THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #86 – Wrestling’s back!

Cricket, basketball, and soccer are all on the tail ends of their seasons while the V8s return to Australia, rugby league gets under way, and there’s more Riot City Wrestling. Seriously, you should do yourself a favour if you are a fan of professional wrestling and get hold of the last few shows of last year or the first show of this year on DVD. You will not be disappointed. Anyway, let’s get on with another long one!

            I think here is where I should put some brief thoughts about a topic that seems to have overshadowed all other sport talk this week. Australia cricket vice-captain Michael Clarke has left the New Zealand tour in order to return to Australia to be with his fiancé Lara Bingle, a model famous for the ‘where the bloody hell are you’ Australian tourism ads, who has been embroiled in a scandal where an ex-lover, married AFL footballer Brendon Fevola (who was dumped by his club last year for alcohol related problems allegedly but got picked up by another club) put into the public domain a photo he took of her in the shower without her consent. Whew! I won’t even go into the blokey culture of football that sees this as a perfectly acceptable thing for him to have done until he was caught, as it is alleged these photos have been in private circulation for years. But Fevola has come out of this so badly he was dumped from the big AFL advertising campaign. And that was it. Apart from the new verb Fevola which apparently now means to do something stupid, and then make it worse by doing something stupider (“Creationists often fevola when they claim scientific evidence for evolution is lacking and then claim they themselves don’t need proof as their own evidence is faith-based.”).
            Clarke did the right thing returning home to sort things out. You can’t be at your best when things like this are playing on your mind. And then I think he did something even better when he dumped her. For a good looking woman, she certainly had not done a real lot of stuff, instead looking like sponging off Clarke. They had some public disagreements. The straw that broke the camel’s back, though, was that she sold her side of this latest story to a women’s magazine without Clarke’s prior knowledge. I don’t think he needs this sort of distraction just when he’s on the verge of what many consider the most important sporting job in Australia – national cricket captain. Bingle at the moment comes across as Australia’s version of Paris Hilton (without the cashed-up dad); I hope this is a wrong impression because she does seem like a nice kid, but maybe that’s also part of the problem – she’s a kid. I hope all this settles down and soon for everyone involved.
3rd One-Day International
New Zealand v Australia
New Zealand 245 (46.2 overs); Australia 4/248 (47.2 overs) – Australia won by 6 wickets
            Another close game, but Australia seemed to have gained the edge over their trans-Tasman counterparts at this point in time.
4th One-Day International
New Zealand v Australia
New Zealand 238 (44.1 overs); Australia 4/202 (33.1 overs) – Australia won by 6 wickets (D/L method)
More rain, so Duckworth-Lewis rears its ugly head yet again. And yet again New Zealand do not bat through their full 50 overs. Of they could actually do that, then maybe they would actually put up more of a fight. Their batting is letting them down and letting Australia in way too easily.
5th One-Day International
New Zealand v Australia
New Zealand 9/241; Australia 190 (46.1 overs) – New Zealand won by 51 runs
            When Australia lose they certainly do it in style! Unfair; with the Michael Clarke thing on everyone’s mind, this was not a totally unexpected result, but it does show just how close the two teams really are. Australia take out the series 3-2 and it was close and it was good for both teams to go through this.
3rd One-Day International
New Zealand Women v Australia Women
New Zealand 173 (44 overs); Australia 4/174 (37.2 overs) – Australia won by 6 wickets
            Australia seem to have found their form once again as their wins over New Zealand are coming on stronger and stronger.
Sheffield Shield
Last matches before the final.
New South Wales v South Australia
New South Wales 9(dec)/550; South Australia 267 & 244 – New South Wales won by an innings and 39 runs
            New South Wales finish their year on a high and SA finish with barely a whimper. NSW promised much but really struggled to deliver earlier on, while SA started the year great and fell into a hole, especially after losing the Twenty20 final.
Queensland v Western Australia
Western Australia 286 & 7/109; Queensland 106 & 285 – Western Australia won by 3 wickets
            The result was not really in doubt after WA enforced the follow-on, and this is not the result Queensland wanted going into next week’s Shield final.
Victoria v Tasmania
Tasmania 222 & 114; Victoria 382 – Victoria won by an innings and 46 runs
            Victoria, on the other hand, had a great hit-out and confidence building win before the final. Tasmania have had an up and down season, and it is a shame for them to finish on such a down.

Australian Rules Football
AFL Pre Season Cup
Round Four – Grand Final
Western Bulldogs 2.13.8 (104) def St Kilda 0.9.10 (64)
            The Bulldogs first championship of any sort since 1970 and they deserved it. Pre-season favourites the Saints were hit early, clawed their way back, but were left floundering as Barry Hall booted 7 goals to be the real difference between the two teams. It was not a brilliant spectacle as far as the game goes, but it was a hard-fought contest and augurs well for both teams in the upcoming season.

Rugby League
NRL 2010 – Round 1
Parramatta 12 def by St George Illawarra 18
Brisbane 30 def North Queensland 24
Canterbury-Bankstown 16 def by Newcastle 20
Penrith 34 def Canberra 16
Cronulla 10 def by Melbourne 14
Gold Coast 24 def Warriors 18
South Sydney 10 def by Sydney Roosters 36
            Hang on! I’ve got something riding on Souths being the most improved team of 2010! And they start like this? Crap!
Wests Tigers 26 def Manly 22

Rugby Union
Super 14 Round 5
Chiefs 19 def by Crusaders 26
Waratahs 73 completely humiliated Lions 12
            What a score line! It looked like a training drill.
Brumbies 24 just over Sharks 22
Bulls 50 def Highlanders 35
            That’s a basketball score! What happened to defence?
Stormers 37 def Hurricanes 13
Reds 50 embarrassed Force 10

World Cup
Australia 2 def Germany 1
            Yep, hockey. Why here? Because Australia have won their first World Cup in 24 years! And in a precursor for the Commonwealth Games later on this year, the tournament was held in India and no-one was killed by terrorists. This was one of the closest World Cups for quite a while, with no team going through undefeated. Well done to the Kookaburras!

Asian Champions League

I know I’ve put some of the results up before, but as per a request, here they all are up to date again:
Beijing Guoan 1 def Melbourne Victory 0
Adelaide United 1 def Pohang Steelers 0
Melbourne Victory 0 def by Seongnam Ilwha 2
Shandong Luneng 0 def by Adelaide United 2
Preliminary Final – Match F: Loser (MatchA+MatchD) v Winner Match E
Sydney 4 def Wellington Phoenix 2

NBL Grand Final
Best Of 3 series
Grand Final
Game 2:
Wollongong 75 def Perth 63
            And so we go to the third and deciding rubber.
Game 3:
Perth 96 def Wollongong 72
            And Perth win their seventh title.
            In all, this so-called comeback season was a success for the NBL. After the excesses and politics of previous seasons, it was a pleasant change to see the focus on the sport, even if there is no Sydney team and Melbourne once again were looked upon favourably by the powers-that-be. But this is a good basis upon which to rebuild the national league.

Motor Sport
V-8 Supercars
Adelaide (Clipsal 500)

            Yes, in my home town. The four days of this event are awesome, with the concerts at night, the newly revived Skyshow fireworks spectacular and the tail end of the Fringe and Adelaide Arts Festival in dull swing. And last weekend we had Womadelaide. March in Adelaide is a month where too much money is spent, too much alcohol is imbibed and too many excuses are given to bosses…
Race Five
1st Garth Tander (Commodore VE)
2nd James Courtney (Falcon FG)
3rd Lee Holdsworth (Commodore VE)
            Whincup finished fourth, his first not-win for the year. His pit crew put their hands up to say it was their fault, but it was good that this series is not a one-man show.
Race Six
1st Garth Tander (Commodore VE)
2nd James Courtney (Falcon FG)
3rd Mark Winterbottom (Falcon FG)
            And he was 18th in this race… but that was because he was black-flagged, somewhat controversially, near the end of the race! Tander and Courtney are obviously going to be the main contenders to challenge Whincup, and after 6 races Winterbottom is also up there in the overall points tally.

Professional Wrestling
Riot City Wrestling – Scarstruck V
Three nights of wrestling involving the Strength Tournament to crown the number one contender who will wrestle the champion at the May show. Last year’s winner of the tournament – GD Grimm – it should be pointed out is the current champ.
Night One
Disappointing crowd by RCW standards, a little dead at times, but still a good night.
1) Voodoo def Tim Burgundy with the Cannonball (Canadian) destroyer
            Good, hot match to open, with two evenly matched wrestlers out there.
2) Brad Smyth def Matt Plasma with a low blow into a roll up.
            Plasma is improving as a legit power wrestler while Smyth has the conniving heel persona down. Plasma’s gorilla press was a highlight, but the win did not make Smyth look strong going into the next round of the tournament.
3) TJ Rush def Del Taurino with the shooting star press.
            Felt too short; definitely needed longer as I was still getting into it when the ending came. Another even match up.
4) (non-tournament) Miami def Eliza Sway with a Samoan drop into bridged pin.
            Again, felt too short as Sway has quickly adapted to RCW and they had a solid hit out. After the match Savannah Summers comes out to beat Miami down, but Sway stops her. Sway and Miami make nice afterwards.
5) Marvel def Blue Blood with a dragon sleeper.
            First surprise of the night, with the experienced Blue Blood showing up on an RCW show. Marvel continues to look good and is getting more and more dangerous. He deserves a title shot and soon. Blue Blood had a good debut, although some of the psychology was a little off. A good addition to the roster.
6) Jacko Lantern def BeBop with a big boot.
            Jacko, though based in Victoria, has become a real RCW regular with over twelve months of regular appearances. This was a genuine comedy match and played as such with some great high flying and power moves as well. And unlike many comedy matches, this one was actually funny intentionally. It was a pleasant break from the intensity of the other matches. They shook hands after and even danced together. But Jacko has to become all business as he goes through to the next round of the tournament.
7) Fuzion def Mimic with an inverted DDT after a shot with the knucks.
            Good match, again very even, but again it felt too short. The end came when Grimm came down, distracted the ref and passed the knucks to Fuzion.
            After the match Grimm is about to gloat when Commissioner Jack comes out and tells Grimm he’s overstepped the mark, and so he has a match for him this weekend.
            And he brings out the second surprise – Rocky Menero! Sorry, as a fan of the man, I was marking out. He books a match for night two, but some goading happens and it’s on!
8) (non-tournament) Rocky Menero def GD Grimm by DQ after a blatant belt shot.
            Short match but looked intense while it lasted with half the match happening outside and in the crowd!
            Afterwards the heels and faces come down to pull the two men apart and the commissioner says the match on night two is still going ahead!
            Strong first night. Two surprises, and the matches that felt short were not bad matches at all – I just wanted to see more.
Night Two
            Better crowd than night one, and louder too, but still a little disappointing.
1) 3-way elimination: Voodoo v Marvel v Jacko Lantern
            A good, strong opener which had the crowd pumped from the word go. My only gripe is that it quickly broke down into a series of 1-on-1 match-ups, which is an issue in most 3-ways everywhere. The ending, however, was something unique. Voodoo hit Jacko with the stalling elbow for the pin to eliminate him, but as soon as the ref hit the 3, Marvel swooped in and locked on the dragon sleeper while Voodoo was still over Jacko, getting the win. Winner: Marvel.
2) BeBop def Matt Plasma with a scissor kick.
            Started slow an unsure, but picked up and got better as it went along to a hot finish that had the crowd buzzing.
3) Mimic def Del Taurino by count-out.
            This was a stiff, hard match, and I mean that in a good way. Great match-up! They were giving each other all they had and it showed. The chops and impacts echoed throughout the building. The ending came when Mimic power bombed Taurino on the outside, and then got back into the ring. Taurino was so badly injured he could not answer the ten-count. So while he lost by count-out, Mimic forced it. Great match.
4) Eliza Sway def Savannah Summers.
            Ending came after Miami distracted Summers. New look for Savannah as well. Decent match, but felt too short. They needed more time, dammit!
5) GD Grimm def Rocky Menero with a curb stomp.
            A great match between these two with Rocky really bringing it to Grimm like few others. Some great work on the outside, the match flow was superb and the psychology was strong. The ending came after Grimm managed to knock Rocky’s head into an exposed turnbuckle, enabling him to level the challenger with the stomp.
6) Fuzion v TJ Rush v Brad Smyth
            The set up was basically a 2-on-1 handicap match, with Fuzion and Smyth working together, focusing particularly on TJ’s leg throughout. But there were many hints of dissent throughout, even though they prevented TJ getting a pin at all. However after one too many arguments, Fuzion watched as TJ pinned Brad after a roll-up. After his elimination, Brad super-kicked the ref and then he and Fuzion double teamed TJ. However miscommunication led to TJ getting hold of a chair and levelling Fuzion for the very slow three count. Winner: TJ Rush. Afterwards Brad demolishes TJ’s leg with the chair until Mimic and Voodoo make the save. And then as they help TJ to the back, Marvel comes out to make it clear who TJ is facing on night 3.
            Man, they are going to be pushing it to top these two nights!
Night Three
            TJ comes out and says he may not be able to wrestle because of the leg injury, gets the sympathetic pop.
1) Jacko Lantern v Del Taurino (with El Presidente)
            Match started slow and unsure but built up nicely. Ending came when Taurino went for his second rope diving head butt but Jack misted him on the way down. The head butt hit, but Taurino was blinded. Jacko rushed him, Taurino side-stepped, Jacko landed in the ropes, El Presidente hit him and Taurino rolled him up for the pin.
2) GD Grimm v BeBop and Plasma (handicap match, elimination rules)
            Little off at times, but was fun with the crowd right behind the younger members of the roster. This also makes the fans think that anyone could get in the run with the champ, and makes the roster seem that little more even. Crowd were into it, harmless match. Plasma was pinned first after the curb stomp, then BeBop fought a bit longer before getting a torture rack drop into a curb stomp for the Grimm win.
3) Blue Blood v Voodoo
            Blue Blood seemed a step or two slower than Voodoo and this threw them both off unfortunately. It also made it a little disjointed. Voodoo won with the cannonball destroyer.
4) Savannah Summers (with Brad Smyth) v Miami (with Eliza Sway)
            Hard-hitting match. Wanted to see more. Miami looked more intense than usual and the new camo-themed ring attire really suited the new attitude. Good match-up, which ended when Sway took Smyth out of the equation and Miami won with her Samoan drop bridge pin.
5) Mimic v Brad Smyth
            Fast, stiff and hard match! These two let it all out and it was great. Felt too short – I wanted ten or more minutes of this. Mimic ended up winning with the Sega Mega Driver.
6) Strength Tournament Final – Marvel v TJ Rush
            TJ comes out limping with a heavily bandaged leg and Marvel of course zeroes in on it. This was a textbook example of both the art of selling and the art of working a body part. Faultless in both. And the crowd are becoming more accustomed to this style of wrestling as they were right into it, to the point where there was a woman crying (literally) on every new attack on TJ’s leg. Ending came when TJ managed a one-legged Shooting Star Press for the win. And the crowd exploded.
            Even though I question the need for the Key to the City holder having the Strength title as well, and Marvel missing out… what a match! So different and yet so well done.
            What a weekend, Kudos to the referees – Johnny Beards (making his debut and doing a fine job as well), David Starr (who came out on the last night) and Dan Stazer (who did a superb job, to the point where he is now one of the best referees I have seen) – and the various commentators and Commissioner Jack and the whole crew. What a weekend…

Now, I am having next week off as I deal with some business. In the meantime I hope to mid-week or so have an AFL season preview. Otherwise, catch you in a fortnight.
            That’s this view – Mar 7 through 14.

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