Tuesday Morning Backlash: Daniel Bryan and Undertaker Return, WWE Summerslam Report Card, RVD Screws TNA

1) WWE Raw Thoughts – The Return of Bryan Danielson
2) WWE Smackdown Thoughts – The Return of the Undertaker to face Kane
3) TNA Impact Thoughts – Rob Van Dam Screws TNA
4) WWE Summerslam Report Card
5) ROH Thoughts – How Will Tyler Black do in WWE
6) Guest Spot – Penny Candy by Penny
7) A Modest Response to Andy Wheeler on TNA Tag Teams
8) History Time – 10 Great Tag Teams that are Overlooked
9) Match Review: Jake Ziegler on Tyler Black vs. Chris Hero
10) Personal Life/Blog/whatever on My Life and About Us

1) WWE Raw Thoughts – The Return of Bryan Danielson

So just like everyone hoped, but no one dared predict, Bryan Danielson returned to the WWE at Summerslam and is back as a roster member, even as he finishes up his indy dates. Let me shock the world and come right out and state that I am fully for this move and consider it absolutely awesome.

Danielson’s leave and return was absolutely huge for him. First off, it showed the company that the wrestlers really respect this guy, with everyone from Cena to Orton to Jericho to Jim Ross coming out in support of him. That’s huge in and of itself, but when added to the chants and the sure to be huge number of e-mails, this guy has his best chance ever to become a true star.

Before he left, Danielson was also the guy on NXT with the losing streak gimmick. As well as he was booked after as the wildcard who took out Michael Cole and the Miz, the stink of all those losses was hard to shake off. With the tie incident and the firing, that is no longer the case. Danielson returns to be dominant, looking as fresh as a daisy.

Then the WWE had Danielson job on Raw to Michael Tarver. A lot of the internet is complaining about this already, as Tarver isn’t really good and it calls to mind the losing streak and such. That’s rather nonsense. First off, Tarver, while terrible in the ring, has the best look and one of the most dangerous seeming characters of the NXT rookies. Next, this was clearly a fluke meant to set up Riley and then Miz facing Danielson. This will work really well if Danielson is able to dethrone the Miz and take the US Title, a scenario necessary if Miz is going to move up to main event contention.

Danielson with the US Title is, seemingly, the goal, and it’s a worthy one. He’s instant credibility to the midcard and in no way lacks opponents to face. From his former Nexus allies to Ted Dibiase to Alex Riley, he doesn’t lack major opponents with credibility and a credible midcard makes for a more entertaining, full show. And all on the shoulder’s of the WWE’s returning hero, Daniel Bryan.

2) Smackdown Thoughts: Undertaker’s Return and Kane

Weeks ago, I complained about Kane’s title win and where it was heading. I was basically told, at length, in the tons of comments that followed, that I was wrong. Well, should I be expecting those apologies now or later?

Kane, at last night’s Summerslam, had an incredibly boring match with Rey Mysterio. Was this a surprise? No, all Kane ever has are boring matches. It wasn’t even remotely a main event caliber match, as Rey has had that basic exact match with every giant in the company over the past decade, including Kane himself, on the mid-card of shows. Is some of that Rey’s fault? Surely, but Kane is the guy with the belt and a lot of the responsibility for the match’s failure must fall on him. Kane killed the crowd at one of the biggest shows of the year.

This, it can be argued, is not Kane’s fault, and while I am no Kane fan, I can recognize that much of my complaint about putting the belt on him was from a booking standpoint. The main problem is that there is and was no one compelling for Kane to face. He faced Rey a year or two prior in an underwhelming mid-card feud. Kane vs. Jack Swagger could be good, but Kane would kill Swagger if Kane was still being protected for the Undertaker. The same holds true for CM Punk, although Big Show killed him pretty well, as is. Finally, we have the Big Show, who is nearly as overexposed vs. Kane as the Undertaker is.

So, now Kane has had his underwhelming “deserved” title reign, badly hurt a major show, and put on a bad match at said show, it’s time for the dreaded Undertaker feud. There’s a twist though- Taker is still weak, so this time Kane has a chance. Is it not an argument against running an angle that the guy has lost to Taker so many times that the Deadman has to be weakened for anyone to think Kane has a viable shot of winning this time.

This was exactly what I feared when Kane was booked for the title. The title run has been bad and Kane vs. Undertaker was weak when both men where in their prime. This is an unmitigated disaster. I hope you’re all happy.

3. TNA Thoughts – Rob Van Dam Screws TNA

For a second there, TNA seemed like a company with a long-term plan. They put their main title on RVD, a guy casual fans have always been able to get behind. They switched gears to run an ECW PPV, good because they were attracting ECW fans and, with RVD on top, could potentially keep them watching afterwards. They had a huge television show with PPV quality to showcase all the best things about the company with their semi-mainstream champion headlining.

TNA, quite simply, built everything around Rob Van Dam… and he flat out decided he needed time off. This is a huge joke. RVD has spent his career complaining about no one letting him be himself and be on top of a company. TNA comes along and, despite the fact that RVD’s driving on the wrong side of the road with drugs sank the WWE’s ECW, not Vince McMahon, gives RVD the ball again. And to his credit, he runs with it. TNA was a better product with RVD on top. The company was gaining momentum after the Monday Night Abortion.

And RVD fumbled. He walked out. With the company growing, with no reason as yet revealed why, he walked away from his biggest push. He was the entire company- not one brand- the whole company. They had an ECW PPV with him as headliner, then had a PPV level Impact named after him. And he dropped the damn ball… on purpose.

RVD didn’t even have the decency to make a star or put in some time before leaving. He just up and decided he needed time. If you’ve been trying to get back into TNA after the Bischoff/Hogan debacle, what do you do now? The guy you’ve been asked to invest in is just gone.

No one is really in a position to replace him, either, except Kurt Angle… who’s got the been there done that stink all over him. Ken Anderson has been jobbing constantly. The Pope isn’t there yet. Samoa Joe has been an afterthought, as has Hernandez. Jeff Hardy still has court hanging over his head and might be less reliable than RVD.

What about the heels? Well, if Abyss was going to get the belt, he should have just beat RVD. AJ Styles? He has the TV Title and just lost the title to RVD to begin with. It’s spinning wheels. Desmonde Wolfe has been a jobber. Matt Morgan is a possibility, but even then, it just comes off seeming like TNA is replacing a hero with a villain with no one the fans can really get behind and expect to take over as top face.

RVD did the wrong thing by TNA and the wrong thing for the business. Since he walked out, again, hopefully this is his last shot as a top player and everyone realizes what a selfish prick he’s been his whole career. A very good wrestler or not, extremely over or not, RVD is his own worst enemy and this time, he’s taking TNA down with him.

4. WWE Summerslam Report Card

Dolph Ziggler – D. I’m a huge Ziggler fan by and large. I really loved his John Morrison and Rey Mysterio feuds and think the belt should have been put on him, not Drew McIntyre. After messing up with him, putting the belt on him only after getting his head back with Vickie Guerrero was brilliant… but since his return to prominence, the great ring work hasn’t been there. Worse yet, while he wasn’t going to be surpassed in quality by McIntyre, he certainly has been by Cody Rhodes. The IC Title is nice, but it’s too little, too late, especially since his match with Kofi was so lackluster.

Kofi Kingston – D+. Ziggler, as champion, takes more blame for the weak match than does Kingston. That doesn’t mean, however, that Kofi doesn’t have issues of his own. Like John Morrison, Kofi Kingston is trying to add an edge to his character to prove he can hang in the more serious and often more brawl based upper-card. Where he’s succeeding is in his promos, which have always been very, very good, but in the ring, like at Summerslam, he has failed thus far. His mannerisms are too jaunty and cheerful and really need to be toned down when he’s deadly serious. Guys can show heat in pure wrestling matches and, with a guy like Arn Anderson backstage, really should be doing so. That Kofi hasn’t is to his detriment, although I still think he’ll get it soon due to how quickly he’s picked up everything else.

Vickie Guerrero – A-. She’s still a heat magnet and deserves a far bigger role. I get her as the cougar picking up young men to make her stars, but her role would be better as a stable leader looking to take over the show. More Vickie = more heat for more wrestlers.

Alicia – B. She handled herself with class. I wasn’t a huge fan of Alicia, but she put on one of her better matches, out of nowhere finish notwithstanding, to put over Melina as new champion, while being the definition of a transitional afterthought due to the angle that ran post-match. Well done, Alicia.

Melina – C. Yep, she seemed slow and has always been rather overrated in the ring. WWE clearly see her as their current Trish Stratus, or at least their current Mickie James, but she’s forced as a face and rarely puts on anything approaching a good match. Her genuine emotion at the title win was, however, touching and since that was more memorable than the match, saved her grade.

Michelle McCool and Layla – A-. I’m pretty sure it was the booking, but Melina attacked them pretty much unprovoked, so they should have the right to lay into her. Whatever, since I’m sure that was booking the rating stays high. The mic work leading to the beating was more from their NXT characters than their horrible heelish Smackdown persona, but the attack was purely from the latter. The instant they were wronged, they sprung and certainly seemed quite dangerous.

CM Punk – B. Punk is the king of the little things to get over. From the shirt to the sauntering and fear of Big Show, he was a consummate heel here, despite the cheers for him. Better, he was allowed to look strongest of his group against Big Show and should, not will, but should, continue on in his feud with Big Show, eventually winning to increase his credibility, even if it is through cheating.

Luke Gallows – C. Gallows impresses me with his work as he seems to get what being a lackey is all about and can even look dangerous at times. Paradoxically, it is that which makes his rating lower. His size, combined with ability to be dangerous should make him more enforcer than lackey, but that has, unfortunately, rarely been the case. Summerslam was a short moment or two of him looking dangerous after a match of looking inept.

Joey Mercury – F. Try as I might to recall something positive, this guy just made absolutely no impression. He could have been any jobber in there with Punk and Gallows and made the same impression.

The Miz – A+. His promo to accept being a part of Team WWE was absolute gold, as was his involvement in the main event. I hope the WWE keeps developing his character and let’s a lengthy feud with Danielson precede World Title hijinks.

Sheamus – A-. For the first time, Sheamus looks like a real champion. He didn’t get the big win he needed, but I didn’t really expect him to and that isn’t his fault. He had the best match of his title run, one that would be quite fondly remembered if not for the two major returns and the non-finish to his match, which, again, is not his fault. I’ll never be thrilled with how he got his push, but at least now it’s looking like he’s at least doing something with that push.

Randy Orton – A+. He made Sheamus look great while still seeming like the biggest, toughest star on the show. That’s incredibly tough to do. He sells like his opponent is really hurting him, but he’s only showing it begrudgingly and fights back constantly. This makes the opponent control seem more important and, due to his absolutely elite level facial expressions, his comebacks seem like pure, unadulterated revenge that the audience can partake in with him for daring to hurt their darling bastard. One thing though – someone get Matt Striker to stop calling him an anti-hero. That’s the kind of thing that only works if you allow the audience to come to it themselves and threatens to undermine his heat… or would, if he weren’t so damn good.

Kane – F. Bad match, bad title run, crappy feud coming soon. Check section two for more.

Rey Mysterio – D. A bad, formulaic match, Rey is no longer the guy to carry a feud it seems. He needs to get the heck out of the top matches, where the workers aren’t to his style and work with mid-card heels like Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler to make them better and get them more over.

Undertaker – F. How many times have we seen weakened Undertaker for one reason or another? Any why did he threaten Rey? I know it was a tease, but weren’t we playing up that he knew who his attacker was all along? He looked old and slow, and has done this kind of thing before. What a waste of the Deadman.

Darren Young and Michael Tarver – N/A – Both of these men were eliminated almost immediately. They did their job, but anyone with any training could have done what they did, so… no rating.

Wade Barrett – B-. I’m a big Barrett fan, but this was one of his weaker in ring performances. That’s not shocking as working these kinds of big matches and running things has got to take a lot of work, and he’s still relatively green, but then it’s ironic that his good rating is earned by his kayfabe directing of traffic, which he seemed genuinely good at.

Heath Slater – D. He’s a solid hand, but eliminating two main event wrestlers was a joke. He just seems utterly generic here and well out of his league.

Justin Gabriel – B – Gabriel lasted a long time in this match, looking good the whole way through when he was in the ring, which was nowhere near enough. Whoever laid this one out should really take some serious heat for that. Nexus was short good workers, so Gabriel should have gotten more shine since what he did was so impressive.

David Otunga – C. He didn’t do much, but he sure did stick around awhile and be generally inoffensive, not botching anything. That’s all I really ask of him at this point.

Skip Sheffield – A. The unexpected winner of the evening was Sheffield who was the one Nexus guy who looked dominant. He was crisp all match and his big lariat looks brutal. I’m a fan.

John Cena – C. The low rating isn’t for winning or burying Nexus or any such nonsense, but more for the utter oversell of the relatively minor beating that Edge and Chris Jericho put on him. Also, Cena could have made this huge, and if anyone is big enough to do it, it’s him, by blading after the DDT to the floor. He didn’t, and should have, even though he gets credit for the awesome bump.

John Morrison – F. Looking more and more like Marty Janetty each week.

R-Truth – D. He has some cool moves, but still doesn’t get basic wrestling format and is an atrocious seller. I’d be utterly fine if he went away forever. The cool move saves him from an F, but the lack of seriousness during his entrance killed the majority of that good will.

Edge – B-. Edge was good, but not at all great. This isn’t surprising since during the wrestling portion of this he was a face, and he’s a really crappy face. At least he afterwards got to be a heel and redeem himself by looking good in crushing Cena.

Chris Jericho – A+. He really probably is the best in the world. A total jerk for two years, Jericho managed to get the crowd entirely behind him by reverting to his face mannerisms during the match. He was just excellent, like a totally different guy. Then he got eliminated and went right back to being evil Jericho. That works, as his elimination was, at least partly, Cena’s fault and, at the end of the day, that not taking responsibility is his really defining heel trait. Cena’s a stupid man, anyway.

Bret Hart – A. He did more than I thought he would, and I marked out for that. Much, much better than Wrestlemania, but then Summerslam always was Bret’s show- just ask Undertaker, Hennig, Davey Boy, and Owen. Wow, that list just depressed me.

Bryan Danielson – A. The only reason he didn’t get an A+ is he should have been more active in defending Cena from Edge and Jericho, as that could have gotten us an interesting Raw tag team match. As is, he came out, looked absolutely deadly, and dominated. So long as they let him wrestle anything approaching an MMA, submission based style, he’s going to get over just because he’s so damn good.

5) ROH Thoughts: How will Tyler Black do in WWE?

I have no idea what the WWE is going to do with Tyler Black, but I really don’t expect it to be much. The major problem with Black is, as everyone knows, he can’t talk. His weak mic work limit his usefulness to the WWE, as he isn’t even really as good as Evan Bourne. Still, he has a good look, somewhat decent size, and enough ring savy to at least have a shot. Here are three possibilities.

The WWE recently re-signed tag specialist and great wrestler Austin Idol. Idol is a very, very good wrestler who would fit really well in a tag team with Tyler Black. With TNA dominating the tag wrestling scene currently, WWE could just decide they want to show they still have it and let these guys tear it up with the Hart Dynasty. I surely wouldn’t complain.

On the piss TNA off tip, one of the two wrestlers to whom Black is always compared is AJ Styles. WWE could simply have decided they want their own AJ Styles and are going to build one. Tyler Black is the kind of freak athlete with a sick moveset that’s entirely more rare than it, at first, seems (there are a lot of Kazarian, Aries, Sabin types, but Tyler and AJ are a different level). Tyler also seems to have some potential as a talker that AJ lacks. With this, Tyler could begin a march to the top of the card.

The final way to debut Tyler and not have him bomb is as a member of the Straight Edge Society and a NXT Rookie. By making him Darren Young, if Young bought into Straight Edge, Tyler immediately becomes interesting and, equally immediately, doesn’t really have to talk. He could soon also become to SES as Kidman was to the Flock, breaking free of it’s teachings and becoming his own man.

If none of these are followed, it’s hard to foresee much success for Black. He lacks a look Vince McMahon likes to push, as well as the size to demand a push. He’s a weak talker and uses a lot of flying moves WWE might not let him so as to not water down those of guys like Bourne and Myterio, which would limit the effectiveness of his athleticism. Still, at least there’s a chance…. Even if it should have been Chris Hero.

6) Guest Spot: Penny Candy by Penny Sautereau-Fife

(Glazer’s note: I know she’s often… let’s say controversial… but she knows her shit and I find her take interesting. I’m confident you’ll feel the same. On with the show).

Proof that you can’t keep a fat mouthy lesbian down, Penny Candy is back on the Pulse after a three year….. um…. *thinks* Haitus! Yes, that’s what we’ll call it, a “Haitus”. Sort of like how when Jeff Hardy returned to the ‘E in 2006 they refered to his 3 years in TNA as a “Haitus”. As Glazer offered me this spot on the condition I make no personal attacks, which is fine because I hate doing them, I won’t repeat the specifics of things. It’s been discussed on the forum and in the comments here and there before anyway. Suffice it to say, a lot of you will know me currently as The Shaman of Hedon in the comments, and a small minority might have been readin IP long enough to remember my weekly guest spot around 4 years ago on Hatton’s old Monday Night Rabble.

Anyway, Glazer isn’t giving me this spot to ramble about myself, so let’s get to wrestling.

(BTW, if anyone cares, I have my own insignificant wrestling blog at http://pennycandyblog.blogspot.com wherein I occasionally post long in-depth lists, such as gimmicks that should have bombed but got over, and my current multi-part “Missed Opportunities” series, of which Part 2 should be done by Thursday at the latest. Here on Glazer’s weekly though, I’ll just do weekly short rants about whatever is going on in wrestling currently.)

So like at LEAST two-thirds of the IWC, a part of me hoped Danielson would be revealed as Khali’s replacement on Sunday but didn’t think it would actually happen. To the pleasant surprise of myself and many others, not only did our unlikely wish come true, (most of us didn’t figure he’d be back til Smackdown’s October move to SyFy), but he was allowed to look strong and dominant in the match itself, being the only Team RAW guy besides Cena to get multiple eliminations.

The fact that he got HUGE pops and his WWE name chanted repeatedly proves he is definitely over despite three months off-screen. I marked huge when Striker happily called for the Cattle Mutilation, and marked for Cole’s heel commentary in that I genuinely wanted to punch the guy for….. oh no, my mistake, that wasn’t marking out, I genuinely want to punch Cole most of the time anyway. I DID like the fact that both Striker and Lawler sold Brian’s work and put him over though, as it proves the ‘E genuinely has faith in Brian to be a major player. While I honestly don’t think he has a high chance of being World Champ in the ‘E, (though I’d be happy to be proven wrong), I think Brian is at this point all but garaunteed to have a secure decent place in the uppeer midcars with forays into the main event scene for years to come, barring injury.

I’m also VERY impressed by Bret Hart’s performance last night, brief though it was.

Again, the majority of the IWC was sure Bret would either be replaced or at most get in a few token punches while being heavily protected. And while no one is likely to say he could’ve kept up that pace for longer than the 5 minutes he was given to shine, in that 5 minutes Bret completely blew me away. He was fast, he was fluid, he got in at least three of the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, and he looked DAMNED good for a stroke survivor. I don’t want to see Bret trying to pull off a good match every week, but for what he was given on Sunday, I was DAMNED impressed.

Next, I think Nexus needed to win. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. HOWEVER, at least they weren’t squashed, so their heat is likely still intact. Except for Otunga who they wisely kept to VERY minimal involvement, the non-Danielson NXT 1 kids did pretty damn well for themselves. They looked like stars out there. They held their own against some of the best in the business, (and R-Truth), looked dangerous, and even with Cena’s unlikely insta-win post sick crunchy concussion win, they still came out looking strong. In fact it almost looked like Cena’s win was pure fluke because of Barrett getting too cocky, which actually DOES work. IMHO, Nexus still looks like a legit threat, and the loss doesn’t damage that much, even if I think a win would’ve been better.

Finally, god fuck shit please I beg you NO, the rumours were true. We’ll be sitting through YET another pointless Kanedertaker fued come October. Could Taker’s magical appearance in the casket have been any more predictable? Especially as blatantly obvious as the camera misdriection and casket placement was? When whatever PPV their inevitable snorefest comes on, I’ll rewatch HardCORE Justice, which, as a longtime ECW fan from before most people knew what ECW was, I actually found very entertaining.

Note; I’m writing this pre-RAW to make sure Glazer gets it in time, so I’ll talk about any events there next week.

We now return you to whatever life you’re living.

7) A Modest Response to Andy Wheeler on TNA Tag Team Wrestling

In his awesome column, Wheeler, who wrote a ton (wanabe!) managed to slip in one nugget I disagree with:

“On the other hand, TNA has figured out what the WWE realized years ago: when in doubt, just keep doing what works. Beer Money and MCMG have been putting on solid match after solid match, so the company just kept letting them do that voodoo that they do so well. Think back to 99-00 when the WWE realized that the Hardys and Edge & Christian could go full speed every night. What did they do? Created the Terri Invitational Tournament, a ridiculous gimmick that wound up revolutionizing tag team wrestling. TNA is now essentially cribbing that idea, and it’s brought them lots of success. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of other tag teams out there at the moment, but at least for a moment it appeared that the company figured out what to do.”

TNA has, throughout their history, figured out this exact thing like five different times. They get, once in awhile, that just sticking awesome wrestlers against one another a bunch of times in a row really tends to work out for the best. AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Chris Daniels are the really obvious examples of this, but it has happened other times, too. For awhile Chris Sabin and Frankie Kazarian were tearing the house down for who gets to be the company’s future. Low Ki and Elix Skipper as Triple X had awesome chemistry with America’s Most Wanted and that feud went on for quite awhile mostly because everyone kept wanting to watch them fight. AJ Styles and Daniels had the same thing going on with LAX, while early X-Division might as well have been called “AJ Styles vs. guys he has had awesome indy matches with.” TNA can do this for us anytime. They always forget. They will almost certainly again.

But my real issue isn’t this. We all know TNA has potential. My issue is the idea that this has to stop with MCMG and Beer Money. TNA can give us any number of comparable matches. First and foremost, merely by reuniting LAX, who are doing nothing of note separately, they can give us huge matches of a similar, if a bit lesser, quality to the pervious two teams, but given LAX’s style, will be different enough to still be top notch, much like the Dudleyz injected new life into the Hardyz vs. Edge and Christian. If not LAX, Samoa Joe has nothing to do and is currently being punished. Teaming him with any number of X-Divison workers would give us a new, interesting team to face the champions. Personally, I’d go with Amazing Red for a great big man/little man pairing. Desmond Wolfe, like Joe, has nothing to do, and so can team with Kazarian or Doug Williams to give us yet more awesome tag wrestling. TNA’s tag division isn’t huge and doesn’t need to be. They have a huge roster, most of which are doing nothing of note and are incredible workers Them giving us amazing matches is always just a matter of choice.

8. History Time: 10 Great Overlooked Tag Teams

1. The High Flyers of Jim Brunzell and Greg Gagne – This team is constantly overlooked and forgotten for two real reasons. First is that Greg was overpushed by the booker, his father Verne Gagne, and he was never nearly as good as Gagne. Second, Brunzell is now more remembered for his national spotlight as a Killer Bee. Still, the High Flyers were a great, great team with any number of memorable feuds and were quite over. Greg gets a ton of hate, but he was far more Dustin Rhodes than Eric Watts, and if you forget who his father was, you’ll find a really good wrestler. Brunzell, meanwhile, was great and every time I hear Bobby Eaton or Ricky Morton is underrated, I immediately think of Brunzell.

2. America’s Most Wanted – I have no idea how the best team of the 2000s is already forgotten. Edge and Christian and the Hardyz broke up, while the Dudleyz were as much miss as hit, but AMW were putting on top notch tag matches for the majority of the decade as faces and heels against a variety of opponents from the Naturals to those mentioned above like Triple X, AJ and Daniels, LAX and more. It’s a shame Beer Money overshadow them, because they were every bit as good, if not better, despite what happened to Chris Harris after the team’s breakup.

3. The Fabulous Ones – You know how the Rock n’ Roll Express get credit for being the forbearers for the Rockers? Well, the Fabulous Ones, Stan Lane and Steve Keirn, were the prototype RnR Express. Memphis created the first boy band tag team with the Fabulous Ones and they were so over that they spawned the Rock n’ Roll Express to work B-Shows they couldn’t be at. RnR went national with Mid-South and became more known and historically important, but the Fabulous Ones came first and were damn near as good. Cuz everybody’s crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man.

4. Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee – After this, I’ll stop with the Memphis, I promise, but Lawler and Dundee were allies just as often as they were enemies and it was like the Mega Powers uniting whenever they were together. Lawler was the top dog, the Hogan of the group, while Dundee was the upstart little madman. It isn’t a coincidence, by the by, that Savage came from Memphis.

5. The Sheepherders – Okay, okay, so not totally done with Memphis. The Sheepherders became an attraction team as one of the first hardcore, brawler acts in wrestling and they were dominant, changing the wrestling world and getting insane heat… before settling into WWF as the comedic Bushwhackers.

6. The North-South Connection – Dick Murdoch was in three massively underrated teams, one with Dusty Rhodes, one with JYD, and this one, with Adrian Adonis. This one is the one to make the list because while the fist launched a main event superstar the world over, the second was a top draw in a region for a long while, the third, the North-South Connection were, for a time, the best team in the world. Dick Murdoch, one of the best wrestlers ever when he cared, along with Adrian Adonis, despite his look, an amazing athlete and wrestler, teamed at their peak to become absolute heat magnets and put one some of the best tag wrestling ever. Their feud with the US Express, Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda, is the stuff of legends.

7. The Eliminators – This ECW team is constantly overlooked for teams of less skill, while they were probably the best regular team in ECW history. The Dudleyz and Public Enemy were the two most over teams, but they were, at least in ECW, all about ultra-violence. Kronus and Saturn, however, were actually really good wrestlers who could do the violent thing and it’s absolutely a shame that by the time Saturn got to WCW, Kronus was gone.

8. The Malenkos – Due to when they came up, around the demise of territories, Dean and his brother, Joe Malenko wrestled mostly in Japan, which is a damn shame. Joe was every bit the worker Dean was, with more size, and together, they were as technically sound as any team ever.

9. Brian Pillman and Tom Zenk – The leftovers of two more remembered teams. Brian Pillman was, of course, half of the uber-successful Hollywood Blondes with some guy named Steve Austin. Zenk was a good athlete who got a bad wrap as the partner of Rick Martel for the Can-Am Connection, predecessors to Strike Force. They were great athletes and made the NWA/WCW US Title Division worth watching.

10. Rougeau Brothers – Somehow forgotten in WWF tag lore are the Rougeau’s, an obnoxious high flying heel tag team that had numerous classics with the Hart Foundation, Demolition, the Killer Bees, the Rockers, the Young Stallions (I marked for them as a kid) and the British Bulldogs. This underappreciated team made every face that faced them look great and could be relied on for great matches. See for yourself.

9. Match Review: Jake Ziegler on Tyler Black vs. Chris Hero from ROH Bitter Friends Stiffer Enemies 2

For the full show review, click here.
MATCH #8: ROH World Title Match – Tyler Black vs. Chris Hero w/ Shane Hagadorn

Black has been the champion since 2.13.10, and this is his fourth defense. Hero is the aggressor early on, beating Black down to the canvas and kicking him in the head. Black fires up with chops and kicks. He hits a dropkick and punches away. A back suplex keeps the challenger down. Hero fires back with a solid elbow to the face. That doesn’t last too long, as Black comes back with a hurricanrana off the second rope. He stomps on Hero’s chest, and then goes after the legs. That goes nowhere. Hero comes back with a rake of the face. He then hits a boot to the face for a two-count. He goes to work, wearing the champion down. He hits another kick to the face for two. Hagadorn takes cheap shots when the referee’s back is turned. Hero elbows Black to the floor and continues working him over.

Black briefly makes a comeback but Hero quickly knocks him back down with a solid boot to the face. Back in the ring Hero continues the abuse. Black tries a cross body block but Hero rolls through to a cravat and then blasts Black with an elbow to the face and goes for the knockout, but Black makes it back to his feet. Hero hits another elbow and this time gets a two-count. Black fires back with clotheslines and that enziguiri from the ring apron but Hero blocks it and knocks him off the apron with an elbow strike.

Hero knocks Black into the crowd. The champ barely makes it back in the ring before the 20 count, and Hero immediately kicks him in the face for a two-count! Hero takes Black down and tries another senton but Black gets the knees up for a two-count. Black gets an O’Connor roll and then rolls through it, dumping Hero to the floor. He follows out with a somersault dive. Hero tries to crawl back in the ring but Black stops him. Black blocks an elbow strikes and kicks Hero in the face. He looks for a Buckle Bomb into the barricade but Hero blocks it. Instead Black tries a moonsault but Hero moves, and then Black catches Hero coming off the guardrail with a dropkick to the chest. Back in the ring Black hits Paroxysm for a near-fall. Black tries the standing shooting star press but Hero catches him in a cravat! Hero wrenches the neck in a unique submission hold, and then drops him down in a modified power bomb for a two-count. They get back to their feet and Hero unloads with elbow strikes for a two-count. Black won’t stay down and he trades Hero shot for shot. He ducks an elbow and hits the F-5 for two. They take the fight up top and Black hits a leaping kick to the face and then the Warrior’s Way! That gets a two-count. Black tries a springboard but Hero catches him in a powerslam and both men are down.

They get back up and Hero delivers a series of elbow strikes to the head but Black kicks out at two! Hero goes for the Liger Bomb but Black counters, and then Hero counters the counter, and then Black counters that counter into a Buckle Bomb! Black goes for God’s Last Gift but Hero gets out of it and hits a rolling elbow, and Black hits a superkick just before falling over for a two-count! Back on their feet Black lands another superkick for another near-fall. Black goes for God’s Last Gift and Shane Hagadorn jumps up on the apron, allowing Hero to land an elbow to the back of the head. Hero signals for the Death Blow but Black counters with a Pele Kick! Hagadorn jumps up on the apron again and Black Superkicks him down! Black then hits Hero with one more Superkick and God’s Last Gift to retain the title at 24:03.

The World Champion then throws down Hero’s tag team title belt in disgust, which seems like an unnecessary shot at the tag team titles. The match was terrific, seeming a lot shorter than it was, and with awesome action for the last ten minutes or so. They went with the story of Black trying to hit God’s Last Gift and when he finally did he win the match. Simple, effective, and an excellent title defense for Black.

Rating: ****
10. Personal Life: Thoughts on the Story

For about a month, I posted a short story in this section titled About Us. The story is a former couple’s discussion after a break up and can be found in section 10 of the following articles Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, and Chapter 5.

This story was written when I was about twenty years old. It has undergone some minor edits since then, but the majority of it is exactly the same. That’s somewhat disturbing to me on several levels. The first of these is that I tried, at the time, to make it general enough to appeal to everyone, yet specific enough to not feel like it could really be anyone. All I succeeded in doing there was making it popular to its own detriment. Really quality writing usually shares the trait that the situation is so specific that you couldn’t imagine it happening to you, but the characters so real you can utterly place yourself in the situation anyway and find your own truths therein.

The other reason that this upsets me a bit is that, about seven years after the story is written, it happened to me. The conversation, of course, wasn’t exactly the same, and it wasn’t in a Barnes and Noble, but a ridiculous amount of details repeated. I didn’t actually realize how many until I went about doing some minor edits prior to posting. Neil Gaiman in Sandman argues that (and, yes, I’m paraphrasing), we set our own traps and then back into them, pretending shock the whole time. I’m exceedingly often worried that this is what I’ve done with a great deal of my twenties.

The mistakes I’ve made weren’t hard to see, nor were their outcomes, but, somehow, I was the only one who remained blind to them. Except deep down, I know I wasn’t blind, not really. I think perhaps I wanted to be, wanted belief to be more than reality and so on. I’m not entirely certain though. This is mostly subconscious shit and my inner dialogue with my subconscious isn’t what it once was. Did you ever go to bed with a problem and wake up knowing the answer? That used to happen to me for pretty much everything. I’d even know why the answer was right. Less so now.

So, if we can accept that I did, indeed, sabotage myself uknowingly yet knowingly, the question becomes why. It’s a question for which I have several theories on an answer, but nothing entirely solid. It is, however, 3am, I work in the morning, and have to still write up the wrestling news, so that’ll wait until next week. That and I’m curious if any of you have an interesting take without my own mess clouding your vision. So, shoot.

This has been the Tuesday Morning Backlash. Bookmark it.

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