Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Finale

ARTICLE 24! THIS ARTICLE 24 and it's way before 4am!

This final article is a big thank you anyone who's donated, tweeted, shared, messaged, texted, snapchatted, watched the live stream, used the #ATPW24 hashtag. Y'all bloody awesome.

There were times through the process when I didn't think I'd make and wanted to give in, but it was the thought of the money that was being raised for the great cause of MIND and the good that that money could potentially do someone with mental health issues. The current fund stands at £168, which is more than what I expected to make when I came up with idea last month. So cheers dudes. 


Looks like I'm going to have to come up with something bigger and better to do next year, eh? Maybe something for ATPW 3rd anniversary? Hmmmm....

Keep the donations coming, if you haven't already sort it out..


www.justgiving.co.uk/acrossthepondwrestling

I'm going to sleep for two whole, thanks.

Big love and hugs.

Sweet Jamesy Marst. x

A Woolworths somewhere in Cornwall

Do you have a place in your heart for a show for reasons other than the wrestling on the show? Maybe it coincided with a special time in your life or remind you of a certain someone. A show that you keep going back to time and time again?

Yeah me too.

What show I hear you ask? Only the 2007 Royal Rumble. 




On viewing there's nothing that particularly makes this show stand out and would make me choose it over any other show I've seen. But the Royal Rumble 2007 just happened to reignite my love of wrestling.

Now, that isn't to say that fire ever really went away, but I just had no access to wrestling. As soon as WCW Worldwide disappeared off Channel 5 and WWF Heat left Channel 4, I was left with no real way to get my wrestling fix. So I didn't. And eventually I stopped thinking about wrestling and moved on with life.

A few years later I remember sporadically checking the WWE website to see what was going on and got a buzz of playing Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain. But that was it. I didn't know enough to find wrestling shows online, I was such a muggle back then. 

But then...then it happened. On a family holiday to Cornwall, me and my younger brother, Davey Swaggs, were allowing to choose one DVD from the Woolworths to keep us entertained in case it rained (of course it was going to rain) and there on the self was the Royal Rumble 2007. There was no doubt about what we were going to buy, Davey Swaggs agreed it was time watch the wrestling.

I'm pretty sure we watched the show, at least, five times over the holiday. Every step off Bobby Lashley and Test's ECW Championship match is permanently burnt into my retina. We watched it so much that our Mother, Swaggetty Ange, was forced to buy us WrestleMania 23, as well, just so we would put something else on.

And from there they say, the rest is history. I am now the fountain of knowledge you know and love today, on the verge of completing the ridiculous 24 article in 24 hour challenge. All because of the Royal Rumble 2007 on DVD found in a Woolworths, some where in Cornwall.

Unanswered Wrestling Mysteries Part 2 - Who Was The Higher Power Behind The Nexus?

In this edition of Unanswered Wrestling Mysteries, ATPW attempts to find out who was the higher power that The Nexus were supposedly working for?




Wade Barrett mentioned on numerous occassion that The Nexus were working for a Higher Power but who could it have possibly been?

Let's see who are prime suspects are

Terry Wogan








Think about it. Think about how Wogan struts around on Children in Need like he owns the place, shouting order a Pudsey. I wouldn't be surprised if it was Wogan who knocked out Pudsey's eye. Damn you, Wogan, you can mess with blokes dressed a bear, but don't you dare mess with Yosh Tatsu! If Wogan was the higher power, I imagine he fell asleep after a tasty Horlicks when he was supposed to make his run in at SummerSlam 2010 to save the guys. Bloody Wogan!



The entire Stoke City football team







The rumour is James Beattie was the ring leader of it all, still pissed off because his England career was a wetter than a tramps beard. He set up the team and tried to get Justin Gabriel to play left wing for a short time, when the squad was struck by injuries, leading to Wade Barrett seizing power, which would explain why the mentions of the higher power stopped pretty quickly.



Voldemort





This might be the most plausible option. Who better to be the higher power of The Nexus than Voldemort himself! The Dark Lord was pulling the string when he heard Ron Weasley had taken a shit in bag of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans and in his haste to catch Weasley Voldemort dropped his palm pilot that had all the details of Skip Sheffield, his main squeeze in the Nexus, so he left the group to rot, like an apple in the wood.

Well I've had my best guesses at who it could have been and provided more answers than WWE ever did on the situation. Job done.


Bate & Moloney: Bloody Good

This article is part of #ATPW24, in aid of MIND Charity. You can help support the cause by going to www.justgiving.co.uk/acrossthepondwrestling

I don't like Dan Maloney. I don't like Tyler Bate. There I said it. Do you want to know why? Because no one their age should be that good at what they do. It's just fair to anyone else, is it? They're 18, 18! When I was 18 I couldn't even tie my own shoe laces! 


And yet here they wrestling like old hands at Kamikaze Pro, creating a believable feud with an intensity that makes you want to see them beat the living shit out of each other. There match may have ended in a double countout and they may have had one of the shortest segments of the show, but they made their time count. It's difficult to make someone believe you hate another person, especially in wrestling, but everything Bate and Maloney did out there on Sunday was geared towards making me feel just that. I wanted to see more. That means I'll buy a ticket to see them fight again, that's the definition of a draw!

It's not like Sunday was a revelation for me either, I've been impressed by the pair's improvement over the last two years.

Tyler Bate's match with Jay Lethal at SWA back in August last year was one of the most sublime piece of wrestling I've had the pleasure of seeing live. An absolute barn burner with Bate standing toe to toe with one of the finest wrestlers on the planet right now and looking out of place on little bit. 





Every time I see Bate he seems to have added a new element to his game that makes me even more angry at how good he is. Just as his ring work started to improve by the day, he grew a fucking mustache and ran with it like no one has ever ran with a mustache before. The mustache became Tyler and Tyler became the mustache. Everyone loved the mustache and everyone loved Tyler. There's obviously a lot more to the wonderful protagonist persona that Bate has developed, but it really does help that he's got a mustache. 








On the other hand of the coin, there's Maloney, he doesn't have a mustache, so we don't like him. I jest, I jest. Maloney seems more comfortable as the villain of the piece, really progressing with his interaction with the crowd, it seems to come easy to him now to just piss everyone and their gran off. He's the guy you want to see get chucked around like he can chuck his opponents around, it's the ultimate combo.

These two are only going to continue to get better as they progress and that's a scary thought because bloody good now. I can't wait to keep watching the duo develop over the next few years and seeing just how high they can climb. 

Wrestling Pet Peeves

This article is part of #ATPW24, in aid of MIND Charity. You can help support the cause by going towww.justgiving.co.uk/acrossthepondwrestling

I'm sure you've got your set of wrestling pet peeves, you know, the things that no matter will annoy you or you straight up don't like. It could be something very specific like how John Cena applies the STF, it could some more general like bleeding matches. But we've got them. Here's mine.

1. The Champion coming out first before a match


It's just wrong, the champion is the champion, they have earned the privilige to come out last. If you want them to come out first then why did you make them your champion in the first place? I obviously wouldn't go around knocking star ratings off of matches because of it, but it certainly doesn't put me a favourable mood heading into the match.



2. One rule for one, another rule for another.


What I mean by this is having a low blow occur right in front a referee in one match and then having someone get disqualified for failing to break a hold in the next. WCW is famous for this...because WCW. I'm not sure whether it's a lack of communication between agents or what have you, but I've seen this happen in indy promotions also. Maybe we're not supposed to notice? 


3. Inappropriate Chanting


I kind of touched on this in my "Don't be a Dick" article earlier on. If your at a wrestling show, watch the wrestling that you paid to see. You are not the show, the show, surprisingly, is the show. It grinds my gears it really does.



4. Unprotected chair shots


Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Especially in 2015 with all we know about concussions and impact. If a performer doesn't care about their own well being, that's fine, it really is. Just don't do it in front of me or on my TV. Cheers.

5. Selective Selling


Having someone work a body part all, then not selling it, submitting to a move on that body part and then walking out to the back still not selling. What's the point of that, eh? If someone's battering your arm it doesn't just hurt when they hit it or kick it, it hurts afterwards, it hurts when you try and use a move involving the arm, it hurts when the referee rises your hand after a match. Maybe it's the actor in me that expects the same level of commitment I'd put into a role from a wrestler I've paid to see. Many many do sell very very well, but those select few, we'll need to have words.


So there's a random wrestling fans list of things that annoy him about wrestling. Kind of a downer of an article...sorry...erm...here's a picture of a teddy bear wearing a John Cena top.





Monday, 30 March 2015

ATPW Hall of Famer - Shawn Michaels

It is with great pleasure that I announce that my fellow ATPW contributors have chosen to induct Shawn Michaels as the 8th member of the Across the Pond Wrestling Hall of Fame. I'm honestly surprised that it's taken this long for HBK to make it into our little HOF.




Shawn Michaels is someone who always manages to hold my attention when he's on the screen no matter what he's doing. He could be standing in the background of a skit and my eyes would be on him. He always seems to be performing, attempting to get a reaction out an audience, just because he could.

A list of must-watch matches as long as long can be, stretching from his time in the Rockers, all the way up until his retirement match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Who can forget his Hell in a Cell match with Undertaker, his match with Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XXI, his match with Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XIX, his ladder match with Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X. And that's just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to Shawn.

He could seemingly bringing the best out of any opponent he would step in the ring with whether that be a larger man like Undertaker or a smaller guy, such as Rey Mysterio. Shawn was always able to find out what he needed to do with that opponent to make both of them to look good out there and it showed in his work. As his style changed as he got older, his matches didn't decrease in quality, in fact perhaps the very opposite, the final few years of his career produced some of his best matches. 


His shock appearance at this year's WrestleMania to nail Sting with a Superkick showed that the nickname Showstopper still applied Michaels as he produced another WrestleMania moment in a career of WrestleMania moments. 

Three WWE Championships, a World Heavyweight Championship, three Intercontinental Championships, three World Tag Team Championship, a WWE Tag Team Champion, Michaels produced a fine trophy cabinet throughout his career. And now he can add ATPW Hall of Famer to that list.

Interview: TNA IMPACT Wrestling's Rockstar Spud (March 2015)

This article is part of #ATPW24, in aid of MIND Charity. You can help support the cause by going to www.justgiving.co.uk/acrossthepondwrestling

ATPW got the chance to speak to current TNA X Division Champion Rockstar Spud earlier today. Here's how the interview went down.






ATPW - The thing that everyone's talking about at the moment is obviously WrestleMania, did you catch it last night?


Rockstar Spud - I did, indeed. I watch everything. Phenemonal show, from top to bottom. A great night of entertainment. I hope everybody that went and everyone that watched had a good time.



ATPW - Was there a particular match that stood out for you last night?


RS - Not really. I just love the overall spectacle of pro wrestling shows anyway. I mean, it was great, great show from top to bottom nothing really stood out as any better than anything else. 








ATPW - When you first came to TNA, your character saw some changes from what were used to in the UK, how much of that was from you and how much came from the company?


RS - Here's how I see it, you get given an opportunity and you've either got to take the ball and run with it or you'll do the "Ugh this is stupid" or you can go in half-arsed because you don't really feel it. Whatever they'd have given me at that point in time, I would have knocked it out the park for them, because the way I look at wrestling, that when you're given a character such as the "Chief of Staff" or any sort of character really, you're researching a role, like an actor would. As in what this characters motivations are, what this characters movements would be, what this character is trying to achieve in his every day life, what makes this character get up in the morning, what motivates him. 


That's pretty much what I thought. It's no secret I used to work in a bank before I got signed by TNA and a lot of the time I was just surrounded by people that when somebody who apparently was important to  the company would walk in, it'd be "Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir" and waiting on them hand and foot. Telling people to put their jackets in the cloakroom and make sure the desk was tidy. No eating the baguette and all this crap. It just used to drive me nuts, it was like this guy contributes nothing to anyone's society or anyone elses life but in this little bubble, he's so important. So that's what I based it on, real life experiences of overly panderous people towards an individual that was in power. That's where the Chief of Staff came from. I was the British company suck-up and I was very proud to be it and very proud of everything I did with it.


ATPW - It was a character that everyone knew someone like, maybe not to the extremes of the Chief of Staff, but everyone knew someone who would do that to their boss. Do you think that helped towards the connection with the fans?


RS - Yeah, there's not a lot of people who can relate to someone who's seven foot tall, muscles on their muscle, tattoos all over their body, that can lift 10,000 lbs on a squat. People can't relate to that because there's not many of them. But people can relate to an arse kisser and a company suck up, you can see them a mile off. You turn your nose up at them because you're like "They're pathetic". That's what I wanted to make the character resonate with the audience at home. I want people to think I was this pathetic, weasley little man and I didn't want any likeable qualities about him. I just wanted people to hate him. I feel I achieved that.





 ATPW - So when it came to the turn last October, how did you find trying to change the character from being hated to someone people wanted to get behind? Did you face any difficulties trying to tweak the character?


RS - Once again it's a situation that everyone's been through in their life, that's what's wrestling's built on. It's human emotion. It's not built on moves and high spots and athleticism. It's built on human emotion. Just as a movie would be. It's all built on what you feel in the heart and what it does to you. It's not visually what it does to you, because fireworks can be amazing, but they don't last long. But if you've got the sense of feeling in the heart, then wow. If you feel something a character, if you feel something for a situation that character's going through. Whether it be a movie or TV or a soap opera or anything like that, you identify with it. That's the reason shows like Coronation Street and Eastenders have been running so long, you identify with the characters. There are people that you know who are like these characters.

Every bodies been in a situation where they've been bullied or disrespected or treated unfairly by someone they thought was a friend and tried their best to be a good person about it and that person just weren't what they used to be with you. That's what you found with Rockstar Spud and EC3, the situation made Rockstar Spud the less of two evils, because he was an idiot, but in the means of the fans, he was their idiot. Just like character like Bobby Heenan back in the day, because you knew what he was doing was for your entertainment and he didn't mind having the cake in his face in order to do it or he didn't mind embarssasing himself to entertain. The smarter fans who watch wrestling realise that, and that's where the lesser of two evils comes from, because they hate EC3, but they also hate Rockstar Spud but being in that situation made him the lesser of two evils. 



ATPW - With feud with EC3, was it a decision from the beginning to not have singles match until the Hair vs. Hair match in London?


I'm sure if it was up to us, we wouldn't have even been in the ring with each other at all. Obviously, you've got weeks of television to fill so you have to. Without the writers, without agents, without the management and without our own input and the input of everybody who was involved Tyrus, Anderson, Mandrews, Jeremy Borash, without their input as well we can't tell a great story. It had everything to do with a team effort, every moment that you saw, it was a team effort. That's what I pride myself most on with Impact Wrestling, as well, because as much as someone can visually see that there's two performers in there it takes a lot of graft from a lot of people. I can't thank them enough, because that's what got us to that moment at Wembley arena. 






ATPW - How did you feel coming back for British Boot Camp 2 and what do you think it did for the scene as a whole?


After the first British Boot Camp, I think people were a little skeptic and then they saw it and it legit changed my life. I was one of the guys that was grafting every day of the week as much as I could to achieve this pro wrestling dream and it happened to me. The person least likely you'd think it would happen to, 5ft 4, 150 lbs, Rockstar Spud. But it completely changed my life. Jeremy Borash knows it completely changed my life. So going into the second series, everyone was like "It changed it for him, maybe it can change for me now" and there was that belief. What I went in with in the second series was that it was different for me because I'm looking at it from the outside and you've got to remember that these people have the same hopes and dreams that you did before you achieved yours. You've got to respect that. I hope that everybody saw that that was what I was doing, because I don't want anyone to feel bad about being told "No", I don't want anyone to feel bad about missing an opportunity. I don't want anyone to feel bad at all, because we're all in this together. We're all brothers and sisters in this industry and we've all got to look after each other. You've got to nurture someones dreams, you can't take a crap on someone's dream that's not your place. That's not your right. The people that came into the show were just wonderful people and all deserved to be there. From the final 16 to the final 6. It was an emotional, because I was one of them once. My heart's still with all the guys and girls in England, because they got me to where I was and that's what you've got to remember. I'm hoping there's a season three and I really that season two is going to change the life of Mark Andrews. I hate when people say "He's got big shoes to fill", forget all that. If you remember that Mark Andrews is Mark Andrews and Rockstar Spud is Rockstar Spud. We're two totally different people. He's amazing at being Mark Andrews. He's got his own clothing range. He's got his own band. He's a world class performer in the ring. The sky's the limit for him. I really can't wait for you all to see the best of him.



ATPW - You had a couple of matches back on the UK scene not to long ago, how did you find being back in that environment?


It was lovely. It was nice going back to place I used to be week in, week out, month after month, year after year. It was nice coming out at Fight Club: Pro in Wolverhampton because that was the place where they treated me like their absolute hero, they hated me, but when I won British Boot Camp, they knew they were losing someone really important to the promotion and they've shown me amazing respect on the way out and amazing respect on the way in. I can't thank them enough. It was a fun time. It was nice to give back to the promotions that you've worked for before, because they helped you a lot by exploiting your talent to make you a focal point on their shows, which in the people's eyes is "You're a star" for that promotion. So coming back and being able to give something back to them, that was fun.

The UK fans are some of the most passionate fans in the world, if not the most, because we are starving for pro wrestling, we absolutely love it. That's why so many of them travel to America to go watch the big shows, they actually love it. That's what's so unique about the UK scene and that's why I'd call Impact Wrestling the adopted promotion of the UK scene. We're on Challenge every Sunday at 9 and we're the highest rated wrestling show in the UK. The adopted sons! That's kinda cool.




ATPW - Was there anyone while you were back over here that caught your eye that you hadn't seen previously?


Not really. See I didn't stick around most place. It was great to see Richard Parliament down at Future Pro Wrestling down south. Seeing him in British Boot Camp, he's one of the ones that took advantage of an opportunity, which you're supposed to do in wrestling. He didn't sit there and say "How stupid is this, you've got to go for an audition?" Well, an audition is a try out. You honestly think when you go to a try out at WWE, you're trying out to be a wrestler, no. So we called it what it was, an audition, because you're auditioning to be on a television show. It's an audition. It's a try out. It's an opportunity to get in front of some important people and potentially live your dream. 


That's what Richard Parliament did on British Boot Camp 2. No one knew who he was, I never knew who he was, no one who I'd been on the UK scene for year had ever heard of him or knew who he was, neither did the judges know who he was. But he stood out and he got himself noticed. It was great to come back and wrestle him, knowing he took that ball from British Boot Camp and actually ran with and became an attraction for the company. That was good to see, just seeing someone took something from British Boot Camp and went for it was pretty cool.


ATPW - Finally, where do you see yourself in five years time? What's Spud doing in 2020?


RS - Hopefully the World Heavyweight Champion, that's my goal. Or a former World Heavyweight Champion. Or wrestling for the World Heavyweight Championship. I really really believe that I can be the World Heavyweight Champion. When I first started people said "You can't be a wrestler.", I did. People said "You're good at this wrestling, but you'll never get signed by an American promotion" I did. People said "You'll never be a champion or make something of yourself with an American promotion" I did it. So I'm going to World Heavyweight Champion one day. I really believe that I can be and I really believe I'd be a great asset to the company as a champion. That's not up to me, but it is up me because I'm the master of my own destiny, but we'll have to see. 






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A big thanks to Spud for taking the time to speak with us, as well as Simon Rothstein for setting up the interview. All photo credit goes to impactwrestling.com 

Unstable: Wrestling's Portrayal of Mental Health

How does wrestling portray mental health issues? It's not a question that many would think about when watching Raw. But how many WWE or TNA characters are described as mentally unstable? Or something similar. I'm going to have a little look at a couple of example from modern day WWE and TNA and see how the companies went about showing those issues to their audience.

Dean Ambrose





The prime suspect on WWE television. Constantly referred to as "Unstable" or a "wackjob" by the commentary. Numerous elements of characterisations from Ambrose collate with this Unstable moniker, he even seems to thrive upon it. Shouting out random noises during his matches, even growling at points, Ambrose seems to have no regard for his own well being and at point, seemed completely obsessed with Seth Rollins. It should be pointed out here that if you have a friend that you believe is "Unstable" attempt to get them the help they need, don't let them get into fights with people!


Samuel Shaw






Perhaps the biggest culprit in TNA in recent years was the emergence of the Samuel Shaw character. Despite some dodgy continuity in the storyline, Shaw was fixated on ring announcer Christy Hemme to the point where he kept a shrine to Christy in is house. The storyline would lead to a match between Shaw and Mr. Anderson, where the loser would be sent to a Mental Institution. I did actually find this whole concept rather offensive and certainly insensitive to those with mental health issues. Let's not even mention the questionable morals of the Mental Health Insititution that accepts people because of a wrestling stipulation.


Stardust





Look at Stardust. He's convinced he needs to find a Cosmic Key. He's told his own father that he believes himself (Cody Rhodes) is dead. This is a guy who is seriously dealing with some issues. Some major issues. Will these issues ever be fully realised on screen? Will we get to see how Stardust recovers from the bad time he is having? I doubt it, pro wrestling doesn't really have anything to deal with a such a situation

Is that particularly a bad thing? Should characters who clearly have mental quirks be portrayed on a wrestling show? Of course, they should, it's an integral part of pro wrestling. You need those characters to offer depth, especially in WWE. I think, it is important however about how these quirks are portrayed, and what is pointed out by either the commentary team or storyline, the Samuel Shaw story went too far in what it attempted to do, and at times I think the language on commentary in WWE could be toned down, the characterisation should tell me everything I need to know.

WWE Extreme Rules 2015 Card Prediction

This article is part of #ATPW24, in aid of MIND Charity. You can help support the cause by going towww.justgiving.co.uk/acrossthepondwrestling

It's just four weeks away, so this card should be a little easier to predict than next year's WrestleMania, right? 





Extreme Rules Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Seth Rollins (C) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton


This one kind of writes itself really, doesn't it? Orton has legimate claim to the championship having defeated Rollins at WrestleMania, whilst Reigns' title match with Lesnar was interrupted by Rollins. The Authority attempt to have Reigns and Orton go at it see who faces Rollins at Extreme Rules, but the bout earns with some kind of dusty finish so they bout end up getting a title shot. Pretty simple.


Submission Match for the United States Championship

John Cena vs. Rusev


I can see Cena and Rusev having another match here, just to close off the feud once and for all. Neither man has forced the other to submit as of yet and the submission finishers have been a big part of their feuds, so it makes sense to end things in this fashion.


Steel Cage Intercontinental Championship Match

Daniel Bryan (C) vs. Bad News Barrett



A good old fashioned Steel  Cage match for Barrett and Bryan to contest the Intercontinental Championship in. Barrett deserves a rematch after dropping the title, so Extreme Rules it is, to see if Barrett can regain the strap for the sixth time.


Strap Match

The Miz vs. Damien Sandow



I'm not a fan of strap matches in WWE, they usually have some goofy gimmickery corner thing. But having Miz and Sandow strapped together would fit well with the stunt double gimmick that they were running for months. 


Fatal Fourway Elimination Match for the Diva's Championship

Brie Bella vs. Nikki Bella vs. Paige vs. AJ Lee


Following the WrestleMania match, it seems only fitting to have all those involved feature in a match at Extreme Rules. Finally put the Bella thing to bed, as well as the Paige and AJ feud all in one go, before some fresher faces thrown into the mix later in the year.



Loser Leaves WWE

Stardust vs. Goldust


The feud is picked up again following WrestleMania, with the bout being able to have more time on a show like Extreme Rules. The Loser Leaves gimmick is added when Goldust suggest he doesn't want to get rid of Cody Rhodes, he wants to get rid of Stardust...for good.

Tag Team Match for the WWE Tag Team ChampionshipsTyson Kidd & Cesaro vs. The Lucha Dragons


A bit of a wild card option in here for the Tag Titles. The Lucha Dragons have featured on Superstars a lot lately and I have a feeling WWE want to get Kalisto on TV as quickly  as possible to counter the losses of Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio over the last twelve months. The Luchas step up to an open challenge on Raw and impress earning them a title shot here.


A few interesting choices in there and again I found that a lot harder than it should have been and ended up leaving off a number of big names from the show. This booking shit is hard. 

WWE WrestleMania 32 Super Early Predictions

This task was a lot harder than I imagined it would have been when I first started out. Building a card for next years WrestleMania based solely off the show from last night's show. I urge you give a try, it's bloody hard. 




Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt


Reigns have held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship since SummerSlam, Bray Wyatt has been riding a wave of momentum all year long and won the Royal Rumble in impressive fashion. Wyatt attempts to get into Reigns head with tales of how the crowd will once again turn on him at Mania because they follow the buzzards. There's rumours of both The Shield and Wyatt Family reforming for their respective former members swirling. Can Reigns get redemption and get his WrestleMania moment or will Bray Wyatt's wave of moment carry him straight to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?


Triple H vs. Seth Rollins


The Authority's Golden Boy has been pushing the boundaries since he lost the WWE World Heavyweight Championship earlier in the year and the worst thing is the crowd is loving it. Triple H can't stand that Rollins is getting bigger reactions than he is and has the remnants of The Authority turn on on Rollins on Raw, finishing him off with a sledgehammer shot. J&J Security remain loyal to Rollins but the mysteriously dissapear before Mania. Can the future prove himself once again on the biggest stage? Or has he played the wrong game?

John Cena vs. The Undertaker


It's Undertaker's final match, and he's going into the Hall of Fame. He wants to see if he can go toe to toe with the face of the company on the biggest stage WWE has to offer. Cena also has something to prove after stepping out of the WrestleMania spotlight slightly over the last two years. We may even see a more ruthless side of Cena heading into the Show of Shows, as he attempts to make it 22-2!

Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock

It's been teased for year, but The Rock wants something now. Revenge for the defeat a SummerSlam in 2002. This time Rock is the underdog after being out of the ring for three years, this is heavily pushed on Raw leading up to the show. Paul Heyman and Rock trade barbs on the microphone. Can Rock get his revenge or will Lesnar prove his dominance once more?

Luke Harper vs. Daniel Bryan


Bryan has held the Intercontinental Championship almost an entire year, taking on all comers and putting on match of the night contenders left and right. The fans are beginning to see the Intercontinental Championship as an alternative to the World belt and Luke Harper wants a slice of the action. Harper took Bryan to a double countout at Fastlane with both men unable to get in the ring after Harper drove Bryan through the barricade. With no countouts or disqualification can Bryan make it an entire year with the belt?



I'll leave it with the five big singles matches, as we saw this year. I think WWE will go for a similar format as worked very well this year. Expect a Divas match and maybe a multi-man bout also included. If I got this card, with this build next year, I'd be a happy chappy. How about you?


WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony 2015 Thoughts

This article is part of #ATPW24, in aid of MIND Charity. You can help support the cause by going to www.justgiving.co.uk/acrossthepondwrestling

If WrestleMania is Christmas, that makes the Hall of Fame Ceremony Christmas Eve right? Well with Kevin Nash, Arnold Schwarznegger, Randy Savage and more going in this year, it had to be an incredible ceremony, right? This is less of a "review" of the ceremony and more a collection of thoughts.

Kevin Nash





Inductor - Shawn Michaels

Michaels induction speech was top, top, quality, exactly what you'd expect from the Heart Break Kid. Lots of laughs and some great stories about the time the two spent together on the road. Michaels talking about the reaction he had when Vince McMahon wanted to put the World title on Nash felt very real and was a fascinating story that really showed off the friendship that the two shared.
Nash got plenty of time for acceptance speech, which was honest and laced with humour. Oz is perhaps one of the worst gimmicks than anyone has ever been given, so seeing is showcased here, one more time, and getting the ridicule it deserved was satisfying. Apparently his wife is Unicorn, which knowing what I know about Kevin Nash I really wouldn't be too surprised if it was true!

Arnold Schwarznegger





Inductor - Triple H

Triple H's induction speech just oozed class, as he put over Arnold effortlessly, managing to tie his love of bodybuilding and wrestling together. The idea of Schwarznegger possibly becoming a wrestler instead of a bodybuilder is probably Vince's wet dream.

Schwarznegger came across as very humble for what he has achieved throughout his life, spending a lot of time putting Triple H and others over, which was probably the right thing to do at a wrestling Hall of Fame. His stories about his times with Bruno Sammartino are always interesting, those two would have made a formidable tag team!

Randy Savage 





Inductor - Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan's speech just didn't do it for me unfortunately. It came across as a little hollow, knowing the animosity that the two had for each at the time of each others death, I think it would have been nice for Hogan to talk about his regret for these times. Pretty generic Hogan chatter.

Savage's brother Lanny Poffo collected the award on his behalf. This was always going to be a bittersweet moment. Poffo's collection of poems added a different edge and a change of pace from the other acceptance speeches. His stories about Savage's love for the Special Olympians is genuinely touching, I wonder if WWE getting involved with the Special Olympics over the last few years was part of Poffo agreeing that Savage could go into the Hall of Fame.

Tatsunami Fujinami




Inductor - Ric Flair

Flair's induction speech was short and sweet, putting over Fujinami as the "greatest wrestler in the History of Japan". After a statement like that what else could he have said!

Fujinami's speech was kept fairly short, likely due to Fujinami's lack of English, but he still seemed to do a good enough job of saying what he wanted to say. The crowd were very respectful at this moment which was good to see.

The Bushwackers




Inductor - John Laurinaitis

Laurinaitis' speech was super quick, he put over The Bushwackers as his mentors, which was good to hear about the time when Luke and Butch were more than just a comedy babyface team in WWF.

The Bushwackers were a lot of fun during their speech. They got a chuckle out of me on more than one occassion, and they seem likely genuinelly funny guys. Getting Roddy Piper, Ted DiBiase, Bret Hart and Jim Duggan to do the classic walk was a nice touch. I also enjoyed the off the mic chats that you hear the two having, which for someone reason I found quite touching. 

Connor "The Crusher" Michalek





Inductors - Dana Warrior & Daniel Bryan

Wow, this was sad. I was an absolute mess through Dana's speech and didn't even bother writing notes, because the speech was just perfect. There's nothing else to say about it really. Just perfect. Bryan's speech about Connor was simlarly lovely. He made sure the crowd knew that this was all about how much of an inspiration Connor was and it would be difficult to argue against that point.

Steve Michalek collecting the award on Connor's behalf was heart wrenching. Nothing else can describe it really. A superb way to honour a very brave little boy with a big heart.

Alundra Blayze




Inductor - Natalya

Natalya had one of the strangest deliveries of a speech I've ever heard. She seemed to stop ever four word and then say another four words. It's clear that this was an important moment for her, and maybe it was just nerves that caused her to say her speech in rhythm?

Alundra's was a lengthy name-dropping type deal. The biggest pop it got from me was for a reference to the forgotten member of 3 Count, Evan Karagias. Having her husband back from the army for the show was lovely touch, although I'm not sure how much I enjoyed the stuff she did with the trash can. It seemed a bit like flogging a dead horse and attempting milk it at the same time.

Larry Zbyszko





Inductor - Bruno Sammartino

For a guy who spent so long on top of the wrestling business, Sammartino has absolutely no charisma. His speech about sending Zbyszko to different territories was interesting and those kind of stories always interest me. Although, attempting to put their feud of like it was legit in 2015 felt a little bit silly. Let it go, Bruno.

Zbyszko exists to annoy with his name. His speech include quotes from Sigmund Freud and Alice and Wonderland references which was novel idea. The story about how he first met Sammartino was told wonderfully and it's great story to begin with. Although I couldn't help being distracted by the fact he looks like Frank Underwood from House of Cards.

Rikishi





Inductors - The Usos

The Usos did a really good job of introducing their Dad and looked very comfortable with their speech. Perhaps one of the slickest of the entire night. Funny, endearing and kept nice and short.

Rikishi's speech was very geared towards his family, which seemed very important to him. Although the non-existent reaction when he mentioned Manu was perhaps my highlight of the entire night. It was inevitable that Kish was gonna crack out a dance, wasn't it? A nice fun way to open the ceremony.

Finally...


As Hall of Fame ceremonies go this was a rather enjoyable evening, spent with some of the greatest the industry has produced. Some great stories, some really funny and moments some heart breaking ones. It wasn't half long though!

Unanswered Wrestling Mysteries Part 1 - Who Kidnapped Samoa Joe?

This article is part of #ATPW24, in aid of MIND Charity. You can help support the cause by going to www.justgiving.co.uk/acrossthepondwrestling

Welcome to Unanswered Wrestling Mysteries, a new series that will look those moments in wrestling that never received an answer. In this edition, who exactly did kidnap Samoa Joe?



Those bastards, how could they that in front of JB, eh? He's a delicate flower!

It's time to uncover the truth. Could it have been....


The Mitchell Brothers




Grant and Phil, possbily with cooperation from that little shit Billy took leave from Albert Square and went to the Impact Zone. They save Joe decided he looked like he could take a beating with a stick, so bundled him into the back of their rented transit van and took him to their hotel. Luckily for Joe, before any real funny business could take place, Peggy turned up and forced the boys to let him go. But not after she'd had her wicked way with the Samoan Submission Machine. 

Disgruntled Orlando Restaurant Owners





Look at the mean bastards. Don't wanna piss them off. Well, Joe did. The boys were left without enough stock after one of Joe's famous food rampage around the Orlando, eating all in he could. To gain a modicum of revenge the chefs at planned to turn Joe into a pie, but after one of them licked Joe on the belly they decided he would be better off in a flan. Joe hated flans with a passion and launched into a rage, breaking free of his captors, because there was no chance he'd be turned into a fucking flan.

Someone trying to rescue him from his own TNA career





Perhaps a group of smarks joined together after seeing the future in a joint dream and realised Joe would be better off disappearing off the face of the earth than continuining to persevere with his TNA career. Unfortunately, Joe was able to escape when the group were watching an old episode of Nitro they'd torrented. Joe regrets this to this very day.

Well, there are the options. I think we've at least narrowed it down to these three anyway. Which is more than TNA ever did with the kidnapping! 

Who's NXT?

This article is part of #ATPW24, in aid of MIND Charity. You can help support the cause by going to www.justgiving.co.uk/acrossthepondwrestling

As I touched on earlier in the article previewing tonight's Raw, it's become somewhat of a tradition to debut new talent the night after WrestleMania to freshen things up a little. So with that in mind I thought I'd take a look at a handful of NXT'ers who could be next to take the step up to the main roster and just exactly what it is they could bring to the brand.


Kalisto





NXT Accomplishments - NXT Tag Team Champion

Who? - A masked lucha style wrestler, formerly seen in places like AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined, Kalisto has spent time working with Sin Cara as part of the Lucha Dragons tag team. Plenty of flips and tricks, and high paced offence make it easy to get behind Kalisto. Perhaps, yet to see the best of him in NXT however.

Why now? - Whilst I'm sure we've seen Kalisto at his best yet, WWE will be looking for someone to fill the Latin American market, with the departures of Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio. Lucha Dragons partner Sin Cara has failed to capture the imagination of viewers on his own, maybe WWE is hoping that the come catapult Kalisto into singles success. They've also had run outs on Superstars recently against The Ascension. Cesaro and Kidd are in need of new challengers at the moment, perhaps an impressive debut could put the Lucha Dragons straight into contention.

Adrian Neville





NXT Accomplishments - NXT Champion, 2 time NXT Tag Team Champion

Notable Matches - vs. Sami Zayn (at Takeover: R-Evolution), vs. Finn Balor (at Takeover: Rival), vs. Tyson Kidd (at Takeover)


Who? - An accomplished indy worker, known mostly for his work in Dragon Gate before his NXT debut in January 2013 (teaming with Oliver Grey to defeat Drew McIntyre and Heath Sltater) "The Man Who Gravity Forgot" became an NXT favourite very quickly. His speed and agility made him an instant fan favourite. In recent times has shown an ability to work a nuanced tweener role in his feud with Sami Zayn and subsequent bout with Finn Balor. 

Why now? - It's been just over two years in the developmental system for Neville and he has done all that can be really done on the hour long Network show. His matches with Zayn and Balor proved that he has developed strongly as a performer, becoming a rounded sports entertainer over his time in NXT. Could be interesting to see how Neville interacted with fellow Englishman Bad News Barrett if bought up.


Sasha Banks






NXT Accomplishments - NXT Women's Champion (Current)


Notable Matches - vs. Charlotte (at Takeover: R-Evolution)

Who? - Since her debut against Paige in December 2012, Sasha Banks has became one of the most accomplished women on a roster of accomplished women. Strong character work is her forte, with the NXT crowd regaling her with their favourite chant "Sasha's Rachet" whenever she makes an appearance. This character work spills over into her matches, which tend to tell stories, whilst also featuring a number of moves not regularly seen out of the Divas. 


Why now? - The diva's division needs some new blood. Paige and AJ have been feuding and teaming for the best part of a year and if hasn't been them it's the Bella Twins who are the focus. Sasha is ready to make the move up, although whether they may wait until she drops the Women's title on NXT first.


Tyler Breeze





Notable Match - vs. Sami Zayn (at Takeover)

Who? - It's Tyler Bloody Breeze. He sings his own entrance music. He's obsessed with his own image and carries a big fluffy selfie stick to the ring. He cuts a mean promo and can go in the ring. What's not to love about Tyler?

Why now? - Quite simply, Breeze has been in developmental for way, way too long. He had his first match in developmental way back in 2010 in FCW and has become one of the brightest stars on the NXT roster. Perhaps one of the most underrated guys down at the Performance center, Tyler would find similarities with The Miz, who seemingly needs to find a new best friend. Could we see Tyler side with Miz tonight on Raw against Mizdow?



Charlotte





NXT Accomplishements - NXT Women's Champion

Notable Matches - vs. Natalya (at Takeover), vs. Sasha Banks (at Takeover: R-Evolution), vs. Bayley (at Takeover: Fatal 4Way)

Who? - At first she was Ric Flair's daughter and then she became a talented and confident competitor in her own right. She's dominated the NXT Diva's division for some time and look good whilst doing. She brings something completely different from any other diva currently on the main roster and has a certain legitimacy to her in-ring performances.

Why now? - Very similar reasons to those given for Sasha Banks, it's time to shuffle things around in the Diva's division. Although, unlike Banks, Charlotte isn't holding any gold around her waist at the moment, so she may get the nod to take the step up first. Especially with Daddy Ric still in town.

So who would you most like to see turn up on Raw tonight? Kalisto? Neville? Sasha? Breeze? Charlotte? Someone else? The roster is deep and any number of superstars could make their surprise debuts tonight, that's all part of the fun of the Raw after Mania!


Feud for Thought: Spud vs. EC3

This article is part of #ATPW24, in aid of MIND Charity. You can help support the cause by going to www.justgiving.co.uk/acrossthepondwrestling

Back on New Years Day 2013, some fella from Birmingham going by the name of Rockstar Spud hit our TV screens on TNA's British Bootcamp. At the same time, Derrick Bateman had gone almost 2 months without a match with his then employer, WWE. The debut edition of Feud for Thought will look at how the two became a beacon of light on TNA television over the next two years, initially as allies and more recently as rivals.

Ethan Carter III made his debut on TNA television at Bound for Glory 2013, just six weeks later on Impact Wrestling, the Chief of Staff character was born as Rockstar Spud returned to TNA TV. A partnership was born that would last for a whole year, with the pair involved in a number of backstage skits together, developing the relationship between the two. Spud would involve himself in EC3's matches, all under the watchful eye of Madamme Dixie Carter. 





It was through his characterisation of the Chief of Staff character that would really excel throughout this time. Every little detail seemed to be thought out and even when handed questionable content to perform Spud seemed to find something that would keep the audience glued to his performances, whilst wanted to see him get his head kicked in at the same time. At this same time Carter was running through the TNA roster, maintaining his Undefeated streak. Whilst the matches were never particularly notable, I believe it was this steady build of cheap victories, DQ and Countout wins, that helped develop the EC3 character and that would become even more important when the two would eventually feud.

The pairing was always based around Carter being in charge, whilst Spud seemed infatuated with both EC3 and his aunt Dixie, seemingly doing anything to make sure they were happy. However, the show build to implosion began when Dixie ended up going through a table at the hands of Bully Ray, with EC3 blaming both Spud and hired gun Rhino for the incident. It was October 8th that saw the feud ignite, with Spud snaping and slapping EC3, only to end up fired as Chief of Staff. 




Their feud would last over five months before the two would have a one on one singles match. With Carter bringing in Tyrus as his bodyguard and Jeremy Borash, Mandrews and Mr. Anderson all turning up to help Spud at some point or another, the two were allowed to collide indirectly at different times. It was refreshing to see a feud go so long, whilst also not having the two facing each other in twenty seven singles matches along the way. 

With Carter seemingly obsessed with removing Spud's hair in an attempt to humilate him, this became the focal point of their when TNA returned to our screens on Destination America in 2015. Many a mans head was shaved bald in the crossfire, many a follicle fell in courageous battle for their cause. All the while you feel the swell building towards the two finally colliding, especially across the shows taped on the UK tour. The large crowds seemed to push both man's performances, everything seemed that little bit more important to them, in a time when TNA was really upping it's game.




So when they finally did collide on the 13th March episode of Impact, this match between someone rotting in WWE two years ago and 5' 4'' lad from Birmingham was main eventing the show. And bloody hell did they deliver! A brutal encounter, full of passion and hatred, drama and excitement. The crowd loved it, buying into every movement the pair put together and that allowed Carter and Spud to shine even more. By the finish, with Carter pulling out the win, it impossible not to feel for Spud and even though you'd hate to say it, be impressed by EC3. He'd put a hell of a shift in to get something he wanted.

Luckily, a post-match segment changed that and we were reminded exactly why we were supposed to hate Carter as he teased a reconciliation before destroying Spud and taking his hair. A fitting end to a long running feud, Carter will be able to move forward and up the card towards a full time main event berth that he seems to have his name written all over. Spud on the other hand seems to be moving into the X-Division, and won't be harmed at all by his competitive loss to Carter, in fact, the crowd might be behind him even more.