Sunday, 29 September 2013

TNA One Night Only: Joker's Wild DVD Review

TNA One Night Only: Joker's Wild is out now on DVD and available from www.clearvision.co.uk, priced at £10.99. This is the first of TNA's One Night Only shows that I've managed to catch, I decided to wait until the shows hit DVD, seeing as they don't follow any recent storylines, I haven't gone out of my way to check them out. This show, filmed at the Impact Zone in Orlando, Florida in the United States on 12th January 2013 and first broadcast on 3rd May 2013, is focused around the Joker's Wild theme with teams picked at random to face each other, with the winning pair heading into a Gauntlet (or Royal Rumble). The Twelve Man Gauntlet was the main event of the show, which also features Christopher Daniels teaming up with Samoa Joe to take on Chavo Guerrero, Jr. & Rob Van Dam, and the big man duo of Matt Morgan & Robbie T taking on rivals Al Snow & Joey Ryan.



Content Listing


Joker's Wild Qualifying Tag Team Match
James Storm & Christian York vs. Gunner & Crimson (9:07)

Joker's Wild Qualifying Tag Team Match
Jessie Godderz & Mr. Anderson vs. Doug Williams & Kid Kash (10:14)

Joker's Wild Qualifying Tag Team Match
Christopher Daniels & Rob Van Dam vs. Chavo Guerrero, Jr. & Rob Van Dam (14:50)

Joker's Wild Qualifying Tag Team Match
Robbie E & Zema Ion vs. Bobby Roode & Joseph Park (10:20)

Joker's Wild Qualifying Tag Team Match
Hernandez & Alex Silva vs. Aces & Eights (Devon & D.O.C.) (9:13)

Joker's Wild Qualifying Tag Team Match
Robbie T & Matt Morgan vs. Al Snow & Joey Ryan (12:26)

$100, 000 Dollar Joker's Wild Gauntlet Battle Royal 
Bobby Roode vs. James Storm vs. Devon vs. D.O.C. vs. Jessie Godderz vs. Christian York vs. Joseph Park vs. Mr. Anderson vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe vs. Robbie T vs. Matt Morgan (24:02)

Review


I'm going to come straight and say that didn't like this show, I'll get into why as I run down the individual matches. Starting at the ending, the main event featuring the winners of the randomly picked tag team matches earlier in the night, in a Gauntlet match (or Royal Rumble) which has it's moments but for the first fifteen minutes is incredibly hard to get into. Without any build up on television, these pay-per-views needed to have a hook that people would interested in seeing, a first time match, some returning names or a match which we've seen before but know will be awesome, so the hook for this one is the Gauntlet, but why am I supposed to care? I don't care if one of these guys "wins" $100,000, so there is no emotional investment, for what is a fairly lengthy main event contest. There's also a couple of disappointing early elimination for guys that could have made the bout interesting, which didn't help. There's a cliche interaction between Matt Morgan and Robbie T, that you will most likely have seen a version of before, but at least it throws and element of story into this mess. The finish between two long time TNA rivals is probably the strongest element of this bout for me.  

Going into the show, I marked Christopher Daniels & Samoa Joe taking on Chavo Guerrero, Jr. & Rob Van Dam, as a potential match of the night and it probably was, but it's nothing spectacular. It's good solid tag team action, with Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels making a solid team, although that's what you'd expect with their past history. Guerrero works nicely with both men throughout, whilst Van Dam is in his typical TNA style of phoning in the bout, not really looking interested at any point. Christopher Daniels continues to be the highlight of TNA programming with his performance in this bout really raising the bar with his in ring antics. The finish well worked and built up to nicely, with all four men contributing well. Out of all the random bouts, this one felt that most thought through in who was paired together, it only get's weirder for this one. 

Robbie T & Matt Morgan vs. Al Snow & Joey Ryan is more entertaining than it deserved to be. There's a little build up to this one, with Morgan and Ryan (who were a brief team in TNA) convinced they are going to be picked together, it's obvious what's going to happen from the start, but the look on Joey Ryan's face when Al Snow walks down is great stuff. There's a fairly unique dynamic with neither Morgan or Ryan wanting to fight each other making for some funny moments, at times. The finish is also clever and will had me asking why I hadn't thought of it already. Overall, the story carries this bout, as there isn't a lot of wrestling to get into, but it's at least enjoyable throughout. 

Zema Ion & Robbie E vs. Joseph Park & Bobby Roode is well worked by four talented guys, but there isn't really anything that makes you take notice of what's happening, even if they try to integrate a story with Bobby Roode & Joseph Park, which doesn't quite pay off. Jessie Godderz & Mr. Anderson taking on Kid Kash & Doug Williams, could've been a good match, but devolves quickly into body slash from Kash and Williams as they work over Godderz, not at all entertaining. Aces & Eights manages to get Devon & D.O.C. randomly drawn together to take on Hernandez and Alex Silva in another match that I found it difficult to get into, it's just too clear who's picking up the W. The opening contest with James Storm teaming with Christian York to take on Gunner & Crimson has some nice teamwork but follow a very basic pattern that probably didn't need as much time to play out. 

There is some backstage footage included interviews building up the match, but the guys involved can't really say much other than "I'm going to win" as there isn't any story for them to work and the majority come off a little wooden. Christopher Daniels does a good job in his backstage segments, talking up his tag team with Samoa Joe is gold, Daniels really seems to enjoy being able to have a bit more free reign and it works wonders here. The commentary team of Mike Tenay and Taz couldn't care less throughout talking about anything and everything other than the matches, but at times Taz's random wit does save what is pretty tiresome viewing.

Overall, I'd say this event wasn't for me. There just wasn't enough to get my teeth into and the majority of the matches weren't strong enough to get me involved without some kind of storyline, and having guys that rarely appear on Impact Wrestling like Alex Silva and a large proportion of this shows roster having since been released it's hard to connect with the wrestlers in the ring. I think if this had been a regular tag team tournament, I'd have been a lot more interested in the concept, as I'd have wanted to see which random pair came out on top, however the Gauntlet ending feels rushed and the idea of money being used a prize in wrestling in 2013, is highly outdated. 

Top Three Matches on One Night Only: Joker's Wild


1. Christopher Daniels & Rob Van Dam vs. Chavo Guerrero, Jr. & Rob Van Dam 

2. Robbie T & Matt Morgan vs. Al Snow & Joey Ryan

3. Robbie E & Zema Ion vs. Bobby Roode & Joseph Park 

WWE Main Event 25th September 2013 Review

This week's Main Event was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Whilst the action in the ring was solid throughout the show, there wasn't really anything that made me sit up and take notice, and on paper there wasn't anything that anyone would particularly go out of their way to see.



Justin Gabriel 

vs. 

Intercontinental Champion 

Curtis Axel 

with Paul Heyman


This bout went on last and was by far the most interesting of any of the matches on the show. Justin Gabriel has been getting some what of a push recently, as part of the group of wrestlers standing up for Daniel Bryan. Even if that push has been mainly so he can used as fodder for The Shield he has been featured in main event slots on both Raw and Smackdown and has become prominent on both shows, a lot more than what he was getting a few months ago. Therefore, I was intrigued to see how competitive he was in this bout with Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel and how long the match got, as the show, has generally been used to test out talent before giving them a stronger role on the two main television show.

The match started slowly, with Axel dominating, I found it really hard to get into at this point. Whilst Axel's technical skills are sound, and it did make storyline sense for him to work over Gabriel, there was no interaction with the audience. Whilst Paul Heyman generates heat from just being at ringside, Axel himself really needs to start stepping things up with his crowd interaction, if he really wants to get taken seriously. The strongest part of the earlier part of the match was a nice series of roll ups and pin variations from Gabriel, which were well executed with Gabriel even managing to correct an earlier botch at one point, but it still wasn't enough to make me think Gabriel was going to pick up the win.

There was, however a really nice near fall for Gabriel heading towards the conclusion of the match. Axel attempted the Running One-Armed Swinging Neckbreaker, which Gabriel slipped out of delivering a swift Roundhouse Kick to the head, before hitting a springboard Moonsault off the top rope for a two count, the swiftness of the delivery felt like it could easily have finished off the match and was the first moment that really got me interested in what I was watching, with Paul Heyman's reaction on the outside really selling the moment for me. The finish saw Gabriel closing in on victory, attempting to get Axel to re-enter the ring, only for Axel to pull Gabriel into the ring ropes allowing the Intercontinental Champion to slide into the ring and hit the Hangman's Facebuster to pick up the pinfall victory. It was a decent enough finish, it wasn't anything special but it did it's job here, in allowing Axel to look credible in the ring.

So, how did Justin Gabriel do in this one? Given as this match was of a decent length, in fact if it's longest he's had on WWE television, with only a couple of NXT battles with Tyson Kidd coming close, so it's the best look we and WWE have had at Gabriel when the lights are on bright. I really like Gabriel in the ring, I think he's capable of putting on some really watchable and exciting matches, and at times we saw flashes off it in this one, with the false finish being really well worked by the Cape Town Werewolf. He could potentially be moved into a spot higher up on the card, possibly even have runs with the United States Championship (we've seen him get a couple of shots at that title on PPV), but I just can't see him moving further up than that, or past the “good little hand” stereotype. Maybe it's because he hasn't been in real feud since his day's in Nexus, but he just doesn't seem to have enough about him, the It Factor if you will, that would capapult him into a more important role for the company.

Best of the Rest (In The World)


Elsewhere on the show, the number one contenders to the Tag Team Championships The Usos were put up against the bizarre pairing of Fandango and Big E Langston, who were accompanied by Summer Rae. On paper, the team of Fandango and Big E Langston sounds atrocious, but for this one match they were fairly entertaining. The story running throughout the match, was the way the two teams operated, with The Usos sticking to the team work that they have become known for, whilst Fandango & Langston would use blind tags with Langston doing the majority of the work on one of The Usos, before Fandango would tag back in. There was some nice spots, such as Langston catching an Usos in mid air on the outside, only to be taken out by another flying for inside the ring. At times, Fandango didn't look particularly interested in this one, and never really got going in the way we've come to expect of him, with a dodgy looking suplex that could have easily injured Uso.

The finish saw The Usos begin to get rolling, with Fandango feigning a leg injury on the outside of the ring, The Usos managed to get a tag before, Langston could gain any momentum from the distraction and the Superkick/Superfly Splash combination got them the win. I'm not too sure about this ending, whilst The Usos worked it well, seeing Langston go down in such a situation doesn't exactly help his monster character that has barely even got going, whilst Fandango's continued cowardly nature, isn't exactly making him look like a threat to anyone, so what is the reason we are supposed to care about him? It was the right decision to give The Usos the win and they are looking really good at the moment, after a strong showing on Raw in the Eleven-on-Three main event, I wouldn't be surprised to see The Usos snatching that tag team gold from around the waist of The Shield's Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns some time soon.

The other match on the show saw an angry Big Show take on World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank Winner Damien Sandow. This was essentially a squash match, with Show pulling apart Sandow within a few minutes. Sandow did get some offence in, in terms of a David vs. Goliath style fight back, but seeing as Sandow was playing the heel it didn't really work. Big Show went on to win the match with a Knockout Punch for a pinfall victory. After the bout, Show removed Sandow's briefcase that was handcuffed to the ringpost and placed on Sandow's chest. I thought this was a nice touch to show how Big Show is being effected by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, but apart from that this match didn't really impress. 


Finally...


My final thoughts on this week's Main Event.


1. Curtis Axel needs to up his game and start bringing the crowd into his matches.

2. Fandango & Big E Langston worked as a one off tag team, but I wouldn't want to see them team up on a regular basis.

3. When Big Show finally flips on Triple H it should be an epic standout moment.


Friday, 27 September 2013

ROH A Night of Hoopla DVD Review

ROH A Night of Hoopla is available now on DVD from www.rohwrestling.com priced at $19.99 (about £13 plus shipping). The show was taped at 115 Bourbon Street in Chicago, Illinois, USA, with the gimmick of the show being that it is booked by leader of the House of Truth, Truth Martini. Main evented by an Inter Gender Six Person Tag Team match, pitting BJ Whitmer, Michael Elgin & MsChif against Adrenaline Rush & Athena, alongside reDRagon defending the World Tag Team Championships against Roderick Strong & Cheeseburger and Jay Lethal taking on Delirious, this is Ring of Honor like you have never seen before.



Content Listing


The H.O.T. National Anthem

Three Way Match: Eddie Edwards vs. Adam Cole vs. World Television Champion Matt Taven (9:41)

Jimmy Jacobs performs Gypsy Soul

Sore High With The Eagles and Slither With The Snakes: Jay Lethal vs. Delirious (Special Guest Referee: Maria Kanellis) (17:02)

The Pants Off Dance Off

Lumberjill Match: Davey Richards vs. Silas Young (10:05)

A lapdance for one lucky fan

World Tag Team Championship Match: Roderick Strong & Cheeseburger vs. reDRagon (C) (21:01)

Hoopla Uncut with The Devil

Six Person Intergender Tag Team Match: Michael Elgin, BJ Whitmer & MsChif vs. Adrenaline Rush & Athena (25:53)

Special Features


Hoopla Roll Part 1

Hoopla Roll Part 2

Hoopla Uncut with Delirious

Beach Bum Alcoholics concert

Review


Similiar to what TNA have been doing with the One Night Only series of PPV's this show sits outside of the regular continuity of Ring of Honor, and feels completely different because of it. The main event however could fit quite comfortably onto any ROH card and not look out of place. All six competitors put forward a very strong outing, with Adrenaline Rush continuing to impress as a duo. The comedy in this one is also played very nicely, centering around Elgin and MsChif's relationship. The match builds really nicely towards the finish, that will have you questioning how you didn't think of it earlier. ,

The World Tag Team Championship match with reDRagon defending against Roderick Strong & Cheeseburger is more entertaining than it should have been. That's not saying that I don't respect the talents of the wrestlers in the ring, it's just the story for this one seemed so simply with the younger smaller Cheeseburger involved that you'll think you'll know where it's going and it will take you in a completely different direction, helped by the fact that Chicago absolutely loved Cheeseburger. The concept of the show allows reDRagon and Strong to be a little freer in their performance and once again there are some nice comedy moments that complement the action in the ring.

Jay Lethal vs. Delirious is an absolute gem of a contest. At times it will had me in stitches as the two run through Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior from Wrestlemania VII, with Lethal, of course, playing Savage and Delirious presenting us with an parallel universe version of Ultimate Warrior. Complete with spot on pre-match promo from Lethal in the style of Savage and Lethal's manager Sister Sherri, this bout had me in stitches from start to finish, with Delirious' impression of Warrior bordering on the ridiculous. With a shock ending and closing segment with Special Guest Referee Maria Kanellis, this is a new look at a classic.

Davey Richards taking on Silas Young is a decent enough contest, that is hampered by a Lumberjill gimmick where all the Lumberjills are in fact men. It's a very surreal outing, when I much rather would have seen Young and Richards just have a straight up wrestling match. The three way opener between World Television Champion Matt Taven, Eddie Edwards and Adam Cole is a solid three way bout, with some nice fan interaction, and interesting "Eiffel Tower" spot, but probably could have done with a bit more time. The segments also presented on the show are mixed bag with Jimmy Jacobs performing "Gypsy Soul" as well snippets from other songs including "Ballad of Lacey" is a nice nostalgia hit for old school ROH fans, whilst Hoopla Uncut with The Devil is a severe waste of time, alongside a fan getting a lapdance whilst blindfolded, in a segment that is so outdated it was painful to watch.

Special Features include two parts of the special "Hoopla Roll" with Truth Martini attempted to gain talent for the show, with some very entertaining segments with the likes of Jimmy Jacobs and Kevin Steen standing out, Hoopla Uncut with Delirious is a similarly entertaining affair. Elsewhere, however a concert from Beach Bum Alcoholics concert during intermission of the show is deservedly rubbished by the Chicago crowd, it really isn't very good, in either a musical or comedic sense.

Overall, this is an enjoyable show, with some nice matches that are easy to watch, but it let's it's self down with some pretty rotten segments. Some other little things also let the show down for me, mainly the camera work, which is poor throughout, with the stage meaning that the cameras after often at awkward angles to the ring. There is also no commentary on the set, and whilst that didn't effect my enjoyment of the show, I know that certain people will find it difficult to adjust to.

Top Three Matches from a Night of Hoopla


1. Six Person Intergender Tag Team Match: Michael Elgin, BJ Whitmer & MsChif vs. Adrenaline Rush & Athena

2. Sore High With The Eagles and Slither With The Snakes: Jay Lethal vs. Delirious (Special Guest Referee: Maria Kanellis) (17:02)

World Tag Team Championship Match: Roderick Strong & Cheeseburger vs. reDRagon (C) (21:01)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Five Questions With... Jon Davis

After last week's interview with 4 Corners Radio's Billy Carpenter, we're stepping back into the ring with former Ring of Honor wrestler, Jon Davis.

Ring Name: Jon Davis
Age: 33
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida, USA.
Height: 6'
Weight:  267 1/2 lbs
Promotions Competed For: 

Southern Championship Wrestling Florida
Funkin' Consevatory
Full Impact Pro
Pro Wrestling WORLD-1
AWA World-1 South
Division One Pro Wrestling
Pro Wrestling RIOT
AWA Superstars of Wrestling
National Wrestling Alliance Florida
Grappling Entertainment Athletic Revolution
USA Xtreme Wrestling
I Believe In Wrestling
World Wrestling Entertainment
Ring of Honor
Pro Wrestling Zero1 USA
National Wrestling Alliance
Rampage Pro Wrestling
EVOLVE Wrestling
Wrestling For A Cause
Vintage Wrestling
Pro Wrestling Xtreme
Dragon Gate USA
Pro Wrestling Chattanooga
Fighting Spirit Wrestling
Ring Warriors
Pro Wrestling Syndicate
Pro Wrestling Xperience


Championships and Accomplishments: 
Current FIP world champion
FIP tag team champion
2012 Style battle champion,
NWA world tag team champion
NWA Florida tag team champion
NWA Georgia champion
AWA Florida champion



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


I've always loved pro wrestling. I grew up on as a lot of kids in the south did. I was an NWA/WCW kid as the WWE/F wasn't big in my area at the time.  I was always a fan of the physicality of it. It wasn't a character or soap opera thing, I liked the competition aspect of it. A lot of the matches I remember as a kid to mid teenager are like that- Anderson/Windham, Flair/Steamboat, Steiners/Williams and Gordy, Pillman/Liger. I always felt like matches like that made wrestling appealing because they would draw you in with them and there didn't have to be pyro or catch phrases (Flair excluded). And when I started getting more into the WWE, that's what got my attention about Bret Hart. To sum it up,  It's a physical chess match that I couldn't wait to watch every week.



2. Who has been your favourite opponent to step into the ring with so far and why?

That's hard to say. I like to consider myself a student of the game and have learned from everyone I've been in the ring with. Guys like Fit Finlay, the American Wolves, Low Ki and Sami Callihan are very physical but smart wrestlers and make you dig deep to keep up. Guys like AR Fox and Samurai Del sol are what Lucha/high flying is all about and you would of course have to prepare differently. Then you have guys like Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor who are young veterans and will always surprise you with what they can do. So I guess at any time depending on my mood, any of those men would be the answer.



3. What would you say to anyone currently interested in pursuing a career in Pro Wrestling? 

BE ABSOLUTELY SURE THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT. This is a demanding business and not for the ones who aren't serious. It takes a toll on your body, mind and your life. If you are lucky enough to get a break somewhere, take full advantage of it because it is neither guaranteed  or promised to last forever. You either need to want and work to be the best you can or chase a different dream. It sounds harsh, but its the nature of the beast. You should never do anything and be able to look back on it and say "if I would've tried harder...."

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

American Wolves vs Dark City Fight Club from ROH "Pick your poison" in Dayton Ohio.

 Vs. Johnny Gargano- No Ropes from DGUSA "Revolt" and

Vs Fit Finlay from "Evolve 12".

Watch them and you'll understand why.



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

I will be in New York on July 27th and 28th competing for DGUSA. You can catch those shows and all the ones previous on WWNLIVE.com or be there I'm person. Though I don't have any plans to make it over there at the moment, I would love to very soon.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

WWE Raw 23rd September 2013 Review

We've been away a few days, but we're back with a review of this week's edition of WWE Raw. I thought this week's Raw was a fairly strong showing, which is surprising when you look at the card, which on paper was at best underwhelming and at worst nonsensical.



Eleven-on-Three Handicap Elimination Match: 

Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston, Rob Van Dam, Prime Time Players, Dolph Ziggler, The Usos, R-Truth, Justin Gabriel & Zack Ryder 

vs. 

The Shield


See what I mean? This match, on paper, should be an absolutely awful clusterf**k, luckily it wasn't, but we'll get into why a bit later on. Firstly, let's talk about how this match came about and the build up throughout the show. The opening segment featured Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in the ring, with Kofi Kingston, Rob Van Dam, Prime Time Players, Dolph Ziggler, The Usos, R-Truth, Justin Gabriel & Zack Ryder standing up on the stage. This was, of course, to do with those ten wrestlers saving Daniel Bryan last week on Raw. Triple H & McMahon were on top form as heels, really winding up the faces on the stage, claiming that they should be fighting for themselves and not Daniel Bryan, with the nice little touch of the pair finishing each others sentences. Triple H went on to book the eleven on three handicap elimination match for the night's main event, after Rob Van Dam had stepped up to speak for his colleagues with his usual laissez-faire promo style

Later in the night, in the build up to the contest, we got to hear what The Shield though about being put against eleven other men. I thought it was refreshing to see The Shield not backing down when the odds look to be stacked against, as we have seen time and time again from WWE heels, with Dean Ambrose delivering a very strong promo (back in The Shield's patent hand held style) outlining why the group work best when they are against the wall, with a metaphor that actually made sense! Seth Rollins still looks a little awkward having to follow an Ambrose promo, coming off as a little bit of a sidekick, whilst Reigns is at his best standing there as the muscle of the group. Daniel Bryan also got some mic time prior to the match, with another strong promo, talking pulling wholes in the idea that he and Scott Armstrong had a plan for him to win the WWE Championship at Night of Champions and that Bryan would be winning back the WWE title at Battleground on October 6. The passion that Bryan is bringing to his performances at the moment is something a lot of the WWE roster should be looking at, and looking to bring to their performances, he's clearly a man enjoying what he does and it shows.

After Bryan's promo, The Shield headed down to start the match early, only to be cut of at the pass by a returning Goldust and Cody Rhodes, in a moment that really made you sit and watch, even if it was little weird that Goldust was still wearing his face paint. That stroyline feels like it's about to catch fire and if it keeps going in the right direction WWE will have another star on their hands in Cody Rhodes. Once the match got started The Shield took control, with the idea being that most of the other wrestlers had already competed in match and some like Rob Van Dam had taken vicious beatings at the hands of Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio (even if he couldn't be bothered to sell it) With The Shield ploughing through RVD, Kingston, Titus O'Neil of The Prime Time Players, Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder, it quickly boiled down to three on six, with Kingston looking the most competitive after a nice sequence with Dean Ambrose, whilst Roman Reigns looked fantastic taking out O'Neil, Gabriel and Ryder in quick order.


With Daniel Bryan entering the match, the leader of WWE lockeroom changed the momentum in favour of his team, with his usual comeback taking out all three members, before tagging in the The Usos for a Superkick and Superfly Splash combination that allowed them to eliminated Reigns, giving that team strong momentum heading into a Tag Team Championship match down the line. With the Allstate Arena absolutely loving it, the match settled back down for a bit, with The Shield managing to eliminate Darren Young, with Young looking particularly impressive in action against Ambrose. To be quite honest, Ambrose was excellent throughout this match, including a great section with Dolph Ziggler that showed promise for their United States Championship match on Smackdown this Friday, with Ziggler eventually getting the better with a Zig Zag to eliminate Ambrose. Hopefully the two get a solid fifteen minutes on Smackdown to really impress, because they just didn't have enough time at Night of Champions to put on the bout we all know they are capable of. With Rollins the only man left for The Shield, it was clearly only a matter of time, but Rollins was still allowed to look a million dollars against Dolph Ziggler, before even managing to eliminate R-Truth (Truth literally did nothing all match). The four remaining faces then ganged up on Rollins, drawing the rest of The Shield. With Ziggler and The Usos taking out Ambrose and Reigns, and all five men ending up on the outside, Rollins tried to take advantage attacking Bryan from behind and setting him up for a superplex. However, Bryan reversed sending Rollins crashing to the mat, and hitting a Flying Headbutt, before finishing off Rollins with the Running High Knee to pick up the pinfall victory for his team. I really enjoyed this match, I thought it was a lot of fun throughout and did wonders for a number of competitors giving them the oppurtunity to really shine in the main event, long may it continue. 

CM Punk returns to Chicago


Anyone who has watched WWE television over the last few years will know the kind of reactions that CM Punk gets when he heads to his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. We saw it most recently at this year's Payback pay-per-view and perhaps most famously at Money in the Bank 2011, when he won his first WWE Championship. So here we were again on this week's Raw from the Allstate Arena, as soon as Punk's music hit the place erupted, with a pop that is rarely heard in today professional wrestling scene, especially for a regular performer. To top it off, Punk came out wearing, what I have been told was a Chicago Blackhawks jersey, as if Punk really needed extra help getting the pop.

Punk was out to cut a promo on losing to Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel in the Handicap elimination match at Night of Champions. Punk started off talking about not being able to bring the Stanley Cup out with him, which means very little to me at all, it is frustrating when WWE forgets that most North American sports, aren't played outside of North American and that Raw airs all over the world! It means that the cultural reference they are trying to make is completely lost on the majority of it's audience! Whilst the passion that Punk brought to his promo is something that you don't see too often on WWE television, I found it hard to get into what he was saying, because I simply don't have the knowledge of Ice Hockey to really care about the metaphors that he was trying to pull upon, Chicago of course absolutely loved it.

Punk was interupted by Paul Heyman, who is now comically riding around on a mobility scooter. The confrontation between the two was red hot and animosity between the two characters felt believable throughout. Heyman continued to bait Punk reminding him of Heyman victory at Night of Champions, as well as going for the cheap heat of insulting Chicago, with the city playing a massive part in the entire segment. I'm usually completely against cheap heat, but in this case, with the characters so clearly involved in the city that WWE happened to be in this week it worked incredibly well, and Heyman's a proved genius so I'll let him off. It was clear for all to see where the segment was leading, with Heyman placed precariously on the ramp and Punk in the ring, Heyman attempted to leave the arena, unfortunately, for Heyman, his mobility scooter broke down. I'm sure they could have come up with a better idea than this one, with Heyman messing with his scooter not really doing it for me. It didn't really suit the story they have been trying to tell, and I would have much rather seen Punk just launch himself at Heyman, without all the silliness.


Punk, of course, went after Heyman, only to be cut off by Heyman's clients Ryback and Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel. The brawl between the three was another very strong piece of work, reminscent of Punk's brawls with Brock Lesnar heading into this year's SummerSlam. Punk would continually fight back agaisnt the overwhelming odds, sending Axel into the video screen, before flying off the stage onto Ryback, in what was a spectacular visual. The numbers game was eventually too much for Punk, with Axel causing the distraction and allowing Ryback to gain the upperhand, and finish Punk off with a Gorilla Press Slam through off a production box through a table, in what looked like a really nasty bump for Punk. With Punk vs. Ryback booked for Battleground, I'm a lot more interested in how the storyline is going to play out, than I am about watching the two lock up in the ring again, after their previous encounters proved uninspiring, but I'm willing follow along to find out what happens with Punk and Heyman.

Rob Van Dam 

with Ricardo Rodriguez 

vs.

 Randy Orton


This match was set up in the opening segment, with Stephanie McMahon announcing that she would give the fans the oppurtunity to vote on who would face Randy Orton later in the show, with the options being Rob Van Dam, Dolph Ziggler or R-Truth. Of course, this could only be done via the WWE App, meaning we also received a few minutes of Michael Cole informing us of how to download the blasted thing. Personally, I would have prefered to have seen Dolph Ziggler get the nod from WWE fans, as whilst Orton vs. Ziggler was a regular occurrence between 2011 and 2012, it's been quite some time since we've seen the two lock up on WWE television, whilst Orton has had a number of high profile matches with Van Dam over the past few months and R-Truth has become utterly irrelevant in today's WWE. The rest of the voters on the WWE App, however decided it would Van Dam to step into the ring with Orton, with a strong majority of 57%.

As we've seen in the past between Orton and Van Dam, this was enjoyable bout with the two contrasting styles of both men meshing together nicely in the ring. Orton's slow methodical style allows for Van Dam's quick flurry of offence to stand out and really got the crowd involved from the outset. Van Dam's comebacks were short and impactful throughout with a number of strikes looking strong, alongside signature moves like Rolling Thunder. There was a slight awkward moment, when Orton seemed to get to his feet too early with Van Dam planning to hit a Five Star Frog Splash, luckily the veteran Van Dam was able to recover quickly and the match didn't really lose any of it's flow.

Things really interesting when Orton thwarted another Five Star Frog Splash attempt from Van Dam, and sent him crashing to the outside. From here, Orton returned to the more vicious side that we saw up against The Miz last week, really working over Van Dam on the outside, sending him into the barricade, with the referee counting both men out. Orton went on to beat the absolute crap in Van Dam, sending him into the steel steps and finishing him off with Rope Hung DDT off the top rope. This side off Orton is certainly one that has been missed over the past few years, and allows Orton to look capable on his own, rather than simply Triple H's lackey hiding behind The Shield that he had been dangerously close to becoming in the build up to Night of Champions.

With Orton leaving the ring, and Van Dam being helped to the back by WWE officials, World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio came down to the ring, attacking Van Dam and locking in the Cross Armbreaker. I thought this was another nice little touch for their rivalry, but I'm still not quite sure why they are feuding. WWE need to position the World Heavyweight Championship front and centre in that rivalry, to help build up the belts prestige a little more, as it's just getting lost in the mix at the moment, especially with so much focus on the WWE Championship on Raw and Smackdown. Another questions that bugged me whilst watching was where Ricardo Rodriguez had gone? He was definitely at ringside for the match, but couldn't be bothered to help out his supposed friend Rob Van Dam at any point. I thought the injury played nicely into the main event with Van Dam being part of the eleven man team to take on The Shield and gave the show a nice arc that was followable throughout the three hours.

Best of the Rest (In The World)


The aforementioned World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio was also in action on Raw, taking on Kofi Kingston. Now, a lot of the audience on Twitter was quick to jump on this match for whatever reason, with the Chicago crowd also deciding to chuck around your usual chants for “Randy Savage”, because that really encourages WWE to push new talent. I was myself a little sceptical about the contest going in, as we've seen Del Rio vs Kingston on a number of occasions, and whilst the bouts have always been technically sound, they've never exactly stood out as anything special, with Kingston representing a stepping stone for Del Rio to move onto an opponent higher up the card. Yes, this was the case again here, but the two did bring something extra to their match that by the end had grabbed the attention of Chicago, who were more than into the match by the finish.

Basically, for almost the entire match Del Rio was working over Kingston's arm, with the obvious story being Del Rio was building up for the Cross Armbreaker. With Kingston doing a fantastic job selling the arm injury, and being repeatedly brought up throughout the match thwarting a number of Kingston's comeback's this one built up really nicely, with a flow that felt natural and believable. There was superb spot with Kingston attempting Trouble in Paradise, only for Del Rio to reverse into a German Suplex that looked absolutely beautiful. The finish saw Kingston going for a Springboard attack from the apron to the inside, with Del Rio moving out of the way, before sending Kingston into the ringpost, of course shoulder first, before locking in the Cross Armbreaker to pick up the submission victory. A really strong opener for Raw, that again played into the main storyline of the show, whilst also allowing Del Rio to look great in control of the match.

Miz TV also returned to Raw, after Triple H had set up the segment backstage, saying that Chicago wanted to see Miz TV. Chicago truly is a bizarre place then. The Miz's guest for the segment was Big Show, with the segment geared toward continued the storyline between Big Show and The McMahon family, with The Miz asking Show about why he punched Dusty Rhodes in the face last week on Raw. With Show not saying anything, Stephanie McMahon came down to the ring and the segment picked up a little, with some great heel work from McMahon. McMahon ripped into Miz labelling him a utility player with a scathing promo. It's just a shame that The Miz still isn't working as a face, and looks out of place fighting against the machine.

With McMahon ordering Big Show to knock out Miz, luckily this week saw no crying from the World Largest Athelete, as he delivered a Knockout Punch to his former Show-Miz partner. I have been calling out for months for someone to just punch The Miz in the face, and it finally happened. It was certainly a refreshing change to having Big Show dealing with another moral dilemma, and it made sense for him to just punch the smarmy Miz in the face. I'm interested to see where this is going with Big Show, as surely there is only so long that the big man can take of being pushed around by the McMahon family before he snaps, but how long can WWE play this one out. I wouldn't be surprised if they ran a short programme between Miz and Show for a match at Battleground either.  

 There was also tag team action, with The Wyatt Family's Erick Rowan & Luke Harper teaming up to take on The Prime Time Players. It was a decent tag team match, with Harper and Rowan dominating Darren Young and looking pretty impressive in the process. Young eventually got the hot tag to Titus O'Neil who managed to get some offence in on Harper, before Rowan got involved and the bout headed towards the finish. Young took out Rowan with a clothesline sending both men to the outside, before O'Neil walked straight into a Discus Lariat from Harper to give The Wyatt Family the pinfall victory. It would seem that Prime Time Players push is ending now that the media storm that surrounded Darren Young has died down a little, and I'd expect to see Harper and Rowan competiting for the tag titles soon, possibly against The Usos who seem likely to end The Shield's reign. The Wyatt Family finished off the segment with Bray Wyatt hitting Sister Abigail on Darren Young, in what has become a familiar finish to their appearances on television.

Fandango was also in action this week, taking on Santino Marella, in a comedy encounter. There was some decent stuff in here, but it was difficult to find with the bout consisting mainly of rest holds, with a few comedy spots thrown in the mix, that unfortunately came across more goofy than actually funny. The finish came off the back of a comeback for Marella, with Summer Rae causing the distraction, allowing Fandango to attack him from behind, hitting a suplex before heading to the top rope to hit a Diving Leg Drop for the pinfall victory. It wasn't the worst match you'll see on television this year, and at times it was entertaining, but there really wasn't much point to it, with WWE not seeming to have any plans for either man going forward.


There was also women's action with a ridiculous ten woman tag team match pitting The Bella Twins, The Funkadactyls and Natalya against Diva's Champion AJ Lee, Alicia Fox, Aksana, Layla and Tamina Snuka. Prior to the bout there was segment between AJ Lee and Stephanie McMahon with the two clearly still not seeing eye to eye, and it just made the whole women's division look completely incorrehent. Who is a heel, who is a face? The match itself last less than two minutes, with only a few women getting involved, and saw Brie Bella pick up the pinfall victory over AJ Lee after a Bella Buster. I've got no idea what they were trying to get over here, but it just seemed like a complete waste of bringing out all those women, to only have them stand on the apron!  

Finally...


My final thoughts on this week's Raw.

1. Don't judge a book by it's cover: the eleven on three match should have been awful, but it was booked really well and wrestled even better.

2. Ice Hockey references mean nothing to me.

3. Randy Orton is really coming back into his own, and looks to be enjoying himself back in his maniacal role

Saturday, 21 September 2013

We'll be Back Soon

After some issues with the internet connection, we'll be back on Tuesday 24th September with a review of the previous nights Raw. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Five Questions With... Billy Carpenter from 4 Corners Radio

After last week's interview with Richard Penaluna from Calling Spots, it's time to speak to one of our friends from 4 Corners Radio as Billy Carpenter gives us his Five Questions.


Name: Billy Carpenter
Age: 30
Hometown: I'm a rolling stone.
Known For: Co-founder & host of '4 Corners Radio' various live shows & podcasts, as well as 4crwrestling.com


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

If my mother is to be believed, I've been watching since I was about 2 years old. She said I just sat there, fascinated by what was happening on the screen.  My earliest memory that I can fully recall is WWF's 'Wrestling Classic' tournament, more specifically the Dynamite Kid vs Randy Savage match. I was hooked from then on. As much as the loud characters were a drawing point, I always seemed to gravitate towards the more athletic guys.  Most of my friends growing up were Hulk Hogan fans while I was the lone 'Macho Man' fan.  I've seemingly been in love with wrestling for as long as I've been alive--I talked about it in one of my first articles that as a kid, I was kind of an introvert and times at home weren't always the best either.  So I escaped into this world all the time and even now, I can still shut my mind down for a while and just watch an old wrestling tape and get lost again. It's a big part of who I am, I guess.  Everyone that I know understands just how big of a fan I am.



2. Tell us a little about 4 Corner's Radio and how it all came about?

'4 Corners Radio' came about almost by happenstance.  I had been conversing on Twitter with my now good friend Anthony Johns, and we had kicked around the idea of doing a podcast.  The talk sort of tapered off and then one day he tweeted, "I need to do a podcast someday", and I responded back with "Let's do it". We met on Skype a few days later with Martin Dixon, Sam DiMascio & Anthony Pope and we came up with a very loose idea of what we wanted and then we just went from there.  Since mid-January, all of my free time has been spent building this brand all while having fun at the same time.  We all agreed that no matter what, we wanted to make sure that we always had fun doing 4CR shows and podcasts.  Since the first show, we've added the website (4crwrestling.com) with a small staff of contributors and we have a variety of shows for every fan--the "RAW Roundtable", "The Indy Project" which covers the news from the American independent scene, "4CRetro" which was just launched that is just a fun look at wrestling from the past, the "Saturday Freestyle" which is about any and everything and "A Hero and A Villain" that I do with 4CR co-founder Anthony Johns.  We've added a YouTube channel, Instagram, Vine & Facebook accounts since then as well and I know that we are having a blast just talking wrestling with fellow fans.

3. Which current story lines are drawing you into certain show, and which do you feel aren't quite working?

There's really not alot of storylines that are drawing me in, but there seems to be a sort of renaissance in WWE as far as re-focusing on the in-ring product.  Names like Bryan, Cesaro, Ambrose, Rollins, Ziggler and others have me very excited for the future of that company.  NXT is my favorite show to watch weekly for that reason--the future is there right now.  I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Wyatt Family on the main roster, as they are a unique act to the mainstream wrestling audience.  As a fan of New Japan, watching the rise of Kazuchika Okada over the past 1-2 years has been great.

As for stuff that I just can't get into, Aces & 8's in TNA tops the list.  It wasn't always that way--when it started, I was actually kind of excited.  But it's dragged on for so long with such minimal payoffs along the way that I've disconnected from the story. TNA has such an amazing roster of young talent and I feel that should be their focus.  Their product from 2003-2007/8 was phenomenal! I wish they'd get back to that and find their own identity.



4. What are your top three matches of all time and why?

Top 3 matches of all-time, wow! That's a very hard thing to narrow down, but I'll do my best:

     1) Wild Pegasus vs The Great Sasuke from the Super J Cup finals in 1994 is one of my earliest memories of when I discovered puro for the first time. It was so radically different than what I had been exposed to before and from there, I had a whole other side of the wrestling world to navigate.

     2) CM Punk vs John Cena from Money in the Bank 2011 was the perfect storm of storyline, atmosphere and in-ring work.  I've been watching for 27-28 years and watching this at home on PPV gave me a feeling I rarely experience while watching wrestling nowadays.

     3) This is cheating a bit, but the Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat trilogy of matches for the NWA World title in 1989 is perfection.  Every wrestling fan, no matter your level of experience or expertise, owes it to themselves to watch this series. My favorite of all-time in Flair against his greatest adversary. Flawless.



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

Our live shows can be found at blogtalkradio.com/4crwrestling. My personal Twitter account is @4CR_Billy & the Twitter for 4CR is @4CRadio. I love interacting and meeting new fans, and I'm blessed to do so on a daily basis. Our website is 4crwrestling.com, where you can find our articles, show replays, videos & more as well as links to our various social media outlets. As far as what's next for 4 Corners Radio, we'll continue being a sponsor for AIW, who puts out some of the best wrestling anywhere right now. For our content, we'll just continue evolving and perfecting what we do. The response to what we've done this far has been great, and I appreciate every single person that has tweeted us, read an article, listened to a show or anything else to support and help spread the word. We do this as fans of wrestling who just want to have fun with other fans. That's the basis of what we've done so far and what we'll continue to do in the future.

Friday, 13 September 2013

WWE NXT 11th September 2013 Review



This week's WWE NXT, was a bit of an underwhelming edition of the show, for me. Whilst there wasn't anything on the show, that I would call particularly bad, it was distinctly average, with really only the women's match between Paige and Sasha Banks fighting to stand out.

Xavier Woods 

vs. 

Leo Kruger


The main event of this week's NXT, saw Xavier Woods taking on Leo Kruger, after Kruger had attacked Woods last week in the parking lot. Personally, I was surprised that WWE decided to hot shot this into a match, as imagined they could have pulled out the angle a lot longer than one week and really build up anticipation to a singles contest between the two. I've noticed this a few times with NXT, that one week something will happen between two wrestlers and then the week after they'll have a match and that's the feud done with. Usually, it's when they have main roster wrestlers appearing on the show and they don't have long with that particular wrestler, but here there really is no excuse, they had the time to build a nice feud and decided not to.

The match itself was decent, it wasn't anything to shout about, but for the most part the action was strong, even if for some reason the Full Sail Arena wasn't having any of it, with what sounded like a small group of fans trying to get themselves over. This might be NXT, be the action gave off an old school vibe, with Kruger running around the ring to evade Woods, until Woods got hold of Kruger's hair, which got a nice pop from the crowd. Kruger spent the majority of the match in control, although continuing with the old school theme was mainly made up of rest holds, which never goes down well with a modern audience. There were some nice near falls towards the end of the match, once Woods started to edge his way into the contest, such as a nice High-Angle Spinebuster from Kruger after catching Woods in his attempt to hit Honor Roll.

The finish saw Woods duck a Slice from Kruger, and counter with a headkick followed with a version of former partner Jay Lethal's Lethal Injection for a near fall, with Woods going on to hit Honor Roll and then a slightly botched Lost in the Woods to pick up the pinfall victory. Personally, I could have done with the near fall off of Woods ducking the slice, and feel that Woods hitting Lost in the Woods straight off the duck, would have been a much more satisfying ending, if it hadn't been botched. I thought it was strange to see Woods go over Kruger here, and automatically get his revenge on Kruger, who they seemed to have a plan for at last. Kruger has suffered a series of losses in high profile matches and it's becoming difficult to take his character seriously, which is a shame because the character does have potential.


Whilst this match won't be making my list for Match of the Year, I do like both men involved in the contest. We've seen good stuff from both Woods and Kruger on NXT before, and both deserve decent programmes before getting called up. With Woods currently travelling with the main roster and appearing on a number of house shows recently, it would have to assumed that Woods is close to being called up to the main roster very soon. I do think he will fit in on Raw and Smackdown well, being able to put on exciting matches, with a recognisable look and move set, I'm pretty sure he will go down well with the quirky mix of kids and adults that WWE attracts. Kruger on the over hand, I still think still needs some time, he is in desperate need of a nice long programme, that I think will really sell to me what Kruger has to offer, which isn't something he hasn't been afforded on NXT. He has potential, but it isn't being fully realised, just yet.

Best of the Rest (In The World)


NXT Champion Bo Dallas also turned up this week to speak to the Full Sail Arena about Sami Zayn. I'm beginning to realise why I was beginning to like Bo Dallas in this segment, because the scripting is so strong. It realised the feelings the fans in the Full Sail and elsewhere were feeling against Dallas as a face and began to turn add it to his character, over empathising the elements that were already gaining the ire of wrestling fans all over the globe. Once again this another very well written promo with Dallas claiming he was a mentor to Zayn, reminiscent of the way The Miz gained heat in 2010 as Daniel Bryan's “Pro” on the very first series of NXT. However, Dallas' actually delivery does leave a lot to be desired. In front of a live crowd, Dallas seems easily put off, often corpsing when the often imaginative Full Sail Arena faithful chant at him, which definitely affects the flow of his promos.

I am actually quite excited to see the Dallas and Zayn feud play out on television, as NXT has been consistently strong at creating feuds that are watchable from start to finish and giving them enough time to breath, which isn't always the case when it comes to regular WWE television. However, this offering from Dallas, just simply wasn't up to scratch, and he won't have the strong booking of NXT to protect him once he heads to the main roster, but that probably says more about how WWE operates than it does about Dallas himself. It could take a while for Dallas to be ready to be able to step up to next level, but giving him more opportunities like this can only help the Twenty Three year old.

In the strongest match of the night, NXT Women's Champion Paige took on Sasha Banks. The action was fought at a good pace throughout, with both women working together to put on an enjoyable bout. Whilst the match might've rested a little too heavily on rest holds, especially considering neither woman was heel at this point, there was a really nice section that saw Paige attempting to hold Banks' arms to the mat, with a good looking reversal into a roll up getting a near fall for Banks. The finish saw Paige reverse a running Cross Body block from Banks into a pinfall to pick up the victory. It was ending that we've seen plenty of times before, but allowed Banks to continue to look competitive, and sold the story of the bout well. After the match was over, as had been hinted in the build up to this one, Banks attacked Paige from behind to complete her heel turn, and was later seen to be fully aligned with Summer Rae, in a pretty awful backstage segment, which really showed up both girls lack of acting ability.

In a very disappointing tag team contest, the Sylvester LeFort managed team of Alexander Rusev and Scott Dawson took on Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. Amore looked great in his pre-match promo, unfortunately that didn't translate to the ring. To be fair, the main body of the contest, actually wasn't a complete failure, with both Rusev and Dawson looking impressive whilst in control. However, it was the ending of this contest that really let it down, after a awkward looking version of the Hart Attack, featuring a Spinning Heel Kick from Rusev, the referee ending up disqualifying the heels for being in the ring for too long. It really was bizarre, with no one knowing exactly what had happened and simply wandering around. It felt like the DQ was shoot, as Harry Smith talked about in his interview with Wrestle Talk TV, but if that was the case NXT is taped, why didn't they just re-shoot the ending?


Something that did work on the show was a Renee Young interview with CJ Parker. I've been calling out for some interview time for Parker over the last few weeks, as his character will only work if it is given time to speak and get over with the people, other wise it is just another 2D gimmick that will be hard to buy into. Luckily, Parker did a good job here, with a quirky promo about beavers and phoenixes, to explain his feud with Tyler Breeze. In a solid wrestling cliché, Breeze turned up at the end of the interview to lay the boots into Parker, with the nice added touch of a cheeky selfie whilst posing on top of Parker.

Finally...


My final thoughts on this week's WWE NXT.

1. Xavier Woods could easily slot into the main roster of WWE, Leo Kruger still feels like he needs a bit more time.

2. The scripting of the Bo Dallas character, is strong than it's delivery.

3. Sasha Banks might be able to wrestle, but she certainly can't act!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

WWE Main Event 11th September 2013 Review



This week's main event seemed like a return to form for the show, with a strong card of matches, with enough variety to keep me interested throughout the hour. Antonio Cesaro continues to leave WWE fans scratching their heads wondering why the organisation doesn't seem to notice the talent they have, with a top notch bout with Kofi Kingston, but I've chosen to focus this week's review on another match, and I'll explain why...

R-Truth 

vs. 

Big E Langston

The reason this match is in the main slot for this review, is because I was really intrigued by Big E Langston appearance on the show. We haven't seen Langston for a fair amount of time on television after Langston lost to Dolph Ziggler in the blow off match of their feud on the 20th August edition of Smackdown, and I was half expecting for Langston to take some time off television, before returning as a face, with a couple of matches against Damien Sandow at house shows recently, pointing towards that. So I was quite surprised to see him lined up to face R-Truth here. Truth has really been struggling to hold my attention with a stale gimmick and some so-so performance.

The match itself was decent enough to keep my attention and entertain me to some degree, but really lacked any proper structure or flow which let it down. Langston looked impressive when incontrol of Truth and his signature moves such as the Big Splash he did, looked very impressive. R-Truth's offense were mainly limited to strikes, but they came at such random moments, that when Truth launched into what should have been his comeback, it didn't really have much of an impact as Langston had spent to much time on top. What could have been the big spot that helped this match, was unfortunately botched, with Truth cannon-balling over the top rope on Langston on the outside and landing awkwardly on his, this was mainly down to Langston being in the wrong position and not being able to properly catch Truth, so the fault has to lie with the big man on this one.

The finish saw R-Truth miss his Corkscrew Scissors Kick, allowing Langston to hit a clothesline, before pulling down the straps and hitting The Big Ending to pick up the pinfall victory. The finish was simple, but effective using both men's signature moves well, it's just a shame that what preceded it hadn't quite flowed so well. It makes sense to give Langston the win here, as he is someone WWE does seem to have some sort of plan for, even if they aren't quite sure what it is yet, but it does make Truth's victory over World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank holder Damien Sandow even more random and perplexing. It certainly wasn't the strongest performance I've seen from either man in a WWE ring.

So, what should WWE do with Big E Langston? I've been saying this for quite some time...turn him face! Simply do replays of what Langston did in NXT, running over heels opponents, whilst asking for a five count instead of a three count. It got him over on NXT, and I'm pretty certain it would get him over on Raw. He's certainly most comfortable as a face, and is entertain enough on the mic to really get some fan support behind him. From there give the guy a run with the United States Championship with an entertaining rivalry, with any of a number of WWE's heels, and then see how it goes. As for R-Truth, I'm struggling to see what he offers WWE in 2013, although I'm beginning to wonder if they could partner him up with someone and give him a run in the tag team division, which could be an interesting move for Truth, maybe someone like NXT's Xavier Woods could work with Truth.

Best of the Rest


Elsewhere on the show, Kofi Kingston and The Real American's Antonio Cesaro particpated in the match of the night, and arguably the best match to ever grave and episode of Main Event. Cesaro spent much of the match in control, which is a role that suits him down to the ground, as we saw in his battles with Sami Zayn from NXT. Kingston worked well fighting underneath and the two built a good foundation of solid technical wrestling, with a few highflying moves from Kingston thrown in as well. There were also a number of exciting spots that really lifted the match and got the fans to sit up and take notice, including Kingston using the steel steps in a similar spot from this week's Raw, although the cannonball certainly looked by than the forearm strike used on Monday, and of course Cesaro's extra long Giant Swing, which would seem to be becoming a regular part of his offence going forward.

The finish saw Cesaro go for a Neutralizer, with Kingston reversing in a roll up for a near fall, that saw Cesaro show off his strength once again bridging out of the pin and going for a backslide, Kingston slipped free and hit Trouble in Paradise to the pinfall victory. I thought this was a strong finish that allowed both me to continue looking good, with Cesaro bridge out of Kingston's pin being an outstanding show of strength, and Kingston's finisher happening so quickly that you could easily make a case for a rematch. It's baffling that either of these competitors has never been pushed strongly by WWE, whilst many have argued that Kingston lacks the mic skills to move past the mid card, Cesaro certainly does.


There was also tag team action on the show, with Prime Time Players taking on Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal of 3MB. Darren Young & Titus O'Neil were in control for most of the match, with O'Neil's power keeping Mahal & Slater in check in the early going. The best section of the match for me was a nice series of reversal between Young and Slater, with the two former Nexus stablemates showing a familiarity, with their section flowing nicely. The finish saw Slater break up a pinfall by O'Neil, with Young and Slater going on to battle on the outside, ending with Slater sending Young crashing hard into the announce table. With O'Neil taking out Slater with a shoulder barge, Mahal attempted a roll up for a near fall, with O'Neil escaping and finishing Mahal off with Clash of the Titus for the pinfall victory. I thought the finish had some good ideas, but a lot of it didn't flow particularly well, but it was good to see The Prime Time Players back on top after last week's defeat to The Wyatt Family.


Finally...


My final thoughts on this week's Main Event.

1. Big E Langston probably still isn't ready for a big push, but seeing him in more matches on television will get him ready quickly.

2. Antonio Cesaro deserves to be higher up the card in WWE. 

3. The Tag Team Turmoil bout on Night of Champions could be a very interesting contest indeed. 

WWE Payback 2013 DVD Review

WWE Payback 2013 is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray, available at www.wwedvd.co.uk, priced at £12.99 for DVD and £13.99 for Blu-Ray. Broadcast live from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois, it featured a main event that saw John Cena defend his WWE Championship in a Three Stages of Hell bout against Ryback, as well as CM Punk's return to WWE against Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio. You can check out our full event review of the show here...http://www.acrossthepondwrestling.co.uk/2013/06/wwe-payback-review.html



Content Listing


Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat Match
The Miz vs. Wade Barrett (C) vs. Curtis Axel with Paul Heyman (10:35)

Mr. McMahon interupts Triple H

Diva's Championship Match
Kaitlyn (C) vs. AJ Lee with Big E Langston (9:59)

Layla, Natalya & Alicia Fox comfort Kaitlyn

United States Championship Match
Kane vs. Dean Ambrose (C) (9:33)

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Alberto Del Rio with Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Dolph Ziggler (C) with AJ Lee & Big E Langston (13:50)

CM Punk with Paul Heyman vs. Chris Jericho (21:20)

Tag Team Championship Match
Team RK-No vs. The Shield (Reigns/Rollins) (C) (12:14)

WWE Championship Three Stages of Hell Match (Lumberjack/Tables/Ambulance)
John Cena (C) vs. Ryback (24:30)


Special Features

CM Punk & Paul Heyman discuss Payback

The History of The Shield, Team Hell No & Randy Orton

Review

If I hadn't watched SummerSlam live a few weeks ago, I would have been mentioning that Payback was the PPV of the Year, so far, but just because SummerSlam was a little bit better, that doesn't stop this show from being very good. There is a lot for fans of WWE to enjoy here, and with matches that will be remembered for sometime, as well as a couple of battles that could quite possibly end up being forgotten gems, that you'll rediscover when you purchase this set.

Unfortunately, however the set is let down by it's main event contest. Whilst John Cena defending his WWE Championship against Ryback in a Three Stages of Hell match is a pretty decent match, it simply can not follow what has preceded it on the show and probably goes a little bit too long for what it is. There are some nice moment, like Cena jumping on to a whole host of wrestler in the Lumberjack match and a good exchange in the Tables match, whilst the Ambulance match struggles to get going with an over gimmicked ambulance putting a dampner on things. Maybe in isolation, this bout would be more enjoyable, but if have just watched the rest of the show, it is a little bit of a let down.

Now on to the more positive stuff, CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho. This was CM Punk's first match since losing to The Undertaker at this year's Wrestlemania. Anyone that watched Money in the Bank 2011, will know that when Punk is in his hometown of Chicago, the atmosphere is always fantastic, with the crowd unanimously behind The Straight Edge Saviour. The action is every bit as good as you would expect, with some hard hits and some exciting near falls. This is also the catalyst for the CM Punk and Paul Heyman feud that is still raging on television, with Heyman almost costing Punk the win. Definitely the match of the night.

Dolph Ziggler defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio is another top quality match up. With some really good work from both men, they manage to pull off a really nice double turn, with Ziggler walking out a face, due to some fantastic selling, and Del Rio leaving as a heel, helped along by nice promo from Del Rio later in the night. The bout plays well of Ziggler recent concussion, really playing at the heartstrings at points, and whilst it was a risky decision to use the concussion and have Ziggler take so many head blows, it paid of nicely and this is very strong match up. 

Elsewhere, The Shield defend their Tag Team Championships against Team RK-No, in an exciting, storyline fueled tag team battle, where it's really interesting to see Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan teaming with the two now so pivotal in the main storyline in WWE. Wade Barrett defends his Intercontinetal Championship against The Miz and Curtis Axel in a decent triple threat match, where all three of the men gelled well together, as well a really nice finish. Kaitlyn defending her Diva's Championship again AJ Lee is my favourite main stream women's match this year, with strong wrestling and storytelling throughout, and it was really nice to see a decent women's match on WWE television after so long. Dean Ambrose defending his United States Championship against Kane is probably the weakest match on the card, but still not bad. It suffers from running too long and a poor ending that leaves more questions open than it answers.

The special features on the DVD are pretty disappointing. For some reason, WWE have decided not to include the solid Payback Kick Off match between Sheamus and Damien Sandow that would have been an excellent addition to the show. Instead, we get a short interview with CM Punk and Paul Heyman backstage, which is interesting but doesn't really add much to the show and a highlight video of the rivalry between The Shield, Randy Orton & Team Hell No, which is as usual well put together, but after watching the show already doesn't really add much to the production.

Overall, Payback was a very strong show, and certainly WWE's strongest event for sometime, with a lot of quality action to keep WWE fans satisfied. If you're considering not purchasing this show, because it isn't one of the big names, change your mind, this is an excellent showing and you will not regret having this one your DVD shelf.  

Top Three Matches from Payback 2013


1. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho

2. Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio

3. Team RK-No vs. The Shield 

ROH CM Punk: Icon DVD Review

ROH CM Punk: Icon is available on two disc DVD set now from rohwrestling.com priced at $19.99 (about £13 plus shipping). This set fits in between previous DVD sets The Second City Saint and The Summer of Punk, looking at events between July 2004 and June 2005, as well as Punk's surprise appearance at Unscripted II in November 2006.


Content Listing 

Disc One


CM Punk-Ricky Steamboat: The Final Confrontation
ROH Reborn Completion, 17th July, 2004

ROH World Tag Team Championship Two Out of Three Falls Match
The Second City Saints (CM Punk & Colt Cabana) (C) vs. The Briscoe Brothers (37:29)
ROH Death Before Dishonor II Part 1, 23rd July, 2004

Chicago Street Fight
The Second City Saints (CM Punk & Ace Steel) vs.Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer (27:42)
ROH Death Before Dishonor II Part 2, 24th July, 2004

ROH World Tag Team Championship Match
The Second City Saints (CM Punk & Colt Cabana) (C) vs. The Havana Pitbulls with Julian Smokes (19:09)
ROH Testing The Limit, 7th August, 2004

CM Punk vs. Austin Aries (22:47)
ROH Weekend of Thunder Night 1, 5th November 2004

No Disqualification Match
The Second City Saints (CM Punk & Ace Steel) vs. Generation Next (Austin Aries & Roderick Strong) (20:02)
ROH Weekend of Thunder Night 2, 6th November 2004

CM Punk vs. Spanky (14:41)
ROH Third Anniversary Celebration Part 1, 19th February 2005

CM Punk vs. Alex Shelley (22:00)
ROH Third Anniversary Celebration Part 2, 25th February 2005

CM Punk with Davey Andrews & Traci Brooks vs. Jimmy Rave with Prince Nana & Fast Eddie (19:43)
ROH Third Anniversary Celebration Part 3, 26th February 2005

Disc Two

The Second City Saints (CM Punk & Colt Cabana) & Steve Corino with Bryan Riegel, Davey Andrews & Ricky Landell vs. The Embassy (Jimmy Rave, Oman Tortuga & The Weapon of Mass Destruction #3) with Prince Nana (4:57)
ROH Trios Tournament 2005, 5th March 2005

The Second City Saints (CM Punk & Colt Cabana) vs. The Embassy (Jimmy Rave & Fast Eddie) with Prince Nana (14:12)
ROH Best of the American Super Junior Tournament, 2nd April 2005

CM Punk with ATPW Hall of Famer Bobby Heenan vs. Mike Kruel with The Embassy (Nana/Chung) (4:00)
ROH Stalemate, 16th April 2005

Dog Collar Match
CM Punk vs. Jimmy Rave with The Embassy (Santiago/Chung/Kruel/Tortuga/Nana) (13:38)
ROH Manhattan Mayhem, 7th May 2005

ROH World Tag Team Championship Match
The Second City Saints (CM Punk & Ace Steel) vs. BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs (C)
ROH Final Showdown, 13th May 2005 (16:42)

Steel Cage Match
CM Punk vs. Jimmy Rave (24:16)
ROH Nowhere to Run, 14th May 2005

CM Punk vs. Roderick Strong (24:05)
ROH The Future is Now, 12th June 2005

CM Punk & Bryan Danielson vs. Jimmy Rave & Adam Pearce with Prince Nana (29:02)
ROH Unscripted II, 11th February 2006

Review


Ring of Honor continues to munch through it's catalogue footage at an alarming rate, with their most recent set CM Punk:Icon, focusing on Punk's work in ROH between 2004-2005 (not including his fantastic series with Samoa Joe). If you're a fan CM Punk's work in WWE over the last few years, then this will be a great set to get you interested in his work for Ring of Honor, and I'm sure that is what ROH is hoping for. They have released a number of other set's on The Straight Edge Saviour over the last few years including The Second City Saint, Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk and The Summer of Punk. It does feel a little bit of an over kill, and ROH might have been better spreading out these sets a bit, with pretty much all of Punk's ROH career now covered in these sets.

That however, doesn't stop this from being a very good watch, with a ton of top notch wrestling content. If you're looking for a documentary feature or a commentary on Punk's career, there isn't one, this is simply a compilation of Punk's best matches during that period. Similar to WWE's most recent DVD on ECW, this DVD set is helped by the variety of matches available. A number of best of set's can become a little repetitive, with similar matches, luckily this set doesn't go down that route, which is really a testament to the good work that Punk did for the promotion. From solid tag team action with Colt Cabana against The Briscoes, to teaming with Ace Steel in an awesome Chicago Street Fight against BJ Whitmer and Dan Maff in a bout that will surprise those only familiar with Punk's WWE work, to good singles outing against the likes of Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, there is enough to keep you engaged throughout the entire set.

It's a really a testament to Gabe Sapolsky's booking that there is not just one clear narrative throughout this set but a handful, starting with Punk's face turn saving Ricky Steamboat from Generation Next, before the introduction of Punk's feud with The Embassy and specifically Jimmy Rave. I guarantee if you weren't watching ROH during this time period and even if you were by the time Punk collides with Rave at Nowhere to Run in a terrific Steel Cage battle, you'll be willing on Punk to pick up his victory of Rave.

If you're used to Punk's work for WWE, you should settle yourself in for a long ride, with most matches running over twenty minutes, with a lot of stories to be told. The only short matches by ROH standard are Punk teaming with Cabana and Steve Corino to take on The Embassy at Trios Tournament and poor outing for Punk against Mike Kruel from Stalemate. Luckily both matches include either pre-match brawl in the case of the Trios Tournament match, which more than makes up for the actual contest being a little on the short side, and the Kruel bout, features Bobby Heenan putting Punk over after the match, followed by a great brawl between CM Punk and Jimmy Rave.

The only downside to this DVD, is that there is no space in between the matches, with no entrances for the competitors, you are kind of flung straight into the action. Whilst this down mean that the set can include more matches, it does mean that it takes a while to recover from the previous match and truly get into the next one, luckily the match quality is good enough that it doesn't take particularly long. It would have been nice to see some linking narration between the matches, maybe from someone like Steve Corino, who was involved with Punk around this time and currently still works for ROH, which would have given little bit of breathing spaces for the matches, as well a little extra explanation as to what was going on in ROH at the time.

Overall, this is very strong DVD set, with some top notch matches across both discs, a great story to discover or relive between Punk and Jimmy Rave, as well as the interesting inclusion of Punk's one night return to ROH, after TNA stopped talents from appearing, in a cracking tag team bout teaming with Bryan Danielson (WWE's Daniel Bryan) to take on Rave and Adam Pearce. If your looking to check out Punk's work outside WWE then this would be decent place to start.


Three Matches to buy this set for...


1. Chicago Street Fight: The Second City Saints vs. BJ Whitmer & Dan Maff from Death Before Dishonor II - Part 2

2. Two Out of Three Falls Match: The Second City Saints vs. The Briscoes from Death Before Dishonor II - Part 1

3. CM Punk vs. Roderick Strong from The Future is Now