Minor point, but why can’t it be “Clash of THE Champions” like in WCW? Are definite articles considered too southern?
Live from Indianapolis, IN
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves & Byron Saxton
RAW Tag titles: The New Day v. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Kind of weird to hear the title announced as the “RAW tag titles”. Anderson attacks Kofi immediately and lays him out with a running powerbomb for two as Gallows takes out Big E and Xavier. Kofi takes the beats for a beat, but Big E comes in to clean house, and he also gets double-teamed right away. Spinebuster on Big E gets two, and they set up Kofi for the Magic Killer, but he wriggles free and hits Karl with the Trouble in Paradise, into the Big Ending for two. They brawl outside the ring and Kofi hits Gallows with a dive, while Woods uses the trombone on Anderson, and the Midnight Hour finishes at 6:41 to retain. Well that was certainly brisk. Literally all action, though. **1/2
Cruiserweight title: TJ Perkins v. Brian Kendrick
Decent reaction for both guys, but not exactly a star-level one. This is likely due to the fact that Perkins didn’t even get to appear on Raw after winning the title last week. Kendrick controls with a headlock, but TJ goes for the kneebar quickly and they wind up on the floor out of that. Kendrick beats on him out there and gets two. TJ hooks him in a pendulum crab and then into a Muta lock, but Kendrick makes the ropes. Nice spot as Kendrick tries to toss him and TJ tangles himself in the ropes, only to have Kendrick block a monkey flip and get two. TJ snaps off a rana to come back and build the all-important momentum, into a lungblower for two. Rolling suplexes and he goes up, but both guys hit the floor on a sloppy rana attempt. Back in, Kendrick tries Sliced Bread, but TJ fights him off, so Kendrick reverses to the Bully choke, and TJ reverses to the kneebar. Kendrick escapes with Sliced Bread #2 for two, and follows with the choke, but Perkins escapes with his kneebar again and Kendrick taps at 10:09. Good stuff that would have been helped immensely by some backstory and Mauro on commentary, but it wasn’t really on the same level as the CWC tournament stuff due to some nerves on the part of Perkins and a slower pace. ***1/4 I do like they’re keeping the stuff with the referee asking for a handshake and such. TJ does the inane interview afterwards, at which point Kendrick offers a hug and then lays him out.
Best of Seven: Cesaro v. Sheamus
Winner gets their second name back. Plus some sort of vague “championship opportunity”. But I like my idea better. Cesaro attacks with a dropkick and clotheslines him to the floor, then follows with a running uppercut to the railing. Back in, Sheamus goes to the back and gets two. Backbreaker follows and Sheamus goes to a chinlock, before coming off the top with a clothesline for two. Cesaro gets a sunset flip for two, but Sheamus hits a tilt a whirl backbreaker for two while the crowd rapidly loses interest in the match. Cesaro comes back with the running uppercuts and a DDT for two. 619 and a crossbody gets two, and that sets up the Giant Swing, but Sheamus rolls him up for two and gets another backbreaker for two. More backbreakers get two. Sheamus with the Cloverleaf to continue working the back, but Cesaro rolls him up for two. Sheamus spins him into an overhead backbreaker for two. Brogue Kick is countered into the Swing, and the Sharpshooter, but Cesaro’s back is in too much pain and he can’t hold onto it. Nice touch. Cesaro tries the apron superplex and Sheamus falls to the floor to counter, so Cesaro hits him with a suicide dive and nearly folds himself in half like Lita in 2006. Back in, Sheamus catches him with the Brogue Kick for two. Cesaro hits him even harder with a big boot and the Neutralizer, and that gets two. Mean guys being mean is always great. They slug it out and fight to the top, where Cesaro uppercuts him down and dropkicks him to the floor. This sets up the superplex, but Sheamus headbutts him to the apron and follows with a dive, which Cesaro counters via uppercut. Sheamus gives him White Noise on the floor and both guys are dead. They fight into the crowd off that and now the doctors get involved, so we get the lame double stoppage at 16:30. That was stupid and ruined a great match. ***3/4
Sami Zayn v. Chris Jericho
Sami attacks to start in the corner, but Jericho pounds him until Zayn comes back with armdrags. They head to the floor Zayn gets a moonsault off the railing, but misses by a lot. Jericho sells it anyway, however. Back to the apron, where Jericho gets the springboard dropkick to put Zayn on the floor. Back in, Jericho works a chinlock, but Zayn reverses him into the corner to break. Sami makes the comeback and puts Jericho on the floor for a dive. Back in, a crossbody gets two. They fight to the top and get nowhere, but Jericho hits him with an enzuigiri and they slug it out as Sami makes another comeback. Lionsault misses and Sami cradles for two. Tornado DDT sets up the running kick, but Jericho bails to escape. Sami follows with the corner DDT, but Jericho gets the Walls back in the ring. Sami manages to reverse to a small package for two, but Jericho pops up top, and lands in a Blue thunder bomb for two. Codebreaker out of nowhere finishes for Jericho at 15:21, however. I guess Jericho is still getting that title shot next month, then. Another good match in a series tonight, although this one took a while to get into gear. ***1/4
Meanwhile, Kevin Owens gripes about being disrespected to Stephanie and Mick.
RAW Women’s title: Charlotte v. Sasha Banks v. Bayley
The video package for this match just shows how ludicrously overwritten and convoluted the buildup was, as even the editors can’t make sense of it. Possibly because was no one was sure of Sasha’s status after Summerslam, but geez, just pick a direction and stick to it. Also, the point of Dana Brooke being on the main roster continues to elude me. If there’s ANYONE who could have benefitted from staying on NXT and working with Asuka every night, it’s her. Charlotte and Sasha immediately brawl to the floor, but Bayley rolls up Sasha for two. All three women try a dropkick and miss, and then all three lay each other out. Sasha and Charlotte fight over a neckbreaker and Charlotte wins that one, but she goes up and Sasha brings her down for running knees in the corner. Bayley steals a two count off that and Charlotte bails. Back in, Charlotte knees Sasha from behind to take over and goes to work on the bad back. Suplex gets two. Sasha comes back with a flying headscissors and comes back with clotheslines, but Charlotte blocks the Banks Statement and Bayley puts them both down with a flying bodypress. Bayley makes her comeback on both at the same time, but misses a charge on Sasha and we get a double knee stack in the corner for two on Bayley. They all fight on the floor, but Charlotte catches Sasha with a backbreaker on the way back into the ring. Bayley catches Charlotte with the belly to Bayley for two, but Sasha rolls her up for two. Bayley gets posed while Sasha slugs it out with Charlotte and they fight to the top, giving us an ugly pair of spots as the babyfaces try to bring her down and bail. Charlotte moonsaults both at once and gets two off that. Neckbreaker on Bayley gets two, but the Banks Statement on Charlotte brings Dana in to break it up. Bayley rolls up Sasha for two, reversed for two, and Charlotte gets rid of Bayley and rolls Sasha up for two. Another Banks Statement on Charlotte follows and Sasha gets rid of Dana, but Bayley breaks it up. Sasha puts her in the Statement next, but Charlotte breaks that up and gets rid of Sasha on the floor. Back in, Bayley cradles Charlote for two, but Sasha and Bayley collide and Charlotte pins Bayley to retain at 15:28. I don’t understand any of this. Why go through all the trouble to put Bayley into the match and then just beat her? The match was not great, with a lot of mistimed stuff and no real storyline to it. In particular the finish looked botched, as Bayley was visibly looking towards the apron and waiting for Sasha to hit her mark while trying to do the sunset flip on Charlotte, and it was really distracting. **1/4
US title: Rusev v. Roman Reigns
Lana’s Russian accent gets thinner by the day, which I can only assume is due to integration into the American lifestyle to better infiltrate us. The naming conventions of these titles are really wacky, as we have the “RAW Women’s title” and “RAW tag team titles”, but “WWE US title” and “WWE Universal title”. I can only imagine newer fans trying to decode all this brand extension double-speak. Reigns attacks to start and Rusev bails to think it over. Back in, they slug it out and Rusev puts him down with a leg lariat for two and stomps away. Reigns is so incredibly hated that fans would rather cheer a dirty commie than him, albeit one who is awesome. Rusev pounds away on the ribs, but Reigns comes back with clotheslines to a chorus of boos until Rusev cuts him with a shot to the post. They lumber around the floor slugging it out until Rusev sends him into the stairs to get the heat. Well, what heat there is here. We go to the chinlock and Rusev follows with a headbutt and a nice dropkick. Splash misses and Reigns comes back with a samoan drop for two and clotheslines him to the floor. Cole sums up everything wrong with the Reigns push as makes sure to note that Roman never betrays any weakness, and stays positive at all times. That’s the PROBLEM with the character! Back in, Rusev blocks the superman punch with a kick to the gut and rolls him up for two. High kick, but Reigns catches him with the superman punch for two. Rusev takes out the back again and sets up the Accolade, but Reigns spears him for two as Lana pulls out the ref and gets tossed as a result. Reigns rolls him up for two after that distraction, and they fight to the floor again. Reigns gets a pair of Drive-by kicks, but walks into the superkick for two. Accolade follows, but Reigns of course powers out and spears him again for the title at 17:08. And I bet this time, this will be the thing that gets him over as a main eventer after literally every other attempt has failed. Thankfully the finish was heated after a pretty dull start. ***
Universal title: Kevin Owens v. Seth Rollins
This is another one with an overwritten and convoluted storyline, which still hasn’t been explained mind you. And I gotta say, this does not feel like a PPV main event, like at all. Although go back a few years and tell me that Kevin Steen v. Tyler Black is main eventing a WWE PPV, and I’d laugh at you. Cole has a fun story about how Owens attended his first WWF PPV 21 years ago, the dreadful In Your House III. And he still wanted to become a wrestler after that trauma? Rollins sends him to the floor and hits the running knee off the apron, and back in for a Buff Blockbuster that gets two. He tries the Pedigree and Owens counters to the apron and comes back with a DDT for two. They slug it out and Owens puts him down with an elbow to the head for two. KO goes to work on the knee and backdrops Rollins to the floor, then drops a Cactus elbow after some sarcastic enquiries about Rollins’ health. Back in, senton gets two. It’s time for CHINLOCK CITY and Owens works over the back until Rollins comes back with a clothesline out of the corner. Backbreaker gets two. They fight to the floor and Seth preps the Spanish table, but they head back in and Rollins gets a superkick for two. Blind charge misses and Owens takes out the knee to cut him off, and the cannonball gets two. Owens tries the package piledriver, but Rollins comes back with a high knee and both guys are down. They’re trying for epic and the crowd just isn’t biting. Owens misses the cannonball on a second attempt, but a package backbreaker gets two. Owens goes up and Rollins follows, but KO wins the battle with an exploding gutbuster and frog splash for two. Graves sums up the motivation for the match: “Seth Rollins believes he belongs in the WWE Universal championship situation.” Strong words. Back to the floor to finally pay off that table spot, as Owens tries a senton and goes through the Spanish table…and then the Network drops me back to the main screen because we hit the three hour mark and apparently this show has ANOTHER overrun. Like, seriously, the Smackdown show was stretched to ridiculous extremes just to make 2:40, and now the RAW show is so bloated that it goes 10 minutes overtime? There’s a happy medium, ya know. It’s called 2:50. Back in, Seth with the flying knee as the crowd suddenly thinks the match is awesome because a table got broken. Perhaps they should have done that 20:00 ago. Rollins frog splash gets two and now Jericho runs down for the distraction, allowing Owens to hit a powerbomb for two. And of course the heels collide and Rollins comes back with a Pedigree for two before Jericho saves. Rollins chases him and the ref is bumped, but Rollins hits the Pedigree for the visual pinfall. And then Jericho attacks Rollins, but gets hit with a dive while the ref is obviously in need of medical attention. Where are the 17 doctors who stopped the Cesaro-Sheamus match due to hangnail? Ref #2 is out in time for Owens to powerbomb Rollins to retain at 25:17 for the anticlimactic finish. This was WAY overbooked garbage and felt like a flat finish to the show. ***
The show started strong and looked like another one that was going to way overdeliver, but after the Cesaro match there was just a bunch of bad finishes and *** matches, all stuff you could already see on TV every week. Not bad, not good, just there. And with the deliberately stacked roster and extra time that RAW has, there’s no excuse for Smackdown to be showing them up on PPV. Thumbs in the middle.]]>
We start with a “Freedom is not free” text crawl remembering 9/11. Well at least this show won’t be known as the worst thing ever to happen on this date.
Live from Richmond, VA
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo, David Otunga and JBL.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan start us out, because we’ve got 3 hours to waste and only 5 matches booked.
Smackdown Women’s title: Becky Lynch v. Natalya v. Naomi v. Alexa Bliss v. Carmella v. Nikki Bella
Naomi’s outfit tonight:
Hopefully Naomi consults a medical professional about that. The new belt somehow looks even more like a souvenir toy than the Universal title, and this is elimination rules, because we’ve got three hours! Becky clears the ring and works on Naomi’s arm to start, but the kick combo stops that. They head to the floor, but Carmella cuts off Becky’s dive and gets a rana for two. Next up, Alexa goes after Nikki and drops a pair of knees for two, but Nikki hits her with a springboard kick for two. Natalya cleans house, but Naomi gives her a full nelson bomb for two. Carmella gets the headscissors thing on Nikki, but Nikki escapes with an Alabama Slam for two. They do the Tower of Doom spot out of the corner with Nattie and Alexa gets a nice sunset bomb on Becky for two. I’m growing concerned about Naomi, who hasn’t been seen since about the 2:00 mark and might be dead from radiation poisoning caused her outfit. Thankfully she returns and clears the ring, then follows with a dive onto the pile of women. Back in, we get another Tower of Doom spot, and this results in Naomi pinning Alexa at 9:40 to eliminate her first. She tries springboarding onto Nikki and gets caught with a forearm, and Nattie puts her away at 10:46 with the Sharpshooter. Nikki with a TKO on Natalya to finish her at 11:50, and Carmella rolls up Nikki at 12:02 to eliminate HER. So that leaves Becky v. Carmella, and Carmella slaps her around and yells a lot. Becky with a pair of suplexes, but Carmella cuts off the comeback, only to walk into the Disarmer at 14:20 to give Becky the first title. Very energetic match, although it felt like they hit the 10:00 mark and then suddenly had to go home. ***
Meanwhile, Bray Wyatt attacks Randy Orton and injures his knee, which is weird because I could have sworn they already announced that Orton was injured and wouldn’t be here tonight.
The Usos v. The Hype Bros
Winner of this barnburner gets Slater & Rhyno for the tag titles in the finals. The Usos are in EVIL BLACK so you know they’re heels now. And thankfully they’re dressing differently so I have a fighting chance to tell them apart. Mojo throws Jey around to start and Zack pounds away on Jimmy and hits the Usos with a dropkick off the apron when they head to the floor. Back in, Zack immediately gets punked out by Jey and the Usos take over. Heat on Ryder and the Usos are actually cool again, so now the crowd is CHEERING them. And yet they still won’t turn Roman Reigns. Jey with the chinlock, but Ryder escapes with a neckbreaker and Jimmy is forced to cut off the tag. Hot tag Mojo and he runs wild with the usual, but the Usos clip Zack and Jimmy finishes him with a kneebar at 10:13. An OK match as Zack Ryder somehow manages to job twice in a single elimination tournament.. **
Intercontinental title: The Miz v. Dolph Ziggler
We get some DRAMA before the match, as Miz decides to hold up Daniel Bryan for more money on the way to the ring. You know, that tactic has failed miserably for people in the past. And didn’t they do a big angle on Smackdown two weeks ago where they weren’t allowed to be on TV with each other? Miz runs away to start, but they take it to the mat and do their basic TV match, leading to Ziggler getting catapulted to the floor as I wait for Mauro to throw to a commercial break. Miz works him over on the floor and back in for two. Miz works the back and goes to a surfboard, then mocks Daniel Bryan and hits the corner clothesline. Ziggler reverses the Finale into a rollup and makes his usual comeback with a billion clotheslines and an elbow for two. Miz misses a charge and hits the post, but comes back with a slingshot powerbomb for two. Miz goes to the knee now, but Ziggler catches him with the fameasser for two. Sleeper on Miz and he’s going out like he’s watching the Ziggler match from Summerslam, but a shot in the corner breaks it up. Dolph with the leaping DDT for two. Miz comes back with the DDT and gets the figure-four, but Dolph fights to the ropes. Miz tries again, but walks into the superkick, which gets two. Miz bails and Ziggler hauls him back in, but they trade rollups for two. Maryse sprays Rick Martel’s Arrogance into his face, however, and Miz finishes with the Skull Crushing Finale at 18:18. Why the screwjob finish? Decent match, although the selling was all over the place, as usual for both guys. And Ziggler is just deader than dead as any kind of a top guy that people buy into. ***
No Holds Barred: Bray Wyatt v. Kane
Randy Orton forfeits, so instead Kane randomly takes his place. Bray kidnapped him three years ago, you see, and now IT’S PERSONAL. They immediately fight to the floor and Kane clears a table, but Bray brings him back in and slugs away to take over. He pounds away with a chair and gets two from that. Kane comes back with a DDT on the chair, but they head to the floor and Bray puts him the table with a senton. Back in, Kane blocks Sister Abigail with a chokeslam for two. Alas, Bray comes back with the uranage on the chair for two to cut off Kane’s comeback, and now Randy Orton limps out to distract Bray and hit the RKO on him. And this time the chokeslam finishes at 10:50. Really? We’re putting Kane over in 2016? So Bray doesn’t even get heat on him through the end of this show? **
Meanwhile, AJ Styles stops to inspire a couple of indy geeks who are standing around backstage for unexplained reasons.
Smackdown tag titles: The Usos v. Heath Slater & Rhyno
Slater’s entrace music is pretty amusing. Slater holds his own for a minute (literally) and the Usos quickly go to work on him in the corner. Chinlocks follow and the Usos cut off the ring and double-team Heath gets beat up forever and finally makes the hot tag to Rhyno after 8:00 of boredom, and he runs wild but misses the Goar. Heath tags himself back in and hits neckbreakers on his own, but the Usos quickly cut him off. Rhyno hits Jimmy with the Goar behind the ref’s back and Slater pins him to win the titles at 9:55. So Heath gets the contract and the titles. I don’t really know where you can go with the story from here, unless it’s just the Usos winning them next month to set up the American Alpha chase. Nothing much to the match, although Heath’s exuberant “We’re getting a double wide” was a funny line. *1/2
WWE World title: Dean Ambrose v. AJ Styles
Styles slugs away to start, but Dean comes back with a backdrop and tosses AJ, only to see his dive foiled. Back in, AJ with a neckbreaker and he works the neck to take over. Dropkick gets two. Ambrose comes back and stomps the proverbial mudhole in the corner, but misses a charge and hits the post. They fight to the top and Dean tries a backdrop superplex, but the spot goes kind of badly and they lose control on it. Ambrose makes a comeback with a backbreaker for two, but AJ bails, so Dean follows with a flying elbow to the floor. Back in with a facebuster for two. Dean goes up, but AJ rolls through on him and suplexes him into the turnbuckles. They counter out of each others’ finishers and AJ crushes the knee and goes to work on it. Dean fights back, but AJ rolls him into the Calf Crusher and Dean makes the ropes right away. AJ takes him down right away for another try at it, but Dean rams his head into the mat to escape in a nice counter. They head to the apron and Ambrose catapults him into the post for a sick looking bump. Back in, Ambrose with the bulldog and cradle for two as the crowd has actually turned on Ambrose and is booing the comeback. AJ fires back a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for two, but Dean backdrops out of the Styles Clash. AJ with a backbreaker into a powerbomb this time, for two. Springboard 450 gets two. Dean comes back again with a neckbreaker and fires away, and again the crowd completely turns on him. Back to the floor and Ambrose hits him with a dive into the tables and they brawl into the crowd and back to the ring again. Back in, AJ catches him with the Pele, but Dean hits the rebound lariat and the crowd is still booing him. Dirty Deeds, but the ref is bumped, so AJ goes low and hits the Styles Clash to win the title at 25:00! Crowd wasn’t gonna accept any other result, and it was the right one to get that belt onto him ASAP. A great main event, although again a cheap finish after a great match. ****1/4
Pretty much what we all expected going into this – a mediocre midcard padded out with filler, with a great main event and AJ winning the big belt for the first time. Mild thumbs up.]]>
Hey, it’s another show I’ve never seen, as a part of a giant AWA content dump on the Network! Oddly enough, they skipped over SuperClash I, which was available on WWE Classics on Demand back in the day. We covered this one a little bit in the Observer Flashbacks at the time, but obviously my opinion is the one that matters!
Live-ish from San Francisco, CA. The arena looks like it’s struggling to be ¼ full, and in fact they only drew 2800 for this one.
Your host is Rod Trongaard.
Sheik Adnan El-Kaissey v. Buck Zumhofe
Hey, Kaissey might be portraying a Middle Eastern terrorist, but he’s still a better person than Zumhofe. So Adnan immediately runs away and we get the bare minimum of contact in between all the stalling. Can’t blame Adnan, I wouldn’t want Zumhofe touching me, either. They trade wristlocks for the “wrestling” portion of our presentation, and Zumhofe takes over with a “headknocker”, where he puts Adnan in piledriver position and jumps in the air. Yeah, if someone was putting my face in Buck’s crotch, I’d jump away in horror, too. Buck works a spinning toehold while Trongaard is already literally reading the credits to find something to talk about. Who would WANT to take credit for producing an AWA show at this point? You’d think all their TV would be directed by Alan Smithee. Buck goes to the exciting neck vice, but Adnan bites him to take over and yells at the crowd to really pick up the pace. Zumhofe bails and Trongaard stresses that he only has a count of 10 to return, but time is so dilated by this match that relativity pretty much renders it into a 100 count. So he’s got some time. Zumhofe suddenly gets fired up and makes the comeback, but Kaissey pins him in the corner with a rollup at 10:45. I’m pretty sure some sweaty tattooed guy is doing just that to Zumhofe in prison right now. Or at least we can only hope. DUD
DJ Peterson v. The Super Ninja
Peterson had a shot and a good look for the Big Two, but tragically died in a motorcycle accident a few years after this. Apparently they’re calling him “TNT” because of the explosive way he finishes matches. I thought maybe that was a street name for something he was taking at this point. Super Ninja is not Muto, sadly, but Shunji Takano. I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but Super Ninja has gloves adorned with throwing star emblems that are rather too close to swastikas. They trade armbars on the mat, and now I notice that DJ has dollar signs on his boots. You sir, are no Million Dollar Man. Stall stall stall as Ninja runs away and finally takes over by tossing Peterson. We get some shenanigans as the various Ninjas attack one by one (Super Ninja, Ninja Go, Brainy Ninja, Papa Ninja, Hefty Ninja) and then we go to the dreaded Ninja Nerve Hold in the ring. That goes on for a while and the crowd is shockingly into DJ’s comeback, but the Ninja takes him down for a rear chinlock instead. Into the Boston crab, but DJ finally makes the comeback for real with a snap suplex for two. Dropkick gets two. Ninja fires back with kicks for two, but DJ gets a sunset flip and small package as they hit the 15:00 time limit. Wow, so thrilling. There was almost some action at the end there! *1/2
AWA Women’s title: Sherri Martel v. Madusa Micelli
Madusa was early in her rookie year at this point, basically quasi-pushed because she was hot and added another six inches to her height with super-teased hair. She looks like she saw Axl Rose in “Welcome to the Jungle” and was like “Hey! I know how to style my hair now!” Madusa was RIPPED at this point, a look that she’d quickly abandon. Along with the hairstyle, thankfully. Madusa overpowers her to start, but Madusa quickly cuts her off and goes to work on the arm, which mostly means they lay on the mat and yell a lot. Madusa wisely just lets Sherri work by herself more or less and provides a target to bounce off. Sherri goes to a chinlock and the crowd is already bored with the match. Madusa does a toehold in the corner for some reason, which turns out to be a setup for that deal where she does a forward roll while holding the move. That was way too convoluted a spot for her. Madusa works a wristlock and Rod is like “Sherri may be on her way out!” I think that might be jumping a gun a bit. Madusa continues working on the arm and headlocking her. The Divas Revolution this is not. Airplane spin, but Doug Somers is distracting the ref, and Sherri gets the distraction rollup for the pin to retain at 11:45. Now, given the benefit of hindsight and a booker who isn’t completely clueless, you would have put Madusa over for the title here since Sherri jumped to the WWF with the belt a month or so after this and Madusa ended up getting it anyway. 1/2* Like really, Madusa had no idea how to work the match or what the proper time for stuff like headlocks was.
AWA World title: Nick Bockwinkel v. Curt Hennig
Stanley Blackburn is at ringside, so you know shit is going down at the finish if they thawed him out of his freezer and woke him up. Artist’s rendition:
Larry Zbyszko shows up to challenge the winner to a title match, thus establishing his reason to be there. Kind of a dull start with Hennig working a headlock for most of the first portion, but Bockwinkel finally tosses him and takes over with an armbar while someone works way too hard to get their “Larry is a Spud-Head” sign on camera. Larry draws all the heat for the match while the crowd pretty much ignores Bockwinkel. I guess that explains why they were drawing 2800 to a 15,000 seat arena for a supposed major show. Hennig reverses the endless armbar into a spinning toehold and then figure-four as this is not exactly feeling like the ***1/2 match that Meltzer rated it at. Bockwinkel fights out and blocks a second attempt by slugging Hennig down and puts him down with a knee to the gut. The crowd reaction is really weird and subdued as well, because both guys were supposed to be babyfaces, but Hennig was turning heel, but the crowd still wanted to cheer him. And no one cared about Bockwinkel at this point. Bockwinkel slugs away in the corner, and whips Hennig into the turnbuckles for a typical dramatic bump from Hennig that gets two. Hennig with a sunset flip for two. Rollup gets two for Hennig, and a crossbody gets two. Jackknife cradle gets two. The Axe gets two, as Bockwinkel is in the ropes. Standing dropkick gets two as Hennig just goes crazy trying to get this over. Bockwinkel blocks a blind charge with a lariat out of the corner, and follows with a back suplex, but he can’t make the pin. Both guys are out, at which point Larry hands Hennig the infamous roll of dimes, and he slugs Bockwinkel down and out to win the win AWA World title at 24:00, and the crowd goes CRAZY. So yeah, it ended up pretty good thanks to sheer willpower from Hennig. *** Stanley Blackburn immediately jumps in to overturn the decision (which causes the crowd to erupt in a “Bullshit” chant), but soon after this Hennig got a big money offer from the WWF and Verne just forgot all about the controversy and left Hennig as the champion after all in order to keep him.
Buddy Wolfe & Kevin Kelly & Doug Somers v. The Midnight Rockers & Ray Stevens
Wolfe is announced as the “Hackensack Hammer” and he’s damn old. Apparently he retired after this match, to show you what we’re dealing with. I don’t get where this match comes from at all, but it’s likely that the bookers didn’t either so everyone is at least on the same page. According to Rod, Ray Stevens still holds the attendance record for this building with “Pepper Rogers”. I believe “Pepper Gomez” is what he was going for there. Further, Stevens was on commentary earlier in the show and talked about his attendance record, and Trongaard was like “Really, I haven’t heard about that, what match was it?” And then he’s regurgitating the answer two matches later as his own fact! Shawn works on Kelly for a bit, but Marty comes in and gets caught in the heel corner and worked over. I once again wonder how the hell Kelly lost all his hair and muscle definition in the five years between this and his debut as Nailz. Maybe he had two kids like Homer Simpson? Marty bumps all over the ring to carry this thing on his own, and Kelly gets a delayed suplex for two. Ray Stevens goes in to be all fired up while the heels triple on Marty, while Shawn stands on the apron basically like “Eh, what are you gonna do?” Meltzer insinuated that Shawn seemed to be not exactly invested in the outcome of the match due to external chemical factors, and I can see where he’s coming from. Finally it’s BONZO GONZO and Stevens runs around attacking people, but then it settles down to Marty getting the heat again from the heels. OK, we get the damn point, wrap this up already.
So despite my dank meme, Somers continues to work on Marty’s leg, but he finally fights back on the HACKENSACK HAMMER, only for Somers to slow it right the fuck down again with a spinning toehold. And then Wolfe goes to a half-crab. WE GET THE DAMN POINT ALREADY. Marty has a hurt leg, for fuck’s sake, I understand. Rod notes that Marty is glassy eyed and doesn’t know where he is. Sounds like a normal Friday night for him. Thank god, it’s finally hot tag Shawn Michaels, and Stevens pinned Somers with a small package at 18:00. What the hell is the point of a six-man tag if you’re literally just gonna have one person sell for 15:00 of it? *1/2
Jerry Blackwell v. Boris Zhukov
Oh this’ll pick up the show, I bet. Blackwell slugs away on Zhukov, who runs away. Repeat a few times and you’ve got the first half of the match. Blackwell with an elbow for two and we hit the chinlock, as he’s apparently blown up now. When BORIS ZHUKOV is looking like the competent worker carrying the match, you SUCK. Zhukov pounds away while Blackwell staggers around the ring. Just for fun I read Blackwell’s Wikipedia page while this boring match continues, and I’m pretty sure that Blackwell wrote it himself from beyond the grave. Did you know he was the top babyface for the AWA from Hogan’s departure until 1987? Fascinating. Boris swings away with punches that were supposed to miss, but then Blackwell hits him with one that was supposed to hit but looked like one of the missed punches. And then we get a ref bump for good measure as the heels double-team Blackwell, but he clotheslines Boris and pins him at 12:30. Is this show over yet? -*
Alleged Main Event: Jimmy Snuka & Russ Francis v. The Terrorist & The Mercenary
This match was the subject of weeks of controversy in the Observer at the time, as Dave couldn’t figure out who the hell the Mercenary was, thinking it was Soldat Ustinov or other tall guys before finally realizing it was Ron Fuller. Russ Francis was a player of the footballs for the 49ers who had previously done the battle royale at Wrestlemania 2. Like wow, what a main event, two random heels under masks against a football player and washed up Jimmy Snuka. It seems that Col DeBeers was supposed to be involved here as a part of the Snuka feud, but he no-showed and they went with the Mercenary instead. Lucky us. The Terrorist (Brian Knobbs) has a mask with a swastika on the forehead, so you know he means business and dislikes people of color. Both he and the Mercenary are hailing from South Africa tonight and I’m shocked they didn’t kick a puppy and wear a “Vote for Trump” button to the ring to go for every cheap heat tactic possible. Francis chases the Terrorist back to the dressing room, leaving the Mercenary 1-on-2. Rod sets the stage here: The Terrorist slapped Russ Francis’s father, Ed Francis, right here in his building “not that long ago”. OK, question: You’re already using Brian Knobbs under a mask and presumably paying Jerry Sags to be there as well, so why not just put HIM under the other mask and then you’ll presumably get a half-decent match with both Nasty Boys? Why bring in just Brian Knobbs as a single? I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND VERNE GAGNE. Snuka starts properly for his team as this thing actually gets going FIVE MINUTES after the initial bell, and we immediately hit the chinlock. Rod is pretty sure it’s the Terrorist. Does he have a swastika on his head? Then it’s the Terrorist. I’m pretty impressed with the dude in the front row who holds up a variety of signs supporting the babyfaces, printed on a dot matrix printer via Printshop. That shit was CHALLENGING in 1987, so good on you, man! Our racebaiting heels continue switching off on headlocks on Snuka as people are literally dozing off in the front row watching this. Now, I have to say, at least I can feel some sympathy for the Mercenary, since by definition he’s only doing it for the money and could just be someone who messed up his life with a drug problem or ill-timed brawl with the police while overseas. Perhaps he has all kinds of interesting backstory to his life that could build to a babyface run. Now, the Terrorist, he’s just a guy with a swastika on his head who does it to inspire fear. That’s uncool, man. Anyway, hot tag Francis and he slams the Terrorist and “hits” a “flying splash” off the top rope for the pin at 11:26. Thankfully, the forces of terrorism and puppy-kicking are once again prevented from wreaking their havoc in these United States, thanks to a football player and a drug addict. GOD BLESS AMERICA. DUD
Stanley Blackburn should have held up this show and reviewed it with the championship committee to prevent it from sucking.]]>
OK, we’ve got pizza, cheddar popcorn and a shitload of Rockstar Punched, so let’s DO THIS.
Live from Brooklyn, NY
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Bryon Saxton & Corey Graves for RAW, and Mauro Renallo, David Otunga & JBL for Smackdown.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass v. Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho
Well, who else are you gonna open up in Brooklyn with? Cass gives us some singing while Enzo drops every New York music reference he can reel off in five minutes, and then Graves is like “Yeah, but they’re from New Jersey!” “Jeri-KO” feels a bit forced, but points for effort. The heels attack Enzo to start as usual and Jericho gives us a Jordan pose, but Enzo makes an awkward comeback and gets two. Cass throws Jericho around and launches Enzo at him in the corner, and the heels bail. So Cass tosses Enzo over the top onto them there, as well. Inevitably, Enzo gets laid out in the corner and Owens steals the show by doing the Enzo Dance on the apron before proceeding to the heat segment. Jericho with a dropkick for two and Owens with a senton for two. And then it’s CHINLOCK CITY, complete with dramatic run-up. Enzo fights out and the heels cut off the tag, allowing Owens to hit the frog splash for two. Enzo fights back out of the corner again, and dodges the cannonball, and it’s hot tag Cass. Elbow for Jericho, and he puts him down with a big boot, but Owens breaks up the Rocket Launcher and gets rid of Cass. And since Enzo is like a helpless baby on his own, he fights off the heels for a bit, but walks into a codebreaker at 12:05. I wouldn’t call it no-nonsense, but it was a very adequate amount of nonsense and lot of fun. ***1/4 No clue why Enzo & Cass are jobbing already, though.
Meanwhile, Jon Stewart gets bullied by Stephanie, until the New Day interrupts to teach him the Power of Positivity.
WWE Women’s title: Sasha Banks v. Charlotte
Sasha immediately catches her with the Banks Statement and Charlotte bails to escape, and they trade near-falls on the way back in. Sasha with the Eddie armdrag and they fight to the top, resulting in an awkward spot where Sasha gets dropped to the mat after a backbreaker in the corner. Whatever that was, it didn’t go right. I think Charlotte was trying to do a falling backbreaker from the middle rope, but just kind of dropped her instead. Charlotte works on the back a bit as the match kind of falls apart, and a backbreaker gets two. Charlotte tries the figure-four and Sasha reverses that, so they fight to the top again and Charlotte tries a Splash Mountain from the top, only to have Sasha reverse to a rana to bring her down. They slug it out and Sasha gets all fired up, but misses a blind charge before recovering with a half crab in the corner. That sets up the double knees in the corner for two. They fight to the floor, where Sasha gives her with the double knees off the apron in another nice spot. Back in, Sasha with a rollup for two. Charlotte tries the neckbreaker, but Sasha counters into the Banks Statement, but can’t hold onto it. Charlotte goes back to the back with a neckbreaker and Natural Selection for two. She tries a tilt-a-whirl slam, but Sasha turns it into the Banks Statement, which Charlotte then reverses into a cradle for the pin and title at 13:55. Really? Sasha only gets a month as champion? Did she fail a Wellness test, too? Hell of a match, though. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Doctors Anderson & Gallow reunite with AJ Styles, but get the cold shoulder from Finn Balor.
Intercontinental title: The Miz v. Apollo Crews
To be honest, I had no idea this match was even happening, which I guess speaks to how effective Miz has been as champion. Miz attacks and chokes him out in the corner, and a low kick gets two. Crews misses a dropkick and Miz DDTs him for two and goes to the chinlock. Hot take: Maryse is quite attractive and Miz is a lucky dude. How could you have this combo and NOT be insanely over? Well, Miz manages it somehow. Miz goes up and Crews catches him with a dropkick on the way down. He’s jacked and an acrobat, so Otunga calls him a “Jacrobat”. Can we switch back to the RAW team now? Crews comes back with an enzuigiri, but misses the standing splash before recovering with the powerslam for two. Miz tries the corner clothesline, but Crews counters with a suplex and the standing moonsault for two. Miz decides to take a walk, but Crew brings him back in for a cradle that gets two. Sadly, the Skull Crushing Finale ends Crews’ dream at 5:38. Total nothing match, rushed through like a TV match. *1/2 Miz has been champion since Wrestlemania and continues to be completely pointless in the role.
John Cena v. AJ Styles
OK, this is more like it. The crowd is molten here, showing why they’re running this arena so much. They have a stalemate to start, and AJ gets a dropkick before stopping to gloat, allowing Cena to take over. When will these heels LEARN? Cena whips him around the ring to work on the back while the crowd boos Cena vociferously and JBL is like “It’s Cena’s home field advantage! They’re having fun!” I’d hate to see what a HOSTILE crowd would be, then. Cena with the backdrop so that AJ can take his patented bump, and we hit the chinlock. Cena actually throws a dropkick for two, then hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Styles comes back with the Pele and Styles Clash for two. Cena fires back with the FU for two. They head up and Styles brings him down with a torture rack into a powerbomb for two. Otunga earns his pay by declaring that Styles has won all these titles, but it’s always hung over his head that he’s never beaten John Cena, and then Mauro immediately chimes in with “He beat Cena at Money in the Bank.” Way to go, David! AJ reverses an FU attempt into a rollup, but Cena reverses that into an STF, which AJ then turns into a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for two. Styles misses the 450 and Cena hits the Code Red for two. Styles with a german suplex into a front facebuster for two as they’re just doing big moves for near falls now. I’m OK with that. Cena catches him on another springboard attempt and turns it into the STF, but Styles reverses into a crossface, which Cena turns into the FU, which Styles then rolls into the Calf Crusher! “You can’t coach strength!” notes JBL. Then why do sports teams have strength coaches? Anyway, Cena reverses into the STF, but Styles rolls him over for two and then hits the enzuigiri as both guys are woozy. Cena comes back with the tornado DDT for two and goes up with the guillotine legdrop for two. Back to the top, but AJ fights free and brings him down with a rana, into the Phenomenal Phorearm for two. I LOVE the visual of Mauro standing up with excitement in the background. Cena powers him up again, so AJ goes for the knee and Cena puts him down with a clothesline. Back to the top as Cena goes for the finish with a top rope FU…which gets two. That was a crazy near fall. Crowd goes NUTS for the kickout. Cena gives a great look of disbelief as Styles crawls back to his feet again, but AJ reverses the final FU into a Styles Clash, and the Forearm finishes at 23:08! And that is how you make a star. ****3/4
Jon Stewart is out to let us know that he’ll be joining the New Day tonight while Big E recovers from ringpostitis, but he’s learned his lesson and promises not to hit anyone with a chair. I think we’ve all made that promise in the past.
WWE tag titles: The New Day v. Dr. Anderson & Dr. Gallows
I have no idea who thought turning Anderson & Gallows into midcard comedians would get them over, but it didn’t work. I do feel like, at the very least, Big E needs to return tonight and smash the urine sample over someone’s head. Kofi gets a standing double stomp on Anderson for two and the New Day work him over in the corner and then stomp on Gallows as well. Kofi tosses Doc and follows with a flying butt, but he gets distracted and the Club takes over. Cole FINALLY acknowledges that in fact Demolition holds the real record with 478 days as Woods gets a hot tag and dropkicks Anderson for two. Flying elbow gets two, and Kofi comes back in for the double-team flying stomp that gets two. Gallows saves and it’s BONZO GONZO, as the heels hit the Magic Killer on Kofi. This brings Stewart in for the distraction, and this time he stops to tuck in his shirt before his beating. The Club decides to test for ringpostitis, but Big E makes his return and lays them out for the DQ at 9:07. So they can beat up on Jon Stewart without consequences but Big E returning draws the DQ? Yeah, that match went nowhere. *1/2 Everyone involved continues to be booked like a bunch of geeks.
WWE World title: Dean Ambrose v. Dolph Ziggler
Well, let’s see how much hot water Dean is in. Either way they go here, AJ should get the belt next month anyway. They quickly fight to the floor and Dean tosses him out and beats on him out there, and back in for a butterfly superplex that gets two. Dean with a half-crab while JBL and Otunga go on a bizarre tangent about homeless mannequins without arms. Ambrose with a suplex for two while Mauro reels off classic World title matches at Summerslam that this probably will not match up to. Ziggler misses a superkick and Dean faceplants him for two. Mauro notes that Ziggler can become a “three time WWE World champion”, but in fact he has never held that title, which is a rare misfire from Mauro. Dean continues to play heel by mockingly tuning up the band, but Ziggler tosses him and comes back with a DDT for two. Mauro’s enthusiasm is a bit forced here. Ziggler tries the fameasser, but Dean rolls him up for two, but misses a blind charge and hits the post. Geez, hopefully he won’t be out for a month like Big E! Fameasser gets two off that. That move would be scarier if he ever pinned anyone with it, ever. They collide and Mauro, Canadian hero, declares it a MALFUNCTION AT THE JUNCTION! Ed Whalen for the win. Now we just need some Tragically Hip references from him. Dean comes back with the flying elbow for two as this drags on. I dunno if this is a style clash or what, but it’s not clicking. It’s supposed to be a World title match and it’s two guys having a match in the midcard. Both guys tumble to the outside and Mauro declares that it’s been a struggle between them. Very true, it’s a struggle alright. Back in, Ziggler gets two after a superkick on the floor with a half-assed sell from Ambrose. Ziggler tries another superkick and Dean catches him, but the Zig Zag gets two. Crowd still isn’t buying it. Ziggler pounds away and gets a sleeper on the mat as Dean is now making the comeback despite being a heel all match for some reason. Dean gets the lariat and goes up, but Dolph brings him down with something that doesn’t work and Dean finishes with Dirty Deeds at 15:24. Extremely disappointing match, with an anticlimactic finish. **1/4 This was a huge disappointment and I’m not even sure what happened, as they would seem to match up well, but it had no heat and no real flow.
Naomi, Carmella & Becky Lynch v. Natalya, Alexa Bliss & Eva Marie
Eva Marie is unable to be here tonight due to exhaustion, so Nikki Bella returns to take her place. So I guess the suspension doesn’t exist in WWE kayfabe. Sign of the night: “This show is very long” Very true. Carmella, who looks like she’s wearing pajama pants, means nothing outside of the bubble she was in with Enzo and Cass in NXT, and same with Alexa. Not sure why they’d have Nikki return as a heel, although Smackdown does need the star power. Everyone gets their shit in early and the crowd doesn’t care, and Carmella ends up getting the heat. Somehow they’ve taken Carmella and ruined whatever attractiveness she had in NXT with this terrible gear. Alexa with a sloppy moonsault into double knees on Carmella for two while Carmella does a wholly unimpressive job of playing babyface in peril. I’d barely buy her as Robert Gibson, let alone Ricky Morton. Hot tag to Becky, who is the only one to get any kind of reaction here, setting up Naomi with her kick combo where they all miss by a foot. So then Naomi gets beat up for a bit before Carmella comes back against Nikki Bella way past the point when this thing should have ended, and everyone fights in the ring while Carmella makes her terrible comeback. Finally Nikki just lays her out and finishes with the TKO at 11:00. Sloppy and terrible, with a downright embarrassing performance from Carmella in particular. DUD
WWE Universal title: Seth Rollins v. Finn Balor
The Universal title is basically just a bigger version of the Women’s title, with a red strap for RAW. I know it’s a branding thing, but GEEZ. That’s the best they can come up with? What happened to the rumors about reviving the winged eagle design? And the crowd actually BOOS the name “Universal championship”! That’s cold. And yet awesome. That’s some really spectacularly lazy belt design and they deserve the crowd’s disdain. Finn immediately hits the corner dropkick and goes up, but Seth bails, so Finn follows with a dive. Back in, Finn goes for the knee, but they head to the floor and Rollins tosses him over the railing and Finn pops up with a flying clothesline. Back in, Finn gets two and goes to work on the leg while the crowd is singing something presumably unrelated to the match. Back to the floor, where Rollins powerbombs him into the railing and that gets two. We hit the chinlock while I believe the crowd is complaining about the belt? Balor slugs back and the crowd is seemingly not giving the match any kind of chance, which is weird because they like both guys. Rollins pounds away on him and springboards in with the flying knee, followed by a nice frog splash for two. Finn comes back with the Sling Blade and escapes the Pedigree, following with a head kick as both guys are down. Finn with the Bloody Sunday DDT for two and he goes up, but misses the Coup De Grace and Rollins hooks him in a triangle choke. That’s an odd choice. Apparently this match is no DQ and there’s no rope break, which is new information. Balor escapes and the camera pans to the title belt, which the crowd boos again. That’s great. That belt is the biggest heel in the promotion. It’s more over than Roman Reigns! Back in, Rollins with a buckle bomb and superkick for two. Fisherman’s suplex gets two for a good near fall. Rollins goes up and Finn knocks him off and comes back with a double stomp to the back of the head for two. He misses the finisher again and Rollins gets the Pedigree for two. Seth goes up and misses a 450, allowing Balor to go up again and Rollins to cut him off AGAIN, this time with the superplex into Pedigree, but Balor escapes. Corner dropkick and Coup De Grace and Balor wins the first Universal title at 19:21. Then we get the unique dynamic of the crowd cheering Balor, but booing the crappy title belt. Really, anything other than Balor winning the big one here would have killed him, and now he can drop it to Rollins at their leisure later on. Match was really good, but they struggled to get the crowd into it and it really felt like another midcard title match, with the crowd distracted by the terrible belt and not really giving it a chance. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Dolph Ziggler is Col. Sanders and beats up Miz in a chicken suit, because that’s exactly what this show needed.
US title: Rusev v. Roman Reigns
For those who thought that Reigns was getting over as a babyface in this feud, fear not, for Brooklyn booed the shit out of him again. And given we’re at 3:40 at this point, they’re probably doing an overrun again. Rusev attacks before the bell and beats on Roman outside, which he SHOULD, because Roman is a dick who shoved his new wife into a wedding cake! Stand up for your woman against that bully, Rusev! Roman puts him on the railing and hits him with the superman punch and the camera is SHAKING and ZOOMING so you know it’s a hellacious brawl, or else Kevin Dunn is off his meds again and suffering from a seizure behind the camera. And indeed the match never happens as they just fight until the refs break them up and send Roman back to the dressing room.
The crowd chants “Don’t come back” at Roman, just so he knows where they stand. Whatever the intention was here, it didn’t work.
Alleged Main Event: Brock Lesnar v. Randy Orton
I understand Brock getting the spot as the biggest star on the show, but I don’t see the crowd buying into this as a bigtime main event after five hours of this show already. And indeed, Orton gets a pretty tepid reaction for his entrance. Just to really overstuff things, we have FIVE PEOPLE on commentary for this match. Hey, did you know that if you were to build a sports entertainer from the ground up, it would look like Randy Orton? Because JBL tells us that interesting fact yet again. Brock beats on him in the corner, but Orton tries the RKO early and gets tossed down. And we go to Suplex City, although Orton seems to have trouble going up for them. Orton rolls out of the ring after six of them, so Brock slams him on the announce table. Back in, we head back to the suplexes and Brock takes him to the floor again, but Orton hits the RKO on the surviving announce table. Back in with the draping DDT and another RKO for two. Brock counters the punt with an F5 for two. Brock pounds away on the mat while Orton does what I assume is a gory bladejob, pooling blood all over the mat in horrifying fashion as they bizarrely refuse to just stop the match before finally calling for the bell at 11:47. Brock keeps pounding on him until Shane McMahon comes out to save, and he gets F5’d. Eh, he’s taken worse. And that’s the show? OK then. Wasn’t really much of a match. So I guess that means this feud must continue? **
The show was looking like an all-time classic after the Cena-Styles match, but then completely collapsed under its own weight from there with a bunch of decent matches that didn’t really amount to anything. I’d say a very mild thumbs up for the Women’s title and Cena match, but pretty much everything else disappointed here and it’s not worth sitting through the entire show past Cena v. Styles.]]>
Finally saw Suicide Squad this afternoon, and it was…OK. Not the disaster that I’d read about or anything, but the plot was really weird and confusing in a lot of places and they seemed to just want to cover it up with a lot of special effects and gunfire. It felt like the initial mission served no purpose, for example. And Boomerang was just kind of there. They made a big deal about how they were working with metahumans, but really the only one with any kind of powers is El Diablo. Like, they had to break Harley Quinn out of solitary so she could hit demons with a baseball bat? I guess I was hoping for a more entertaining car wreck if it was going to be bad, and instead it was just kind of competent and dull most of the way.
Live from Brooklyn, NY
Your hosts are Tom Phillips & Corey Graves
No Way Jose v. Austin Aries
Kind of weird that Andrade was supposed to be the one to get over as the big Latino star, but Jose is carving out that niche in the midcard for himself instead. I kind of feel like they should have switched up the matches and had Jose doing the quick job to Roode while Aries faced Andrade. The crowd is very divided on their loyalties here as they trade takedowns. Aries bails and they fight on the floor for a bit, but Aries necks him on the top rope on the way back in to take over. Aries with the middle rope elbow for two, and an elbowdrop gets two. We hit the chinlock and Jose tosses him to escape as the initial energy kind of dies down. Jose makes the comeback with chops on the apron, but Aries catches him with a kneecrusher into the Last Chancery out of nowhere, forcing Jose to make the ropes. The crowd is pretty much 100% for Aries now. Aries with the rolling elbow, but Jose turns it into a TKO for two. Aries dumps him and follows with a tope suicida, and a nice neckbreaker on the apron to set up the brainbuster, which Jose reverses into a falcon arrow for two. Aries with another elbow, but Jose fires back with his own forearm, so Aries takes him down with a crucifix and corner dropkick for two. They fight to the top and Aries brings him down with a sunset bomb into the Last Chancery to finish at 10:42. Hey, no shame in that loss. *** Fun opener and Jose hung in there with him most of the way. Aries shows respect by beating on Jose again afterwards and giving him another Last Chancery, but Hideo Itami returns to make the save. Aries decides to attack him and Goes To Sleep as a result. That HAD to be a message.
Billie Kay v. Ember Moon
Hopefully Moon is the one who can revive the division now that it’s been gutted. I feel like “Ember Moon” really shows how badly the NXT name generator needs an overhaul, though. They’ve been super-weak for a while now with that stuff. Kind of a weird entrance for Moon, as she got the big Mortal Kombat buildup and then just did the happy babyface deal. Ember glides around Kay with gymnastics for a bit, but Kay slugs her down for two and gets Eat Defeat for two. Over the shoulder backbreaker follows and gets two. Moon makes the comeback with a handspring clothesline and then finishes with a crazy dive off the top rope into a stunner at 4:32. Disappointing debut match where she just kind of sold and sold for Kay, but the finisher was INSANE. **
Bobby Roode v. Andrade Almas
Despite their best efforts to make people boo him, the crowd still sings along with Roode’s awesome theme song and cheers his entrance. This is gonna be a rough night for Almas. Roode works the arm and evades Almas while the crowd cheers everything he does. Graves goes off on t-shirts and cargo shorts, which is like 90% of my wardrobe, so I guess we wouldn’t get along. Long as he doesn’t hate on the classic Canadian Tuxedo. Almas dumps Roode with a headscissors, but goes up and gets crotched, allowing Roode to take over. Delayed suplex gets two. We hit the chinlock and Almas fights out and dropkicks Roode to the floor on a mistimed spot. He follows with a dive that was also kind of mistimed, and back in with a crossbody for two. Bulldog gets two. Roode counters the running knee with a clothesline for two and they battle on top, leading to Almas flipping down and hitting a german suplex for two. A sloppy Lionsault hits knees, but Almas recovers with a small package for two. They slug it out while the crowd continues cheering Roode, and Almas hits the running knees on his second attempt. Roode blocks the DDT and catches him with a spinebuster, and a pumphandle slam finishes at 10:24. Apparently that’s his new finisher. This one didn’t really work and the finish was anticlimactic. Like, a pumphandle slam? Really? **1/4 Almas is a total disaster as a babyface character, he’s not getting over at all.
Meanwhile, there appears to be anarchy in the streets, and someone writes “Sanity” on a brick wall.
Meanwhile, HHH unveils the trophy to be presented to the winner of the CWC on September 14.
So that first hour was pretty much a throwaway, hopefully the big matches can deliver.
NXT tag team titles: The Revival v. Johnny Gargano & Tomasso Ciampa
Dawson works on Ciampa’s arm to start, but gets chased out of the ring. Back in, they trade holds on the mat and Dawson gets pinballed in the corner and Gargano hits double knees in the corner for two. Dash comes in and Gargano works on the arm, but Dawson elbows him down to take over. The babyfaces toss them and hit stereo dives, but the Revival uses “classic tag team chicanery” to take over on Ciampa and add some clubbering in the corner as well. They cut off the tag by taking out Gargano and an assisted suplex gets two on Ciampa. Ciampa fights for the tag again and fails, and Dawson dropkicks him for two. More tag team greatness as Dash takes a fake bump off the apron, distracting the ref long enough for them to hit a Demolition elbow for two on Ciampa. OK, that was great. Finally it’s hot tag to Johnny Wrestling, and he hits a jumping neckbreaker on Dawson for two. Slingshot spear gets two. Dawson catches him with a DDT and Dash gets two off that. Back to Ciampa, who bridges into an armbar on Dawson until Dash makes the last second save. Gargano spears Dawson to break up a suplex and Ciampa cradles for a heart attack inducing two count off that. The baldies slug it out and Ciampa puts him down with a knee, but Dawson recovers for Shatter Machine, which Ciampa counters into a superkick for two. Stereo superkicks on Dash get the pin, but his foot was on the ropes and the ref calls it off immediately. They get rid of Dawson again, but he pulls Ciampa out from the floor and posts him, allowing Dash to clip Gargano, and Dash comes off the top with a double stomp to the knee. Kneebar finishes at 19:09. Quite a night for the heels so far. Started slow, but the finish was incredible, with some amazingly timed spots. ****
NXT Women’s title: Asuka v. Bayley
I’m very torn here because the story is building to Bayley regaining the title, but I want Bayley to go to the main roster, and I don’t want to see Asuka lose. Bayley tries some clotheslines in the corner and immediately gets smacked down with a knee to the face that puts her on the floor. Back in, Asuka takes over with the hip attack in the corner and works on the arm for two. Bayley gets hung on the middle rope and beat on with kicks, and that gets two. Bayley fires back with a suplex and the kneedrop for two, and she manages to dodge an attack from Asuka, as a crossbody gets two. Another attempt misses and Asuka goes to work with a Shining Wizard for two. They fight to the top and Asuka gets hung in the Tree of Woe, and Bayley drops an elbow on her for two. They take turns throwing bombs at each other, but Asuka trips her and goes for the submission hold, which Bayley turns into a bridge for two. Asuka goes to the anklelock off that, but Bayley rolls out. Asuka pounds her with kicks, but Bayley is PISSED and wants to be hit in the face, then backslides her for two when she obliges. Bayley throws her own elbows, but Asuka just wallops her with a backfist. They kind of mess up a spot, with Bayley trying to block a kick with a powerbomb and failing, but they just fight through it and Bayley gets a Dominator instead. Asuka catches her with the choke, but Bayley fights up with the belly to belly for two. Bayley dives in and Asuka catches her with a crazy flying Asuka-lock, and this time Bayley rolls over on her for two. Asuka puts her down with kicks this time and finishes at 14:07. Good, wasn’t time for Asuka to lose yet, and it’s time for Bayley to move on. As Corey notes, not every story can have a happy ending, and sometimes people are just better in the ring. ***3/4 Of course, now Asuka has cleaned out the division in dramatic fashion and has no challengers left.
NXT title: Samoa Joe v. Shinsuke Nakamura
After all the bummer finishes tonight, they HAVE to be building up to a big babyface win here. They fight over a wristlock while the crowd goes crazy for Nakamura. Joe grabs a headlock, but Nakamura threatens with kicks to escape and throws knees in the corner. Joe hauls him out for a fight on the floor, and back in with the enzuigiri. Nakamura bails to the apron, but misses his kneedrop out there and splats on the floor, and Joe follows with a dive. Back in, that gets two. Back elbow gets two. Joe wraps him up in a hold, but Nakamura makes the ropes, so Joe goes to a surfboard instead. Joe goes to the knee and follows with the powerbomb into the crab and into the STF. Nakamura rolls him over for two and comes back with a high kick, and an enzuigiri puts Joe down as Nakamura takes over. Knees in the corner, but he walks into an atomic drop, and Joe misses the senton. Nakamura grabs a facelock and throws knees from there, but walks into the uranage in the corner. Joe tries the Muscle Buster, but Nakamura fights him with a missile dropkick. That looked awesome in slow mo, like something out of a kung fu movie. They slug it out and Joe levels him with a forearm. Another one is rolled through into an armbar by Nakamura, but Joe powers out of it and into a Cloverleaf, before Nakamura makes the ropes. Joe manages to wrap him up with the choke, but Nakamura makes the ropes and comes back with the german suplex. Joe counters the Kinshasa with a powerslam for two. Joe tries another Muscle Buster and hits it this time, but it only gets two. A second one is escaped, and the Kinshasa gets two. Nakamura keeps coming with a knee to the back and another Kinshasa gives him the NXT title at 21:18! Took a while to get going, but they’ll probably have other, better matches. ***1/2
It was looking like one of the weaker editions of Takeover, but the crowd atmosphere was ELECTRIC and really made it an entertaining show despite the lower quality of in-ring product tonight. Too many heels going over tonight, but it was still an easy thumbs up show despite the negatives.]]>
Apologies in advance for formatting problems, as for various reasons I’m doing this one on my backup-backup-backup Ubuntu-formatted netbook because it was the only computer I had charged and I’m pressed for time tonight.
Live from Washington, DC
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Byron Saxton & JBL.
Charlotte & Dana Brooke v. Sasha Banks & Bayley
Bayley gets an ungodly pop for her entrance, so no worries about people not knowing her here. Kind of funny that NXT has done all the heavy lifting and clearly they just need to put her out there now without rewriting the character or whatever. The heels attack and double-team Bayley to start, but Bayley puts Charlotte down with the elbow out of the corner and Sasha comes in with a sloppy headscissors. The heels get the heat on Sasha for a bit and Bayley gets the quick hot tag and runs wild, but Dana cuts her off in the corner with an ugly bump off the top. I really hope Bayley INTENDED to whiplash her neck on the top rope there. Bayley is face in peril, like she was born to play, and it’s hot tag Sasha again as this whips along at a very pleasant pace. Sasha with the double knees on Charlotte for two, and a flying bodypress gets two, but Charlotte comes back with the neckbreaker for two. She goes for the figure-four, but Sasha reverses to the Bank Statement and Dana has to save. Everyone brawls outside the ring. Charlotte heads back in to finish Banks, but another Bank Statement does her in at 8:08 to set up Summerslam. Fun, simple, heated tag match. Dana was useless as always, but didn’t hurt the match at all. ***1/2
The Wyatt Family v. The New Day
Even the lengthy video package can’t make this feud make sense. Speaking of which, did this REALLY need a 10 minute video recap to set up a meaningless six man? Also, the New Day are definitely not the longest reigning tag champions “of all time” unless Demolition ceased to exist. They’re the longest since 2002 when the Smackdown version was created, but I don’t know why the lineage of the WWF World tag titles is now gone. Also, Bray apparently has white guy dreads now and he’s looking really lean since the injury. Hopefully the Dave Matthews Band concert was good. Strowman lays out Kofi to start and the Wyatts pound on him for a bit. Bray with the senton for two and Bran Slowhand does whatever he’s doing in there, but Kofi gets the tag to Big E. Big splash for the Vintner, but Rowan gets a rollup for two and everyone brawls to the floor. Bray tries to finish Kofi with Sister Abigail, but Xavier breaks it up and runs wild on him because he’s not afraid any longer. Considering Steve Lombardi is scarier than Wyatt as of late, that can’t be too tough to overcome. Sadly, he runs into Sister Abigail and gets pinned at 8:59. You know, to set up the tag title match we’re not getting? Exciting finish, but I don’t get the point of any of it. **1/2
US title: Rusev v. Zack Ryder
Zack, the ultimate pandering twit, is in all red white and blue because he’s suddenly about AMERICA. Ryder gets some jobber offense before Rusev casually swats him down on a dropkick attempt and then pounds the hell out of him. Spinkick gets two as JBL actually references Harry Truman’s wife watching Capitol Sports wrestling on Thursdays. WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?! Rusev controls on the mat and cuts off the Broski Boot, but Ryder reverses a suplex into a neckbreaker for two. They fight to the floor and Rusev beats him up out there, but Ryder gets a nice dropkick off the railing to fight back. Back in, the Rough Ryder sets up a flying elbow, but Rusev gets his knees up and finishes the poor fool at 7:00. Entertaining enough, but mostly a squash. *1/2 Rusev wants a further beating, but Mojo Rawley saves to the sound of crickets.
(at this point, I switch back to my wonderful regular Sony Vaio and nearly lose the damn rant because the file wouldn’t transfer properly, but thankfully I make a Ricky Morton-like comeback and get it working again, which had me freaking out because I’m enjoying the show at this point and don’t want to just abandon it.)
Meanwhile, Seth Rollins meets with Stephanie and Mick Foley for some more talking to fill out a show that’s already too long.
Sami Zayn v. Kevin Owens
Both guys have new red variations on their gear, because it’s apparently a RAW solidarity thing, even though no one else on the show has special gear to show how much they love RAW. Really it just makes them look like a couple of dorks. They quickly fight to the floor and Sami gains control out there, and back into the ring for a leg lariat that gets two. Owens drops him on the top rope to cut him off and follows with the Cannonball for two. Owens controls and mocks the crowd, then boots him down for two. We go to CHINLOCK CITY, but Sami comes back with the Michinoku driver for two and they fight to the floor again. Sami tries a springboard moonsault that goes really horrible for him and he may have injured his arm again. Back in, Blue Thunder Bomb gets two, and they fight to the top, but Zayn misses a bodypress and gets superkicked for two. KO with a Crossface, but Sami makes the ropes to break. Owens with a pair of clotheslines in the corner, but Sami fights back with the exploder and Owens bails to escape. Sami hits a brainbuster on the apron, but both guys beat the count back in. They do the big slugfest spot and Sami tries to hit him with the corner DDT, but Owens blocks with a superkick. Cannonball smashes Sami’s head into the post, and the frog splash gets two. Sami blocks the powerbomb and gets the tornado DDT off that, but walks into another superkick, then fires off a pair of half-nelson suplexes for two. Owens counters the Helluva kick with the powerbomb, but Zayn gets his foot on the ropes to break. Owens demands he stay down and slaps him around to punctuate it, but Zayn fires back with suplexes into the corner and hits the Helluva Kick this time, then holds him up and hits a second one for the pin at 18:33, just to make sure. The only real criticism I can offer is that they went with too many false finishes because the kicking out of finisher stuff gets overused as it is, but otherwise it was a hell of a match with a whole bunch of times that I would have bought as the ending. ****1/4
Natalya v. Becky Lynch
Nattie bails a few times to start but gets a cheapshot on the knee to take over. And we get a LONG heat segment on the knee. Finally Becky makes the comeback and tries the armbar, but Natalya counters into the Sharpshooter, which Becky quickly escapes. Becky with a missile dropkick for two, but Nattie clips the knee again and finishes with the Sharpshooter at 8:55. They tried, but this was in a death spot after that last match. Nattie as a heel is really dull again. **
Meanwhile, Shane and Daniel Bryan give a peptalk to Dean Ambrose (“Of all the guys the Shield beat up, you were always my favorite!”)
Intercontinental title: The Miz v. Darren Young
I don’t feel like this is going to help the show any. Young controls on the mat for a bit, but Maryse distracts him and Miz takes over with a chinlock. And then we get an even longer headlock and a thrilling backslide battle that gets two for Young. Young makes the comeback with his generic offense and suplexes Miz on the apron for two. Was there no agents there to say “We already used that spot tonight”? Miz escapes the chickenwing and takes a walk, but Backlund stares him back into the ring and we get a bizarre showdown between Backlund and Maryse as Bob snaps and I guess everyone is DQ’d or counted out at 8:38. Apparently Young is snapping now, ala Bob. Lucky him. This feud is hot steaming death. -*
John Cena & Enzo & Big Cass v. AJ Styles & Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
Note to Enzo: There’s four movies in the Scream series. Enzo’s promo is just out of control long on a show already running way over time. These things really need to get down to 2 hours, and not bloated out to 3.5 hours by adding more matches and promos. Enzo & Cass control the Club with double-teams to start and Cass tosses them around, but Enzo quickly gets caught in the heel corner and worked over. Byron Saxton lets us know that the Club are the kinds of people to violate No Trespassing signs, and the other announcers are so awestruck by this idiotic description that they’re struck silent for about 20 seconds. Anderson with a sleeper on Enzo, but it’s hot tag Cena and he quickly destroys Styles before walking into a Pele kick. Cena as a hot tag guy in a team is a role he was born to play, and one that could probably lengthen his career by many years. Everyone hits their finishes in the “everyone hits their finishes” portion of the match, and Cena teases the countout before beating it back in at 9. I’m getting really sick of that spot already. Back in, Styles Clash on Cena gets two, and the Magic Killer on Cass follows. So we end up with Gallows against Enzo and that builds for a while before Gallows casually gets rid of him with a superkick. OK then. Cena brings AJ off the top with an FU for the pin at 14:27 to end it. So I guess that’s it for Cena and AJ? Cena and Styles were barely involved at all, and it was just a normal tag match and then a bunch of messy highspots. Really disappointing and just felt like even more time filler. **1/2
The Highlight Reel, with guest Randy Orton. Because this show needs to be even LONGER, and with more promos! They jibber jabber back and forth and we actually stop to watch a promo for Brock Lesnar. By the way, Orton’s on Smackdown and Brock is on RAW, so we’re already ignoring the split before it gets started. And after a long (LONNNNNG) back-and-forth, Orton hits the RKO mostly outta nowhere on Jericho to end the segment. Orton did a “No enhancement needed” cheapshot at Brock here, which is hilarious considering that they had to CHANGE THE WELLNESS POLICY to keep Orton from getting fired for repeated offenses.
WWE title: Dean Ambrose v. Seth Rollins v. Roman Reigns
Three-way brawl to start and Reigns slugs it out with Ambrose with Rollins on the floor, but Rollins gets rid of Reigns. He beats on Ambrose in the corner, but Reigns saves and Dean hits them both with a dive off the top. They brawl on the floor and Reigns dumps Rollins into the crowd. Back in the ring, Ambrose with the flying elbow on Reigns for two, but Rollins flies in with a frog splash for two. Reigns powers out of a Pedigree and hits Dean with the superman punch, but everyone hits the big moves and they’re all out. Finally Rollins and Ambrose team up on Reigns for the big pop, sending him to the floor for a pair of dives and then powerbombing him through the announce table. And then Rollins turns on Ambrose with a chair to the back again. Back in the ring, Ambrose counters out of the buckle bomb, but Rollins gets the superplex into Falcon Arrow for two. Roman reappears to powerbomb Ambrose and Rollins in succession. Ambrose ducks the superman punch and backslides Roman for two, but another superman punch puts him on the floor. Rollins with the Pedigree on Roman for two, but a second one is blocked, so Rollins goes with the buckle bomb instead, which Reigns no-sells and hits the superman punch, only to walk into Dirty Deeds and get pinned at 18:00. Man, they must be PISSED at Reigns. Good main event, although Reigns is so hated that his presence in these things is really starting to hurt the matches. ***1/2 It just feels the crowd is waiting for him to get lost and have the “real” stars wrestle. Glad to see they’re still running with Ambrose for the time being, so we’ll likely see Rollins get HHH’d into being World champion tomorrow.
Good show, although one that was overly long, just like last month. They easily could have cut three matches out of this and had a barnburner. As it is, I’d give it a thumbs up because it exceeded expectations, but the only thing I’d go out of my way to watch is Zayn v. Owens. The rest was good for what it was, but not worth sitting through 200 minutes of this PPV.]]>
Thought I’d jump forward in time for fun, to see just how badly World Class was falling apart at this point since we’re around here with the Observer Flashbacks. Plus the main event was…interesting.
Taped from Dallas, TX
Your host is Bill Mercer, who thankfully has shaved his ugly beard off by this point.
Buzz Sawyer & Matt Borne v. The US Express (Brad & Bart Batten)
The team of “Maniac” and “Mad Dog” is such a natural one that I don’t know why they didn’t do it more often. Sawyer throws a Batten around with press slams, but Batten gets a rollup for two. The Battens are kind of annoying because it’s not like the Usos where there’s some subtle differences to tell them apart. They’re IDENTICAL twins, who wear identical gear with “BB” on their boots either way. Think a pair of slightly more well-built Mike Grahams or Greg Gagnes, basically. The Battens double-team Buzz with dropkicks to send him running away, and it’s over to Borne. A Batten controls the heels with a series of armdrags as these guys are just the most bland babyface team possible. It’s like they want to be the Rock N Roll Express, but rock n roll is too rebellious for them, so they’re like the Smooth Jazz Express or Elevator Music Express instead. Finally Borne tosses a Batten to cut them off and slams him on the floor, and Buzz suplexes him back into the ring for two. He drops Batten back-first onto Borne’s knee for two, and Matt goes to the bearhug before turning it into a belly to belly. Batten makes a comeback and Sawyer cuts him off with a beautiful powerslam for two, and Borne finishes with a Whoopie Cushion at 8:44. Good solid tag match here, although the Battens didn’t even get a hot tag. **3/4
Percy Pringle, looking much thinner in his younger days, feels like it’s time for Chris Adams to return the World Class title to Rick Rood, and he introduces his new man, Jos LeDuc. They were really reaching for heels at this point, clearly. LeDuc is looking for some big nasty men. Well, good for him.
Jos LeDuc v. Perry Jackson
LeDuc wasn’t long for World Class anyway. Jackson would later try for his 15 minutes of wrestling fame by changing his gimmick to “Action” Jackson to cash in on the movie that nobody remembers today. LeDuc, old and out of shape by this point, slugs away on Jackson and stomps him down, then no-sells a comeback attempt and finishes with a bearhug at 4:00. LeDuc looked TERRIBLE here. DUD
Rick Rood v. The Dingo Warrior
Rick was of course on his way to Crockett soon. This was very early in Dingo’s WCCW career, as Gary Hart was managing him and promising a partner named “Socko” that would presumably form the Road Warrior ripoff team that Fritz had been pushing for. Technically he was a heel at this point (the last time in his career that would happen) but the fans basically turned him babyface and he never looked back. Rood slams him and Warrior pops right up again and gets his own press slam. So Rude bails and Gary Hart throws out a challenge for an arm-wrestling match RIGHT THERE with $10,000 on the line. Sure, why not. So the match grinds to a halt and they go down to the mat, but Rood just attacks him and Warrior no-sells and throws him out again. Back in after MORE stalling, and Rood tries a full nelson that gets immediately broken while the managers jaw with each other. Probably the match would be better if they put mics on Pringle and Hart. Rood fires away in the corner, which gives us a glimpse of a large “Smoking Allowed in Arena” sign. Man, the Von Erichs must have been PUMPED to find that out! It doesn’t even specify what you can and can’t smoke, and that’s a legal loophole if I’ve ever seen one. Rood slugs away and gets a dropkick, but Warrior blocks a piledriver (or an Atomic Drop as Mercer calls it) and throws knees in the corner. “It’s even more of an awesome display of brute strength than we thought it would be!” declares Mercer. Well my standards were pretty low coming in, so I suppose that’s technically true. Rood goes to a lengthy chinlock, but Warrior comes back with another press slam (his one move) and goes after Pringle for the double DQ at 12:00. What a shit finish to a shit match. -**
Lance Von Erich v. The Grappler
Although Lance was TERRIBLE, he had a great look for wrestling and probably should have been a star if the Von Erich scam hadn’t destroyed his marketability. Lance trades some mat-wrestling with Grappler and monkey-flips him to set up a backdrop as Grappler bails. Lance’s timing is really bad here. Grappler takes over with a suplex, but Lance comes back with a sloppy sunset flip for the pin at 6:21.
Wow, that Dingo Warrior match was…something. I don’t know what that something is, but it whatever it was, this was it.]]>
It’s the greatest one of all time! I’m pretty sure announcing that in advance couldn’t bite them in the ass at all.
Live from Las Vegas, NV
Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Byron Saxton
WWE tag titles: The New Day v. Enzo & Cass v. The Vaudevillains v. The Club
Xavier steals the “Enzo & Cass look like Han Solo & Chewbecca” meme that’s been floating around, but it’s still pretty funny. The Club doubles on Kofi to start, but he and Enzo come back with some high flying to clear the ring. And then Kofi cradles him for two. They do a nice little mat sequence and then we get Cass v. Big , but English tags himself in and we get a big four-way brawl. That goes nowhere and Kofi gets worked over by the Vaudevillains in the corner. Kofi fights off the Club and tags Enzo in, but the Club quickly hauls him out of the ring, which also goes nowhere as he immediately makes a hot tag to Big Cass. Cass clears the ring and throws Enzo onto the pile of guys, but the Rocket Launcher only gets two as Anderson saves. Kofi takes out Enzo, but the Whirling Dervish gets two on him in a messed up sequence where Kofi looked legit pissed at Enzo. The camera misses all kinds of stuff at ringside and the Club hits the Magic Killer on English, but the New Day regroups and finishes English themselves at 11:40. This was a huge mess, with nothing going on for the first 8 minutes and then a bunch of sloppy finishing stuff. And poor English looks like a compete dork, having to take the Club’s finish, then lie there dead for a minute while the New Day hit THEIR finisher on Anderson, and then pinned English. *1/2
Meanwhile, all the Money in the Bank heels bicker with each other in a comedy segment.
Baron Corbin v. Dolph Ziggler
Corbin beats Dolph down to counter Ziggler’s attempts at wrestling, which gives us JBL comparing Ziggler to Dusty Wolfe. And then we get a dueling chant of “Let’s go Ziggler / Ziggler sucks”. Yeah, he does kinda suck now. Corbin with a clothesline for two and he cuts off a comeback and pounds away on the mat as the crowd is just DEAD. And then they wake up and start a huge “boring” chant. Well that’s something. So Dolph sells and sells and sells and then miraculously comes back with a million clotheslines, which Byron notes is “why Dolph calls himself the measuring stick.” Not why OTHER people call him that, mind you. And then JBL references Kevin Von Erich. I feel like we need Cards Against Humanity: JBL Edition where all the answers are just retired Texas wrestlers or obscure bowlers. Dolph misses the fameasser, but Corbin charges and hits the post, and the fameasser gets two. Corbin heads outside and catches a charging Dolph with an awkward suplex on the floor and then they have the balls to do the Japan main event countout tease spot in this garbage fire of a match. Back in the ring, Corbin slugs him down, but Ziggler escapes End of Days and gets a superkick for two. “It’s a hell of a match!” notes Cole. No, it’s really not. Dolph in particular flip-flops between selling like he’s dead and then popping up like a superball and bouncing all over the ring. They fight on top and Corbin crotches him down and finishes with End of Days at 12:21. Thank god. And then all the announcers immediately trip all over themselves to declare what a great match it was. That’s why they have no credibility and someone like Jim Ross does. Like really, who gave these guys TWELVE MINUTES?! ½*
Charlotte & Dana Brooke v. Becky Lynch & Natalya
Nattie quickly takes Dana down for the low dropkick and they hit the Hart Attack clothesline on Charlotte. Nattie fights off the heels in the corner, but Charlotte boots her down to take over. So they’re talking about some bullshit that I don’t care about and Cole makes a point and says that JBL was “the longest reigning champion in Smackdown history”. What does that even MEAN? I know they’re obsessed with everything and everyone being some record breaking thing, but come on. Anyway, Nattie gets beat up for a bit and Becky gets the hot tag and gets a missile dropkick on Charlotte for two, but Charlotte cradles Natalya with her feet on the ropes for two. Sharpshooter, but Dana breaks it up, runs the idiot babyfaces together, and Charlotte hits her neckbreaker on Natalya for the pin at 6:55. I have no idea what the point of this match was. And then Natalya suddenly turns on Becky because she’s apparently a sore loser in addition to being an idiot. *1/2 I feel like the whole division has regressed back to all the women being a bunch of bitches who bitch at each other.
Sheamus v. Apollo Crews
Sheamus attacks to start (after everyone has waited for the video package to finish playing, of course) and they trade headlocks, but Sheamus quickly hits the backbreaker on the floor. Back in, Sheamus pounds on him while the announcers trade clichés about how Crews had a fairy tale debut but the CLOCK MIGHT STRIKE MIDNIGHT tonight. Twenty eight writers to come up with this stuff, folks. Sheamus goes to the chinlock and hits the rolling senton for two, and back to the chinlock. Apollo makes the WWE Mandated Comeback with a bunch of clotheslines at the appointed time and an enzuigiri for two. He suplexes Sheamus to the floor and follows with a nice moonsault onto the floor, which gets two back in the ring. Sheamus slams him out of the corner for two and hits White Noise for two, but Crews rolls him over for the pin at 8:40 because Sheamus was being lazy on the cover. Wow, what a huge, dominating win to beat the other midcarder on a fluke like that. Match of the night thus far. *3/4 I’m just not seeing it with Crews.
John Cena v. AJ Styles
Good, we need a cool-down after that last classic. Anyway, finally the crowd wakes up for this and does a huge chant-off after the ring intros. AJ escapes Cena’s attempts at mat-wrestling, but Cena throws a monkey flip at him, so AJ throws forearms until Cena takes him down with a belly to belly for two. They head to the floor and Styles evades him out there and takes over in the ring with a kneedrop for two. Cena fights back, but misses a charge, and AJ works the ribs over. Cena tries another comeback, but Styles cuts him off with a dropkick and goes to the chinlock as this has been really disappointing so far. Cena does make the comeback now for real with an enzuigiri, but AJ counters the Five Knuckle Shuffle with a rana and puts Cena on the floor. Now, Cole calls it “You can’t see me”, so does that mean Five Knuckle Shuffle is now banned? AJ tries a dive and misses, and Cena gets the STF in the ring. AJ quickly gets the ropes and they fight to the top, but that goes nowhere. AJ charges and Cena tries to backdrop him out of the ring or something, but AJ gets hooked on the ropes and that nearly went south in a hurry. AJ tries the springboard forearm, but Cena catches him for the FU, which Styles rolls into the Calf Crusher. Cena makes the ropes off that. AJ works the knee for a bit, but Cena catches him with a clothesline and the FU for two. Cena goes up and Styles catches him with a powerbomb on the way down for two. Pele Kick sets up the Styles Clash, which gets two. Springboard 450 hits knee and they reverse each other’s finish attempts until the ref gets bumped and Cena hits the FU. This brings out Anderson and Gallows for the Magic Killer and Styles gets the pin at 24:12. JBL is outraged at the BS finish, which is kind of an odd way to call attention to the fact that the match was promoted as the Club not being at ringside. Cena seemed really rusty here, but they were getting it together pretty good at the end with all the false finishes. What a lazy finish, though. ***3/4
Money In The Bank: Dean Ambrose v. Cesaro v. Alberto Del Rio v. Kevin Owens v. Sami Zayn v. Chris Jericho
Big brawl to start and Cesaro cannonballs onto Jericho on the floor, then Zayn follows with a dive onto everyone. Cute spot as Owens teases a run up the ladder with Zayn pinned under it, but then just kicks him in the face instead. Into the ring, where Ambrose goes after Jericho and gets suplexed onto the ladder as a result. Cesaro hits everyone with forearms in the corners until Owens cuts him off with a superkick and runs him into the ladder. Owens cannonballs the other guys, but Zayn cuts HIM off and hits the corner kicks onto everyone. Del Rio gets a ladder and hits some people with that, then double stomps Cesaro onto a ladder and makes the first climb attempt. Del Rio and Cesaro slug it out on top of the ladder, which results in Del Rio getting a hanging armbar on top of the ladder. Owens saves, so Cesaro hits him with the forearm off the ladder. Jericho and Ambrose battle on the ladder next and Jericho hits the codebreaker to bring him down. Zayn fights with Jericho on top, but Owens pushes them over, and Del Rio hits Owens with the backstabber to take him out. Cesaro gives Del Rio and Jericho a giant swing each, which is really smart for this match because you can’t climb if your balance is all fucked up. Ambrose comes off the ladder with an elbow on Cesaro, but Owens puts him on a ladder and frog splashes him. Owens and Zayn again slug it out and Zayn gives him a sick Michinoku driver onto a ladder. How do you even take that bump? Zayn climbs, but Del Rio smashes the ladder into his body to bring him down and sets up a wacky ladder scaffold and even the announcers are like “Why is he wasting his time with that shit?” So all six guys end up fighting on the ladder contraption, which is a neat visual but utterly ridiculous in something that’s supposed to be a serious match. Everyone paws at the contract, but Cesaro and Del Rio go flying off (with Del Rio taking a terrifying bump on the top rope). Zayn goes after it, but Owens cuts him off with a powerbomb on the ladder bridge and climbs for it, only to be cut off by Dean Ambrose for the win at 21:36. Nice to see him finally win something. The match was fun for the most part, but really hit a wall once they set up the stupid ladder bridge and never recovered. There was no particular storyline to the match, either, it was just a bunch of spots. ***1/2
So they added the two pre-shows matches into the main show for no real reason, and we’re now 2.5 hours into this show with two matches still to come. Like, WHY? I’m writing this at 1:30 in the morning. Some of us just want to go to sleep, you know! The only people left watching these shows are us 40 year old nostalgia addicts.
US title match: Rusev v. Titus O’Neil
Rusev runs Titus over on the floor and pounds away in the corner, as his first US title reign has now been upgraded to “almost a year”. That’s some fuzzy math. Rusev grabs a chinlock on the mat and holds onto that for a while as he yells at Titus’s kids at ringside, and that inspires Titus to make his comeback. And you know what that means: Clotheslines, and lots of ‘em! Titus gets some kind of shitty slam for two and a spinebuster for two as he’s just totally blown up six minutes in. Pumphandle slam gets two and they fight on the floor as the crowd does not care in the least. Thankfully Rusev kicks him down and finishes with the Accolade at 8:10. What the fuck was the point of this feud? No one bought Titus as a serious challenger and Rusev kicked the shit out of him in a boring match and won clean. *
WWE World title: Roman Reigns v. Seth Rollins
The match starts at the three hour mark of the PPV, and although I have no issue with the show going long if needed, this wasn’t needed. They had a fine six match show and added two shitty matches that added way too much time. Roman overpowers Rollins, but Seth comes back with a dive and walks into a samoan drop. They slug it out and Roman puts him down with a clothesline and more clotheslines in the corner. Tilt a whirl slam gets two. Seth comes back with slaps, so Roman punches him out of the ring and throws him into the announce table. Cole clarifies that this is the NEW Roman Reigns: Battle-hardened, with a chip on his shoulder. JBL makes sure to clarify that the old Reigns was also awesome, though. Well of course. Back in the ring, Roman brings him in with his new crucifix powerbomb, which gets two. Superman punch misses and Seth comes back with a pair of dives and a sling blade for two. Cole: “He’s gotta get him back in the ring! A countout doesn’t help anyone…but the champion.” Michael Cole, ladies and gentlemen. Reigns escapes a Pedigree and hits the superman punch for two. Rollins comes back with the flying knee to the head and goes up with a frog splash for two. Why are multiple guys doing frog splashes on the same show? That’s the kind of thing that agents generally are supposed to prevent. Rollins goes back up and Reigns follows, so Seth brings him down with a turnbuckle powerbomb for two. I feel like he should stop doing that move, what with retiring Sting with it and all. Rollins puts him on top and the crowd is really distracted and bored and not into this at all, and Seth gets the superplex into Falcon Arrow for two. They slug it out and Reigns powerbombs him for two. They slug it out again and Rollins gets another turnbuckle bomb, but Reigns hits a superman punch on the rebound for two. Rollins bails to the floor and Reigns charges after him, but spears the barricade instead. Back in, we get ANOTHER ref bump tonight, and Reigns spears Rollins for two. Another spear is countered into a Pedigree in a slick reversal, and Rollins gets two. Another Pedigree and Rollins wins the title at 26:02 to end our national nightmare. The match was really flat because people just aren’t into Reigns. *** And then Ambrose cashes in.
WWE World title: Seth Rollins v. Dean Ambrose
Dirty Deeds and Ambrose is the new champion in eight seconds. Well, the show ended up being newsworthy, at least. And the reaction that Ambrose gets is what a babyface champion is supposed to get.
The show was just way too long, especially if Rollins and Reigns were getting 30 minutes, and they completely lost the crowd at the end. But Ambrose finally winning the big one was a nice payoff, and hopefully they take the opportunity to make Reigns go away for a while for his own good. I’d call the show a disappointment overall, given that none of the big three matches delivered close to what was promised, but it was still good enough for a slight thumbs up. But a show promoted as “the greatest Money in the Bank of all time” should have had more.]]>
The SmarK Rant for NWA Starrcade ’86: Night of the Skywalkers
What the hell, let’s do it. People have been bugging me to do the full version on the WWE Network forever now anyway, and since we’re at that point in the Observer Flashbacks now is as good a time as any. As a note, I would once again like to compliment the amazing production department of the Network for cleaning up the master and making it look pristine again. Given what they frequently have to work with, they do an astonishingly great job.
Live from Atlanta, GA / Greensboro, NC
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Rick Stewart in one city, and Bob Caudle & Johnny Weaver in the other.
Tim Horner & Nelson Royal v. Don & Rocky Kernodle
Rocky does some nice mat wrestling with Horner to start, but Don comes in with a running powerslam for two. Over to 100 year old Nelson Royal (OK, that’s unfair, he was actually only 50 at that point), who dodges a blind charge as Horner gets a rollup for two. Royal with a sleeper on Don, but Rocky comes in with a sunset flip off the top for two. That was slick. Rocky and Horner collide on a criss-cross and Don comes back in with a delayed suplex for two. Rocky comes in and tries to finish with a rolling reverse cradle, but Horner reverses that and gets the pin at 6:12. This was OK, although the crowd was cheering for the Kernodles mostly. **
Brad Armstrong v. Jimmy Garvin
Jimmy Garvin was such an awesome character at this point that it makes me sad how terrible he became just a few years later. Garvin is also very, very popular here and has to try hard to heel on the crowd and make them boo him. Brad frustrates him on the mat with a headscissors and they fight over a wristlock and get nowhere. The commentary of Rick Stewart makes me wonder why David Crockett didn’t work the supercards. Was he busy doing production in the back? They trade armbars as the commentators have long stretches of silence, which is a weird change from today’s non-stop banter from idiots. Garvin takes him to the mat and works the leg, and both he and Precious reassure the viewers that he ain’t goin’ nowhere. Consider me reassured. Armstrong in fact proves him wrong and goes to the arm and you can actually see the announcers sitting at ringside and not saying anything. I don’t need a constant stream of inanity, but SOME commentary is nice and this is like minutes of awkward silences and it’s just weird. Granted there’s not much to talk about here, but David was always good at filling in the silences with babble. Garvin works the headscissors with some cheating, but Brad switches him to a headlock as we’re 9:00 into this and clearly headed for a draw. Brad cranks on a headlock as there’s just nothing going on here, but Garvin escapes with a backdrop suplex and drops a knee for two. Garvin finally gets frustrated and tosses Brad for a nice bump, and back in for two. Brad reverses a slam attempt for two, but charges and hits knee in the corner and Garvin gets two. Small package gets two, reversed by Brad for two. Garvin grabs a sleeper and then goes up, but misses a flying splash as time expires at 15:00. Match was nothing for the first 10:00, but it got really good and heated at the finish. *** It wasn’t boring at all, just nondescript. Also, fun fact: Jimmy Garvin and Precious have been married for two years longer than I have been alive. That kind of longevity is a rarity in wrestling.
The Barbarian & Shaska Whatley v. Hector Guerrero & Baron Von Raschke
This is like a bad first round matchup in the Crockett Cup or something. Hector gets double-teamed by the heels in their corner, but Barbarian charges and lands on the floor, allowing Hector to follow with a dive. This only angers Barbarian, who drops Hector on the railing. Back in, they continue working him over as Hector wisely does 100% of the work here while Baron stands on the apron. Barbarian with the big boot for two, but Hector comes back and spits on Shaska to allow the hot tag to Baron. Baron quickly gets the claw and drops an elbow for the pin at 6:18. Baron looked ridiculously old here, even confined to working 30 seconds after the hot tag. *1/2
Meanwhile, Dusty Rhodes just wants to be left alone in the dressing room, away from the cameras. Well, there’s a first time for everything.
US Tag team titles: Ivan Koloff & Krusher Khruschev v. The Kansas Jayhawks
This is actually a rematch of the finals of the US tag title tournament. The idea of Dutch Mantel as a babyface is just weird. Talk about miscast. The Jayhawks quickly switch off on Ivan in the corner with arm-wringers, and Khrusher comes in and gets smashed. Dutch gets caught in the heel corner, but goads Ivan back into his corner and they continue working him over. Finally Krusher just drags Dutch out of the ring and drops him on the railing to take over. Back in, Dutch hits them both with a clothesline and Jaggers comes in to do his Dusty Rhodes impression as it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. It’s a no-DQ match anyway. Ivan grabs the chain and Dutch trips him up with the whip, but he foolishly brawls outside with Krusher, leaving Jaggers alone to get hit with the chain for the pin at 7:54. **
Indian Strap match: Rick Rude v. Wahoo McDaniel
Rude pounds away in boring fashion as Wahoo does what he’s best at by this point – bleeding and selling – before coming back and using the strap to cut Rude open a bit. He wraps Rude up and drags him to three turnbuckles, but Rude breaks it up with an elbow and goes up with the flying fist. Wahoo comes back again and drags Rude to three, but Paul Jones jumps up to interfere and Wahoo goes after him as Rude accidentally shoves Wahoo into the fourth turnbuckle at 8:11. What a crap match that was. DUD
Central States title: Sam Houston v. Bill Dundee
This is another rematch of a tournament final, the one that kicked off the garbage fire that was Crockett’s version of Central States. Houston controls with a headscissors and armdrags, and takes him down with a headlock, but Dundee escapes the bulldog. They fight to the floor and Dundee takes a dramatic bump over the railing off an atomic drop, before Houston slingshots him back in for two. Dundee comes back with a flying elbow to take over and goes to a chinlock. Dundee slugs away for two and goes to a boston crab while Stewart notes that “Sam Houston reminds a lot of people of former great Cowboy Bob Ellis”. I wouldn’t use the word “great” in any description of Houston. Dundee continues pounding away in dull fashion, but Houston makes the comeback, trying really desperately to be Barry Windham and not pulling it off. Kneedrop misses and Dundee goes to work on it, but the ref is bumped, but he still sees Bill using Houston’s own boot for the DQ at 10:20. Should have hit the ref harder, I guess. Lame match, bad finish. *1/2
OK, so for those keeping track, about 90 minutes into the show we’re finally at the point where they started showing matches on the home video version. Thankfully they’re now in proper order, unlike the strangely-rearranged video release.
Hair match: Jimmy Valiant v. Paul Jones
Valiant is accompanied by Big Mama, who (not to cast aspersions on her) literally looks like a hooker of ill repute that they found working in front of the arena earlier in the night. Like, one who was holding up a sign reading “Will trade crack for tickets” or something. Manny Fernandez is supposed to be a cage at ringside, but he refuses, so the babyfaces from earlier all come out and beat him into it. Nice touch. Valiant tosses Jones around the ring, but quickly gets busted open by an international object and goes from house of fire to corpse as Jones pounds away on him. Valiant fires up again and grabs a sleeper, so Jones gets his object to escape, Valiant steals it, and puts him away at 4:23. At least it was short and had good heat. * And as promised, Jones is a bald headed geek as Valiant wastes no time in shaving him to the scalp. Brutus Beefcake and his little snippets of hair was a rank amateur compared to this guy. And then Rude & Fernandez hit the ring and completely maul Valiant, giving him a double team DDT on a chair to set them up as killers for their tag title win at the next TBS show.
Meanwhile, Nelson Royal is sitting around a campfire and tells us all about the Bunkhouse Stampede, before we take an intermission.
Meanwhile, we take a look back at the Crockett Cup with random clips of exciting (?) matches like Giant Baba & Tiger Mask v. Black Bart & Jimmy Garvin, leading up to the Road Warriors winning the finals.
Louisville Street Fight: Big Bubba Rogers v. Ron Garvin
This is basically falls count anywhere, win by pinfall or knockout. Garvin throws punches to send Bubba to the floor right away, but Bubba throws him right back out. Garvin grabs a cup of delicious soda and tosses it in Bubba’s face to gain the advantage, then beats the hell out of him as Bubba bails again. Back in, Garvin chokes him down, but Bubba hits him with a roll of nickels to take over. Garvin pulls a rope out of his boot and chokes Bubba down with that, and actually ties him to the top rope by the neck before Bubba fights him off again and goes to the bearhug. Garvin slugs out of that in dramatic fashion and Bubba bumps to the floor, drawing a 5 count from the ref. Garvin follows him out and keeps punching, and manages to slam him off the top for one before Bubba tosses Garvin into the ref on the kickout. Garvin piledrives him, but Cornette whacks Garvin with the racket and both guys are out for the 10 count. Since there must be a winner, first man up wins the match. Garvin is up first, but Bubba pulls on the ref to distract him and Cornette hits Garvin in the knee to put him down again, allowing Bubba to win at 12:00. They actually edited the match down a LOT on the home video release, and the full one was much better, a fun match with some really good bumps by Bubba. *** I still don’t love it as much as Meltzer did, though.
World TV title, First Blood: Dusty Rhodes v. Tully Blanchard
Dusty, ever on the cusp of fashion, has the sides of his head shaved with “Tully” written on them. Dillon tries putting head gear on Tully, followed by Vaseline, but the ref disallows both and Dusty quickly elbows JJ and cuts him open because even the managers bleed in Crockett Country. The point being of course that if Dusty hits the elbow on Tully, he’ll also bleed. Dusty threatens with the elbow early while Tully runs away. Finally, about 5:00 in, we make meaningful contact as Dusty hits the elbow and starts working on the leg. You know, as most people in First Blood matches do. Tully runs away again and the ref gets bumped, so Dillon tosses in his shoe. Dusty eschews the shoe and just uses the elbow to bust Tully open, but the ref is sadly unconscious and thus misses Dusty’s triumph. So now JJ wipes the blood off and puts Vaseline on the cut, allowing Tully to knock Dusty out with a roll of coins and bust him open to win the TV title at 8:28. What a nothing match that was. ½* It’s a match stip used in vicious feuds and Dusty had to turn it into a cutesy-wutesy booking showcase.
Skywalkers match: The Road Warriors v. The Midnight Express
Hawk is even crazier considering that he was working on a broken leg up there. The Express quickly throws powder in their eyes and beats on them individually, but Animal manages to shove Bobby off and onto the rigging underneath while the fans freak out. Hawk comes back on Condrey and boots him down to the area underneath as well, and they have a terrifying fight while clinging to the bars. Bobby Eaton, clearly nuts, tries climbing across the scaffold from underneath, and the Warriors boot both him and Condrey down to win at 7:10. Those were some scary bumps from that height. And then poor Cornette has to climb up as well and takes a horrifying bump from the scaffold, blowing out both knees as a result. Although it was worth it for the stories that he told about the interaction with Big Bubba for years afterwards. I’m just not a fan of this kind of spectacle, especially when it’s so dangerous. ** But it did sell a shitload of tickets, so you can’t say it wasn’t a draw, at least.
Meanwhile, we take a look at the Great American Bash 85 tour for some reason. And then all of the highlights are from Bash 86, so this doesn’t really make much sense. I guess they needed to fill time while the scaffold came down?
NWA World tag titles, cage match: The Rock N Roll Express v. Ole & Arn Anderson
The Andersons are wearing matching boots tonight, so you know they’re on the same page. Bryan Alvarez went on a funny run about wrestling gear the other day, talking about how Ole Anderson would have had to go to a place that sells it and specifically order plain red tights with THREE STARS on the front, no more, no less. Arn gets pinballed in the RNR corner and he quickly tags out to Ole, who also gets dominated. Robert charges and misses a kneelift into the corner, taking a big bump into the cage off that, and the Andersons go to work on the knee. Sadly, all the bandanas in the world don’t protect Robert’s knee. Robert fights back, but Ole keeps taking him down and grinding on the knee. Over to Ricky, but they immediately cut him off and proceed to beating him down. Arn gives him some quality cheese grater action on the cage to bust him open, but Ricky slugs back, so they go after the arm with the hammerlock slam. Ricky has a masterfully timed hope spot, fighting back when Arn comes off the middle rope, but Ole comes in behind the ref’s back and just KILLS Morton, sending him into the cage and adding a shoulderbreaker for two. I really hope they make all the new teams in NXT watch this match and learn how to sell. This was arguably Morton’s peak as a worker. Ole cranks on a wristlock and Ricky falls on the ropes to escape, but Arn just hammers on the dead arm while Ricky lays there. The way Ricky builds sympathy and sells pain, but keeps fighting back enough to make sure the fans stay invested is like a master class in being a babyface in peril. Hot take, I know. Ole comes off the top with a flying knee to the shoulder and cranks on the armbar, and Arn catches him with a spinebuster when Ricky tries to fight back again. That gets two, and Arn goes to a neck vice, but Ricky keeps fighting. God, this match needs Jim Ross calling it in the worst way. RICKY MORTON FIGHTING BACK WITH AMERICAN RIGHT HANDS! BY GOD! The Andersons cut him off again, but Ricky slugs away on Ole out of the corner and gets a small package for two. Gibson has finally had enough of the double-teaming and runs in to take out Arn, then dropkicks Ricky on top of Ole for the pin at 18:49 to retain. And the Rock N Rolls don’t jump out of the cage slapping hands and smiling, they roll out in pain with Gibson barely pulling the bloodied Ricky out and helping him to the back, beaten up but still triumphant. I loved this match even more on this viewing. ****3/4
NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Nikita Koloff
So the full version here has the thing that Dave was complaining about at the time it aired – before Nikita’s entrance, they show the video of Magnum TA running on the beach and clips of him after winning matches, which sure seems to imply that he’s coming back. Nikita quickly overpowers Flair, so Ric throws chops in the corner and Nikita ignores them. Flair regroups, and Nikita throws him around the ring with one-handed slams. Flair keeps trying to trade power moves and walks into a bearhug as a result, but finally Nikita misses a blind charge and Flair hits him with a delayed suplex, then stops to pose. Nikita immediately no-sells it and Flair DIVES out of the ring in terror. Flair tries more chops, but Nikita takes him down with the Russian Hammer choke and sets up for the Sickle, which misses. Nikita bumps to the floor off that and Flair wraps the knee around the post and NOW he’s found the angle. He immediately takes Nikita down with the figure-four and proceeds to grab the ropes, just to show he’s not messing around here. Even so, Nikita powers out of it, so Flair keeps throwing chops until Nikita just throws him down again. Flair dumps him to buy time and runs him into the scaffold as we get more blood tonight (and Nikita obviously gigging himself right on camera). Back in for the kneedrop, and that gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Flair pounds on the cut and that just pisses off Koloff, and he goes back to throwing Flair around again. Flair Flip puts him on the floor and now Koloff sends him into the scaffold and Flair is bleeding too. Back in, Koloff hits him with a shoulderblock and the ref gets bumped and goes flying out of the ring, just as Nikita hits the Sickle of course. Nikita tries to help the ref, but Flair hits him from behind with a knee to the back for two. Another Sickle, but this one hits the second ref and he takes an admirable flailing bump off that. And they keep fighting until Tommy Young calls for the double DQ at 19:10. And then the brawl continues afterwards, clearing out the dressing room. Kind of a flat ending, which felt like they didn’t really know how to end it and just went with that. Still a great Flair v. Power Guy match, though. ****
The last two matches were fantastic, but I don’t know that sitting through the entire four hour show on the WWE Network is really something I’d recommend. The Rock N Roll v. Andersons match is seriously required viewing for fans of great tag team wrestling, though.]]>
The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 31 – 03.29.15
Live from San Francisco, CA
Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler
I’m trying the live stream tonight, so hopefully it doesn’t die on me. The picture is already heavily pixelated early on, though.
Intercontinental title: Bad News Barrett v. Dolph Ziggler v. Daniel Bryan v. Luke Harper v. R-Truth v. Stardust v. Dean Ambrose
So Daniel Bryan goes from winning the World title in the main event to curtain-jerking as the seventh guy in the opener this year. If only he had been born a Samoan. Giant brawl to start, as expected, and guys start hitting dives immediately. Truth, who is apparently a geek that fears heights, tries to climb first but is terrified to do so. Bryan sandwiches some guys behind a ladder and dropkicks it a few times, but that backfires on him. Harper climbs and ends up hanging upside down on the ladder, and Bryan climbs until Ziggler makes the save. Stardust takes out a few guys as the feed jumps around a bit, and he discovers a sparkly ladder under the ring that is apparently his own personal one. And then Barrett immediately breaks it. Well that’s kind of a waste. Harper and Ambrose have a ladder duel and Dean gets dropped on a ladder with Snake Eyes. I can only presume that it was a tribute to Hall of Famer Kevin Nash. Truth clears the ring but is unable to overcome his crippling acrophobia again, which leads to Barrett superplexing Cody off the ladder. Everyone climbs and we get another trainwreck with everyone falling off, leading to Ambrose taking a powerbomb from Harper through a ladder. Jesus. Harper climbs, but Ziggler is on his back with a sleeper and thus both guys fall off. Ziggler climbs alone, but Barrett saves with the Bullhammer. Truth climbs and he takes one too. Bryan hits Barrett with the flying knee, clears the ring, and slugs it out with Ziggler on the ladder with insane headbutts until Ziggler finally drops, to win the IC title at 13:31. That also puts Bryan in elite company as one of the few to hold the WWE Grand Slam (WWE, World, IC, US and tag titles). The match was a crazy, non-stop trainwreck with little else going on, but that’s what we wanted out of it. ***3/4
Randy Orton v. Seth Rollins
Orton with a dropkick early and Seth bails, but catches him with a necksnap to take over. Orton slugs away in the corner and goes after J&J as the feed bugs out a bit, but Rollins hits him with a dive. Back in, Seth gets two. Suplex gets two and we hit the chinlock. Seth pounds away in the corner, but Orton comes back with clotheslines and the powerslam. Rollins bails to the apron and fights out of the draping DDT, and follows with a quebrada. Back in, they fight on the top rope and Seth goes down first, but he rolls through a flying bodypress for two. Orton with the draping DDT, but Rollins rolls him up for two. RKO gets two. I really wish I could mute JBL on this show. HE’S GOING TO THAT PLACE, MAGGLE! HE’S HEARING VOICES, MAGGLE! And then the feed buffers like crazy again on me. RKO on J&J, but Seth gets the curb stomp for two. Moonsault misses and they trade finish attempts, but Orton manages to reverse the curb stomp mid-move into the RKO at 13:10. That was quite the finish and should probably be a GIF for the next 15 years. Nothing special as a match, however. ***
HHH v. Sting
Sting’s entrance just lacks something in the bright sunlight. Hard to be mysterious at four in the afternoon, I guess. Meanwhile, HHH’s entrance is a literal commercial for the new Terminator movie. And the announcers are making fun of WCW?!? Well, credit to HHH for being willing to go out and embarrass himself with this shit. They trade shoulderblocks to start and Sting dropkicks him into the corner, but HHH slugs him down. Sting no-sells the facebuster, but HHH bails as JBL continues randomly bouncing between heel and babyface. Back in, Sting dumps him, but debuts the “dive at the railing and miss” spot. Back in, HHH with a suplex for two. The announcers constantly burying WCW on commentary is really irritating. You won the war FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Get over it. HHH with the chinlock and some really loud spot-calling, and a spinebuster gets two. HHH has some kind of really ugly bruise on his thigh and it’s kind of scary. Sting fights back and the feed suddenly jumps to the Scorpion Deathlock, but now D-X (New Age Outlaws & X-Pac) runs in and Sting fights them off. I think it would be more awesome if DX was played by the chicks in the Max Landis video. And then Sting hits them with a dive from the top, which is a sight to behold. Back in, KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gets two. HHH grabs his trusty sledgehammer, but now the New World Order (Hogan, Nash and Hall) does the world’s slowest run-in and the Scorpion Deathdrop gets two. Scorpion Deathlock while the senior citizens battle at ringside, but HHH makes the ropes. And then Shawn Michaels comes in to superkick Sting in the name of DX, but that only gets two. So it’s the sledgehammer v. bat showdown, and the hammer breaks under the awesome force of WCW’s bat. Stinger splash, but HHH manages one last sledgehammer for the pin at 18:16. Everyone who thought HHH was laying down here were being very naïve. This was more of a wacky spectacle than a match, but it was fine for what it was. ** I suspect it’ll get a lot of love for all the nostalgia stuff, which is also fine. I’m not saying it wasn’t neat to have D-X facing off against the nWo at Wrestlemania, but let’s not get silly about it.
Coming to WWE Network: A whole bunch of stupid bullshit that no one in their right mind would want to watch. A prank show? Diva Search 2015? Really?
Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan gets the endorsement of a bunch of former IC champions. Hopefully they actually follow through on that and don’t just have him do a bunch of jobs to build up title matches.
And now the concert portion of our show, which is where I break for dinner and pause the stream for a while to hopefully let the buffering catch up. I’ve heard of Travis Barker before, but that’s about it. And why you need a drummer for a chick who’s lip-syncing is a mystery to me. And wasn’t there supposed to be an LL Cool J concert, too?
AJ Lee & Paige v. The Bella Twins
Nikki takes out AJ quickly and Brie works Paige over with a running knee for two. Bellas with a double slingshot suplex for two. Paige manages a rollup on Boobs Bella for two, but the Rack Attack gets two. Paige makes her own comeback while AJ is still old cold on the floor for some reason. WHERE ARE THE MEDICAL PERSONNEL? Suddenly AJ pops up again and gets the hot tag, but Nikki rolls through a flying bodypress. It’s breaking loose in Tulsa and AJ gets a really shitty DDT on Nikki for two. Another brawl and Nikki lays out AJ with the forearm for two. The feed jumps to AJ putting Nikki into the Black Widow at 6:32. I have no idea what the point of AJ having to sell on the floor for four minutes was about. *1/2
Commercial, commercial, Hall of Fame ceremony, commercial, commercial. You can pretty much cut out an hour of stuff on fast-forward thus far and this whole series of stuff has really sucked the momentum out of the show.
US title: Rusev v. John Cena
Thankfully Lana is back, and Rusev gets to ride a tank. I thought that was D-X’s gimmick? John Cena of course gets the most over-the-top jingoistic video package (complete with Vince heroes George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan) to show everyone that he’s fighting for freedom everywhere. As long as you’re an American who votes Republican. And the crowd STILL boos him. Oh man, this crowd is gonna destroy Roman Reigns. And Rusev also gets booed, so I guess they just hate everyone. Cena immediately attacks and gets one, but Rusev hits him with a spinkick for two. Rusev busts out some sambo (well, he’s playing a Russian, so I can only assume) with a rolling throw for two and follows with a rolling dive into the corner for two. Rusev stops to wave the Russian flag, but this enrages the American blood of John Cena, who comes back with VINTAGE CENA, including getting booed. Rusev escapes the FU and gets a backdrop suplex for two. Uranage gets two. They head to the top and Cena comes off with the guillotine for two. The crowd now resorts to cheering for Lana as Rusev comes back with a superkick for two. Cena with a tornado DDT for two. They slug it out and Rusev gets a whiplash slam for two as the crowd is increasingly bored by this. Cena takes him down with the STF, but Lana throws a shoe in the ring. Honestly, who throws a shoe? This somehow allows Rusev to escape the hold as foot fetishists everywhere lose their minds, and Rusev hits a diving headbutt for two. JBL notes that Rusev is discovering that John Cena does not give up. Except for last month. Cena reverses the Accolade and hits a stunner for two. Oh sure, they bring that move back after 12 years and it’s for JOHN FUCKING CENA? Cena with a rollup for two, but Rusev superkicks him into the Accolade. And Cena powers out of it and reverses into the STF. Lana distracts the ref, however, and Cena lets a charging Rusev knock her off and hits the FU for the pin and the title at 14:34. Nowhere near as good as last month. *** So now Cena can travel the world and inspire United Statesians everywhere.
And now, the pre-show panel discusses the stirring victory for Big Show in the battle royale. So much for Hideo Itami’s big Wrestlemania debut.
The Authority is out to announce a new fake attendance record of 76,000 people! Way to go, 20000 phantom people! Like really, it’s 2015, do they really think people are stupid enough to just believe WWE would have an exact count of people two hours into the show? What if another 100 still want to show up late? HHH takes credit for all of it, but the Rock interrupts. Good, I was thinking that this show was moving at too much of a breakneck pace and needed an interview segment to breathe. Rock lays down the challenge and Stephanie gets in his face and claims that the McMahons made him, then slaps him and sends him packing. But Rock would never hit a woman, so he heads to the crowd, finds RONDA ROUSEY, and invites her to kick Stephanie’s ass instead. And Stephanie can’t resist talking shit to her, which the Rock warns is a bad idea. HHH has had enough and get his ass handed to him, but Steph makes the mistake of going after Rousey and gets chased from the ring under threat of armbar. Obviously she couldn’t actually finish the job due to legal stuff with UFC. Which is too bad because it would have been legendary. See now, Rock v. HHH at WM in Dallas makes way more sense than Rock v. Brock, because there was already a backstory and people would actually want to see that match again. Myself included. If they could pull off Rock & Ronda v. HHH & Stephanie, more power to them. Although once again, how sad is it that these guys just blow away everyone on the roster and make them all look like a bunch of indy chumps by comparison in the span of 20 minutes?
Bray Wyatt v. The Undertaker
We are apparently running long and skip the video package for this match, which is kind of astonishing. Undertaker has reverted to Zombie Cowboy with hair after a few years of the demonic wizard with Mohawk look. Apparently Undertaker’s 21-1 is now the “greatest record in sports history” and I don’t even know where to begin with that one. Like, I’m pretty sure the Patriots going undefeated that one year was a bit more impressive. Somehow, Undertake has used his magic powers to generate 30 pounds of muscle since those photos of him surfaced a couple of months ago, and he’s looking much better than the last couple of years. Bray charges and gets beat up in the corner, and Taker goes old school. Bray comes back with a clothesline, but Taker continues kicking his ass and legdrops him on the apron. Back in, Taker hits Snake Eyes, but Bray comes back with a back elbow and pounds away in the corner. He grabs a hold on the mat and does some sort of charge on the floor to run Taker’s head into the post. That didn’t really translate very well and just kind of looked like Bray taking a bump into the stairs for no reason. Back in, Taker catches him in the gogoplata, but Bray slugs out of it. The announcers now suddenly bring up the storyline of Undertaker doubting himself and contemplating mortality, which would have been nice to bring up TWO MONTHS AGO. Like, did we ever have any followup from Undertaker about how he felt after the Streak ended? Nope. Bray puts him down with a uranage and senton for two. Sister Abigail is reversed into the chokeslam, and the tombstone…gets two. I’m gonna have to call bullshit on that one. A second try is reversed into Sister Abigail for two. I kind of get what they’re going for here, but it’s not working, like at all. We get the crab walk v. zombie showdown, and Bray freaks out. They do the slugfest and Bray tries Sister again, but this time Taker reverses to the tombstone to finish at 15:07. Not at the low level of last year’s match, but there was a lot of laying around and clearly this wasn’t the right opponent for Undertaker. **1/2
Chris Jericho brings his podcast to the WWE Network with super-controversial guest John Cena. I bet Cena will stir up headlines by talking about how fans might love him or hate him but he always shows up.
WWE World title: Brock Lesnar v. Roman Reigns
And so it’s come to this. Don’t you tell Roman that he can’t do something! Because he’ll just go ahead and do it anyway, but to half the crowd reaction he otherwise he would have received. He enters through the crowd and security has to actively fight off people trying to tell him what he can’t do on the way to the ring. DON’T YOU FUCKING TELL HIM WHAT HE CAN’T DO! He summons the anger of people telling him what he can’t do and punches the ring so hard that he sets off fireworks. Brock is so the clear babyface here, and the crowd even sings along with Paul Heyman’s ring introduction of him. Brock shrugs off Roman’s attack, quickly suplexes him, and follows with the F5. The crowd loved that. Brock is bleeding from one of Reigns’s wussy shots. WHY WOULD YOU MAKE BROCK BLEED?! He’s going to murder you! Reigns tries to fight back and Brock suplexes his dumb ass again and beats the shit out of him. Another suplex and Brock is having fun with this. A sixth german suplex and then Brock changes it up by dropping him on the top rope and throwing knees to his face. He punches him right to the railing as the crowd breaks out the “This is awesome” chant for the supposed top babyface getting beaten like a red-headed stepchild. Reigns comes back with a knee and the crowd boos him out of the stadium, and then Brock clotheslines his head off to send him flying off the apron again. Brock should win Wrestler of the Year for this shit. Back in, another suplex sends Reigns out of the ring again, and Brock suplexes him right back in. The crowd is now keeping count of the suplexes that their hero is taking. F5 gets two. Brock is now gloveless, I repeat, gloveless, and personally bitchslaps Reigns with his bare hands. Another pair of suplexes, another F5 gets two. Oh come on. Brock takes him outside to the ringpost, but Reigns reverses him into it. Why would you make this man angrier!? Your continued kicking out has already angered him enough! Back in, Reigns hits the superman punch twice and Brock won’t go down because he’s a real man. A third one finally drops him and Reigns follows with the spear, twice, but it only gets two. One last charge and Brock hits the F5…but Seth Rollins cashes in and it’s now a three-way. Curb stomp, but Brock catches him, so Reigns hits the spear and Rollins curb stomps him and pins him at 16:37 to win the WWE title! So…that was quite the ridiculous finish, but damn if I wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement at it. And really, they found a brilliant way to get out of the corner they were painted into with Reigns. Brock Lesnar has to be some kind of superhuman wrestling machine to carry Roman Reigns to that kind of match. ****1/2
I actually liked this show better than last year, even if the middle dragged a lot for me. The ladder match / Rollins v. Orton / Sting v. HHH spectacle to open the show was a fantastic start and the Rousey angle was incredible TV. And then Brock showed why he’s worth whatever the fuck he wants to be paid with a finish that will probably go down in WM history. Reigns is dead in the water, but who gives a shit about him anyway? Big thumbs up here, especially given low expectations.