THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #79 – Tour Down Under Edition

Well, I went to a wrestling show that has been hyped since last September as ‘The Best Of The Best’ and the be-all and end-all. It is supposed to match the generally really good SuperShows which have run for a few years in the eastern states. How did it do? Well, it’s at the end, so read through and you may find out.
            Meanwhile, there was way too much sport on television this past week. I saw the NFL playoff matches, NBA basketball, slamball, pro bull riding, tennis, cycling, lead-up events to the winter Olympics and, of course, cricket…
            And then people wonder why I vegetate in front of the TV all the time…

Cricket
International
First One Day International

Australia v Pakistan
Pakistan 274 (49.4 overs); Australia 5/275 (48.3 overs) – Australia won by 5 wickets
            Good match! Pakistan pulled in a few players who were playing in the local Twenty20 Big Bash completion and suddenly they are a re-invigorated unit. It came down to the wire, but Pakistan lost too many wickets at regular intervals, while White’s century was the bedrock of a solid Australian innings.
Second One Day International
Australia v Pakistan
Australia 6/267; Pakistan 127 (37.3 overs) – Australia won by 140 runs
            And this one was not a good match. Pakistan bowled and fielded well enough, but batted as though they did not care. Their innings was so predictable and dull that when Hauritz took a caught and bowled there was not even a celebration, just smiles all round and pats on the back, as though it was inevitable.
Sheffield Shield
            Yep, no Shield matches while the Twenty20 Big Bash competition is finishing.
Ford Ranger Cup
            See above.
Twenty20 Big Bash
Down to the pointy end of the competition. It has been a huge success. And with some extra teams slated for future versions, this is shaping up to be the potential financial saviour of the domestic competition. Look, it’s still fast-food cricket for the ADHD generation, but damn if it isn’t entertaining and a load of fun.
Preliminary Final
Queensland v Victoria
Queensland 5/149; Victoria 4/150 (18.5 overs) – Victoria won by 6 wickets
            So the Vics are through to the final with a thrilling away win. This was yet another good match. And it is these good matches that are helping keep the crowds. Both teams were evenly matched and it came down to Hussey’s unbeaten 60 from 52 balls that made all the difference.
Final
South Australia v Victoria
Victoria 7/166; South Australia 9/118 – Victoria won by 48 runs.
            Victoria are the champs of this season. And for South Australia it was quite a loss, as they had dominated Victoria earlier in the season, had lost just one match in the lead up, and yet were then beaten rather handily at home in the final. Still, another good game, even though the result was beyond doubt with 3 overs remaining.
            Congratulations to the Victorian team, commiserations to the South Australians, and I believe both teams will go into the one of the Indian competitions later on this year to play for a lot more lucrative moneys. Good luck to all.
Women’s National Cricket League
Queensland v Western Australia
Western Australia 9/268; Queensland 130 (36.1 overs) – Western Australia won by 138 runs
            Disappointing game as Western Australia dominated from start to finish, leaving Queensland floundering at home.
Women’s National Cricket League Twenty20
Final
New South Wales v Victoria
            This was played as the curtain-raiser to the Victoria/South Australia men’s match, and so there is no home ground advantage for either team here.
Victoria 5/127; New South Wales 75 (16 overs) – Victoria won by 52 runs
            Disappointing final. But it did make for a nice weekend for followers of Victorian cricket.

Soccer
A-League – Round Nineteen
            Oh yes, you thought this round was over, didn’t you? Ha! I say. Ha!
Adelaide United 2 def by Perth Glory 3
            And thus Adelaide’s finals hopes disappear up their own egos.
Round 24
Perth Glory 2 def Wellington Phoenix 0
Central Coast Mariners 1 drew with Gold Coast United 1
Melbourne Victory 2 def Adelaide United 0
            For the ninth time in a row, Melbourne have done Adelaide. It’s no longer funny. It’s now officially sad.
North Queensland Fury 1 drew with Brisbane Roar 1
Newcastle Jets 1 def by Sydney 3

Basketball
NBL Round Seventeen
Melbourne 100 def Perth 86
Wollongong 93 def Townsville 86
New Zealand 103 def Adelaide 89
            You have to wonder how much the allegations of financial inconsistencies levelled against one of the club’s financial benefactors has affected Adelaide.
Townsville 73 def Wollongong 59
Perth 94 def Melbourne 78
Cairns 87 def Townsville 81
Gold Coast 81 def by New Zealand 95
WNBL Round Fifteen
AIS 51 def by Sydney 87
Bendigo 89 def Adelaide 86
Logan 67 def by Bulleen 93
Perth 61 def Dandenong 55
Canberra 81 def Sydney 78
Townsville 86 def by Bulleen 100
Adelaide 74 def Dandenong 66

Tennis
Australian Open
Nothing much to report as we are half way through the tournament. The seeds in the women’s side have been dropping like flies, while the men seem to be sticking to the script a little more.
            But here’s the third round results for the singles (next week I’ll cover all champions, I hope) just to give an idea of who is headed where. Following tennis reporting protocol, the numbers in parentheses indicate the seeding of the player involved.
Ladies Singles (3rd round)
Dinara Safina (2) def Elena Baltacha, 6-1, 6-2
Svetlana Kuznetsova (3) def Angelique Kerber, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Alona Bondarenko (31) def Jelena Jankovic (8), 6-2, 6-3
Justine Henin def Alisa Kleybanova (27), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Nadia Petrova (19) def Kim Clijsters (15) 6-0 6-1
            Something of a boilover for the defending US Open champ being knocked out here!
Yanina Wickmayer def Sara Errani 6-1, 6-7, 6-3
Maria Kirilenko def. Roberta Vinci, 7-5, 7-6
Jie Zheng def. Marion Bartoli (11) 7-5, 7-6
Serena Williams (1) def. Carla Suarez Navarro (32) 6-0, 6-3
Vera Zvonareva (9) def. Gisela Dulko 6-1, 7-5
Victoria Azarenka (7) def. Tathiana Garbin 6-0, 6-2
Samantha Stosur (13) def. Alberta Brianti 6-4, 6-1
            Yes, Sam Stosur is an Australian female tennis player who is going into the second week of a grand slam on the back of a strong win!
Caroline Wozniacki (4) def. Shahar Peer (29), 6-4, 6-0
Na Li (16) def. Daniela Hantuchova (22) 7-5, 3-6, 6-2
Francesca Schiavone (17) def. Agnieszka Radwanska (10) 6-2, 6-2
Venus Williams (6) def. Casey Dellacqua 6-1, 7-6
Mens Singles (3rd round)
Andy Roddick (7) def. Feliciano Lopez, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6
Juan Martin Del Potro (4) def. Florian Mayer 6-3 0-6 6-4 7-5
Rafael Nadal (2) def Philipp Kohlschreiber (27), 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5
Andy Murray (5) def. Florent Serra 7-5, 6-1, 6-4
Ivo Karlovic def. Ivan Ljubicic (24), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6
John Isner (33) def. Gael Monfils (12) 6-1 4-6 7-6 7-6
Marin Cilic (14) def Stanislas Wawrinka, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3
Fernando Gonzalez (11) def.Evgeny Korolev, 6-7, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4
Roger Federer (1) def. Albert Montanes (31) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Fernando Verdasco (9) def. Stefan Koubek 6-1 ret.
Nikolay Davydenko (6) def. Juan Monaco (30) 6-0, 6-3, 6-4
Novak Djokovic (3) def. Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-1, 6-2
Lukasz Kubot def. Mikhail Youzhny (20) walkover
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (10) def. Tommy Haas (18) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5
Nicolas Almagro (26) def. Alejandro Falla 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Lleyton Hewitt (22) def. Marcos Baghdatis 6-0, 4-2 ret.
            After the last time these two met in an absolute classic at the Australian Open, this was a huge letdown. It had been hyped since it was set up… and then this happened. The reason was a persistent shoulder injury which was clearly troubling Baghdatis.

Cycling
Tour Down Under
This is Australia’s only fully fledged Pro Circuit race, held in and around my hometown of Adelaide. Melbourne (as per usual) have indicated they wish to steal it or at least some of the limelight by rescheduling their own race to this time of year. Let’s hope it stays where it is.
Stage One:
Clare to Tanunda (141 km). Through some lovely wine growing areas.
            1. Andre Greipel
            2. Gert Steegmans
            3. Jurgen Roelandts
            4. Danilo Wyss
            5. Greg Henderson
Stage Two:
Gawler to Hahndorf (133.5 km). Through the Adelaide Hills.
            1. Andre Greipel
            2. Greg Henderson
            3. Robbie McEwen
            4. Robbie Hunter
            5. Graeme Brown
Stage Three:
Unley to Stirling (132.5 km). Starting in an Adelaide suburb and travelling south.
            1. Manuel Cardoso
            2. Alejandro Valverde
            3. Cadel Evans
            4. Peter Sagan
            5. Mauro Finetto
Stage Four:
Norwood to Goolwa (149.5 km). Another suburban start down to the mouth of the River Murray.
            1. Andre Greipel
            2. Robbie McEwen
            3. Graeme Brown
            4. Gert Steegmans
            5. Manuel Cardoso
Stage Five:
Snapper Point to Willunga (148 km). This involves the hardest hill climb of the event in a nice trip south.
            1. Luis Leon Sanchez
            2. Luke Roberts
            3. Alejandro Valverde
            4. Cadel Evans
            5. Peter Sagan
Stage 6:
Adelaide City Council stage (90 km). 20 laps of a 4.5 km city circuit.
            1. Christopher Sutton
            2. Greg Henderson
            3. Graeme Brown
            4. Robbie McEwen
            5. Andre Greipel
OVERALL:
            1. Andre Greipel (Germany)
            2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain)
            3. Greg Henderson (New Zealand)
            4. Robbie McEwen (Australia)
            5. Luke Roberts (Australia)

Professional Wrestling
AWS – Allstar Wrestling SUPERSHOW – Adelaide Jan 23rd
            The crowd was around 220-250, which is okay. Official figures stood at 308, but quite a few people who pre-bought tickets did not turn up according to one of the people on the door, so I’m going to say it was 230-ish who were there.
            Sitting down, each seat was covered in flyers. And one of them was advertising the AWS show. Advertising the show we’re at to those of us who were there? Nice bit of paper wastage. Luke Hazard was our host, but there were no commentators. Oh, and they had a screen with a projector advertising the show on throughout the night. (Yes, again advertising the show we were already at.) How hard would it have been to have some graphics, to at least have the wrestlers’ names up there? And the entrance looked small, no real lighting effects, no other effects (apart from an anaemic smoke machine), just guys walking out, posing, coming to the ring. I’ve come to expect a lot more from Australian wrestling than that.
            Start time: 7:30pm. They were on time! Woo-hoo! Positive to start the show!
Match 1: The Shark (WA) v Blue Blood (SA)
            Man, Sony are so going to go after Blue Blood if he keeps selling t-shirts with Sonic the Hedgehog on them, because I can guarantee he’s not giving them residuals or anything. Chain and basic moves to start, but a sudden tope by Blue Blood leads to a series of high spots. But also some missed moves. No real flow to the match, but an okay opener. Acceptable wrestling.
            The match, however, was ruled a no contest when Seth Maxx came out to make a claim for the Battle Royal, to run down South Australians, and destroy the two men fighting. We think. He was, after all, talking in a language that consists of generic heel growls and shouts and clichés, so it was hard to follow. Shark and Blue both make nice afterwards.
5/10 (lost marks for the lack of real ending – guys, it was the opening match. To get the crowd into the night, you know. No ending in your first match? Good impression!)
Match 2: Sara Jay (Qld) v Aurora (The Orient)
            Oh Christ, where to begin? These two are billed by some as the top female wrestlers in Australia. I beg to differ. They botched an arm drag… so they did it two more times for three botched arm drags in a row! Thanks to the guy in the crowd who, after the third, called out, “Please, just stop it now!” The moves were loose, most missed, the strikes looked slack, and there were times when we legitimately feared for them, for some real injury. The ‘rana Sara Jay did on Aurora off the top rope… how Aurora was still walking after that was a miracle. It was a train wreck. Sara Jay won with some sort of face plant thing.
1.5/10 (marks for a clean ending and for the fact nobody died)
            Ohh, goody, now we get some promos. Way to get the crowd involved after that last match! Craven – apparently the current Platinum World Wide Champion (is it just me, or are there more titles in wrestling now than actual wrestlers?) after a win in Chicago – came out, sucked up to the crowd, and got about a minute into his speech when the music of John E Radic hit. And then he did a 5 MINUTE ENTRANCE! Remember that 1995 song ‘Here’s Johnny’ by Hocus Pocus? Well, he did the whole song as his entrance, walking and posing and dancing and strutting and… stuff. And then he cut a promo about himself, I think. Craven then puts over Australia, Johnny puts over Croatia and we have a fight.
Match 3. John E. Radic (SA) v Craven (WA)
            Crowd shout outs and corner posing to start, then John E clips Craven’s knee and he works the leg really well. And that’s, uhh, about it, really. Because, quite out of nowhere, and sort of hopping on one leg to sort of sell the leg injury, Craven kills him dead with a clothesline after a mere 4 minutes for the pin. Radic’s entrance was longer than the entire match.
            Radic goes on about the loss afterwards for another 5 minutes, again longer than the actual match. Look, I know sports entertainment is all the rage and everything, but even TNA and WWE bring the matches on PPV, which this show was the equivalent of. It was not a regular show for regular punters – it was a big one.
3/10 (for the knee work)
Match 4: Rocky Menero (SA) v Iron Jay (NSW)
            Rocky looks physically good, better than I’ve seen him in ages. Good start, with Rocky cheating with Jay’s hair (for those not in the know, Iron Jay is the long-haired star of a TV advert for fish fingers, so is instantly recognised by the audience) and Jay getting the flying comeback. Nice back and forth match, although the punches look weak from Jay. It had a very 1980s vibe about it (and I mean that in a positive way). Finally, a good match! Iron Jay gets the win after reversing a Rocky attempt at a Roll the Dice into a small package roll up for the 3-count.
            Rocky, ever the heel, gains even more respect from me when he superkicks Iron Jay into oblivion afterwards.
            This felt like the start of what could have been a great 20 minute match – a little rushed. I would love to see these two go all out in a main event slot.
7.5/10
Match 5: 20-Man Over The Top Rope Battle Royal
            Well, this includes some of the largest men in Australian wrestling (and the widest – and they say I’m too fat to wrestle any more! Christ!), and a midget known as Mr Big, whose gimmick is that he’s the mini-Maniac (because Wayne Mattei, the champion, is known as… oh, forget it). My notes basically say the word ‘clusterf**k’ half a dozen times. After 5 minutes… no-one is out! And there are guys literally just standing around, leaning on the ropes, watching. Many weak punches, kicks and strikes (not all, but the fact that some were decent made the rest look even worse). And then suddenly they’re dropping like flies until our final three are a guy in jeans and a superman t-shirt, John E Radic and Mr Big. Oh come on, you know what happens now. It’s from wrestling cliché 101. Yes, Mr Big wins after a series of gratuitous ball shots. Yes, he gets a trophy. Yes the bad guys break it. Yes, the save is made – in this case by The Shark and Blue Blood. Yadda, yadda, yadda…
4/10
Match 6: Zac Sabbath (SA) v Adam Gambino (Vic) v KrackerJak (Vic) (c)
            Street fight for the Wrestlerock Championship
            The Wrestlerock owner Julian James comes out to put over Victorians, run down South Australians (cheap but effective heel heat) says Gambino is there to ensure a South Aussie does not win the title, and makes himself a heel in 4 seconds. That’s what we want to see – short, sharp and shiny. He cut the best promo of the night by far. The man was gold.
            Sabbath comes with a ladder, Gambino with some street signs and KrackerJak with a bin of weapons and a barbed-wire covered table.
            Each take a street sign to start, KrackerJak hits hard, Gambino hits hard, Sabbath pats them gently on the forehead with his. The softest weapon shots ever from Sabbath. Then we have lots of waiting around while ladders and spots are set up. Gambino blades. How do we know? Because EVERYONE SAW IT! Not to be outdone, KrackerJak bled from not only the head but also the body. Pleasant. Oh, and they kindly tell all us what they’re going to do and with what. Very informative. But obviously they are also deaf because the guys in the ring don’t actually seem to hear this and, you know, move or something. James replaces the ref at one point until KrackerJak got rid of him. Don’t ask. Kudos to KrackerJak for really pumping the crowd and getting them involved throughout the match. The end came when KrackerJak, wrapped up in barbed wire, hit a top rope splash on Gambino who was laying on the thumbtacks (oh, yeah, thumb tacks were involved; of course) in a visually impressive spot. KrackerJak still the champ.
            This was a bunch of spots in search of a match. Violence for the sake of violence. I am not adverse to some good hardcore wrestling. Needless to say, this wasn’t that. I would also like to point out that some people (including several families) actually left during this match and not all of them came back.
3.5/10 (for the James promo, KrackerJak and the ending)
            Intermission while they cleaned the place up.
            6 matches in and one has been any good. Well… this has been a treat so far. (My notes on the night were nothing if not slightly sarcastic…)
Match 7: Ahmed Iblis (Lebanon) v TNT (NSW)
            First thought – at least they both look like wrestlers. This is my first chance to see an Australian legend in TNT – I was actually looking forward to this match. Started with some good, basic wrestling. Ahmed interacted well with the crowd, getting himself over as a heel well (“Shut up, you infidels!”) without ruining the match flow. They wrestled slow, but well. Then suddenly Ahmed moved himself into position for a top rope move (think Honky Tonk Man v Ultimate Warrior) and they then went for home. Ahmed hit a nice black hole slam for two, and then TNT hit Christian’s unprettier for the win.
            Solid if unspectacular match. Felt like the first 10 minutes of a good 20 minute match. Again. Yes, that is the second time I’ve typed that. And again, I would pay to see these two go all out in a main event slot. Look, dump the women and the Radic / Craven thing, give these guys and Iron Jay/Rocky more time – that would have made for a much more awesome night.
7.5/10
Match 8: GD Grimm (SA) (c) v Mimic (SA)
            For the Riot City Wrestling Championship
            Yes, it’s Grimm v Mimic again. Solid match as expected, with a few new move combinations thrown in. For those of us who watch RCW it looked like they were both learning each other’s moves and so had to vary offence; to the casual observer, it just looked like some fast-paced wrestling. But there must have been something in the air because even these two managed to make a minor mistake at one point.
            But the main difference was the striking. All the kicks, punches and chops looked and sounded like they connected. It looked like a real fight. Compared to every other match (with the exception of maybe Rocky’s blows or Ventura’s) it stood out as looking more real.
            The finish came after Grimm kicked Mimic twice in the head, then curb stomped him for the three-count.
            Grimm attacked Mimic afterwards, but TJ Rush (also from RCW) came in to make the save.
8.5/10 and your match of the night by quite a large margin.
            I know this is opening up a can of worms considering my association with RCW, but it really stood out as fast, hard-hitting and, above all, safe.
Match 9: Ryan Eagles (NSW) v Roger Ventura (NZ)
            Basic match and something of a letdown after the last match. Some stuff outside. And the ref missed and let go so much that would have / should have been an instant DQ. Now, I know they are supposed to not see things, but when they are three inches in front of his face? Eagles was sloppy and his punches looked weak. It did improve as it went along and they got into a nice rhythm, but then they lost it at the end again. The crowd did not get into it. Ventura, however, really looked the goods, but with Eagles dominating mostly, that was not enough. Eagles won with a very nice suplex variation.
            Afterwards Eagles attacks Ventura, who gets his revenge by superkicking him out of the ring.
            5.5/10 (for Ventura and the finishing suplex)
Match 10: Kyote (Qld) v Wayne “The Maniac” Mattei (SA) (c)
            Southern Cross and Platinum Australian heavyweight titles on the line
            Cage match in the world’s shortest cage (15 foot high they advertised! That makes the wrestlers at least 10 foot tall…) which took 24 MINUTES to set up using cable ties! Note, half the audience left during this time as it was now after 11 o’clock and there were a lot of kids still left in the audience. John Seru was introduced as guest enforcer. Who? Well, he was Vulcan in the Australian version of Gladiators, and that’s about it, like that means anything 12 years after the show was cancelled. And that, by the way, is his sole claim to fame.
            The match finally starts some 35 minutes after the last one ended.
            So sssslllloooowwww. My God. Some Galapagos Tortoises rang – they want a race. Weak punches and kicks from both men. And they are both gassed completely after like 4 minutes of this slow, boring, plodding, tedious, dull, dreary, lack-lustre, infuriating (yes, I was actually writing down as many words as I could think of that meant the same thing while watching this) so-called match. Some throws to the cage…
            (A digression. Every time they hit this cage, the whole thing moved and bent outwards, so a bunch of guys had to stand there and hold the cage together! I’m sure some kid in the northern suburbs is looking at his backyard wrestling ring and asking where his home-made steel cage went…
            Back to the match.)
            …to the cage result in two of the woosiest blade jobs ever. I’ve bled more squeezing pimples. Suddenly all the bad guys from the back run out and storm the cage. Vulcan gets in the face of some, but Rocky Menero manages to climb up to stop Mattei from escaping. For his trouble he is shoved through the announce table after a few teases. Vulcan does some moves and stuff. The good guys come down eventually and, oh look! It’s another clusterf**k! Goody! With no commentary, who knew what the hell was going on? Certainly no-one in the crowd as people from other states that we had no vested interest in were suddenly either being good or bad. Wow! Hang on, that’s right, somewhere inside the cage there’s still something resembling a wrestling match going on. Mattei goes through the motions of sort of powerbombing Kyote before climbing up and over to retain his titles after 9:50. Less than 10 minutes for that overbooked garbage. He and Vulcan then beat up Kyote’s manager outside the ring and inside the cage, and then beat up Kyote again to stand tall as the crowd streams out at 11:30.
2.5/10 (for Rocky’s table bump and the night being finally over)
OVERALL
Overall: 48.5/100
            Where I come from, that’s a fail. A big fail. An F. Repeat the year. On second thoughts, no, don’t repeat, because then we’d have to watch all the crappy matches again and again and I wouldn’t want to put anyone through that. Only 3 matches were rated 7 or higher. 2 others barely broke the halfway mark. That means half the matches were below average, below standard, whatever.
            Crap, basically.
            I hate doing this. It’s why several of my reviews of shows have not been posted because I hate to be so negative about local wrestling. But this was hyped for months and promised to be the best of the best.
            It may have been on paper, but in practice…
            That’s 4 hours of my life I am never getting back.
            Rocky Menero was man of the night, Julian James was the best on the mic, Grimm v Mimic was match of the night, and that’s my positives all used up.

 

That’s this view – January 18 through 25.

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