Sunday, 31 August 2014

SWA Summer Blowout Review

It's been a while since I've reviewed any British wrestling, so I thought I'd returned with a double header of excitement. Kicking of said double header, will be a look at Shropshire Wrestling Alliance's Summer Blowout show, presented on 29th September 2014 at Dawley Town Hall in Dawley (which is great).

The venue itself was superb, with the shape of the room and height of the ceiling, providing some great acoustics for the loud crowd. Although, calling this crowd simply loud feels like I'm doing them a disservice. This was perhaps the loudest wrestling crowd from start to finish I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. There was no lull in this crowds enthusiasm and it certainly gave the performers in the ring a great soundscape to work with.

Let's take a look at the matches then...

Match 1 - 

Damian Dunne (C) vs. Mark Andrews 

for the British Lions Championship

The show kicked off with Damian Dunne defending the British Lions Championship against Mark Andrews. This match worked very well as an opening contest, with the two guys giving just enough of a taste of what they can do in the ring to get the crowd warmed up for the rest of the evening.
The wrestling throughout the match was clean and crisp, with Dunne spending a lot of the earlier stages of the match working over Andrews arm. Andrews was effective whilst working from underneath, as always he is an instantly likeable babyface so seeing him cut off everytime he attempt to make a comeback, meant that when he finally get in some sustained offence the crowd was red hot. It certainly helps that Andrews has one of the most exciting movesets in British wrestling, when you can pull out Super Hurracanranas and Standing Shooting Star Presses with ease, you're always going to get a great reaction. 

The finish saw the dastardly Dunne distract the referee with the championship belt, allowing him to hit a low blow on Andrews, rolling him up to get the three count and retain the title. A solid finish to the match, unfortunately I felt the referee took a little too long to turn around and make the three count, meaning Andrews was down for a very long time. It was a little disappointing to see the earlier work on the arm not come back into play, but I'd certainly like to see what these two could do in a main event, compared to this opener.

Simon Brown suspends Damage, Joey Sanchez Open Challenge

I spent the entire of this segment, completely and utterly confused. That's partly my own fault for not being familiar with storyline and the wrestlers involved, but the poor PA system and talent speaking to closely to the mic. From what I deciphered General Manager Simon Brown suspended wrestler Damage for attacking an official on a previous show, whilst Joey Sanchez issued an "Open Challenge" to G John Chase. Less of an open challenge, more of a.....erm.....challenge. G John Chase then came out an made it a Gauntlet match, with Sanchez' first opponent being Chase' new client. It's difficult to really say if this was a good segment or not, or even if the promos were any good, because I just couldn't hear what was being said! 

Match 2 

Sebastian Radclaw vs. Marshall X vs. Robert Rochester Rose

Before this match started, Sebastian Radclaw got on the mic to explain the history of his valet, a cuddly toy by the name of Skat Monkey. I really like Radclaw's character, but after the previous lengthy talking segment I found myself switching off from what was happening as Marshall X turned to attempt to steal Skat Monkey. Again the segment was hurt by the PA, I was relieved when Robert Rochester Rose came out to put an end to it. 

This match never really clicked for me, for a number of reasons. Firstly, Marshall using Skat Monkey directly in front of the referee made absolutely no sense, especially when there was an extra man in the ring to create a distraction for the referee. Secondly, Rose added very little to the match, his moves were a little sloppy and he only hit a few of them anyway. Personally, I think this match would have been far better off as a singles match between Radclaw and Marshall X.

Radclaw went on to pick up the victory with a roll up on Rose, hopefully this will lead to a bout between Radclaw and Marshall X later on down the line, as I think the two characters could work very well together if given the opportunity. 

Match 3

The Vulture Squad vs Second City Collective 

The first half main event began with...more talking. I understood why Ryan Smile was explaining the importance and background of this contest, I just could have done without it following on from one long talking segment, and the previous match that included a lot of talking. Credit to Smile who managed to come through quite clearly however, as he held the mic a little further from his face. 

However, once Pete Dunne hit Nixon Newell with a strong forearm to the face to open the match, things really got going as the four competitors put on an exciting tag team bout. The in-ring action was technically sound, with a real intensity and depth to it, especially when Nixon and Dunne were in the ring together. The action was well paced, building nicely to each moment, with a good array of tag team moves like The Vulture Squad's Camel Clutch/Front Kick combination, and solo efforts like Smile's early Tope Conhilo.

Dunne spent a long time working Nixon's knee, which seemed to simply be a way of building for a hot tag to start with, so I was very happy to see it factor into the finish of the match, which saw Dunne kick Nixon in the knee and slap on a Texas Cloverleaf. Nixon did manage to make it to the ropes, but with the referee down he unable to stop Dunne dragging Nixon back into the centre of the ring for the submission victory, just after the ref came to. Big thumbs up from me on this finish, and with the teams now level on one a piece I certainly wouldn't say no to a rematch.

The dynamic of Dunne and Ryan Smile as a tag team was an interesting one, with Dunne working as an out and out heel, whilst Smile worked more of a tweener role. This idea could have fallen flat on it's face, but the Birmingham two pulled it off very well. As with another rematch, I'm intrigued to see where this partnership leads, it's certainly grabbed my attention.

Match 4

Joey Sanchez vs. Marc Morgan with G John Chase

Following the interval, G John Chase brought out his newest client, Marc Morgan to be Joey Sanchez's opponent. It was my first time seeing both Sanchez and Morgan and I have to say I was impressed. 

After some work on the outside before the bell rang, including a nasty looking baking tray shot to Morgan's head, the match settled into a strong storytelling bout. The psychology was spot on, as Morgan spent the entire match focused on Sanchez's arm. Things were kept interesting with some really nice offence from Morgan including an Old School transitioned into a Leg Lariat focused on the arm! A number of times Sanchez would attempt to fight back, only for Morgan to land another move on the arm. This would lead Sanchez getting caught in a Crossface, who managed to hold on despite Chase holding the ropes away from him. 

With Sanchez seemingly gaining an upperhand with Morgan in a Sharpshooter, Chase distracted the referee, allowing a mystery man to run in and attack Sanchez and allow Morgan to pick up the victory. Another strong finish that advanced the storyline, as the mystery man was revealed to have joined Chase's stable alongside Morgan and Damage. I couldn't make out the name of the attacker on the night, but it would turn out to be Darvien Vayne, another name new to me. 

Sanchez gets extra points for continue to sell the arm injury for the rest of the night, including when coming out sing "Happy Birthday" to young fan at ringside. It was something he didn't particularly have to do, but to those fans sitting directly opposite him as we were, the slight winch when clapping his hands was the icing on the cake. 

Any review of this match would be incomplete without a mention to perhaps the greatest piece of heckling there has ever been at a wrestling show. With Sanchez gaining an advantage, some fine chap, belted out the words "Thunderfuck him" in reference to Morgan. I have no idea what "Thunderfuck" means, but whoever it was that shouted it out, I will find you and I will shake your hand for reducing grown men to giggling like girls for the majority of the car ride home.

Match 5 - 

Dan Maloney vs. Edwards

Before this show, I had never heard of Edwards, let alone seen him wrestle. But that wasn't the case for the crowd in Dawley Town Hall, who gave him a terrific pop upon his entrance. He's certainly doing something right here. 

The match was a lot of fun and a nice change of pace from the previous contest, mostly made up of a brawl on the outside, before the bell, including the use of a mop, an ice bucket and at one point a small child, in what became known as "child slam gate". 

Bell to bell, the bout was relatively short, as Edwards hit a Rock Bottom and Swantom Bomb, which Maloney no sold, before hitting a Lariat to pick up the pin fall victory. Whilst I understand the reasons behind having Maloney no sell the Swanton Bomb, a move like this from a man the size of Edwards shouldn't have been brushed off in such a fashion, it makes it very hard to suspend disbelief in such situations. 

Match 6

Tyler Bate vs. Jay LethalFor The ROH World Television Championship

What a terrific match this was. It's not often that single match is worth the admission price alone, but this certainly was. 

Face vs Face matches have the potential to be very flat, but the crowd split nicely between the two, including some electric duelling chants. The wrestlers returned the favour keeping a good pace throughout the bout, which went back and forth with a number of impressive reversals and sequences. 

Lethal certainly wasn't turning up expecting an easy payday either, delivering some loud chops to Bate early on in the match, with Bate giving as good as he got. The match built nicely towards it's finish, with Lethal attempting to hit his Lethal Injection finisher a number of times, with Bate coming up with some inventive reversals, including a Reverse Aeroplane spin which got a nice pop out of the crowd. 

When it's clear that one wrestler is going to win, it can be very difficult to get a crowd invested in the false finishes. Therefore, it's a credit to both involved that the false finishes were so good, that the crowd, including myself, were completely and utterly invested with everything they did in the ring. The false finishes came thick and fast towards the end, and at times I was convinced Bate was walking out with the title, especially following a Yakuza Kick into Sitout Powerbomb combination. 

When Lethal did pick up the win, via Lethal Injection, the crowd was on their feet, applauding the sublime performance the two men put in. The crowd getting in the ring to lift Bate into the air is one of the strongest visuals I've seen at a show. Bate might have lost here, but it's a loss that has elevated with the SWA ranks, and in the eyes of the fans. 

 For a 17 year old, to be able to step into the ring with a man of Lethal's calibre and not look out of place is a testament just how far Bate has come in the last year. Has there been a more complete wrestler at such a young age?


The most important question following a wrestling show is "Would I go to this promotion again?" and the answer here would be a resounding yes. From the incredible crowd and venue to the top notch main event, I was entertained for the majority of the show. Whilst there was a few problem with the PA and maybe a bit too much talking in the first half, for £6 it was more than value for money. 

Thanks for reading, if you'd like to know more about ATPW, check out our Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Second Podcast Pilot with Marc Pearson, Marnix Van Der Kraan and Alex Daniels

Another podcast pilot was attempted, as four guys sit in a McDonalds somewhere near Telford and talk about wrestling. There's a lot of laughter, an attempt to review SWA's Summer Blowout show and rustling of wrappers. But mainly laughter. Enjoy.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

WWE Live in the UK (May 2014) DVD Review

WWE Live in the UK (May 2014) is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now, available from Recorded on the 19th and 20th May 2014 at the O2 Arena in London, England, the two live shows are split into four TV shows, Raw, Main Event, Superstars and Smackdown. Raw is main evented by a clash between Seth Rollins and Batista, alongside John Cena taking on Luke Harper and Paul Heyman's Cesaro battling Sheamus, as well as five other matches. Main Event see's Damien Sandow go one on one with R-Truth, with one other match. Superstars is main evented by Jack Swagger and Cody Rhodes, with one other match. Smackdown is main evented by a No Disqualification contest between Batista and Dolph Ziggler, as well as Tag Team confrontation between The Wyatt Family, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan and Tag Team Champions The Usos and three other matches. The commentary throughout the set is provided by Bryron Saxton, Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, John "Bradshaw" Layfield and Tom Phillips. The special features include one other match, as well as eleven additional segments. 

For this review, I'm going to split the DVD up into it's separate TV shows, as well as special features. I think this will be the most effective and coherent way of looking at the product. 

The main story that runs throughout the 1095th episode of Raw is the battle between John Cena and The Wyatt Family, with this storyline both opening and closing the show. Bray Wyatt's opening promo is captivating, adding to character backstory and pushing Wyatt's Last Man Standing Match with Cena at the upcoming PPV. Cena's ambush set up his main event match with Luke Harper well, giving The Wyatt Family a reason to seek revenge. A Renee Young interview with Cena and The Usos later on in the show, provides a solid promo from Cena and an opportunity for The Usos to deliver on the mic also. Wyatt is provided an opportunity to reply, with a short and succinct promo, with both adding depth to the Cena vs Harper clash later on. 

Harper vs Cena closes the show, and didn't quite live up to my expectations. Whilst the match does have it's moments, like Harper hitting a lovely German Suplex as Cena goes for a Five Knuckle Shuffle and Harper's impressive hurracanrana, the majority of the bout is a clunky affair with Cena and Harper not seeming to click in the ring. Luckily, the show does manage to end on a high note, as the match breaks down as The Usos and the rest of the Wyatt Family get involved. The show ends with Wyatt managing to gain a level of revenge on Cena for the earlier attack and setting up the upcoming PPV contest nicely. 

The real main event of the show for me, was Seth Rollins taking on Batista. Similar to Harper vs Cena, both sides had some mic time before the match, with The Shield producing a solid effort detailing their desires for a fight with Evolution, which the crowd ate up, whilst Triple H gave Batista a pep talk backstage. After a nice swerve opening, the match does struggle to find it's feet in the first few minutes, but once it does it develops into a decent TV main event, with Batista and Rollins finding a groove that works well for them, producing some solid action in the ring. The most exciting action of the match, actually comes from the outside as Rollins and Batista's respective factions, begin a wild brawl, with a couple of fun spots. The actual ending is a little disappointing, although the action after makes up for it and leaves the crowd wanting more, which is exactly what a TV show should do. It's difficult however, not to spot the similarities between this match and the Harper vs Cena one. 

Stephanie McMahon's "State of the World Heavyweight Championship Address" feels a little over scripted and forced as she runs down the absent Daniel Bryan and the London crowd. The crowd seemed to be putty in her hands, reacting exactly how she was expecting throughout the segment. It did feel a little strange to not have someone come out to reply to the thing she was saying and therefore this left the segment feeling a little flat to me. The Bad News Barrett video package was a nice touch however. 

The match of the night is a heavyweight tussle between Paul Heyman Guy, Cesaro and then United States Champion Sheamus. Whilst not the strongest match that these two have had, it's still an enjoyable brawl, with both men giving their all throughout to create a solid back and forth encounter with some decent near falls. The bout is hurt however, by the crowds reaction to the competitors, as Sheamus clearly isn't over with the London crowd, it really is time WWE gave him something fresh and exciting to do. 

A Beat the Clock Challenge to gain a shot at the Intercontinental Championship is a bizarre affair. Big E and Ryback kick off proceedings in an unremarkable match, which the crowd couldn't have cared less for. Rob Van Dam and Alberto Del Rio contest a dull, sloppy match with no sense of urgency to beat the time. Dolph Ziggler vs Mark Henry is the most interesting match of the Challenge, and even that suffers from a skewed psychology that just doesn't work. However, the Beat the Clock Challenge is saved by an appearance from Bad News Barrett who appears to take out Rob Van Dam with a Bullhammer Elbow, going on to cut a great promo that works his home crowd perfectly, with Rule Britainia playing being a great way to close things off. 

Elsewhere, then Diva's Champion Paige competes against Alicia Fox in a rough and tumble diva's match, which features some good spots and sound psychology. It's not perhaps the homecoming that Paige should have been afford though. A mixed tag match between R-Truth & Naomi and Fandango & Layla never happens, meaning Truth's entrance feels entirely pointless. The return of 3MB as The Union Jacks is a fun segment, although the interuption of Rusev and Lana goes on for a little too long for my liking. An in ring segment involving Adam Rose, Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter works as a nice refresher before heading into the main event. 

This certainly isn't the strongest episode of Raw, there's ever been, and to be quite honest, there's nothing that I would label as "Must Watch" on this episode. The three big matches on the show do what they need to do to push the angles forward to the next episode and build towards the Payback PPV, but beyond that this is an entirely missable episode of Raw. 

As with Raw, Smackdown is dominated by the John Cena vs Bray Wyatt feud, with The Wyatt Family opening the second hour of the show, with another strong promo from Bray, depicting Cena as a corporate monster (very different from how Cena would be painted in his feud with The Authority later in the year) with some good visual language. Wyatt switches the focus nicely from Cena to Harper and Rowan's opponents later in the night, Tag Team Champions The Usos. A strong promo that showed Wyatt has much more depth than he is often given credit for. The Usos and Cena get a chance to reply in an interview with Renee Young, with both The Usos and Cena delivering good promos, with Cena's actually being quite funny

Whilst The Usos vs. Harper and Rowan is essentially a abridged version of their PPV matches, this doesn't stop the match form being an entertaining affair. The bout builds nicely towards the hot tag, with Harper and Rowan both producing some nice looking offence, before erupting into a series of exciting moves from The Usos. The finish is screwy, but this allows for more build up towards the Cena and Wyatt match on PPV, with the two teasing a confrontation to close the show. 

Batista and Dolph Ziggler duke it out in an engaging No Disqualification match, which is the best match on the show. It's a back and forth brawl, with plenty of nice spots to keep the attention, including a nasty looking Fameasser attempt from the apron to the steel steps. Ziggler brings a nice intensity to the match, that brings out the best in Batista, who puts in more than enough effort, with the live crowd enjoying this one a lot. Whilst Batista's return was much maligned, this bout proves that he had more to offer WWE than the internet gave him credit for. 

In an attempt to help ticket sales for this event, WWE added Hulk Hogan to appear on the show. If I'd have payed to have seen Hogan, I would have been very disappointed. His appearance, alongside Jimmy Hart, is simply to shill the WWE Network and it's then upcoming show Legends House, which wasn't still isn't available in the UK (officially). A complete waste of Hogan's time and real let down for the fans in attendance. 

Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus tread water in a match that happened. The pair simply go through the motions until Cesaro get's involved, with neither seemingly looking to get the win. Cesaro's interaction with Sheamus after the match is good however. Bo Dallas makes his debut on the main roster with a decent encounter, which get's over Bo's character nicely. Tag Team Women's action is painful to watch as Nikki Bella & Eva Marie take on The Funkadactyls, the wrestling is messy and it's unclear who the crowd is supposed to be rooting for. Vickie Guerrero reminds us that she was the General Manager of Smackdown at this time, with an interaction with Adam Rose. The crowd enjoys it, but it's undoubtedly filler, with no real direction. 

Similar to Raw, there isn't anything here that I'd say you were missing out on if you hadn't seen before. The Batista and Dolph Ziggler bout is entertaining if you have nothing else to do, but even then I'm sure you wouldn't stay awake at night stressing that you hadn't seen it yet. Unlike Raw, there is no real storyline progression as everything simply treads water. 

Main Event is top and tailed by a mini-feud between Cesaro and Mark Henry. The show kicks off with Paul Heyman trying his hardest to get some heat for Cesaro, but never quite managing it. This isn't particular Heyman or Cesaro's fault, the crowd simply just wants to cheer Cesaro, which is something that harmed Cesaro's entire run with Heyman. Mark Henry's interruption set up their main event skirmish nicely. Therefore, when Heyman attempt to get the match changed later on, it is very frustrating as the match is changed to an arm wrestling contest.  This means the show ends on a rather flat note, with no real main event contest. 

Damien Sandow continues his gimmick of dressing up as stuff, turning up as Sherlock Holmes for a dull bout with R-Truth. Truth simply doesn't look like he's bothered with the match, barely selling simple moves like headlocks and no selling a series of punches from Sandow garnering absolutely no reaction. I simply wasn't invested in the match, and wasn't given a reason to get invested, by the end of the match is was completely bored. Not good.

It would get worse however, as it was time for an Aksana match. The unlucky opponent this time was Naomi, with the commentators attempting to get over a fierce rivalry between the two, due to Aksana injuring Naomi's eye a few months ago. Unfortunately, that fierce rivalry isn't seen in the ring and whilst Naomi's offence does look good and Cameron does a good job of cheer leading on the outside, that doesn't save this match from being a dud.

This is quite possibly the worst episode of Main Event, I have ever sat through. There is no main event match, and the other two matches on the show are piss poor. A real disappointment for a show that usually delivers, at least one good match. 

Superstar is main evented by Cody Rhodes taking on Jack Swagger in a smooth bout with a good layer of storytelling involved. Swagger works Rhodes' arm throughout the early part of the match, which I summised was to impact on Rhodes' ability to hit the Cross Rhodes, which came into play later in the match, unfortunately Saxton and Phillips didn't pick up on this. There's plenty of near falls, Zeb Colter and Goldust doing some good work at ringside and jolly good finishing sequence, as well. One of the better matches on this set. 

Elsewhere, Big Show took on Titus O'Neil in a match. That's probably a bit harsh on both O'Neil and Big Show who clearly worked hard, I just simply didn't have any interest in seeing this match. Considering WWE were trying to push Big Show ahead of Daniel Bryan in November, it really does show how far the World's Largest Athlete has fallen in six months. 

I don't watch WWE's poor relation often, but I have to say I rather enjoyed this episode of Superstars. With the removal of the Raw replays that had been present on previous Live in the UK sets, this episode flows rather nicely, can't really ask much more from WWE's D show.

Special Features

WWF UK Rampage 1989/First WWF UK Event

The first disc features footage of WWE's first ever event in the UK in 1989 from London Arena in London. Opening up with "Mean" Gene Okerlund interviewing Hulk Hogan and Miss Elizabeth about Hogan's upcoming main event match with Randy Savage. It's a generic Hogan promo, until the arena's PA system interrupts making most of the interview inaudible. Miss Elizabeth saying she planned on slapping Savage in the face seemed a bit out of character as well. 

The Hogan vs Savage match is also included, as the two ATPW Hall of Famers battle over the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. The crowd absolutely loves this match, going wild for the slightest movement of the competitors. There's plenty of stalling from Savage and a lot of involvement from Elizabeth and Sensational Sherri at ringside. Whilst the match builds nicely towards it conclusion and Hogan no-selling an Elbow drop is a nice moment, it's difficult to feel that this match is any different from what the pair were wrestling on house shows across America at the time. That said, it's still a nice addition to the set. 

Paige's Journey to WWE

I wasn't entirely impressed with this short video package. The title was slightly misleading as I thought this might have been a short interview with Paige discussing how she got to WWE in the first place. However, it's simply a collection of clips from her time in NXT, followed by her debut on Raw, beating AJ Lee for the Diva's Championship. Underwhelming.

Raw Kick Off

Three segments from the Raw Kick Off show are included, each introduced by the panel of Josh Matthews, Booker T and Alex Riley.

The first see's Renee Young interviews Brad Maddox, who negates Renee's questions about the World Heavyweight Championship situation and instead books the Beat the Clock Challenge. After watching Raw this is pretty pointless inclusion.

A much better inclusion is Renee's interview with Paul Heyman and Cesaro, as Heyman works his magic, ripping into Renee in spectacular fashion. It made me laugh, so I was entertained, it also made me feel sorry for Renee, so I was engaged. Couldn't ask for much more really.

In another needless addition, Renee attempts to interview Stephanie McMahon who refuses to answer any questions. If there was ever a piece of filler on a WWE DVD this is it. 

Raw Backstage Pass

Two segments from the Raw Backstage Pass show are present, once again introduced by the panel of Josh Matthews, Booker T and Alex Riley.

Bryon Saxton's interview with Rob Van Dam isn't the greatest  promo in the world, although I'm sure no one was expecting that from Van Dam anyway. However, I was impressed the Van Dam was still selling the effect of the Bullhammer Elbow he'd received from Bad News Barrett earlier in the show. 

Renee Young then catches up with John Cena for a short and generic promo, where Cena simply seems to fill in the blanks to push his match with Bray Wyatt at Payback.

Raw - After The Show LIVE!

A nice addition to the DVD, is the dark segment for Raw. We see Bad News Barrett head to the ring to hit Erick Rowan with Bullhammer Elbow, before getting the rub from John Cena and interacting with both Stephanie McMahon and Triple H of The Authority. Adam Rose turns up as well. This segment was a lot of fun, with Barrett basking in the reaction he receives from the crowd and enjoying his time in the spotlight with Triple H. It really is a shame that Barrett suffered an injury a few months after, because he really did have some good momentum at this point.

Michael Cole's Weekly Interview with Triple H

This is more of a chance to plug what WWE has coming up, than a particularly interesting interview. Subjects range from Daniel Bryan not being on the European tour, Evolution's feud with The Shield, Bo Dallas' debut and Hulk Hogan's appearance on Smackdown. Certainly not the best interview the pair had done, although Triple H does say the word "dweebs".

Smackdown Kick Off

There's two segments included from the Smackdown Kick Off, both introduced by the one man panel that was Josh Matthews.

First Matthews interviews Renee Young, in a strange segment, asking Renee about how the lockeroom feels about Daniel Bryan potentially dropping the World Heavyweight Championship on the next week's Raw. Seeing as this was the show before Smackdown, this segment doesn't make much sense at all.

Secondly, Renee interviews Batista about his upcoming match with Dolph Ziggler. Whilst Batista does a good job of putting over his match with Ziggler as something important and manages to tie it back in to his upcoming match at Payback, I'd have to question the idea that Batista "made his name" in No Disqualification matches!


As with many of these Live in the UK sets, I think it makes a nice souvenir if you were at either of the two shows on the DVD, however they aren't that enjoyable if you weren't. Raw and Smackdown both present shows with no real "must-see" moments, and beyond the Ziggler and Batista bout everything else is passable at best. Main Event is dire and whilst Superstars puts on a decent show, it's not worth buying the DVD for. Even with the plethora of extras, most are disappointing, with only the Hogan vs Savage bout and the dark segment to Raw offering anything at all. This one wasn't for me, I'm afraid. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

WWE Ladies and Gentleman, My Name is Paul Heyman DVD Review

WWE's Ladies and Gentleman, My Name is Paul Heyman is out now on DVD and Blu Ray, available from The three disc set, features a documentary detailing the life and career of Paul Heyman. There's also a number of Heyman's greatest promos from AWA, NWA, WCW, ECW and WWF/E and three matches including the likes of The Hardy Boyz, CM Punk, Jim Cornette, Brock Lesnar & The Midnight Express.

This set was quite arguably the most-highly anticipated WWE documentary in recent years. I have to say, whenever a set like this is released, such as the CM Punk: Best in the World set or Triple H: They Kingdom come, I always try to keep myself fairly reserved and sceptical, to avoid a potential disappointment. I needn't have worried with this one.

I know this DVD has got good review after good review, and it's going to be difficult to say anything that hasn't already been said. It really is that damn good. As with his promos, Heyman is a captivating interviewee, it's very easy to sit and listen to him tell his stories (even if you're never quite sure if he's simply spinning a yarn, but that's part of the fun). The story of Heyman's career, moves at a good pace, moving quickly from subject to subject without ever feeling like it is skimming over the details. It also feels like some real craft has gone into the placing of the interviews, which has been missing from some WWE documentary sets, as it uses a number of themes to tie the story up together, for example the discussion of Heyman's family (his Mother in particular) really rounds off the set, giving a real human element to Heyman. 

The other interviewees are well picked, with all the interviews being brand new for the set, with the likes of Gabe Sapolsky, Jim Ross, Bill Apter and CM Punk all presenting intriguing insights into the life of Heyman. One criticism I've had of previous WWE documentaries (Triple H - Thy Kingdom Come in particular) is the overly positive nature of the interviews, making the sets feel more like an ego wank, this isn't present here. This makes for a much more enjoyable watch, whether that be criticisms over the handling of ECW or Stephanie McMahon and Jerry Lawler who clearly don't like Heyman very much at all.

My only real criticism about the documentary is the lack of a few key interviews that would have really pushed this onto the next level. I'm talking the likes of Vince McMahon (once again conspicuous by his absense) Shane McMahon, Eric Bischoff and Jim Cornette. I think all of these names would have added an extra dimension to the set, although some of there relationships with WWE might not have allowed this to be possible. I also thought that there were a few too many dramatic close-ups of Heyman, which did feel a little out of place. 


Disc Two contains a treasure chest of Heyman interviews and promos from AWA, NWA and ECW. I would review them all individually, but I think that might be a bit of overkill as I'd be saying a lot of similar stuff about each, so I'll give a quick overview instead. You can see Heyman improving in the earlier interviews, as he finds his feet and develops his own interview style. At first he attempts to simply get himself over, as Heyman develops he begins putting the entire AWA over (something that he'd put to good use when in control of ECW) this allows him to put his charges over which he get's better and better at as the set goes on. 

As Heyman moves to the NWA the quality of his promos see's a distinct improvement, with the terrific feud between Heyman's Original Midnight Express and James E. Cornette's Midnight Express. Seeing these two great talkers battle it out, in a series of intense and dramatic settings, got me really hyped up to see a match between their respective teams. It was a shame then that I had to wait until the third disc. I would've like to see have a match between the two slotted in between the promos. After all that is the point of a promo.

Ric Flair's appearance on The Dangerzone is just as good as one would expect, with both men on top form, getting over storylines and upcoming matches. This made me a very happy boy. Appearances alongside Jim Ross show an early chemistry between the two, that would come to a culmination with the pairs stint on commentary for WWF in 2001. 

However, where Heyman really came into his own was with the formation of the Dangerous Alliance. Including Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Larry Zybyszko, Beautiful Bobby and Madusa, the group allowed him really stretch his creativity and managerial muscle. The segment where Heyman is introducing each member of the group showcases his ability to get others over, as he runs through their attributes. Another segment that does this well is the Paul E awards, which of course all go to member of the Dangerous Alliance, it's superb slice of heel Heyman at his best, which get's the crowd riled up nicely.

After leaving the WCW, Heyman headed to ECW, and this selection of promos allow for the viewer to see a different side of Heyman. Whilst the previous promos had always been passionate and intense, seeing Heyman without the shackles previously seen in the AWA and NWA footage , is a whole different beast. He manages to get over everything he needs to say about upcoming matches, whilst also taking shots at both WWF and WCW, and piling his promos sky high with cultural references. This simply wasn't seen at this time and helped to set ECW apart from their competition and create the rabid fan base. The promo that almost cracks up Joey Styles is absolute gold. 

A handful of promos done in front of the ECW live crowd before shows are truly a sight to behold. Whilst the usual schtick on WWF and WCW is intact, it's the way that Heyman works the crowd into an absolute frenzy, making sure they were hot for the rest of the show and felt like they were part of something. The closing segment of the second disc, is the infamous "I dare you to through me off the air" promo, after TNN decided to replace ECW with WWF's Raw. A terrific shot on the "Network" that really should be seen. 

The third disc leaps into Heyman's time with WWE. By this time Heyman is a completely polished performer who knows how to get the desired reaction out of the crowd, whilst simultaneously relaying any information that WWE wanted to get over to the audience. This is seen clearly as Heyman introduces new charge Brock Lesnar, with terrific direction that keeps the camera always on Lesnar, Heyman's words hammer home what the viewer can see on the screen. Brock Lesnar is a beast. 

Three promos from WWE's version of ECW are also present, straddling the original One Night Stand and the start of ECW as it's stand alone brand. All three offer something different, firstly showcasing Heyman's ability as a babyface, as he rips into JBL and his cohorts infront of the pro-ECW crowd in hilarious fashion. Up next it's time for Heyman to sell the new ECW brand, which is bitter sweet in hindsight as Heyman truly seemed to have a passion for the upcoming product. It wouldn't last long, as Heyman turns up on ECW TV a few weeks later and whilst it's great to see an ECW show in Madison Squared Garden, it's clear that all isn't quite right at this point. 

Following Heyman's return to WWE in 2011, there's a cavalcade of top promos as Heyman represents Brock Lesnar and CM Punk, before begining ATPW's Feud of 2013 with the later. From a magnificent segment with Vince McMahon to the genius "Paul-cano" interview with Renee Young, these promos put a strong case together that Heyman's latest run has been the most enjoyable of his career. If only it weren't for Ryback and Curtis Axel's appearances that case would be pretty much closed. 


There's also a handful of extra stories included within the DVD set, involoving Heyman telling some terrific stories about breaking into the business (including calling Freddie Blassie "Mr. Magoo"), as well a split interview with Jerry Lawler as the pair discuss their issues with each other. Others stories include Todd Gordon's exit from ECW, Vince McMahon paying for Heatwave 2000 and Stephanie McMahon detailing the incident that lead to Heyman's departure from the Smackdown writing team. All are fantastic inclusions that add depth to the documentary feature. 


Rounding off the set is a couple of matches, beginning with Midnight Express bout mentioned earlier. Heyman's Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose battle James E. Cornette's Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane in an enjoyable slice of old-school tag team action. Surprisingly, WWE Home Video haven't opted for a feud closing match, as it's clear, from the finish this bout is supposed to lengthen the feud. It is sloppy at times, but Heyman's selling of a punch from Cornette makes up for it in sheer hilarity. 

Heyman teams with Brock Lesnar next to take on The Hardy Boyz at Judgment Day 2002. It's clear what the plan is here, as The Hardy Boyz bump all night long for Lesnar, which makes him look like an absolute beast. It's a solid storytelling bout, that gives the Hardyz just enough offence for it not to be considered a squash. The finish is clever, allowing Heyman's team to keep all of the heat, as Lesnar sky rocketed to super stardom.

The final match, see's Heyman team up with then Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel, to take on CM Punk at Night of Champions 2013 in an Elimination Match. It's not a particularly bad bout, with Heyman's clashes with Punk being extremely entertaining, there just isn't much chemistry between Punk and Axel, which leads to some lazy exchanges and a rather dull opening. It does showcase, Heyman's feud with Punk nicely however, although that feud was all about the build up promos, with Punk's bout with Lesnar being the only match that really delivered the goods. 


I can't recommend this set to wrestling fan's enough. The documentary is solid gold, being both entertaining, informative and perfectly crafted, it is perhaps the best spotlight WWE has ever produced. The promos that follow should be studied closely by anyone looking to get into the wrestling business, as they act almost as a step by step guide on how to cut a promo, with Heyman changing up his styles a number of times for whatever suited the situation. The added stories add extra depth to the documentary, whilst the few matches are intriguing in their own right, even if they aren't all five star bouts.

To put it quite simply, go and buy this DVD.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

SWE Hell for Lycra XI: Oh, What A Rush Preview by Billy Strachan

SWE hold their eleventh Hell for Lycra event on August 30th and for the second year in a row it is being held at the Bonar Hall. This will be my third Hell for Lycra and once again SWE have pulled out all the stops to make sure this is the premier event on their calender.

The week before, August 23rd, they host Hellbound at Kirkton Community Centre which will include Grado vs Colt Cabana and the contract signing between Chaz Phoenix and Steven Magners. It is also the final stop to Hell for Lycra and with so many wrestlers still to make it to the event like the Future Division Champion, Christopher Saynt, or the Sirens, this will be their last chance to get onto an already huge event.

The first name announced for Hell for Lycra XI was Terry Funk, however, due to him securing a TV pilot he had to pull out. Dennis Stamp was announced not long afterwards before the big one, Road Warrior Animal is coming to Dundee.

So without further ado, let’s look at the event.

The Beast vs The Animal

Damian O'Connor vs Road Warrior Animal

The Beast of Belfast faces Road Warrior Animal in a battle of the behemoths. Both men are big, hairy, hard-hitting dudes. This isn't for titles; this is just to prove who the King of the Jungle is, the Beast or the Animal.

Global Hero vs Global Wrestler

Joe Hendry vs Doug Williams

Doug Williams returns after last years loss to Claymore, 12 months ago he was Ted Dibiase's hired gun but this year he is on his own against mmmmm Joe Hendry…Global Hero. Joe Hendry is collecting titles everywhere at the moment and one big win against a former TNA X-Division, Tag Team and Television Champion will propel him back into the SWE Heavyweight Title picture. It won't be easy as Doug Williams is a well travelled veteran who has faced, and beaten, the best.

The Trident Try to Take Down the Foundations

Scott Renwick, Darren Bliers, MBK & Steven "Air" Myles vs Claymore, Mr News, LJT & ???

The Trident and Scott Renwick have been running riot over SWE, taking out anyone and everyone that has got in their way. Kevin Williams was due to be on the SWE Originals team but parted company with SWE at the end of July. Will a forth member be announced at Hellbound or will we have to wait for Hell for Lycra to find out the last member? The Trident team have youth and power on their side but you can never count out the wiliness that comes from experience.

The Evil Scotsman Will Fight The Goblin of The Skies

Bravehart vs Euan G Mackie

This has been a personal feud stemming from Euan G Mackie no showing a main event back in January at Season’s Beatings. Bravehart has made it his personal mission to rid, not only SWE but, all wrestling of The Very Good one. Bravehart himself has said he isn't 100% after taking a break from the ring after numerous injuries, including a concussion, but will relish the chance to beat Mackie once and for all. This won't be a wrestling match, this will be a fight.

World of Sport Legends Collide

Johnny Saint & Felix Fortune vs No.1 Marty Jones & The Jackal

Two World of Sport Legends will be in the ring on August 30th. This will be a tough one to call as Felix Fortune has just started his career with SWE and The Jackal is as hungry as ever to make a name for himself. It’ll also be interesting to see Saint and Jones work with younger opponents.

Career vs Career - Cage Match

Chaz Phoenix vs Steven Magners


Now, if you want to talk personal. Steven Magners left SWE while SWE Tag Team Champion and member of The Syndicate with his tag team partner being, Chaz Phoenix. Magners didn't like the way that Chaz was siding with Authority, and namely, Bravehart. When Mr News needed a partner to defeat The Syndicate and win his job back, there was one man that had his own personal vendetta against them and Chaz Phoenix. After Magners and News won, and with the implosion of The Syndicate, Chaz became more vicious than ever and took out all his frustration on Magners. Magners was only too happy to get a little crazy. From kendo sticks, steel chairs, hammers, plastic bags, tables, steel guard rails and even going through the entrance way at Uprising. These guys have been trying to kill each other. At Hell for Lycra XI, it's career vs career. Those were the cliff notes. Here is a video to illustrate the upcoming match.

SWE Heavyweight Championship Match

Scumbag vs Stallyon

#Scumbag Ian Ambrose vs Martyn Stallyon

Ian Ambrose enters his 7th month as SWE Champion and he'll be facing his long time rival Martyn Stallyon. At last years Hell for Lycra Ian Ambrose lost to Rob Cage in the SWE European Championship finals, the year before he won the Tag Team Championships with Sam Ross, only to have that moment taken away from him due to a reversal by previous owner Ted Dibiase. Ambrose will be looking to pick up a win and hold onto his championship while Stallyon looks to put on another 5 star match and take home the big one. The former Future Division Champion will expect nothing less that to walk out with the gold. I think this will be match of the night judging by their previous matches with each other and both of them always kicking into another gear at Hell for Lycra. 

There are only a few physical tickets remaining over at

Also on the 29th August at the Queen’s Hotel in Dundee, there will be a special Q&A with some of the Legends that will be at the event. It’s £10 to enter but tickets are limited, The Queen’s Hotel is literally across the road from the Bonar Hall. You’ll have a chance to meet Road Warrior Animal, Dennis Stamp, Marty Jones and Johnny Saint.

I, for one, have been looking forward to this all year. It's a night where anything can happen and the venue will be packed. If you haven't got a ticket, best hurry, as they won’t be around for much longer. It always promises to have moments that you won’t forget like last years Nursery Krymes Match or the cage match one year prior. If you want to get into the Hell for Lycra mood, last years event is here

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