “prodigal son” repeatedly for crossing him, Heyman is far and away the best actor in WWE and this proved it for me. Punk later went to see Brad Maddox, with Maddox making a Elimination Handicap Match between Punk and the team of Heyman and Axel at Night of Champions, which without sounding smug, I predicted before SummerSlam.

Best of the Rest (In The World)

Elsewhere, Rob Van Dam took on World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, in a match where if Van Dam won he would get a World Heavyweight Championship match at Night of Champions. With Van Dam being accompanied by Ricardo Rodriguez, WWE have still failed to explain how the two became acquainted, with Michael Cole's explanation that the are “both cool dudes” only making it seem like Rodriguez has been joining in with Van Dam's favourite pass time (I'm saying nothing, but if you guessed the numbers I were thinking of as Four and Twenty, you'd be correct). All it would have taken was some mic time from either guy before the bout to give us a little explanation.

The match itself was pretty rotten, from the opening it was filled with botches, like Van Dam struggling to set Del Rio up on the top rope, before missing a diving side kick by a country mile, but Del Rio still selling liked he'd had a brick thrown at his head. For me this was Van Dam's worst match since returning to WWE, and the first he looked genuinely old in. Del Rio didn't really help either with a nasty double stomp to Van Dam's back that looked simply careless, and some awful looking headbutts, it really was a challenge to get into this bout. The ending saw Rodriguez get on top of the announce table, getting the crowd to chant “RVD”, before RVD used a leg scissors roll up to get the pinfall victory and a World Heavyweight Championship match at Night of Champions. Whilst Christian's matches prior to facing Del Rio at SummerSlam were solid television bouts, this didn't really fill me with hope for Night of Champions, hopefully they'll both return to form, but this bout wasn't a great sign.

The opening contest of the night saw Cody Rhodes go up against Fandango. I was actually interested in seeing this one, and with World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank Winner Damien Sandow providing hilarious guest commentary, I thought we were in for a decent opening contest. This was thrown out of the window barely two minutes into the contest, when The Miz came out to Fandango's music, dressed as Fandango and dancing with a returning Rosa Mendes. Obviously they were looking for a counterpart to Summer Rae, but I have no idea why Rosa Mendes, who was last seen as a heel manager to Primo & Epico was chosen. The Miz's dancing made me want to punch him in the face, if WWE are trying to get him over as a face, it really isn't working. The distraction allowed Rhodes get a pinfall victory via a School Boy Roll Up and I was left simply scratching my head.

After the match, Fandango went to attack Rhodes, only to end up in a Cross Rhodes, with Sandow making the save for the Ball Room Dancer. With Sandow and Fandango beating down Rhodes, The Miz finally got to the ring and the four men engaged in a brawl, with Miz and Rhodes coming off better, sending Fandango and Sandow to the outside, with Miz almost knocking out Summer Rae by throwing his jacket dangerously close to Mrs. Fandango. Brad Maddox turned up channelling Teddy Long and making a tag team match. The tag bout was actually better than I had imagined with Rhodes and Sandow having the majority of the match with some nice action between those two, finishing with a well worked double clothesline spot, to allow Rhodes to get the hot tag to The Miz. Whilst some of the moves used by The Miz (Big boot? Really?) didn't look great, the overall comeback was done well with Miz raising the pace, and after Fandango had left his partner high and dry, the double team effort of Rhodes and Miz allowed Miz to hit a Skull Crushing Finale on Sandow for the victory. Whilst the tag team match was surprisingly good, I'm not sure where it leaves anyone in the match, I'm not enjoying the Fanango vs. Miz rivalry and Rhodes and Sandow's feud seems to be treading water with nothing really happening for those two this week.

There was also a SummerSlam rematch pitting Brie Bella against Natalya. It was a pretty forgettable contest, with Bella picking up the victory after some distraction from Nikki Bella and Eva Marie allowed Bella to escape the Sharp Shooter and with Natalya distracted hit the Bella Buster to pick up the pinfall victory. I'm pretty sure a one point Eva Marie ran into the ring post after being chased by The Funkadactyls, why she is anyway near a wrestling ring I have no idea. After the bout however hope was restored by the saviour of WWE's womens division Diva's Champion AJ Lee, who delivered a deliciously sweet promo about Total Divas and talking about how she had to work for everything she has received, rather than “sucking up” to people. If you haven't seen the promo, go and watch it now, nothing I can type here will do it justice. The fact that it's been compared to CM Punk's infamous “Pipe Bomb” promo should tell you all you need to know. The Bellas however were however intent on ruining the excellent promo as they talked the whole way through, like some annoying kid in the cinema, someone needs to tell them to stay quiet until someone else is speaking. Hopefully, WWE will have Natalya take on AJ at Night of Champions, instead of Brie Bella, because I'm pretty sure Natalya vs. AJ could be a potential show stealer if given a good amount of time.

Ryback continues his bullying backstage, this week working his way up as high as Josh Matthews, as Matthews once again felt the brunt of Ryback's offence. With Matthews interviewing Ryback backstage, the Human Wrecking Ball quickly became bored with the conversation, squashing Matthews' face, before throwing him to the floor. To be quite honest, I fairly enjoyed Matthews being pushed around, at least I didn't have to listen to him talk for too long. I'm guessing WWE has plans for Ryback going forward, as they are deliberately keeping him out of the ring, I wonder if they'll keep this going until Chris Jericho returns to the company after his tour, it could be a push but the moment a returning Jericho halts Ryback's bullying could work very well.

Also on Raw, Titus O'Neil of The Prime Time Players took on Jack Swagger of The Real Americans. With Swagger's “Founding Father” Zeb Colter cutting his best promo in a long time on The Prime Time Players, even if it was a bit uncomfortable, it looked like Colter could have finally found the creativity he has been lacking in recent months. The bout itself actually surprised me, it was of course short, but was actually an enjoyable contest, with the two working well against one another. Swagger dominated the early going with some well applied submissions, before O'Neil got his comeback, including an impressive fall away slam. With Swagger turning his focus to O'Neil's leg, in an attempt to soften it up for the ankle lock, Swagger attempted to get a pinfall victory with his feet on the ropes, only for Darren Young to know them off. With Young and Antonio Cesaro squaring off, Swagger was distracted an walk straight into a Clash of Titus to give O'Neil a pinfall victory, definitely the biggest singles win of his career. I'm over Prime Time Players impromtu face turn now, I'm beginning to wonder what the next step is for the talent duo...

There was also another Los Matadores vignette, in fact it was the same vignette they showed last week on Raw and they showed it twice. It's a little bit frustrating after seeing WWE show multiple Wyatt Family promos only few months ago building up there debut, which were all entertaining and offered us something new about the stable, that WWE has came back to doing these kind of vignettes. Whilst the Wyatt Family felt incredibly fresh and exciting, this gimmick feels like a step backwards, and I'm really not sure the fans will take to it, but I could be wrong and I hope for the talented Epico and Primo that I am. 


My final thoughts on this week's WWE Raw....

1. Raw ended stronger than it began.

2. Christian still deserves "One More Match" for a major championship in WWE, even if it's just to get a heel over with the crowd.

3. Punk vs. Heyman continues to be the most consistently fascinating story on WWE television. 

Saturday, 24 August 2013

WWE Smackdown 23rd August 2013 Review

For me, one thing and one thing alone gave Smackdown a bigger feel this week and that thing is of course the WWE Championship. It's been a long time since we've seen that title and the main story running through WWE appear on Smackdown, mainly due to John Cena not working Tuesdays. But with the title now on Randy Orton, who is feuding with fellow Smackdown regular Daniel Bryan, it certainly gave you a much stronger reason to catch up with WWE's blue show.

Steel Cage Match: 

Daniel Bryan


Wade Barrett

Now I mentioned WWE Champion Randy Orton in my opening gambit this for this weeks Smackdown, and he appeared in the opening segment, after supposedly being invited to speak by Smackdown General Manager, after she patched up her differences with Triple H off screen. Randy Orton's promo was actually pretty good, it was clear that this wasn't a spontaneous promo, like one we'd see from CM Punk, but it was well written and delivered well by Orton. With Orton asking for the support of the fans, I thought this was good way for Orton to gain extra heat, as clearly the WWE fans aren't going to get behind Orton when he's up against the uber over Daniel Bryan. The face of the WWE idea seems to be sticking with Orton mentioning it a few times, and once Daniel Bryan interrupted it got brought up a few more times as well, it's good to see that phrase attach to the WWE Championship when usually it was simply given to Cena even when he wasn't walking around with the belt. With Bryan now in the ring, he put over John Cena, I'm not quite sure why, Cena is out for six months what is the need to put him over here? Bryan also called Orton pretty, quite a few times, before saying he wanted to kick him in the face with some nice timing. With a championship rematch being set for Night of Champions, Orton went for an RKO, only for Bryan to reverse and send Orton out of the ring with a dropkick. It was nice to see Bryan get the upperhand here, after taking such a beating on Raw.

Later on in the show, Wade Barrett went to visit Vickie Guerrero in her office. With Barrett suggesting that he would like a rematch with Bryan to make sure he didn't make it to Night of Champions. With Vickie reeling off a number of match types, including No Holds Barred and Extreme Rules, which I believe are actually the same match, she eventually settled on a Steel Cage Match, which Barrett seemed very happy with. As was I, Smackdown has a good history with Steel Cage Matches in the past with a number of classic bouts since it's inception including Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk in August 2009 and Eddie Guerrero vs. JBL in July 2004. I also expect the style of match would suit Barrett giving him another oppurtunity to show of his brawling style, whilst Bryan technically savvy would help to create a good story to build the bout around.

However when it came to the actual match, I was slightly disappointed. The bout was afforded less than ten minutes of television time and the story really wasn't strong enough to keep me interested in what was going on, when the winner was clear. Whilst there were some nice moments, like Barrett reversing Bryan's signature comeback with a Winds of Change, and Bryan smashing Barrett into the cage whilst chanting “Yes!” followed by some good kicks, which the crowd loved, there just wasn't enough stringing them together to draw me into the bout. I think this was mainly down to the length of the match, as it didn't really allow the two to explore the concept of the Steel Cage match fully or include enough potential finishes to build up the excitement as I'm sure they would have liked. The wrestling was strong throughout as expected, and I couldn't fault Bryan or Barrett's wrestling here.

Despite being disappointed by the match on the whole, the ending was very good, with Bryan stopping Barrett escaping the cage at the last minute, managing to hit a good looking Sunset Flip Powerbomb from the top rope, before picking up the pinfall victory with the same version of the Knee Trembler that won him the WWE Championship at SummerSlam. Everything about the ending worked for me, but certainly would've have been more satisfying if the match had had at least an extra five minutes to build. After the bout with Bryan celebrating, he was ambushed by Orton with an RKO to close the show with Orton holding his WWE Championship aloft. It was a good way to remind who was the face of the WWE, and having Orton end the show in control will only help to build the fan support for Daniel Bryan heading into Night of Champions and beyond.



World Heavyweight Champion 

Alberto Del Rio

Now, this was a rematch from SummerSlam's classic World Heavyweight Championship match, now anyone that read my Smackdown review will know how much I adored that match and it was always going to be difficult going in to be able to equal that match on Smackdown. For me there wasn't really enough build up to this match, and it got lost in the middle of the show, and was certainly overshadowed by the build to Bryan and Barrett's Steel Cage bout, similar to how it was overshadowed heading into SummerSlam. The World Heavyweight Championship has certainly lost some of it's shine over the last few years and has really struggled to find a relevant role on the card, with WWE still trying to find a way to present the belt, after both Raw and Smackdown essentially merged, that makes it feel prestigious whilst it's clear that the WWE Championship is the top title in the company.

Now, if you hadn't seen the match at SummerSlam this was actually a pretty good television contest, however if you had seen SummerSlam, you like me, were probably comparing it to the match they had on pay per view. Now, obviously a television match shouldn't be as strong as a match you're going to put on pay-per-view, it makes business sense, but it doesn't make sense to have a rematch the week after a fantastic match on pay-per-view on free TV! They could easily have built another match around bout heading into Night of Champions and given it even more time, I think WWE might have dropped the ball with that one. There were some nice spots like Christian getting pushed off the top rope to the floor, and Christian's impecable selling of Del Rio's attacks on his arm were once again a major part of the match, as well as some beautiful chain wrestling that saw Christian come out with the upperhand for a number of near falls.

The ending played on Christian's arm injury once again, with Del Rio dodging a Spear to send Christian into the ring post in one of wrestling biggest clichés, before Del Rio used a nice transition into the Cross Arm Breaker, using the top rope, before they played out the same finish they used at SummerSlam with Christian looking to fight out only for Del Rio to gain the upperhand and pick up the submission victory. The victory for Del Rio confirmed that Christian was moving back down the card once more, as the loss was basically a way to write Christian out of the World Heavyweight Championship picture. I reckon this is a real shame, and really shows WWE's stubbornness to change things up, as the Del Rio and Christian match at SummerSlam should have had a rematch on pay-per-view.

After the bout Del Rio cut a similar promo to the ones we saw at SummerSlam and one Raw, talking about how all the Latinos should follow his, as he is their leader. It was another solid promo from Del Rio, even if it was sort of going over stuff he'd already said twice this week. Del Rio was, of course, interrupted by Ricardo Rodriguez, who brought Rob Van Dam with him, and after Christian had gotten a little revenge on Del Rio with a missile dropkick, Van Dam finished off the job with a Rolling Thunder. It would definitely seem that WWE is going with Del Rio vs. RVD for Night of Champions, and whilst I'd have liked to have seen Christian get another shot, I'm sure RVD and Del Rio will put on a good match as well, if given the same amount of time. I'm also starting to like the Rodriguez and RVD partnership, Van Dam certainly works better when he doesn't have to speak with his promos usually either struggling to be serious or just looking plain goofy most of the time, this allows him to just show off his in ring skills and stay quiet.

Best of the Rest (In The World) 

In the opening contest of the night, Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel, accompanied by Paul Heyman, took on Cody Rhodes. Whilst it was only a short bout, the thing that work for me here was that I actually couldn't make my mind up who was going to win. Rhodes has been receiving a push recently with two straight victories over World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank Winner Damien Sandow (who was strangely absent from the show), whilst Axel is being positioned in a feud with CM Punk, so it really could have gone either way. Whilst the bout wasn't anything special, it flowed well and was easy to watch, with dropkicks from both men being the highlight for me as they were so well performed. The ending saw Rhodes look to be attempting a Moonsault, only for Heyman to cause a slight distraction, allowing Axel to hit the ropes and send Rhodes crashing down. Axel went on to pick up the pinfall victory with a Hangman's Facebuster. With the promo that followed it made sense for Axel to go over Rhodes, although it was a shame to see the wheels seemingly halted on Rhodes' ascent up the cards once more.

With Axel and Heyman in the ring, Heyman got the microphone and cut another good promo, talking about his emotional pain due to CM Punk no longer being the Best in the World, as well as putting Curtis Axel over strongly. Even Axel himself got in on the action, and once again showed that Heyman has been helping him with his promos, as this one was solid, as he showed a lot of intensity in putting over his own personal problems with CM Punk, before finally challenging Punk to a match on next's weeks Raw. Axel plays the overly cocky heel role well, and it works great against Punk, because the audience knows what Axel is saying isn't true. Axel has never been put in the same light as Punk, and therefore it should annoy the audience when he puts himself in the same category. The bout on Raw should be an interesting one, I would imagine that Heyman will get involved at some point and hopefully come the end of the night we'll have more of an idea how Night of Champions will be shaping up CM Punk and Curtis Axel.

Elsewhere, in a two on three handicap match Big Show and Mark Henry teamed up to take on 3MB. Henry and Show, of course, dominated most of the match against Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal, which would have been even more impressive if we hadn't seen Kane do the exact same thing on his own a few weeks ago. After a Chokeslam for McIntyre and a World's Strongest Slam for Slater, Show & Henry got the pinfall victory with Knock Out Punch from Big Show on McIntyre. It wasn't a particularly pretty bout, but it at least presented the new tag team well. With Shield members and Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns appearing on the screen, both cutting good promos about on Henry and Show being past their prime and claiming to be the future of the WWE. It sets up their suspected title match at Night of Champions well, and gives it a nice passing off the torch kind of vibe for their battle.

Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston, accompanied by Diva's Champion AJ Lee, appeared to have the blow off match for their feud on the show as well, with this probably being the best televised match between the two. It flowed a lot better than their previous bouts, with Langston controlling most of the match with numerous Ziggler fight backs and near falls, including a nice section that saw Ziggler reverse a powerbomb in a sit out facebuster for two, and nice false finish that saw Lee punch Ziggler in the face, allowing Langston to hit a vicious clothesline for just a two. For the ending they simple recycled the ending to the mixed tag team match at SummerSlam with Ziggler escaping a Big Ending to hit a Zig Zag for the victory. For the time it was given the match did well, but this rivalry never really ignited like it should have with WWE losing interest pretty quickly, hopefully Ziggler can move onto something else pretty soon.

Ryback appeared in another backstage segment, however this one didn't quite work for me. Some bloke was asking for an autograph for his kid, which Ryback agreed to, but when the Dad revealed he didn't actually know who Ryback was, because he didn't watch the show anymore, Ryback got pissed off and ripped up the autograph. It didn't work for me, because the Dad came across as the bad guy, who was troubling Ryback without even knowing who he was, and Ryback was deservedly pissed off at the situation.

Darren Young was also in action on Smackdown, accompanied by Prime Time Players partner Titus O'Neil to take on Antonio Cesaro of the Real Americans, who was accompanied by the rest of the group. It was an enjoyable match that was easy to follow, with a good comeback from Young, before the ending sequence saw Jack Swagger try to distract Young, only to get taken out by Titus O'Neil, allowing Young to take control again hitting The Gutcheck for the pinfall victory. I have to say after watching Cesaro face Sami Zayn in that fantastic Two out of Three Falls match on NXT, that this result was a little annoying. Whilst there is no doubt that Young is a terrific all rounder, I would much rather have seen him pushed because of his wrestling ability and not because of his personal life.  


What did I learn from this week's Smackdown?

1. Bryan and Barrett could have had a great Steel Cage match, if given longer than ten minutes.

2. Christian's run in the World Heavyweight Championship picture is over, hopefully he'll get ONE...MORE...MATCH in the future.

3. The Smackdown announce team is a lot easier to listen to, than when they have Jerry Lawler join them on Raw.

Friday, 23 August 2013

TNA Impact Wrestling: Hardcore Justice Part Two Review

I actually really enjoyed this week's Impact Wrestling as we got the second part of Hardcore Justice. The wrestling was strong throughout most of the card, with some nice developments in storyline as we head to Bound For Glory. Yes, there was an over use of recaps, and Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson continued to attempt to sell their MMA bout by having a wrestling storyline, but the main body of what was presented was pretty good.

Ten Man Tag Team Loser Leaves TNA Match: 

Main Event Mafia & ??? 


Aces and Eights 

(Mr. Anderson, Devon, Knux, Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff)

The build up for this one saw a backstage segment from each team, as they discussed strategy for the match. This has become a regular feature of Impact Wrestling over the last few months and it works fairly well in building up to the main event match. With Aces and Eights members Mr. Anderson, Devon, Knux, Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff looking fairly confident in their promo, due to them believing they would be going into the match with a man advantage, the bulk of the promo was done by Mr. Anderson, who did a good job of getting the cocky attitude of his team earlier, they were clearly being set up for a fall later on. On the other side of the fence, the Main Event Mafia discussed their missing man in the bout, after having failed to recruit either Austin Aries or Tito Ortiz last week. There was a moment in this promo that really stood out for me, and that is when Magnus stood up to Sting and told him it didn't matter if they were a man down, because they were the Main Event Mafia. It's the first time we've really seen Magnus stand out as part of the group for me, and hopefully this trend will continue.

After the build up, there was a nice big match feel as the two faction headed to the ring. It looked like we might be about to see a handicap match between the two. This was not the case however, when AJ Styles music hit and he walked half way down the ramp, head bowed and hooded. Suddenly Styles' old music hit and he threw his hood back and out of nowhere the old “Phenomenal” AJ Styles was back. Now, at first I was a little disappointed to see the “Lone Wolf” AJ Styles end so abruptly, as although some people weren't a fan of the new character, I actually quite enjoyed it. However, with Kurt Angle taken away so abruptly, this was really the best move they could have made, and hopefully the fact that the show was taped and people knew the old AJ Styles was back on Impact Wrestling the rating will have gone up as well.

With Styles joing the Main Event Mafia in a mass brawl with Aces and Eights, everything else after this moment felt a little flat. It was by no means a bad match, but after the high point of Styles' character change, it was difficult for the in ring action to follow it. With the match settling down after the brawl, Main Event Mafia took control with Samoe Joe and Styles handing it to Brisco and Bischoff, it was an obvious decision seeing as Brisco and Bischoff are obviously the weekest member of either team, and have never really been built up properly by TNA. Now I'm not a particular fan of either man, but if TNA are going to have them around, they should at least have built them up with a few clean singles match victories. On the other side of the fence, Magnus was the one to take most of Aces and Eight's offence, which once again makes sense due to Magnus being the youngest man on his team, and allowed him to get the crowd behind well.

After the best use of Sting in month's as part of hot tag, the match began to break, and we returned to the mass brawl that we had seen earlier with bodies everywhere. Rampage Jackson also looked fairly good in his pro wrestling debut, granted all we really saw was a few clothesline and a body slam, but no one was expecting him to wrestle the whole match! The ending of the bout built up well with Sting looking to have match one with a Scorpion Deathlock on Knux, only for Devon to make the save. With Sting making a tag to AJ Styles, we got a glimpse Styles' trademark offence with springboards and strikes, but a lot of the time Styles looked awkward in the ring in exchanges with Devon and Mr. Anderson. With one last breakdown segment, Styles was able to hit Devon with a Styles Clash and pick up the pinfall victory for Main Event Mafia, retiring Devon in TNA. The ending was a little sloppy was saved by Bully Ray's reaction on the entrance ramp and Taz on commentary. Giving the Main Event Mafia the win makes sense here as it even the numbers between them and Aces and Eights, whilst also allowing Devon to move into D'Lo Brown's role backstage. I would suspect that this could very well be Devon's last match for TNA, and it's probably the right time for him to step away, his latest run with TNA hasn't been his best, but there is no denying he's had a great career spanning twenty one years and many of wrestling premier promotions.

World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray's 

Championship Celebration

Impact Wrestling kicked off this week with World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray on the phone, talking to his mystery woman, who we know is called Brooke about how they could reveal everything about them this week. Now, this idea was harmed by the announcement earlier in the week that Brooke Hogan had been released by TNA (Thank you, God), so we kind of knew that it wasn't going to be her. With Bully Ray hanging out with Tito Ortiz backstage they bumped into Vice President of the Aces and Eights, Mr. Anderson with some tension between Ray and Anderson being teased due to Ray not keeping Anderson in the loop. It was a nice seed planted for the inevitable turn of Anderson on Bully, and the two men played the moment pretty well, with Ortiz standing there like a plank.

With Ray and Ortiz heading to the ring later in the show, it was time for another great promo from Ray detailing his detailing the amount of times he'd shocked the fans, as well as burying Chris Sabin, adding another nail in the coffin of Sabin's awful World Heavyweight Championship reign. Ray handed the microphone to Ortiz and the segment quickly went down hill. With Ortiz talking about how he is going to beat Rampage Jackson in their Bellator fight in November, I still can't get my head around building an MMA fight using a wrestling storyline, people aren't stupid and it could very well end up turning MMA fans away from the fight. At this moment in time November seems a long for Impact Wrestling, when hopefully we'll see Ortiz and Jackson exit the company.

Luckily, Ray was quickly back on the mic to reveal another surprise this evening. Bully called out “Brooke” and of course Brooke Hogan's music played, and after sometime “Brooke” was to be revealed as...Brooke Tessmacher. I have to say I was shocked, I should have really seen it coming with the whole “Brooke” deal, especially with Hogan getting released, but I didn't. We haven't seen Tessmacher in four months, with her away filming for a reality TV series or something, and I'd even forgot she even worked for TNA anymore, with the flurry of releases we've seen recently I simply imagined she'd gone also. With Bully snogging the face off Tessmacher, which I think he enjoyed a lot more than her, with Ortiz once again looking on like a pervy plank, Ray finished the segment by declaring himself unstoppable with Ortiz and Tessmacher by his side, I foresee this playing a major part in the demise of Aces and Eights as we head towards Bound For Glory.

So Aces and Eight's lost one member in Devon, but gained two in Miss Tessmacher and Tito Ortiz in an interesting two weeks for the faction. It's good to see Tessmacher return for the Women's division in TNA and it will interesting to see if see becomes a factor in the title picture, but with the division looking heel heavy at the moment with ODB the only face they have, with Taryn Terrell and Velvet Sky out, it's difficult to see where a heel Tessmacher could fit in the division. As for Ortiz, I've made my feelings clear about him numerous times, he isn't likely to step in the ring anytime soon, his promos have been awful and he's taking the spot of an actual wrestler.

Best of the Rest (In The World)

Also this week on Impact Wrestling, we got the third of the special “Hardcore” themed Bound For Glory Series match, as Joseph Park, Hernandez, Jay Bradley and Christopher Daniels met in a Street Fight. Now the main story heading into this one was could Christopher Daniels pick up victory number three for his new faction, now named the Extraordinary Gentleman's Organisation, or EGO, as well as it being left open to whether Austin Aries would be joining the faction, with Aries saying he would deliver his answer later in the show, in a charismatic backstage interview. With three out of the four competitors currently proping up the Bound For Glory Series, I wasn't really expecting much from this one, with Hernandez and Jay Bradley especially looking like they were only there to make up the numbers.

What we got was actually a very entertaining bout that told a good story throughout. With an good dynamic between the four we saw Hernandez and Park teaming up to take down Daniels and Bradley with some nice double team offence, including Hernandez setting up Daniels and Bradley for a double avalanche in the corner. The match quickly broke down, with EGO attacking Joseph Park and then taking out Park's manager Eric Young when Young tried to help out. There was then some nice wrestling from Daniels and Hernandez, with Hernandez hitting Air Mexico out of nowhere for a big pop. With Daniels taking out Hernandez with an STO, Austin Aries made his presence felt making it look like he was joining EGO before hitting Daniels with a Brainbuster, to take Daniels out of the match and cement his face turn. There was then a good finishing section between Bradley and Park, with Bradley doing a good job of working over Park before hitting him with Brass Knuckles. Of course, Park saw blood, went crazy and picked up the pinfall victory after a Blackhole Slam. It was a nice twist on the Park character, and I'm actually starting to enjoy his role in TNA again, in no small part due to the wonderful Eric Young.

This wasn't the only EGO action of the night, as after they were interupted by World Tag Team Champions James Storm and Gunner, we got an inpromtu tag team battle with Bobby Roode and Kazarian representing EGO, with both teams competing in jeans. The majority of the match was pretty basic tag team action with Roode and Kazarian working over Gunner, before the World Tag Team Champion made an impressive comeback and looked really good, before tagging in James Storm. Storm certainly looks better than he did a few months ago and his time off has hopefully helped him recuperate any injuries that he had. With Storm on a roll we headed for the finish, with Kazarian attempting to hit Storm with the title belt, only to get a Last Call Superkick from Storm, however with the referee Earl Hebner distracted, Roode hit a low blow and rolled up Storm for the pinfall victory for EGO. I enjoyed the finish of the match, it was clever and presented the new faction well, even if the World Tag Team Champions lost.

There was also Women's action on the show, with ODB facing off against Gail Kim, in a good women's contest. ODB continues to prove that moving her into the role of a referee was ridiculous, as her talent lies when competing in that ring! Kim and ODB have a lot of chemistry in the ring, and they've wrestled multiple times for TNA, and with both spending time in control of the match we got to see a lot of what both can do, when given the time to perform. The ending saw ODB on roll, and about to hit BAM, only for Kim to slip down and use a Crucifix roll up to get the pinfall victory. There was a slight botch in the finish, in an otherwise sound match, which was a shame. This was essentially to give Gail Kim a victory over ODB, after ODB got the win in the triple threat last week. Whilst TNA's remaining women are incredibly talented, with ODB, Gail Kim and Knockout's Champion Mickie James typifying that, they really need to sign up some new talent to give the division some depth.

There was also X Division action with X Division Champion Manik taking on Sonjay Dutt. Yes, the X Division is back to regular matches rather than three ways, TNA really didn't give the three way concept much of a chance, but this is probably the right decision to make. The match was a great way to showcase the X Division with both Manik and Dutt using a number of highflying and creative moves throughout. However, it was harmer by a number of things, firstly Manik and Dutt both locking in the same submission hold, similar to AJ Lee's Black Widow, which looks so good it shouldn't just be used randomly, as well as the lack of any face/heel dynamic meaning the crowd didn't really know what to do. The finish saw Manik hold onto Dutt's hurracanrana attempt, and setting up for a Detonation Kick, before picking up the pinfall victory with a Elevated Double Chickenwing dropped into a Double Knee Gutbuster (that needs a name!). I liked the finish it was quick and exciting, a real good advertisment for the X Division, but it should have finished with the Detonation Kick.  


What did I learn from Impact Wrestling this week?

1. AJ Styles' run as the Lone Wolf is done, and it was the best move TNA could have done under the circumstances.

2. The seeds for the demise of Aces and Eights could very well have been sown in this episode.

3. I'm going to go ahead and say it, I like Taz on commentary! 

WWE NXT 21st August 2013 Review

Well, where do I start with this weeks NXT? I could talk about the appearances of Dolph Ziggler and Diva's Champion AJ Lee, I could talk about the re-debut of CJ Parker, but no there's only one thing that I can start this blog with...Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro, Two out of Three Falls.

Two out of Three Falls Match: 

Sami Zayn


Antonio Cesaro

So after months of build up between Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro, here we were the rubber match. Now this rivalry has been so incredibly well booked since late May this year, with the two featuring in various match ups also involving NXT Champion Bo Dallas and Leo Kruger, where their rivalry was always made clear during the bouts. Not many WWE rivalries last three months before having their big blow off, but this one certainly did. With the wrestling being so good in their original two contests, expectations were high here and Zayn and Cesaro really had to perform. My intrigue to this one was increased even more when it was made a Two out of Three Falls bout, because of some of the fantastic bouts of this style that we've seen in the past, which usually favour the more technical, scientific wrestler like Zayn and Cesaro. The stipulation present and interesting structure on which to build the story of the match, with the placing of the falls being vital in building the flow correctly.

I didn't for a second doubt that this would be a superb match, and seconds in and we were already into the action with Zayn hitting a front flip plancha onto Cesaro as he headed to the ring, after this Zayn quickly got a pinfall via a school boy roll to go one up on Cesaro. It was an interesting way to start the match and really set a different dynamic going forward. We are used to seeing a quick fall in two out of three falls bouts, but usually it's the second fall to quickly even the score. The bout continued with Cesaro quickly gaining control, and despite Zayn attempting to fight back, he would often get caught in one Cesaro's impressive power moves, including a powerbomb after Cesaro had blocked a kick from Zayn. The theme of the second fall would see Cesaro repeatedly attempt to lock in a Chinlock, with Zayn escaping on occasion for a roll up varation for a near fall. With Cesaro eventually hooking the Chinlock in deep, swinging Zayn around, with Zayn unable to break the hold and on the verge of passing out, he just about managed to tap out, giving Cesaro the second fall and evening the match at one fall a piece. Another interesting move in the bout, which would not usually see a submission until the third fall, if at all. Having Zayn tap out to what is usually seen as a rest hold, only worked here because Cesaro locked it in so convincingly and Zayn sold it so well, don't expect to start seeing this in Great Khali matches anytime soon.

So we headed into the final and ultimately strongest fall, with even more power moves from Antonio Cesaro and even more heart shown by Sami Zayn. Cesaro used the spot we've seen him use before when he superplex's an opponent from the apron into the ring, before an attempt to suplex Zayn out of small package attempt was thwarted by Zayn who slipped out of the suplex in a school boy roll up for another near fall. The great thing about this match was that it remembered what had happened before and built upon it, it was essentially variations on a theme in wrestling. Throw in some great set pieces like Zayn flying threw the turnbuckles to hit a tornado DDT onto the floor and you had the perfect recipe for an outstanding wrestling match. The ending once again remembered what had happened else where in the match, with Zayn looking for another tornado DDT, this time using the ropes to springboard into the move, only for Cesaro to show an outstanding feat of strength halting Zayn mid DDT, throwing him onto his shoulder, then up into the air for an awesome European Uppercut, before lifting Zayn up into the Neutralizer to pick up the pinfall victory and his second fall to win the match. After the match had built so well, the ending had to deliver and it did in so many ways, the impressive nature allowed Zayn to come out of the battle still looking strong, whilst keeping Cesaro looking like an absolute beast.

Now, the way Cesaro has been booked on NXT, makes his current situation on the main roster even more upsetting. This week alone we've seen Cesaro lose on Raw in tag team action against The Prime Time Players, before managing Jack Swagger to a loss against The Great Khali on Main Event, and he certainly deserves a lot more. We've seen failed gimmick after failed gimmick head Cesaro's way, from American flag waving Anti-American to Swiss Yodeller to boyfriend of Aksana and Teddy Long love rival, and at the start of The Real American gimmick with Zeb Colter I felt that the tide could be turning for Cesaro, however he now seems to be being punished for Jack Swagger's extra curricular activity and stuck going nowhere once again. He's taken to all his gimmick as well as he could, but they were just never going to get over, if you see a man yodelling you don't do say “I hope this man get's his arse handed to him” you say “I'll probably watch something else for a bit”. This match with Zayn, along with his match against Daniel Bryan a few weeks back on Raw, could be put up against anything WWE has done in the last year and still look great, hopefully WWE realise the talent they have sooner or later. As for Zayn, he was only helped by this series with Cesaro in the eyes of WWE fans, and title bout with Bo Dallas would seem the logical move for the former Generic Luchador.

Best of the Rest (In The World)

Now I can't imagine that when Dolph Ziggler was advertised as appearing on NXT this week, that the first person everyone thought of as an opponent for the former two time World Heavyweight Champion, was Alexander Rusev. We haven't really seen a lot of Rusev since Florida Championship Wrestling morphed into NXT, and he didn't make his television debut until a battle royal at the end of May. Rusev character feels like a bit of a throwback to me, in his unique attire, he does stand out, aided by his size which intrigued me from the outset, how would Ziggler mold with Rusev's style and what kind of story would they have to tell.

I was actually very impressed with Rusev, he works the big foreign heel role very well, with some creative offense, including holding onto the ropes to allow him to deliver some vicious knee strikes to Ziggler's midrift. Continually speak what I imagine is Bulgarian constantly throughout the match, gave him an exotic feel really drawing me into the character, with Ziggler being a great opponent because his selling is so good. Ziggler's speed and precision offense, including a beautiful dropkick, afforded him a way back into the match, eventually allowing him to pick up the victory after Rusev had missed a splash from the top rope, and Ziggler had hit a Zig Zag. It will be interesting to see how Rusev does against someone with less experience and talent as Dolph Ziggler, and if he still looks as impressive as he did here.

The Diva's Championship was also on the line this week in a short but fun bout between Champion AJ Lee and challenger Bayley. Bayley's unique character was a good fit opposite Lee and it was clear that the two had a lot of fun putting on this bout, and that transferred to the viewer. Whilst Bayley has her character nailed on, she still needs work on her in ring work, with a pinfall attempt whilst Lee was under the ropes standing out for me. Following a diving Corkscrew Elbow from Bayley, Lee feigned injury suckering the naïve Bayley in, before hitting a Spin Kick to the gut, and finishing the challenger of with a Shining Wizard for the pinfall victory. The bout was what I expected it to be, telling a good story with the characters meshing together well, although there wasn't a whole lot of wrestling on display, it was still entertaining to see.

CJ Parker continued to appear backstage, photo bombing Tyler Breeze as he got a fan to take a photo of him, it wasn't particularly funny but set up the idea well enough. Parker went onto have his re-debut in NXT later on, against Baron Corbin. Parker has been given a new hippy style gimmick, which is reminscent of Spanky's run as The Brian Kendrick in WWE between 2008 and 2009 in characterisation. The bout ended quickly with Parker picking up the victory with a unique variation of a DDT. The bout was quick and was only really there to serve as a way of showcasing Parker's new gimmick, which looks promising. After the bout, Breeze interupted an interview between Parker and Renee Young, to confront him about the photobomb. It was a bit goofy, but worked for these characters, with Parker eventually going to punch Breeze only for Breeze to quickly escape. I expect more from these two in the coming weeks on NXT.

The Ascension continue to plough through numerous enhancement talent on NXT and this week Conor O'Brian and Rick Victor were in action against Ron Hicks and Michael Zaki. This bout was pretty similar to the contest The Ascension had on 24th July, as they destroyed Hicks and Zaki with a number of tag team moves used in that bout, including finishing off Hicks with their version of a High Low to allow Victor to get the pinfall victory. It would seem that The Ascension will be getting an NXT Tag Team title shot against Corey Graves & Adrian Neville soon, mainly because they are the only real heel tag team that we've seen on NXT, since The Wyatt Family have left.


What did I learn from this weeks NXT?

1. Cesaro and Zayn are two of the best wrestlers in WWE.

2. Alexander Rusev has potential in the Bulgarian Big Man role, if he can perform against opponent not as good as Dolph Ziggler.

3. Alex Riley would be a good commentator, if he didn't constantly keep referring to his storyline with The Miz (It was two years ago Alex)