The Wrestling Analyst: Episode 10

Quick News

Brock Lesnar is UFC Heavyweight Champion after defeating Randy Couture

He didn’t deserve the shot, but he sure made the most of it. Let me be one of many to predict a WWE return after he washes out of UFC in five or so years.

More from the Observer (www.f4wonline.com to subscribe):

Shawn Michaels says he told WWE when he’ll be ready to retire

According to Ross, this is likely 2009’s Wrestlemania. He wants the Flair sendoff, I’d bet against Hunter.

Adamle was pulled off TV last minute and was upset

Well, considering he’s getting 6 figures and incompetent, maybe he should reconsider his stance.

Kennedy should be back around 2/28/09

We’ll see if he’s even pushed at this point.

In other news, JBL dreamed he was Stan Hansen last night, but the Lariat turned it into a nightmare and he woke in a cold sweat with warm pants.

For more WWE news, including the Starrcade DVD listing and more thoughts on releases, check This Week in ‘E.

Wrestling the Issue

Rey Mysterio is being miscast currently in the WWE. WWE seems to insist upon using Rey as a giant killer. This is, or rather was, a very good idea. It establishes that size isn’t everything for wrestlers and sets Rey up as someone able to defeat anyone. Unfortunately, though Rey has long been established as a giant killer, WWE seems loathe to let him face anyone but giants even now. This rather misses the point of elevating him in this manner.

Rey beating giants does nothing for him anymore. It’s expected. Pretty much every huge guy he faces he beats and, if he doesn’t, then he gives them an unreal run for their money. The big guys don’t look terrible for this, but they can’t help but look bad due to Rey’s size. This is fine to establish that Rey can beat huge guys, but ultimately pointless because once the fact is established all you’re doing is making big guys look bad and putting on lesser matches.

Meanwhile, there are a ton of smaller, if not cruiserweight level, wrestlers who would benefit by having great matches with Rey the Giant Killer. If they can take Rey to the limit, they immediately look like pure gold because of what Rey’s accomplished. CM Punk is at the cusp of stardom. A feud with Rey, since they’re loathe to put him over Orton or another top guy, with great matches, might help the WWE see him in a new light. Many others in lesser programs with Rey could produce great matches, like the Priceless stable, Kofi Kingston, or Jaime Noble. Think of how amazing Evan Bourne against Rey was and how it made Bourne seem like the next big thing. There’s no reason Rey, at this point in his career, couldn’t be giving that rub.

Rey is a draw and Rey vs. giants has proven to draw in an unreal number of Hispanic viewers. That’s great and really helps the company financially, however, where is the proof that he couldn’t draw against smaller guys? At the very least, alternating feuds between giants and Rey’s elevating new talent would keep things fresh, maybe even transferring some of that ethnic fanbase to new talent.

The best use of Rey would be to establish a separate, equal standing cruiserweight division. If MMA has proven anything, it’s that lower weight classes can draw. Rey is already an established draw and championing his own division would give the WWE something distinct and unique to add flavor to their show. Wrestling at its most successful has always been a variety act with comedy, drama, action, and more, so why not add a different, faster pace. The moves don’t need to be turned all the way up, merely a few more highspots to establish that these wrestlers need to hit each other more in order to do the same damage as the bigger guys. Given time and patience, a well-built cruiser who held their belt could, like Rey, win the Rumble and become a draw in challenging for the World Title. Even without winning, everyone involved would be elevated and fan interest would be up.

Naturally, the Rey-centered cruiser division is a pipe dream. The WWE loves Rey as their giant-killer draw. His drawing power, however, is not limited to giants and he could be giving us amazing matches with many smaller members of the roster, elevating them in the process. Hopefully, after the Kane feud is over, the WWE will realize this as well.

The Smarkish Raw Ranty Short Review Thing for Raw, 11/10/08

The superstars are all in the ring as Raw opens with Stephanie at a podium talking about the GM. Randy Orton gets up and interrupts, wondering why Cena gets a title shot and not him. Stephanie lists Cena’s resume and Orton announces he’ll be next in line for a shot. Cody is next and he’s mad that Orton punted Dibiase and then picked him for his Survivor Series team. Stephanie announces a 30-person lumberjack match to ensure a winner between Orton and Punk tonight. Orton disagrees and says that’ll be chaos. He’s obviously right, so Steph blows him off.

Santino is up next and he raps his question, a hilarious IC title challenge. Santino lost two title rematches overseas so he gets no more shot. JBL is up next to ask where Vince is because he has a problem with Shawn Michaels. Steph says he’ll have to wait until Survivor Series. Shawn comes out and says he wants his revenge now, but Steph says he must be patient. Shawn responds by diving onto JBL and taking his cowboy hat. I guess we know who the stars are here.

Raw diva nonsense now. I’ll be back next segment. It’s a short uneventful match between Kelly Kelly and Victoria that leads to Raw Divas beating up on Victoria.

Match 2: Batista vs. Manu

Batista really should get a better pop for all his push. Orton comes at the ramp to watch. Manu gets a decent amount of offence, but he’s not very good during his control segment. Batista gets a comeback but Manu fights it off before running into a spear and Batista bomb for three.

Batista defeats Manu (Pin, Batista bomb, *)
What a waste of Manu’s debut. If he could work, that would upset me.

Batista, totally blown up, says that is happy he’ll get to face Orton finally at Survivor Series.

Stephanie introduces Chief Jay Strongbow… and then they cut to the back.

Randy Orton gets in Cody Rhodes face about Cody being dumb for getting near Batista. The lumberjacks will give Orton a chance to show how he backs up what he says, unlike Cody. Cody tells him to keep talking.

Evan Bourne gets a hype video. Sweet. Bourne comes out on crutches and gives a little inspirational speech. Mike Knox comes out, stares Bourne down and walks away.

Shawn and Rey are walking. Shawn insists that they stop the music so he can get something off his chest. He pretends to be a little nervous and Rey urges him to take it step by step. New winking at the camera Shawn is awesome. He shakes Dolph Ziggler’s hand, knows his name hypes his match with Rey after the break. Segment of the night.

Match 3: Miz and Morrison vs. Shawn Michaels and Rey Mysterio

Faces control into the first break using their speed and dives.

When we return Rey is isolated and takes a beating. Eventually Morrison tries to use speed and Rey counters with a dropkick. Michaels gets the hot tag and beats on Miz with his cliché moves. Morrison comes in so Rey gets rid of him and hits the 619 into an HBK Sweet Chin Music. Morrison hits a Sweet Chin Music on Shawn and Miz gets the pin and the upset.

Miz and Morrison defeat Rey and Shawn Michaels (Pin, Super Kick, **)
Perfectly acceptable and apparently the WWE is really serious about Miz and Morrison’s push.

And now, my girlfriend’s response to these last few segments:

Batista needs a new entrance soon; his weird dance to the pyro is annoying.

What an odd match up, Batista vs. Manu.

Can Orton’s eyes be any closer together without him becoming a Cyclops?

Pretty good spots for Manu but the concept is tremendously unbelievable, seriously guys… seriously.

And of course Batista only gets in a total of 5 moves in contrast to Manu’s continuous pounding. Yet somehow, he manages to finish Manu quite quickly and simply with a powerful spear followed by the Batista Bomb.

Pink is Pimp. Pop your collar Chief Jay Strongbow.

Whooo! Flippy Matt Sydel promo… *gasp* … then he messes up his ankle. Why are they calling him Evan? RoH for lyfe!

I’m not on E; I do not appreciate Rey Mysterio’s entrance.

Shawn Micheals, cover your ears diehards, I’m about to be blasphemous… Shawn Micheals is way passed his prime, looking at him and hearing his entrance song makes me gag. I must say though, dude still got in where it matters- in the ring.

That’s all she could take. And we’re back. Stephanie sends Jericho out to talk. Jericho claims Cena’s a bad influences and manipulates Stephanie against him.

CM Punk gets interview time finally. He talks about payback and is quite intense. Give him a push, please!

Kane and JBL discuss being a team. They don’t get along but they’ll do their best.

Match 4: Cryme Tyme vs. Kane and JBL

My phone just decided to suck. I’ll be back… after these messages. Cryme Time control quickly, but Kane hits the flying clothesline. JBL comes in for the Clothesline from Hell and wins.

JBL and Kane defeat Cryme Tyme (Pin, Clothesline from Hell, ½*)
Irrelevant much?

Kofi and Sydal talk backstage. Knox shows up and beats on them, focusing on Kofi. He then smashes Bourne’s ankle with his crutch. That bastard!

Match 5: Matt Hardy vs. William Regal

Regal and Hardy brawl. They quickly spill to the floor and are counted out.

Regal and Matt Hardy go to a draw (Countout, Dud)
After Regal vs. Final ruled, I was looking forward to it. Shame it sucked.

They do a pull apart brawl to set up Survivor Series.

Chris Jericho comes out for promo time. He hypes his main event for Cena at Survivor Series. He says that he’s more inspirational than Cena and that Cena can’t save us, Jericho is the only one who can. It won’t be a happy ending and Jericho will retain his title.

Match 6: Lumberjack Match: Randy Orton vs. CM Punk

Punk and Orton start on the mat and Punk just looks far smoother and more comfortable that way. Orton knows it so he kicks Punk in the stomach and tries to drop him to the floor. Punk drops Orton and he’s thrown back in. Punk goes for quick pins… not the best way for revenge… and keeps throwing everyone to the floor.

Punk eventually eats the post and is pulled to the floor by Henry who then drops him back in the ring. Orton gets a workover, using his power to keep Punk grounded.

Punk makes a comeback with a cool spinning neckbreaker and they do a 10 count on the mat. Punk uses his KENTA rush and goes for the pin with a big kick to the head for a two. Punk hit the knee and bulldog for another near fall. Punk goes for the GTS, but a reverse neckbreaker counters as Orton prepares for the RKO. Punk is read and dropkicks Orton to the floor.

Punk goes up and dives onto the sea of lumberjacks before retreating to the safety of the ring. Regal distracts Punk as Orton hits a quick RKO and wins.

Orton defeats Punk (Pin, RKO, ** ½)
An acceptable level of interference for a formulaic lumberjack match.

After the match we have a huge brawl and Raw ends. That was uneventful. Survivor Series doesn’t look good, but the big elimination tags are fun, so I’ll likely check it out anyway.

The Middle W

This isn’t a reference to our soon to be ex-President, but rather the Wrestling in World Wrestling Entertainment. Jim Cornette once said “Wrestling fans tune into a wrestling show to watch wrestlers wrestle.” For me, at the very least, this is certainly the case and I watch a ton of wrestling from all around the world. Each week I’ll be attempting to broaden WWE fans horizons with a review of a great match they might not have ever seen or even heard of.

This week we have a ROH match review starring zero ROH stars. From 9/14/08 in Tokyo, Japan, four of Japan’s top juniors faced off in a great tag team match. Far from an exhibition, these four men each had issues with both of their opponents. Let’s take a look before we get to the review.

Naomichi Marufuji, tonight a partner to Katsuhiko Nakajima, is the most successful junior in NOAH history. He formed a hugely successful junior tag team with KENTA, who then went on to become his main rival as he moved to heavyweight, winning the GHC World and Tag Titles. Recently he’s moved back down to junior and even traveled to All Japan to win their junior title. His rivalry with KENTA extends to KENTA’s first pro-match.

Katsuhiko Nakajima has been wrestling the best wrestlers in the world, like Riki Choshu, Genchiro Tenryu and Kenta Kobashi, since he was a teenager. Now twenty, he, as NOAH Champion Kensuke Sasaki’s second in Kensuke Office, has taken a war to NOAH wrestlers and the Burning Stable in particular. He’s known for his stiff kicks and awesome potential.

KENTA, here teaming with Kota Ibushi, is the most protected junior around. He rarely jobs, even in tags, delivering crushing kicks as a member of Kenta Kobashi’s reformed Burning to take on Kensuke Office. KENTA, as the number two man, has taken to heated contests and exchanges with Katsuhiko Nakajima.

Kota Ibushi is among the more prolific young high fliers in Japan. In fact, there is great debate about who the best rising junior is, the quick Kota or the hard striking Nakajima. Kota was brought into NOAH by Marufuji to be his partner for a Junior Tag Tournament. With that exposure Kota broke out in NOAH and was even brought into ROH. Here, he battles both his rival for the title “fastest rising junior” and the man who gave him the exposure to gain that title.

ROH: The Tokyo Summit
KENTA and Kota Ibushi vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima and Naomichi Marufuji
Tokyo, Japan 9/14/08

KENTA fails to follow the Code of Honor and shake Nakajima’s hand, which draws big “oos” from the crowd.

Marufuji and Kota start off and work a purely athletic mat based style right off the bat, trading a beautiful speed-based sequence and stalemating off.

KENTA and Nakajima are in next and both begin tentatively. That lasts… not long at all, and they decide to kick each other in the face. Sweet. Nakajima actually essentially wins the first exchange, thus pissing KENTA off and, a mat sequence later, and KENTA slaps the shit out of Nakajima before kicking him into a puddle and tagging in Kota.

Kota immediately begins striking Nakajima and surprisingly manages to stand up to the fierce Nakajima before falling to a sweep. Marufuji gets in to work over Kota. Kota uses his speed to evade and strikes down the former GHC Champion. KENTA joins in the work over as they ground Marufuji effectively.

Kota gets back in and decides to kick Marufuji. That pisses him off and he delivers some vicious chops and refuses to back down, even as the kicks knock him over. Kota goes back to wearing Marufuji down. During this, Nakajima decides to kick Kota to make him tag, so when he does, KENTA decides to kick Nakajima in the face. This gives Marufuji a moment and he sets KENTA on the apron, where Nakajima returns the kick to the face. The hate between these two is just awesome.

Nakajima decides that now it’s time to take it to KENTa, but KENTA won’t stay down without firing stiff strikes back, even though they’re to no avail. Kota makes a save, but Marufuji and Nakajima put the boots to KENTA.

KENTA tries to make a comeback and all four men end up in the ring in a four way suplex spot. KENTA and Kota win that and hit dual flying knees to their opponents. KENTA has Nakajima right where he wants him. KENTA tags in Kota and again Kota’ strikes piss of Nakajima and they exchange. This time, Kota wins and keeps the advantage before gong to a camel clutch. This leaves him open to KENTA kicks and Nakajima is in the worst trouble of anyone in the match. Luckily, Kota runs into a big kick, but Nakajima fails to tag and takes a hurricanrana and falls to the floor. Kota tries a dive, but eats a kick and Marufuji is finally in.

Marufuji knocks KENTA over and he works over Kota on the floor with Nakajima, using the ring frame and guard rail. Nakajima works on Kota and keeps kicking KENTA. Marfuji works Kota over, as well. Marufuji throws Kota to the ropes and he kips up to avoid a lariat and hits a Pele kick in a sick spot.

KENTA tags in and immediately strikes the crap out of Marufuji. He takes his shot at Nakajima while staying right on Marufuji with his usual spots…. into an STF!? KENTA has an answer to everything Marufuji does, but Marufuji shows how well he knows KENTA and manages a superkick before tagging Nakajima.

Nakajima is all “kicked in yo face.” Marufuji comes in with a quick dragon screw and Nakajima immediately hits the ankle lock with heel hook. Ibushi runs in to be disposed of and Nakajima tries to run up the corner, but is caught with a dropkick. Kota gets in and goes to hyperspeed to control, but can’t keep Nakajima down.

Kota goes for a moonsault, but Nakajima avoids it and the standing moonsault after. A few kicks later and we have a double team. Ibushi makes them hit each other and Kota hits a German Suplex on Nakajima as KENTA kicks him in the face. Insult to injury as a German is Nakajima’s finish.

Kota goes up again, but a spinning heel kick knocks him off. A belly-to-back suplex takes Kota out, but KENTA is in. Marufuji saves Nakajima by pulling him out of the way as Maru and KENTA collide.

Nakajima and Kota trade head drops into a 10 count on the mat. They strike each other as they get up and Nakajima’s kicks again control. Kota again surprisingly comes back with kicks, rising to the occasion. They go to war with kicks. They desparately go for covers as there is a minute left under the time limit. Kota goes for the cross-armbreaker, but Nakajima makes the ropes. A dragon screw from Nakajima and he grabs the ankle lock until time expires.

They both agree to five more minutes! It’s back on!

Marufuji and KENTA now go to a sprint war until both end up down. They both rise, KENTA up first and he kills Marufuji with a powerbomb. He even sat out for that extra oomph. KENTA combination, but Marufuji is ready and hits a filthy lariat. Marufuji gets a step up lariat and a Shiranui, but Kota breaks it up. Nakajima knocks Kota to the floor.

Marufuji goes up, but is caught. KENTA goes for the top rope falcon arrow, but is dumped. Ibushi hits the handspring flip kick and KENTA gets that top rope falcon arrow for a near fall! Kota hits a Phoenix Splash, but he isn’t legal and KENTA’s pin is broken up.

Marfuji is in trouble. KENTA goes for the baisuke knee, but is kicked as he hits it and both men are down. KENTA goes for the pin as time expires, but Marufuji kicks out.

Ibushi and KENTA draw Nakajima and Marufuji (Time Limit, ****)
This was a lot slower than expected, but as hard hitting as nearly anything you’ll ever see. There was great progression in each heat segment leaving the man suffering slightly worse off into a progression where the two who got the worst of it, the young guns Nakajima and Ibushi ended up in a war of attrition. The additional five minutes was straight balls to the wall fun as KENTA and Marufuji took it into their own hands for the win.

That’s it for this week, catch you Friday with the ROH Weekend Previews and next Tuesday for more of The Wrestling Analyst, during which I’ll review the recent huge KENTA vs. Marufuji Jr. Title Unification match and have analysis of Survivor Series!

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