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Archive for the ‘WWE | Pro Wrestling’

WWE SmackDown Results and July 2 Recap

July 03, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Smackdown opens with Seth Rollins, flanked by J&J Security. Jimmy Uso is back on commentary this week, and I’m already in hell. Rollins says in today’s fast-paced culture, everyone’s always in a hurry to get where they’re going. It’s too bad none of you can get there in style. His boys, J&J epitomize style and will be riding around in a brand-new 2015 Cadillac CTS that he gave them. They’re generation, they’re up on technology, like Apple watches, like the ones he gave to J&J and Kane. He’s as eager to talk about the future as anyone, but they need to focus on the present. We are living in historic times. The world is changing before their eyes. Their children’s children, and their children, are going to want to know what it was like to be part of such a historic era. He then pretends to be a kid, asking “Uncle Joey” and “Uncle Jamie” about Rollins destroying the “Roman Empire” and burning “Suplex City” to the ground. We go to footage from two weeks ago when the Authority quadruple-teamed Lesnar. Back to the ring, Rollins says he never gets tired of seeing that. In the matter of two weeks, he decimated the other two men in the main event of Wrestlemania. He cemented his place as the greatest superstar of his generation, if not the history of WWE. He conquered the conqueror. He beat the one in 21-1. He slayed the “Beast Incarnate”. This past Monday, they did the same thing to Reigns. Mercury and Noble were too much for him. Kane is a legend, and Reigns could never measure up to him. They left him in a heap, while his best friend was in a heap on the outside of the ring. Bray Wyatt set him up, and they knocked him down. Wyatt then picked the bones. He wants everyone to know the Authority is fair. Before Kane took off on his flight to Tokyo, he made sure Ambrose and Reigns would be afforded opportunities at payback tonight. With that said, Ambrose goes one-on-one with Wyatt, and Reigns goes one-on-one with Rollins in the main event. That is, of course, if Reigns shows up. No one’s heard from Reigns since Monday, but if he knows Reigns as well as he thinks…

Ambrose interrupts and marches down the ramp a ways before heading back up to the stage and behind the curtain. He comes back out a moment later, wielding a kendo stick. He tosses Mercury before getting double-teamed by Noble and Rollins. Mercury grabs the stick, but Ambrose kicks him away, grabs the stick, then swings wildly as everyone bails. Ambrose gets on the mic and says if Ambrose is ready for payback, that’s great, because his match with Wyatt is happening now.
MATCH 1: DEAN AMBROSE VS. BRAY WYATT
The two lock up, then trade some punches before Ambrose hits a snapmare and a low clothesline. Ambrose nails a few more strikes before Wyatt runs through him with a flying back elbow. He hits a headbutt, then chokes Ambrose over the middle rope. Wyatt hits a standing suplex, then mule-kicks Ambrose in the chest for 2. He drives his knee into Ambrose’s back before applying a rear chinlock. Ambrose fights out before Wyatt knees him in the gut. Ambrose ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own. He hits a forearm off the ropes, then blocks a clothesline and turns it into a swinging neckbreaker. Ambrose heads to the top, but Wyatt rolls to the floor on the other side of the ring. Ambrose follows him out, ducks a clothesline, gets rolled into the ring, continues spinning then knocks Wyatt down. Commercials.
Back from the break, Wyatt nails Ambrose in the gut off a top rope dive and goes for Sister Abigail. Ambrose counters into a schoolboy for 2, then goes for Dirty Deeds. Wyatt escapes and looks for a standing uranage. Ambrose escapes again and low-bridges Wyatt to the floor. Ambrose floors Wyatt with a suicide dive, then rolls Wyatt back in. He hits a corner forearm before Wyatt blocks a running bulldog. Ambrose hits a back elbow out of the corner and follows up with a tornado DDT for 2. Ambrose goes for a neckbreaker, but Wyatt escapes before fighting out of a waistlock. Ambrose goes for the rebound clothesline, but Wyatt drops him and hits a running senton for 2. Wyatt throws himself backwards in the corner before dropping right down into a crab-walk. Ambrose kicks him in the head, but Wyatt recovers and nails an avalanche. Ambrose follows up with a corner forearm, eats an uppercut, then nails the rebound clothesline. Up top, Ambrose hits the flying elbow for 2. Wyatt rolls to the floor and walks towards the announce desk. Ambrose follows, climbs up on the desk and dives off. Wyatt catches him and hits the standing uranage against the barricade. Wyatt rolls Ambrose back in, hits Sister Abigail and gets 3.
WINNER: BRAY WYATT.
After some commercials, we come back, and Adam Rose is in the middle of an in-ring promo, accompanied by Rosa. Rose is sporting a mustache now, and he looks like an out-of-work 70’s porn star. He says that people don’t get it, and they never will, because they’re all too “jelly” of him and Rosa. Thanks, Adam. Short yet pointless.
R-Truth comes out, and he’s apparently doing some spoof of King Barrett, wearing a homemade cape & crown, and carrying a plunger. He gets an inset promo and talks about King Barrett, but it was dumb, so I’m not going to recap it.
MATCH 2: ADAM ROSE (W/ROSA) VS. R-TRUTH
Rose applies an arm wringer, which Truth counters into a side headlock. He hits a shoulder off the ropes, the two crisscross, Truth puts on the breaks, ducks a clothesline and hits a back elbow. Rose gets pissy and runs into a hiptoss. He avoids a corner splash, then gets an Eskimo kiss from Rosa. Rose drops some elbows for 1, then goes for a bodyslam. Truth escapes and goes for a roll-up. Rose holds onto the ropes to block, then goes for a back-body drop off the ropes, which Truth counters with a sunset flip for 2. Truth blocks a few shots and hits the Lie Detector for 3.
WINNER: R-TRUTH.
After an interview clip of Ryback talking about destroying Mark Henry tonight, we see Henry in the back, standing by with some interviewer. This guy asks Henry what he thinks of Ryback’s words. Henry says Ryback put his name in his mouth, and Henry’s going to leave a bad taste in it. He disrespected the Henry’s name, and the name of the Big Show. Maybe he has amnesia from the whipping he took last week. Ryback has bit off more than he can chew, and if he thinks he’s going to put Henry up, he’s out of his mind. Tonight, Ryback will get his hairline pushed back, and will definitely be put in the “Hall of Pain”.
MATCH 3: MARK HENRY VS. INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION RYBACK (NON-TITLE)
The two lock up and jockey for position. Henry gets Ryback against the ropes, then shoves him to the floor. Ryback lands on his feet and gets back in, where Henry clubs him down. Henry nails some forearms to the back in the corner, then biels him across the ring. Henry misses an avalanche, and Ryback hits a few rights. He gets whipped across the ring, but blocks a charge with a back elbow. He looks for Shell Shocked, but can’t quite get him up. Ryback shoves Henry against the ropes, but then gets knocked down with a clothesline. Henry stands on Ryback’s back against the ropes, then picks him up for a straight right. Off the ropes, Ryback ducks a clothesline and hits a shoulder. He connects with a Warrior Splash for 2, then looks for a suplex. Henry blocks and nails Ryback with a forearm to the back. He chokes Ryback over the middle rope, then corner-whips him, Ryback slumping to the mat on impact. Henry hits a sit-down splash to the back, then picks Ryback up for a bodyslam. Henry applies a double trapezius claw, then turns Ryback around for a headbutt and a bearhug. Ryback fights out and goes for a bodyslam, but Henry lands on top of him, getting 2. Ryback ducks a clothesline, and the two collide off simultaneous clotheslines in the middle of the ring. Both get back up, and Ryback lays in some rights before stomping Henry down in the corner. Ryback goes for a suplex and gets Henry up and back down this time. He calls for the Meat Hook and connects, then calls for Shell Shocked. Henry punches Ryback and goes for the WSS. Ryback escapes, lands on his feet and hits a spinebuster. Ryback drops the straps, hoist Henry up and drops him with Shell Shocked for 3.
WINNER: RYBACK.
Seth Rollins is in the back with J&J. Joey Mercury shows Rollins his watch, apparently showing an email that says Roman Reigns still isn’t in the building. Jamie Noble shows him the same thing, but in text. Mercury and Noble continue playing with their watches.
MATCH 4: BRIE BELLA (W/ALICIA FOX) VS. NAOMI
Naomi grabs the hair, and Brie gets her in an arm wringer. Naomi counters, sends Brie on her ass, then kicks her in the face for 2.  Naomi gets in arm wringer, but Brie counters by flipping off the ropes. Naomi chases her outside, ducks a clothesline from Fox, then gets hit with one by Brie. Back in the ring, Brie stomps Naomi down then goes to throw her into the corner. Naomi counters, runs into a back elbow, then gets hit with a second-rope dropkick for 2. The crowd is bored sh*tless. Brie applies a modified rear chinlock, but Naomi escapes and hits a dropkick. She gets tripped into the second rope, then hit with a running knee to the face for 2. In the corner, Brie kicks Naomi in the gut and hits a bulldog for 2. Brie applies another rear chinlock, but Naomi fights out and sends Brie into the corner. She ducks a clothesline and hits a version of Eat Defeat. In the corner, Brie backdrops Naomi, but Naomi lands on her feet and hits a forearm. As the ref pushes Brie back, Fox grabs Naomi’s foot on her way back into the ring. She trips a bit, which allows Brie to boot Naomi and hit her with a sit-out facebuster for 3.
WINNER: BRIE BELLA.
Bray Wyatt appears on the screen and tells Roman Reigns to come out, come out, wherever you are. He misses Reigns. After all, he doesn’t have anyone to blame but himself for why Reigns isn’t here. He’s the reason Reigns wasn’t there to protect his only friend in this world, Dean Ambrose. Where are you, man? Wyatt thinks he’s hiding, deep in some black cave, feeling sorry for himself, licking his wounds like some injured animal. But that ain’t the Reigns he tells everyone he is. That ain’t the Reigns that he feeds to all these kids. Nah, man. One versus all. That’s who he is, right? It’s a lie. The real Reigns has too many people that he loves, too many people that he cares for, and it makes him weak. Wyatt has no one, and he’s never had anything since he’s been alive on this planet. That makes him strong. He wants to Reigns a promise: everything Reigns loves in this world, Wyatt will burn all around Reigns until there is nothing left, until it’s just Reigns, standing all alone. Then, he will show Reigns the ultimate mercy: he will finish Reigns last. Anyone but you, Roman. Anyone but you. Run.
MATCH 5: THE ASCENSION (KONNOR AND VIKTOR) VS. WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS THE PRIME-TIME PLAYERS (TITUS O’NEIL AND DARREN YOUNG) (NON-TITLE)
Titus and Viktor start. Viktor ducks a lock-up and hits some chops, which Titus no-sells. Titus grabs him by the face, throws him to the corner and hits a big chop. He does it again, then calls for one more before tagging in Young. Young walks over Viktor before Titus gourdbusters Young onto Viktor. Young hits a sit-down splash for 2, but then gets backed into the heel corner. Konnor tags in and nails several shots. Young comes back with some forearms before getting shouldered off the ropes. The two crisscross until Young hits a rolling elbow. Konnor comes back with an uppercut. Young hits a few shots, but then gets tripped into the middle rope. Viktor tags in as Young rolls to the apron. The two fight on the apron until Young hits a back suplex onto it. He then nails Konnor with a forearm before Viktor throws him face-first into the ring post. Commercials.
Back from the break, Young is trying to fight out of the heel corner, to no avail. Konnor tags in and hits a legdrop for 2. Konnor drives Young down with a rear chinlock. Young fights to his feet before being thrown to the corner. He fights out before getting tripped. Viktor tags in and stomps Young in the back. Young goes for a sunset flip off the ropes and gets it, but not before Konnor makes the tag. He breaks up the pin with a kick, then tags in Viktor, who hits a bodyslam for 2. Viktor applies a rear chinlock, but Young quickly fights out. Viktor hits a high knee off the ropes, sending Young to the apron. Young backdrops him to the floor, then starts to crawl for a tag. Titus and Konnor both tag in, with Titus hitting a shoulder off the ropes. Viktor tries a top-rope cross-body, but Titus catches him and just throws him to the side. He nails Konnor with a big boot, then connects with an avalanche and a Pounce for 2. Viktor breaks up the pin, then boots an incoming Young. Young tosses him to the floor and connects with a cross-body from the apron. Back in the ring, Titus avoids a corner whip and hits the Clash of the Titus for 3.
WINNERS: THE PRIME-TIME PLAYERS.
Rusev and Summer Rae come out.
Nope.
MATCH 6: WWE WORLD CHAMPION SETH ROLLINS (W/J&J SECURITY) VS. ROMAN REIGNS (NON-TITLE)
Reigns is still reportedly not in the building. Rollins says he normally wouldn’t want to come out and burden everyone with the formality of giving Reigns the count of ten to come out here, but man, he really wants to see these sweet Apple watches in action, so let’s count it down, hop in the Cadillac and get the hell out of this rotten city. The bell is rung, and J&J proceed to start counting.
Reigns’ music hits before the 10-count, and we see him coming down through the crowd. Rollins starts to clobber him on his way into the ring, but Reigns quickly powers him into the corner. Reigns whips him across the ring, with Rollins flipping upside-down. He lands on his feet, but then turns around into an uppercut. Joey Mercury jumps on the apron, so Reigns throws him into the ring. He puts Mercury up for a powerbomb, but Rollins boots Reigns in the gut, then powerbombs Reigns into the buckles for 2. He stomps Reigns down, then chokes him over the middle rope. Mercury gets in a cheap shot behind the ref’s back. Rollins goes to the top and hits a double-stomp to Reigns’ back for 2. Rollins strikes Reigns in the back with some forearms, then tees off on him in the corner. Rollins stomps Reigns down, then applies an arm wringer. Reigns tries to fight back, but Rollins quickly stops him before hitting a bodyslam. Rollins heads up top again and dives off, but is met in mid-air with an uppercut. Reigns hits a few more rights before Rollins lands a mule kick. He nails a corner forearm, but Reigns comes back with a corner clothesline. Reigns hits a few more of those, then nails an incoming Mercury with an uppercut. Rollins looks for another corner powerbomb, but Reigns counters witha  back-body drop. Rollins lands on his feet, but then turns around into a powerbomb by Reigns. Reigns loads up the Superman Punch, but Jamie Noble grabs his foot. Mercury then comes in and starts pelting Reigns with punches, leading to the DQ.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: ROMAN REIGNS.
Rollins hits a clothesline, and now we have a triple-team attack going. Dean Ambrose’s music hits, and he runs down with a kendo stick. He swings at everyone, clubbing Rollins repeatedly in the process. Rollins recovers and goes for the Pedigree, but gets blasted with a Superman Punch. Reigns loads up the spear, but J&J pull Rollins to the floor and try to leave through the crowd. Rollins escapes, but Ambrose and Reigns catch J&J and throw them back into the ring. Ambrose cracks Mercury over the back with the stick, and Reigns drops him with a Superman Punch. Ambrose then clobbers Mercury with the cane as Noble has escaped back through the crowd. Reigns then cuts through Mercury with a spear.
End of show.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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PWG Battle of Los Angeles Rundown – Part 2

July 02, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

This year, the promotion hosts the 11th edition of its annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament, where 24 competitors will battle it out for the chance to win the trophy and take on current PWG World Champion, Roderick Strong. Here, I’m going to run through all 24 participants, and give you my opinion on their chances of winning.

#7- Mark Andrews – Here’s another familiar name for those 15 of you who still watch TNA. Mandrews won the recent season of British Boot Camp, and his style is comparable to Matt Sydal, including an awe-inspiring shooting star press. His run in TNA has been disappointing, to say the very least, and although I selfishly want all of the British entrants to do well, I can’t see Mandrews getting past the first round.

#8- Brian Cage – If you haven’t seen Brian Cage wrestle, its an amazing sight. For a man with such power and so many goddamn muscles, his agility and high-flying prowess is shockingly good. Cage has enjoyed much recent success in the company, and I can see him reaching the later stages of the tournament. Or a fantastic performance at the very least.

#9- Ricochet – The winner of last year’s BOLA, Ricochet is a personal favourite of mine. Also known as Prince Puma in Lucha Underground, Ricochet has enjoyed a massive push in most promotions he’s featured in this year, and he’s had standout matches with the likes of Andrew Everett, Matt Sydal and Kyle O’Reilly to name a few. I’m torn between Ricochet having another strong tournament performance, or being a surprise early tournament exit. The prior is more likely, but the latter would add some great shock value.

#10- Tommy End – Another Progress regular, End made his PWG debut earlier this year in a match of the year candidate with Chris Hero. His brutal strikes and knees won over the crowd in about 2 minutes, and its not a surprise. End has been a consistent performer in his home country of the Netherlands, as well as all over Europe. End is likely to be eliminated within the first two rounds, since PWG tends to book newer competitors to lose in their first few matches, but with a host of debutants, End may benefit and progress even further.

#11- Trevor Lee – The 21-year-old Carolina Caveman has lit up the independent wrestling scene in the past year, becoming a fan favourite wherever he goes. A few days ago, Lee was one of my favourites to win, but after the shocking conclusion to PWG’s most recent event, it now seems likely that he’ll be an early casualty in order to continue his rivalry with Mount Rushmore 2.0 (Roderick Strong, The Young Bucks and Super Dragon). I wouldn’t mind seeing him face any of them.

#12- Pentagon Jr. – Now here’s where the competition gets really interesting. If you watch Lucha Underground, you’ll know that Pentagon Jr. has been one of the best booked wrestlers on television, along with Brock Lesnar and ROH’s Jay Lethal. He has a huge arsenal of moves, from aerial to submission, and he could be a dark horse for the tournament. The LU invasion doesn’t end there, however.

#13- Drew Gulak – A student of Chris Hero, Gulak is a member of Fourth Gunn, as is Biff Busick. His hard-hitting style is very similar to that of his mentor, and he’ll be looking to do better than his first-round exit in his debut last year. Having said that, he hasn’t picked up many wins since (I’m not even sure that he’s won once yet) and I can’t see that losing streak stopping here. Hopefully he can get a few wins under his belt soon.

#14- Angelico – Another Lucha Underground talent, Angelico is one third of the Trios Champions, along with Son of Havoc and Ivelisse. He’s made a name for himself for doing some of the craziest things I’ve ever seen anyone do without dying. On two separate occasions, he’s leapt from the rafters to take out his opponents. Just go watch the clips on YouTube, you won’t regret it. As for the tournament, his chances are slim, as he generally thrives when in a tag team, as he will be with Jack Evans when they face the Young Bucks at Threemendous IV, PWG’s final event before the tournament.

#15- Trent? – Yes, the question mark is supposed to be there, just go with it. You may recognise him as Trent Baretta in WWE, as well as in simply Baretta in New Japan, where he’s now a former IWGP Junior Tag Team Champion with Rocky Romero. In PWG, he’s never been much of a singles competitor, usually teaming with Chuck Taylor, who is absent this year. Another first round casualty in my eyes, although he usually puts on a fun match, so that’s something to look forward to.

The final 9 competitors will be in the upcoming 3rd part. Stay tuned for that.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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Mark Henry: Misused, Overlooked and Poorly Booked

July 02, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There’s nothing like 2011 Mark Henry. He was a man on a mission, hell-bent on reaching the top and wouldn’t let anything stand in his way. He was tough, he was vicious and he was merciless. He wanted to maim, he wanted to destroy and he wanted the World Heavyweight Championship.

WWE Night of Champions saw him gain that prize and it was the culmination of 15 year’s worth of hard work and sacrifice. It remains my favorite time of his career, a time when his loyalty and dedication finally paid off.

I’m not here to eulogize Mark Henry, far from it. I’m not one of those guys that look at him now and automatically assume his career is dead and that he’s being kept around to fill a big man spot. In fact, I’m of the opinion he still has something to offer.

But the bad part is he’s not being allowed to do much of anything now. The World’s Strongest Man has fallen into The Big Show syndrome and no one wants to be there; not even The Big Show.

Basically, Mark is just kind of floating along now. He has switched sides a few times over the past year or so and at this point it’s anyone’s guess which character they will see on any given night. Will he be evil, mean and nasty or will he be smiling, happy and fun? Will anyone even care?

The problem is WWE is doing what it’s always done; it’s moving ahead. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, there’s something very wrong with not planning for the guys already there. Henry happens to be one of those guys. Just because Kevin Owens is blowing up and Ryback is getting over, it’s no reason to not take care of the established guys, namely Mark Henry.

So what do you do? What do you do with a 44-year old, 19-year veteran that is not in the main event picture and is just barely on the roster at this point? Simple. Change it.

Sounds like such an easy concept, one that appears to take little to no effort. Just stop misusing Henry, give him a good spot in which he can shine and do all the little things only he can do. No one in the locker room can intimidate like Mark can. No one can overpower like Mark can and no one can scare the life out of you like Mark can.

He was Brock Lesnar before there was a Brock Lesnar. He is a monster in the night, the one that you checked under your bed for as a kid. He is the ferocious animal that ate every other animal in his path just to get to the one he really wanted. He is the one that can walk into any ring on any night and totally dominate everyone in sight.

How do you not use that? How do you let that slip through the cracks as if it doesn’t matter, as if your program doesn’t need that kind of impact to suck fans into the product? How do you let Mark Henry sit on the bench after he’s proven he can contribute at a high level?

He’s a veteran, his best days are behind him, and the world title run was a one shot deal for him. All of that sound familiar? It’s what everyone assumes, it’s what everyone thinks about him and it’s what everyone says right now. But is that the case?

Is Henry’s health an issue? It’s the Dolph Ziggler scenario, in which the company may want to push ahead with him but there’s no faith in him physically anymore. Is that what we’re seeing with Mark? His age would surely play into that, because the older you are, the longer it typically takes to heal up.

Physically, Mark looks great. He’s probably in the best shape of his entire career so any talk of not hitting the gym doesn’t apply to him. His ring work is as good as it ever has been and even though he’s not in his prime anymore, he does not seem to have lost a step.

His character is not the problem. Lousy recent booking aside, Henry is more than capable of connecting to the crowd. No one will ever forget his phony retirement speech, in which he cried about going home to his family. He drew the crowd in, made them feel his pain and made them care. As soon as he did that, he snapped and assaulted John Cena for the punch line. With that single promo, Henry reminded fans of how talented he really is and how much he can do if given the opportunity.

Why not give him that opportunity? If elevating him into a high profile storyline is not in the cards then why not use him in a reduced wrestling role? He could become a bodyguard for a heel, maybe even some hired muscle in The Authority. His ring time could be cut down, saving him some wear and tear while still making the most of his ability to get over.

If that’s not feasible then why not use him down in NXT? The amount of knowledge and experience he can pass on to the next generation is invaluable and those talents would surely be grateful to have him around. Why not put Mark in the best position to succeed, especially considering the loyalty he’s shown to WWE from the very beginning?

Maybe the most obvious answer is the true answer. Maybe WWE just doesn’t have anything left for him. Maybe Henry is biding his time until 2016 when he can officially retire after 20 years with the company. Maybe then he will get the respect he truly deserves for all he’s accomplished and all he means to that locker room. That’s an awful lot of maybes.

Mark Henry is one of the good guys and it’s about time he was treated like one.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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WWE Fans Speak With Low RAW Ratings

July 02, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The RAW ratings are in for this week and people aren’t happy. The June 29 RAW did the second-lowest RAW rating for a non-holiday show in almost twenty years. The fans are sending a message and the message here is that they aren’t happy and will find something else to do with their Monday nights until things change.

I don’t blog much about the ratings because quite frankly, I am not that interested in getting caught up in the numbers. However, from time to time those numbers do wind up telling a story. The story told in recent weeks is that the WWE is losing fans and losing them fast. Yet anyone watching objectively on Monday night could have predicted after five minutes that Monday’s show was going to a ratings loser.

Ironically the rating comes after a RAW that had arguably the best match on RAW in the last twelve months. JOhn Cena and Cesaro had what I thought was one of the best RAW matches I have ever seen, certainly one of the top three if not one for the last twelve months. While you could argue the point that the numbers prove fans don’t care about great matches. I disagree as there were plenty of other contributing factors to Monday’s disappointing rating.

For starters, the main-event was announced ahead of time. That is generally a good strategic move when you have a main-event fans want to see. If Cena vs. Kevin Owens or Seth Rollins for the WWE title was promoted prior to RAW, I think you’d have some good numbers. On the flip side, if you are going to promote a main-event fans don’t want to see you may as well not bother. Fans are generally interested in seeing where things are going to go on RAW and hanging in there under the right circumstances. When you know right away your main-event is a match you have seen in several interations over the last few months, you may as well skip the show and well…they did.

Speaking of starters, let’s talk about that opening segment. I could have told you after 3 miinutes that this segment was going to lose fans and it did. Not only was it awful, but it was way too long and went absolutely nowhere. Sure that kind of “comedy” works when you have Mick Foley or The Rock in the ring but those guys weren’t there and it was terrible. I can’t imagine who would have read that script prior to RAW and thought that was a great idea. You are just flying too fast and loose when that passes quality control.

Let’s stick with the segment and the players, well the main player here. I am a Seth Rollins fan, love his work. But as I have said in a prior blog, he is not working as world champion. Fans just aren’t as engaged with his character as they should be and the numbers back it up. It’s not entirey his fault as the booking has not been good at all. One week he is running from his opponents, the next he’s not, one week he’d feuding with Kane, the next he’s not, one week he’s teasing confrontation with Triple H, the next he’s not, etc, etc. His character has been extremely inconsistent since winning the title, almost as if he’s had a different writing team writing for him every week. I like the guy but the truth is that he may be one of the worst drawing WWE champions in years.

I know you hate him but the fans miss John Cena. Not that Cena is gone, but he is nothing more than a bit player on the shows. I know you were sick of Cena but the WWE audience was not. His closing segments often did good overrun numbers and now he is nothing more than a mid-card guy. The focus off of Cena may be good for you but it’s not best for business. Don’t say I didn’t warn you but I would not be shocked to see Cena back in the WWE championship picture sooner than later.

Is it the Network? The WWE Network was a great idea in theory but have they gotten to the point where there is just too much wrestling? Fans don’t have to wait until next Monday to watch more WWE. They can go on the Network and watch as much as they want. If they are accustomed to watching WWE on Monday nights and they aren’t seeing what they like, they can just as easily find what they want on the Network, especially when you have shows like NXT that generally deliver a more compelling show. Is the WWE cannibilizing its own product with such easy access to its product?

This idea of 50/50 “Even Steven” booking has created an entire roster of WWE superstars who are essentially all the same. Other than Brock Lesnar, there are no bigger than life superstars in the WWE anymore. Who is the next big challenger for the WWE title? Who do fans want to rally behind to take the title from Seth Rollins? Who is the monster heel that fans can’t wait to see get his mouth shut by their hero? Don’t say Kevin Owens because even he is just 50% on major WWE events. I get the idea of strengthening brand over individuals but you need a handful of strong individuals to enhance the brand. The formula is simple and it worked well for Vince’s father and grand father. Yes I know this isn’t 1978 but the fundamentals of good guy vs. bad guy is exactly the same.

Which leads me to my next point. The promos are the worst they have been in years. I don’t have a problem with scripted promos if the scripts are good. The promos are all the same with the same cadence, the same “humor”, the same verbage, and the same mismatches of dialogue and character. It’s all the same!!!

Sure you can always use the summer excuse but keep in mind we have had a lot of summers since 1997 and this one is the second-lowest non-holiday rated RAW since then. It is not going to get better as there aren’t any quick fixes around the corner. Kevin Owens is a bright spot but he won’t do it alone and what faith do you have in this creative team that they will put Owens in the best position to succeed? These ratings are a wake up call and unless things change, these numbers will get a lot worse before they get any better.

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PWG Battle of Los Angeles Rundown – Part 1

July 01, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

If you’re a wrestling fan and you haven’t heard of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, you’re clearly doing something wrong. The Reseda based promotion has been increasing in popularity ever since its inception in 2003, and past world champions include the likes of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.

This year, the promotion hosts the 11th edition of its annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament, where 24 competitors will battle it out for the chance to win the trophy and take on current PWG World Champion, Roderick Strong. Here, I’m going to run through all 24 participants, and give you my opinion on their chances of winning.

#1- Will Ospreay – As a British wrestling fan, this entrant (as well as the second and seventh) warms my heart. Ospreay has been one of the most consistent performers of recent years in promotions such as Progress and Revolution Pro. His high flying ability is something to behold, and I expect him to have a good run in this year’s tournament. As for winning it? Probably not.

#2- Marty Scurll – Similarly to Ospreay, Scurll’s stock has skyrocketed in the last few years, all thanks to a simple gimmick change. You may recognise him from TNA’s British Boot Camp, but he’s far from ‘Party Marty’. Now known as ‘The Villain’, Scurll has a technical ability similar to that of fellow Brit Zack Sabre, Jr. Watch out for Scurll this year: you may be looking at the eventual winner.

#3- Timothy Thatcher – Here’s a name that may be more familiar to US Indy fans. Whilst I haven’t seen much of Thatcher, what I have seen has been nothing short of phenomenal. Seriously, watch his match with Sabre Jr from Evolve 34 last year. You’ll thank me later. Will Thatcher be able to lift the trophy? Personally, I don’t think so, but certainly expect him to impress whoever he faces.

#4- ‘Speedball’ Mike Bailey – The first time you see Bailey, you’ll more than likely be intrigued, yet confused. His martial arts background has certainly inspired his attire, as well as his in-ring style. Despite some great performances against Biff Busick and Trevor Lee, he’s yet to win a PWG match, and whilst I could see him getting through Round 1, winning is out of the question.

#5- Chris Hero – Formerly Kassius Ohno in NXT, Hero is a PWG veteran, as well as a former world champion and the winner of BOLA 2006. His recent performances are almost as impressive as his weight gain, and I can definitely see Hero reaching the later rounds of the tournament.

#6- Biff Busick – Busick has made a name for himself on the independents as a result of his aggressive style and power, and his European Uppercuts are straight up nasty. He has just one victory to his name in PWG, against the aforementioned Bailey, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he suffered a first round loss, as he did in his debut at last year’s event.

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Kevin Owens Is Breaking The WWE Mold

July 01, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I will be the first to admit that I was wrong and guess what? I was wrong about Kevin Owens. The WWE has shown a commitment to Owens not seen since the Shield and the payoff may be the next elite superstar of the future.

As excited as some were about Owens coming in to wrestle John Cena, it was hard to ignore the obvious. The history of WWE creative shows that they get it wrong more than they get it right. Owens starting at the top had disaster written all over it yet in this case they got it right. You don’t get many better opening nights than the one Owens had at Payback.

Then came Money in the Bank and “the most anticipated rematch in WWE history” or at least that is what Michael Cole was trying to sell us. Like many, I was concerned. The obvious finish here was Cena going over and history told us that was where this was going to go. Cena did indeed go over but the creative team did a fantastic job of keeping his heat strong. As a matter of a fact look no further than this match as an example of a guy getting hotter with a loss. The match was tremendous and Owens post-match activities at MITB and on RAW have him hotter than anyone could have imagined.

I want to take a step back a second and ask a simple question. Why Owens? With all due respect to Owens, and I really enjoyed working with him in CZW, what is it about Owens that broke the mold? Owens is not the prototypical wrestler by physique that the WWE has and I can’t recall in recent memory a guy wrestling in bike shorts and a t-shirt on RAW. Yet for whatever reason the company is solidly behind Owens and it’s paying off.

Even Rusev’s push pales in comparison to the treatment that Owens is receiving from the creative team. Yes Rusev was kept undefeated but who did he beat? He was beating guys like Jack Swagger and Big E. Langston before he got to Cena. Yet I don’t think anyone could argue that Owens losing to Cena at MITB did much more for him than Rusev’s year of rolling through low-mid card wrestlers. Did they learn from Rusev or is the commitment just that much different when it comes to Owens?

While we have all been preconditioned to what WWE stars are supposed to look like, the bottom line is that variety is good. It’s painfully boring to watch a show where everyone looks, walks, talks, and wrestles the same. Owens is different and different is great, especially in pro wrestling. I have read all kinds of comparisons to Owens in recent weeks but I liken him to one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time, Magnificent Don Muraco. Muraco and Owens had similar physiques and while both were different in the ring, their psychology is eerily similar. In regards to promos I think Muraco is one of the greatest of all-time while Owens has been money in recent weeks. Yet for some reason we haven’t seen many Muracos over the last 20-years and that’s a shame because you are missing out on a guy who sold out many arenas in his day.

Who knows what happens with Owens from here. I don’t know how he fits into the Authority storyline other than a babyface turn and I don’t know how quickly you go back to him and Cena but the WWE has struck gold with this guy and I couldn’t be happier for him. Hopefully the guys in charge become a lot more open-minded and give guys like Owens more chances in the future. The WWE can only become a better product to watch with more wrestlers like Kevin Owens on the roster.

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Sasha Banks: Why “The Boss” Will Revolutionize the WWE Divas Division

June 30, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

As we all know, WWE’s Divas division desperately needs a revival. The WWE Universe has made it known that they prefer to see women in professional wrestling be portrayed as something other than sex objects; they prefer to see them portrayed as competent, authentic, worthwhile competitors. For this reason, fans have become less invested in WWE’s Divas division, and are now completely enthralled by NXT’s Women’s division. The women in NXT have impactful, meaningful storylines. They are given copious amounts of screen time, which helps their ability to tell the audience a story over the course of a match. Overall, NXT’s female performers are completely equal to their male counterparts, and it just works.

In order for the main roster Divas division to capture the same magic as NXT’s Women’s division, WWE must simply change their mindset. The company will have to split up on-screen air time differently, the creative team will have to provide them with meaningful storylines, and above all, they must move away from their current idea of women serving as only eye candy.

As history shows us, every crusade needs a leader. As mainstream sports show us, every organization needs a franchise player. This idea holds true in professional wrestling as well. Every era, company, division, etc. has a performer who serves as its cornerstone and foundation.

When WWE finally decides to turn their Divas division into a legitimate showcase of the most talented female professional wrestlers in the world, they will need their leader, their franchise player; a performer who serves as the pillar in which the entire division is based around. Luckily for WWE, they already have that person under contract, and her name is Sasha Banks.

Sasha Banks is the reigning NXT Women’s Champion. She has an overabundance of charisma and is a magnificently talented wrestler. Matches involving Banks are as highly anticipated by fans as the headlining matches that involve men. Banks’ work in NXT is undoubtedly a glimpse into a bright future for not only her, but for WWE’s female performers in general. Thanks in part to the attention she is bringing women’s wrestling as a whole, the conversation about women having more meaningful roles within WWE has quickly gained more momentum than it ever has before.

Paige and Charlotte were two of the first women in NXT to begin this sort of paradigm shift for female talent. They opened the door so to speak, and Sasha Banks followed by completely kicking that door in.

At one time in WWE, it was difficult to think of a standout match involving women. Banks has now made that task much easier due to her acclaimed matches against the likes of Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Bayley. Her latest match against Lynch at “NXT Takeover: Unstoppable” in May was her greatest accomplishment to date. The promotion for the match itself was that of a main event, and it lived up to that title. It was the type of match that had fans gasping, cheering, and cringing simultaneously. It wasn’t an excellent match by women’s standards; it was an excellent match by all standards. Even more impressive is the fact that this match was not the apex of what Banks is capable of. It was only a preview of what she could possibly accomplish on WWE’s main roster, provided that the company is ready for her to do so.

WWE’s Divas division does in fact have some incredible performers; Paige, Natalya, and Naomi immediately come to mind. However, Sasha Banks is the absolute best female performer at the moment on any stage, in any division. Her in-ring skills are penetrating, her character is viciously entertaining, and she has already mastered the ability to blend technical skill and showmanship to create the ideal professional wrestler.

Personally, I view what goes on inside of a wrestling ring as a work of art. Sasha Banks’ work inside of the ring is exactly that; artful. The way she is capable of painting a picture for the audience during a match will play a major role in her rise to greatness. Her surplus of different skills is what makes her a one-of-a-kind talent that WWE can place on center stage. Banks is fully equipped to handle being the pillar that WWE leans on as they revolutionize their Divas division.

Banks can be seamlessly transitioned to WWE’s main roster. Place Banks against any woman on that roster and it instantly becomes electrifying to watch. Paige vs. Banks, Naomi vs. Banks, Nikki Bella vs. Banks; all of these promise to be matches that will draw the eyes of the WWE Universe back towards the Divas division.

Sasha Banks also has the rare gift of being able to bring out the best in her opponents. Many of Charlotte’s most memorable matches included Banks. Becky Lynch’s tour de force came against Banks, as well as Bayley’s. Both women came up short in the end, but put on the best matches of their career, even in a loss. Even when she’s working with newer talent such as Alexa Bliss, Banks has proved that she can produce a quality show. That talent will make it even easier for WWE to build the Divas division around her. She expands their number of options for feuds, and guarantees a high-quality bout on each and every show she is on.

The powers within NXT have already realized that Sasha Banks is foundation material. In addition to being their Women’s Champion, she has also been asked to main event live shows and co-main event some of NXT’s special “Takeover” events on the WWE Network. The brand has built her into a dominant, defending champion, without the same restrictions that are commonly placed on WWE Divas.

Rebuilding a new and improved Divas division will of course take more than one performer. WWE has a plethora of other talented women who are capable of elevating it. The company will have to afford their female performers more time and more valuable narratives. Vince McMahon and the powers that be must adopt a new line of thinking about the way women are portrayed in the company. The redevelopment process is not going to be easy or fast by any means, but WWE does have the foundation on which to start that development in Sasha Banks.

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Happy Birthday Terry Funk

June 30, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

If you were wondering, it is still unanswered question as to whether or not Terry Funk – who turns 71 today – is retired from the wars in and out of the wrestling ring. As a fan who has watched the former NWA World Champion over the course of five decades, I am not sure if given the chance the man who helped put hardcore wrestling on the map in ECW wouldn’t get in the ring for another run or two.

That’s the kind of performer and wrestler Funk has always been. And his life within wrestling circles is living proof that some in the business can never (ever, in the words of Chris Jericho) give it up.

Funk is known mainly for the hardcore wrestling style he adopted in the latter part of his career that inspired many younger wrestlers, including Mick Foley. He worked for at least 63 promotions around the world over his 49-year career, including all major American and Japanese.

I remember him as the villain who had many great matches with the likes of Jack Brisco, Bobo Brazil, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race and Eddie Graham in my childhood.

In major promotions, Funk is a three-time World Champion, having held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship once and ECW World Heavyweight Championship twice. He has been inducted into the WWE, WCW, Professional Wrestling, NWA, Hardcore, Wrestling Observer, and St. Louis Wrestling Halls of Fame. Those accolades put him in some pretty rarified air.

He is one of the toughest SOBs to ever get in a ring and when he wasn’t showing off his supreme technical skills, much like his brother, Dory Funk, Jr., he was brawling all over the country and in the Orient.

Funk was a primary subject of the documentary film Beyond the Mat, and is often noted for the longevity of his career, which has included multiple “retirement” matches.

Funk is one of those rare breeds of wrestlers who made it work in every promotion he was worked in and with different styles of wrestling. He can honestly say he changed with the times and when the business would turn, he would turn with it – mainly because wrestling and the “sport” was and still is his life.

Like Jake Roberts, Ric Flair and Roddy Piper, the business – regardless of the outside world – has been their life and his years both inside and outside of a squared-circle, have been chronicled over and over again.

Wrestlers who got into the business in an age where hardcore rules had become the norm like Foley, Sandman, Raven, Tommy Dreamer and to some extent Dean Ambrose – they all owe Funk a debt of gratitude. If it were not for him forging the edge of the envelope, these careers might not have flourished and Funk for that matter, may not have had the longevity he enjoyed.

I remember Funk and his brother Dory tearing up Florida in the late 1970s. I have fond memories of watching him at the announcer’s table with Gordon Solie, holding the “ten pounds of gold” that the NWA World Champion wore. I remember his matches with Rhodes and Brisco or Mike Graham, where hold and counter hold were more important than coming off the top rope with a trash can in hand to knock an opponent out.

Back then, his mood was tamer, not as wild and on edge as it was in the latter part of his career. And the Chainsaw Charlie gimmick would have never been successful in an NWA based on more science than show.

I’d like to think Funk was a pioneer. His prowess in the ring allowed him to do a great many things and in the golden age of wrestling, there were few better brawlers. He was an original in a business of unpredictability. He will always be remembered, even today, as one of the greatest to ever get in the ring, in a cage, or anywhere he was “invited” to showoff and get his “fix,” in whichever culture he was being asked to perform.

As a fan, all I can do is say thanks and happy birthday.

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WWE Legends Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels Talk About Their Past and Present

June 29, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Legendary pro wrestling journalist Bill Apter had the opportunity to sit down with WWE legends Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart recently. The former heated rivals updated Bill on their friendship in this exclusive Apter Chat.

Bill sat down with both guys separately and asked them about where things stood today between the two. Both were very complimentary towards each other and tell Bill they have a great friendship these days. It’s a short video but well worth the watch considering the amount of history both Hart and Michaels have together.

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Updated: Dolph Ziggler Reportedly Signs New WWE Contract…Or Maybe Not

June 29, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

While the Dolph Ziggler WWE contract rumors were fun while they lasted, the former WWE champion has put them to rest.. Rumors of Dolphs demise were premature. Ziggler has re-signed with the WWE and will be hanging around the mid-card for years to come.

Dolph Ziggler is a rallying cry of what some would call “hardcore fans” on social media. Dolph’s fans have been demanding better things for Ziggy and a bigger push. They got it a couple of years ago but an injury derailed Ziggler’s push and while he has flirted with the top, he has yet to ascend to that spot on the card which is why rumors of Dolph leaving have fans excited about his future.

Those rumors grew last week when Dave Meltzer in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter addressed these rumors.

Regarding any rumors going around about Ziggler, his contract and leaving, this is the situation. Ziggler’s contract does expire in a few months and there are those close to him that have said he is at least considering what decision to make regarding his future that wouldn’t include WWE. I’ve got no idea what he’s going to do, past the idea he has talked with people about his options away from the promotion.

Meltzer also broke down the economics of Dolph leaving and estimates that he could make up to $400,000 a year off of a mix of independent wrestling gigs, and possible Mexican and Japanese opportunities. Meltzer pointed out that a big difference in those economics are travel expenses which are currently unpaid in the WWE. Ziggler would have had all of his trans covered and could make a nice living doing what he wants and more importantly on his terms.

Those rumors and speculation can be put to rest. Dolph re-signed with the WWE last week. Mike Johnson over at PWInsider.com was the first to break the story. Ziggler had some fun with it on Twitter but in speaking with the Boston Herald over the weekend, confirmed the story and explained why he is opting to stick with the WWE as opposed to hitting the independents.

I mean, it feels like I started here, I should end my career in the WWE,” he said. “I feel like they like having me around and I love working here, so it would be really hard to walk away.

Ziggler has been a WWE wrestler for over ten years. Ziggler joined the company in 2004, starting in Ohio Valley Wrestling. Ziggler got a big push fast as WWE world champion in 2009 and had a final reign as champion in 2011. Ziggler is arguably a top three worker in the WWE and there is no telling what he could do without limitations. Ziggler’s last taste of a push came at the Survivor Series when he was the lone survivor for Team Cena and sent the Authority packing. For whatever reason, Ziggler hasn’t seen much of the top since.

I think Ziggler’s best play to get a bigger push was to leave and come back in a couple of years like Chris Jericho did the first time. At the same time, you can’t blame the guy at all for opting for financial security and his desire to continue performing on the biggest pro wrestling stage in the world. I also think it’s time to stop complaining about Ziggy’s push. It obviously isn’t bothering him and he is laughing all of the way to the bank.

Update: In an odd twist, Ziggler did an interview Monday afternoon where he claimed he has not signed his new deal.

I’m thinking about it right now. I had a request for an upcoming contract that would end a few months from now, maybe two or three months from now, and they requested back what they would like, I countered another offer and we’re waiting to finalize some things.

I love WWE and I can’t picture myself wrestling somewhere else but it’s also becoming now where that Wednesday and Thursday, I can’t just do that and get some outside live events for comedy and different movie and television options, which would only be to promote myself as a WWE Superstar, to make myself a bigger star so I can advance more in WWE. So if I can’t find that happy medium, I might have to go away for a little bit”

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