So I try to change it up a bit each month with my guest blogs and I realise I've done a few Wrestle Crate reviews now... BUT GUYS. I CAN'T HELP IT. They're so good. So here's a review of the August crate; last month was the first month since they started that I've not ordered a crate and it made me hella sad and hella mad seeing what I missed out on, so I made sure that I wasn't going to miss out again... And I wasn't disappointed!
It seems to be a standard that they send you at least either two shirts and a DVD or a shirt and two DVDs with the Ultimate crate... Well this month we've gotten two of each. What lucky wee sausages we are eh? In total the Ultimate subscribers got two shirts, two DVDs, a little book, a badge, a coaster and an A4 print (which is another thing that seems to be guaranteed every month).
Let's start with the shirts, shall we? They're at the usual standard of quality that they usually send out; good quality cotton shirts, a nice quality print and accurate sizing.
We knew we would be getting a Progress item this month and I was expecting it to be a DVD but finding that it was this nifty t-shirt was just as good; Progress is one of the most popular and fast-growing promotions in the UK and certainly one with a loyal fanbase, so I can imagine a LOT of people were happy to see this when they got their crates.
The second t-shirt is a tribute to luchador wrestling and a sly dig to THAT Kalisto promo (he's here to make a, uh, eh... Lucha thing). To be fair Kalisto himself said that WWE should start making Lucha Thing shirts so Wrestle Crate have just gotten in there before him. As nice as the design is I'm not a fan of the bright orange (purely because my hair's usually bright orange so I can't wear it for fear of completely turning into a giant satsuma) and I've been a good pal and donated it to my mate who's a bigger fan of Kalisto than myself.
So we have a ROH 14th Anniversary DVD and The Best of LCW Volume 1. I'll be honest; I don't think I've watched any of the DVDs I've received in my crates, purely because there aren't enough hours in the day to keep up with all the decent wrestling promotions but hopefully I will get round to them one day. Who knows, I might even make a new blog project out of it. The ROH I imagine will be as good as any other product they've put out before and I've never heard of LCW until now so it's another new promotion to be introduced to which I always love. They seem to have booked a few big names on this particular DVD so I look forward to watching them... whenever that may be.
Probably one of my favourite items in this crate, an exclusive signed Billy Gunn print by Erle Tompkins. Erle also done the artwork for my Dusty Rhodes article in Calling Spots (absolute SHAMELESS self-promotion) so naturally I'm a big fan. I love the exclusive prints that we get in the crates, be it drawings or promotional photos; I like collecting them all like Pogs or Pokemon cards (really showing my age here). I've got mad hoarder tendencies so giving me new things to collect is both a blessing and a curse so cheers Wrestle Crate!
This is a fun and interesting wee book that was also included in the crate. It's an A-Z of gimmick matches and they didn't hold back on the creativity when coming up with some of these. My favourites include A, the "anus explosion death match" and Y, the "Yokohoma Piranha death match", both of which are as gruesome as they sound. Some of them are a lot tamer than those two so if any of you can find any actual real examples of those two matches then hit ya gurl up.
I sighed when I saw this, not because of what it is but because I can imagine people flipping out at Wrestle Crate daring to include an item relating to what they believe to be the most hated wrestler in the world right now. If you think that way then well, give yourself a wee shake because there's worse things that could happen to you. Aaaaanyway, it's a nice wee bit of artwork on a foam coaster and I'll be using it alongside either my Triple H water bottle or my Hart family mug. The artist wasn't specified but it's a nice art style and hopefully we see more quirky little items like it in future crates.
And last but not least we have this cute little badge!
Playing on the whole "Netflix and chill" patter that all you darned kids are coming out with these days, the badge reads "Network and Chill" (I'd assume it's plain to see but my phone camera is probably boggin because all of these photos came out slightly blurred). Again, I'll be adding it to my wee collection of badges that I've gotten from crates past; I think we've had 4 so far including this one? It's definitely the cutest one we've received so far anyway.
And that's all for this month's crate! It was up to their usual standard of great and varied content and they seem to want to include even more stuff each month for us which is nice. Although I'm really running out of storage space for DVDs and t-shirts because of it so if they want to include a wrestling themed storage unit in next month's crate then that would be greeeeeat.
If you like what you see in this crate you can subscribe to the Ultimate Crate for £21.99 a month plus shipping on their website: http://www.wrestlecrate.co.uk.
All content - Lily Lestrange
Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Tuesday, 30 August 2016
It was a big week for the red brand, as they featured a four way dance for the Universal Championship that was vacated by Finn Balor on #1213. With an interesting mixture of wrestlers battling for the title, as Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and Big Cass entered the main event, would Monday Night RAW produce a classic on the final episode of August?
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of the Universal Championship match, lets begin by talking about the shocking conclusion and the return of Triple H. The former 9 time World Champion came seemingly out of nowhere to level Roman Reigns with a Pedigree on the outside when the Big Dog was on a roll, allowed Seth Rollins to get the elimination, before turning on The Architect with Pedigree and handing Kevin Owens the Universal Championship. I'm split on whether I actually liked the finish or not. Part of me enjoyed the surprise of The Game's return and the crowd reaction it garnered, then another part of me felt like it was another case of Triple H being put over ahead of everyone else. I think we'll have to wait til next week to see how it plays out, but there is no escaping the fact that two of the three eliminations came at the hands of a 47 year old Cerebral Assassin who hasn't been seen for over four months. Keeping things positive, it should be a good way of moving Owens up into that full-time main event slot, depending on how the story plays out over the next couple of weeks heading towards Clash of Champions.
Having considered the finish, the rest of the match was a lot less controversial, featuring some good stuff for sure. Despite being the first guy eliminated I felt like Big Cass' stock was raised considerably just by taking part, lasting a respectable twelve minutes against three guys with much more top level experience and taking a lot of offense before being pinned by Owens. The Babe Ruth of Beatdowns held his own in exchanges with Reigns and indeed seemed to have the upper hand on The Guy in the majority of their throwdowns. The Cactus Big Boot that Cass used to finish off their initial transaction was sweet, plus having him continue to be able to dodge Reigns' Superman Punch was a nice addition that opens up a potential clash for future supercards. The only man to not be basically eliminated by Triple H, Cass ended up taking a Superman Punch from Reigns as The Big Bambino looked to put Rollins away with The East River Crossing, before taking Avada Kedavra from The Man and Bullfrog Splash from Owens to crash out of the match. It was performance that instantly put Cass up a level and whilst he's clearly a long way from being as rounded as Rollins, Owens or even Reigns, if he remains fit and is booked right over the next couple of years, there is no doubt that The Don of Parmesan will be holding one of the companies top belts sooner rather than later.
The rest of the contest had the Houston crowd hooked, as they popped for pretty much anything that happened and reacted with the over-used "This is Awesome" chant. In between Cass' elimination and Triple H's appearance, the highlight for me was a scrap between Reigns and Rollins that saw a particularly smooth series of reversals, that would culminate in The Aerialist nailing a falcon arrow for a strong near fall. The familiarity of the pair would be continue to be part of the story, with Reigns blocking a springboard high knee with a Superman punch, before the 2 time World Champion was able to block a Spear from Reigns. The pair have had numerous matches of the last two years, including a pair of bouts in Mexico over the past weekend and the fluidity created across those matches, helped to build a strong spine for this Four Way Dance.
The biggest bout outside the main event was a six person tag, with Tag Team Champions The New Day [Big E & Kofi Kingston] teamed up with Bayley to battle The Club's Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson and their new found pal, Dana Brooke. I liked the idea of combining the Women's and Tag Team storylines as it meant that everyone got more screentime than if the two storylines had been split into separate segments and I felt like all six people involved in the match, as well as Xavier Woods in the New Day and Bayley's corner and Charlotte on commentary took the opportunity and ran with it. The bout merged the multiple gimmicks in an entertaining way, including Bayley joining all of New Day for a funky dance heading into a break. The build towards the finishing stretch was done very well, with Gallows pulling Big E off the apron to deny Kingston a hot tag, before a tag to Bayley produced a cool exchange between her and Brooke, before a Fosbury Flop style dive from Kingston onto Anderson and a Bayley to Belly allowed the babyface trio to pick the victory.
In the second match of their Best of Seven Series, Sheamus and Cesaro continued their strong vein of form with another good collision as the tension between the two continues to build well. Having to have seven matches back to back, after already having two matches on RAW weeks before the series began, means that the duo are continually challenged to be creative and put on different types of matches and make sure that the audience know that they're going to see something new every time they sit down to watch one of these Best of Seven Series matches. Whilst Sheamus and Cesaro always bring a strong brawling style, the pair brought a different level of story-telling to this contest as The Swiss Superman was always one step ahead of The Celtic Warrior, with Sheamus kept to mostly flash pin attempts, including trying to win with his feet on the ropes towards the end of the bout. This would be flipped on it's head in the closing moments, as Sheamus sent Cesaro head over heels into the bulky ringpost, before locking in a Cloverleaf to earn a submission victory and go 2-0 up in the series. As things begin to warm up, I'm expecting this series to only get better and the storytelling to get richer.
It was clear to see that Chris Jericho and Neville had had a house show run together over the weekend, as they put on a very smooth encounter in the shows opening match. Somewhat surprisingly it took the bout a few minutes to find it's feet, but once it did the pair produced some quality in-ring action, that presented a fun clash between the high-flying expert and the crafty veteran. Y2J was using all the old tricks to get the advantage, including hiding behind the referee before an eye rake, whilst The Man That Gravity Forgot had plenty in his bag of tricks also, including a beautiful Asai moonsault. Jericho being able to dodge Red Arrow multiple times also builds the potential for a rematch and protects the former NXT Champion despite the eventual submission loss. The final two sequences were great examples of what the pair could do together. Firstly, Jericho rolled through a German suplex attempt into a Walls of Jericho, that Neville reversed into a small package for a cracking false finish before Neville would go for a rana, after Y2J had escaped another Red Arrow, which Jericho would hold onto and eventually lock in a Liontamer to pick up the win. There's more that could be done between Jericho and Neville, I'm hoping that Owens winning the Universal Championship will free up Jericho to move into a proper feud with the Geordie.
8 days after SummerSlam, Paul Heyman made his return to our screens in an odd segment with Commissioner Stephanie McMahon. Heyman and McMahon are two entertaining characters, that have a good amount of chemistry, which makes sure that whenever the pair share the screen, that you'll probably want to watch to see exactly what's going to happen. However, this time around, I'm not sure what actually happened. I feel like maybe I missed something, because to be honest, this felt like an unnecessary ten minutes of TV time, that didn't set up anything and didn't resolve anything either. Heyman came out, tried to pay Brock Lesnar's fine in $1 dollar bills, they then talked for a bit, Heyman begged McMahon to accept his apology, McMahon accepted and quickly left, leaving Heyman laughing in the ring. Both seemed to be heels, both came across as a bit dickish and I was left wondering if we'd ever get to see this go anywhere or if it was just a way to try to cash in on some of the controversy caused by Lesnar without actually having to pay Lesnar to be there.
The only other lengthy talking segment on the show was Corey Graves hosting a chat between the four main event talents at the top of the show. There was some good stuff here as they looked to add a bit of depth to upcoming Four way dance and get the viewers to tune into the action at the end of the show. Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins had some banter, with Rollins initially donating his speaking time to Owens, whilst The Prizefighter compared the set-up to that of a group therapy session. Both men played their moment well, coming across as two guys jostling for each other's support in the match, whilst having a hint of animosity behind what they had to say. Big Cass also got some time to show what he can do on his own, having some decent back and forth with Owens regarding their recent feud, whilst also taking a jab at Rollins' penis size. Never forget those dick pics people, never forget. The segment concluded in fairly predictable fashion with Roman Reigns having fuck all to say and everyone brawling about.
Titus O'Neil and Darren Young continued their feud this week and still no one gave a single fuck. There was little get excited about again here, with the one big spot of the match, that saw O'Neil finally take control by lobbing Young over the top rope resulted in a ringside camera getting broken. I lost interest for a time, because The Real Deal just kept saying "You Owe Me" for reasons that weren't really explained and it would have been kind to have described any of the action as "average". The finish would see Young get a crucifix roll up victory after O'Neil got too involved with the referee. O'Neil would attack Bob Backlund before delivering Clash of the Titus to confirm that the misery will continue for a while long at least. The Prime Time Players were better together and they weren't that great to begin with.
Best of the Rest
- Sami Zayn returned to winning ways with a quick victory over Jinder Mahal following an Exploder Suplex and Helluva Kick
- Nia Jax picked up her fourth victory in a row with a win over some lass called Hyan.
- Braun Strowman extended his undefeated streak to over two month's with a victory over Americo [NWA's Barrett Brown]
ATPW Scale Rating - 6.03/10
Topping last week's episode to become the best episode since the post-Battleground episode, this was an in-ring action heavy edition of Monday Night RAW. The main event was an epic, that will probably split opinion due to how much you enjoyed the finish, but either way it was a quality outing that did a lot for various competitors, whilst presenting one of the most shocking finishes to Monday Night RAW in quite some time. Outside of the main event, the three biggest matches on the show (New Day & Bayley v The Club & Brooke, Cesaro v Sheamus, Neville v Jericho) all delivered good wrestling and were entertaining in various ways. Only two in-ring talking segments is a never going to be a bad thing either, it's a shame that the Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon segment felt much more like a time filler than anything else.
If only the continuation of Titus O'Neil and Darren Young's feud hadn't been featured on the show, then you'd probably have had the best episode since the brand split right here!
All content - James Marston
Banner Credit - Kai Stellar
Saturday, 27 August 2016
As the Second Round came to a close, Episode Seven of the Cruiserweight Classic included AIW's Johnny Gargano taking EWF's TJ Perkins. Could tournament head into the Quarter Final's with another Cruiserweight Classic classic?
Johnny Gargano and TJ Perkin's main event clash was the first contest from the entire Cruiserweight Classic, so far, that I haven't predicted correctly. I felt certain that Gargano would advance to the Quarter Final, where another Battle of the NXT stars could have occurred opposite Rich Swann, but it was Perkins who came out victorious winning by submission with the Figure Death Lock. Despite being taped almost a month before NXT's Takeover: Brooklyn II, the commentary team of Daniel Bryan & Mauro Ranallo did a marvelous job of carrying on the story from that match, that saw Gargano tap out to a Inverted Figure Four leglock from Scott Dawson and tying into the match that Perkins and Gargano had already had. It helped, of course, that the leg was a big part of the match! The story began earlier in the match, but really came to the forefront when Gargano overshot on a somersault dive off the apron and ended up whacking his leg off the bell table. After that Johnny Wrestling's would give out a number of times, before the former TNA X-Division Champion escaped a Dragon Suplex and transitioned into the finishing submission. Gargano was marvelous whilst in the hold, reaching and reaching for the ropes, selling the pain on his face and eventually tapping out.
As compelling and dramatic as the end of the match became, a lot of the action was a back and forth indy-style bout that was exciting and pacy. Hard strikes, slick submissions, a handful of dives and more than a handful of near falls and close calls, this was a cross-section of the popular American Indy style, put on by two of it's biggest proponents. The alternating strikes sequence was done with a real purpose and was an improved version of an over-used wrestling trope, and ended with a great double big boot spot with both men refusing to go down. The two were superbly fluid from start to finish and managed to move easily from one part of the match to the next without it ever feeling forced or contrived. I have to say that when I went to check how often the pair had faced each other over years, I was very surprised to see they'd only had one previous one on one contest [PWG DDT4 2015] because the contest looked like they were much more familiar with each other. Perkins goes on to face Rich Swann in the Quarter Final.
After I'd been underwhelmed by wXw's Zack Sabre Jr's first round appearance, his Second Round bout with CZW's Drew Gulak was a much more satisfying contest. The pair bought the World of Sport style to the 'E and put on a belting eight minute contest. With Bryan & Ranallo bleeding the story of Gulak wanting to prove he was a better technical wrestler than ZSJ, the two had gripping fight, that had an intensity that has been missing from some of the previous CWC matches. Each strike had that little bit extra behind and Gulak, in particular, was a vicious little shit. He'd use the ropes to launch into a stomp and at one point bodyslam ZSJ into the ringropes, whilst also trying to get an early victory with a Northern Lights suplex. The exchanges between the pair were as beautiful as they were painful looking, but were made even better by the juxtaposition of the brutal strikes, especially the pair slapping the absolute shit out of each other heading into the finish. Every move had that little extra touch, whether it was ZSJ moving quicker than I've seen anyone get into an Octopus Stretch or Gulak's modified Boston crab, that made me wanting more when ZSJ was able to slip out of the Dragon Sleeper and bridge to get the pin. With five or ten minutes more this would have been a masterpiece. ZSJ goes on to face ICW's Noam Dar in the Quarter Finals.
Rounding out the 2nd Round, NXT's Rich Swann and BELIEVE's Lince Dorado were the highflying representatives putting on a very good opener. The commentary team put over how familiar the pair were and that was clear to see in how they wrestled with each other. Their six years of history with each other, one on one, in scramble matches, as a tag team or on opposite teams, for the likes of the NWA, DGUSA, AAW and FIP, was evident in every step they took here. After a comedic opening where the two engaged in an impromptu dance off, the action got serious quickly with a massive strike battle that was highlighted by a huge chop from Dorado. The theme would be bought back latter when the two went punch for punch in a lengthy exchange that the crowd adored. The closing section was an aerial assault with the duo going for a series of impressive moves and whilst Swann missed a standing 450 splash and there was no water in the pool for Dorado's shooting star press, Dorado was able to hit a tasty reverse rana and Swann pulled out a Phoenix Splash. It was the latter that got the win as Swann advanced to face TJ Perkins in the Quarter Finals.
ATPW Scale Rating - 7.69/10
Another cracking episode of the Cruiserweight Classic, which is once again the best show that WWE has aired this week. In fact it was miles ahead of RAW, Smackdown Live and NXT. It also get's a higher rating than both NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II and SummerSlam. Obviously that's helped by being an all in-ring based show and having only simple stories to follow, but that would mean nothing if the performers didn't go out and put on tremendous action. All three matches this week were impressive, with a number of different styles showcased throughout the hour. It would be difficult to pick a match of the evening, but if I was pushed I'd probably go for the main event between Johnny Gargano and TJ Perkins, for the sole reason that there was more of it!
As the Quarter Finals begin next week with Kota Ibushi, Akira Tozawa and Gran Metalik [Mascara Dorada] through to the final eight, the action can only get better.
All content - James Marston
Banner Credit - Kai Stellar
Friday, 26 August 2016
Show Aired - 24th August 2016
NXT may have been heading out of Takeover: Brooklyn II, but the show was back at the Barclay's Center this week for a compact edition of the show. With just two matches would NXT still keep the quality action coming?
It had been over 2 months since "The Perfect Ten" Tye Dillinger had appeared on television to pick up his first win since May and only his third victory of 2016. Wesley Blake was his opponent and the two put on a good match that acted as both opener and main event, that featured some nice work from both men, that was aided by a lively Barclays Center. The crowd was hot for Dillinger and his Perfect Ten gimmick, which meant that Blake got a decent amount of heat whenever he took control. The pair worked well together, with Blake looking comfortable on his own, after parting from Buddy Murphy, controlling the pace well as well hitting a sweet backstabber with Dillinger in the ropes, moments after a small package hope spot from The Perfect Ten. The closing sequence demonstated why Dillinger should have been turned babyface about six months ago as his comeback sequence beginning with a hip toss into the turnbuckle and concluding with the victory enducing Tye Breaker [Fireman's Carry Neckbreaker]
In the other match on the show, The Authors of Pain (Sunny Dhisa renamed Akam and Gzim Selmani renamed Rezar) remained undefeated after a victory over TM61 (Nick Miller & Shane Thorne). I've been impressed with Akam & Rezar in their previous appearances and they continued to impress here, in what was a match that was booked to get the most out of every body involved. Both teams came out of this one looking better than they did coming in, with The AOP looking like dominant bad asses with some different moves, whilst TM61 showcased their pace and fighting spirit. Miller's comeback on Rezar featured a number of strong-style strikes, which built nicely to Rezar getting knocked off his feet, whilst The AOP cleaning house towards the finish made the pair look great with their stereo running powerbombs and the Russian leg sweep and lariat combination getting them the win on Miller. After victories over American Alpha and TM61, it looks like The AOP are being positioned for a future Tag Team Championship match.
ATPW Scale Rating - 3.91/10
Whilst the two matches on the show were both good, apart from a couple of post-match interviews from Takeover: Brooklyn II, the rest of the show was either highlight packages from the supercard, ads for the WWE Network or Corey Graves and Tom Phillips putting over the strength of that show. Overall, there was more recycled content then there was fresh content here, meaning that the brand didn't really more forward and coming out of a hot show that's a frustrating experience. With the show airing on the WWE Network there isn't much need to add in the highlight packages as that show is already available. Previous post takeover shows have featured an extra match and this would have at least filled up a little more time. It's not like their was a lack of talent either with no matches across the Brooklyn tapings from Hideo Itami, Oney Lorgan, Rich Swann, Peyton Royce, Nicola Glencross, Steve Cutler, Alexander Wolfe, Hugo Knox, Liv Morgan, Patrick Clark, Aaliyah, Buddy Murphy, Angelo Dawkins, Mandy Rose, Tino Sabbateli, Riddick Moss...I think I've made my point. One more match.
All content - James Marston
Banner Credit - Kai Stellar
Hard to believe that another week has passed and it's time for another edition of Ready For The Weekend. This week we are first off to Portsmouth on Friday night before heading to Bristol on Saturday. The weekend will finish off on Sunday (as is traditional for a weekend) in London. So let's get Ready For The Weekend.
We start off the wrestling weekend with a trip down to Portsmouth for Revolution ProWrestling's event at the Portsmouth Guildhall.
The show will see New Japan's Jay White back in action at RevPro after a successful out at Uprising 2016 against Josh Bodom. This time he'll be facing world-class opposition in “The Star Attraction” Mark Haskins. White is currently on tour to gain more experience and he's guaranteed to get that against Haskins who is currently on possibly the best run of his career so far.
While White has only recently come to RevPro and will hopefully continue to do so, this Friday will be the last time that “The Beast Of Belfast” Big Damo steps between the ropes of RevPro. With that being the case, RevPro management have granted Damo the right to choose his last opponent. The Northern Irish heavyweight has decided to face a man who he has had close ties with, Psycho Phillips. Damo has been a mentor to Phillips and this will be the bout for Phillips to show Damo what he's learned during their time as allies. However, Damo will be out to prove that while he's taught Phillips a lot of what he knows, he's not taught him everything that he knows and shall look to leave RevPro with one last win.
The main event for this Friday came about at the conclusion of Uprising 2016. Pete Dunne was a direct cause of Will Ospreay losing to Vader in the sold out York Hall. After the match, an angry Ospreay informed Dunne that if he wanted his rematch for the Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship then he was more than willing to give him it. Well why wait any longer than we have to? This Friday night, Dunne gets his chance at Ospreay and the Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship in Portsmouth. Dunne ruled the Cruiserweight division until his loss to Ospreay, whilst Ospreay wants revenge for Pete Dunne costing him his match against The Mastodon. Let's have a fight this Friday night!
Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship
“The Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne vs “The Aerial Assassin” Will Ospreay (c)
Jay White vs “The Star Attraction” Mark Haskins
“The Villain” Marty Scurll vs Moose
“The Beast Of Belfast” Big Damo vs Psycho Phillips
Zoe Lucas vs Bea Priestley
Moving on to Saturday and Pro Wrestling Chaos will be at the Hanham Community Centre in Bristol with Choose Your Weapon.
The event shall see the debut of one of the top heavyweights in Europe in the shape of Dave Mastiff. He will look to make an immediate impact as he challenges Wild Boar for the King Of Chaos Championship. Boar has been a fighting champion and will welcome the challenge that Mastiff will bring. Two of the hardest hitting men in British Wrestling will meet and only one of them will be a champion at the end of it.
Gideon has been after the Doomsday Killers and more specifically their leader Ian Williams for what seems an eternity. Williams has always found a way to escape or just avoid being in the ring with Gideon. Gideon has had to resort to the ultimate risk in order to just get a match with Williams. He has agreed to put his career on the line in a No Disqualification match this Saturday against Williams. The leader of Doomsday Killers is as cunning as he is devious and has in a way gotten Gideon right where he wants him. However, Gideon now cannot be stopped by any rules and with the anger and fury inside him for Williams, I doubt that anyone would dare get involved during the contest. If anyone does, they may suffer the same fate as what may await Williams. Either that or we've seen the last of Gideon in PWC.
The war for control of PWC began a few months ago with the return of Dave Mercy. Since then, General Manager Jimmy Havoc, have announced that there will be an 8-man tag team match at All Or Nothing on 29th October with the winning team gaining full power for their respective leader. However before that match takes place, there will be a match this Saturday where Pariah Khan's Jeckel and a partner of his choosing will face Mercy's Mike Bird and his partner in tag team action. This is the first battle in this war of control. A win for either team will be a great boost ahead of 29th October and could also help the winning team to recruit more members. The battle lines have been drawn and now the fight is on and there can only be one eventual winner.
King Of Chaos Championship
Wild Boar (c) vs Dave Mastiff
Jeckel & ??? vs Mike Bird & ???
Knights Of Chaos Tournament Semi-Final
Project Lucha (Martin Kirby & “The Mexican Sensation” El Ligero) vs The Swords Of Essex (“The Aerial Assassin” Will Ospreay & Paul Robinson) (w/ Scotty Essex)
No Disqualification – If Gideon Loses, His Career Is Over
Gideon vs Ian Williams
King of Chaos Championship Number One Contender
Eddie Ryan vs “The Pride Of Wales” Eddie Dennis
Wild Galleons (Captain Dick Morgan & Roger The Cabin Boy) vs Panda Club (Panda Cub & Panda Cub II)
Finally we end the weekend back at PROGRESS Wrestling with Chapter 35: Writing Nirvana On Other People's Bags at the sold out (Editor's Note: Return tickets still available) Electric Ballroom in Camden, London.
After this Sunday we'll know what the final of the Atlas Championship tournament will be with both semi-final matches taking place. The first semi-final will see “Iron Man” Joe Coffey face The Origin's Dave Mastiff while the second semi-final shall feature Rampage Brown and T-Bone. Any combination of these four men would be a worthy final to crown the inaugural Atlas Champion. This championship was designed for true heavyweights and that is exactly what we shall have with these two semi-final matches. Heavyweight encounters are coming this Sunday.
With the next Natural Progression Series being used to determine the first PROGRESS Women's Champion, the women's division in PROGRESS will be growing in the coming months. That starts at Chapter 35 when both Alex Windsor and Nixon Newell make their debut when they compete against each other. Both are well known in British Wrestling and have a wealth of experience. These two women have met before in SWE and VII Pro and put on stellar performances. They'll look to deliver another this Sunday and put themselves in serious contention for inclusion in the next Natural Progression Series.
The main event this Sunday will see Marty Scurll defend the PROGRESS World Championship against Mark Andrews. Andrews has been on an impressive run of wins recently and PROGRESS have deemed him worthy of a championship opportunity. While Scurll is the first ever two-time PROGRESS Champion, if Andrews were to win, he would become a two-time champion himself. While Scurll may be looking ahead to the PROGRESS Championship triple threat match in Brixton with Tommy End and Mark Haskins, to look past Andrews as a credible threat could well mean that Scurll doesn't even make it to Chapter 36 as champion.
“The Villain” Marty Scurll (c) vs “White Lightning” Mark Andrews
Atlas Championship Tournament Semi-Final
“Iron Man” Joe Coffey vs Dave Mastiff
Atlas Championship Tournament Semi-Final
Rampage Brown vs T-Bone
“The Aerial Assassin” Will Ospreay vs Shane Strickland
Alex Windsor vs Nixon Newell
“The Star Attraction” Mark Haskins vs “The Deity Of Deviance” Mikey Whiplash
“The Mexican Sensation” El Ligero vs “The Extraordinary Gentleman” Jack Gallagher vs “The Pride Of Wales” Eddie Dennis vs “Liverpool’s No.1” Zack Gibson
British Strong Style (“The Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne & Trent Seven) vs “Number One” Damian Dunne & Tyler Bate
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 www.wrestleropesuk.wordpress.com for the latest show and match announcements, British Wrestling event list, interviews, exclusive columns, reviews, reports and results!
Written Content - Andy Scotland
Media Content & Editor - James Marston
Picture Source - Facebook.com
Thursday, 25 August 2016
Show Aired - 23rd August 2016
As Dolph Ziggler and AJ Styles battled to decide the main event of 11th September's Backlash supercard, how would the first Smackdown Live after SummerSlam shape-up?
Luckily, unlike Ziggler v Ambrose, this contest had a gear change and once that happened the pair looked much more comfortable with each other, everything suddenly became much crisper and the Uncasville crowd woke up, creating an exciting five or six minutes that was helped by the clever stipulation. The idea that Styles already had a title match and Ziggler was fighting to join him, meant it was much more conceivable that The Show Off could somehow pick up a victory, than if there was another set of circumstances. This meant that when Ziggler hit a Zig Zag after escaping a Styles Clash the crowd were convinced that the 36 year old former World Heavyweight Champion had got the win, leading to a brilliant reaction when The Phenomenal One got his shoulder off the mat. It would a Styles Clash that would break Ziggler's heart however, with The Lunatic Fringe doing a superb job of putting this over on commentary, before the show went off the air with a staredown between Champion and #1 Contender.
In the top match from the undercard, American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) and Breezango (Fandango & Tyler Breeze) met in a splendid Quarter Final match in a tournament to crown the first Smackdown Tag Team Champions. The four lads took their ten minutes and ran with in a match that in my opinion managed to elevate the stock of both teams and add to the prestige of the Tag Team Championships before anyone has even won them. Smooth action, clever booking, great near falls for both sides, crisp reversals and a satisfying finish. A false finish were Fandango would thwart American Alpha going for a variation of the Doomsday Device, allowing to nail a victory roll on Jordan made it genuinely believable that Breezango might win the contest, which is credit to how everyone involved played the moment. American Alpha may have lifted the tag division since their debut, but Fandango and Breeze showed that they just needed the opportunity and despite losing to Grand Amplitude it was Breezango that got the most out of this one.
The show began with Commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan unveiling the new Tag Team Championship and Smackdown Women's Championship in front of the rosters of both divisions. The belts look much better than that of the Universal title, generally being the reverse of their RAW counterparts, with the Tag titles featuring blue leather and silver plates, instead of bronze. McMahon and Bryan also announced a Tournament for the Tag Team titles commencing on the show and concluding at Backlash, as well as a Six Package Challenge for the Women's Championship on the same event, which will include Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Naomi, Natalya & Nikki Bella. This was a busy segment though as Heath Slater interrupted in a humourous moment, that saw him added to the Tag title tournament, if he could find a partner, but only be offered a Smackdown Contract if he won the entire tournament. Dolph Ziggler attacked AJ Styles as The Phenomenal One was putting a case together for being #1 Contender to Dean Ambrose's World Championship.
Perhaps surprisingly, Randy Orton made an appearance on the show, just two days after getting ten stitches in his head in the closing scenes of SummerSlam 2016, thanks to Brock Lesnar. With Lesnar nowhere to be seen on RAW, it felt like a long time to wait to get to see one half of the main event of the second biggest show of the year. It seemed like WWE wanted to quickly distance Orton from Lesnar, as he spent more time talking about Shane McMahon getting involved than he did about the man who made him piss blood out of his forehead. Things moved even more quickly when Bray Wyatt appeared and began to talk about Orton only being a man and himself being a God. It was Wyatt's usual cryptic mumbo jumbo, which is captivating but meant very little at this point. I did like that it looked like The Eater of Worlds was going to accept Orton's offer of a scrap, only for the lights to go out and disappear, as it made the crowd realise they wanted to see the fight and then took it away. I would seem like Orton v Wyatt will be one of the upper card bouts for the 11th September supercard.
So, I've talked about the Ziggler v Styles match, but I haven't talked about how it was booked. The Phenomenal One was on fire when given the opportunity to cut an in-ring promo, addressing his victory over John Cena on 21st August and continuing to add to his case for deserving a World title opportunity. He passive aggressively called The Show-Off jealous because of his win over Cena, coming across like a real jerk as he told the crowd "You don't have to be John Cena fans anymore, you can be AJ Styles fans" and generally droned on and on about being "The Face that Runs the Place". It was a great heel rant of a promo. I couldn't stop watching, but boy, did I want someone to stop him from talking. That's what a heel needs to be in 2016, someone entertaining enough that you don't want to change channel, but annoying enough that you want to see them get beats. The segment closed with Ziggler being held back by various WWE staff, including 3 time WCW World Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman, before Daniel Bryan would come out to book the show's main event.
In the other Tag Team Championship tournanment Quarter Final, The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) would seal their place in the final four with a straight-forward victory over The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor). This was your regular run of the mill tag bout, with Konnor & Viktor dominating Jimmy, before a Jey hot tag would lead into the finish. A couple of back and forth flourishes in the last exchanges upped the quality, but it would still be Viktor who took the pinfall after a superkick from Jey and a Samoan Splash from Jimmy. It was a shame that John "Bradshaw" Layfield spent a good deal of time talking about fellow commentator David Otunga's wife, singer Jennifer Hudson, and The Miz, instead of talking about the importance of the contest.
The only women's match on the show was a rematch from Smackdown Live #886, as Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss got to an extra few minutes to showcase their ability, ahead both women competitor to become Women's Champion on 11th September. Whilst longer than their previous match, I feel the Lynch and Bliss deserved to be given more time, with the fact that the crowd were loudly behind The Lass Kicker showing that the audience wants to see more of her and her division. The wrestling was all done well and both ladies added little flourishes to their performances that will get people invested in them and make these short contests worth watching. Lynch would get the submission win after a sweet transition into the Disarmer, essentially getting her win back from two weeks ago. If Smackdown Live only has this much time for it's women on TV, they better make up for it when it comes to their own supercards.
Best of the Rest
- In a shocking double turn, Carmella would attack Nikki Bella from behind as Bella was being interviewed by Renee Young, meaning that their match never got started.
ATPW Scale Rating - 5.81/10
Smackdown Live picked up some momentum heading out of SummerSlam and towards Backlash, adding three matches to that card and producing some quality wrestling along the way. Either Ziggler v Styles or American Alpha v Breezango was the match of the night and if pushed I'd probably give it to the tag match for being a more balanced affair. The build to the main event, featuring the great Styles promo was also up their for the best thing on the show. The opening segment and Orton's confrontation with Wyatt were both positive parts of the show as well.
The only parts of the show that I'd considered below average were The Usos v The Ascension and Bliss v Lynch, even then they weren't bad matches, had some highlights and were well wrestled, if both had been afforded more time then you'd have to think that Smackdown Live would have had a better rating.
This was an above average show, that was close to getting a good rating on the scale. The strongest episode for three weeks and marginally better than this week's Monday Night RAW (3-2 Smackdown Live) almost everything on the show was of a good quality and had some thought behind it, with nothing bad to the shit on the picnic either.
All content - James Marston
Banner Credit - Kai Stellar
All content - James Marston
Banner Credit - Kai Stellar
As the dust from SummerSlam began to settle and it was revealed that the newly crowned Universal Champion Finn Balor would be on the shelf for six months, WWE was once again in position of having to change their plans and put together an evening of action that one would have to imagine was vastly different from what had been scheduled. Would WWE be able to think fast and pull out a quality episode of RAW?
Reigns and Jericho put on a strong main event match, with the pair both working a clever bout that was booked perfectly and had some great near falls. Reigns sold the Walls of Jericho well but I'm sure most of the crowd knew that WWE wouldn't have Jericho beat Reigns clean, so having Y2J's Jeri-KO partner, Kevin Owens, come down to ringside in the second half of the contest allowed for some much more convincing near falls. Jericho also made sure to protect himself and his codebreaker finisher by crawling into the pin, rather than instantly grabbing the cover. The story of Reigns being the powerful one, whilst Jericho bought a crafty veteran persona, sticking his thumb in his opponents eye and having his pal help him at ringside was told well, with Reigns selling the injured eye well. They could have made a bit more of The Guy being unable to see if they had a bit more time. I don't imagine Reigns will win the Universal belt on 29th August, but his involvement will make the win more important and guarantee that the crowd will be invested in the action.
As mentioned above, Finn Balor had to vacate the Universal Championship after less than a day holding onto the red belt. After RAW Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and RAW General Manager Mick Foley had introduced him at the top of the show, Balor would forfeit the belt in an emotional address to the Brooklyn crowd. It was difficult not to feel for Fergal Devitt. I'm not trying to be smart by using his birth name, I used it because as much this was a bad time for the character on screen, you have to think that it's much worse the man behind it. Someone who's worked since 2000 to get this point, someone who toiled in Japan for eight years to make a name for himself and become one of the best wrestlers in the world, spent three years in NXT becoming a rounded sports-entertainer and went on to win the top championship on WWE's RAW brand after just three matches on the show. Everything that Devitt had done previously, winning the NWA British Commonwealth title in 2004, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles six times between 2008 and 2012, winning the Best of the Super Juniors in 2010 & 2013, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship three times between 2011 and 2014, winning the NXT Championship and the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in 2015, having great matches with Koji Kanemoto, The Motor City Machine Guns, Naomichi Marifuji, Golden Lovers, Gedo, Kazuchika Okada, Zack Sabre Jr., Adrian Neville, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura, wrestling in Japan, the USA, the UK, Mexico, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Canada, France, New Zealand, Palau, Poland, Singapore and Hungary, was leading up SummerSlam 2016 and within hours it was taken away.
The segment swiftly moved away from Balor's concession with Seth Rollins coming out to claim the belt, only to be interrupted by Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Enzo & Cass and Roman Reigns. It made for some entertaining televison as I tried to work out who would be out next and the solution that McMahon & Foley would come up with. Rollins did a brilliant job with his smarmy heel promo getting some great heat for talking about how beautifully the Universal belt was, whilst Jericho also made the most of his time putting his hand in praying position and begging McMahon to give him the title. However, this parade of RAW's top talent probably wasn't needed as The Billion Dollar Princess and The Hardcore Legend could have easily announced plans on their own and given the matches or other segments more time. Personally, I'd have liked to have seen the winners of the matches from the previous night Supercard be the ones involved, but that's probably asking to much with a number of them involved in other stories and the card having to shuffled anyway! The segment concluded with Rollins attacking Zayn from behind prior to their opening match.
Big E picked up a win in first singles match since March and extend his undefeated streak to six matches with a quick victory over Karl Anderson, gaining revenge for the attack on his nads. This was a decent match, that could have done with an extra five minutes to allow the pair to get into the next gear, but did it's job well bringing New Day's feud with The Club to a close with Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Luke Gallows all involved in the match's conclusion. The segment that would lead into the contest was a lot of fun with New Day celebrating a year as Tag Team Champions and an appreciative Brooklyn crowd hanging off the groups every word. The interaction between the two groups was more good stuff with Big E making me choke on my tea with his request that The Club stop "talking that flim flam, that booty chatter".
In the most interesting thing The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley & D-Von Dudley) have done for months, BRD & D-Von were out to do a retirement speech after a full year back in the company. As they were cutting their speech, I began to think how much of a shame it was that the pair hadn't been in the ring with The Club's Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, as the two teams would seem to match up with each other pretty well. The segment was well put together and worked the crowd perfectly, as initially The Shining Stars (Epico & Primo) interrupted Dudley Boyz and when it seems like BRD & D-Von were about to put Epico & Primo through a table and end their career on a high note, The Club would attack. After D-Von took Magic Killer on the floor and BRD took it through a table, we could have the most engaging feud of Dudley Boyz's second run with WWE. The heat for Gallows & Anderson was arguably the best crowd reaction for them as a tag tram since their debut in April.
Talking of reactions, how about that pop for Bayley, eh? Making her first appearance since Battleground and her RAW debut, Mick Foley would introduce the former NXT Women's Champion as his new free agent signing after interrupting NEW Women's Champion Charlotte and Dana Brooke. This segment was my favourite part of the show, partly because Bayley finally getting the chance on the big stage, but mainly because Charlotte cut two excellent promos either side of it. Her initial speech about defeating Sasha Banks at SummerSlam was wonderfully slick as she claimed to have shown up Banks as a one match wonder. Her reply to Bayley asking for a title match was a equally well done, taking on a condescening tone and shuffling herself aside as she offered the debutant a match with Brooke instead. A great piece of business that sets up an interesting feud with two polar opposite characters with history dating back to 2013 in NXT, whilst Banks return from her back injury will only add more fuel to the fire.
The Universal Championship tournament would offer up another first time WWE clash as Rusev and Big Cass met in the ring for the first time since 2013. After some comedy from Cass & Enzo Amore as they tried to work out where the "Bulg Area" was, the match was a serious affair that used Rusev's rib injury caused by Roman Reigns the previous night as it's catalyst. As much as the victory was a huge lift for The Big Bambino, it was The Bulgarian Brute's performance that stood out, helped by some wonderful heel commentary from Corey Graves. Rusev constantly made sure the rib injury was in the audience's mind, not just grabbing the ribs, but showing the pain all over his face. The finish used this well as Rusev would walk out of the match because of the pain, in a good piece of juxtaposition between he and Sami Zayn...
The show's opening match saw Seth Rollins earn his spot in the Universal Championship match next week with a victory over Sami Zayn in a good match. Similar to the Rusev v Cass bout, it was the losing competitor who put on the strongest performance, as The Underdog from the Underground put on a masterclass, kayfabe hurting his ankle when jumping over Rollins and selling it for it all it was worth. This produced some compelling action and got the crowd behind the former NXT Champion, garnering great reactions off flash false finishes including a sunset flip bomb. The finish continued on an on-going theme from the match with Zayn's ankle not allowing him to hit a Michonoku Driver, allowing The Aerialist to hit a Pedigree for the win. Two of the best wrestlers in the company doing what they do best, a feud between Rollins and Zayn has the potential to be money.
Rounding out the Universal Championship semi-finals was another clash between two former NXT Champions as Kevin Owens and Neville had another good match with each other. The pair made the most of their short time on screen, crafting a pacy contest that was beneficial to both men. Neville looked the best he's done since his return from injury with a brilliant face shine that included a 450 splash off the apron and a 450 plancha, whilst the relationship between Owens and Jeri-KO team mate, Chris Jericho was strengthened. The had a smooth series of action, where the both avoided each others finishes, before Y2J would stop Neville from hitting Red Arrow, allowing Owens to hit an Argentine Neckbreaker to pick up the win.
Titus O'Neil cut a promo on this week's episode. I say cut, what I mean is butchered. The Real Deal somehow managed to fuck up every line he had to say, stumbling over his words and looking like a kid on their first day of drama school. He didn't looked like he believe a single word he was saying about former Prime Time Players partner Darren Young and appeared more like he was just struggling to remember what he had to say next. For someone who has been employed by WWE since 2009, it was unforgivably bad. Things didn't get better when Bob Backlund ran to the ring and Young waited until his life coach had been squashed by O'Neil before bothering to get his arse down to the ring where he'd then take a Clash of the Titus himself. A truly dreadful piece of TV.
After an electric entrance, Bayley's match opposite Dana Brooke wasn't the best introduction for the former NXT Women's Champion. Whilst she got the win with a Belly to Bayley in an impressive fashion, I have to think those who were seeing Bayley for the first time would be wondering what all the fuss was about. Beginning the match by riding Brooke like a horse and a Slip N' Slide wasn't a great way to insert her into RAW's women's division. Despite a couple of awkward bumps the crowd remained behind Bayley throughout the short contest, which is definitely a good sign, let's hope we get to see better performance from Bayley over the next few weeks to get those more casual fans invested in her as well. Matches with Banks, Charlotte and Paige, and even Summer Rae and Alicia Fox offer plenty of options for Bayley going forward on RAW.
Best of the Rest
- Braun Strowman picked up his six singles victory in a row, beating Johnny Knockout in just over a minute.
ATPW Scale Rating - 5.67/10
This a decent episode of Monday Night RAW and the best edition since the show following Battleground 2016. The unfortunate injury to Finn Balor meant that WWE put on four different matches, that had consequences and all had their own things to enjoy about them. Out of those matches, my personal favourite was the main event between Reigns and Jericho, but I also wouldn't argue if someone enjoyed Rollins v Zayn or Owens v Neville more. However, the segment featuring the debut of Bayley and some killer heel work from Charlotte was the pinnacle of the episode for me, even if Bayley's win over Brooke wasn't the best first match for the former NXT Women's Champion.
Outside of the tournament was a mixed bag, with some good comedy from the New Day, a decent bout between Big E and Anderson, a strong angle involving Dudley Boyz, Shining Stars and The Club and an awful few minutes with O'Neil, Backlund and Young. Had the terrible promo from O'Neil not been on the show, RAW #1213 would have gotten over a 6 on the ATPW Scale.
With next week's show featuring the Four-Way between Rollins, Owens, Cass and Reigns to crown the second and longest reigning Universal Champion, which is undoubtedly a PPV quality bout, I would expect the show to be pushing back into the 6 range.
All content - James Marston
Banner credit - Kai Stellar
All content - James Marston
Banner credit - Kai Stellar