Wednesday, 30 September 2015

TV Review: WWE Monday Night RAW #1166

Technically, this was the go-home show for the upcoming network special Live from Madison Square Garden, but WWE also had Hell in a Cell looming three weeks in the distance. Could the promotion continue to keep interest in those shows, whilst keeping Monday Night RAW entertaining at the same time? With Bray Wyatt facing Roman Reigns in the shows main event and Kevin Owens, The Wyatt Family, PCB, The Dudley Boyz and Neville all in action...would this be a home-run for WWE? 

A good ol' fashioned recap video to start the show, keeping us clued in on all the goings on of WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and Kane's current storyline.

Making no logical sense (because of the previous recap package) the show began with the return of John Cena's United States open challenge. Cena was fine on the mic, but having The New Day come out to answer the call was a great call, with all three members shining on their way to the ring. Whether it was Xavier Woods on the trombone or the Duck Tales references I was completely into everything these guys did. Woods was interesting choice, as I was convinced we'd see Big E get a shot (I seem to remember Cena being quite high on him during his Intercontinental Championship run), but I've been a fan of Woods in-ring work for some time so was happy to see him get his first singles match on RAW since June 2014.

Match 1 - WWE United States Championship - John Cena (C) vs. Xavier Woods with Big E & Kofi Kingston

Having Big E and Kofi Kingston kicked out of the bout before the first ad-break seemed like a strange decision for me, as it took away Woods' chances and therefore didn't give the audience much need to come back after the break.

      The in-ring content here was enjoyable, with Woods more than holding his own with Cena inside the ring, and getting in a surprising amount of offence against Big Match John. Woods' top rope diving DDT looked really nice, whilst the two showed promise as opponent in a lovely sequence that ended with a well-done sitout powerbomb by Cena. The finish was a bit of a shame, as Kingston and Big E came back out to stop Woods tapping to an STF from Cena, I'd have much preferred a clean finish to start the show and it's not like tapping to Cena would have harmed Woods in any way at all.

Winner - John Cena via disqualification in 9 minutes, 22 seconds (Televised: 6 minutes, 20 seconds) 

The Dudley Boyz made the save and Teddy Long* came out to make a six man tag.

Match 2 - Six Man Tag Team - John Cena & The Dudley Boyz vs. The New Day

      Perfectly acceptable six man tag, but too short to really stand out as anything special. Cena worked nicely as the face in peril, which psychologically made sense as he'd already worked the match with Xavier Woods. I'm also a massive mark for the quick tags and stomps thing that the New Day do. The Dudleyz offence works nicely for a hot tag, they've had a long time to perfect things like that, I suppose, but it's still feels exciting in 2015. The New Day picking up the sneaky victory would suggest that we'll be seeing The Dudley Boyz capture the tag team titles on Saturday night.

Winner - The New Day via pinfall (Kingston on Devon Dudley) in 6 minutes, 40 seconds.

The first trip backstage introduced someone who would be a fixture of this episode, Ashley from HR, who would be conducting a performance evaluation on Kane...erm

     Staying backstage Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Randy Orton had a chat about Reigns upcoming match with Bray Wyatt, there was some generic tension between Ambrose and Orton which felt a little forced.

Match 3 - Singles - Mark Henry vs. "The World's Largest Athlete" The Big Show


Winner - The Big Show via pinfall in 2 minutes, 38 seconds.

Show went on to shill Saturday's match with Brock Lesnar and I still couldn't care less.

Not quite sure why this needed to be a Miz TV segment as The Miz quickly left the ring, but at least the focus was kept on the women here, as opposed to the last time they featured on the show. However, I'm not sure the Diva's made the best of the opportunity, with a lot of promos coming across as shouty, which I'm sure was supposed to be passion. Charlotte especially disappointed me, as I felt if she'd brought some levels into her delivery then the promo would have been much more effective. Also how stupid are Becky Lynch and Charlotte? Last week Paige cut a seething promo on the pair and now they're happy to team up with her...she definitely wasn't going to turn on them...

Match 4 - Six Woman Tag Team - PCB vs. Team Bella

     The match was an improvement on the promo, with plenty of storyline advancement going on. Whilst Paige's turn was always going to happen, I wasn't expecting Natalya to come out and attempt to get involved and even if she has been shoe-horned into the story, it's good to see her back on TV. Nikki getting a pin on Charlotte so early in her title reign was a bit weird, especially with Nikki not needing a reason to get a title match. 

Winner - Team Bella via pinfall (Nikki on Charlotte) in 6 minutes, 55 seconds.

     Replays and stare-down after the bout, nothing out of the ordinary though, considering all that went down in the match.

     A cheeky promo for WWE 2K16 aired, I think it's the first time that one of these has actually aired in full on the Sky Sports version of the feed (Feel free to correct me!)

     Even more promos! Live at Madison Square Garden is on on Saturday, so WWE ran a look at previous matches between Big Show and Brock Lesnar, I still couldn't care less.

    Backstage - Kane gave Seth Rollins the head of his statue in a box...what a time to be alive!

     Match 5 - Tag Team - The Prime Time Players vs. The Wyatt Family's Luke Harper & Braun Strowman

      Strowman got the win, but that's all I know because Sky Sports' stream cut up.

Winner - Harper & Strowman via submission (Strowman on Young) in 4 minutes, 18 seconds.

     JBL said something about European sport or something he'd read online that day...

     Match 6 - Singles - Stardust vs. "The Man That Gravity Forgot" Neville

     An absolute nothing match, as King Barrett turned up and twatted Neville with the Bullhamer. 

Winner - Neville via disqualification (Outside interference) in 2 minutes, 34 seconds

    Barrett hitting Stardust after the match made sense, due to Stardust attacking him the night after SummerSlam, but is Barrett heel or face now?

     What a bizarre segment, this was? One of the longest non-interupted segments in recent memory, Kane's in-ring performance evaluation went for a staggering 17 minutes...17 minutes without an ad-break? On American TV? But was it actually good? Truth be told...I honestly don't know. The first section went a little bit too long for me, and was a little bit too predictable. It was always going to be the case that Ashley found Kane to be a good employee, as for some reason this WWE employee had no idea of the Big Red Monster's back story. Kane taking Rollins' attack, as he snapped after Ashley called him a bad employee (She just sauntered off from the ring), was a weird one. It was in a way uncomfortable to watch Kane not fight Rollins back, as The Man delivered a Pedigree followed by chair shots to the back and leg (the one injured by Brock Lesnar before Battleground, top marks for continuing to call back to that)

    I have no idea, why but I was hooked for the last five or so minutes. If you think about it too much it falls apart (Kane transformed into the Demon version in the back of an Ambulance as steam came from it), but it was entertaining and even reminded me a little bit of the Sci-Fi elements from Lucha Underground. I popped big time when the Demon shook the injury out of his leg, as he could easily have not sold it at all when coming out of the ambulance, and that little touch made him look like a total bad-ass. His destruction of Rollins set their feud into the next gear, as it's been slow-burning for, at least, a year. As long as their rivalry is settled a Hell in a Cell and goes no further I'll be more than happy to see Kane step up into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture one more time.

    Bray Wyatt did one of his dry ice promos, something about Alpha and Omega, something about one on one against Reigns...I'll be honest, I didn't think it would be.

    The Buffalo Bills (who play American Football/Ice Hockey/Basketball/Baseball - please delete where appropriate) were at ringside and go told off by Bo Dallas for not winning enough, in his opinion.

Match 7 - Singles - Bo Dallas vs. "The Apex Predator" Randy Orton

 Squashy McSquash for reasons.

Winner - Randy Orton via pinfall in 1 minute, 55 seconds.

Ryback was out on commentary, this is the show that dreams are made of.

Match 8 - Singles - Kevin Owens vs. "The Bulgarian Brute" Rusev with Summer Rae

Winner - Absolutely no one in 45 seconds

    Owens and Rusev decided they'd rather beat up Ryback instead, The Big Guys' old pal Dolph Ziggler made the save, praise the lord for the Zig Zag man!

     A promo video for Ellen DeGeneres #JustKeepDancing viral situation aired, with a number of WWE superstars, all good stuff to raise funds for paediatric cancer care. 

I was pretty buzzed when I saw Paul Heyman head out aaaannnd then I realised he was coming to talk about The Big Show. Literally nothing happened here, Heyman said some stuff, Big Show said some stuff, Heyman said a bit more, Show cut him off and Heyman walked out. I still couldn't have cared less about watching Big Show wrestle Brock Lesnar on Saturday. I'm certain that there are people who are excited to see the match and I'd love them to get in touch and tell me why @ATPWrestling. Hit me up on the Twittah. 

With Michael Cole seemingly about to hyperventilate, Bray Wyatt walked out with Braun Strowman and Luke Harper, only to send them to the back.

Match 9 - Singles - Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt 

     Roman Reigns drive-by kick works nicely, it's impactful and cuts out the aftermath (which can be a bit of a let down), as an in to the ad break and after a short sequence that's exactly what happened.

     There were parts of this that I really enjoyed, bringing the best elements of their cracking Battleground bout together, going back and forth with apparent ease and at the decent pace for their size. The build-up to Reigns Superman Punch was done especially well. However, for a match of this length, their was a lot of lying around that I found hard to buy into and I know would have struggled to maintain the attention of a number of other viewers (something WWE can't afford at this point). There was time and scope to do a match more similiar to their previous encounter and put on a classic RAW bout, but this was only half of what the two can do. I understand that to a point, as the pair are being positioned for a marquee match at Hell in a Cell, but I'm sure many would have been even more willing to see/pay/sign-up to see another rematch if this had been fully allowed to spread it's wings.

Winner - No one via Double Countout in 13 minutes, 5 seconds (Televised: 9 minutes, 47 seconds)

The close of the show was electric, however, as the pair brawled on the outside with both getting big hits in before the end, in a nice change of pace from the regular RAW closing sequences.


ATPW Scale Rating - 4.75

What a very odd RAW that was? The pacing was completely different to what has been the norm over the last few years, with what felt like an ending in the middle of the show, lots of shorts one segment matches and then a very different main event and close. Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt's bout and the aftermath would have to be the highlight of the entire show, but I also thought that John Cena's United States Championship match with Xavier Woods
 was a sound encounter, whilst the end of the Kane and Seth Rollins segment also entertained.

You might have noticed that I couldn't care less about Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar? And the second hour was pretty throwaway, with an exception to the six woman tag, which had it's moments.

This clearly wasn't the greatest RAW there's ever been, but there was signs of promise in the pacing shuffle, and a few interesting threads going forward. Let's see where we are after Live at Madison Square Garden and re-evaluate.

*Teddy Long may or may not have came out

Guest Article: The Women of WWE - Part 1 (Lily Lestrange)

It's a pleasure to welcome Lily Lestrange back to! I hope you enjoy this series looking at how WWE has presented it's women's division over the years.


At the start of the year there was a big push for the "Diva Revolution" in WWE, where the company decided that after years of doing wrong by the division they should probably try and give the ladies more than a 3 minute match on Raw every Monday, if at all. As we've seen as the year has progressed, it's been one big failure; sure, they're getting longer matches but a decent singles match is few and far between for the women, instead they're being grouped up in threes and pitted against each other in poorly written, poorly executed stories and matches. Of course, people automatically blame the writers, it's what fans have become comfortable with when anything doesn't go the way they want it to but this time they may have a point. There is a lot of good - and a lot of bad - talent in the women's division and it's a pity that despite the fuss they've been trying to make about them "pushing" them, nothing has really come of it. Even throwing NXT's most prominent women into the mix with Paige, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte has done nothing for them.

It's not always been this way though and people seem to forget that. It's not always been this bad. People tend to look at wrestling past with rose-tinted glasses but honestly, pinky promise, it wasn't always like this. The women's division used to be good and brimming with talent, hence the reason I've decided to dedicate this series of blogs to the great ladies of WWE's past, present and future. As much disdain as I have for distinguishing "women's wrestling" from regular wrestling I felt it was necessary for the purpose of these blogs. As the title suggests, with this one I'm starting from the very beginning.

Mae Young

     Mae Young's involvement in the early days of the WWE was scarce but she's too bad ass not to mention and it didn't feel right including her in the later Attitude Era parts when she belongs with the late and greats. Most people remember Mae for her ridiculous antics at that time: when she wasn't groping the Rock, she was being stripped to her skivvies in the middle of the ring, sleeping with the big man Sexual Chocolate (and subsequently giving birth to his hand-child) or being powerbombed through a trio of tables by Bubba Ray Dudley. She was as mad as tits on a fish and that's why people loved her, she just didn't hold back. She was truly one of a kind. Who else can you say wrestled on the night of Pearl Harbour? Who else has had a career that spanned over 70 years? In a time where women were meant for the kitchen she was busy beating up other girls and changing the way that women were seen in the industry. She was a revolutionary in her own right. Mae helped shaped the world of wrestling into what it is today because of her determination and passion for the industry, and that passion stuck with her from her years as a scrappy teenager right up until January 14th of last year when she passed away at the grand old age of 90.

Fabulous Moolah

     Moolah was another one to completely change the world of wrestling. As Mae Young's protegee, she broke down many a barrier in the industry: she was one of the first women to be on a Wrestlemania pay-per-view, she was the first woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, she is the oldest champion (male or female) in sports history and she has technically had the longest title reign in wrestling history with a whopping 27 years as the WWF Women's Champion (the very first WWF Women's Champion at that). The only title reign I can think of that comes close to that is Bruno Sammartino's but that was paltry compared to Moolah's at only 11 years. Her wrestling career didn't last quite as long as Mae Young's but still, wrestling for 58 years isn't to be sniffed at in the slightest. Moolah came from an era where women had to sleep their way to the top but she refused to do it. In her early WWE career she was part of the original screwjob (no, not Montreal) in Madison Square Garden in 1985, where Wendi Richter dropped the women's title to Moolah without ever being told that she was losing the belt. Moolah appeared that night with a mask on and went out with the name "Spider Lady", without Richter knowing it was her. During the match, Spider Lady hit Richter with a Little Package and pinned Richter's shoulders to the mat; Richter kicked out at one but the ref - who was apparently in on it to - kept counting to three and awarded the
win to this masked stranger. Richter furiously attacked her and tore the mask off to reveal it was Moolah who had cheated her out of her title. It's possibly the biggest and most infamous story in the history of women's wrestling but it doesn't get spoken about as much as it should because let's face it, it was a pretty big deal.

After years of making random appearances she returned in 1998 with her pal Mae Young to partake in the shenanigans that Mae was. She had an 8 day reign with the WWE Women's title in 2003 after defeating Victoria and then subsequently got RKO'd by the man himself, Randy Orton. Mae took a powerbomb at 76 and Moolah took an RKO at 80 so there's no doubt that they're both hard as nails. Her last appearance in the WWE was during a backstage segment in August 2007; she passed away only a month afterwards.

Wendi Richter

Wendi was from a later era than Moolah and Mae Young but she still played a big part in laying the ground rules for women's wrestling. The first ever women's match on a Wrestlemania pay-per-view was Richter vs. Leilani Kai, with Moolah in Kai's corner and Cyndi Lauper in Richter's. Richter won the match and regained the Women's title from Kai, after losing it to her the month before. Prior to that she was the one to end the longest title reign in history by defeating Moolah at The Brawl To End It All in Madison Square Garden. That match saw MTV hit it's highest ratings in it's history at the time.

The story goes that the relationship between Richter and the WWE broke down and that's why the screwjob came around, with Vince McMahon being behind it all (of course). Apparently after what happened with "Spider Lady", Richter never spoke to Moolah again. Over the years of wrestling each other she felt betrayed, and quite rightly so; her and Bret should form a club. From there she left the WWF and had no involvement in wrestling up until 2005 when she was inducted into the Hall Of Fame by Roddy Piper. She was evidently still hurt by the actions of Vince and Moolah, hence why she retired (and said so herself in a shoot interview) but she willingly accepted her - well deserved - spot in the Hall Of Fame. Richter is the only one of the three women I've mentioned that is still alive and kicking at 54. Her last appearance on a WWE show was when she was in the ring with Cyndi Lauper on Monday Night Raw; it was the one where Lauper smashed her gold record over Heath Slater's noggin.

And there we have it; three of the great WWE women who laid the bedrock for the generations of women to come. There are a lot more that could have been mentioned - Mildred Burke could have a blog of her own - but I'm trying to keep it along the lines of WWF/WWE content so they didn't make the cut but their contributions to wrestling will never go unnoticed. These ladies mentioned so far are the ones who set the standards for today's wrestlers, who should be looking to go above and beyond the accomplishments of what these three have done.


Check out Lily's other work....


Next week....Marnix van der Kraan debuts on ATPW.

Blu-Ray Review: WWE The Very Best of WCW Monday Nitro Vol. 3

WWE's The Very Best of WCW Monday Nitro Vol. 3 is out on on DVD and Blu-Ray from and all other good home video outlets. The set takes the form of a match and segment compilation, with Diamond Dallas Page appearing intermittently to narrate and lead into certain portions of the content. There 34 matches and 8 segments (with a further 6 matches and 2 segments as Blu-Ray exclusives) with the likes Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Bret Hart, Sting, The Outsiders and more feautring throughout the set.

Disc One

The opening match between Lex Luger and "Macho Man" Randy Savage (October 1995) is decent start to the set, with the pair stringing together some nice looking sequences, although like a lot of the matches on this set is harmed by having a "TV finish" (To be expected, really!) Johnny B. Badd clearly is up to wrestling Eddie Guerrero (November 1995) in the style of bout that is laid out, and despite some quite clever ideas, the end result is kind of shitty. Diamond Dallas Page and Sting (January 1996), put on a solid TV clash, that is certainly helped along by a lively Charleston crowd. The first real quality bout of the set is Savage and Ric Flair's (January 1996) World Heavyweight Championship clash, which features an electric finish, even if the commentary is more interested in pushing SOME GUY called Kevin Greene.  

Having Scott Hall and Kevin Nash on commentary makes a match between Rick Steiner and Sting (December 1996), that becomes more of a segment, ridiculously entertaining, as the two discuss whether is not Sting is part of the nWo. Another cracking in-ring segment with the nWo kicking out The Giant (December 1996) follows, with the amount of debris thrown into the ring by the fans being quite a site. nWo continues to dominate as the entire group and what feels like the entire roster brawl in the ring (May 1997), with Hollywood Hogan and Randy Savage's commentary adding something a little extra to proceedings. I'm convinced that the match compilers saw Chris Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera (June 1997) and went "Yeah, that'll be all-right" isn't, it's botchy and Guerrera looks like he's never stepped foot inside a ring. 

Scott Steiner battles Randy Savage (July 1997) in a bout that features some competent action, but lacks urgency, harming the pace as the pair plod along and wait for the nWo run-in. The Outsiders are on sterling form in a tag match opposite Diamond Dallas Page and Lex Luger (August 1997), with one of the hottest crowds on the entire set and quite clever finish for television that left me wanting to see what would come next. nWo bitch-boys Vincent, Konnan, Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton and Rick Rude replacing the WCW signs (December 1997) with the nWo logo is interesting for about ten seconds, but quickly becomes a bore and runs WAY too long. The segment continuing all the way through to include the nWo Monday Nitro intro is a nice touch, but Eric Bischoff giving Hollywood Hogan two motorcycles and a limo (with a hot tub in it, because WCW) is mind numbingly bad. 

A cruiser weight tag team pitting Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero against Chavo Guerrero and Dean Malenko (February 1998) is one of the best bouts on the entire set, as one would imagine, but is hurt by Eddie trying to heel it up and the El Paso crowd not having any of it. nWo trying to recruit Rick Steiner (March 1998) did absolutely nothing for me, because I just couldn't give a fuck about Rick Steiner. The Giant chucking Scott Hall into a pool (March 1998) is at least a novelty to see, in a time when all WWE's venues look the same, but is still really quite silly, SPRING BREAK! Michael Buffer is the bane of my life, seriously every time this guy turns up I want to fast forward. He does the intro for a confusing Randy Savage vs. Hollywood Hogan bout (May 1998) where I'm pretty sure that everyone was heel. 

There's more nWo antics as Lex Luger joins the Wolfpac (May 1998), with so many of these jumps and without any real context it's difficult to get too involved. There is however, a superb segment featuring some back and forth between Hollywood Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone (June 1998), that's paced to tee and the crowd laps up every minute of. Things take a down-ward turn with Scott Hall's alcoholic "gimmick" in a match opposite Kidman, where Vincent refuses to give Hall a drink until he wins the contest (September 1998). It's easy to forget just however over Diamond Dallas Page was, but his over-booked contest with Kanyon (October 1998), is testament to Page's popularity if not anything else.

There's pretty cool stunt in a segment involving Bret Hart, Diamond Dallas Page and The Giant (December 1998), with Page offering a decent insight into it in his lead-in prior. A three way bout between Bam Bam Bigelow, Goldberg and Kevin Nash (December 1998) is at least an interesting combination of guys, but with the match coming just before Goldberg and Nash's infamous Starrcade bout there's way too much of an eye on that match for this one to get too interesting.

Disc Two

When DDP puts over a match between Booker T and Bret Hart (February 1999) as being "nothing less than a clinic", it's easy to be a bit sceptical, with what has gone before, but this is probably the best match of the set. Plenty of great back and forth between the two, who both look very comfortable in the ring, but it's a major shame that the focus of the show isn't on the pairs quality wrestling match. There's a strong story being told in Goldberg and Ric Flair's (March 1999) entry, but it's hurt by some stupid booking. I had absolutely no idea what was going in Diamond Dallas Page and Hollywood Hogan's brawling bout (March 1999) and quickly lost interest. A hardcore bout between Rick Steiner and Hak is thoroughly entertaining (June 1999), but the booking is mind-boggling as Sting makes an appearance. 

Whilst a tag match with Kevin Nash and Sid Vicious on the opposite to Sting and Hollywood Hogan (July 1999) might be star-studded, this is WCW...and the hallmarks of the promotion are all over the bout towards it's conclusion. There's a decent match between Sting and Bret Hart over the World Heavyweight Championship (October 1999) but even this bout isn't quite as smooth as it should have been. A Ladder match between Hart, Vicious, Scott Hall and Goldberg with Kevin Nash as special guest referee (November 1999) is a steaming pile of wank...perhaps one of the worst matches I've ever seen. Hart puts on another sound match, this time with Jeff Jarrett (November 1999) but similar to the earlier Sting bout it's nothing to go out of your way to see. 

A Tornado Tag Team match (which is also apparently Falls Count Anywhere) with Sting and Vampiro taking on Team Package (March 2000) is utter silliness throughout, but is actually very entertaining. Booker T and Mike Awesome's World Heavyweight Championship bout (July 2000) is another satisfactory encounter with some nice back and forth between the two and a CLEAN FINISH! To close off the set for the banter, there's a pre-match promo from SCOTT STEINER! A SCOTT STEINER PROMO! Scott teams with brother Rick for a bizarre match with Booker and Diamond Dallas Page. (March 2001)

Blu-Ray Exclusives

The Blu-Ray exclusives kick-off with a Scott Hall promo, oh you are treating us WWE. Hall teams with Wolfpac brother Syxx in a short but sweet bout opposite the Steiner Brothers (October 1997). Gene Okerlund interviewing Ric Flair and Bret Hart is a diamond of a segment with and shows just what both men could do when motivated (January 1998). I found Hart's match with Lex Luger (August 1998) rather absorbing, the bout tells a sound story, with the commentary team (Tony Shiavone, Mike Tenay, Larry Zybyszko and Bobby Heenan) being on their best form of the entire set. 

The bout between Bret Hart and Hollywood Hogan (September 1998) is going strong for the portion of the match just between those two, but as soon as the booking team and Sting get involved it quickly became a pile of horseshit. The two nWo factions brawling backstage (leading to the Wolfac flipping Hollywood's limo) is a lot of fun with plenty of stuff going on throughout it's very enjoyable in isolation. The exclusives conclude with an "Everything is happening" bout between Jeff Jarrett, Goldberg, Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner (June 2000) and not wanting to break from tradition, we close things with a truly wank finish.


I think the first point I need to make here is that the idea of having a third volume of a "Very Best" series is pretty ridiculous...if the first volume was the "Very Best" then this volume surely can't be?

Diamond Dallas Page is a fun host once again, offering some nice personal stories to go behind some of the matches, however, I can't help feeling having a different narrator for different matches and segments could have added the extra context that certain bouts could have done with. Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo explaining some of the booking decision could have been very interesting...

The entire set is pretty watchable from start to finish and whilst some of the moments are cringe-inducing or head-scratching, a lot of them are decent television outings. That being said there isn't a lot that is worth searching out to watch, with only three matches standing out as true quality bouts (Savage vs. Flair, Guerrero & Jericho vs. Guerrero & Malenko, Booker vs. Hart). If you're a big fan of average, television matches then you'll enjoy yourself here. The segments are hit and miss, but there is some absolute gold at points, with the Bret Hart and Ric Flair interview on the Blu-Ray exclusives standing out as one of the best of the bunch.

The set comes across as a good representation as the overall feels of Monday NITRO with a solid mixture of match types and segments. If you don't fancy trawling through every episode on the WWE Network then this could be a good purchase for you, although I'd imagine the first two volumes would be first on your list here.

You can find the set at WWEDVD, Amazon, Base, eBay, Hive, Rakuten and Blackwells. With WWEDVD offering the best price at £22.99 for the Blu-Ray.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Live Review: PCW Heroes

Just one week removed from short trip to 53 Degrees for UCLAN Fresher Week, which saw The GZRS in back to back matches against Hayes & Kirby and The UK Hooligans, PCW was back at Evoque for the first time since the start of August, for Heroes. Dave Mastiff putting his PCW Heavyweight Championship on the line against former WWE United States Champion, Bobby Lashley in the main event, as well as the likes of Charlie Garrett, Drew Galloway, El Ligero, Iestyn Rees, Noam Dar and Tommaso Ciampa also on the card. Could the show be as heroic as the title suggested?

Before we get to talking about the first match of the evening, I'd like to take a moment to discuss the magnificence that is Xander Cooper's coat. Making his début appearance at Evoque (after losing El Ligero at UCLAN Freshers Week), the Futureshock Wrestling regular rocked up in a get-up that would get you battered in most nightclubs around the country and certainly "noticed" in a few others. All dark green and peacock feathery, Cooper looked resplendent as he headed down the Evoque steps to the ring. In a way, it was a shame that Cooper didn't get a one on one match for his (Evoque) debut, to really get the crowd familiar with his character (A small "You're just a shit Ric Flair" chant didn't really hit the spot)

Match 1 - Cruiserweight Championship Four-Way - Bubblegum (C) vs. Xander Cooper vs. Dean Allmark vs. Ashton Smith

      An adequate start to the show, this was what you'd expect from these four talented performers. The action was fast-paced and with it's fair share of flips (Allmark's Asai Moonsault especially standing out), but for me, it was the heel-face divide that drove the bout. With Bubblegum and Cooper seemingly joining forces early doors, the pair would be thwarted at almost every turn by Allmark and Smith (the latter ducking a crossbody by Cooper, sending him into the arms of Bubblegum, before nailing Bubblegum with a backstabber was the highlight of the contest), the champion had had enough of the partnership and nailed Cooper with a Pedigree for the victory, working as a satisfying pay-off to the narrative. For me, this was a little too short to really allow any of the four performers to shine as bright as they could have and to fully explore what could have been done in the ring, both in terms of the action and story-telling. (I think it's also worth noting that all three of Bubblegum's challengers had lost their previous match in PCW)

Winner - Bubblegum via pinfall (on Cooper) in 7 minutes, 34 seconds *STILL CHAMPION*

Match 2 - Singles - Charlie Garrett vs. Iestyn Rees with Joanna Rose

Two workers who clearly know each other very well (They've performed as The Alpha Males tag team in various promotions for the last two years), and who are both technically proficient in the ring. It would be difficult to fault any of the wrestling content of this match, but it was quite simply...a little bit dull. The pair seemed to almost be coasting here, with a crowd that had been slow to warm up not being drawn into the action, which was needed considering this match was happening for...reasons. I found Joanna Rose at ringside to be the most interesting piece of the puzzle here, and even she didn't come into things until the closing stages of the match, causing the distraction that would allow Rees to get the win with a big ol' Powerbomb. 

Winner - Iestyn Rees via pinfall in 11 minutes, 53 seconds.

Match 3 - Singles - Dave Rayne vs. PCW Tag Team Champion T-Bone with Joanna Rose

After Joanna  had offered Rayne a shot at the #Boom Championship, if he could beat T-Bone, Rayne didn't beat T-Bone in a sub-two minutes squash, that saw the PCW Tag Team Champion finish off Rayne with a sweet Tombstone Piledriver. Boom!

Winner - T-Bone via pinfall in 1 minute, 48 seconds

Match 4 - Singles - "The Psycho Killer" Tommaso Ciampa vs. "The Mexican Sensation" El Ligero

     Undoubtedly the highlight of the first half; former ROH World TV Champion Tommaso Ciampa and All Star Wrestling regular El Ligero put on a pleasing rematch of their Supershow of Honor clash from last November. Whilst I'd rank the original clash a little higher, this was still a quality encounter, full of hard chops and big impact moves. Ciampa impressed with his character work, quickly taking on the antagonist role by laying into Ligero before the bell, as well as causing a little girl to cry at ringside. All was good later, the girl isn't scarred for life and some people were really angry on the PCW Facebook page, if only they'd have really given him some heat in the match!. Both men got some great near falls, taking on a very Indy feel, as Ciampa came close with an over the shoulder belly to back piledriver on the apron and Project Ciampa, whilst Ligero seemed to have the match won after hitting a lovely frog splash. With the series now tied at one a-piece, I'm hoping that later down the line (I'd imagine sometime in 2016 now), that we get a third clash between the two, with the pair given a little bit more time to really put on a show.

Winner - El Ligero via pinfall in 11 minutes, 57 seconds.

Match 5 - No Holds Barred - Lionheart vs. Sha Samuels

Sha Samuels is one of my favourite heels in PCW and he's been built amazingly since debuting just over a year ago. So when The East End Butcher came out to Kris Travis' music I couldn't have been happier... I mean, obviously I showered Samuels with some boos, as did the rest of the crowd, but that's exactly the reaction it should have been getting. With Lionheart heading straight and wasting no time going after Samuels, the crowd was the hottest they had been all night and perhaps the most behind Lionheart I've seen since his return from injury. Unfortunately, the match couldn't quite keep things up, with the action never really living up to the No Holds Barred moniker. I mean, if you'd never seen a No Holds Barred match before, I'm sure you'd have thought it was bloody marvellous. Some brawling on the outside and some whipping with Samuels' braces (which didn't look particularly convincing), but compared to the action before the Noam Dar and Drew Galloway match later in the night, this was a fairly tame affair. The finish was well-done however, with Samuels locking in the sleeper hold, with a scarf for added measure, and it was good to see Samuels' momentum continue to grow.

Winner - Sha Samuels via referee stoppage in 10 minutes, 24 seconds.

Before the night's sole tag team encounter, there was a backstage skit, involving Sam Ward taking a piss....yeah. Then The Wards came out with a dog. A DOG! A BLOODY DOG! This went straight over my head, but seemed to get a decent reaction from sections of the crowd. It even garnered a "That was Awesome" chant, which I'm really not sure was supposed to be the reaction it should have been getting. Whatever. Wrestling.

Match 6 - Tag Team - Hayes & Kirby vs. The Wards

Another very short bout, the pre-match antics actually went on about three minutes longer than the actual in-ring action. But, in terms of action, this was the weakest bout of the night, with the four never seeming to connect. There was some decent continuation of Joey Hayes and Martin Kirby's storyline, although if not a little repetitious on previous goings on, with Kirby taking on the majority of The Wards' offence, before Hayes came in to steal the win. Whilst the Wards look okay on the attack, with a fine looking powerslam combo situation working as a nice near fall, but I was not sold on the duo when Kirby was powering up. Sam looked especially ropey, taking a bizarre shitty bump off of the Kirby's Dreamland that would end the match.

Winners - Hayes & Kirby via pinfall (Hayes on Sam Ward) in 6 minutes, 3 seconds

Before the rematch from August's The Fourth Awakens, could even begin, Noam Dar and Drew Galloway had brawled all over Evoque. Trust me, this will look magnificent on Blu-Ray as the pair really went at it, and the stuff that I could see clearly looked brutal and was done with an intensity that was missing from elsewhere in the night. Brawling on the booths, brawling behind the bar, a Fallaway slam from Galloway into a fire door, Dar sending Galloway head first into a wall. The two made the most of the environment provided and continued to get over the rivalry that began when Galloway attacked Dar at the end of their match in August. It's interesting that this action felt much more No Holds Barred, than the No Holds Barred match earlier in the night.

Match 7 - Singles - Noam Dar vs. Drew Galloway

High and away the match of the night, the action inside the ring was just as good as the action outside it. The pair looked almost effortless in there, with Dar quick to target the former WWE Intercontinental Champion's leg once again, straight away bringing back memories of how good their initial contest was. Galloway's selling was on point once more, making Dar's Champagne Super Knee Bar feel all the more dramatic, as Galloway managed to claw himself to the ropes. Whilst CSKB was clearly a big part of this and the last match, Galloway bought his own weapon with the Futureshock DDT. After attempting a swinging variation of the move earlier in the match, it was not one, but two DDT's that would eventually put Dar away. This was a bout that played off the original encounter, whilst being completely different at the same time, brilliant stuff. Give me more of this.

Winner - Drew Galloway via pinfall in 10 minutes, 9 seconds

Pull apart brawls are great, give me a pull apart brawl and I'll be happy! Who doesn't love pull apart brawls? Seriously, though, Dar and Galloway heightened things with their post-match confrontation, with a number of PCW Staff/Trainees getting in between the pair as they tried to tear strips off each other, after Galloway continued to batter Dar after the bell. Just like the previous bout, the goings on post-match intensified the want for a rematch and raised the feud to the next level, superb booking that was improved upon by two world-class performances. Big shout out to the trainee who couldn't wipe the "Look at me, I'm in the ring" smile off his face during the entire segment, because it wasn't a serious situation at all. 

After the thrill-ride that was the raffle, it was almost time for the main event. Before that though, Joanna Rose said something. She put over Bobby Lashley as her choice to dethrone Dave Mastiff as champion, which I suppose made some sense as Lashley may have gotten a more positive reaction simply because he's been on the telly. But I honestly don't think it was needed, as Lashley got plenty of heat walking out for just working for TNA and being alongside Joanna, who had already been out twice in the evening. 

Match 8 - PCW "World" Heavyweight Championship - "The Bastard" Dave Mastiff vs. Bobby Lashley with Joanna Rose

When your main event gets a "boring" chant, that pretty much says it all, doesn't it? This match was just that, boring. What would you do if the crowd was chanting boring? Slap on the fourth rest hold of the match, according to big Bobby. The match ran just shy of ten minutes; why are we having to have FOUR REST HOLDS! Yes, Lashley was "wearing down" Mastiff and all that, but there were surely more interesting ways to so, especially when the match was going less than ten minutes. Even then Mastiff had to resort to a low blow to get the victory, which I'm sure was in there to keep Lashley looking relatively strong for his TNA/Bellator commitments rather than do anything for Mastiff, before hitting his Cannonball to retain the title. 

Winner - Dave Mastiff via pinfall in 9 minutes, 53 seconds.

Iestyn Rees, T-Bone and Bubblegum were all out to give Mastiff some beats after the match, with The Bastard also taking a big spear from Lashley. The crowd clearly knew the score as the "Maaartin" shouts began, and out came Money in the Bank holder Martin Kirby. Kirby's partner Joey Hayes argued that Kirby shouldn't cash in, giving Mastiff enough time to recover and the trio fought off F.W.B to close the show. Not quite sure about this as the closing segment, as whilst it sent the fans home happy, the Kirby and Hayes stuff went on a little too long. The crowd chanting for Kirby to cash-in, despite Mastiff being their favourite Bastard was also a weird moment. One last point, F.W.B. have been trying to get the belt off Mastiff since he won the belt in July, so why didn't they want Kirby to cash in his Money in the Bank? The fact that they bought in Lashley for this show already shows they aren't too bothered about the title going to someone already in the group, right?


Galloway vs. Dar just about saves this show from dropping below a 5 on the ATPW Scale, with all three portions (the bout, plus action before and after) scoring high.

As you might have been able to tell from reading the review, I didn't enjoy the majority of this show, at all. If I was taking into account the fucking weird crowd (bloke who couldn't chant in time, drunken women, some shit chants that unsurprisingly didn't get going) then I think that the rating would be a lot lower, as I know that it certainly impacted on my enjoyment of the show. I wouldn't say there was necessarily a "bad" match on the show, although parts of the tag bout perhaps came close and the main event couldn't live up to the action directly before it. There was a lot of average or dull action throughout this show. More often than not the contests felt way too short to fully deliver on their potential also.

Having tickets to Shropshire Wrestling Alliance show on Halloween, I'm certain I won't be back for PCW's Halloween double header. My next trip to Preston will be for the PCW/ROH weekender in November...I'm expecting to have a much better time of things here, as last year's four shows were superb. But as it stands, I'm considering making those shows my last PCW shows for a while. 

A big thanks to Andrew Tomlinson for casting his eagle-eye over this. Very much appreciated. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Interview: ICW's Bobby Roberts

It's a pleasure to welcome Craig Hermit back to This time Craig's back as interviewer!


This heavyweight competitor is incredibly agile for his size and able to out-power some of the most dominant opponents. With his ever-growing ability in the ring and his strength and tenacity, Roberts aims to make waves as he stands alone as a singles competitor like he has done in Insane Championship Wrestling, Scottish Wrestling Alliance, Pride Wrestling, Caithness Pro Wrestling, Alpha Omega Wrestling and many others.

ATPW - The obvious opening question then, did you get into the wrestling industry and when did the interest develop?

Bobby Roberts - I’ve always been a fan for years and years. Obviously, growing up with (Hulk) Hogan, (The Ultimate) Warrior and Macho Man, all the way through the cartoon period kinda thing, then growing up, the teenage years, WWE had the Attitude Era, so that got me right into it, I was rebellious and that fitted in.

Then I watched the documentary, Beyond the Mat, famous documentary, it opened my eyes to the world of wrestling, being backstage, the politics, the drama, the production and everything about it. I just said to myself, I wanna do this, unfortunately at the time I had no money to train and where SWA was originally based, I was unable to get to via public transport on a Sunday cause I stayed in Ayrshire, and travel was equivalent to using a horse and cart. Turning 18, I went to the army, met my wife, started playing football for a while, got bored of it, wasn't a passionate thing as I was still into wrestling so I thought, right bugger it. If I didn't do it now, I never would. So, 30th April 2011 came around, I stepped into Source Wrestling School, my first training session was with Paul Tracey which was brutal and ever since then I've never looked back.

I débuted on 18th November 2011 and the same year, I won trainee of the year award. I was going 4 days a week, sometimes constantly, just applied everything I could to get to training. I mean, I'm married so, I didn't get to see a lot of my family. I was borrowing money to get to training constantly off my wife, my parents and everything I done was wrestling related. I lived and slept wrestling through that period of time, still do, just at that period of time I wanted it, went for it and I'm still here.

When you started your training, within Source Wrestling School, how did you find it and was there anyone who has been influential in your training?

Damian O’Connor and Mikey Whiplash by far, Damo trains you hard but it’s worth it, he sees the potential in people, exact same as Whiplash. He just sees the potential oozing out of some people and pushes you that much harder because if you've got it, he wants to see you come through, Damo as well. I had a lot of personal problems, spoke to him face to face and he gave good advice on it. Whiplash is constantly pushing me as much as he can, always helping me on wrestling. Both have a completely different way of telling you the same thing but both make so much sense. One piece of advice that always stuck with me, “Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should!”, I’ll always remember that.

You have been part of Reckless Intent Wrestling, what are your thoughts on the progression that has made in the last few years?

Absolutely fantastic, they have just grown, any company has to start from somewhere and they have just grown and grown. Some of the people they have brought in, myself, Chris Renfrew, DCT, Damian O’Connor and Colt Cabana. Last year Cabana was there and that was a sell out show. It went from the Reckless Intent Unit to Morrisson Scout Hall and it’s been selling out every time we are there. 

You are not just part of Caithness Pro Wrestling in the North of Scotland, but you are the CPW Heavyweight Champion, what are your thoughts on the progression of CPW and the next step? 

Photo Credit - Ferguson Studios

Well, the next step is for it to continually grow, the promotion is bringing in new people, myself, Viper, Solar and the potential of the main roster itself is absolutely phenomenal. Look at them, Kitty Trouble, who has embraced a new image change, Big Bob, I've already said how much of a powerhouse he is, you still have former Champion Solomon and even as we spoke about before The Abandoned who are a completely new faction in CPW, who may be targeting me but that's only at the moment, everyone show watch out for them. I've only mentioned a few of the CPW roster there, so it's clear to see the CPW is growing as a company at more and drawing more attention from fans all over Scotland & down in England.

Staying with CPW, you have had issues with the faction known as The Abandoned who have made you their next target?

The Abandoned are a strange one,  I've wrestled Eric before, I've fought the Son's of Solomon before both in hard fought matches at CPW Ransoms something has just appeared to click in his head and they have made me their target for some reason. The thing is though, he's playing a very dangerous game if he's coming for me, like I said at the last show, I'm the CPW Champion, your welcome to TRY and take this Championship away from me.

Recently at CPW's last event, ' Pride of the Highlands, Big Bob won a fantastic tournament to be granted a title shot anytime of his choosing, your thoughts?

That will certainly be one hell of a match, he's legit 6 foot 8, he's built like a bear and there's very few people not just in CPW but in the UK with his frame and his ability. He's a man I will concerned about when he cashes in that Title shot and if I'm still the Champion when he does, but he will realise the I'll do everything I can to keep this Championship.

In Alpha Omega Wrestling in Morecambe, you are part of the Referendum, the Scottish representatives who are on a continuous winning streak at the moment since last year, what do you feel about the reactions you get from the fans?

It is a kinda typical English reaction to Scotland winning, isn't it? They can't handle the fantastic Scottish talent we have, it is as simple as that. Everyone mentions the British Wrestling scene, there wouldn't be a British Wrestling scene if it wasn't for the Scottish talent in Scotland. Scottish talent is the best, we, The Referendum, showcase that Scottish talent every single time we are at Morecambe in Alpha Omega Wrestling. I mean look, we have Viper, the most dominant female in Britain never-mind Scotland, there's Davey Boy who has yet to unleash just how crazy he can get, you've got Lewis Girvan, just an amazing talent and you've got me, the Enforcer of the Referendum.

ICW fans are continually taking about the partnership you have with Joe Hendry, your unique entrances especially? How did the idea come about?

I say Joe comes up with the ideas for the entrances and he thinks I've got real comedic timing, I'll agree to that, but Joe has a great comedic mind and we do have great chemistry. I feel comfortable with him for the things we do at the entrances but we'll see if there's more to come.

You have wrestled for numerous promotions across the UK, what ones would you love to wrestle for?

PCW is certainly one I would love to wrestle for along with my tag team partner Lewis Girvan, the fans down there are superb and fantastic range of talent they have is phenomenonal. PROGRESS as well, just amazing what that promotion has been able to achieve but honestly any promotion that I'm a part of I make sure the fans will always be entertained.

Lastly, where can fans see you next?

Reckless Intent in Livingston on the 3rd, Alpha Omega Wrestling in Morecambe on the 11th and I'll be making my début for Heritage Wrestling in Sunderland on 30th October. Also buy my range of T-shirts and Hoodies available from:

You can also keep up-to-date with Bobby Roberts on Facebook and Twitter at - 
Bobby Roberts



A big thanks to Bobby Roberts for taking part in the interview, as well as Craig Hermit for conducting it. You can find Craig on Twitter here