Thursday, 31 March 2016

Kris Travis 1983-2016

The thoughts of all ATPW are with the friends and family of Kris Travis at this time. An absolute star in the ring and always a pleasure to deal with in any capacity. He will be sorely missed. 

We think it'd be awesome if you could donate to the charity that Trav was a patron of, Cavendish Cancer Care. Details in the pic. x

Opinion: A Predictable Finish Isn't a Bad Finish or Why the IWC Can Go Suck It (Jozef Raczka)

So, one thing needs to be made clear off the bat: Wrestling isn't real. Being fake is different to not being real, Star Wars wasn't real but then that didn't matter because no one pretended it was. The important thing about storytelling is that you acknowledge to begin with that it isn't real because even if it seems it in the moment, it sets a bad precedent. Wrestling is not a sport, it's Sports Entertainment as much as I loathe that term, second only to Men being Superstars and Women being divas but that's a rant for another day. The point is, there is an unpredictability to actual sport: Football matches can have no goals after the entire match, Boxing matches can have KOs in the first round, Cricket can last forever and be really bloody dull. But Wrestling isn't real, it's planned, it has a story it's intending to tell and sometimes it can do something amazing that no one expected but for most of the time, it's pretty predictable and I'm here to tell you why that's not necessarily a bad thing.

So I'm going to begin by focusing on a recent example of some frequently predictable storytelling: The John Cena US Championship Open Challenge. In one corner we have the angry people of the IWC, complaining that the matches are too predictable, that Cena was always going to win, that he's burying the entire midcard, that his springboard stunner looks fucking awful (I will give them that last point) and in the other corner, we have people who have accepted two sadly inevitable truths about wrestling, the person you want to win doesn't always and actually wins and losses don't really matter. When Hulk Hogan slammed Andre The Giant, sure Hogan was the one who looked incredible for lifting Andre but he wouldn't have looked so incredible if Andre didn't look like a monster to begin with, as long as both performers are given a chance to shine, a loss doesn't matter. So John Cena, you remember John? Big Match John aka Five Moves of Doom aka LOLCenaWins, this is a man who two of the most prominent parts of his mythos are built around the predictable nature of his matches but here's the most important part: he's Big Match John. It doesn't matter who the opponent is, if you're in a match with John Cena, it's a big match.

Cena doesn't do 'squash matches' (we'll get back to those later), especially with his US Challenge matches, he liked to take his time, to take a nice ten-fifteen minutes, to give his opponent a chance to look like they could win. Sure we all know he kicks out at two (it's what he does, he kicks out at two) but in the best of those matches, we could believe that the opponent could beat him, he lets the opponent look amazing before he manages to pull it back in his favour, I mean there were a few seconds in 2015 where some people could almost believe that Zack Ryder might have beaten Cena. It is possible that even if you go into a match knowing the outcome, it can still be enjoyed on the merits of the match itself. This was the joy of the challenge, even if you know Cena will win, why complain when you get a perfect introduction to the WWE universe for Sami Zayn (when lets not forget, Cena's first main roster match was losing a US Champ Match to Kurt Angle), when you got Neville doing his flippy-doo stuff, when you got Barrett actually looking like a threat for the first time since about 2010. It's not burying a roster, it's putting a spotlight on performers who were stuck in House Show dance-offs with R-Truth and letting them wrestle which is y'know, what they're paid for. I mean yes, the Five Moves of Doom are almost groanworthy in what they represent (and in his silly jumping shoulder tackles) but they represent a perfected formula, a graceful designed 'end' to a match, you know what's coming but even those who don't want to see him win can't deny, they really make a satisfying closing sequence, it's manufactured but it works.

Here's one other thing everyone needs to understand, a squash match isn't a bad thing. I know I spoke a moment ago about how as long as the match is good, it can get away with being predictable but a squash match doesn't even have to be good, it just has to serve its purpose. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say some of you reading this have played a WWE game released in the past five or so years and if so you've played WWE Universe Mode. Have you noticed how 90% of the time the 'rivalries' it creates are just two people or teams fighting each other every week until after a PPV, they stop? You know why that's bullshit? Because it's just repeating the same story beat twelve times. You need to throw in new matches on the way to a big match to keep things fresh. But at the same time, you couldn't have Dolph Ziggler randomly beat Triple H on RAW as everyone would ask 'so why isn't he the one challenging for the title instead of Roman Reigns?' Oh wait, everyone is asking that. A better example would be sub in for those Rich Swann, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe. Rich is an incredibly talented, athletic performer who I have no doubt will have a good run with the company but his match last week against Finn Balor wasn't about him, it's about showing Finn's increasing violence on his road to Takeover:Dallas, it's about making him look fearsome going into the match. Joe was given nearly forty-five minutes with Zayn to show how amazing he was, Finn needed to pull off that in five.

Your beloved NXT is full of squash matches and predictable finishes, actually, when was the last time there was a count-out or a DQ finish on NXT? It sticks to predominantly predictable storytelling but it's because it knows that it's better to tell an old story well that allows the wrestlers to develop (don't forget it is developmental) instead of trying to be overly clever and getting a convoluted clusterfuck of Shane vs Taker proportions. Possibly the best example of NXT's commitment to satisfying yet predictable booking is the Sasha Banks/Bayley feud. Going into Brooklyn and Respect, we knew what was going to happen, Sasha was on RAW already so there wasn't any reason for her to hold the belt anymore but even knowing that, was there anyone who watched and didn't cheer when Bayley won? It's because (disregarding height discrepancies here), they told the oldest story in the wrestling book: David and Goliath, the plucky babyface who's been left behind triumphing over the seemingly unimpeachable power. There was no reason for Sasha to win, she already looked amazing going into the match and there wasn't really any stories left to tell with a heel women's champion between Charlotte and Banks but Bayley winning was so well done because it didn't over-complicate it's story, it was two women with one aim and one coming out on top. As much as people love Sasha, I don't think anyone wanted her to win and she didn't.  There was no 'swerving', no 'screwy' finishes, just good solid, old-fashioned storytelling that makes both competitors look world class and that's what good wrestling is. I can't remember the last time I was surprised by an NXT match outcome but I also can't remember the last time I cared.

Good matches are not defined by whether the ending is predictable, as I'm reliably informed by ATP's own editor-in-chief, WCW in the 2000s was full of swerves and screwy finishes and it was shit. Of course, feel free to disagree with me. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong or start a chain on a Reddit to tell me I'm the worst person ever to type a word about wrestling, especially as I gave credit to Big Match John but really stop and consider, if at Wrestlemania 30, Bryan had beaten Triple H only to lose to Batista, if Steve Austin had lost to Shawn Michaels at WM 14, if Hogan had failed to bodyslam the Giant and Andre had beaten him to the shade of his bandana you would've been surprised but completely unsatisfied (actually that last one was a bad example, I would've loved to have seen that). I'm not saying that all storytelling should be predictable, predictable can be dull, can be uninspired, can be Roman  Reigns vs Triple H. A surprise can improve, a surprise can keep you on your toes but sometimes there just isn't any other way a story needs to be told than the obvious one. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

You can find Joe on Twitter. Just don't expect him to do anything interesting there.

TV Review: TNA Impact Wrestling #611 (Galloway vs. Hardy *TNA World Heavyweight Championship*)

Check out the review of last week's Impact Wrestling with a look at the TNA World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender's Gauntlet here

On 29th March 2016, TNA aired the 611th episode of Impact Wrestling, having previously taped the event on the 16th March 2016 at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, USA, on POP TV. The show featured Jeff Hardy challenging for Drew Galloway's TNA World Heavyweight Championship and a Six Man Tag Team match seeing TNA World Tag Team Champions Beer Money teaming with Ethan Carter III to take on The Matt Hardy Brand's Matt Hardy & Tyrus, as well as "The Mircacle" Mike Bennett...but was it any good? Let's find out!

impact wrestling #611 match card

Match 1 – Four on One Handicap Match – The Matt Hardy Brand vs. Ethan Carter III

Match 2 – Six Man Tag Team – The Matt Hardy Brand (Matt Hardy & Tyrus) & Mike Bennett w/Maria vs. Ethan Carter III & Beer Money

Match 3 – TNA Knockout's Championship #1 Contender's – Velvet Sky vs. Madison Rayne

Match 4 – Tag Team – Bram & Eric Young vs. The Bro-Mans

Match 5 – TNA World Heavyweight Championship – Jeff Hardy vs. Drew Galloway ©  

the matt hardy brand vs. ethan carter iii

Not a classic opening of Impact Wrestling here, in fact things ended up being a bit of mess. It felt like creative had three or four ideas to start the show and then decided to do them all. The fact that it went over 25 minutes and included two matches tells you quite a lot in and of itself. The Matt Hardy Brand kicked off the show, with Matt Hardy winding up the fans and taking shots at his brother, Jeff, before he was oddly interrupted "The Miracle" Mike Bennett and Maria. An odd heel vs. heel dynamic here as Bennett cut into Hardy for his age and claimed that nobody wanted to see him as TNA World Heavyweight Champion again, which got cheers. I'm not sure what the aim was here, in either the short term of the long term. The two were stopped from having a scrap by Ethan Carter III. Why would EC3 stop them from fighting? Well, he didn't really explain that, he just called The Matt Hardy Brand his three bitches and spoke to God about Bennett's career. EC3's creativity usual leads to a home run, unfortunately he struck out with this one. Hardy would then book himself and the rest of the Matt Hardy Brand (Tyrus, Rockstar Spud and Reby Sky) into a Four on One Handicap Match, because he can do that type of thing apparently.

After one weird arse set-up for the match, the contest was a pretty paint-by-numbers affair. Tyrus spent a lot of the match working over EC3 with a series of fairly basic moves (big clubbing blows and scoop slams) with the match seeming kind of directionless at times. The only stand out moment for me was Hardy holding EC3 so that Reby could slap him in the face repeatedly, which produced a sweet visual and showcased the relationship between Hardy & Reby particularly well. The finish featured some decent action between EC3 and Spud, but it'd come to a close when Bennett decided to interfere (he and Maria had stayed at ringside). EC3 had just locked Spud in a Cobra Clutch, so Bennett caused the DQ. After the previous segment, I just couldn't my head round the motives for Bennett stopping the match. Things got even more confusing when TNA World Tag Team Champions Beer Money made the save for EC3 and James Storm booked a six man tag bout to happen next. Seriously, can anyone just make a match? The rocky start continued...

the matt hardy brand and mike bennett vs. beer money and ethan carter iii

I wish that TNA had just start the show with this six man tag team match, because this was a much more enjoyable contest and an easier watch than what had gone before it. James Storm was in the face in peril role, with Tyrus doing a nice job of focusing on his ribs and The Pope actually doing a quality job of putting it over on commentary. EC3 and Bennett would eventually fight to the back, with The Miracle using Maria as a human shield, to advance their new feud. This would leave Beer Money alone with Hardy and Tyrus, with the crowd really into Storm and Bobby Roode as a duo, especially when they ran through their crowd pleasing come back sequence. I was surprised to see the heels pick up the win as Tyrus hit a heart punch and allowed Hardy to hit a Twist of Fate to get the pinfall on Roode. Seeing as the bout had basically become a regular tag team match, I'm not sure having the World Tag Team Champions lose, when the division is weak enough already, was the best idea. Well, after 25 minutes and a half minutes it was finally time for TNA to move onto something.

fast-forward...Jeremy Borash interviewed TNA Knockout's Champion Gail Kim, who revealed that Madison Rayne would face Velvet Sky in a Number One Contender's match later...Eli Drake revealed his disappointment with Jessie Godderz leaving him to rejoin the Bro-Mans in a weird backstage segment...

velvet sky vs. madison rayne - tna knockout's championship #1 contender's

Two stalwarts of TNA's Knockout division going at it to become #1 contender (alongside Jade who won a #1 Contender's bout last week) in an extremely average match. The ladies just weren't given enough time to produce anything memorable at all. However, with such an easy storyline to play off of it felt like both Madison and Velvet missed an opportunity here. Both are friends, but both want a shot at the title, but I don't think you'd have been able to tell that from watching the match. They just wrestled for a bit, and then Velvet won with a flash jackknife cover. The wrestling was fine, fairly smooth, but nothing that particularly stood. Here's hoping that TNA takes an interesting situation of both Jade and Velvet having a shot at Gail Kim's belt and with Maria still causing problems for the champ and turns into something with a bit more depth and bite to it.

d'angelo dinero calls out lashley

I've no idea who decided that D'Angelo Dinero would make a good commentator, because his promo here was absolutely all over the place. He basically just said his name a lot as he continually referred to himself in third person and got a bit angry about Lashley. There were some moments that worked but it was a very flabby piece of TV, that could have beneffited from some tighter editing in post-production. Things picked up when Lashley came out bringing things back to earth, as the segment moved naturally towards a scrap between the two. The fight was done well, with both Lashley and Dinero taking down officials and security guards in order to get at each other and including Dinero jumping off the top rope onto Lashley on the outside. Josh Matthews also ended up putting on one of his strongest performances here, adding to the sense of chaos well.  An up and down segment, but one that overall felt like it paid off strengthening the feud between The Pope and Lashley and presenting Lashley with someone to look strong against as he builds towards something bigger. 

bram and eric young vs. the bro-mans

After The Bro-Mans interrupted an Eric Young promo about Jeff Hardy, we got a pretty basic tag team match, that also featured Bram. Whilst it was simplistically put together it did manage to do a number of things here. The finish saw miscommunication between Young and Bram, which furthers their issues following Bram eliminating Young from the #1 Contender's Gauntlet last week well. We also saw the Bro-Mans take a sneak victory, which builds them back up as a team, after they lost on their return to Beer Money last week. Again nothing too memorable here, but at least it managed to strengthen a number of areas and build towards future episodes of the show.

fast-forward...In a surprise development, former WWE World Tag Team Champion, Al Snow returned to TNA attacking Grado and Mahabli Shera backstage, in a particularly violent skit...

gregory shane helms has a proposal for eddie edwards

This was another weird segment and a particularly odd piece of booking. It was billed as Trevor Lee addressing the state of the X-Division, however it was actually Lee's manager Gregory Shane Helms calling out Eddie Edwards and proposing that the two join together as a tag team. When the X-Division hasn't been on TV for three weeks and stars like Andrew Everrett, Mandrews, Tigre Uno and DJZ are nowhere to be seen, why not have an X-Division match here? I can't get my head building a storyline around Helms wanting to team with Edwards, in a situation that no one has asked for. I'm desperately hoping it leads to Lee breaking out on his own and Helms moving onto somewhere else (commentary maybe?) as this partnership just isn't doing it for me.

jeff hardy vs. drew galloway - tna world heavyweight championship

A good television main event here, as Drew Galloway had his first TNA World Heavyweight Championship defense in a competitive bout with Jeff Hardy. In their first time opposite each other, Galloway and Hardy had some nice chemistry as they worked a face vs. face bout in front of a split Orlando crowd. The contest unfolded nicely and told a satisfying story as the bigger Galloway dominated early on, before the veteran Hardy got frustrated at being unable to put the champ away with a Twist of Fate and Swantom Bomb and getting much more physical around the ringside area. Hardy going for a Swantom Bomb with Galloway on the steel steps on the outside, only to meet Galloway's knees, offered a great aesthetic moment. The Captain's selling of Hardy's ringside assault was brilliant, leading to another stand out moment when he desperately reached at Hardy and hit a Futureshock DDT to retain his title. It made Galloway look super tough and made the title look very important as he was willing to fight through the pain and do anything to keep hold of it. A clever piece of booking that gave Galloway a foundation for his title reign, after he cashed in his Feast or Fired briefcase to take the title from Matt Hardy. Easily the best piece of the show.

That wasn't the end of the show though, as Matt Hardy was out to reveal that he'd be facing Galloway for the belt next week on a special edition of Impact Wrestling entitled "Revenge". A strong emotive heel promo from Matt here that would eventually lead to Bram and Eric Young attacking Jeff at ringside and Matt fighting with Galloway. I was surprised to see the babyface's end up on top to close the show though, with Galloway taking out Bram & Young and Jeff hitting a Twist of Fate on Matt. It was, however, a set up for Jeff to announce that he'd be facing Young on next week's show inside a Steel Cage. A strong show close, that set up two big matches for next week's show.

atpw scale rating - 4.5/10

This was the weakest Impact Wrestling episode in about a month and a half, with a lot of confusing segments and weird piece of booking. It was luckily saved by a good main event World Heavyweight Championship bout between Drew Galloway and Jeff Hardy, which was followed by a nice closing segment that set up two big matches for next week. The segment with Lashley and D'Angelo Dinero was also strong. It was a shame however that stuff like Gregory Shane Helms asking Eddie Edwards to be his tag team partner, the weird 25 minutes intro with two matches and an awful lot of average wrestling made this show a bit of a drag. 

With Drew Galloway scheduled to defend his TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy stepping inside a Steel Cage with Eric Young hopefully we'll see TNA return to the much stronger form it's been in for most of 2016.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Opinion: Bigger Than the Superbowl - Why WrestleMania Weekend is Kind of a Big Deal (Sean Taylor-Richardson)

Wrestlemania means different things for different people. For the host cities, it is an event almost comparable with the Superbowl, a surefire way to attract the gaze of the world’s media and a goldmine for the local tourist industry. For the hardcore fans, it’s not a single event, it’s a pilgrimage, a week that has evolved into festival of wrestling. It goes beyond just WWE, featuring a multitude of live events, Q&As and conventions that showcase stars new and old from around the globe. For the casual or lapsed fans, it is all about the Fed, and for many is the only pay per view of the year worthy of their attention. It is an event that features the biggest names on the grandest stage, a chance to feast on nostalgia and reminisce about a childhood passion. Whatever your current levels of fandom, there will be something occurring in the industry this weekend that will pique your interest. As we count down to this annual extravaganza, here are some things to look out for in Dallas, where each level of the wrestling pyramid is looking to put its best foot forward and provide fans with memories to last a lifetime.

british wrestling makes progress

Unless you’re a mad fan of the League of Nations or 10 diva tags, Wade Barrett and Paige’s ‘Mania moments probably aren’t doing much for you. But this weekend is still a very important one for British wrestling. Glance down the card of the live event portion of Saturday’s Wrestlecon and amidst the smorgasbord of US indie and ex-WWE stars, you’ll see some very familiar names fighting for a very familiar title. Marty Scurll defends the PROGRESS title against Will Ospreay in a match that will surely steal the show and enable each man to further cement their status in the game. Their January bout for RPW was sensational- the best Brit vs Brit match I’ve ever attended- and their exchanges in last Sunday’s PROGRESS main event pointed to a growing chemistry that could make this upcoming match even better. This is an excellent opportunity to promote the PROGRESS brand to a host of US fans; as well as the exceptional action, I’m sure the travelling UK fans will help recreate that Camden vibe in Dallas. A definite must see for all fans of indie wrestling; for those of us stuck in Blighty, hit up the PROGRESS demand service to see the match and marvel at how British wrestling continues to broaden its appeal.

enter nakamura

Unquestionably, the highlight of a stacked Takeover card this Friday is Shinske Nakamura’s first WWE outing; on this night ”The King of Strong Style” faces the heart and soul of NXT, Sami Zayn. This is the archetypal dream match that two years ago would have been associated with ROH but in the crazy world of 2016, this style of booking is very much a staple of the WWE’s increasingly global brand.  I think we can all guess the result here but there are other questions the bout poses: how will Nakamura be presented to the US audience? Will he work the same style that made him the number one star in NJPW?  Will this represent Zayn’s last stand in NXT? Expect big moves, big ovations and an emotional finish to boot. My pick for the wrestling match of the week.

tag team city

There was a time when ROH’s annual Supercard of Honor show would instantly be considered the cool, workrate heavy card of the weekend. Whilst the arrival of NXT has challenged that status quo, ROH’s Saturday television tapings do have a fight that could rival the aforementioned Nakamura/ Zayn tussle for match of the weekend honours (pun unashamedly intended): a four corners elimination match pitting The Addiction against The Briscoe Brothers, The Young Bucks and The Motor City Machine Guns. A study in tag team excellence, this combination of ROH legends will be one of the most exciting matches of the weekend. If high spots and superkicks are your thing, this is yet another dream match you need to search out.

roman reigns' sad face

Back in January, I asserted that Reigns had turned a corner and was on his way to becoming a bona fide babyface star. I also predicted that Arsenal would win the league and that Leo would have to wait at least another year before he landed that Oscar so what do I know? As it is, WWE have a predicament with their Mania main event. Now, that isn’t new in itself: in 2014 they changed course early and played their Daniel Bryan Card when it was clear Batista was bombing. Last year they had a Seth Rollins safety net which spared them the wrath of a hostile crowd. So what will they do this year?

What is certain is that Reigns, who looked so unhappy on Raw that I just want Bayley to appear and give him a hug, will be booed and HHH cheered. And that’s the best case scenario. The crowd could reject the entire spectacle and spend the whole match chanting for Messers Punk and Saxton, Mexican waving themselves to oblivion and destroying Roman’s reign before it can begin. Originally, I expected run-ins galore as this is a sure fire way to pop a crowd but now I doubt that many stars will want to be associated with this mess. So it may be a straight up one on one battle in front of the most apathetic/ hostile crowd in history. Such is the risk this match presents, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was pulled from the main event spot. This contest might not be pretty but it will be hard to take your eyes off it.

the real main event

Shane McMahon vs Undertaker is the true main event of the show. The most smarky smark in all of the internet must have enjoyed their salty exchange on Raw and popped a bit when Shane O’Mac dropped that flying elbow. He isn’t the most graceful striker (or dancer) but Vince’s former son epitomises daredevil risk taking. You just know at some point in the match, he’ll abandon his Gracie jujitsu in favour of a leap of the cage. This battle will feature stunts, weapons, blood and run-ins galore. It is a first time match between two performers who are massively over and with a result that matters: with the possible exception of Lesnar vs Ambrose, this will be the match that everyone is talking about after the show.  I’m calling Taker on the night but with a narrative twist on Raw offering Shane a second chance at ownership. Expect him to take that one. 

shuffle the deck. shuffle it hard.

The Raw after ‘Mania has a rep: a rowdy crowd, a few exciting debuts and a huge angle to set up the next big show. This year, we need more. Shane’s promises of change have to deliver more than Punk’s similar proclamations in 2011: something tangible needs to happen on April 4th. NXT calls ups are a given but more than a refresh of the roster, what the Fed needs most is real change is in the creative: if every angle has purpose, several new feuds are propagated and a couple of overdue pushes begin, there may well be enough excitement to back up the promos we’ve been hearing of late. And if rumours of brand splits, big heel turns and Balor clubs are true then this could be three hours that fly by.

So there we have it: if you’re fortunate enough to be going to Dallas, travel safe, take it easy on poor Roman and enjoy the rush of live wrestling. If you’re watching at home, pour a cold beer and order in your favourite pizza. For all of the flaws that exist in this crazy wrestling world, this weekend is a big one for all of us fans. Sit back, enjoy it and remember why we love this.

Wrestle Ropes' Ready for the Weekend: April 2016 Week 1 - GPW, Southside & ICW

Well after a week off last weekend, we're back with the latest edition and what a weekend it's bound to be. As you shall all know, this weekend is the biggest in the whole calendar of professional wrestling thanks to a little show taking place on the other side of the Atlantic this Sunday. However, it's just a regular old weekend here in the UK with bumper load of events all over this wrestling isle. Let's get Ready For The Weekend!

grand pro wrestling only the strong survive
hindley, greater manchester, england

Friday night kicks off with Grand Pro Wrestling who are back that their home of The Rose Club in Hindley, Wigan. Their Only The Strong Survive event is packed with names with chaos bound to ensue. One championship up for grabs is the GPW Tag Team Championship. The Hate League will be defending the championship against 5 other teams in GPW's first ever Tornado Cibernetico. The teams challenging Hate League are some of the most successful in GPW with two sets of former champions and three long standing duos all fighting it out to walk away as champions.  From one multi-man match to another as the current GPW Heavyweight and GPW British champions; T-Bone and Bubblegum join forces with Chris Ridgeway and Ashton Smith to face the group of Dylan Roberts, DDL, Craig Kollins and Travis Banks in an 8-man Survivor Series style match. Everyone wants to make an impression in this match and wins over certain people could be very lucrative in the future. One man with an opportunity that could also be lucrative in the future is 'Jumpin' Jimmy Jackson. Jackson is currently scheduled to compete in the next Fast Track 4-Way in May. However, Ricky J McKenzie is hell-bent on getting a shot at the GPW Heavyweight Championship by whatever means he sees necessary and has demanded a match for this Friday. Therefore, he will now face Jackson with the agreement that if he beats him, he will take his place in the Fast Track 4-Way.

only the strong survive match card

*Only The Strong Survive – 8-Man Survivor Series*
T-Bone, Bubblegum, Ashton Smith & Chris Ridgeway vs ‘100% Welsh Beef’ Dylan Roberts, DDL, ‘One Man Riot’ Craig Kollins & Travis Banks

*GPW Tag Team Championship – Tornado Cibernetico*
Midnight Bin Collection (Ste Bin Mann & Jet Fashion), The Island Brothers (Tabu & Rio) & The Circus (Noah & Jack Gallagher) vs The Bad Lads (Drill & Mickey Barnes), The Hate League (Soner Dursun & Danxig) (c) & Martin Kirby & The Sheikh

‘The Ringmaster’ Nicholas Cartier vs ‘Toxic Terror’ Cyanide

*If Ricky J McKenzie Wins, He Enters The Fast Track 4-Way In May*
‘Jumpin’ Jimmy Jackson vs Ricky J McKenzie

‘Bad Lad’ Don Meacho vs ‘Magnificent’ Matthew Brookes

southside wrestling entertainment raw deal v
stevenage, hertfordshire, england

Moving on to Saturday and Southside Wrestling Entertainment hold the fifth installment of their Raw Deal event at The Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. As usual from Southside there is a blend of homegrown stars with a mix of international names as well. One international name who shall be making his Southside debut is Cedric Alexander. A mainstay in Ring Of Honor, 'The Lumbar Legacy' will now step in the ring with the longest reigning Speed King Champion in history in the shape of Martin Kirby. 'The Zoidberg Master' is one of the foundations of Southside Wrestling and British Wrestling as a whole. Alexander is known for bringing his non-stop style to every match but his opponent, Martin Kirby does exactly the same. Opportunity is the keyword for four teams this Saturday as they fight it out to become the next number one contenders to the Southside Tag Team Championship. The Young Wolves, The Hunter Brothers, Stixx & Flips, and The Inter Coastal Violence Connection are all competent as both individuals and teams so a winner in this match won't be easy to pick. While Hunter Brothers and Young Wolves have more experience as teams, the new team of Stixx and Chris Tyler or the birth of Chris Brookes and Travis Banks brand-new team could provide an upset and head straight to a championship match. When Angelico announced his tour of the UK, he went on record as saying he wished to face the best. Well he's going to get his wish this Saturday in Stevenage as he will be facing former Southside Heavyweight & Tag Team Champion; 'The Star Attraction' Mark Haskins. When a Haskins match is announced, you don't ask whether it will be good, you ask just how good it's going to be. Angelico is no walkover by any means and will be a serious challenge to Haskins. That being said, Angelico may end up thinking twice about asking to face the best when the best is world-class.

raw deal v match card

‘The Righteous’ Joseph Conners vs Mr Anderson

*Queen Of Southside Championship – Four-Way*
Toni Storm vs Jade vs Nixon Newell vs Penelope

*Southside Tag Team Championship – Special Rules*
The Second City Collective (‘Number One’ Damian Dunne & ‘All Day Star’ Ryan Smile) vs The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch)

Angelico vs ‘The Star Attraction’ Mark Haskins

Martin Kirby vs Cedric Alexander

*Four-Way Tag Team – Number One Contender*
Young Wolves (Dan Moloney & Tyler Bate) vs The Hunter Brothers (Lee & Jim Hunter) vs Inter Coastal Violence Connection (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks) vs Stixx & Flips (Stixx & Chris Tyler)

insane championship wrestling barramania II
glasgow, scotland

Finally ending the weekend on Sunday and Insane Championship Wrestling return to the the world-famous Barrowlands in Glasgow with BarraMania II. While ICW will be immortalised in the Barrowlands Hall Of Fame, the event will also see two roster members leave the promotion on the same night. Firstly, Nikki Storm shall compete against her former intern, Sammii Jayne. What started off as productive relationship soon turned sour as Sammii found herself overshadowed by 'The Best In The Galaxy'. After standing up for herself, Sammii now wants Nikki gone from ICW and in-turn Nikki wants to see the last of Sammii. Somebody is getting their wish this Sunday. April 2nd will also see one team walk away without their manager and possibly their championship gold. Since winning the ICW Tag Team Championship, The 55's Kid Fite and Sha Samuels have been rather reluctant to give Mark Coffey and Jackie Polo of Polo Promotions any more opportunities at winning the gold back. Polo Promotions had to resort to attacking The 55's manager, James R Kennedy with a steel chair before ICW majority owner, Red Lightning would grant the match. However he added the stipulation that at BarraMania II the match shall be an I Quit Towel contest with the added dimension that whichever manager throws the towel in for his team will be force to quit ICW. When the biggest weekend in professional wrestling comes around, it's only fitting that member and former members of one of the biggest dominating factions in ICW history would collide. BT Gunn and Chris Renfrew of the New Age Kliq were shocked when their allies and family, Wolfgang and Stevie Boy turned on them and aligned themselves with Red Lightning and the Black Label. Since then they hatred as grow to epic proportion between to two groups and now it's come to a head. Former brothers will meet in the ring this Sunday and settle their differences. However, not everyone may be walking out.

barramania II match card

*ICW World Heavyweight Championship*
‘The Beast Of Belfast’ Big Damo (c) vs ‘The Chosen One’ Drew Galloway

*ICW Zero-G Championship – Scramble Match*
Davey Boy (c) vs Lionheart vs Noam Dar vs Kenny Williams vs ‘Local Hero’ Joe Hendry vs Liam Thomson

*ICW Tag Team Championship – I Quit Towel Match – Losing Manager Quits ICW*
The 55 (Kid Fite & ‘The East End Butcher’ Sha Samuels) (w/ James R Kennedy) (c) vs Polo Promotions (Jackie Polo & ‘The Real Deal’ Mark Coffey) (w/ Coach Trip)

*Loser Leaves ICW*
‘The Best In The Galaxy’ Nikki Storm vs Sammii Jayne

*Tag Team*
‘Iron Man’ Joe Coffey & Grado vs The Black Label (‘Big Kink’ Jack Jester & Red Lightning (w/ Flex Hunter))

*Tag Team*
New Age Kliq (BT Gunn & Chris Renfrew) vs Wolfgang & Stevie Boy (w/ Kay Lee Ray)

Massimo vs Doug Williams

Mikey Whiplash vs Trent Seven

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!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

TV Review: WWE Monday Night RAW #1192 (Owens, Stardust & Miz vs. Ziggler, Zayn & Cara)

Check out last week's Monday Night RAW review, featuring a look at AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens and more here

On 28th March 2016, WWE aired the 1192nd episode of Monday Night RAW live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, USA on the USA Network. With 6 days until WrestleMania XXXII, WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens teamed with Stardust & The Miz to take on Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn and Sin Cara, The Undertaker and Shane McMahon came face to face ahead of their upcoming Hell in a Cell Match and WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston of The New Day took on League of Nations' Alberto Del Rio...but was it any good? Let's find out.

monday night raw #1192 match card

Match 1 - Singles - Chris Jericho vs. Zack Ryder

Match 2 - Singles - Becky Lynch vs. WWE Diva's Champion Charlotte w/Ric Flair 

Match 3 - Tag Team - The Social Outcasts (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) w/Adam Rose & Heath Slater vs. Kane & The Big Show

Match 4 - Singles - WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston (The New Day) with WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. Alberto Del Rio (League of Nations) w/League of Nations

Match 5 - Singles - Konnor (The Ascension) w/Viktor (The Ascension) vs. WWE United States Champion Kalisto (Lucha Dragons)

Match 6 - Singles - Paige (The Total Divas) w/The Total Divas vs. Emma (B.A.D. & Blonde) w/B.A.D. & Blonde

Match 7 - Six Man Tag Team - Stardust, The Miz & WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens vs. Sin Cara, Dolph Ziggler & Sami Zayn

shane mcmahon smashes the undertaker through the announce table

This was a superb opening segment, as The Undertaker and Shane McMahon both put in top class performances, and added the last bit of sheen to the six week build to their Hell in a Cell match in six days time in Dallas. It all started off with Undertaker giving it the big the ones and pulling out the cliches like "WrestleMania is my yard" and what have you, with a boisterous Brooklyn crowd offering a great backdrop for the Deadman. Things really shifted into top gear, however, when Shane McMahon interrupted the former 4 time WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The two went back and forth seemingly trying to provoke each other and it was fantastic to watch it all unfold, with the crowd popping for any utterance either man made.

“You've been your Daddy's bitch” was what it took for Shane O'Mac to see red and the pair brawled their way out of the ring and around ringside. A big memorable moment to kick off the show, as McMahon got the better of his more decorated opponent with the help of TV monitor and followed it up with an elbow drop off the top rope straight through the announce table. WWE needed to show that McMahon could go toe to toe with the Undertaker in some shape of form, to allow fans to buy into Shane O'Mac as a viable threat to the Deadman on Sunday night in Texas, and I felt that they managed to do a damn good job of doing so here, whilst also keeping the Undertaker looking strong. A great opening to complete the TV portion of a feud that has came completely out nowhere to become the highlight of the last six weeks.

fast-forward...A quick recap of the goings on from the opening segment

zack ryder vs. chris jericho

Zack Ryder's 1st singles victory on Monday Night RAW since July 2014, saw the Long Island Iced Z end up part of Chris Jericho's ongoing feud with AJ Styles. Ryder and Jericho hadn't even locked up before Styles was out (wearing no shirt for reasons that were never explained) and causing problems for the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion in attempt to get his desired WrestleMania match against Y2J. A cheeky roll-up got the win for Ryder after just over two minutes. The Jericho and Styles feud has trod water for a while now, but there was some decent stuff going on here. Y2J losing his shit after the match and smashing a chair against the ring post showed his sheer frustration well, with things eventually escalating into Jericho accepting Styles' challenge for the Granddaddy of Them All. I do however wish someone would teach Styles the cadence needed in order to get a chant going, as his attempted "Y2Jackass" chant fell flater than a witch's tit, despite many many attempts.

becky lynch vs. charlotte

After some strong work over the last few months to build towards the WWE Diva's Championship match at WrestleMania, Becky Lynch and Charlotte's match ended up being a bit of shambles. The wrestling was fine, but I just can't get my head around the booking. Sasha Banks sat a ringside but didn't do commentary, and barely got involved in the match, which was head-scratcher and Charlotte going on Becky just 6 days before Becky get's a shot at Charlotte's WWE Diva's Championship makes little to no sense. Having Charlotte win with a move that's been used mostly as a false finish since she made the step from NXT (Natural Selection) didn't aid matters either. All three women just looking around after the match left things feeling incomplete just days before the biggest match of their careers!

fast-forward...Vince McMahon was interviewed by Renee Young, but for me the segment came alive when Shane McMahon interrupted, after a tired performance from Vince...After Social Outcast members Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel match with Big Show and Kane ended in a mass-brawl to promote the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal from the WrestleMania Pre-Show, with Kane and Show finishing things off with a couple of chokeslams...A recap of Roman Reigns attacking Triple H in the parking lot from Monday Night RAW #1191 aired...

the authority looks forward to a record wrestlemania attendance

Another piece of weird booking as WWE has seemingly lost any idea of what it's trying to achieve with Triple H's feud with Roman Reigns. The Authority had some pretty good heat in Brooklyn, but The Game's lengthy solo promo seemed completely aimless. The current WWE World Heavyweight Champion put Reigns over strongly, reminding the Brooklyn crowd that "they don't have the ability to make their dreams a reality" but that Reigns does. How on earth is that supposed to make a crowd that was already more than sceptical about Reigns cheer for him? A brief scrap between Reigns and Triple H closed the segment, but that wasn't the last we'd see between the two on show.

kofi kingston vs. alberto del rio

After The New Day had had some cereal based banter, it was time for Kofi Kingston and Alberto Del Rio to have their 15th televised match! The action between the two was pacy and crisp as they made the best of their seven minutes of match time, fitting in a lot and keeping things extremely watchable throughout. Xavier Woods playing La Cucaracha on his trombone was an interesting moment in the bout, especially with things Del Rio has previously said about his treatment during his last WWE run. It did however work nicely into a more aggressive Del Rio, and provided some much needed fire to proceedings. Kingston would eventually cap of a solid bout by reversing Del Rio's cross armbreaker attempt into a school boy roll-up after just over seven minutes. The surprise return of Jonathan Coachman to another that Sportscenter will air live from WrestleMania on Sunday and to dance with New Day was nice little addition as well. 

fast-forward...The commentary team pushed what was coming up on the WWE Network through the rest of the week...Backstage, The Dudley Boyz lured Roman Reigns into a backstage assault from Triple H...The previous segment got replayed...WWE United States Champion Kalisto squashed The Ascension's Konnor, before having a weird stare down with his WrestleMania Pre-Show challenger Ryback...

paul heyman is ready to unleash brock lesnar on dean ambrose 

A killer segment here as WWE let Paul Heyman do what he does best and just talk and talk and talk. Heyman put over every single element of the Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose match on Sunday night and made it seem like the most important thing that will ever happen in the history of the world. Just sheer poetry here. So much so, that my bullet points for the segment read - "Heyman. Heyman. Heyman". The stuff about Lesnar giving Ambrose a colonoscopy on Sunday was a bit odd though, not sure that many people will be tuning in with the hope of seeing one of those in Dallas. I got a nice little kick out of Dean Ambrose coming to ring to fill up his red wagon with potential plunder, without even acknowledging Lesnar or Heyman, before exiting up the ramp. It was perhaps a little flawed in logic, but I don't really care, it made me want to see Lesnar and Ambrose tear strips off each other and hopefully that's what we'll get at WrestleMania.

the total divas see red

Emma and Paige are more than capable of putting on an absolute classic encounter, but when place in the middle of the bizarre Total Divas vs. B.A.D. and Blonde feud it didn't really stand much chance. It was only a couple of minutes before the outside action distracted the referee long enough for Lana to level Paige with a big ol' kick to give Emma the win. With the heels having one more member of there team, I'd kind of seen the next moment coming. There was only one person who could save The Total Divas and of course, that one person, was Eva Marie! She made her Monday Night RAW return to take out Lana, seemingly joining The Total Divas side for their match on the WrestleMania Pre-Show on Sunday. What a time to be alive, eh? 

fast-forward...Another backstage segment with Goldust & R-Truth...Snoop Dogg was announced as this year's Celebrity Inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame...

dolph ziggler, sami zayn and sin cara vs. kevin owens, the miz and stardust

Wow, where to even begin with this one? Let's go with the crowd. Brooklyn turned on this match after five minutes or so and I'm not sure there were being quite as smart as they thought they were being. I completely understand them being a bit pissed off with how the Intercontinental Championship has been handled over the last two weeks or so and their frustrations with the shitty booking of the seven man ladder match, but chanting for "CM Punk" or "RVD" was not the best way to show their frustration. Why not cheer for usual favourites like Sami Zayn? Why not show the WWE how popular Zayn is? Nah, fuck it, that'd be stupid. I wouldn't be surprised if WWE nixed any upcoming plans to push Zayn post-WrestleMania and goes for something else instead. There was an opportunity to make a real statement about what the fans want to see and Brooklyn wasted it.

Whilst I actually thought that the six man was a bloody good contest, with some strong build-up work, nice storytelling that rewarded fans for paying attention and a thrilling sequence towards the end, it was clear for everyone to see that the contest was way too long. Taking up two commercial breaks, the match actually ended up going over 21 minutes. For a six man tag that was essentially a throw-away piece of build for a lazily put together WrestleMania match that is way, way too long. You could have gotten away with taking ten minutes or even more off the match and came out with a much more effective contest. Why would you expect a tired crowd that hasn't seen a match go longer than 8 minutes so far to stay hooked for a 21 minute bout with no consequence and featuring guys like Sin Cara and Stardust who have been essentially job guys for the last few months? 

roman reigns and triple h trade punches before wrestlemania 

Luckily we were saved another coma-inducing promo from Triple H, as Roman Reigns interrupted early and events followed a paint-by-numbers formula to complete the bulk of the companies WrestleMania programming. Reigns and Triple H got into a scrap, with Reigns getting the upperhand before the heel locker room emptied and then the babyfaces evened the score and a pull-apart brawl erupted. A beautiful dive of the top rope from Reigns onto Triple H and a crowd of performers was the highlight, as the Big Dog transformed into a majestical swan to close the show. The show close wasn't the most original piece of television but it at least kept me entertained and had nice pace and drive. 

atpw scale rating - 5.70/10

Despite it's a number of flaws, the go-home show for WrestleMania was actually a pretty good show overall. The opening segment with Shane McMahon and The Undertaker duking it out set a level that the show struggled to compete with, although the Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose segment later in the show did a pretty good job of things, whilst even the un-original show closer was an entertaining watch. 

It was a shame that a lot of the show didn't seem to have been thought about beyond the fact that it needed to mention the number of WrestleMania and WrestleMania Pre-Show matches that had been booked for Sunday. The six man tag to promote the Intercontinental Championship Ladder match went ridiculously long and lost the crowd, the Divas Championship build was poorly put together and then there's the other women's storyline that's happening for reasons. It wouldn't have taken much for someone to pay attention to the card and apply a bit of critical thought about how best to showcase what would be on offer on Sunday, but it seemed that no one could be arsed to do that here.

Overall this was a better than average show to lead into WrestleMania, but a rather flabby piece of television in places.