For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the Guest Booker DVD series is an idea from KayfabeCommentaries.com where a famous wrestling booker is given the task of booking a promotion or territory form a particular point in time with the idea that things didn’t go exactly as they did in real life and this is their chance to show us what they would have done were they the booker at the time. The first DVD featured Kevin Sullivan booking the WWF from the beginning of 1984 but without Hulk Hogan, who, for whatever reason, never made the big jump from the AWA. It’s a very interesting DVD, and while some of Sullivan’s ideas seem a little out of place, it still gives a lot of insight into the mechanics of booking and you still learn a lot of things about the art of booking that you probably won’t learn anywhere else.
With the concept explained, I shall set out the premise for this version of ‘Guest Booker’;
In late 1989, the NWA and Ric Flair were making a play to bring Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard back to the company, but there was also talk of other names being courted to jump to the NWA, specifically Ted DiBiase, Curt Hennig, Bret Hart, The Rockers, Roddy Piper and Randy Savage. Of course, we know that the only name of all of those to jump was Arn Anderson; Blanchard would have jumped back too but Jim Herd withdrew his contract offer when Blanchard failed a drug test for cocaine, which coincided with his decision to leave the WWF.
But what if Tully and Arn had returned together? And what if those other big names had made the history altering decision to jump to the NWA as well?
How would things have changed?
Well, this is where Guest Booker comes in, and I book the NWA in the 18-month period from August of 1989 to the end of 1990.
There will be six main parts:
NWA World Heavyweight title
US Heavyweight title
World Tag Team titles
US Tag Team Titles
World TV Title
New Arrivals (with each one talked about individually)
It wound up being a pretty long deal, so I'll be posting it in sections to make it easier to digest.
Constructive comment and debate over the decisions made is welcome.
TNA's Bound For Glory 2006
X-Division Battle Royal:
At least Austin Starr's gimmick has a chance of letting him stand out, I can say that much about it that's positive. I think Kevin Nash endorsed his own mic, because it couldn't work without help. An X-Division battle royal with a non-X Division wrestler, a one legged man, a woman, a midget and a referee who decided to take part just for the hell of it; yes, Vince Russo is indeed back with TNA. Booking aside, at least this thing got the crowd warmed up.
Four-Way Tag match
Too short to be bad but also too short to be any good. With The Naturals getting a tag title shot, why didn't they win so that, A) They look strong going into their title match, and B) the tag titles are being challenged for by losers. What does it say about the belts that losers are getting a title shot? And if The Naturals gimmick is that of losers, would it not make sense for them to win, have Shane Douglas get excited for them getting into their stride heading into their title shot and then beat them and set up the split with Douglas? I can see them not beating AMW because they are about to turn babyface, and I can see them not beating Team 3D because they just returned, but were the James Gang of such high importance that they couldn't lose? Well, Jeff Jarrett is meant to be teaming with them in some fashion when he turns babyface, so I guess we know why they couldn't lose.
Samoa Joe vs. Raven vs. Abyss vs. Brother Runt
Or Joe versus one person he shouldn't ever wrestle and two guys he shouldn't be in the ring with until he gets the NWA Title. If it's Anything Goes, why does it matter if Joe was in the ropes? You can smack someone across the back with a chair but you'd better make sure he's not in the ropes. Joe beats Raven after Jake Roberts DDT's him. And Joe couldn't win clean because...? Jake was going to use the snake on Raven after the match anyway, so why not leave the DDT until then? That way, Joe wins clean but Jake still gets to lay Raven out. The match was just there, with the only real heat coming when anything crazy happened and when Joe did, well, anything really.
Eric Young vs. Larry Zbyszko
Two weeks ago, Eric Young lost a match that he had to win or he would be fired. Now, here he is wrestling a match where he has to win or he will get fired. Don't forget, the selling point of the main event is that Sting has to win or he'll have to retire. And people wonder why stipulations mean nothing anymore. Very short, not very good, complete with a ref bump after about 90 seconds. Eric wins after using Larry's own foreign object. Again, is there any reason Eric had to win thanks to a ref bump and foreign object? Was there a brilliant reason he couldn't win clean?
Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle brawl again
Ok, here we go. This was pretty much the exact same thing they did on Impact. An angle, I might add, that a lot of people, in their rush to ignore the stupidity of giving away the first Joe/Angle confrontation on FREE TV with zero hype, were proclaiming would get people to buy the PPV to see Joe and Angle go at it. Well, anybody who did just that isn't going to be happy, because they just paid $34.95 to see the same thing they saw for free three days before. Bear in mind, that the people who insisted the angle was great did so because they felt it would get people to buy the PPV to see Joe and Angle collide again. Well, there was what those people paid to see. Can you imagine being happy with that?
Chris Sabin vs. Sen Shi
Now this was damn good. I'd say it was in the ***1/2 range.
Christian Cage vs. Rhino
This had some terrible psychology. Rhino started out the big babyface and the crowd wound up not only booing the guy but cheering the heel for BEATING THE HOMETOWN BABYFACE HERO, which itself was bad booking. Someone, anyone, tell me how any of that is a good thing? Whether Christian had to be kept strong for Sting or not, and now he might not even be wrestling Sting for a couple of months, someone defend the psychology of a match that turned the hometown babyface hero into a heel. There was some decent brawling here, I won't deny that, but the psychology was all fucked up and I guarantee a number of wrestlers backstage were shaking their heads at that.
LAX vs. AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels
Another good match, but since when have the rules of the match been disregarded because the referee said so? When Daniels used the fork in retaliation for Homicide using it, the referee went to stop him but let it go. Why? Because Daniels said the heels used it first. Aren't referee's meant to only call what they see? And if all it takes is claiming your opponents used the fork first to get the rules changed in mid-match, why don't the heels just claim that to begin with? Then they wouldn't have to hide it.
Sting vs. Jeff Jarrett
Tenay claiming this could be the last time we see Sting could carry more weight if TNA hadn't already established that stipulations can be ignored at will if they feel like it. Why is the heel outwrestling the babyface? Since when does it make sense for the heel to cleanly outwrestle the face? If they're going to use the storyline of Sting not wrestling for two months as a reason, fine, but can the heel at least cheat seeing as that is how heels are meant to outdo babyfaces? Why is Kurt Angle getting bumped? Kurt shouldn't be put in a position to sell until the match with Joe. That must have been one hell of a crossbody, because both guys would have been TKO'd if not for Angle attacking the referee. Can Jeff at least make it look like he's raising his shoulder on a cover rather than just lifting his arm up? Jeff should not be using the ankle lock. That spot should have been saved for Joe when he faces Angle. In any event, it would make more sense for Jeff to use Sting's hold, because it would be more insulting for Jeff to retire Sting using Sting's own hold, and Sting is the one he's wrestling. The match and heat was disappointing until Sting no-sold the guitar shot. I know Jeff's turning babyface soon, but couldn't they have held off on praising him so much until Impact? Shouldn't they focus on pushing Sting, the guy who just won the World title and avoided being forced into retirement?
All in all, Bound For Glory had some good action for the most part and the crowd had a good time. The major problems, as always with TNA, were with quality control and the attention to the little details that TNA seem happy to let slide. I know some people, most people actually, here will dismiss them and tell me not to be so negative, but you can't hide from the facts forever. It's those little details that slowly chip away at a company. Stipulations are ignored and devalued when the main event is being sold on one. Guys meant to be pushed strong have to rely on interference to beat a virtual midcarder and someone who need not be protected. The specialness of the first Joe vs. Angle match is lessened slightly each time they brawl. The big hometown babyface not only loses but the match is worked in such a manner that the heel gets cheered as the match goes on and the crowd pop for him winning. Rules get changed in mid-match, simply because a wrestler said so. And Kurt Angle sells for a minor bump when he shouldn't be leaving his feet for anyone who isn't Samoa Joe for a very long time. On their own, they might not be major, but together these small details add up and until someone in TNA actually bothers with attention to detail, then TNA will not achieve the heights they want to and have the talent to reach.
UFC 63 Hughes vs. Penn II - Round-by-Round
Joe Lauzon vs. Jens Pulver
Wow. Lauzon stunned Pulver, and most of the MMA world with this one. Lauzon caught Pulver early, and didn’t give him a chance to mount any offense. I think a combination of Lauzon trying to end it early, which was his best chance of winning, and, it seems, Pulver taking his opponent lightly, led to this most stunning of upsets.
Jason Lambert vs. Rashad Evans
Rashad controlled the first round, and while Lambert did fight for a kimura, and somewhat got it, Rashad was never in any real trouble while Lambert was backing up a lot. Rashad wins this 10-9 for me.
Rashad dominated Lambert and took him down easily, en route to a brutal TKO win. Lambert’s biggest problem was that he didn’t appear willing to take the fight to Rashad and was waiting to play counterfighter and it cost him big.
Gabe Ruediger vs. Melvin Guillard
Guillard completely dominated the first half of the round, to where I was anticipating a 10-8 round. Then, things slowed down and Ruediger wound up turning the tide in his favor and was very close to upsetting Guillard. Guillard controlled for longer than Ruediger, but his easing up, and then coming close to losing, makes this round even for me. 10-10.
It started slow and then Guillard struck with a hard right to the solar plexus. A second one soon followed and Ruediger crumpled into a heap and it was all over. Quite the finish to this one.
Mike Swick vs. David Loiseau
First round was pretty methodical, with neither man really advancing forward, but Swick did pick things up in the second half the round and for me he did enough, just, to win the round. 10-9 for Swick.
Round two was very boring round, with neither fighter seemingly willing to be the one to get things going. Swick did try and do a few things late on and while he did give Loiseau a small but, it wasn’t enough for me to give him the round, so I scored it even, 10-10, with Swick ahead 20-19 going into the third and final round.
Round three was mostly slow but both fighters picked up the pace halfway through. Loiseau seemed ready to pounce as Swick appeared to gas out badly, but he never really took advantage and Swick was content to let time run out. Swick got a takedown right at the end, but I don’t view it as enough to win a very even, and none too exciting, round. 10-10 draw, so I have Swick winning 30-29.
The judges all scored 29-28 in favor of Swick.
David Lee vs. Tyson Griffin
Lee tried to start big and it wound up costing him in a big way, as Griffin got him down and kept him there. Eventually, Griffin was able to get a rear naked choke on, and Lee did try to work his way out of it but to no avail and was forced to tap out.
BJ Penn vs. Matt Hughes
Hughes tried to take Penn down almost right away, but Penn showed excellent takedown defense and blocked it. Penn managed to tag Hughes a couple of times, and Hughes’ face reddened up a bit. The poke to the eye was unfortunate, but it didn’t take away from a round that Penn clearly won, through great defense and solid offense. 10-9 to Penn, and Hughes really needs to try something new.
Round two was incredible. Hughes was finally able to take Penn down after a struggle, but things managed to got worse for Hughes after that as Penn fought him off Hughes and was able to get his back. Penn had Hughes in trouble with a rear naked choke but Hughes fought out of it only to get trapped with a triangle choke and armbar combination and he was damn near close to being choked out but he was able to hold on to the end of the round. Penn wins round two as well, and I’d say it was enough to make it a 10-8 win, meaning I have Penn up 20-17 so far.
The third round saw Hughes turned things around in a big way. He got Penn down again and managed to slip past Penn’s guard, grab side control and tie up Penn’s arms. This left Penn open to a barrage of punches, and Penn had no way to escape and eventually John McCarthy had to stop the fight to give Hughes the TKO win, in a fight that he came very close to losing.
As a fight, the main event was really good, but as a story it was incredible.
Eddie Sanchez vs. Mario Neto
The first round was relatively uneventful, and while Neto did get some offense in, it wasn’t enough to win a very sedate round. 10-10
The second round didn’t last long before Sanchez nailed Neto with a strong left hand and, after a couple more strikes on the ground, it was all over.
Overall: This was a pretty solid card of action, with a relatively strong undercard and a main event that more than delivered, which is what you really want out of a PPV. It was better than UFC 62 and was obviously streets ahead of UFC 61, but I don’t know that I’d call it a great PPV. If you judge a PPV by the overall quality, then it was good but great, but if you judge a PPV by how well the main event delivers, then it was off the charts.
Ultimate Fight Night 6: Round-by-Round
Josh Koscheck vs. Jonathan Goulet
Koscheck totally controlled the fight and was never close to being in danger. Koscheck continues to show that he could be a title contender down the line. Guess I’m going to have to wait a while for Josh to finally get the shit kicked out of him.
Dean Lister vs. Yuki Sasaki
A very slow start but it turned into a good round. Lister controlled the direction of the fight and clearly won the round, but Sasaki put up more than enough of a defense to avoid being blown out, so I have it 10-9 for Lister.
Round two was again controlled by Lister who tied Sasaki up in knots on the ground, but Sasaki somehow weathered the storm and escaped to get things standing for the last few seconds. The question is does Lister win 10-8 for such dominance, or does he only win 10-9 for not being able to finish? I’ll go with 10-9, making it 20-18 for Lister going into the third and final round.
The third round saw Lister gassed out from trying to put Sasaki away in round two, but Sasaki was equally gassed and was unable to take advantage. 10-10 round, so I have it as Lister winning 30-28.
All three judges give it 30-27 to Lister. There was very noticeable booing from the crowd to that, probably from Lister actively trying to stall during round three.
Chris Leben vs. Jorge Santiago
Round one was even, and neither guy did enough to make me give them the nod so I have it 10-10.
Round two was slow standing up until Leben hit home with a great left hand knocking Santiago out cold.
They showed the punch a couple of times in slow motion and it hit Santiago right in the face and he was out before he hit the ground.
Joe Riggs vs. Jason Von Flue
It went to the ground and Riggs controlled Von Flue en route to a great triangle choke. Von Flue flipped the bird and then quickly tapped out, which was funny.
Karo Parisyan vs. Diego Sanchez
Round one was very heated with the crowd being loud and noisy. Sanchez was awesome with how easily he was able to get Parisyan’s back. Parisyan was cut under one of his eyes, so that may give the round to Sanchez with the judges, but Parisyan was able to take Sanchez down with some excellent judo throws, so I score the first round even.
Round two was all-action and Diego again showed tremendous agility with his ground game. He was able to effectively neutralize Parisyan and dominated the round so I give the round to Diego. It’s 20-19 for Diego on my scorecard.
Round three was exciting with a hot crowd who never let up. Diego was again in command with Karo trying to hang in there, getting limited respite. Karo did get a throw in there, but Diego was just dominating in this round and I’d give it to him 10-8. With that, I have him winning the decision 30-27.
The judges gave it Sanchez with scores of 29-28. 29-28 and 30-26.
An awesome fight, and a real FOTY candidate.
Block A has: Jushin Liger, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Giant Bernard and Manabu Nakanishi
Block B has: Yuji Nagata, Naofumi Yamamoto, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Makabe and Koji Kanemoto
I think the semi's will be Tanahashi beating Kojima and Tenzan beating Nagata to set up Tanahashi beating Tenzan so he can avenge his loss in the 2004 finals. Liger and Yamamoto seem destined to be the respective jobbers of their groups, though one or both might get an upset win, with Yamamoto's being probably over Makabe or Kanemoto and Liger's possibly being over Nakanishi.
Best of the NWA on TBS
This is a 13-part 26 disc set that covers the highlights of the NWA on the TBS Superstation from 1985 to 1988. You can get it from infamous trader Bob Barnett at www.bobbarnett.com
The first disc starts off with a segment from World Championship Wrestling, which sees Ric Flair and Magnum TA in the studio and it starts the build of the Flair vs. Magnum TA feud. It’s a short segment, and it sees Flair tooting his own horn in his usual style and Magnum responding with how he doesn’t need all the refined things Flair has, because he does his talking in the ring. The main thing you can tell from this is that Magnum is clearly nervous when it comes to doing an interview.
Next up is the ending of a Ric Flair squash, with Magnum on commentary. After the match, Flair confronts Magnum and offers to face him right there and then in the ring. Naturally, Magnum gets in the ring, and so does Flair, but then Flair leaves to tell David Crockett and Tony Schiavone that Magnum doesn’t need to suffer a major upset right now and because he’s thinking of Magnum’s best interests he’s walking away.
Another confrontation between Flair and Magnum is up, and Flair is chiding Magnum for not keeping his mouth shut and trying to embarrass him. Flair dares Magnum to pay the price and put up or shut up, but that when Magnum is ready for it “I’ll let you know, daddy.” Magnum brings up that Flair was the one who called him out last week but Flair walked away. Flair winds up telling Magnum that he’ll make his chimes ring, and Magnum brings up that he hasn’t yet had his shot but when he does he’ll show Flair what he can do. Three segments, less than 10 minutes, and you’re already wanting to see the match. It’s so simple and yet so effective.
Another Magnum TA promo, and this time he gets interrupted by Ric Flair, who says that Magnum is in line for a shot and we’re waiting to find out of he’s ready to play major league ball. Flair tell Magnum to stick around for a while because Flair s going to show him how great he is.
The ending of Flair beating Sam Houston sees Flair not release the figure four and Magnum TA, who is doing commentary, runs in and breaks the hold and faces off with Flair. Flair backs off and Magnum follows him to the floor but Flair just walks away to the back.
Now it’s the aftermath to a Magnum TA squash, and he and Flair face off again. Flair tells Magnum he needs to dress up and even offers to have some clothes made for him but Magnum grabs Flair and tells him to back off. Magnum goes to the ring and calls Flair out again but once again Flair backs off. They wind up in the ring and Flair attacks Magnum as he enters the ring and beats him up a little before walking away. When David Crockett tells Flair he wouldn’t let him get into the ring Flair tells him to talk his mother.
Tony Schiavone interviews Ric Flair who again promotes himself in the only way he can. Flair says he’s put together a video of the four most memorable moments in his career. The first one his is win at Starrcade 83, the second is his title win over Kerry Von Erich, the third is his win over Dusty Rhodes at Starrcade 84, and the fourth is his attack on Magnum TA the week before. Flair says Magnum lacks class and to show there are no hard feelings he’s had his tailors make a suit for Magnum TA and tells Tony to give the suit to Magnum. Flair then goes to the ring for a squash match and, almost inevitably, Magnum TA comes to the broadcast position. Tony gives Magnum the suit from Flair and tells him what Flair said. After Flair wins the match, Magnum takes the suit into the ring and seems to appreciate it before tearing it apart as Flair looks on in silent anger. Flair goes to walk away before charging at Magnum only to get caught with the belly to belly suplex. Magnum walks off leaving Flair in the ring. When Flair finally gets out he rants at the broadcast position a little before leaving.
Another Flair promo, with Flair wondering if he might not grow old as World champion and have to just hand it to someone. Magnum TA comes out to confront Flair and tells him he doesn’t think Flair can beat him and bets $1,000 that Flair can’t beat him in 10 minutes. Flair accepts and the two go to the ring. The two have a pretty hot match that almost predictably goes the full 10 minutes. The post-match sees Ole and Arn Anderson, who came out to do commentary part way through the match, jump Magnum from behind and they and Flair beat Magnum up before Dick Slater and Buzz Sawyer hit the ring and run them off.
Next up is one of Jim Cornette’s first promo’s on TBS, and it sounds like it came after the debut Midnight Express on TBS. Cornette talks up the Midnights and their success as part of the Cornette family empire. Cornette is on fine form here, getting in a couple of good insults against Tony and the fans.
Another Jim Cornette promo now and this one was later on in the same show. Cornette starts off by insulting the studio fans once again. Cornette tells us that it hurt him to see the jobber the MX had beaten up staggering around hurt after the match so from now on he’s going to have someone at ringside to carry them to the back.
Next is the finish of Brett and Buzz Sawyer versus the Rock and Roll RPM’s, with Jim Cornette on commentary, and one of the Sawyer’s rolls up Tommy Lane for the win. The RPM’s and Sawyer’s fight after the match and the Sawyer’s get another pinfall over the RPM’s. Cornette goes to ringside and tells at the Sawyer’s and Buzz Sawyer tells Cornette to get out the MX. The Midnight’s come out and an impromptu match takes place. It doesn’t last long before The MX knock Bret Sawyer from the ring and leave Buzz Sawyer laid out in the ring.
The pace picks up now as we see Ric Flair confronting Ivan Koloff at the broadcast position during a Nikita Koloff match and the two trade heated words before Nikita attacks Flair from behind and throws him into the ring. Koloff tries to beat Flair up but Flair gets the upper hand until Ivan interferes. The advantage doesn’t last as Dusty Rhodes runs out to even things up. With his clothes torn up, Flair cuts a raving promo and tells Koloff that they’ll meet up again.
Jim Cornette cuts another promo and insults a number of people, including the Sawyer’s, Dusty Rhodes and the Rock and Roll Express, where Cornette makes it clear the Midnight Express are coming after the World tag titles.
Ric is out for a promo and he has words for Nikita Koloff, telling him that “we’ve only just begun”, Dusty Rhodes, telling him not to interfere in his business again and not to think the tension between them is over, and he also has words for Buddy Landell.
We get another promo from Ric Flair, this time hyping a steel cage match against Nikita Koloff in the Omni. In a neat touch, he does it ‘behind’ a graphic of a steel cage that covers the whole picture.
Jim Cornette is out again and, after insulting Tony Schiavone, telling him he looks like an unmade bed, Cornette insults freeloaders and bemoans having to pay taxes to subsidize them. After a break the interview continues, and Cornette again has words for the Rock and Roll Express, the Sawyer’s and Dusty Rhodes.
Jim Cornette is back for another promo, this time building up his feud with Jimmy Valiant and his Street People. Cornette also finds time to insult Rocky King and Big Momma.
A trifecta of Cornette as he’s out again for another promo, this time with insults aimed at Rock and Roll Express, Dusty and Magnum TA and Jimmy Valiant and Rocky King, bringing up that nobody has beaten the Midnight Express.
Once again it’s time for more Cornette as he interrupts Schiavone and Crockett. Cornette talks about all the steamy fan letters that the MX are receiving and Cornette tells the women sending them that he doesn’t allow the MX any extracurricular activity, so they’ll be disappointed.
Fifth Cornette promo in a row now, as Cornette once again insults Jimmy Valiant, his Street People, and Big Momma, building up their ongoing feud.
Make that the sixth promo from Cornette now, as he once again has words for Jimmy Valiant and Rocky King. You can tell it’s the 80s as Cornette calls King, who is black, Buckwheat, which I don’t see happening on television today.
A non-Cornette segment at last and it’s the first big angle of the set as we see the first half of the angle where the Andersons and Ric Flair broke Dusty Rhodes’ ankle in the cage. In this part, we see Dusty run-in and send the Russians, Krusher, Ivan and Nikita, packing and the clip ends with Flair apparently offering his hand up to Dusty. It then cuts to the studio where Jim Crockett is with Tony and Ric Flair and Crockett asks Flair to explain the tape they’ve just seen. Flair doesn’t really answer except to go off on not having any challengers so Crockett walks off. After a commercial Flair is still in studio and Tony is once again asking Flair about what happened in the cage. The perennial babyface announcer David Crockett chimes in and presses Flair to answer. Flair says he is the best but David responds by asking if Flair thinks Dusty is the best and if that is why he did what he did. Flair brings out Arn Anderson, who is the National champion, and Flair parades the belts they both have. They can cut to a taped interview conducted by David Crockett with Dusty’s doctor about the ankle injury. The doctor tells us Dusty suffered a third degree ankle sprain and he describes it as a very serious and injury.
Time for a Ric Flair promo and this time he’s talking about Tully Blanchard in less than flattering terms, so this is clearly before the formation of the Horseman. Flair also has a few word for Buddy Landell, who is in the ring, with his manager JJ Dillon, and he also talks about Magnum TA and Nikita Koloff. Flair finishes up by informing Landell that he’d lend him one of his robes but Landell would get lost in the arms.
Tony Schiavone interviews Dusty Rhodes, in a cast, at ringside. However, the interview doesn’t last long as Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard attack Rhodes, knocking him down and Arn actually steals Rhodes’ World Television title belt.
A Ric Flair promo is next and it’s an expanded version of David Crockett questioning Flair about what happened in the cage where Flair and the Anderson’s broke Dusty’s ankle.
Jim Cornette is out again and talks about Jimmy Valiant having a drug problem in that when he’s in with the MX he gets “drugged from one end of the ring to the other”. A few more insults get thrown the way of Valiant, Rocky King and Big Momma.
The next segment starts up in the middle of an MX squash with Jim Cornette on color commentary off and on. The squash is entertaining as all MX squashes are and Cornette is funny on commentary. After the match the MX keep beating up their opponents, one of whom is Rocky King, so this naturally brings in Jimmy Valiant. Valiant gets beat down before a mysterious lady enters the ring and decks Bobby Eaton, knocking him silly. A post-skirmish promo from Valiant sees him ask for the mysterious lady to get in contact with him.
A Jim Cornette promo is up and Cornette once again tears into Jimmy Valiant and the Street People. Cornette says he’s going to prosecute the mystery woman and he’s going to demand police protection from Jim Crockett Promotions because of the woman.
A change in direction now as we see an angle where Baby Doll offers Magnum TA her business card and he responds by forcing a kiss on her. With babyface announcer David Crockett screaming that Baby Doll likes it, Doll pulls away and TA grabs her tearing her top and then Tully Blanchard jumps TA from behind and the two have a short but very stiff brawl but the action cuts back to the studio before we see too much.
It’s back in the studio again for another Jim Cornette promo and, after bragging about being PWI manager of the year for 1985. talks about an incident between the MX and the R and R Express and we get tape of what went down, with the MX jumping the RnR’s after a squash match where the MX leave Morton laying. Cornette once again vows the MX will be the NWA world tag team champions.
Another Jim Cornette promo again and he complains about not being happy when he should be, after all he’s the manager of the year and the RnR’s have been laid out, because the RnR’s fans have been writing to him and complaining about what the MX did to Ricky Morton.
Ric Flair is out for a promo and he’s accompanied by the sounds of The Wanderer by Dion. Flair talks about a female fan in the parking lot asking him to come out in jeans like Magnum TA does and Flair says he might just do that one day. Flair then talks about, accompanied by the relevant clip, of an attack by Flair, Arn and Tully on Ron Garvin that gets interrupted by Dusty Rhodes and winds up with Garvin knocking Flair out with a punch. Flair gets aggravated by David Crockett and tells him that they have to show the tape simply to show that Flair is a normal human being on his worst day. Flair also tells the girls that if they see him driving along they should turn around, get in line, and the Nature Boy will make them into big girls.
Jim Cornette is in the studio now and he’s got a copy of the Cornette family history and he informs us that the Cornette’s have always been successes. Cornette then talks once again about what they’ve done to he RnR’s and tears into them too.
A squash match is next with Bobby Eaton facing Wee Willie Wilkens, who is as short as his name suggests. With Jim Cornette chiming in on commentary from time to time, David Crockett accuses him of having the singles match so Dennis Condrey can protect Cornette at ringside. The highlight of the match is Cornette yelling moves at Bobby for him to perform on Wilkens. Bobby ends the match with a kneedrop off the top and then he and Dennis beat Wilkens up a little more before the RnR’s hit the ring to run the MX off and, for some bizarre reason, Ricky Morton throws Wilkens out of the ring when you’d think, as a babyface, he’d help the guy up.
Ric Flair promo now and, strangely for Ric, he’s wearing jeans, which he says he’s doing because when you’re as good as he is you can once in a while go against the norm, which is the suits he usually wears. After the fashion shows, Flair has words for Ron Garvin and their imminent encounter and makes reference to Garvin becoming a US citizen and says that when he beats Garvin it means he’s beaten an American.
Another Jim Cornette promo is up and he once again talks about the RnR Express and we see tape of another incident between the two that sees the MX jump the RnR’s after a squash match and Cornette winds up lashing Ricky Morton across the back with his belt.
In preview of a special upcoming ‘dream match’, which will see the Rock and Roll Express defend the NWA world tag titles against the Midnight Express we see the Rock and Roll Express beating Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khrushchev for the belts in July of 1985.
The introductions of the match take place but the match itself is on disc 1-2 and that is where we will pick up later.
Yves Edwards vs. Joe Stevenson
A good first round, which I’d give to Edwards. He did a good job of fending off Stevenson for the most part, and he scored with a great looking high kick.
Stevenson totally dominated round two, but the real story was the bleeding from Edwards off the cuts to his head. The canvas was splattered with Yves blood, and was a sight to see.
Going into round three, I have it 19-18 to Stevenson.
The doctor stops the fight, though, and Stevenson gets the victory. No complaints with the stoppage, because that was a cut that just wouldn’t stop bleeding and it was going to impair Yves’ vision.
Frank Mir vs. Dan Christison
Christison did just enough to win a very boring round.
Mir was totally blown up and did very little. Neither did Christison, but he did get an armbar on Mir that came close, so I’d go with Christison again.
Not a very lively round, but Mir did more than enough to win it, but it won’t save the fight for him with me.
I gave it 29-28 to Christison. Mir won it 29-28 with all three judges, and it’s not a decision I really agree with.
Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz
This has the atmosphere of something special. Hopefully, we’ll see a special ass kicking from Ortiz.
Ortiz wins by ref stoppage in 1:18. I’m not a fan of Ken, but that stoppage was way too premature. A terrible decision by Herb Dean, and I’d be chanting “bullshit” too.
Dana White calls out Wanderlei Silva and then Chuck Liddell and announces that, if Liddell gets past Sobral, which is likely, it will be Silva vs. Liddell in November. Holy shit, I am there.
Josh Neer vs. Josh Burkman
There were some good exchanges in what was a very even round.
Burkman did enough, including a great takedown, to win the round. It goes into round three 20-19 for Burkman.
Third round was even, but Burkman, I think, did enough to win the round and the fight.
I have it 30-28 for Burkman. Burkman wins it by unanimous decision.
Andrei Arlovsky vs. Tim Sylvia
The first round was mostly action, with Arlovsky doing more than enough to win the round for me.
There was a lot of back and forth action in round two, but I don’t think either man did enough to win it.
The third round was dangerously close to being without any merit. Sylvia did get decent punches in, but they didn’t win him the round in my eyes, though. It’s 30-29 for Arlovsky so for in my book.
Round four = snooze. No winner. 40-39 so far on my card.
More of the same in round five.
I have Arlovsky winning 50-48, but I’d hardly call him a winner based on his performance. The judges have it 48-47, 49-46 and 48-47 for Sylvia. This fight was beyond boring as shit. Round-by-round, I had Arlovsky winning, but if I were to judge the fight based on overall performance, I’d call it a draw. Neither man did anything to warrant being called the UFC Heavyweight Champion, and the heavyweight division needs a lot of rehab to overcome this debacle.
Overall Outside of the terrible call in the Ortiz vs. Shamrock fight, the announcement of a possible Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell fight in November, and Yves Edwards bleeding like crazy, there was absolutely nothing of note on this PPV, and it had the least merit of any UFC PPV for a long time.
I’ve seen clips of the PPV which is all I care to see of it. The Foley/Flair angle looked well execute and as heated as anything WWE have done in a while that didn’t involve John Cena. Flair bled like crazy, which, to be blunt, is about the only thing he can do and not look like the 57-year-old that he is. RVD’s WWE Title match against Edge, apart from being criminally placed in the middle of the card, looked pretty good, and from Jim Ross’s comments after the pin, it seems like Van Dam’s win was booked purely to surprise people because it was felt the original plan was too well known. I ignored the DX vs. Spirit Squad main event, because I have less than zero interest in anything DX-related. It also didn’t help that DX have humiliated and embarrassed the Squad, and Vince McMahon, for three weeks in a row, so quite why they expect people to pay for what they’ve already seen for free I don’t know. The highlight for me was Fake Kane pinning Real Kane clean in the middle of the ring. Why? Well, it’s because of…
Fake Kane storyline gets dropped
Less than 24-hours after Fake Kane beat Real Kane, clean, the entire character and storyline was dropped, due to the complete apathy the Vengeance crowd had for their match the night before. I can’t remember if this has happened before, where a wrestler was put over a big name clean and then promptly got dropped and the whole angle scrapped. What makes it funny is that the deal got dropped because the crowd didn’t care about it. The crowd has crapped on a lot of angles and storylines before but the usual Vince McMahon MO is to push back even harder and force the angle or storyline down peoples throats. My guess on why things happened differently this time is that Vince wasn’t happy with the first angle to begin with, and probably from the get go he was looking for some reason to end it. With the crowd at Vengeance sitting on their hands for the Fake Kane vs. Real Kane match, that gave Vince the out he was looking for, and the whole mess, which was meant to stretch until Wrestlemania, was dropped.
This week, it was revealed that Vince McMahon is going to turn ECW into a complete WWE-style third brand and anything even remotely resembling the original ECW is going to slowly dropped. It seems Vince was upset with how the current ECW is faring and has decided against doing something different with it and instead ECW is going to be more of the same. While it’s not a surprise that Vince is turning ECW into the WWE ‘C’ show, it is a little baffling that this is happening; 4-hours a week of WWE-style programming isn’t exactly setting the world on fire as it is, so quite why another hour of the exact same product is expected to fare any differently, I don’t know. The best thing to have done with ECW, which meant it had zero chance of being done, is to have made it into a ROH/TNA-style product, with the emphasis on the wrestling, with angles and storylines as the garnish to the main course of in-ring action. From a business standpoint, it makes more sense to offer two different styles of product, because then you can draw in the Sports Entertain fans with Raw and Smackdown and you can bring in the wrestling fans with ECW. That way, you’re getting more pieces of an already small pie and you can make more money. With ECW being made into another WWE-style brand, it’s going to attract the same viewers who would have been attracted by Raw or Smackdown, and there’s only so many of those viewers around right now. Instead of gaining new viewers, WWE may either split the viewers they have into three groups, or simply burn them out altogether to where they stop tuning it completely.
Kenta Kobashi has cancer
My thoughts are with Kobashi right now. Kobashi has long been one of my all-time favorite wrestlers and I’m really hoping he pulls through. My first thought on finding out about his condition was what happened with Shinya Hashimoto, who was another favorite of mine. We can only hope that Kobashi’s story has a happier ending.
The first show of the new ECW era was one of the most terrible, mind-numbingly awful one-hours of television in modern wrestling history. Looking like something excreted by Vince Russo after he overdosed on LSD and caffeine pills, the first television show of the ‘new’ ECW could only have been put together by someone with absolutely no real clue or concept about what made ECW. It was filled with the kind of craptacular gimmickry that was the hallmark of Vince Russo, along with the kind of nonsensical booking that is fast becoming, if it hasn’t already, the hallmark of Vince McMahon.
Within ten minutes of ECW restarting, their two faces, Paul Heyman and Rob Van Dam, had been outsmarted and reduced to second tier status in favor of the WWE top guns John Cena and Edge. Edge and John Cena almost effortlessly outsmarted and beat up Heyman and Van Dam, before casually walking off without a care in the world, while the rest of the ECW locker room sat in the back with their collective thumbs up their collective asses. In the next segment, which literally reeked of WWE, we had Heyman rallying the troops and declaring that if WWE wanted to bring it to ECW then ECW would bring it to WWE this Monday on Raw. The first plug for a television program on the new ECW and it’s for a WWE show. How about doing something to plug for the next ECW show first?
The first match featured what could go down as one of the worst gimmicks of the modern era but, fingers crossed, will only go down as a one-night aberration the likes of which harkened back to the dark days of WCW, as The Zombie came shuffling out, complete with powered face and B-movie make-up. When The Zombie started grunting, literally, into the mic, I was immediately reminded of an Ultimate Warrior promo. Thankfully, it didn’t last long as The Sandman, along with his generic sounding uninspiring music, came out and caned The Zombie into the ground and quickly pinned him. That right there was the first ever match of the ‘new’ ECW era, and I don’t think I could come up with a worse way to debut the new ECW.
One of the worst booking disasters was having Paul Heyman announce that, due to what Cena and Edge had done to Van Dam, he was scrapping what he had planned for the rest of the show and was instead going to have a battle royal, under extreme rules, with the winner going on to face John Cena at Vengeance, and also coming with the rest of the ECW crew to Raw on Monday. The major problem I had with this was Heyman shouldn’t be coming on and telling people that whatever he had planned was scrapped because of what WWE did to them. It makes Heyman and ECW look like pussies for caving in to the attack from WWE and abandoning whatever plans he had made to make the first ECW show memorable for the fans. Shouldn’t the ECW fans be dictating what happens on ECW television? Heyman should have come out and said to hell with WWE, we’re doing what ECW does best, an extreme battle royal, and I’m now going to put the winner of that battle royal into a match with Cena at Vengeance. That way, you still wind up with a match set for Vengeance, but it puts ECW over stronger because they’re not seen to give in to WWE and are also the ones forcing Cena into a match. The way it was played out made it appear as if ECW were doing something they didn’t really want and they came across all the weaker for it.
I don’t know what the point of Kelly was. A big-titted bleach blonde bimbo teases going naked and then does one of the least-sexiest dances I’ve ever seen and doesn’t even show her ass or full breast, after two big teases that she would. I know nudity wasn’t going to happen, and the people at home probably knew that the nudity was never going to happen, but why on earth do you tease something like that that you aren’t going to deliver? Sure, it might peak the ratings for one segment, but it sure will leave a bad taste in people’s mouths.
And what was the deal with that vampire-like clown half-way through the show?
Heading into the debut of the ‘new’ ECW, some people were holding up hope that it would at least show that WWE Creative were capable of trying something new, and that there might be a light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. Instead, we got all that worst elements of WWE, WCW and ECW rolled up into one giant piece of shit.
Kane vs. Kane II: This sounded interesting enough that I made the time to watch a clip of it. It was well executed, in that it played out exactly like Kane’s debut; Kane was on the verge of victory when Kane II came out, and Kane looked at Kane II not knowing what was going on. The one thing I take issue with is that the scenario as it played out made Shelton Benjamin and the IC title come off as secondary. Shelton pulled a David Copperfield when the angle started, vanishing from sight and was never seen again. If they were going to have Kane II debut in the same manner as the original, they could have at least had Benjamin drape an arm over Kane to get a win. That way, Kane II would, not only have attacked Kane and laid him out, but would also have cost him the IC Title. It would have given them more an issue to fight over, and would have done something to make the IC Title more important, because Kane would have, theoretically, been angered over being cheated out of the belt.
Kurt Angle joins ECW: Kurt Angle was vociferously anti-ECW last year, and got choked out by Tazz, so why would he join ECW and not seem to care? Would it not have made sense for him to attack Heyman on Raw or do something to show how unhappy he was with being drafted to ECW? For all intents and purposes he seemed quite fine with being drafted and was more than happy to attack Mick Foley, a staunchly pro-WWE person, someone who Kurt should have sided with? I’m guessing, or more accurately hoping, that this gets explained in some fashion, but I won’t hold my breath.
Sabu vs. Rey Mysterio for the World Heavyweight title at One Night Stand: It doesn’t make sense on the surface for Sabu to get a World title shot at One Night Stand. After all, from a storyline standpoint he’s done nothing to earn a title match, and Sabu isn’t winning the belt which means he’s very likely losing, and given that Sabu is meant to help ECW draw on the road beating him clean, one assumes, on his first match back as part of the reformed ECW seems totally illogical. However, from an ECW standpoint, it makes sense. It will be the first ever match between a guy who helped make ECW what it was and is an ECW legend, and a revolutionary high flyer who ECW fans loved and took to their hearts. For ECW fans it won’t be the result that matters, as long as Sabu looks competitive against Rey before getting beaten. What matters to them is that they are getting to see a historic match and as long as the match isn’t terrible, I think ECW fans will be happy enough with seeing history being made, rather than unhappy with Sabu losing.
ECW’s summer tour schedule: WWE announced a 28-date ECW for the summer, from June 20th to August 15th. In the fifteen days from July 15th to July 30th, there will be ten dates, with two runs of four dates in a row. As anybody who worked the ECW style can tell you, working that style more than twice a week takes its toll, not only on the body but on the quality of work. If this ECW is, from a style and presentation standpoint, going to anything close to how the original ECW was, then the guys on the roster are going to hurting a hell of a lot when the summer tour ends. ECW was more than just crazy brawling and weapon shots mixed in with insane spots. It was also a work ethic that made the wrestlers give everything they had for the fans, night in and night out, and, for better or for worse, that isn’t something a wrestler can do for four nights a week and expect to have prolonged career. And that’s just for the ‘safe’ WWE style. Imagine what’s going to happen if the new ECW style is even half as punishing as the old ECW style, and you’ve got wrestlers working that style four nights a week, combined with the oft-forgotten work ethic that prevailed in ECW? We could see a lot of battered and broken people come August 15th, and if you think the Smackdown roster was decimated in recent weeks, you might have only seen the beginning.
Smackdown’s depleted roster: Smackdown has had the heart of its roster taken out in the last two weeks. They’ve lost Kurt Angle, JBL and Chris Benoit, with Angle having been drafted to ECW and JBL and Benoit out with injuries, and neither man coming back any time soon. Without those three, the top pushed talent on Smackdown is Rey Mysterio, Mark Henry, and The Great Khali. Mysterio has been so badly booked the last three months that his value is nowhere near what it could or should be. Henry, despite what the bandwagon fans think, is below average at best. And despite the awe some people have for Khali, he is not someone you can build around or really push in the main event scene; he’s just far too terrible and limited in the ring. What can Smackdown do? Well, Batista is coming back in about six weeks, which is good for Smackdown, but carries a lot of risk. Batista is coming back around two to three months sooner than his doctors advised him to just after his surgery, which, combined with his fragility, means that building around him, which seems a forgone conclusions, is an incredibly risky thing to do. When it comes to elevating people, the most likely candidate seems to be Mr Kennedy, who is a favorite of Vince’s. Kennedy is good enough in the ring that he could be carried to something decent, has a great presence and is very good on the mic, which are two factors that WWE favor over ring skills, so he has a great shot at getting pushed enough to the point that, eventually, he’ll catch on as being credible in the main event scene. Apart from Batista and Kennedy, and Batista won’t be returning for over a month, who else is there for them to elevated on Smackdown? Booker T? He’s a good hand, and makes for fine midcard comedy, but he doesn’t have the talent or credibility to play any more than a passing role in the main event.
Matt Hughes destroys Royce Gracie: I gave Gracie far too much credit when I thought he’d last at least a round or two with Hughes. Matt just took Gracie apart and it was clear from watching the PPV, and the reaction on various MMA boards and sites, that a lot of people were genuinely shocked and stunned that Hughes, not only beat Gracie, but did so in such a decisive and dominating manner. As much of a legend as Gracie is, it was clear before he even stepped into the octagon last Saturday that time has passed him by and he is no longer this great fighter who can beat just about anyone. Times change and standards improve, and Gracie, while a great fighter for his time, just doesn’t have the all-round skills to hang with top fighters like Matt Hughes. Gracie is great at Gracie Ju-Jitsu, but just being great at one discipline, even Gracie Ju-Jitsu, isn’t going to cut it today, and Royce showed that his time has long since gone.
Can someone give me any reason to believe that this angle has any potential upside?
Kevin Nash is one of the most selfish, lazy and unproductive individuals that wrestling has ever seen, and that covers a lot of ground. Everyone knows how arrogant and self-centered he is, and yet TNA, for some reason that defies all logic, is using Nash in angle that essentially buries the X-Division. How does that make any kind of sense?
“Ah, but it’s going to end with Nash putting Chris Sabin over?”
Has nobody seen Nash’s idea of ‘putting someone over’? If you want to see a prime example of how Nash ‘puts someone over’, go and watch a tape of Rey Mysterio pinning him on Nitro a few years ago. Did that help Rey at all? Did it get Rey any more over than he was before? No, it didn’t. It buried him even further and he wound up getting pinned by Nash clean anyway just a few weeks later, so if Rey got anything out of that it was all for nothing anyway.
How is this angle getting over the X-Division, when it seems to involve Nash coming out every week and burying the X-Division? While the weaknesses he points out do have a grain of truth to them, the absolute last thing you ever do to a division that is the cornerstone of your promotion, or at least meant to be, is have a guy portrayed as a superstar, and a heel at that, bring them up and talk about them at length. For one thing, it’s beyond stupid to bring up and highlight the flaws of any of the wrestlers that are meant to be a major part of your company, and it’s also stupid for a heel to say anything that the fans, deep down, know are true. Heels are meant to lie. They aren’t meant to say things that the crowd, however reluctantly they might want to, have to admit are true. But that’s just typical Nash; playing the cool heel, saying all the hel things but doing it with a wink and a nod and getting the people to cheer him. Heels are not meant to do that sort of thing, and Nash is supposed to be a heel.
And let’s even assume that, by some freak occurrence, Nash really does put Sabin over. So what? All he did was a beat someone who openly and proudly admits to being mediocre and past it. How is beating someone like that meant to do anything for Sabin or anyone else? And even if Nash could somehow still go, what does beating him really do to get someone over to any degree, especially after the burial his division has suffered leading up to the ‘big’ moment? Beating Nash doesn’t do anything for anyone, and this angle is just so insufferably stupid and inane that I can’t believe that TNA are going through with it, as they have enough people on staff who watched this same bullshit happen in WCW to know what the end result will be, and I can’t believe that there are actually people out there who think this angle is a good angle to run.
Booker T and Batista: It's a work, pure and simple. It's a nice attempt at trying to make a worked angle seem legit, but it's a complete work. That said, at least the resulting matches should be good.
Rey's treatment as World Champion: This has been beyond horrible. Since just after the Rumble, they've booked Rey just about as bad as you could possibly book him, especially as World Champion. He was mistreated before winning the belt, being beaten just the week before he won the World title, and since then Rey has, outside of the match with Randy Orton, been treated as an absolute joke. His size, which can either work for him or against him, has been handled in such a terrible manner as to make it an albatross around his neck rather than something positive, which it could be. Worst of all, he's been beaten clean two weeks in a row, by Mark Henry and Khali, and it's not even to set up a future title match; Rey's next PPV match is against JBL, and he's set to lose the belt there. There is no way to credibly rationlize or justify this treatment of Rey, but it is, sadly, no real surprise when you consider the size-obsession of those in charge of the decision making process in WWE.
The 'return' of ECW: With this being a pet project of Vince McMahon, this has every possible chance of succeeding, because Vince is going to put all of his muscle behind this. That said, there are still a number of pitfalls for this project to overcome. First of, while Vince is apparently gung-ho on making this work, the biggest chance of this succeeding is also the biggest chance it has of failing, and that's Vince. For this to work, and I mean really work, Vince has to think differently to how he usually does, but with the same drive. He can't use a WWE mentality to make an ECW (even if it's really WWE) project work. For this to work it has to be different to WWE in as many ways as possible, or it'll just be a third WWE brand, and we don't need another one of those.
The return of DX: This will be a short-term success, but it has no legs if it's the same DX from 1997-1999. That DX, as hot as it was, was part of another era, and to try and recreate that success today just isn't going to work. Shawn and Hunter reuniting will get a huge pop, but for this to have any kind of lifespan, it cannot be the same DX it used to be. For one thing, Shawn and Hunter are now nine years older and, lilke it or not, fans just are not going to be buy people of their age, almost 41 and 37 respectively, playing at being young punks. They could, just about, get away with it during the original run of DX, but it simply won't work now. I'm not even sure Shawn and Hunter can pull of being punks, at least in the vein that the DX name will warrant, but for it to work they need to make this version of DX a new variation on an old formula, but if it's the same DX as from 1997, then it will be a bomb.
Jim Cornette in TNA: This could have been a good thing for TNA, but it won't be, simply because for TNA to really hit it big the kinds of changes needed, especially taking Jeff Jarrett out of the main event scene, just are not going to happen. Whatever positives could come from Cornette being part of TNA are going to be more than offset by the simple fact that until TNA makes fundamental changes; Jeff Jarrett out of the main event scene, a proper structure to the X-Division, more believable/realistic angles,etc, then nobody who gets brought in is going to have any kind of long-term positive effect. TNA needs to change from within before it can anything other than a distant, and cold, #2.
Matt Hughes versus Royce Gracie: I think time has passed Royce by, and unless something very strange happens, then Hughes is going to win, and I would not be surprised if he mananges to get Gracie to tap out. Hughes in the 4th round by stoppage.
TUF 3: Ken Shamrock is either a bad coach or he's been edited to look like one. Add to that the fact that Tito is so much better at coaching, and Ken comes across as a behind-the-times old guy who seems unable or unwilling to modernize his approach to teaching the fight game.
Interesting to see that Vince's match gets the first video package of the opening.
Carlito vs. Masters was better than a lot of people probably thought it would be. Masters messing up a two-count appeared to be down to him thinking it was the finish, as Carlito's cover for the actual pin was the same, but for the finish he used the ropes, and it looked like Masters got confused.
Umaga vs. Flair was a virtual squash match. Funny line from Ross asking how often Flair has been beaten this decisively. If the idea is for Flair to headline Vengeance, he needs a lot of rebuilding, because novelty stuff doesn't draw well if it lacks any kind of value in the first place, and Flair losing like this can only damage whatever novelty value his 'last run' at the WWE title has.
James vs. Stratus was short and nowhere as good as their match last month. The finish was strange, but it probably had a purpose.
Shelton vs. RVD was very good and I'd like to see a PPV rematch down the line. With RVD getting the IC Title, I can see him winning the WWE Title at One Night Stand, something being done to take the WWE Title away, but then RVD keeping the IC Title and somehow that becomes part of the ECW Title.
Kane vs. Big Show wasn't very good, and the angle with the lights and the voice was terrible. This is a storyline, due to the movie tie-in, that is meant to draw money, but angles where you cannot suspend your disbelief, even in the slightest, never draw. And this was an angle that you couldn't even begin to lose yourself in. Just terrible overall.
Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels and 'GOD'. The pre-match was terrible comedy that only someone living in their own little world could come up with and think would mean anything. Making the match No Holds Barred was a great way to steal heat from the main event, the match that IS meant to draw, because it allowed this match to do crazy shit to make the crazy shit in the main event less special. Then again, this company is now solely the vehicle for the ego of two people, one of whom owns it, and the other person being someone who will own it. The match itself, when not hampered by the terrible 'God' comedy, was decent garbage fare until the nonsensical ending, and, unfortunately, it looks like this crap has still got a way to go before it ends.
The main event was a classic example of the guy getting put over the most not the guy winning the match. Cena may have won the match but it was, as usual, Hunter getting put over strong, both with the blade job and by leaving everyone, including the referee, laying. As is standard for Cena matches, the reactions were mixed and very strong, and the idea that some people have that Cena is only getting 'X-Pac heat' was proven to be laughable.
Overall, Backlash was a decent PPV, but not worth the $34.95 that some would have paid for it, and with how the main event got devalued as the event drew closer, I don't see Backlash getting anywhere near the buy rate that you know WWE will expect it to get.
The tag match was ok, though it wasn’t anything special and I’m guessing that Carlito and Show didn’t get the belts because Carlito and Masters are set to split up soon and they’d rather have a team that is sticking together be the ones to get the belts. Not that it matters, because whoever do get the belts will be getting squashed within a month by a useless relative of someone in power.
MITB was pretty good but not as good as the MITB from last year. Shelton Benjamin was the star of the match, like last year, and did some great spots. The crowd was hot for RVD and they popped big for his win.
The Batista-Orton deal seems to foreshadow what, at least for this week, is the preferred main event for Smackdown at Wrestlemania 23.
Benoit and JBL was not the PPV quality match that they had been reportedly having at house shows, but they didn’t get a lot of time. It was decent, but that’s about the best you can call it.
Edge and Mick Foley had my MOTN with a great hardcore match. Lots of great spots and the finish will be in the WM highlight reel for years to come. It was far better than Foley’s match with Orton a couple of years ago because there was a lot more done.
The backstage deal with Booker T, Sharmell and the freaks was funny at first but it ended up feeling like a bad SNL skit. Ted DiBiase looked a lot like Jimmy James from Newsradio.
Skimmed most of Booker and Boogey Man, but I don’t think I missed a lot.
The women’s match was surprisingly good until the finish got blown beyond all hope. The real story was the crowd turning on Trish huge and Mickie becoming, for at least one night, a super over babyface.
Vince looked like a walking cartoon character.
The casket match appeared to be better than it had any right to be, and Mark Henry looked ok. Not good, but ok. Undertaker was feeling it, especially after his big running dive.
Vince and Shawn had a capable affair, but it certainly wasn’t as good as Vince and Hogan from 2003 and I don’t think it got as much heat as it should have done for such a strongly pushed program. They covered up as best they could for Vince’s weaknesses and the big finish capped things off nicely.
The SD main event had some “WTF?” booking with Angle getting a visionary tap out on Rey, which keeps Angle strong but kills Rey, especially after he tapped out rapidly on Smackdown last week. Angle looked tiny and his physical transformation over the last year or so is very sad but not unexpected.
The time of the match was totally unforgivable. Would it really have killed Vince and Hunter to shave 5 minutes off of their respective matches and give these three the time to have the great match that they seemed more than capable of delivering? The finish got a good pop which was a surprise considering that the crowd booed whenever Rey or Orton were on offense.
I skipped the Playboy match or whatever that nonsense was called.
Hunter and Cena had a far better match than I think anyone was expecting. With a minimal amount of gimmickry, Hunter and Cena had a really good match, excellent for Cena, and it had an incredible atmosphere with the pro/anti-Cena fans never staying quiet for long if at all. The finish was initially a surprise but it wasn’t much of when you stop and think about the turmoil and second guessing going into the WM weekend when it came to the top matches and their finishes. I’ll give Hunter credit for doing what I don’t think anyone predicted and tapping out clean. I know people want and can’t wait for Cena to turn heel, but Dan Wahlers made an excellent point in his latest column when he pointed out that a lot of the backlash against Cena is because it’s a rebellion thing and the fans are bucking against the system. Once booing Cena is the ‘correct’ reaction it’s not being cool or rebellious to boo Cena then it is likely that the reactions to him will stop being so loud and compelling. The best thing to do right now is to keep him babyface because it’s the ideal way to maintain the huge reactions he gets and to keep people wanting to pay to see Cena, whether it’s to boo him or cheer him.
Wrestlemania 22 was better than 21 because, while the peaks might not have been as high as last year, the valleys weren’t as deep, and the whole show was more solid. I don’t think it was worth $50, but it was a better PPV than most people thought it would be.
How many buys do you think WM will get, both domestically and internationally?
For comparison's sake, last year's did around 1,000,000 buys total, but only about 650,000 buys, which is very low for WM, were domestic. Do you think international buys can carry the WM brand again, or will the international scene be just as low as the domestic level?
With Vince McMahon’s obsession over Montreal, do you think that even if Bret was somehow convinced to do an angle to put a storyline closure to it, that we’d see an end to the obsession? Would Bret getting involved and Vince getting, in his mind, the absolution he’s been after for so long, finally put an end to Vince bringing Montreal up every year?
Watched most of the PPV the last couple of days, and it wasn’t ECW’s best effort.
Mikey Whipwreck vs. Justin Credible was poor, and while they tried hard, it wasn’t enough to make the match anything other than sub-par. You had the usual run-in interference that plagued a lot of ECW matches, unnecessarily most of the time, with Jason hitting the ring and the referee just going along with it, which was an ongoing theme of the whole night.
Taz vs. Pitbull #2 was a squash to write out the Pitbulls as major players due to legal trouble they had gotten into earlier that year. They’d run their course as well and weren’t of any real value anyway, so it was no great loss. They were put with Lance Wright, he of Hype Central ‘fame’, with Lance doing a gimmick where he’d been sent to ECW at the command of Vince McMahon, and to this end, after the match, Brakkus showed up to face off with Taz, and the result saw Taz choke out a security guy who was keeping them apart. Paul Heyman was on color for this match, and screamed for the production guys to play anything they had at hand when the guard got choked out, trying to treat the incident as a shoot.
Tommy Dreamer vs. Rob Van Dam was a reasonably entertaining highspot match with both guys working hard and bumping hard. You had the interference as usual, but at least it made some sort of storyline sense, with run-ins from Sabu, Dan Kroffat and Doug Furnas, playing on the WWF vs. ECW theme, as well as the surprise return of Stevie Richards, who superkicked Dreamer. The match ended apparently in a no-contest, and with Van Dam, Kroffat and Furnas and Richards parading around a WWF banner. This saw Sandman show up and his match with Sabu followed.
Sandman and Sabu was a Tables and Ladders match, and has gained almost cult like status for being incredibly bad with an almost non-stop procession of botched spots. I can tell you right now that the match is nowhere near as bad as people have claimed over the years. I remember Dave Meltzer gave it -*** which I thought was grossly unfair back then and I think is just as unfair now. Don’t get me wrong, the match isn’t that good, and there are some badly blown spots, but it’s still above, just, the DUD zone, and far from the worst brawl you’ll see. It’s not the best brawl you’ll see either, but there are plenty worse out there. The match does go on a little too long, and would have done even had everything gone to plan, and the finish saw Sabu use a ladder for an Arabian press to get the pin.
The main event was Shane Douglas vs. Bam Bam Bigelow in a low rent version of Ric Flair vs. Vader from Starrcade ’93. The booking going into this match was all over the place. Douglas and Bigelow were top heels in the Triple Threat stable and the storyline at the time had Rick Rude, who was aligned with the Triple Threat, brining in outside names for Douglas to defend the ECW World title against, because Douglas wanted Rude to find the best international talent for Douglas to test his skills against. At a TV taping in New York, Rude reveals that Douglas’s opponent is Bigelow, turning both Bigelow and Rude instant babyface, and Bigelow pins Douglas for the ECW World title. However, with N2R taking place in Pittsburgh, which is the home state of Douglas, the big storyline of the PPV sees Douglas, a top heel, having to be a one night top babyface to play the hometown hero, while Bigelow, now a top babyface, having to be a one night top heel.
The match itself wasn’t very good and Bigelow, who was pretty good in Japan, looked terrible here. Bigelow, playing the Vader role, controlled most of the match and it was painful to watch because he didn’t do much for the first 10 minutes other than punch, kick or headbutt Douglas around. Things sort of picked up as the match wore on, and there were some decent spots somewhere in all the mess, but the match wasn’t even a house show quality main event let alone a PPV quality main event, and if Douglas or Bigelow were looking to show they were better, or even as good as, Flair and Vader, then to say they failed miserably would be an understatement. Had N2R been somewhere else and they just wrestled a normal match, with no hometown hero storyline, then it might have been decent. Instead, we got a 25 minute match that felt like 45 minutes and just never went anywhere.
“Mark”, “smark”, and “smart” are three of the most prevalent labels given to groups of fans that gather online to talk about wrestling. We’ve seen them for years, we’ve all used them at one time or another and I hate all of them and every label like them.
To me, the only label a wrestling fan should be given is “fan”. There’s no such thing as a “mark”, “smark”, or “smart” fan. There is either a good fan or bad fan. A good fan either knows what he’s talking about, or admits to not knowing much about the subject at hand and accepting that there are people who know about some things better then he does. A bad fan doesn’t know what he’s talking about and cannot or will not admit to this and refuses to accept that their knowledge of the subject at hand is limited. A good fan will be open to different points of view and will listen to disparate opinions and respond with a well thought out and reasoned response that intelligently puts across their point of view and, hopefully, intelligent discussion is the result. A bad fan will get very angry and irritated at having their faults pointed out. They’ll get defensive, will probably start insulting people, and drag the discussion down in a vain attempt to maintain the illusion, if only in their own mind, that they really do know what they’re talking about.
You can keep making comparisons between good fans and bad fans, and the differences between the two should be obvious, but there is a better reason to stop labeling people as a “mark”, “smark”, or “smart” fan than the fact that any such label is inaccurate. The moment you label a person or a group of people with a tag like “mark”, it instantly becomes easier to dismiss their opinion or point of view out of hand because you’ve distanced yourself from the fact that the person with that opinion is a person with a mind and could have the intelligence to bring a reasonable point of view and instead have grouped them in with a segment of people that, to you, don’t have an opinion that matters as much as other people, and that’s a dangerous thing to do when you want an intelligent discussion. Dismiss people for being bad fans if you want, because bad fans are just that, bad. But don’t dismiss someone because you think they’re a “mark”, “smark”, or “smart”. You never know what you could be missing out on.
Despite what some people have said, it was monumentally stupid and idiotic, if expected, for Hunter to bury Cena on Raw. You NEVER highlight the legitimate weaknesses of a babyface, especially your top babyface. A heel should never say something that the people can agree with. Hunter did just that, in spades, on Monday, and in one fell swoop cut the legs off of John Cena before their Wrestlemania main event. Yes, this segment, where the heel exposed the weaknesses of the babyface, was meant to draw buys for Wrestlemania. Quite how making your main babyface look like shit is meant to draw, I don’t know, but I don’t think that matters with Hunter. Maintaining his death grip as the top star of the whole company as always taken precedence over building stars for the future. And no, Batista doesn’t count, because he is zero threat to Hunter’s spot. The chances of Hunter doing what he did for Batista with Cena or anyone who could be long-term star are nonexistent.
The new WWE Talent Wellness Program is a step in the right direction, but it’s ultimately just pissing in the wind as long as the real problems, such as the hard road schedule and Vince wanting the kind of look out of his top guys that can only come out of a syringe or bottle of pills, are ignored and brushed under the carpet. Until those issues are tackled, the program, for all its good meaning, won’t do any real good in the long-term.
The Spirit Squad is a half-decent opening match comedy gimmick, but it should not include guys like Johnny Jeter or Ken Doane, who actually have the ability to be solid and possible top line members of the roster. The Spirit Squad gimmick is a modernized version of The Red Rooster, in that if it has any length of time, whoever gets saddled with it can never be taken seriously again, no matter how talented he is. Terry Taylor was still a good worker post-Red Rooster, but the gimmick killed his career because was never taken seriously again.
The Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club segment to end Raw was just stupid, pathetic and was yet another example of Vince booking Raw for ego and kicks. Nobody gives a flying fuck about Vince’s ass, his talentless son (it doesn’t take talent to fall onto airbags), or this stupid angle that should have stayed dead. Instead of something that might have helped build real interest, we’re going to be stuck with Shane doing his stupid routine of shitty dancing, over-contrived bumps, and no-selling. And he’s going to be facing a guy who already has that covered. Yes, Shane is wrestling Shawn Michaels at the first return broadcast of Saturday Nights Main Event. The only highlight of this train wreck will be who can do the most nonsensical bumps and who can sell the least. Shawn’s performance here is likely to be similar to his show, and I emphasize the word show, against Hulk Hogan at Summerslam, just turned down a notch or two. Vince might have been fine with Shawn’s business exposing antics against Hogan, but he’ll not stand for that against Shane.
Already part of another entry, I thought this match deserved its own thread:
Hulk Hogan v The Warrior – Halloween Havoc 1998
Billed as an ultra important rematch that the people have been waiting 8 years for, this is actually an exercise in ego placating that has been 8 years in the making. Warrior beat Hogan at Wrestlemania VI back in 1990, and this is Hogan’s chance to get his win back, and all it cost for this ego trip was about $3m, which is what WCW paid Warrior for this match, and maybe a couple of others, before letting him sit at home for the remainder of his deal due to Warrior being totally useless.
This match was straight out of the 80’s, with slow and plodding brawling, if what these two did can even be called brawling. Indeed, the blows that these two men exchanged were so weak, that you’re left wondering why they bothered to sell any of them, when they had all the force of a tortoise’s fart. In the midst of all the sloppy brawling, they squeezed in a few notable spots from their Wrestlemania match, the three main ones being:
1: Nick Patrick getting bumped by Hogan off a criss-cross spot, but in a very comical manner, due to Hogan barely even touching Patrick, and Patrick throwing himself almost halfway across the ring.
2: After more bad brawling, and the N W O B Team of Giant, Stevie Ray and Vincent running in to play pinball for Warrior’s bad punches, Warrior covered Hogan, even though he could clearly see the referee was still down. This allowed Warrior to check on the referee and, and stop me if you’ve seen this before, allow Hogan to sneak up from behind and hit a belly-to-back suplex.
3: Warrior hitting two double ax handles off the top rope, which Warrior was kind enough to warn Hogan about beforehand, as Warrior was heard telling Hogan, “I’m coming off the ropes.”
Somewhere in all this mess, Hogan’s weightlifting belt came into play, with both men using it, and Warrior using it as a makeshift knuckleduster, and getting a little juice from Hogan.
This led up to that spot, where Hogan tried to throw a fireball at Warrior, but totally botched it up in such a laughable fashion that the crowd groaned badly, and it was around this point, or maybe even beforehand, that pretty much all the heat vanished from the arena. Not that the crowd were molten for this abomination to begin with, but what heat this match had had evaporated into nothingness by now.
Remember at the beginning how I said the match was straight out of the 80’s ? Well, so was the finish. Eric Bischoff hit ringside, and jumped up onto the apron and grabbed the referee in a side headlock, which allowed Horace Hogan, who Hulk had beaten down on the previous Nitro, to hit the ring and turn heel by giving Warrior a very gentle chair shot to the back, which Warrior sold like he’d been hit with a shotgun at close range. Hogan made the cover, hooked the tights, and Eric let go of the referee who counted the pinfall, giving Hogan his win, his ego boost, and ending this absolute disaster of a ‘match’.
The Horace Hogan turn on Warrior, when he had just got beaten up Hogan and the B Team the week before, was explained the next night on Nitro as tough love or some other such nonsense.
So, what did Eric Bischoff and WCW get out of paying Warrior $3m so Hogan could get his win back ?
They got the single worst match in WCW/NWA PPV history, and the worst match to ever take place during the WCW v WWF rivalry. This total joke of a wrestling match had absolutely no redeeming features at all. Not even watching Hogan botch a spot in such a monumentally incompetent fashion could give this stinking pile of shit any value. I know why this match took place, but quite why anyone would think fans would give a damn about this match, when the clamor for a rematch had died out almost as soon as the first match had ended, I don’t know. Even if every single demeaning and negative word in the English language was wheeled out, you would still fail to accurately describe this utter shambles of a match.
Rating: Absolute Suck.
What Will Eddie’s Death Ultimately Mean To Wrestling?
A man, a father, a loving husband who brought great love and compassion to his family, is dead. To his family he was everything and he gave them the kind of joy that you only get with true love and warmth. Eddie Guerrero was a tremendous human being who overcame incredible odds, fought back from death, and achieved the pinnacle of his profession, professional wrestling. That was Eddie Guerrero the person, and he will be missed by so many, but most of all he will be missed by his family.
But the point of this is not to talk about what Eddie’s death will mean to his family, because no article, no words, no book can truly convey the kind of loss that they are feeling right now. This is about what Eddie’s death will mean to wrestling.
Eddie’s death will ultimately mean nothing to wrestling. No, I’m not talking about the people in wrestling who knew Eddie and were friends with him. I’m talking about the business of wrestling, and, as sad as it is, as tragic as it is, Eddie’s death will mean absolutely nothing to wrestling. When Art Barr, Eddie’s best friend, died as a result of mixing drink and pills, it was sad, but it meant nothing to the wrestling business. When Brian Pillman, who also died in Minneapolis, and died to continued drug use despite having know heart problems, it meant nothing to the wrestling business. When Louie Spicolli, also a friend of Eddie’s, died from taking too many somas, it meant nothing to the wrestling business.
Why did those deaths, and the deaths of so many others like Rick Rude, Hercules, Curt Hennig, Larry Cameron, and even Eddie’s own near-death experience, end up meaning absolutely nothing to the wrestling business? Because despite all of the pain, misery and sadness that all of those deaths and many like them caused, the same roads that led to those deaths end up getting taken by wrestler’s time and time and time again. Even though the results of the excess and the partying and the drinking get seen for all to see, people in wrestling still end up taking that road, and inevitably some of them, a lot of them even, wind up at the same place as all those other names I mentioned; dead.
Why would someone keep doing all that stuff, the drinking, the pills, the steroids, if they have seen first hand what the effects of that insane lifestyle can be?
There are a lot of reasons. A lot of it comes from the sense of invincibility that wrestlers have, where they think they can’t get hurt and that even if they do get it hurt it was just a fluke and it wouldn’t happen again. A lot of it comes from flat out denial. A total refusal to acknowledge that the drugs drink and steroids had anything at all to do with the deaths. Even when Davey Boy Smiths autopsy showed that heavy long-term steroid use was a factor in his death, there were people who refused to accept that, and insisted that steroids had nothing to do with it. Can steroids kill you? If you abuse them they can, and Davey abused them, but even though they knew this, some people still refused to accept that steroids had anything to do with his death.
But the biggest reason, the underlying reason is far more simple, but very chilling. The wrestlers know all the side effects, they know the reactions, and they know what can happen when they take any one or even all of these substances and do so for an extended period of time. But the wrestlers take them anyway.
Why? Because it’s demanded of them. It’s demanded of them by promoters and by fans. The promoters demand it because they don’t think the fans will accept a top guy if he’s not got a certain physique, the kind that you can’t get without taking some kind of drug, and also because they themselves have the mindset that only big tough guys can be top guys. The fans demand it because they’ve been conditioned to accept that only big guys with that drug-aided physique can be top guys. The promoter knows what it takes to get that kind of body, and a lot of the fans also know what it takes to get that kind of body. They should, having watched big guy after big guy from their childhood drop dead in their 40s. But despite all of that, despite knowing what it takes to get that kind of body and knowing the consequences, neither the promoter nor the fan cares enough to do anything about it.
If the promoter cared enough to do anything about it, he would stop giving the top spots to guys that, has hard as they’ve worked out in the gym, have had to take drugs to get that freaky physique that the promoters have demanded and obsessed about for years. The promoter would stop determining the top spots based solely on size and muscle mass, and would base it on talent and ability. But he doesn’t. Why? Because he cares too much about making money and filling his bank account to care about the cost that the wrestlers he hires and employs go though to get the kind of look that demands and wants out of his top guys.
If the fans cares enough, they’d stop cheering and popping for every jacked up stiff that walks out from the curtain. They’d stop looking all awestruck at the latest generic looking stiff to get brought up from training about two years too soon. Instead, they’d start cheering and popping for the guys who have trained, who do work hard in the ring, and who can wrestle for more than five minutes before becoming exhausted. Once in a while the fans do act like this, and someone like Chris Masters, even with a non-stop nine month push, gets treated with silence. But that is the exception, and not the rule. For every Chris Masters you get a Batista, and all credit to Batista for working out, but we all know what he’s taking to get that type of physique. Batista has torn his triceps twice, maybe three times, and only days ago tore his lat, and badly. Those kinds of repeated tears don’t happen on someone who hasn’t overdeveloped their muscles, and we all know how, why and what Batista took to get to that point. Because the promoter wants it, and because the fans cheer for it, and because Batista knows he has to take those kinds of risks to get the top spot.
Vince McMahon doesn’t flat out tell his guys to take steroids and jack themselves up as large as they can. But when you look at the type of guy who consistently gets the top spot, and the type of guy that gets called up from developmental ahead of far more talented guys, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what you have to do, because you can’t do it naturally, to get that top spot or to get called up the main roster and make the kind of money you can really live off of. Take a look at The Dicks, the recent call up from OVW. They are far from ready for prime time, and yet here they are. It doesn’t take a genius to work out why The Dicks are here, and why Johnny Jeter, Matt Capotelli, and other more talented and more ready, if maybe not totally ready, guys are still toiling away in OVW.
It’s because the promoter demands it. It’s because the fans, fans like you, demand it.
So, when the next Eddie Guerrero happens, and you’re asking why it happened, do two things; take a look at Vince McMahon, and then take a look in the mirror. Because you’ll be looking at the two main causes, whether you can accept that or not.
HTQ reviews Joe versus Kobashi
Without a doubt, this was the most anticipated match in ROH history, and the most high profile match in Independent wrestling for a very long time. On one hand, you had Samoa Joe who is the biggest star in ROH; no disrespect to Daniels. Danielson and others, but you can tell the fan consider Joe the top name, even if he doesn’t have a title. On the other hand, you have Kenta Kobashi, who is a bona fide legend in wrestling, and is one of the biggest names in Japanese wrestling both, past, present, and, as long as his knees hold up, the foreseeable future. When the match was first announced, there was an immediate buzz among hardcore wrestling fans over the first ever meeting between two of the most physical and hard hitting wrestlers in the sport today. People were speculating that this match had the potential to be a Match of the Year candidate, with some even saying there was no chance this could be anything less than great.
With such high expectations going into this match from the fans, and both Joe and Kobashi putting a lot of pressure on themselves to produce the quality of match to meet those expectations, would the match live up to all of that?
The match itself had an electric atmosphere from the beginning, as you would expect, with the fans going crazy pretty much from the moment Joe was introduced and not stopping. The people were standing all through the introductions, and I don’t think anyone sat down until the match actually started. Kobashi, like every major Japanese name before him in ROH, got the streamers, but in a nice touch, was announced the same way he would be in Japan, with his surname first.
The match began with the expected slow build, and the first key spot was in the first minute or so when Joe knocked Kobashi down with a running elbow and Kobashi rolled to the floor and backed up. That one spot, as simple as it sounds, immediately put Joe over as a threat to the legendary Kobashi because Kobashi showed that he had to take a second, back up, and think things over before trying to take on Joe again. The building of Joe continued for the early portion of the match, with Joe knocking Kobashi to ringside area again and busting out his huge top dive and sending Kobashi, and himself, crashing into the security barrier.
While on the floor, Joe pulled out his Ole kick, but in a nice twist, when he tried a second one, Kobashi blocked it and even did what was almost a mini-Ole chop, which I know I got a kick out of and the people liked a lot.
Back in the ring, the match was very physical, and we got the expected, and much anticipated, exchange of chops, which was typically hard hitting. It didn’t look contrived and was as well executed as the same style of exchange would be between Kobashi and Kawada, and even looked like that in some ways but with Joe getting knocked down at the end of it which is usually the Kobashi role. The chops themselves were as hard hitting as you would think, with Joe’s shoulder looking all bruised up.
The match itself played out as a NOAH match, with lots of hard strikes and blows, and a few very dangerous looking suplexes, all of which Joe took. Don’t think, though, that Kobashi didn’t take his lumps, because he took a powerbomb into the turnbuckles, which he sold tremendously.
The finish itself saw Joe survive a brutal looking sleeper suplex, a series of stiff looking backhand chops, before finally going down to Kobashi’s signature running lariat.
The fans popped for the finish, and as both Kobashi and Joe were down from exhaustion, which wasn’t selling after that match, they gave both men a standing ovation. When Kobashi and Joe were finally able to get to their feet, Kobashi walked over to Joe and offered a handshake and both men shook hands a big ovation and more applause from the fans, who hadn’t sat down since match had finished. And they still wouldn’t sit down, and both Kobashi and Joe got standing ovations as they, slowly, walked to the back, with Kobashi walking off ahead of Joe, and the final scene was of Joe at the curtain turning around to acknowledge the reaction of the fans who were still applauding him.
So, after all of that, does this match live up to the hype of being *****?
Absolutely it does. This match was a tremendous story. As much of a star as he is in ROH, Kobashi is a much bigger star on an international scale, but Kobashi completely put Joe over as his equal and made Joe look like he was on the same level as him, and that Joe more than belongs in the same ring as Kobashi. Had this match been Joe’s debut in NOAH, I guarantee that Joe would have been made an instant superstar with how Kobashi sold for Joe and put him over, because this match was the perfect example of putting a guy over huge while still winning. This is the kind of match that a superstar should have with a guy when he wants to make him a star. I can’t emphasize this part enough. Everything else about this match was off the charts; the selling was great, the facial expressions were tremendous and added so much to the story, the fans were so into this it was insane. This match is easily the ***** that people have said it was, and I cannot encourage people enough to watch this match.
If you were a wrestler, would you:
Prefer to be given only finish and call everything else in the ring? Lay the entire match out beforehand?
Like to have your promo's scripted? Or just be given a couple of bullet points, and wing the rest?
Blade often? Only on occasion? Would you rather never blade at all?
What style would you like to wrestle? Why would you prefer to employ that particular style over others?
Refuse to take certain moves? Only take them when working with certain wrestlers?
Are there any match types you'd like to wrestle in a lot? Some match types you'd rather never have to work in?
What style of normal match would you like to do the most? Would you prefer to sell or to dominate? Would you like to do long matches?
Would you like to have a manager or valet to work spots with or would you rather just do it all yourself?
Are there some types of angles that you would refuse to do? Some types of angles that you'd love to do?
What promotion would you like to work for the most? What promotion would you hate to work for?
What promotion of the past would you most liked to have worked for? What promotion would you have hated working for the most?
Any wrestlers today that you'd like to work against? Any you would avoid working against at all costs?
What wrestlers from the past would you like to work against? What wrestlers from the past would you not want to work against?
Lately, I’ve been watching:
The 16-man elimination match and the mask vs. mask main event from the CMLL PPV from March of 2000. The elimination match is good, and there are some typically goofy Lucha holds in there, but it could have been better with about five minutes cut off. The mask vs. mask match still holds up, and is great stuff with one of the most emotional reactions you’ll ever see. When Villano III loses and is being interviewed in the ring prior to taking his mask off, you see shot after shot of various women in the crowd crying at the emotion of Villano losing his mask.
The Ted DiBiase shoot. I’m half way through it, and it’s been really interesting stuff. Ted talks about growing up being a ‘wrestling brat’, liking it to being an army brat where he moved constantly. He talks about breaking into the business, working in Japan, and jokingly bemoans about being in line to be UWF, NWA and WWF World champions and then losing out at the last minute every time. He talks about The Ultimate Warrior, and says he told Vince it was a mistake putting the belt on Warrior and that he said to Vince that he thought he was creating a monster, with Vince saying that “he’ll be my monster”, and that he could control him. DiBiase says that when Warrior tried to demand more money at Summerslam in 1991 he could have walked up to Vince and said “I told you”.
The Super Junior Cup 2nd Stage which was held in WAR. I’ve watched the first four matches so far, and they’ve been ok. The best on has been Ultimo Dragon versus Shoichi Funaki (yes, that Funaki). The opener was a comedy match between Damian and Gran Naniwa, with Damien being is usually funny self by calling out spots from people like Choshu, Muta, Tenryu and Kudo.