Thursday, 28 January 2016

Wrestle Ropes' Ready for the Weekend: January 2015 Week 5 - TCW, NGW & ICW

Well last weekend did not disappoint with major championships changing hands and new reigns beginning. Moving on to this weekend and we see Tidal Championship Wrestling and New Generation Wrestling kicking off their 2016 schedules while Insane Championship Wrestling celebrate their 100th show. Let's get Ready For The Weekend!

Kicking off the weekend on Friday night and Tidal Championship Wrestling are back at The Dolphin Centre in Darlington with 'New Year's Revolution'. The show will be the first of 2016  for TCW and will see El Ligero defend the TCW Championship for the first time since winning it back in December. His challenger will be Darlington's own, Perfect Purdie. Even though Purdie shall be be considered an underdog to the champion, he possesses a great set of skills, of which Ligero has requested the chance to test himself against. One match on the card with an element of the unknown is Kirsty Love vs Miss Roxxy. Both these wrestlers will be making their first appearance for TCW and shall be wanting to leave a good impression. After a war of words, this match has become a little more personal so it should be expected that the contest will have a bit more spice than your usual competitive match. If you like your wrestlers with an attitude then Dan James and HT Drake are the wrestlers for you. Whilst James may be the TCW Open Champion, he is not what you would call a happy person. The challenger for the championship, Drake is known for having a bad attitude and a general dislike for pretty much everything. So on Friday, the champion may be even more miserable if he loses, or the challenger might see things in a better frame of mind if he wins. But we doubt it.

full card

*tcw championship*
‘the mexican sensation’ el ligero (c) vs perfect purdie

liam lazarus vs ‘the ugandan warrior’ nsereko

‘the dapper grappler’ josh alden vs benjamin rock

the burial vs jainus centurion & robbie ryder

kirsty love vs miss roxxy

*tcw open championship
‘the armbar superstar’ dan james (c) vs ‘gimmick killer’ ht drake

micky the dragon vs mihai

Moving on to Saturday and New Generation Wrestling return to the Pudsey Civic Hall with Full Force and full force the show shall be with a lot of feuds and rivalries being fought over. Two men with a great deal of bad blood between them are Rampage Brown and Zack Gibson. These two men have being going back and forth for a few months now with them both on a quest for the NGW Undisputed Championship. In late 2015, Gibson took a DQ win over Brown which didn't help settle their issues so they will once against meet in the squared circle but this time a shot at the NGW Undisputed Championship will be on the line. Speaking of the NGW Undisputed Championship, Nathan Cruz shall be defending the gold on January 30th in Pudsey. His challenger will be Lionheart, who claims that if their match didn't end in a draw thanks to a mass brawl breaking out, he would have beaten the champion. With that being the case, NGW management have decided to see if Lionheart can back up what he claims. On Saturday night, Cruz puts the championship on the line against a man who says he's got him beat. One other match scheduled for this Saturday will see GenX competitors, Wild Boar and Flash Morgan Webster competing one on one. Each man has a very different type of in-ring style with Boar being a very hard-hitting competitor and Webster known for his fast-paced, high-flying style. While it will be a clash of styles, it'll be also certainly be a full on contest with both men looking to pick up a win and a possible future shot at the GenX Championship.

full card

*NGW Undisputed Championship*
‘The Showstealer’ Nathan Cruz (c) vs Lionheart

*NGW GenX Championship*
Bubblegum (c) vs ‘The Amazing’ Matt Myers

*NGW Undisputed Championship Number One Contender*
‘Liverpool’s No.1’ Zack Gibson vs Rampage Brown

‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman vs ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster

liam slater & ‘the mexican sensation’ el ligero vs dara diablo & ‘the righteous’ joseph conners

‘the heavyweight house of pain’ stixx vs sam wilder

Finally ending the wrestling weekend on Sunday night and Insane Championship Wrestling celebrate their 100th show at The Garage in Glasgow with a Friday Night Fight Club TV taping. Recent tapings of ICW's Friday Night Fight Club have seen some great matches taking place and this Sunday looks to be no different with three championships being defended, two of which will be the first defence of the current champion. Chris Renfrew may have only won the ICW World Heavyweight Championship last weekend but he will be in action on January 31st when his championship will be on the line against former champion, Mikey Whiplash. These two men had issues for a number of months in 2015 with it culminating (or so we thought) at Fear & Loathing VIII in a steel cage match where the NAK faced Legion. However this rivalry looks to be reignited with championship gold being added into the mix. Renfrew has finally reached to top of the mountain in ICW, now he has to fight the monsters that are hunting him and the ICW World Heavyweight Championship he holds. Another champion will be defending their championship for the first time will be Carmel. It seems only fitting that ICW original, Carmel would defend the ICW Women's Championship on such a landmark show. Her challenger, Sammii Jayne is a wrestler that is making a name for herself not just in ICW but in British Wrestling in general. Now under the tutelage of Nikki Storm, Sammii is looking for gold. Carmel has been a part of some of ICW's most historic moments, she will be looking to start her championship reign with a win otherwise she might be part of a historic moment she did not expect. At a previous edition of Friday Night Fight Club, BT Gunn and Kenny Williams put on a show-stealing performances that had everyone talking. So ICW have decided to let both men go at it one more time. It was the former ICW Zero-G Champion, Williams who took the win in their last outing. Gunn will be looking to even the score this Sunday with Williams setting out to prove he's got the number of the two-time ICW Heavyweight Champion.

full card

*icw world heavyweight championship
chris renfrew (c) vs mikey whiplash

*icw women’s championship*
carmel (c) vs sammii jayne (w/ nikki storm)

*icw tag team championship*
the 55 (kid Fite & ‘the east end butcher’ sha samuels) (c) (w/ james r. kennedy) vs the toal family (lou king sharp & dickie divers) (w/ chris toal)

the local fire (‘local hero’ joe hendry & davey blaze) vs lionheart & liam thomson

wolfgang vs noam dar

bt gunn vs kenny williams

‘iron man’ joe coffey vs stevie boy

‘Liverpool’s No.1’ Zack Gibson vs Lewis Girvan

That wraps up this week's preview of the weekend's wrestling schedule. Of course, there are many more events taking place over the three days. To find out more about the shows we've highlighted here as well as all the others, check us out at for the latest show and match announcements, British Wrestling event list, interviews, exclusive columns, reviews, reports and results!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

TV Review: TNA Impact Wrestling #602

Airing on 26th January 2016, the 602nd edition of TNA's Impact Wrestling featured a Feast or Fired bout including the likes of Bram, James Storm, Bobby Roode, Drew Galloway and Rockstar Spud and Jeff Hardy calling out his World Heavyweight Champion brother, Matt Hardy...but was it any good? Let's find out.

fast-forward...A quick recap of Matt Hardy winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from Ethan Carter III last week, turning heel in the process...

jeff hardy calls out matt hardy

Things got off to a...start with Jeff Hardy heading out to the ring to vent his frustrations with his, now villainous brother and TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Matt Hardy. The absolute highlight of the entire segment was the site of the 375 lb Tyrus walking to the ring holding Matt Hardy's baby, Maxel. For some reason Tyrus had a t-shirt on his head, adding to the ridiculousness of the image. Basically, Jeffrey was pissed at Matthew for using under handed tactics to win the World title last week, leading to Matt claiming that Jeff was now just the "Other Hardy", before the two agreed to settle it in the ring later on. Whilst there was some weirdly phrased bits of dialogue from both guys, the crowd seemed pretty into the concept and that gave things just enough drive to remain entertaining. Matt Hardy's turn has a lot of potential and he's clearly putting a lot of effort into creating the new act, I'm interested to see where he, Tyrus and Reby take things over the next few months. 

fast-forward...Some dudes talking about the upcoming Feast or Fired bout, including Beer Money, Rockstar Spud, Grado, Drew Galloway...The last couple of competitors made their way to the ring for the Feast or Fired match, the commentators fail to mention why Eric Young is competiting in the bout despite being King of the Mountain Champion...

grado, drew galloway, eli drake and james storm earn feast or fired briefcases 

This match is no where near the spectacle that it should be. What should be TNA's version of the Money in the Bank Ladder match, essentially is just too many guys in the ring, brawling for a bit and then at random points deciding to grab at one of the briefcases hanging above the ring. Maybe this is a little bit harsh, as the bout did manage to pull out some pretty good spots, like Bobby Roode sending Rockstar Spud to outside with a Roode Bomb, a cool sequence between Drew Galloway and Eli Drake which finished in Galloway hitting a snap german suplex off the top, and a Tower of Doom spot involving Chris Melendez. However, the concept itself is one that has never quite clicked together, as having four briefcases and twelve men means that the match ends up devoid of pretty much any drama. Bobby Roode allowing James Storm to pull down a briefcase also ended up devaluing the potential title shots, rather than strengthening them as a tag team.

tigre uno defeats mandrews and dj z to retain the tna x division championship

Despite both Mandrews and DJ Z getting title shots for no reason what so ever, the three way for Tigre Uno's TNA X-Division Championship actually turned into a pretty good' piece of X-Division action. Once the match had found it's groove and the three competitors began to gel, we got a fast pace that kept the spots coming. A sequence featuring multiple dives to the outside is always a sweet watch, but we also got Mandrews using his skateboard to hit a hurricanrana on the way down the entrance ramp! That's without mentioning that DJ Z hit a reverse rana on Mandrews! With a little bit more time and some reasons for the title match happening and TNA really would have set tongues wagging about their product once again.

fast-forward...Gregory Shane Helms appears to challenge Tigre Uno to an X Division title shot next week...Awesome Kong has words with her Dollhouse sisters, her new heel character is funky...Jessie Godderz attempts to convince Eli Drake to open his Feast or Fired briefcase, nothing really happens...Kurt Angle went to confront Matt Hardy backstage, one last title shot for Angle perhaps to come...Awesome Kong and Velvet Sky head out to the ring for their match alone...Awesome Kong squashed Velvet Sky in a matter of minutes, finishing her off with an Implant Buster...Some shouts out "New Day" during a Dollhouse beating of the Beautiful People, the rest of the crowd is pretty much silent...The Wolves call out Crazzy Steve who apparently stole their TNA World Tag Team Championships last week...Jeremy Borash hosts a segment with the Feast or Fired briefcase holders, with Mike Bennett & Maria Kanellis interupting and seemingly start a feud with Drew Galloway, before it was revealed Eli Drake had a King of the Mountain title shot...Crazzy Steve answered The Wolves challenge, revealing his new partner Abyss and some girl who cut a freaky promo...

the wolves defeat crazzy steve and abyss via disqualification

An entertaining tag match that debuted the new tag duo of Crazzy Steve & Abyss well, showcasing their relationship whilst also giving Steve a chance to get over his new darker character shift. With the heel duo dominating Davey Richards for most of the match, we got Steve & Abyss working quick tags to stay in control, whilst a chokeslam from Abyss to Steve onto Richards offered a real insight into what the newer Steve is willing to do in order to hurt his opponent. The finish of the bout was a little bit of let down, as struggled to make much sense either in or out of kayfabe. With The Wolves about to deliver their double double stomp finishing move, Steve & Abyss' weird girl appeared on the entrance ramp, leading to Richards' chasing after her and Abyss hitting a Blackhole Slam on Eddie Edwards. All well and good until Steve spat purple mist into Richards face and the ref called for the DQ. If Steve and Abyss weren't bothered about winning, why would they wrestle for six minutes or so prior? A frustrating end to what looked to be a promising debut for The Decay.

fast-forward...Crazzy Steve and Abyss continue to attack the Wolves ending up holding the TNA World Tag Team Championship...Back in the special room, James Storm found out he had a TNA World Tag Team Championship shot, Drew Galloway found out he had a TNA World Heavyweight Championship shot and Grado found out he was fired and perhaps stole the show with his ridiculous reaction...Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy headed out for their brotherly World Heavyweight title match, with Jeremy Borash doing in-ring introductions...

eric young piledrivers jeff hardy through a table after interrupting world title match

I was all ready to write about TNA giving away a Hardy vs. Hardy bout at the first opportunity with zero promotion, when we got a big ol' swerve to close the show. Eric Young interrupted just after the bell had rang to question why Jeff was number one contender, before Bram attacked Jeff Hardy from behind. Things got a bit clusterfucky from then on in, with Beer Money, The Decay and Kurt Angle all coming out to get involved in the brawl. It was all very confusing at this point. However, once the dust was settle, Eric Young piledriving Jeff Hardy through a table at ringside was a pretty cool spot that made Young look like a ruthless bastard, whilst setting up a feud that will keep Jeff Hardy away from a match with Matt, giving TNA time to (hopefully) properly promote a title match between the two. It also seems we may see Matt Hardy work a programme with Kurt Angle over the next few weeks, after Hardy laid out the former 4 time WWE World Heavyweight Champion with his TNA World title belt, with a little help from Tyrus.


atpw scale rating - 4.76 (average to good tv)

A decent episode all round this, with the X-Division Three Way standing out as a particular highlight of the evening. I was kept entertained by pretty much all of the longer segments on the show, with each showing potential in terms of growing a particular storyline and making things more interesting over the next few weeks. Matt Hardy's heel act has grown quickly over the space of the week and has room to move as World Heavyweight Champion, TNA just need to find a challenger that I can get behind of, and begin to weave a compelling story for the two. The likes of EC3 and Drew Galloway could be their best bets for that role at the moment, with Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle offering options with name value that could cement Hardy's run whilst giving even more credibility to the guy who topples "The Iconic" one.

With the UK tour beginning on Friday, and those episodes set to begin to air in the middle of February, let's see if TNA can use those episodes to begin to drive interest in their product and create a positive buzz about the company once more, using the ground work that has been done in the first four episodes of 2016.

The Merch Table with Craig Hermit #3 - ICW, Pinfall Apparel, Progress &

2016! Brand new year. Lots and lots of new Merchandise. Lots and lots of new things for a wrestling fan to love, adore and! Remember if you like an item, and fancy making it your own, click on the blue text in the article and you'll be sent straight to the relevant stores. Let's see what thing's are out there and we begin with....

insane championship wrestling

Over the weekend, one of the biggest UK held an amazing event, aka Square Go! And if you went see it or if witnessed it On:Demand you may have seen merchandise of a wrestler you may want to buy so...

Total Davey - If you are at a wrestling event and you hear, 'Here we! Here we! Here we fuckin' go!' then you Davey Boy isn't far behind.

The ICW Zero-G Champion has amazed fans across the country with wrestling and his phenomenal personality. A personality that comes across in waves in his ICW On:Demand series, Total Davey and to go along with the show, there's a new t-shirt priced at £15.99 available in sizes Small to 4x-Large.

Chris Renfew - The ICW World Heavyweight Champion, the outspoken leader of the NAK and the man who is just as destructive with a microphone as he is in the ring has released a new T-shirt (above), priced at £15.99 and available in Small to 4x-Large.

Now continuing our love for T-shirts, we look towards...

pinfall apparel 

An independent t-shirt company who specialise in one of a kind, wrestling inspired designs. Their shirts are made for those stylin' & profilin' gentlemen who don't want to wear wrestling shirts designed for kids and teenagers! And for the stylish, ladies who love wrestling but don't want to wear bad fitting t-shirts! It's all about limited print designs.

Trent Seven - If you saw Team FIGHT CLUB: PRO take Chikara: King of Trios by storm then you will know that Trent Seven is the real deal!
This merch is limited edition and is both approved and endorsed by Trent Seven with a percentage of the sales going to him. And the fantastic new t-shirts are priced at £17 available from Medium to 3x-Large.

The Old Network! - This is Pinfall Apparel's tribute to the good ol' days.

Imagine The days before the internet. Before the IWC. Before On Demand, DVD's and the WWE Network. This is their tribute to the tape traders. The VHS collectors. The old die hard wrasslin' fans at £15 available from Small to 3x-Large.

I spoke to the awesome team at Pinfall Apparel about any other t-shirts due for release and they said two words...

'Fear Havok' - That's right, The Pinfall Ambassadors Club's resident Death Machine has joined forces to release a brand new Fear Havok T-shirt due out later in the year.

And our last look at t-shirts takes us to...

progress wrestling

Mark Haskins - Due to the demand of fans asking if they could buy the t-shirt that Mark Haskins was wearing at Chapter 25: Chat Sh*t Get Banged, Progress has released it. But this fantastic combination t-shirt features an awesome white and red “underrated” print on the front and a sweet PROGRESS logo on the back, available in Small to 3x-Large from £17.

Also how good would a Mark Haskins t-shirt be to have at Progress on 14th February as he is in the Main Event facing Marty Scurll for the Progress Championship.

Now we turn our attention to...

With a stirling arrangement of DVD's, figures and much more let's look at one of the best DVD's available from their catalogue,  EVOLVE Wrestling presents - EVOLVE 40 featuring:
Ricochet vs. PJ Black, RONIN (DGUSA Champion Johnny Gargano & Rich Swann) vs. The Premier Athlete Brand (Caleb Konley & Brian Cage) w/ So Cal Val & Andrea, Special Challenge Match #2 -Timothy Thatcher vs. Tommy End, Non-Title EVOLVE Champion Drew Galloway vs. Uhaa Nation priced at £13.50.

Also from the man who has recently arrived in WWE, the Official AJ Styles Black Replica Gloves - These are replica gloves of the ones that AJ wears during his matches, 2016 version! Hand Signed by AJ Styles in Gold Marker Pen at the High Stakes January 2016 event, these gloves are a unique item to own. Supplied by AJ Styles himself, these are worldwide exclusives to Wrestlingstore! They are only available in limited quantities! However, they are supplied as one Size Fits All priced at £29.99.

And that was this month! Hope you've found something for you here, let me know on Twitter at @craighermit

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

TV Review: WWE Monday Night RAW #1183 (Ambrose/Reigns vs. Sheamus/Rusev)

Just one night removed from the 2016 Royal Rumble, WWE presented the 1183rd edition of Monday Night RAW. The Rock returned to verbally joust with The New Day, new WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H opened the show with Mr. McMahon and Stephanie McMahon and Roman Reigns teamed with WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose to take on the League of Nations' Sheamus & Rusev in the main event as The Authority scouted potential challengers for main prize....but was it any good?

fast-forward...Highlights from the Royal Rumble Match from the night before aired, as Triple H last eliminated Dean Ambrose to claim Roman Reigns' WWE World Heavyweight Championship...

new wwe world heavyweight champion triple h opens the show

An unusual opening segment, as Mr. McMahon & Stephanie McMahon introduced our new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H. We got the theme for the rest of the show with the announcement that the main event of Fastlane would be a Number One Contender's bout for Triple H's title, and we'd get an announcement of that match at the end of the show. However, apart from this, very little actually happened here. Trips came out, revealed he entered the Rumble because he wanted to win the title and keep it away from Reigns, and then left. It was overly long for what it was, and whilst the words were crafted well, without anything of note actually occurring here then they become just a little empty.

fast-forward...Dolph Ziggler and Kevin Owens entered the AmericanAirlines Arena for the opening bout of the show, with highlights of Owens losing to Dean Ambrose in a Last Man Standing contest at the Royal Rumble the night before...

kevin owens defeats dolph ziggler

A perfectly acceptable outing from Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler opened the show's action, with The Prizefighter able to put himself back on track after failing to win back the Intercontinental Championship on the previous night. I got a big kick out of Owens selling the effects of the physical bout he had with Dean Ambrose the night before (and competing in the Royal Rumble) but him being able to overcome the odds and eventually pick up a clean victory with a Pop-Up Powerbomb makes it seem like WWE is planning a slow-burn face turn for the former ROH World Champion. The two are capable of putting on a much better contest than this, but the action they did produce was entertaining throughout, with the two able to put together some good wrestling sequences, even with both holding more than a little something back. Here's hoping that a victory here means strong WrestleMania plans for Owens, I think Ziggler's best hope might be post-Mania heel turn to help refresh his act. 

fast-forward...Owens continued to sell his struggle in his post-match celebration, expect a babyface turn sooner or later...

flo-rida meets the social outcasts

You know when you're enjoying a bag of Revels, you're getting along fine with the bag of Revels, munching those little chocolate bastards and enjoying the variety, then all of a sudden the fucking coffee revel decides to rear it's ugly head and make you question why you're even eating a bag of revels at all. That was this segment. Flo-Rida was the coffee revel in this scenario, whilst Adam Rose, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel and Heath Slater were all the other Revels. Flo Rida is shit at the one thing he does, and somehow got out done by Bo Dallas in a rap battle. Man, I really want some Revels. 

fast-forward...The Dudley Boyz squashed The Social Outcast's Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel, with Flo-Rida continuing to be the fly in the ointment at ringside...Renee Young interviewed AJ Styles with Chris Jericho interrupting, what a time to be alive...

aj styles defeats chris jericho

AJ Styles first ever singles match in the WWE provided a sound showcase for the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Whilst the "dream" match with Chris Jericho wasn't the God tier bout that I feel many had in their heads when this was announced, it was still a good back and forth encounter with a lively crowd. The match was clearly put together to introduce AJ Styles to the WWE audience and put over his in-ring style and character. At points there was a clear communication issue, as the pair grew accliminatised to each other inside the ring, but nothing that seemed to majorly impact on my enjoyment of the match. Styles and Jericho upped the pace for the final portion of the bout and putting on a strong competitive sequence to close the bout, with a strong false finish with Y2J locking the Liontamer on Styles, leaving me feeling pretty satisfied with Styles' first WWE match. The on-going story of Styles being unable to hit the Styles Clash could prove interesting over the next few weeks and hopefully lead to the move getting a great reaction when he finally hits it.

fast-forward...It seems AJ Styles and Chris Jericho aren't done, as they shared a handshake and staredown following the match...With highlight's of the previous night's Diva's Championship bout, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks made their way to the ring...Becky and Sasha's bout was cut disappointingly short by interference from WWE Diva's Champion Charlotte, who looked ridiculously strong as she took out both competitors...A bizarre backstage segment between Goldust and R-Truth seemed to suggest the two will begin teaming soon...As Bray Wyatt made his way to the ring for a match with Kane, we got highlights of the clash between The Wyatt Family and Brock Lesnar during the Royal Rumble match...Wyatt went on to squash Kane whilst the fans got distracted by some guy wearing a Randy Savage outfit at ringside...

the rock returned 

The Rock is back! Returning in a glorious backstage segment, we got to see Rocky interact with a handful of current WWE roster members. The Rock was on fine form, flowing from one person to the next and oozing charisma throughout. He could have been saying absolutely anything and I would have been glued to my screen. My personal favourite moment was The Rock bumping into Big Show, and reminiscing about The Great One's Royal Rumble win in 2000. Both men played the moment perfectly, with Rock's verbiage about that Big Show could have been a Hollywood star had he won the match, being particularly chuckle-worthy. The People's Champion even managed to make talking about shagging Lana into something entertaining, rather than the cringe-fest it could have become. (I could write a whole article on the content of that part though!) 

the new day interrupt the rock

The Rock and The New Day going at it on the microphone was never going to be anything other than fucking awesome was it? The Rock clearly had a little more freedom with what he could say here, as there was plenty of fruity language from the 8 time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, shitting all over Chris Jericho's promos with the group from the last couple of weeks. I'd much rather shout "Llama Penis" than "Rooty Tooty Booty", although that probably says more about who I am than anything else. The New Day were on fine form and easily managed to match Rocky on the mic, giving as good as they got and providing some priceless reactions to what the Hollywood star had to say. It's great to see the trio getting opportunities like this to continue to prove themselves. 

the rock and the usos lay the smackdown on the new day

The New Day stepping down from The Rock's challenge to get in the ring with him, because Miami didn't deserve it, was a great move. It instantly got the group even more heat and made the crowd want to see the face off even more than they previously did. Therefore when The Usos came out and helped Rock kick the WWE Tag Team Champions candy asses, it was a much bigger moment and bought the segment to a satisfying conclusion. Even if we've seen The Usos feud with the group for a good number of months and it would have been nice to see a new tag team rivalry develop on this show, Jimmy and Jey made perfect as The Great One's sidekicks, being connected through their Samoan family heritage. 

fast-forward...Paige & Natalya squashed Brie Bella & Alicia Fox for reasons...The Miz began to cut an in-ring promo about being interrupted by the Rock, only to be interrupted by WWE United States Champion, Kalisto...

kalisto defeats the miz

Seeing as most of the matches went without any real storyline involvement, with the driving force of the show supposedly being the idea that each man was trying to impressive the Authority in order to get themselves into the main event of Fastlane...who on earth booked Kalisto vs. The Miz? The crowd couldn't have cared less about the action in the ring, that was luke warm at best, and neither man looked particularly impressive in the ring. Whilst handing Kalisto a big win over a former WWE World Heavyweight Champion cements his United States title reigns after trading the title back and forth with Alberto Del Rio, but the bout itself struggled to hold my attention. 

fast-forward...Kalisto celebrated his victory over Miz...It was time for the main event as Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose headed to the ring to face League of Nations duo Sheamus & Rusev...

roman reigns and dean ambrose defeat sheamus and rusev

One of the strongest matches on the show, I found myself enjoying this week's Monday Night RAW main event a lot more than I had expected to. I think because the feud between The League of Nations and Roman Reigns (and his pals) has seemingly gone on forever and featured numerous tag bouts with numerous combinations, that I couldn't find a reason to get excited about seeing another match. However, we actually seemed to get some kind of feud closing bout, as both sides put in a stellar effort to create a psychical encounter with a strong narrative. The League of Nations using their numbers on the outside to take control of the bout and then taking advantage of Ambrose' fatigue from wrestling in two long bouts on the previous night's PPV, produced some compelling television as fan favourite Ambrose struggled to make the tag to Reigns. With a hot tag that made Reigns look great, a strong false finish off a Brogue Kick from Sheamus to Reigns and an a satisfyingly clean finish when Reigns pinned The Celtic Warrior following a spear, this bout made the most of what it had and ended the show on a high note.

fast-forward...After Reigns and Ambrose hit the Shield's old powerbomb on Rusev through the table, Stephanie McMahon announced that both Reigns and Ambrose would be involved in the main event at Fastlane, alongside Brock Lesnar....


atpw scale rating - 5.72 (Good to Very Good TV)

After a shaky start in the first hour, WWE managed to pull out a good episode of Monday Night RAW, helped along by the return of The Rock. With the Brahma Bull on fine form and being joined by the likes of The New Day, end of the 2nd hour of the show was a spectacular watch. With the Rock confirmed for WrestleMania, it surely wouldn't be wishful thinking to suggest that we'll be seeing a lot more of the former 8 time WWE World Heavyweight Champion over the upcoming two months. Whilst the concept of everyone attempting to impress the Authority wasn't used to it's full potential (Who booked Miz vs. Kalisto?), it did provide us with two good bouts in the form of AJ Styles' WWE debut opposite Chris Jericho and the main event tag encounter. Plus not a single screwy finish for the men on the entire show can't be bad, right? If we cut out Flo-Rida's awful rap segment with the Social Outcasts we'd have seen the show get an even better score on the ATPW Scale. 

Can WWE keep this momentum going and move to drive storylines forward over the next three weeks before Fastlane in Cleveland? We shall see. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

PPV REVIEW: WWE Royal Rumble 2016

24th January 2016 presented us with first WWE PPV of 2016, as Chex Mix presented WWE Royal Rumble - One vs. All from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, USA. With Roman Reigns defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the Royal Rumble against the likes of Chris Jericho, a debuting AJ Styles, a returning Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, whilst the undercard was highlighted by a Last Man Standing match over the WWE Intercontinental Championship between Ambrose and Owens and a WWE Diva's Championship contest between Charlotte and Becky Lynch...but was it any good?

fast-forward...Mr. McMahon and Stephanie McMahon kicked off the show, giving a short interview to Jo-Jo as the exited their limo...It was then time for the regular opening hype package, this time focusing upon Roman Reigns' upcoming struggle in the main event and highlighting a number of potential new WWE World Heavyweight Champions...As Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens made their way to the ring, we were also introduced to our Spanish and French announce teams for the evening, Jurassic Park...

Dean Ambrose defending the WWE Intercontinental Championship against former Champion Kevin Owens opened up the action, as the two put on a splendid Last Man Standing encounter. Action-packed and full of big spots, Ambrose and Owens managed to build a match that kept things building throughout, with each slice of conflict upping the ante. Meanwhile, The Lunatic Fringe's work as the underdog, managing to get to his feet numerous times despite the damage Owens inflicted, gave the pair a solid base to create mayhem, with Owens also putting in some fine character work. The onslaught from Owens included opening up with Cannonball through the barricade and finishing up with the Prizefighter hitting a Swinging Fisherman's suplex through a table, with the later producing a quality near "fall". 

The finish of the bout saw Kevin Owens look to be planning a moonsault onto Dean Ambrose, with the WWE Intercontinental Champion prone on a number of chairs (see pic above), only for the Lunatic Fringe to send the former ROH World Champion crashing through a stack of tables at ringside. I'm on the fence about the finish here, that's because whilst it was spectacular and arguably topped anything visually from the rest of the bout, it didn't top the potential spot that was being teased from Owens. If the roles had been reversed and Ambrose had been the heel denying the audience the more impressive spot, I don't think I would have been bothered, in fact I think I would have praised the creativity of the whole thing. This is, of course, silly nitpicking, on what was a rare gem, a satisfying WWE Last Man Standing match, with a conclusive feud ending finish. 

fast-forward...Dean Ambrose celebrated with his WWE Intercontinental Championship belt, which has certainly risen in stature since it was around the waist of Bad News Barrett this time last year...The now expected promo of upcoming WWE Network shows aired with Ride Along, Stone Cold Podcast (no new guests announced), Camp WWE, Edge & Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness, Fastlane (26th Feb.) & WrestleMania 32 (3rd Apr.) all being hyped...

I've felt that WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day have been a bit off the boil this year, having to cut a promo before every match must be bloody challenge. But this was a cracking effort from the three lads, as Francesca the trombone rose from the dead like Rory the Roman, with Xavier Woods revealing the he'd been having some kind of inappropriate relations with the brass instrument, which will surely lead to hundreds of questionable fan fictions across the world. The boys put on an entertaining show on the mic, with them listing various gold things in the ring, being reminiscent of Tom and Donna's "Treat Yo Self" from Parks and Rec, which is always going to make me a happy chappy. In response to the New Day's vitriol, The Usos replied with a little angry dance, as seen above. 

Despite a couple of awkward moments (Big E's weird elbow thing to an Uso, another (or possibly the same Uso) hitting a "Definitely Not Superfly" Splash and then shuffling himself to the other side of Kofi Kingston to allow for the WWE Tag Team Champion to put his foot on the ropes) this was another fun tag bout between The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E, if you hadn't worked that out) and The Usos (Uso #1 and Uso #2). With lots of "things are happening" moments as all four men took dives, with Big E pulling out his wicked spear through the ropes spot for the occasion, this was easy to watch, even if it lacked a little substance. It was a shame that the Orlando crowd only seemed interested in the action when the New Day were in control, with a portion booing the Usos inevitable hot tag, despite also chanting "New Day Sucks" throughout the match. It took the wind out of things just a little, for me as a home viewer, and seeing as both men worked their arses off throughout the bout I felt a little unjustified. With Big E retaining the titles hitting an Uso with the Big Ending in an impressive closing sequence, the team are now on 8 televised defenses in their second title reign and having gone over The Lucha Dragons (3x), The Dudley Boyz (3x), The Usos (2x), The Prime Time Players (2x) and Los Matadores, I'm not sure if the trio have anyone left to defend against on the current roster.

fast-forward...Few pleasure in life are as pure as watching 5ft 11, 285 lb Big E girating in celebration...A promo for the episode of WWE 24 that followed directly following the PPV aired, fair play...For the banter they showed a recap vid of the Highlight Reel from last week's RAW with Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns taking out The League of Nations and The Wyatt Family taking out Lesnar and Reigns, whilst Chris Jericho did fuck all...Bray Wyatt cut a pretty sweet promo about slaughtering people or something, whilst his buddies looked at him...Lilian Garcia announced Kalisto in Spanish and Alberto Del Rio in English for reasons unknown...

After passing the WWE United States Championship back and forth in solid bouts on Monday Night RAW and Thursday Night Smackdown over the past couple of weeks, I was hoping that Champion Alberto Del Rio and challenger Kalisto would be able to top those two matches and create a special contest that would elevate both men, and especially the challenger, in his biggest singles showcase to date. Therefore, I was disappointing when the two put on a sloppy and disjointed bout, that despite being given a significant portion of time failed to deliver on it's promise. What was that thing that Kalisto tried to do in the middle of the match? He jumped on Del Rio's back, slipped a bit, then scrambled to a roll up. I'm sure if it had paid off it would have been spectacular and we'd all have been talking about that Kalisto chap with his flippy move that was awesome sauce, but unfortunately we are not. After a few more awkward moments, Kalisto picked up a surprising victory hitting Salida del Sol to capture his 2nd United States Championship to close a seemingly ambitious, but ultimately poor bout. The Lucha Dragon is going to have to work his arse off over the new few weeks to prove he deserves the slot he's been handed thanks to the collective injuries of partner Sin Cara and John Cena. 

fast-forward...The crowd seemed pretty happy though joining in with the Lucha Lucha Lucha thing, top banana...The Kick-Off panel of Renee Young, Booker T, Jerry Lawler and Corey Graves chatted about earlier goings on and reminded us that Roman Reigns would defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship later on, just in case we were planning on tuning out of a product we'd paid for...Highlights from the Fatal-Four way tag team bout from the Kick-Off show that saw Jack Swagger and Mark Henry earn a thirty second slot in the Royal Rumble match, defeating The Dudley Boyz, Damien Sandow & Darren Young and The Ascension in the process...Paul Heyman chatted with Stephanie McMahon somewhere backstage to fill a bit more time...A full promo for Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness aired, with the show look much more promising that I had previously anticipated...The hype package for Charlotte and Becky Lynch's  WWE Diva's Championship match was next...Obviously Becky Lynch and Charlotte made it out to the ring next, with Ric Flair living the dream also...

The crowd being completely behind Becky Lynch throughout made this match for me. That isn't to say that the two girls didn't wrestle a good bout, because they did, but it was so pleasing to hear a WWE PPV crowd completely invested in a Women's match. Chanting "Let's Go Becky" with Charlotte in control of the WWE Diva's Championship match, made things so much more enjoyable as a home viewer and made it easier to buy into her struggle against the underhanded tactics of the Flair's. It was a shame that elements of Ric Flair's involvement were questionable, not as in heel unquestionable tactics, as in forcing a smooch on Becky (to Wooo's from the crowd) and then chucking his jacket into the challengers face whilst she had the Disarmer locked on. I'm behind the Father/Daughter partnership, especially with the pair positioned as antagonists, but I can't get my head around why either incident wouldn't get Charlotte disqualified and why Ric isn't facing (in kayfabe) some-kind of charges for his forced kiss. There were cleverer ways to have Flair help out Charlotte than what they produced here, that would have lead to a much more satisfying conclusion, as Charlotte completed her seventh successful TV title defense. 

Ohhhh, but the misgivings of the Flair's were quickly forgotten when as Charlotte was laying into Becky Lynch post match, Sasha Bloody Banks music hit and the crowd popped their little socks off. Sasha looked incredible, both aesthetically and in her attack on Charlotte, as after originally seeming to be siding with the Champion, she looked on the Banks Statement. With The Bo$$ finally getting the platform to show us what she can do on the main roster, there's some real potential in a feud between her and Daddy's Little Nature Girl over the upcoming months. Part of me is hoping that WWE manages to keep them apart until WrestleMania and gives them enough time to put on a real show. There's even the potential to get Sasha's cousin Snoop Dogg involved to add the razzle and the dazzle. 

fast-forward...The same WWE Network hype package that aired earlier aired again for reasons...Chex Mix did a thing at the Performance Centre, I don't know what Chex Mix is...ROYAL RUMBLE BY THE FUCKING NUMBERS PROMO...Roman Reigns and Rusev made their entrances to kick off the Royal Rumble match, nicely mirroring the duo being the final two in last years event...

Gonna try something a little different here and split the Royal Rumble match into ten minute (or so) intervals to hopefully give a solid picture of the entire match. The first ten minutes might have been my favourite of the bout, setting the bar high with a big surprise and some fun early eliminations. Okay, the big surprise wasn't much of a surprise after the months of speculation over AJ Styles finally jumping from NJPW to WWE, but it was still pretty fucking cool to see him mixing it up with the likes Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho and Kane early doors. Thumbs up for all the Social Outcast's bumping off the apron as well, as Curtis Axel failed to remain in the Royal Rumble for another year. Rusev & Tyler Breeze also got eliminated before the ten minute mark as the babyfaces reigned supreme 

With Orlando seemingly behind AJ Styles, I was a little confused when they lost their shit with "Feed Me More" chants when Ryback creaked his way to the ring. What do these people even want? To be fair, the two combined to produce one of the coolest back body drops I've seen in quite some time. Despite being low on star entrances, this next ten minute stretch had a good couple of spots that kept me entertained throughout. R-Truth coming out and thinking it was a Money in the Bank Ladder match was a great use of someone who clearly isn't going to win, whilst Kofi Kingston landing on Big E's shoulders and dancing around ringside was a cool heel twist on the self proclaimed "Mr Royal Rumble"'s traditional survival spot. By this point we knew Goldust (intriguingly sent out by his brother's rival, Titus O'Neil) and the aforementioned R-Truth (sent over the top by Kane) wouldn't be WWE World Heavyweight Champion...which we kinda knew heading into the show.

The third portion of the bout brought us to the half way point and introduced the two major plot points of the bout. We saw Roman Reigns pulled under the bottom rope by The League of Nations' Sheamus, Rusev and Alberto Del Rio in perhaps one of the stupidest heel moves of all time. Yes, with Mr. McMahon egging them on they destroyed Reigns, finishing up with Rusev gaining some revenge for his elimination by splashing the WWE World Heavyweight Champion through the announce table, but they didn't fucking eliminate him or throw him back in the ring for someone to eliminate him. I get that it was for the advancement of the storyline, but it made all three Nations members and especially the supposed "mastermind" McMahon look like complete idiots. They basically allowed Reigns to leave the match for half an hour, get fixed up backstage and return. We also got the rise of The Wyatt Family as Braun Strowman joined Luke Harper in the match and dominated chucking out both The Big Show and Kane. Kofi Kingston, Titus O'Neil and Ryback also kissed goodbye to their World Heavyweight Championship hopes as Chris Jericho, Big Show and Big Show again sent them packing.

The next portion of the bout had an awful lot going on, as we headed into the business end of the contest and things started to get serious. The first big elimination saw Kevin Owens eliminate fan favourite AJ Styles, and gain extra brownie points for shouting "Welcome to WWE" as he sent the former 2 time IWGP Heavyweight Champion crashing to the outside to a loud chorus of boos. Owens was the perfect candidate to send Styles packing, he's a heel who is popular amongst the most vocal section of the WWE fanbase and therefore benefited from eliminating Styles getting some good heat, but didn't send them into a paddy and cause them to ruin the rest of the bout. Not that they'd have had chance to as Sami Zayn made his return to the main roster for first time since May, taking out Owens and sending the crowd into a frenzy in the process. With Erick Rowan joining The Wyatt Family party and the trio sending Stardust, Neville, Mark Henry and Zayn out, before Brock Lesnar went Wyatt hunting, Wyatt hunting in Suplex Fucking City. Yeah, I typed that and you read it. I hope you're still reading.

This section was ALL about Brock Lesnar. Also, a little about The Miz, but fuck The Miz. Lesnar continued his fine work, putting on an entertaining display taking out the three members of The Wyatt Family with lots of suplexes and such. This was a lot of fun to watch, and paced perfectly as Bray Wyatt headed out just after Lesnar had eliminated all Bray's pals (and Jack Swagger for the bantz). A feud between Lesnar and the Wyatt's could present some interesting scenarios and the idea of Wyatt dueling verbally with Paul Heyman is mouth watering, so when Wyatt ordered his bros to get back in and take Lesnar out of the match, I have to admit to being more than a little excited. However, it did mean than one of the favourites to win the bout was eliminated before the final stretch had begun. The Beast spent just over 8 minutes in the contest. 

So, the final portion of the bout left us with Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Bray Wyatt, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus and Triple H doing battle to win (or retain in Reigns' case) the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. We got Reigns' return to the match, with the Champion now being booed (but not particularly loudly) as took out Sheamus on the entrance ramp and sent The Miz and Alberto Del Rio packing. It was then all about Reigns and the returning Triple H (in his first match since WrestleMania and first Rumble match since 2010) as the pair played a game of one-upsmanship, with Trips pedigreeing Ziggler and Reigns spearing Wyatt. Seeing Triple H work fine sequences with both Dolph Ziggler and Bray Wyatt was pretty cool and it was clear that both Ziggler and Wyatt were enjoying getting to grapple with The Game. With both Wyatt and Ziggler falling to Trips (and Sheamus in Wyatts case), Dean Ambrose taking out Chris Jericho and Reigns throwing Sheamus over the top, we were left with an intriguing final three. But that was taken away almost instantly as the Authority leader tossed Reigns over, seconds after The Juggernaut had sent Sheamus out. Yeah, it meant we got the cool moment of knowing we were getting a new World Heavyweight Champion, and the Lunatic Fringe and the Cerebral Assassin provided some cool action in the ring, but I could only see Triple H walking out with the Gold. Keeping Reigns in there a bit longer could have offered something a bit more interesting with the former Shield buddies opposite The Authority once again, having Ambrose drop the IC title earlier in the night could also have produced a more interesting finish. 

fast-forward...Triple H is our new WWE World Heavyweight Champion for the ninth time and seems on a collision course with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, and he ended the show celebrating with wife Stephanie McMahon and father-in-law, Mr. McMahon.


atpw scale rating - 6.41 (good)

This was a quality PPV with a Royal Rumble main event that was paced pretty much perfectly, telling various stories throughout, with plenty of twists and turns and a handful of surprises that went further than the token nostalgia pop. Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens put on world class performances, creating a strong physical Last Man Standing opener, whilst Ambrose also went just shy of half an hour in the Rumble. Here's hoping Ambrose will be repayed with marquee WWE Intercontinental Championship defense in ten weeks time at WrestleMania. Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio's WWE United States Championship match was a low point, but even that had it's moments despite the botches. The rest of the undercard managed to remain entertaining throughout, with the Diva's taking the opportunity to perform under the spotlight with an appreciative crowd, even if they had to work around some questionable booking. 

Here's hoping WWE's WrestleMania season keeps getting better from here, because the Royal Rumble built the foundations, against all the odds, and over the next ten weeks, it's time to build a motherfucking sky scraper on that bitch. I got excited. My bad. Continue with your day. Bye. xoxo