THE BIGGEST WEEK IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING EVER? – Review

Welcome everybody to what will be the longest blog I ever produce. As you may or may not have heard this past week has probably been the biggest in professional wrestling for some time. Maybe ever. On Monday we had the ‘season premier’ of Raw, Wednesday we had the debut episode of AEW Dynamite go head to head with NXT for 2 hours on the USA network in America, Friday we had the first SmackDown on Fox show and rounded off by Sunday’s Hell in a Cell PPV. And that’s just the main shows, I’m not even getting into NXT UK, 205 Live, Impact, ROH… Total Divas even… but I thought for fun I’d do one big review of what has been a pretty amazing week.

I’ll be writing these reviews pretty much right after I’ve watched each show. Never thought I’d complain about having to watch and talk about so much wrestling but wish me luck… and may the best team win…


RAW – 30/9/2019

The season premier of Raw sees a new intro package for the show, a new theme song and a new stage design. And also live from Phoenix, Arizona we of course now have the new commentary team of Vic Joseph, Dio Maddin and Jerry Lawler.

oh… and PYRO IS BACK!!!

Rey Mysterio segment 

Ahead of his match against Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship later in the night, Rey Mysterio opened the show. They advertised the other upcoming matches and segments as Mysterio made his way to the ring. Rey cut a babyface promo and thanked his son Dominick, who was sat at ringside. He said he would bring the Universal Championship home… then Brock Lesnar came out with Paul Heyman. Dominick looked terrified as the Beast and his advocate made their way to the ring. Before Rey could speak Brock destroyed him, and then turned his attention to his son. Brock launched Dominick from his seat and threw him around ringside. Heyman screamed on in horror begging Brock to stop, Rey did his best to stop it but to no avail. Lesnar destroyed both Rey and Dominick with a series of suplexes and F5s. Brock then left the ring, but then came back again and gave both Rey and Dominick a vertical suplex. Officials came out to try and stop Lesnar, Heyman begged him to stop, but Brock cleared the ring before walking away. Rey and the officials tended to Dominick after. I certainly did not expect THIS!!! It was shocking for sure and really put over Lesnar as a monster heel, welcome to wrestling Dominick, that’s one hell of a way to take your first official bumps in WWE!!! Overall this was tremendous.

Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss

Becky Lynch came out just before the match got underway to join the commentary team. It was your average women’s TV match pretty much, with the large part of it being focused on Becky standing near or on the announce table and taunting and bartering with Sasha, who was in the ring. Sasha eventually got the win in a pretty average, nothing-happening match. Mid-way through we heard sirens, presumably from the ambulance taking away Dominick. The finish of the match came when Banks motioned for Bayley to come out and help her against Bliss, but she wasn’t there and Sasha kicked Bliss’ legs out and rolled her up for the win. This was such a lame finish and made Bliss look stupid. Lynch attacked Banks afterwards but Banks bailed into the crowd. The crowd liked Lynch. Afterwards Lynch ran down to the ring and chased Sasha off. Lynch cut a promo on her as Sasha made her escape through the crowd. Becky said that Banks wouldn’t be able to leave Hell in a Cell until she wanted her too. She added that Banks had made things personal and now retribution was coming around.

Roode & Ziggler made their way to the ring for their match. We then had a showing of The Rock’s instagram post stating he would be appearing on SmackDown this Friday on Fox.

Charly Caruso spoke to Seth Rollins backstage. Seth condemned Lesnar’s actions, and promised regardless of if it wasn’t against Mysterio he would be defending the Universal Championship tonight. They also recapped Bray Wyatt and The Fiend’s actions last week.

Raw Tag Team Champions Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler defending against Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker) 

Roode & Ziggler retained in a decent match, without being spectacular. For the most part the champions got the heat on Tucker, who eventually got the hot tag to Otis and he then ran wild. The highlight of the match was Otis doing his worm spot followed by a double elbow drop on both Roode and Ziggler. The finish came when Otis had Roode up for a slam, Dolph gave Otis a superkick that dazed him, and eventually after Otis was sent packing Ziggler have Tucker a superkick and then Roode hit the Glorious DDT for the pin. Crowd were in to Otis. For a TV tag match this was fine, but again not spectacular.

They plugged…: Total Divas, NXT (with Adam Cole defending the NXT Championship against Matt Riddle), SmackDown (with Kofi Kingston defending the WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar and an appearance by The Rock), AND Hell in a Cell.

Miz TV with Ric Flair & Hulk Hogan 

Miz came out and soon welcomed both Flair and Hogan, who bought Jimmy Hart with him. Hogan and Flair went back and forth at one another on the mic. It was pretty clear to me neither were that scripted, which in particular for the case of Ric Flair… I don’t know if was wise. They even got to the point where Flair took off his jacket and looked ready to fight Hogan! So… oh boy… I had heard they were on this show for a reason, but nobody said what the reason was… turns out it was the sort of shite I had feared… After they teased one more match against eachother, The Miz said that at Crown Jewel on October 31st (yes the next Saudi show…) Team Flair would take on Team Hogan in a 5v5 match. Hogan welcomed out his team captain, Seth Rollins! Rollins said his younger self would kick him if he missed this opportunity, the captain of Team Flair then came out … it was Randy Orton. Orton and Flair greeted each other like… well old friends… Orton said a funny line about Rollins needing to get out of Hogan’s ass. Orton and Rollins both said they wanted a match right now, and once the Miz TV set was cleared away a ref ran down. Before the match could get underway King Corbin then came out (apparently as the second member of Team Flair). Corbin and Orton beat on Rollins until Rusev ran down for the save. After clearing the heels away both Rollins and Rusev posed with Hogan at the top of the ramp………………..Urgh… I didn’t like this at all. I CBA to go into talking about it anymore. Flair and Hogan were good on the mic, albeit Flair had way more lines than he usually does or needed and Hogan did the usual Hogan thing. Oh and to the fans in the arena who chanted ‘one more match’… There’s a spot in hell for you guys. Don’t even get me started on the whole concept of the 5v5 and all that…

They recapped the aftermath of Lesnar’s beatdown on the Mysterio’s. Rey was with Dominick as he was taken away in an ambulance.

They showed a graphic which advertised Seth Rollins defending the Universal Championship tonight against a mystery opponent.

Charly Caruso spoke to Rusev backstage. She said she wanted to ask the question everybody had “where’s Lana?”… Rusev didn’t answer. She then asked about what had just taken place, and Rusev said Rollins owed him one, and he wanted to face him for the Universal Championship tonight.

There was another vignette for the AOP. They spoke in a mixture of English and their native dialect. This was basically more of the same from previous weeks. Be good to see them back kicking ass again soon.

It was confirmed it’ll be Rollins vs Rusev tonight! Only been back a couple of weeks and now he has a world title match!

The Viking Raiders vs The OC

The Viking’s won after a big splash by the one who used to be called Hanson. This was fun and everything they did was good, but it was kind of just there as a match. There was nothing at all wrong with it.

Charly Caruso (who I hope is being paid per appearance for this show) spoke backstage. She said Lesnar and Heyman were still hear and were demanding a chance to speak about what happened. She said some are calling Lesnar’s actions criminal. Cesaro interrupted her and said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with what Lesnar had done, and if anything the only thing was that he had taken that chance to beat on Rey Mysterio away from himself. As he continued to speak down on Mysterio… Ricochet interrupted him. Cesaro said he was literally twice Rey’s size, Ricochet said Rey was twice the man Cesaro was and if Cesaro wanted to prove how big a man he was he should meet him in the ring. After an ad break we got the match.

Ricochet vs Cesaro 

Ricochet got a good babyface reaction when he came out. Cesaro was wearing his trousers and trainers. Ricochet won a really fun match with a West Coast Pop that was really good, but too short to be great. They did a tonne of really fun spots, such as Cesaro kicking Ricochet in mid air. Both men looked good here, but the eternal under-utilization of Cesaro continues.

Firefly FunHouse

All of the puppets were scared, Ramblin’ Rabbit said he was scared to death. Bray came to try and see if he was ok, but kind of just laughed it off when he couldn’t revive him. The pig puppet asked him what Hell in a Cell was like, and Bray said it was like a world without chocolate but worse. Bray said it was a place you could enter, but never truly leave and that Seth Rollins would be stuck in there with “him”. Wyatt said “he” ‘would always protect them (the puppets and the funhouse)’ and had a bad feeling that “he” couldn’t wait to hurt Seth. He said he’d go and ask The Fiend not to hurt Seth Rollins, then said he was only kidding. This was as brilliant as always.

AJ Styles defending the US title vs Cedric Alexander

AJ got a good pop even as a heel. Cedric got pretty much no reaction. This is what happens when you try and push a new babyface, but just beat them and have them come off as second best more often that not. Nobody will care about them. The match was fine and they did a lot of quick paced moves. Both got a few nearfalls throughout, AJ eventually won clean with the Styles Clash.

Street Profits did their usual backstage hype thing. They spoke about the next match too. They said they wanted the smoke, and Lawler said he wanted to see someone give them the smoke… JUST HAVE THEM WRESTLE ON RAW PLEASE!!!

Lacey Evans vs Natalya 

Evans won with a roll up whilst holding the tights and then hit Natalya with the Woman’s Right afterwards. I don’t have anything at all to sat about this match.

They played a video about John Cena’s new foundation called ‘Fit Ops’. It is for former Military Veterans. Cena said on the Ellen Show that he would match any donations from people up to a million dollars.

They recapped the Mysterio segment. Paul Heyman was then interviewed by Sarah Schreiber (guess Charly was busy). Heyman said he blamed Vince McMahon and WWE for booking Brock for the season premier of Raw whilst he was in ‘fight mode’. He said Brock would become the reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Champion.

CHARLY CARUSO spoke to Maria Kanellis backstage. Maria said Rusev wasn’t the father of her baby, and that he had enough problems at home with Lana. Is it just me that hasn’t heard any of these ‘rumours’ they are speaking of to do with Lana and Rusev? Once Maria had left Sasha Banks came in and snatched the microphone and cut a promo on Becky Lynch.

A white Limousine was shown pulling into the arena backstage.

Seth Rollins defending the Universal Championship vs Rusev 

Rusev was already in the ring after the ad break, as Orton and Corbin stood at the entrance ramp, I’ve no idea why… Rollins came out after. The match was again, fine but way too short. I checked the clock and we had about 10 minutes left of the show when this got underway. Both had a few nearfalls and the crowd seemed to be relatively enjoy it. As the match got underway Rusev offered Rollins a handshake, but went for the Accolade only for Seth Rollins to get out of it. Not long after Rusev hit a big Fallaway Slam that sent to the outside of the ring. They then went to an ad break. But just before this The Fiend’s face flashed on the screen and he said “let me in”. Rollins fought back when the show came back on, Rollins would hit a slingblade and a pair of dives to the outside. They got a nearfall each and after this Rollins hit a Falcon Arrow for a close nearfall. Rusev then caught Rollins who came flying off the ropes with a big kick to the head.

And then suddenly shit got absolutely RIDICULOUS…

Bobby Lashley’s music played and he came out looking very happy. Rusev looked on in bemusement, and Lashley seemed to be gesturing and waving somebody out. Lana eventually came out. Lashley came her a twirl and held her hand. The two then kissed, and when I say kissed I mean Hollywood movie kiss, they were absolutely all over one another. They kissed very passionately for what felt like forever… then after they had put eachother down the lights faded in the arena for The Fiend. Rollins looked in shock on the outside, the lights went out and The Fiend put the Mandible Claw on Rollins. The match seemingly had no finish, and the show closed with the lights all out and the sound of Bray laughing.

and THAT was Raw. Well… that was eventful wasn’t it? If they were going for different this was it! The commentary, the opening and the new stage were all good. All of the matches were way too short to be any good, but the show as a whole was fun without being an amazing show. I would presume that both Rollins and Kingston are fucked, or at least that’s what they want us to think… But this show was… I honestly don’t know what to make of it. There were parts of it I loved, parts I hated and parts (particularly the return of Bobby Lashley with LANA) I’m really not sure about… this was one of the most eventful Raw’s for a LONG time, for better or worse.

SHOW RATING: ***1/4 


NXT – 2/10/2019

Mauro announced before the first match that the first 30 minutes of the show would be shown in its entirety with no ad breaks.

Adam Cole defending the NXT Championship vs Matt Riddle 

Cole won after hitting Riddle with his cast (he has a legit wrist injury) and then the Last Shot knee strike. How amazing that this went on FIRST?! Obviously this was to Counter ‘the other side’ but this match was awesome! I’ve seen A LOT of wrestling this week already, with much more to come, and this was the best match I’ve seen so far. They both did all their big moves, we had no Undisputed Era involvement, and they just both went out there and had a GREAT match. The main story here was what happened after the match… with Cole celebrating in the ring FINN BALOR came out to confront him. He then announced he had returned fully to NXT! Naturally this got a HUGE reaction from the crowd at Full Sail, but what an amazing get for NXT this is! A genuine worldwide superstar is now a part of NXT and looks to be next up for Adam Cole… maybe… lets move on…

They played a great video ahead of Shayna vs Candice later

Velveteen Dream came out for the most Velveteen Dream promo you’ve ever seen. He challenged Roderick Strong for a rematch for the NXT North American Title.

They played a hype video for a match taking place next week… for the ‘NXT’ Cruiserweight Championship with Drew Gulak defending against Lio Rush… yes the NXT Cruiserweight Championship… that’s interesting isn’t it?

Io Shirai vs Mia Yim 

Io won a good match that was hurt by adverts. This was probably the best Mia Yim match in WWE. Io is an absolute STAR. What I liked the most in this was Nigel McGuinness explaining on commentary that with Shirai hitting her moonsault at a lower trajectory than the usual moonsaults you see from others, it means she hits her target faster and lower and such the impact on them is more. It’s the small details it really is. But Io was her usual excellent self here, and Yim kept up with her all the way. Really good match.

Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were pictured in the front row of the crowd.

We were shown Angelo Dawkins and his Street Profits partner Montez Ford arriving at the arena. Ford was arm in arm with his irl with Bianca Belair. So that’s a thing they’re acknowledging on TV now.

They played a Tegan Nox hype video. This made me very very happy and given she got beat by the NXT UK women’s champion on that show this week, it looks like she’ll be NXT USA bound soon enough. Yay.

Johnny Gargano vs Shane Thorne 

Very much like Shirai vs Mia Yim this was a good, good match hurt by ad breaks. What they did for this show (and AEW) was do the split screen thing so you got to see all the action, but was in the corner much smaller than the adverts. ANYWAY, this match was really good and Shane Thorne’s best yet by a mile. Gargano was fantastic as always. He won with the knee strike from his DIY days.

They promoted SmackDown on Friday.

Shayna Baszler defending the NXT Women’s Championship vs Candice Lerae

Duke and Shafir came out with Shayna, but left as she was stood on the entrance ramp. Again this was another good match where one person was exceptional, and the other who is just ‘good’ kept up with them at every step and we got a great match out of it. We got more adverts during this match. This was one of the better Baszler matches. Shayna retained the title with the clutch. I am a little surprised they didn’t put the belt on Candice here, wonder who next for Shayna now? Maybe a girl from Wales perhaps? …

Mark Henry, Stephanie McMahon and Alundra Blayze were in the crowd. That sounds like a great night out to be fair.

They promoted Hell in a Cell.

They played a hype package for Walter and Kushida. Their match is next week.

Pete Dunne vs Danny Burch 

Pete Dunne is a member of a faction named and utilizes the fighting ways of ‘British Strong Style’. This was the most BSS match you’ll ever see. Hard hitting, great wrestling and just really good stuff. Dunne got the win in another match hurt by ad breaks way too much. Dunne eventually got the win with the Bitter End. This was really really good. After the match Dunne was in the ring and the lights went off with just a spotlight on the ring. Damien Priest jumped Dunne from behind. Priest then posed and his music played as he went back up the ramp. Priest looked like a badass here. This should be great fun to watch as a feud.

Adam Cole (with the rest of Era with him) was interviewed by Cathy Kelley backstage.

Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly defending the NXT Tag Team Championship vs the Street Profits 

They played a really great hype video for the match beforehand. The rapper Wale came out with the Street Profits and played hype man. This was like a TakeOver entrance and was really really great. This was a good match and as you would expect from these two teams. They got the heat on Ford for a while until he finally tagged in Dawkins. In an amazing spot with 3 men on the outside, Montez Ford was in the ring and he ran diagonally from one corner of the ring to the other and leaped over the turnbuckle and flew onto everyone on the outside. This was awesome. Ford went to the top rope, but Roderick Strong came out to try and pull him down, only for Ford to beat him away. With the distractions and some help from Strong soon after Fish and O’Reilly hit their double-team finisher for the win. The three of them celebrated in the ring with their belts after, and then their leader Adam Cole came out and stood at the top of the ramp with his NXT Championship.

and then I very nearly was reduced to tears…

TOMASSO CIAMPA came out to make his return and starred down with a shell-shocked Cole. Ciampa was focused on ‘Goldie’. The crowd went APE SHIT for this.

Ciampa is my guy, but if you don’t watch this and think it was absolutely incredible then you’re dumb.

WOW! WHAT A SHOW! Good wrestling all round, great stuff set up for future shows, and we not only have FINN FUCKING BALOR in NXT but the former NXT Champion Tomasso Ciampa is BACK! WOW! This was an EXCELLENT show and Triple H and co should be very happy. This was their big night to shine and they did just that. The negatives were only minor, the main one being I think they need to get out of Full Sail as it just makes them seem so small time compared to… ‘them’… but overall this was a really, really, really good 2 hour live show.

SHOW RATING: ****3/4 


AEW Dynamite – 2/10/2019

I didn’t like the intro song or video. Was a bit cringe to me.

What I did like though was the announce team of Jim Ross, Excalibur and Tony Schiavone. They opened the show and ran down some of the matches for the show.

GREEN SHIRT GUY, HIM WHO SITS MIDDLE OF THE FRONT ROW OPPOSITE THE HARD CAM AT WWE SHOWS, WAS SAT FRONT ROW HERE!!! WHAT A FUCKING JUDAS!!!!!!!! 😉

‘The American Nightmare’ Cody with Brandi Rhodes vs Sammy Guevara

Really good hype video beforehand. Cody’s entrance was similar to that from the last PPV so it gave the match and occasion a big-time feel. This was a really good match. Cody took the early stages, with Sammy showing him disrespect when he could. One good spot saw Cody go for a Tope through the ropes onto Sammy on the outside, but Guevara moved and Cody collided with Brandi instead. This got a big crowd reaction. The finish came when Sammy came off the rope, only for Cody to get his knees up and then roll Guevara over and got the win. Really good match.

After the match Cody appeared very emotional after as Tony Schiavone was in the ring to interview him. Tony has a long history with his father and the Rhodes family. As the interview was beginning Guevara grabbed Cody… but instead of striking him he shook his hand. Chris Jericho then came out and attacked Cody from behind. Jericho held his title belt up… and then AEW cut to an advert (much like NXT they did the split screen thing). As the adverts were still on the Jericho beatdown of Cody was still happening. The stuff he did looked fun, but I’m not sure how I feel about getting the heat on your top babyface when there’s adverts on… When the ads stopped Jericho powerbombed Cody onto two chairs (that were very padded) and the dumped a load of stuff on him. He cut a promo after as he walked back up the ramp.

Brandon Cutler vs MJF

Story here is a pretty simple yet good one told mainly on Being The Elite and online. Cutler is a long time friend of the Bucks, a family man and a dungeons and dragons player. Maxwell Jacob Friedman is a young, cocky, mouthy, heel asshole. MJF cut a really good heel promo as he came out. Match was pretty short. Cutler was fine and MJF played asshole heel well. Cutler came off the top and seemed to jar his knee, and MJF won with an armbar immediately after. I don’t know if the ‘injury’ lead to them going home, or if this was always the plan. But it was dreadfully too short to be really good.

Chris Van Villet interviewed two actor guys I’ve never heard of at ringside. Jack Evans and Angelico came out and they trash talked them. Private Party were out too. I didn’t really get the point of all this.

They showed the ladder for the upcoming World Tag Team Championship Tournament.

SCU (Christopher Daniels, Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian) appeared on a video with the White House in the background (the show itself was in Washington). Sky spoke like he was the president, then they did their ‘worst town’ gimmick. After this we came to Tony S interviewing the three back in the arena. Scorpio Sky explained that Daniels and Kazarian would represent the team in the tag team tournament due to their experience. The Lucha Bros (Pentagon and Fenix) came out to confront them and eventually they did a big brawl. This was good. These two teams are on opposite sides on the tournament so maybe this could be the grand final?

The Elite and Jericho and his partners Santana and Ortiz were shown preparing for their match backstage. Jim Ross apologized afterwards for them eavesdropping on Jericho’s ‘team-talk’. Nice touch.

‘Hangman’ Adam Page vs PAC 

Great match. Both guys were super over and bought their A game tonight. They simply beat eachother up in a pretty good ‘rasslin match. Page came across as a really big star and PAC was a great heel. Towards the end PAC hit a low blow to Page with the ref blindsided, then the Black Arrow splash and the Brutalizer submission for the win. In his two matches with AEW PAC had defeated Kenny Omega and Adam Page. With AEW being all about numbers etc. (they showed each person’s win/loss record before each match on this show) you’d think PAC would be in line for a world title shot soon.

They played an advert for the next AEW PPV, Full Gear on November 9th.

Dr Britt Baker D.M.D came out to join commentary for the next match. She’s a star.

Nyla Rose vs Riho to crown the first ever AEW Women’s World Champion 

The wrestling wasn’t perfect, but this ended up being a really good and fun match particularly towards the end. Surprisingly perhaps was that the crowd were more into this match than any on the show, mainly down to just how great Riho was as a sympathetic babyface. The story of the match was as you would imagine if you saw what these two women looked like. Riho as the smaller, faster good guy and Rose as the giant, monster heel. One spot I loved was Riho doing a dive off the top to the outside, only for Nyla Rose to catch her with ease and and slam her on her own knee. Bizzarely though Nyla grabbed a chair from under the ring and went to hit Riho, only for the ref to grab it from her. Why you’d want to risk DQ in a match for the title I don’t know… Rose slammed Riho about some more outside and then got a load of chairs from under the ring (again not a DQ…) and she put them all in a pile and put Riho on it. Rose then hit a senton off the ring apron, only for Riho to move and Rose crashed into the chairs. They went back and forth back in the ring, Riho hit a double foot stomp and got the 1,2,3. Crowd were really loud towards the end and were delighted Riho won. Rose looked to kick out on three, classic monster heel move.

Comedy figure Michael Nakazawa came out to interview Riho after the match in the ring, in Japanese. But before he could start Rose jumped him and Riho. I was convinced it would be Britt Baker making the save, but instead it was Kenny Omega… this may seem odd to you but Omega and Riho have a lot of history. Omega has tagged with Riho for a number of years in Japan, and I don’t know about you if I see my mate in trouble man or woman I go and help them. So this seemed very realistic to me so it was cool.

The Elite (The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega) vs Chris Jericho and Santana & Ortiz 

The Elite came out to the BTE theme song. Jericho by the way is clean shaven and looks his best shape since WWE. Omega started and wanted Jericho, who tagged out. Eventually Omega held Jericho and The Bucks superkicked him which the crowd loved. Both Matt and Nick Jackson then dived to the outside onto the heel team. With Omega in the ring suddenly JON MOXLEY slid into the ring and began a brawl with his future Full Gear opponent. Bizzarely this WAS NOT a DQ and the match would go on as a 3 vs 2 with only Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson on The Elite team… Omega and Moxley brawled right into the arena as the match continued in the ring. The big spot was Mox hitting the Death Rider DDT (essentially a tad-more aggressive Dirty Deeds) on Omega through a glass table. Ouch. The match itself was still pretty good and the Young Bucks vs Santana & Ortiz stuff was magic. Jericho eventually got the win for the heel team with the Judas Effect.

After the match the heels ganged up on the Bucks, but Cody came out to go after Jericho. Sammy Guevara came out to go at Cody, Dustin Rhodes came out to a big pop and took all the heels out.

And then the big surprise as the end… NXT had Tomasso Ciampa return… AEW…

Jake Hager (yes JACK SWAGGER) came out and took down all the good guys. He did get a big reaction, but he’s a WWE reject… despite the AEW announce team calling him the ‘undefeated MMA fighter’… ‘we the people’ and all that… ok then… But the crowd did react to him big so lets see… the heels led by Jericho stood tall to close the show.

This was a good show. Not quite as excellent as NXT but it certainly had a more big-time feel. I guess being in a big arena as opposed to a 400 seater will help that. The production of AEW was really good. NXT set up a lot of angles and excitement for the future, AEW… I don’t really know all of what we see going forward… It appears AEW has won HUGE in the ratings battle, but for me NXT was a GREAT show, AEW Dynamite episode 1 was… good.

SHOW RATING: ****


Before Friday Night SmackDown on Fox got underway, they had a ‘blue carpet’ and a kick off show before it too. They were certainly going ALL IN for this launch.

SmackDown – 4/10/2019

Vince and Stephanie McMahon came out to introduce everyone to the show… because, you know… McMahons…

They have a brand new opening video and song. This was very much as OTT as you’d expect, but I liked it though as it gave it a very big-time feel. Michael Cole and Corey Graves are on commentary. Renee Young the ‘special contributor’ wasn’t on the main show.

Opening segment 

Raw Women’s Champion ‘The Man’ Becky Lynch came out to open the show. Which given she’s the biggest star in the company makes sense. The crowd loved her, obviously. She said SmackDown had a special place in her heart as this was where she broke the glass ceiling. OF ALL PEOPLE she was interrupted by KING CORBIN!!! He talked down to Lynch, and she dared him to take one more step. He did… and then THE ROCK came out!!! The Staples Center went absolutely wild. Rock and Becky greeted eachother and the fans chanted ‘Rocky’. Rock said he once told a Jabroni that he was going to ‘layeth the SmackDown’, and now it’s a show. He said Corbin was like the Burger King, he said he looked like a 35 year old virgin at comic con and as Corbin tried to come back at him, Rock asked Corbin if that was what he thinked… and of course Becky then chimed in saying “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK”. Rock and Becky between them called Corbin a ‘Super Tough Dude’ and Rock tried to get the crowd to chant ‘STD’ to Corbin. Rock said Becky calls herself  ‘The Man’ yet she doesn’t walk around with giant testicles. Lynch added that they’d still be bigger than Corbin’s, Corbin said he had perfectly adequate testicles. This was funny. Eventually Rock and Becky beat Corbin up, ending with The Rock hitting the People’s Elbow and the Rock Bottom. The fans loved this, and it was really good and fun stuff.

Charlotte Flair & Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch defeated SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley & Sasha Banks

This was a decent match. Charlotte did the moonsault to the outside spot, and not long after hit the Figure Eight on Bayley for the win. Sasha got her mouth bloodied I think from Charlotte’s foot off the moonsault… All 4 women looked good and this was a good showcase match to begin SmackDown on Fox.

Erin Andrews (she’s someone who is a sportscaster person apparently) interviewed The New Day backstage. Kofi said he wanted to do it on his own tonight… BAD idea Kofi, BAD!

Seth Rollins walked backstage. He’ll face Shinsuke Nakamura after the break. Cool.

They recapped the Blue carpet from before SmackDown, featuring a host of stars from wrestling and sports.

Tyson Fury was shown at ringside.

Seth Rollins made his way to the ring. We were immediately shown a new Firefly Funhouse episode. The story of this one was that Ramblin Rabbit was dressed as Seth Rollins and Bray put him in a red cage and said Mercy The Buzzard would play the role of ‘him’. Mercy literally tore the Rabbit to shreds. Bray said ‘oh well’ and laughed.

Shinsuke Nakamura came to the ring. We were shown Hogan and Ric Flair taking their seats at ringside.

Seth Rollins vs Shinsuke Nakamura ended in a no contest

They had an ok enough match. The the lights went out and The Fiend came out. By this point Rollins was stood on the top of the entrance ramp and The Fiend came at put him in the claw and threw him off the ramp.

Kevin Owens beat Shane McMahon in a ladder match. Shane is now FIRED 

This was good fun. They did all the usual spots and it didn’t go too long. If anything it may have been a little rushed. Owens got a huge pop when he won.

Kayla Braxton was waiting backstage to speak to Lesnar

They showed a montage of some classic SmackDown moments from history.

They showed more ‘Blue Carpet’ stuff

Kayla interviewed Paul Heyman backstage. They recapped what happened on Raw. Heyman basically said Brock would win.

Braun Strowman, The Miz & Heavy Machinery defeated Dolph Ziggler, AJ Styles, Randy Orton & Robert Roode

Well this seemed random didn’t it? Well it soon became clear… so they had… a match and it was fun enough. Then as Braun was kicking ass on the outside he caught the attention of Tyson Fury who was front row. They posed against one another with their fists raised, soon after Braun threw Ziggler into the barricade right near Fury and this made him fallback. Braun quickly pinned Ziggler with the running powerslam. Braun looked towards Fury and Tyson jumped over the barricade. A load of security soon came towards Fury and led him away. TYSON FURY AND BRAUN STROWMAN?!?! WHAT IS LIFE?!?!

They played a video of the 24/7 title stuff for the evening. The DJ Marshmello won the title, and soon after Carmella won it back with the help of R Truth.

Roman Reigns beat Erick Rowan in a Lumberjack Match 

So yeah it’s a lumberjack match now… because everyone has to get a spot on the show right? Daniel Bryan joined commentary. The match was fine but was quicker than you’d think. Rowan took most of the earlier part of the match, Roman got back into it with a Samoan Drop and went for a Superman Punch but Rowan caught him and slammed him down. Luke Harper came down to ringside, only for Daniel Bryan to go at him. The Lumberjacks joined them in a huge brawl, until Roman did a huge dive over the ropes onto everyone that looked awesome. After this Erick Rowan picked up Ali and threw him onto Roman. Harper broke up a nearfall, Bryan hit him with the running knee, Rowan went for the Claw and Roman came in and hit the Spear for the win. This was good and maybe even better than I expected.

Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman defeated Kofi Kingston to win the WWE Championship

Kofi ran at Brock as soon as the bell rang. Lesnar caught him and gave him the F5 and pinned him in about 6/7 seconds.

RIP Kofi.

As Lesnar celebrated with the belt after, suddenly Rey Mysterio’s music hit. He came out… with… CAIN VELASQUEZ!!!! Who’s that? Well he’s Mexican, so I saw a very funny gif on twitter that said this was like at school when you really did bring your big brother to beat up the guy who was bullying you. Cain is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion who beat and DESTROYED to win that title? Oh yeah, BROCK LESNAR! Cain looked real mean and Lesnar and Heyman sold it so well. Lesnar’s face was like he’d seen a ghost. Commentary did a great job of explaining the story here to those who didn’t know. Velasquez came into the ring and took Brock down with a double leg takedown and unleashed a load of rights and lefts, and when he could Brock rolled out the ring and escaped. The two stared off to close the show.

This was a great angle and a blockbuster way to close this much hyped show.

Overall I liked this show. Not perfect but it was fine. The Rock segment was great. The wrestling on the show seemed a bit rushed at times, but they had so much to fit in. One thing was they advertised Undertaker, Sting and Austin for the show and none of them appeared in the ring. Taker wasn’t even there full stop, which was odd. Kofi… did they really NEED to do that? 7 SECONDS? For god sake. But overall this was fine. Cain vs Brock is in Saudi by the way. And Fury is going to be on Raw. How bizarre.

SHOW RATING: ***3/4


HELL IN A CELL 2019 – REVIEW

Oh boy… so I’m FUCKING furious right now so forgive me if this review is even shorter than all the ones I’ve done this week and a lot shorter than my usual PPV reviews. The mood I’m in right now I don’t even know if or when I’ll review another WWE show again. They say it’s the hope that kills you… no FUCKING SHIT!!!

Anyway… Here’s Hell In A Cell 2019…

Apparently Natalya beat Lacey Evans in what feels like their 3746563858th match against eachother recently… and GUESS FUCKING WHAT??? THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE A LAST WOMAN’S STANDING MATCH ON RAW…….. YAY……….

MAIN SHOW:

Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch defeated Sasha Banks in a Hell In A Cell match to retain

This was really good. BY A FUCKING MILE the best match on this show. Becky won after a Bexploder onto a load of chairs and then the Dis-Arm-Her. Sasha was almost in tears looking back at Becky after.

****1/4

Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan defeated Erick Rowan & Luke Harper in a Tornado Tag match 

A good tag team match. Reigns hit the Superman Punch to Harper, Bryan hit the running knee and Reigns hit the Spear. Bryan and Reigns hugged after. Good stuff.

**** 

Seth did a promo backstage with Kayla. Apparently the people in the arena were booing Rollins. Here we go…

Randy Orton defeated Mustafa Ali 

Exactly the match you’d expect these two to have with no build at all (some good spots but a little boring). Orton won with the RKO that Ali flipped in to. Crowd was dead aside from the finish.

**3/4 

The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) defeated Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss (C) to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

A fine match but the heel/babyface dynamic was so confusing throughout. For the finish Asuka spat GREEN MIST into Cross’ face and hit her with a spin kick to win the titles. This made the ref look so stupid as Asuka had mist all over her face for crying out loud. So Asuka and KAIRI SANE are heels now??? Well, at least they’re the champs, and that’d otherwise make me so happy but this was not how I wanted it to happen. I guess you can’t win them all, or EVER on this show…

**1/2 

The Viking Raiders (Ivar & Erik) and Braun Strowman defeated The OC (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) by Disqualification 

Braun was the mystery partner. Match was fine but ended when all three of The OC beat on Braun in the ring at the same time. BULLSHIT finish. After the match Braun knocked out AJ with one punch as he flew up for the Phenomenal Forearm. They played this up to the Fury – Strowman thing set for Raw. AJ did a comedy sell job after. Decent match with a completely TERRIBLE ending.

** 

Street Profits did their thing backstage. Tamina rolled up Carmella to win the 24/7 title. Truth and Carmella ran off. Whatever.

Shorty Gable defeated King Corbin 

Shorty Gable? Yeah that’s a Corbin thing that he said before the match and so it stuck. Fuck off. Fine match. Gable won with a roll up. Greg Hamilton the ring announcer announced the winner as ”Shorty Gable’. Fuck off. This match was shite, just when Corbin looked to have turned a corner in recent weeks in-ring wise and now he has a stupid gimmick and Gable, who at one stage looked an up and coming babyface is just… there now…. and this SHORTY bullshit… what the actual fuck is that????

*1/4 

KAYLA BRAXTON (AKA NOT A TALL WOMAN) INTERVIEWS SHORTY GABLE. GABLE SAYS CORBIN CAME UP SHORT AND THEN CORBIN BEAT HIM UP… WHATTTTT?!?! THE POINT OF ALL THAT WAS…….?????????? FUCCCCCKKKKKK OFFFFFF!!!!!!!!

AFTER Flair and Bayley came out for their match they went to the various different language  announcers and they did a thing where Carmella kicked Tamina and told Truth to pin her so R Truth is the 24/7 champion again…

Charlotte Flair defeated Bayley (C) to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship 

Bayley beat Charlotte in Charlotte so Charlotte had to beat Bayley in California. Fuck off. Fine match, Charlotte won with the submission. Bayley played babyface the whole match pretty much. She was throwing a fit after her loss and looked real upset. Charlotte is now a 10 time champion.

***1/4 

Seth Rollins (C) defending the Universal Championship against ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt ended… WHEN THE REF RANG THE BELL TO END THE MATCH AFTER ROLLINS USED A SLEDGEHAMMER FOR A NON FINISH IN A FUCKING HELL IN A CELL MATCH?!?!?!?!?!

For the whole match they had this red lighting in the whole arena, which was… interesting… Bray no sold everything Seth did for the whole match pretty much, and Seth sold like heck whenever The Fiend was on offence. Towards the end Seth used every weapon you could think of to try and keep The Fiend down, but he kept getting up. Rollins hit Curb Stomp after Curb Stomp and the crowd booed VERY LOUD. Rollins hit the Pedigree but Bray kicked out and the crowd cheered. Rollins hit a load more Stomps and the fans booed VERY LOUD. Bray was just laying on the floor motionless, Seth grabbed a chair and hit Bray in the face for a nearfall. Seth put a chair on Bray’s face and used a ladder to smash the chair into his face, for another nearfall. Rollins went under the ring and got a toolbox and smashed Wyatt with that too. He then put everything on top of The Fiend and got a sledgehammer from under the ring. The referee begged Rollins not to use it and told him that wasn’t who he was. Fuck off ref I thought, this is HELL IN A FUCKING CELL?!?! Rollins eventually did hit Bray with the hammer…

AND THE FUCKING REFEREE RANG THE FUCKING BELL!!! YOU CAN USE ALL THE WEAPONS THEY DID BEFORE: LADDERS, CHAIRS, TOOLBOX, A GIANT FUCKING MALLET THAT THE FIEND BOUGHT OUT (the one that Bray smashed the rabbit up with), YOU HAD THE WOMEN USING A CHAIN EARLIER, MANKIND USING THUMBTACKS 20 ODD YEARS AGO, CACTUS JACK PULLING OUT A BARBED WIRE BAT AND SETTING IT ON FIRE IN THE YEAR 2000… BUT THE REF FELT A SLEDGEHAMMER WAS ENOUGH FOR A DQ IN A HELL IN A CELL MATCH AFTER ALL THAT HAD HAPPENED BEFORE?!?! YOU FUCKING WHAT!?!?!?

The fans booed this loudly and chanted ‘BULLSHIT’ and ‘AEW’ as a load of medics and officials ran in to try and treat THE FUCKING FIEND as they raised the cell. Rollins stood over The Fiend and he suddenly sat up and put Seth in the mandible claw. He then gave Rollins a Sister Abigail on the exposed floor outside the ring. The fans chanted ‘RESTART THE MATCH’ (GOOD LUCK GETTING THESE MOTHERFUCKERS TO LISTEN TO THEIR FANS). They chanted ‘AEW’ again as Bray hit another Sister Abigail. The Fiend put the claw in again and blood came from the mouth of Seth. The show closed with the behind shot of The Fiend with the lights flashing (as was after the Balor match) and the lights went out as we heard Bray laughing as the show closed. The fans were booing very very loud.

WHY COULD HE NOT HAVE DONE THAT BEFORE WHEN THE MATCH WAS STILL GOING????????

WHY DID WE HAVE THE MAIN EVENT FOR THE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP INSIDE HELL IN A CELL FOR THE SECOND FUCKING YEAR IN A FUCKING ROW END WITH NO FINISH?????????

This would’ve been insane but acceptable had you done ALL OF THIS, but NOT rung the bell and kept the match going and then as Seth stands over a lifeless Fiend he gets put in the claw again and match ends and Wyatt wins the title. That would’ve been great. Instead we got THIS UTTER FUCKING BULLSHIT.

This was WCW 2000 levels of idiocy booking. HORRIFIC beyond comprehension. A good match with a really unique and fascinating story utterly MURDERED, BRUTALIZED AND CASTRATED by an ABORTION of a finish. Seth looks stupid and weak as he used a GAZILLION FUCKING FINISHERS AND THEY DID FUCK ALL BECAUSE BRAY KEPT GETTING UP, THE FUCKING FIEND (the ONE the ONLY guy on both shows right now who the fans ADORE) looks like an idiot because he was dead and then when the bell rang and after that he got up and beat Seth up as if nothing had happened, and you utter FUCKING MORONS have absolutely KILLED Hell In A Cell FOREVER.

DUD 

I try. I really fucking try my absolute best to see the best in the WWE. I always try and give them the benefit of the doubt. I do my best not to get as riled up and annoyed by some of the stuff they do. In 2019 it’s been so up and down being a fan of WWE. I was starting to think they’d turned a corner, that they were looking good again and that with the big move to Fox for Smackdown and NXT going live and Heyman running Raw it was all going to be great.

But THIS… THIS UTTER BULLSHIT IN THE MAIN EVENT OF A PAY PER VIEW WHICH UNTIL HOURS… FUCKING HOURS BEFORE IT GOT UNDERWAY HAD FOUR MATCHES PRE ANNOUNCED!!!! And the matches they did announce were like 3rd hour of Raw filler shite!!! FUCK OFF.

This was a great pay per view two matches in. But got worse and worse. The main event finish was amongst THE DIRT WORST FUCKING BOTTOM OF THE BARREL DOGSHIT booking I’ve seen for a LONG LONG TIME. This was a one match show, and they FUCKED UP the ONE FUCKING MATCH THEY COULDN’T POSSIBLY FUCK UP on a level even I didn’t think possible.


It’s such a massive shame that such a monumental week in professional wrestling, and on the whole one I really enjoyed watching, had to end the way it did. I wont lie it really has took away any excitement I had coming out of it. I’m not even going to try and predict what next. I called this the biggest week in professional wrestling ever, and for good and now some VERY VERY VERY VERY BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD reasons it’ll certainly be one I will never forget.

Josh. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally

I don’t often blog about more personal stories and wrestling. But with the return of The Great One, The Most Electrifying Man In All Of Sports Entertainment, The People’s Champion… THE ROCK… on the premier episode of Friday Night SmackDown on Fox Sports this week, I felt compelled to write a little bit about how Dwayne Johnson has played a key role in my love of professional wrestling, and how he’s really played a key role in my life.

People often ask and speak about their earliest memories of what they love. For Wrestling mine is back in late 1999/early 2000 time when I lived in a house with my Mum, her brother sister (my Auntie and Uncle) Vicky and Scott and my Grandma Brenda. We would have wrestling on regularly, and at that time the WWF as it was known then had The Rock as the top good guy with Stone Cold Steve Austin out injured. On the opposite side fighting him for the Championship was Triple H. In our house me, Mum, Grandma and my Auntie were Team Rock. My Uncle Scott played spoiler and was team Triple H. I can’t recall specifics but Triple H was champion a lot back then, so when The Rock did triumph it was special.

A couple of years ago I took a Video (asked your parents kids) to my Grandma’s house to watch with her and My Uncle. The video was the King of the Ring 2000 show that took place on June 25th that year. The main event saw a 6 man tag team match with The Rock, Kane and The Undertaker on one side and on the other… The McMahon-Helmsley faction made up of the champion Triple H with his wife Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley accompanying him, Shane McMahon and Mr McMahon. The stipulations of this match were that whoever got the pinfall at the end of the match would be the WWF Champion, so even if Triple H wasn’t pinned he could lose the title he held so dear. The finish sees The Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Mr McMahon for the win. My Grandma, not recalling the result despite it being over 15 years ago, cheered and pumped her fist in delight. The Rock became WWF Champion and still well over a decade later it still means a lot.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has pretty much been there in some form all across my life. Be it getting multiple requests from Mum/Grandma/Auntie Vic to repeat The Rock’s ‘IF YOU SMELL… ALALALALALALALALALAAAAA’ catchphrase, as I did so often when I was younger, or even the joy from me and Mum whenever we hear the Wycleaf Jean song ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ that The Rock featured on which I think if you ask the people who worked on The Box music video request channel my Mum pretty much kept running with the number of requests she made for this song some years ago!

Around 2003 time I became friends with a set of brothers who lived next door to my Grandma. They all loved wrestling too. At WrestleMania 19 that year Stone Cold Steve Austin faced The Rock having beaten him at two separate WrestleMania’s before. Everyone loved Austin. Not me. I preferred The Rock and back then Steve Austin, possible the biggest good guy in the history of the business, was the Devil to a 8 year old Josh Headey! FINALLY though at long last The Rock beat Stone Cold at a WrestleMania. It turned out to be the final match of Steve Austin’s career. What a way and a stage to end it on. I finally got what I wanted, The Rock had beaten Stone Cold at WrestleMania. Perfection.

More recently as Dwayne Johnson’s Hollywood stardom increased, the WWE appearances of The Rock became less and less frequent. That changed when ahead of WrestleMania 27 The Rock was revealed as the show’s guest host. ‘FINALLY… THE ROCK HAS COME BACK… HOME’ he said, and all us fans simultaneously swooned. Our conquering hero was back. The Rock’s return would all center around the modern-day version of The People’s Champion; John Cena. At WrestleMania 28 in his hometown of Miami, Florida The Rock defeated John Cena in the main event. A year later in what would be his final ‘proper’ WWE match John Cena defeated The Rock to win the WWE Championship (a title The Rock had won some months earlier). After all those years away The Rock returned and created more magic with the top guy in the company. He’s still got it.

Before this Friday the most famous recent appearances of The Rock back in WWE came at WrestleMania in 2015 and 2016. At Mania 31 Rock called Ronda Rousey out of the crowd to get back at Stephanie McMahon who had just slapped him. A year later as The Rock had come out to announce the attendance record for WrestleMania 32 in AT&T Stadium he was confronted by The Wyatt Family. After a fascinating interaction with Bray Wyatt, The Rock challenged either him, Erick Rowan or Braun Strowman. Rock ripped of his tracksuit bottoms to reveal his classic wrestling shorts, he was ready to go… NOW… Rowan stepped up…………..

The Rock defeated Erick Rowan with Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman

Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Rowan immediately as the bell rung and got the pin. The match lasted around 6 or 7 seconds.

N/A

Enraged by this humiliation the Wyatt Family beat down The Rock after… and who should come out to save him but JOHN CENA! Tremendous stuff.

And until this Friday that was pretty much it for The Rock in WWE as Dwayne Johnson was busy becoming the number one star in Hollywood.

Basically The Rock means a lot to me. Along with The Undertaker he’s my favourite WWE Superstar of all time. He was the favourite of My Mum, My Grandma and My Auntie. A lot of memorable moments in my life I can relate to what The Rock was doing in a wrestling ring or what Dwayne Johnson was doing in a movie. I often hear of people going to see a movie for one actor and I never got it. Until recently…

One Friday this past August ahead of my birthday this year me and my Mum went to the Cinema. We went to see the spin-off film from the Fast and Furious series entitled ‘Hobbs and Shaw’. It is produced and starred in by Dwayne Johnson alongside the likes of Jason Statham and Idris Elba. In one scene Johnson’s character is face-timing his daughter, the daughter says questions on if he will do ‘that eyebrow thing’ he does when he is flirting with a woman… ‘no, surely not’ me and Mum thought… Johnson’s character laughs off the question… BUT just before he ends the call he says her name… AND THEN DWAYNE JOHNSON RAISED THE PEOPLE’S EYEBROW!!! Mum cheered, I jumped around and giggled like an excited school girl. I was a man in my 20s next to my Mum and I was not embarrassed at this reaction one bit. All these years later The Rock is still the coolest.

This Friday Night The Rock comes back to Layeth the SmackDown on ALLLLLLLL YOUR CANDY ASSES!

This Friday Night on the premier episode of SmackDown on Fox, The Rock comes back… home…

Finally.

Josh. 

 

 

WWE Clash of Champions 2019 – Review

Yes, indeed it took just five months for me to regress on my stance of no longer covering main roster WWE shows. But come on, you can’t say the standard of both Raw and SmackDown hasn’t improved significantly since then… and as for this show the line-up is pretty stacked with ALL the main roster championships being defended, as well as a No DQ match that’s part of the most convoluted and at times just bizarre storylines of the year between Roman Reigns and Erick Rowan. But would WWE be WWE without some form of wacky and confusing storyline??? Really??? ANYWAY… without wasting anymore time here is my review of Clash of Champions 2019, coming to you from the IRL “Queen’s City” in CHARLOTTE, North Carolina… WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

So for once it wasn’t announced, at least not by around 3 hours before the show got underway, what matches would be on the pre-show. I wasn’t able to see it but for the record the matches that were part of the much-loved (or not) kick-off show saw Drew Gulak retain the Cruserweight title over Humberto Carrillo and Lince Dorado. Also on the kick-off show (I CANNOT BELIEVE THEY HAD THIS ON THE FUCKING PRE-SHOW) AJ Styles retained the US Title over Cedric Alexander. I’ve heard they basically buried Cedric which is a shame to hear, but surely there’s something more to it as to why Alexander (who they’ve pushed) and AJ FUCKING STYLES wouldn’t be on the main card of the PPV…


Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler defeated Universal Champion Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman (C) to win the Raw Tag Team Championship

Seth and Braun both got good pops coming out. For the pre-match introductions from the ring announcer they blacked out all the lights in the arena, only leaving the spotlights on the ring itself to offer that old-school ‘big fight feel’ which I liked. The babyface champions dominated early on and the crowd seemed into it, until a distraction by Roode allowed for Ziggler to hit an implant DDT to Rollins on the outside. The heels then isolated Rollins, with Dolph even getting a nearfall after a Famouser. Eventually Rollins got the hot tag to Strowman and he ran wild on Roode and Ziggler. He would go for the running powerslam on Dolph but he racked at Braun’s eyes to escape. Dolph blind tagged in Roode as Strowman collided with the ringpost, Ziggler hit the superkick and Roode went for the Glorious DDT but Brain powered out, Rollins tagged himself in, Seth set up for the Stomp only for Dolph to grab his leg and put him off course, then after a brief exchange Seth would run into a Spinebuster by Robert Roode for a 2 count. Roode did his Glorious pose but Braun came in from behind, although he was then sent to the outside over the ropes when he charged at Ziggler and Dolph yanked the ropes down. Amongst all the chaos Roode hit Rollins with the Glorious DDT and got the pin. Roode and Ziggler your new Raw Tag Team Champions. Decent match and a fun opener. People will moan that they had the Universal Champion pinned in the first match of the show, but if you wanted to do the switch you can’t really have the challenger pinned going into a world title match, whereas the champion now has something to prove and looks maybe vulnerable to add intrigue to the title match later.

***1/2

Braun was interviewed as he was walking backstage. He pointed out he didn’t lose the tag titles SETH did, ‘just like he’s gonna lose the Universal Championship later tonight’. He said Seth was on a losing streak and he would keep it that way tonight when he would GET THESE HANDS.

They played an advert promoting NXT’s move to the USA Network. 😁

Kayla interviewed the Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch (who in CHARLOTTE, North Carolina got a mixed reaction). She opened saying she couldn’t disagree with Braun more and that Seth and her would still be champions at the end of the night. She then said Sasha was the one with something to prove and questioned if she had what it takes? She then listed her many, many accomplishments in 2019, and said in that time Sasha Banks had… dyed her hair (which I laughed aloud at). She said Sasha complains that she took Banks’ spot but she earns it, and that tonight the table was set and The Man comes around. Is it law now that everyone must end their interviews with their catchphrase? Nonetheless a decent promo from Lynch to set up what feels like a pretty big match.

We were reminded by Tom Phillips that we were in Flair Country. Which can only mean one thing was next…

Bayley (C) defeated Charlotte Flair to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship

As you’d presume Charlotte got a huge babyface reaction coming out. Commentary really put over all her title wins so far and just how quickly she’d done so, compared to her father. Don’t be shocked if we see Charlotte have plenty of short title reigns in the next few years and then a big fuss made when she wins number 17. It’d be the most WWE thing ever. Bayley on the other hand was booed, which might be the first time she’s ever been booed by a crowd that was supposed to boo her. I kind of like that she’s doing the same entrance gimmick, and if anything she’s more over the top with it all now as a heel. Great stuff. They seem to be keeping up the spotlight thing during the ring introductions which is cool. Charlotte hit a big boot for a nearfall almost immediately after the bell rung to start the match. Flair dominated the early stages, and whilst I’ve always thought Charlotte was much better as a heel it is fun to see Bayley work as a bad guy for a change. Crowd were loving life as Charlotte dissected Bayley, until… Charlotte had Bayley in the corner so the ref backed her up. Flair spun past the ref to get back at Bayley but the champion got out of the way and this led to Bayley sending Charlotte colliding into the bottom turnbuckle… which didn’t have the protective pad on. Bayley then pinned Charlotte for the win. The match can’t have been longer than a couple of minutes. What looked to be a squash in favour of the Queen turned into just the latest person to lose in their hometown. I guess it does make sense to have Bayley really use a heel tactic to grab a shitty win and further cement her turn. But to say this plucked the life out of the crowd was an understatement. Bayley grabbed her belt and ran to the back immediately after her win. We were shown a replay that confirmed Bayley took off the turnbuckle pad that led to the finish.

N/A

They recapped the weird stuff from the whole Gable vs Shane/Kevin Owens stuff from SmackDown when McMahon fired Owens.

The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) defeated The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) to win the SmackDown Tag Team Championship

It was confirmed that the king of the ring final was indeed set for RAW tomorrow and not this show as had been advertised as late as last week. The previously saddened crowd got back into it somewhat when Big E and Woods came out. Woods was wearing a knee brace to sell his attack from The Revival and Randy Orton previously. New Day were on top early, until The Revival sent both of them off the ring apron to the floor with Woods selling it like he was more hurt. This allowed Dash and Dawson to go to work on Big E. After the beatdown went on for a little while Big E hit an overhead Belly to Belly suplex, but there was nobody there for him to tag out to as Woods was still coming around. Eventually E hit another move and by this point Woods was there for the tag. Woods ran wild on Dawson in the ring and the legal man and also on Dash Wilder we he tried to interfere. Woods got a nearfall after a DDT but Wilder broke it up by targeting the injured knee, this led to Big E and Wilder going to the outside where both The Revival hit Big E with a Shatter Machine. Back in the ring they both looked to target Woods, but Xavier did his best to fightback until they again went for the injured knee. They then hit the Shatter Machine, but instead of going for the pin they wanted to target the knee of Woods even more. They tore away at Woods’ tights so the skin was exposed on the knee, as even Corey Graves on commentary questioned why they weren’t just going for the pin. Dawson locked in the Inverted Figure 4 on Woods and he eventually tapped out. The Revival make history becoming the first team to have ever won the NXT, Raw and now SmackDown tag titles. This match was not as good as you’d expect these two great teams to have, mainly because the story of it was the injured knee of Woods. But I guess if that’s the story they wanted to tell then so be it. The crowd could really do with a pick me up ASAP because for this PPV so far we are 3/3 for the heels. The Revival cut a heel promo after stood on the ring ramp (putting themselves over and saying Randy Orton would beat Kofi later as well).

***

Charly interviewed Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Suddenly a boom mic dropped into shot, it was being held by R truth alongside Carmella. This was their latest way of hiding in plain sight to keep Truth’s 24/7 title it seems. Bliss said it was fine, and thanked him for saying she had a beautiful voice, before saying she would show him and saying into the boom mic that R Truth was on the set, alerting all the jobbers… *COUGH, COUGH* excuse me “contenders” for his title to his whereabouts.

They played an advert for the Hell in a Cell PPV.

Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss (C) defeated Fire and Desire (Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville) to retain the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Fire and Desire seem to have their own theme now (a combo of Sonya and Mandy’s singles music). We surely can’t have another heel victory in a row right? Cross got a decent pop coming out, and Bliss got a bigger one. Alexa was wearing Harley Quinn inspired gear (roll tide). Nikki mocked Mandy’s moves which was funny, what wasn’t was Renee calling Cross a ‘sexy beast’ which was cringey as hell. Bliss was executing some pretty effective offence on Rose, and then just when I thought me were going to get a solid chunk of wrestling we got the 24/7 title mob come running out chasing R Truth. As Truth was in the ring taunting those chasing him (the ref had stopped them getting in the ring in the middle of this WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH), suddenly Alexa Bliss rolled up Truth from behind and got a nearfall as she looked to win the 24/7 title (I may sound slightly hypocritical if I said I got very excited at the idea of Bliss winning the title then). Truth and Carmella then ran away through the crowd with the rest chasing them. ANYWAY… Deville got the tag in from Rose and punished Alexa for going at her partner Mandy’s face. Deville threw Bliss into the turnbuckle as she tagged in Rose and the two isolated Alexa, with Nikki and the crowd trying to will her on. There were chants of ‘Let Nikki Play’ and ‘LEXI, LEXI’ from the crowd. Both Rose and Bliss dodged punches from one another then they both hit at the same time, before tagging out to Deville and Cross respectively. Cross took down Deville multiple times and would send Rose to the outside when she tried to interfere, before a back suplex to Deville and a roar that really got the crowd into it. Nikki then went to the top rope and hit a crossbody for a two count. Cross tagged to Alexa, only for Rose to take out Cross and Sonya Deville to pull Bliss down from the top rope to the floor below. Deville tagged to Rose and they hit a double team move (Deville went behind Bliss to ensure Alexa hit the mat much harder when Rose hit the running knee), Cross broke up the pin at 2. Bliss got the tag to Cross, then rolled over Rose and sent Deville flying off the apron. Rose missed the running knee from behind on Cross, then Nikki used the ring ropes for leverage and hit her twisting neckbreaker on Mandy for the win. Cross and Bliss retain, HALLELUJAH A BABYFACE WIN!!! OK match, probably what I was expecting. Not helped in terms of prestige by the 24/7 stuff, but they told an OK story and it was fine for what it was.

**

They recapped the results from the kick off show where Drew Gulak and AJ styles retained their titles. Styles and Gallows & Anderson beatdown Cedric Alexander afterwards.

Shinsuke Nakamura (C) with Sami Zayn defeated The Miz to retain the Intercontinental Championship

Why this is on the main card over Cedric vs AJ I’ll never know. Zayn, before he introduced Nakamura, said he was disgusted with the level of disrespect the crowd had showed him, and was also shocked with The Undertaker after his Chokeslam on SmackDown last week led to Zayn’s injury (Zayn was wearing a neck brace). They showed the footage of Taker and Zayn’s segment from MSG last week. Nakamura wears a red cape to the ring now… OK then… Zayn was coaching Nakamura and mockingly commentating on the match on the mic during the match. This was terrible and really took away from the in-ring stuff. I’m not sure if it was planned or not but Zayn’s mic stopped working at one point and so we went back to our normal service. Miz grabbed the mic from Zayn’s hand and threw it away. Nakamura kicked Zayn off the apron at one stage after Miz was too focused on Zayn. Shinsuke took charge after this, and would hit a series of hard strikes until Miz took out Shinsuke’s left leg. Miz hit the IT kicks in the corner and the running knees after, and got a nearfall with a double axe handle off the top. Miz eventually got in the Figure 4 leg lock (in Flair country he had to do it right, even though that’s how The Revival won earlier) and the crowd begged for Nakamura to tap but he got to the ropes to break the hold. With Miz distracted by Zayn again Nakamura hit a big running knee, but Miz kicked out! Nakamura set up for the Kinshasa but Miz countered into the Skull Crushing Finale, and with Miz over Shinsuke for the cover Sami Zayn diverted the ref’s attention so he was unable to count the pin. Miz in his anger went after Sami, but Nakamura hit a big kick to the face and then back in the ring hi the Kinshasa for the win. Nakamura retains. Again the crowd got excited and then fell dead silent at the finish. The match was alright but again it was similar booking to the majority of the show so far. It’s almost as if they’re trying to piss this crowd off.

**1/4

After an advert for SmackDown’s move to Fox played, the Raw commentary team bought up the news that WWE had announced earlier in the day of a 2 show Draft on October 11th and 14th. This will see the rosters become brand exclusive once again, so no more of this people appearing all over the place on both shows. Praise the lord.

Sasha Banks defeated Becky Lynch (C) in a Raw Women’s Championship Match by Disqualification (Lynch retains)

If you haven’t seen it yet by the way, go and watch the Sasha Banks: Chronicle documentary on the WWE Network. It’s tremendous. When Banks came out she got pretty much a babyface reaction. So far by the way, including the pre-show, we have had 6/7 heel wins so let’s see if they take the title off of Lynch here. If you had asked me before show the chances Banks wins here I would’ve said maybe 50-50… but SURELY WWE wont have seven of the first eight matches be won all by the bad guys right? Although given people quite like Banks I don’t think the reaction would be terrible if she did beat Lynch, as popular as THE MAN is… let’s see… The match was pretty good early on and the crowd did duelling-chants which was interesting. They went back and forth in the beginning part, Banks taking charge after a hard knee and a meteora for a nearfall. After Becky briefly got back into it Banks would get Becky in a sub hold before gloating as she came jumping off the top rope, only for Lynch to dropkick Sasha in the chest in mid-air. They also mentioned Banks had been training in Japan during her absence which I found interesting. After a series of strikes Becky hit a suplex and then went for a running strike only for Banks to catch her and lock in the Banks Statement… Lynch though powered out and hit the Bexploder. The Man hit a leg drop off the middle rope for a 2 count, Lynch told Sasha it was ‘her time now’ as they fought on the top rope until Banks came off with the meteora off the 2nd rope and rolled through for the pinfall that got a 2 count. Sasha screamed in frustration after. Banks hit the running double knees in the corner before another running knee, then she rolled over the ring ropes looking for another Banks Statement, only for Becky Lynch to try the Dis-Arm-Her submission but Banks rolled her up for a nearfall, but Lynch had the wherewithal to get the hold in again and this time Banks shifted towards the ring ropes to break the hold. Becky followed up with a basement dropkick before a missile dropkick off the top gave her a nearfall. With Lynch and Sasha in the corner Banks turned the table and hit a backstabber, and then another before she had the Banks Statement locked in, Lynch tried and tried to get the break and eventually she rolled them both to the ropes. Sasha wasted no time and yanked Lynch’s arm on the ring rope, before then grabbing a steel chair and bringing it into the ring. As the official was busy looking to remove one chair Banks went under the ring for another, and hit that into the mid-section of Lynch (the ref had his back turned of course), which I thought was quite a clever heel move. Banks then hit the Shining Wizard for a close nearfall. The crowd are really hot at this point, maybe the most excited they’ve been all night. Banks went to the outside for the chair again but the ref took it off her, and as Banks and the ref were arguing Lynch picked up the chair and swung it, only for Sasha to move and she hit the ref! She then hit Banks with the chair, eventually forcing Sasha to retreat into the crowd. Becky ran after her and they brawled up the arena stairs, Sasha even grabbed a fan sign (I think that’s what it was) and hit Becky with it, the brawl went on and on until Lynch had the Dis-Arm-Her on using the railings, Sasha kept trying to get away as they went into the back part of the arena now and into the concourse. Becky eventually bought them both back into the arena area, and they made their way (still brawling) eventually back to the ringside area. Banks gained the advantage by driving Lynch into the barricade, whilst continuing to beat on her. The randomly Michael Cole told us all that BECKY HAD BEEN DISQUALIFIED for hitting the official and was still the champion… so… why could they not have got another ref out and had the ring announcer make it official??? As far as we knew up to this point the match was still ongoing?… Regardless Banks got a steel chair from under the ring, only for Lynch to kick her in the chest and then hit Banks across the back with the chair multiple times. Lynch taunted Banks more before ramming her head repeatedly into the set-up chair. Becky then used the chair to assist her with another Dis-Arm-Her, Banks was screaming and tapping frantically until the officials came out to break it all up. The crowd chanted to let them fight… not exactly babyface stuff from Lynch mind… they gave Becky her belt but demanded she walk way. The ring announcer Mike Rome did then make the announcement of the DQ, so at least they tied up that loose end. Lynch walked away and her up her belt, as the crowd cheered the announcement of Becky still being champion. As Banks was down beaten in the ring and the officials around her Michael Cole said on commentary ‘many will say Sasha got what she deserved here tonight’… which was… interesting… I thought this was excellent stuff. Shame about the finish but it was a good match, a great brawl and worthy of the personal feud the two had had in the lead up. I’d like to see a rematch.

****1/4

They played another NXT to USA Network advert. This makes me happy.

Kofi Kingston (C) defeated Randy Orton to retain the WWE Championship

Really good video package before the match, recapping the rivalry so far between these two. A slow start to the match (shock) changed when Kingston hit Orton in the face, this caused Randy to go to the outside so I think Kofi may have caught him with a shiner. Orton seemed to target Kofi’s shoulder after this with a variety of moves, and also hit a back suplex onto an announce table. The crowd tried to will Kofi on but Randy launched him into the steps, and Kofi went for his finish but Orton hit a backbreaker. Orton raked at Kingston’s eyes but then got an SOS for his troubles, Orton hit the classic powerslam for a nearfall. Later Orton set up for the RKO, but Kofi rolled him up for a nearfall. Not long after that Orton hit an RKO out of absolutely nowhere but Kofi got his foot to the rope!!! A lot of people in the crowd, and me watching on the network, thought for a second that might be the finish. Orton pointed at Kofi who was on the floor and backed away into the opposite corner, and the crowd gasped… commentary seemed in shock as it appeared after ALL THESE YEARS… RANDY ORTON WAS ABOUT TO BRING BACK THE FAMOUS PUNT KICK FROM ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO!!! Kofi though moved out the way, and hit the Trouble in Paradise for the CLEAN win!!! ‘Who’s STUPID now’ asked Tom Phillips? Kofi retains clean as a whistle! I had assumed this was ongoing into Hell in a Cell… but maybe not now after that, Kofi has beat Orton with no BS or anything… so wonder what’s next for Kingston and the WWE title. This was a fine match, maybe their best yet, and really picked up towards the end, but at times it was dreadfully boring.

***1/2

The Street Profits watched on from backstage and were happy Kofi had won. They did their usual thing of being promo guys, this time for the KOTR final. They compared Chad Gable to the Lion King and Montez Ford confused one of the characters names with Rikishi. Angelo Dawkins corrected him, before saying he didn’t mind a good stinkface (which got a laugh from the crowd). Suddenly as they were doing their thing KING BOOKER walked into shot and did his thing (which everyone cheered for), Booker (or BUKAH as he said to Dawkins). Dawkins asked King Booker to knight him, Booker did his ‘tell me you didn’t just say that’ thing, Booker told them both to ‘get their mind right’. And after Ford told Dawkins to ‘think before you speak’ Booker came back and did his ‘now can you dig that SUCKAAAAAAAAAAA’ line.

Erick Rowan defeated Roman Reigns in a No Disqualification Match 

The video before the match recapped the ENTIRE Roman-attacked storyline, and I realised just how long, convoluted and at times downright bizarre this whole thing has been. Roman got a big babyface pop when he came out. Rowan’s theme song is terrible. Quickly they fought to the outside of the ring, and Rowan smashed Roman’s head into an announce table. Reigns later got a Kendo Stick but Rowan smashed him with the steel steps and into the crowd. Rowan hit Roman with a rubbish can, and cleared the announce table but Roman got to him before he could do more damage. The crowd chanted that they wanted Tables, but Rowan shook his head. This was both funny and a good heel move by Rowan. Rowan removed the protective part of the LED board and smashed Roman’s face into it. Eventually they made their way back into the ring with Rowan dominating Roman. Rowan bought in steel steps, and demanded Roman get up only to be caught allowing for Reigns to hit a Samoan Drop. This, on a guy of Rowan’s mammoth size, was a heck of a feat, but he only got a nearfall. Rowan missed a running charge and then Reigns hit him with the steps, following up with a Superman Punch but Rowan kicked out at 2! On the outside of the ring Roman went for another Superman Punch but Erick Rowan caught him and hit a massive Powerslam through the announce table (this looked awesome by the way). Somehow Roman kicked out at 2!!! They brawled then into the crowd area again, with Rowan eventually hitting the Claw slam though another table. Rowan then carried Roman towards the ramp but Roman fought his way out of a sticky situation, they hit one another with various cameras and production equipment along the way. Eventually, when they made their way to the top of the ramp and the ringside area, Reigns did his big ‘oooo, aaaaa’ war-cry at the top of the ramp , before running towards Rowan… only to be hit with a big kick… BY LUKE HARPER!!!! HE’S FUCKING BACK!!!!!!!!!!! Harper and Rowan brought Roman into the ring and beat the shit out of him. The crowd loved Harper the forgotten man returning. Rowan then did the iron Claw for the pin. LUKE HARPER IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!! The two former Bludgeon Brothers embraced after, WOW OH WOW!!! I had heard rumours on Sunday that this match might go on last, it didn’t, but I guess we know why it might have now given the big angle. A man seemingly banished from WWE after announcing publicly he had requested his release from the company in the spring, is now back on TV, returns at a PPV, taking down the top star in the company. Amazing stuff.

***3/4

Charly interviewed Seth backstage. Rollins said he doesn’t give a damn about what Strowman said earlier. He said he had to focus on the future now, and he had all the respect in the world for Braun and would even consider him a friend, but it’s not his time and tonight was not his night.

They recapped the Raw tag title match from earlier in the show.

Seth Rollins (C) defeated Braun Strowman to retain the Universal Championship 

In what had become somewhat of a theme for the night so far it was this time Strowman who immediately ran at his opponent as the bell rang. Braun continued to take control with a series of shoulder blocks and tried the running powerslam but Rollins escaped. Rollins hit three superkicks and a frog splash, only to be caught when going for the Stomp, Braun ran into the ring post (for the 277846376437th time in his career), Rollins hit two Springboard knee strikes, only for Braun to catch him again and hit a few forearms across his chest. Strowman did his ‘run around the ring and send someone flying’ spot twice, he tried a 3rd time only for Seth to move and Braun went flying over an announce table. Seth hit a suicide dive, then superkicked Braun onto another announce table. Then later on came a moment were I nearly had a heart attack I was so scared… So Seth is on the top rope, Braun knocks it down, Strowman (who of course is a HUGE man) decides it’s wise to go to the top rope himself, and whatever he was going for as a move he very nearly fell backwards off the top rope and it was utterly terrifying for a split second. Anyway he very quickly regained his composure and hit a big splash onto Rollins, but only got a 2 count. He seemed to hurt his knee as he landed. Not long after Strowman kicked out of the stomp at ONE and Seth was astonished. He hit a second and Braun kicked out at two. He went for a 3rd, got it and Braun kicked out again. There even some boos as Rollins hit the 3rd one. They made the point on commentary that 3 was enough to slat the beast (Lesnar) but couldn’t slay the monster. Seth looked for another Stomp but Braun picked him up, looked for a running Powerslam but his knee gave out. Seth then hit a PEDIGREE (a move he hasn’t used for years) which caught the crowd off-guard and they audibly gasped, then he hit the stomp again and got the pin. Rollins retains in an absolute BANGER! Heck of a match that could’ve gone either way. WOW what a win for Rollins! This was almost like a Brock Lesnar match in that it wasn’t too long, but it was action-packed and pretty much big move after big move so it was really fun to watch and was probably the match that kept the crowd going the best. Seth nodded in respect as he left the ring. I heard mild boos as Seth stood with the belt at the top of the ramp to close the show.

****

THEN……..

THE LIGHTS WENT OUT AND THE CROWD WENT APE SHIT… THEY KNEW WHAT WAS COMING…

THE FIEND APPEARED AT THE TOP OF THE RAMP IN THE DARK AND THEY DID THE WEIRD NOISES AND FLASHING LIGHTS STUFF, SISTER ABIGAIL TO ROLLINS, MANDIBLE CLAW TO ROLLINS, THE FIEND LAUGHS AND THE LIGHTS GO OUT AGAIN.

It goes without saying that this bit was absolutely fantastic. The funny thing is of course Seth is the babyface, superhero, World Champion and yet from the second the noise came that is followed by the lights going out and we knew The Fiend was coming everyone in the crowd lost their mind, and it got one of the biggest ‘babyface’ reactions of the night. There’s not a chance The Fiend is getting booed at Hell in a Cell however dark and scary he is, people love cool shit, and this is cool as fuck! And now the show is over for real.

Overall this was an OK show. The amount of heel wins hurt the crowd a little but overall I thought it was alright. It sets up some interesting stuff going forward. And of course the headlines will go to the return of Luke Harper and the reality that we really are going to get THE FIEND challenge Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship at Hell in a Cell. What a time to be alive.

Josh.

THE BEST WWE PPV OF ALL TIME? – Review

If you’re too cold, you turn the heating up. If you’re too hot, you drink a cold drink. And if like me you recently watched, reviewed, and suffered through the WORST WWE PPV of all time then you try and counter that by making sure your next blog post is all about (possibly) the BEST WWE PPV of all time. And my oh my was this show some ‘GOOD SHIT’! Emanating from the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island, New York in front of just under 15,000 fans WWE put on a show that had one of the most stacked cards in history, including: the WWE PPV debut of Rey Mysterio, the return to WWE in-ring action (after FOUR YEARS away) of Shawn Michaels and in the main event, a then new-to-Hollywood star The Rock would defend the WWE Undisputed Championship against a young upstart who had just won the King of the Ring tournament… some kid named ‘BROCKKKKK LESNARRRRRR’! In terms of where the company was at in this era pretty much business in all areas was on the decline, but I had heard rave reviews of this show before and have watched matches here and there from it previously, but hadn’t taken the time to watch the full show and really look into it. Having now done just that I can confirm this show was… exceptional! Many will say WrestleMania 17 is the best WWE show ever, however I would argue that show has more than a few absolutely terrible matches, and the end of the show sees the top babyface turn heel and the subsequent run flopped hard. So in my humble opinion I liked to formally declare that SummerSlam from the year 2002 may well be (and in my opinion IS) the best WWE PPV of all time.


Michael Cole welcomed us to the show, whilst also cutting to live footage of fans watching on from ‘The World’ elsewhere in New York City. It would be Cole and co-commentator Tazz calling the SmackDown matches on the show, whilst the familiar voices of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler would call the action from the superstars of Monday Night Raw. Tony Chimel would be the ring announcer for the SmackDown matches, and the legendary Howard Finkel (more on him later, sadly it’s one of the two real low-points of this show) would do the ring announcing duties for the Raw side.

Kurt Angle defeated Rey Mysterio 

Angle came out first to a decent pop, before the typical ‘YOU SUCK’ chants from the crowd. Mysterio’s music played after for what would be his WWE PPV debut… but as Kurt and the rest of us were looking towards the entrance ramp suddenly Rey came from behind Angle and hit a springboard-hurricanrana off the ropes that sent Angle flying. The match got properly underway with a really hot start and the action was pretty fast paced throughout. At one stage Angle dodged a 619 attempt and yanked Mysterio out of the ring, which was a simple yet genius spot. The psychology on display between the two men was fantastic; Angle playing party-pooper to the high flying Mysterio and kicked things up a gear when he pulled down the straps from his wrestling vest. The highlight of the match came not long after; Angle went flying to the outside over the ropes and as Mysterio went to go after him the referee held him back as it appeared Kurt was hurt, so instead Rey went and did a great dive OVER the referee AND the ropes onto Angle on the outside of the ring. Mysterio seemed to have finally gained an advantage at this stage and soon hit a leg drop off a springboard for a nearfall. Soon after Kurt went for an Ankle lock but Rey flipped him into the middle ropes and hit the 619 followed by a West Coast Pop, only for Kurt to kick out at 2 which the crowd went wild for. Both men found themselves perched on the top rope after this, and Mysterio went to perform a top rope hurricinrana only for Angle to reverse it into an Ankle Lock, and as much as Rey tried he had no choice but to tap out to give Kurt the big win. This was a really good opener to the pay per view and although it only went around 10 minutes, I’d have happily seen it go on for another 10. For the time they had they put on a match that was absolutely as good as they possibly could have. Great stuff.

***3/4 

SmackDown GM Stephanie McMahon was backstage bragging about how good her brand was, only to find the Raw GM Eric Bischoff in HER office! They had a back and forth bragging about who had the better brand and who would come out of SummerSlam the better… this was just… kind of there for the sake of it seemingly…

Ric Flair defeated Chris Jericho

The on-screen build up to this match saw Jericho beat down Flair on Raw, and Ric responded later on that night by coming out during a performance of Chris Jericho’s band Fozzy and beating on both Jericho and the set. Away from the cameras the build up was even more fascinating. RIC FLAIR, the 16 time world champion and possible the best to ever do it, was suffering from a lack of self belief around this time. He didn’t think he could… ‘hang’ with the top guys anymore. It took a pep talk from his opponent here to remind him exactly who he was, and in fact it was Jericho who pitched the idea of the finishing move for the match. So we know the Nature Boy wasn’t so confident going in, but I can confirm he could indeed STILL hang with one of the best. These two guys went out there and they had a solid professional wrestling FIGHT! It was really put into context this clash of generations when Jim Ross on commentary pointed out that Chris Jericho was 2 years old when Ric Flair made his debut. They went back and forth for most of the match and they chopped the heck out of one another. Y2J went for the Walls of Jericho only for Flair to counter into an inside cradle for a 2 count nearfall. After Jericho chopped Flair some more he hit a bulldog and followed up with an attempt at the Lionsault, only for Flair to move out of the way. In a big twist of irony it was Chris Jericho who put the Figure 4 leg lock on to Ric Flair and in a very interesting moment Flair got his hand onto the ropes to break the hold, but also tapped the mat as well. Jericho was convinced he had won but the ref told him Flair got to the ropes first so the match went on, Jericho was pissed and in his aggression there was a collision that sent the ref down. And with that in mind the so-called ‘Dirtiest player in the game’ Ric Flair would take advantage and hit Jericho with a low blow, before placing his opponent in the Figure 4, and Chris Jericho tapped out! A really fun match that told the story of the much-loved veteran showing the cocky younger guy that he could still go, and despite his pre-match skepticism I can confirm Ric Flair STILL could go. Really good stuff from BOTH. What’s as funny as Jericho having to remind one of the best ever who he was and that he could still go, is the fact at this time the idea was from Vince for Ric to have this be part of his ‘last hurrah’, one last run with good matches before phasing him out of the ring and into a character-focused role. Ric would not have his last WWE match for another 5 and a half years or so.

***1/4 

Brock Lesnar was warming up and getting ready for his match backstage alongside Paul Heyman, whom reminded Brock that he had killed Hulk Hogan and talked him up huge ahead of his match in the main event against The Rock. Heyman said the line that Lesnar would become the ‘undisputed heavyweight champion of the world’… of course we didn’t know it then, but we would hear Heyman say something along these lines for many, many years to come…

Edge defeated Eddie Guerrero 

This is a heck of a card right? So the latest match on this STACKED show saw a vindictive Latino Heat take on a rising star in Edge (who got a HUGE pop when he came out). Edge at this time had the song ‘Never Gonna Stop’ by Rob Zombie which was an AWESOME theme. To give you more of an idea of where these two guys stood in the company at this time, it was alluded to on the ‘Something To Wrestle with Bruce Prichard’ podcast that Eddie was somewhat of a ‘gatekeeper’ and this match was put together with the idea that if Edge could keep up with Guerrero here then they were all good to put the rocket on him. Michael Cole on commentary said of Edge before the match that he was the ‘future of SmackDown’ … which given Edge would retire with just the ELEVEN world title reigns to his name, and most of those coming whilst a member of the SmackDown roster, I think we can say Michael Cole’s proclamation was accurate. So the match itself was really solid and good stuff (you seeing a pattern develop with this show yet?), the main theme was Eddie working on Edge’s injured shoulder with different types of holds and submission moves. They mixed really well together here, one spot where Edge went for a Spear but Eddie dropkicked him in mid-air which looked cool. Edge later hit the ‘Edgecution’ DDT only for Guerrero to kick out at 2 1/2.  Eddie would come close himself to getting the win with his signature frog splash right onto Edge’s hurt shoulder only to get a nearfall. But it would be the very popular babyface who would get the big win with the Spear to a giant pop from the crowd. This was really solid stuff and Edge was made to look tremendous by Eddie here. Edge would suffer a big injury in February of the next year that would put him out for over a year but at this stage he was well and truly on the rise.

***1/2  

We had a really funny segment with Jonathan Coachman conducting a backstage interview with the World Tag Team Champions ‘The Un-Americans’ Lance Storm and Christian, with their ‘heavy’ Test in the background. Essentially both Storm and Christian kept up their gimmick and said about how the fans would probably just ‘sit on their hands’. It was simple but really good heel work.

The Un-Americans (Lance Storm & Christian) (C) defeated Booker T & Goldust to retain the World Tag Team Championship 

The heels were booed and the babyfaces were cheered, so that alone tells you they told this story well in the build-up. The Un-Americans by the way had with them their symbolic upside-down American flag, which is a genius heat-magnet by the way. There were plenty of ‘USA,USA’ chants throughout as the crowd really got behind the challengers. If you’re looking for a solid wrestling match then you probably couldn’t find four more reliable workers than these guys. They got the heat on Goldust for a while, this led to a hot tag to Booker only for the ref to not see it and as he was arguing with an angry Booker T the heels then got to work on Goldust 2 on 1. With the referee pre-occupied again at another point the Canadian pair of Storm and Christian both grabbed steel chairs and swung at Goldust, only for him to move so they hit one another instead! Again the ref was knocked down and this then led to Booker T hitting the scissor kick to both men, celebrating with a Spinaroonie, hitting the big kick and getting the cover… but the ref was still down! Later Lance Storm went to use the belt as a weapon, but that was thwarted. After this the other Un-American Test ran down and hit Booker with the big boot (Goldust was taken out the picture by Christian at this point), and Lance Storm took advantage to pin Booker T for the 1, 2, 3. A fine match but the finish left the crowd silent. It was a fairly babyface heavy show so I guess you had to have some parts of the party pooped for the good bits to be worth it right? But yet again one thing that can’t be argued is this was all fine work yet AGAIN!

*** 

Oh boy… so next up live from ‘The World’ we had Jamie Noble act as the ‘host’ of a ‘make-out contest’ where there were two ‘fans’ on stage and Noble’s on-screen girlfriend Nidia had to choose which one of the two men she wanted to make out with. All in front of a pretty wild group of fans. She chose the lucky winner and passionately kissed him on the sofa that was conveniently near them, all whilst Noble played cheerleader for them. Yes this really happened…

We had some more chat between Bischoff and Stephanie.

(Please forgive me for not writing all that much about the next match. I’m sure you understand why I found it difficult to watch.)

Rob Van Dam defeated Chris Benoit (C) to win the Intercontinental Championship 

Benoit of SmackDown was introduced by Tony Chimel and Raw’s RVD by Howard Finkel. This was a pretty tremendous wrestling match, the two had really great chemistry with one another, Van Dam was the gifted high flyer with some fierce strikes and Benoit was a master in-ring technician. Both hit all their big moves and went 16 and a half minutes in what was a great, great match. RVD went for the 5 star but Benoit moved, Benoit locked in the crossface but RVD got to the ropes. RVD eventually won clean with the big frog splash to a big pop from the crowd. Rob Van Dam wins and takes the Intercontinental title with him to Raw in the process.

****1/4

Stephanie and Eric were backstage AGAIN… Bischoff bragged about the IC title coming to Raw after Van Dam’s win. Stephanie just laughed in his face (this seems odd but as it turns out it’s the tease of the story they tell in the weeks after… more on this later…)

The Undertaker defeated Test 

There was a great video package that gave a really good explanation of the whole Un-Americans gimmick. Biker Taker got a big pop coming out (naturally). This was a proper big-man match, it was certainly a change of pace from the rest of the show but given the two matches that sandwiched this one it kind of made sense and was probably necessary. The two men had a proper brawl, Taker did all his usual stuff, Test missed a big boot, Undertaker hit the Chokeslam only for Test to kick out at 2, Taker went for the Last Ride only for fellow Un-American Lance Storm to run in and try and make the save only for him and then Christian too to be batted away by Taker. Among all the distractions Test hit the big boot only for Taker to kick out at 2. Lance Storm handed a chair to Test but Taker kicked the chair into Test’s face. He then hit the Tombstone (which he wasn’t using all that often at this stage, preferring the Last Ride instead more often) for the win. Seeing Taker pick up Test and hit the Tombstone on Test (who was a real GIANT of a man, think like 90s Razor Ramon size) was a hell of a spectacle. Taker ‘The American Badass’ waved the American flag after the match. This was never going to be a classic but for what it was this was perfectly fine.

**3/4 

Shawn Michaels defeated Triple H in a Non-Sanctioned Match 

Jim Ross explained it would be Michaels first match in WWE for 1609 days (since 1998’s WrestleMania and the famous match with Steve Austin that saw Mike Tyson get involved at the height of the Attitude Era), which really is incredible isn’t it? They then aired the most absolutely incredible video package before this match. Believe me the one thing WWE usually do pretty well is these sort of recaps, but this promo was truly exceptional and go out of your way to see it and tell me you’re not excited to see the match! It did a terrific job of explaining the story of these two men up to this point: them starting out as the best of friends in the late 90s in DX, Triple H becoming ‘the man’ once Michaels took his injury hiatus, then his subsequent return where they looked to put the team back together only for Triple H to pedigree Shawn. Then as The Game was in the ring he was told by one of the ringside crew that something had happened backstage, where we find Shawn Michaels in a pool of blood having had his head smashed through a car window. Hunter showed great concern, and later with Triple H in the ring and Michaels on video link on the titantron he vowed to find out who attacked him and that all he knew was that he was hit from behind. Triple H vowed to find out who did this. And then we would see the previously grainy CCTV footage of the attack gradually zoom in and un-pixalate to show that the attacker was indeed TRIPLE H! The package would then hype up the match with Michaels saying he was OK to go again and the doctors had told him he would be ready just in time for… SummerSlam! Honestly this video was a work of art and whoever put it together did an unbelievable job of making this match seem just as important and special as it was. There was certainly plenty of hype going in to this one. It didn’t disappoint.

In the least surprising occurrence of the night, Michaels (who was in amazing physical shape) got a GIANT crowd pop when he came out. He was wearing the normal jacket-type he wears but had a white t shirt and blue jeans underneath, he certainly had come dressed for a FIGHT! Jim Ross on commentary (who alongside Jerry Lawler was absolutely exceptional as a vehicle to tell the story of this match, really putting across the emotion that went along with it) hoped that all would be ‘OK’… Triple H got a pretty decent reaction when he came out also despite being the clear heel. He took his time making his way in to the ring to really build up the anticipation for this match.

Triple H dominated early on to really bring what was a hugely excitable crowd back down to earth. He then used both a chair and Michael’s Jeans’ Belt to punish HBK. It was particularly hard to watch when Hunter smashed Michaels across the back with the chair, given Michaels obvious back injury history. The crowd was at this stage absolutely deflated at witnessing their returning hero being properly beat up by the evil villain, and Michaels was absolutely pouring with blood from his head. As Triple H continued to assert his dominance he went to Pedigree Michaels onto a chair, only for HBK to hit a low blow! Michaels then hit Sweet Chin Music to Triple H whilst he was holding the chair and this busted HHH open, and when I say busted open the blood was absolutely POURING from his head. With Shawn exhausted laying on the ring-mat he did the classic HBK kick-up to get back to his feet, and the crowd seeing their hero come back to life in-front of their very eyes LOST THEIR MIND!!! Suddenly they were reminded they were watching one of the best ever make his return, and from then on in we were ON!!! Michaels used the chair himself to launch his assault, and then set the crowd on fire again when he retrieved a ladder from under the ring. They then went back and forth and in this match with no rules, they somehow had a pretty decent ‘rasslin exchange. Michaels would hit a big elbow drop from the top of the ladder he had earlier bought into the ring, which the crowd loved of course. Jerry Lawler said an amazing set of lines basically getting super excited that Michaels was OK and alright, despite this brutal match and he’d comeback after all this time and was still the showstopper, still THE main event. It was subtle but it really was accurate of how the majority of people watching felt and really put across how the fans were feeling too. With Triple H down the crowd reached fever pitch when Michaels went to the corner of the ring and ‘tuned up the band’ ready for the Sweet Chin Music… so Michaels went for the kick, but Triple H caught his leg, spun him around, kicked him in the stomach, set up for the Pedigree… BUT… Michaels flipped Triple H over, rolled him up with a jackknife roll-up, AND GOT THE PIN!!! SHAWN MICHAELS, AFTER FOUR YEARS AWAY, CAME BACK, PUT ON THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS LIFE, AND PINNED TRIPLE H!!! Commentary and the crowd went absolutely WILD! We’d witnessed a wrestling miracle, we were told the story that Michaels had no chance of even being competitive, let alone actually WINNING!?

But of course Triple H destroyed Michaels after the match had finished. He used his signature sledge hammer to attack both Michaels injured back and further damage his already busted-open head. The crowd were obviously furious, as Triple H then staggered away showing too the scars of this absolute war. Michaels was taken out on a stretcher after this to a standing ovation. Now… you may ask what the point was of bringing Michaels back only to have him win, and then get destroyed afterwards. But when you know the background this was actually really clever booking. So at this stage we know Michaels would go on to have many years left as a wrestler, but this was not the plan at the time. Michaels was coming back JUST for this ONE match. So usually when a guy comes in for a one-off, he does the job and puts the guy who is sticking around over, right? Yes that’s what always happens, so why not shock everyone and have the babyface get the win? But doesn’t that do damage to the heel who is staying around? Yes, so you get round that by having him get the heat back afterwards. So with what they did they really got the best of both worlds; the crowd got to see an amazing feel-good moment, and Hunter got to look strong still in defeat with the beatdown that followed. In my opinion this was great booking.

This was the most unbelievable match. It turned out to be the first of many together the two men would have in 2002/2003 but this was the best one. Quite simply a masterclass in ring psychology. For sure Shawn Michaels had a tonne of incredible matches (and many of them came AFTER this classic) but as for Triple H, other than the WrestleMania cell match with The Undertaker some years after this match, this has to be considered arguably his best EVER match.

*****

Next we had… oh boy… so Howard Finkel is ready to announce the next match, but he tells us all he has a few things to get off his chest… so he cuts a heel promo, exclaiming that this was the first time he’d been in this arena since WrestleMania 2. He then referenced the then strike in the MLB saying that they could ‘always rely on the Fink’. He goes on bigging himself up until Trish Stratus comes down to the ring. It was recalled how Trish had ‘got one over’ on Finkel in the past two weeks and now Stratus wanted to apologize, taking a liking to his ‘sexy voice’. Jim Ross somewhere in here said that ‘Trish has stolen Howard’s spotlight, somebody already stole his hair’ which did give me a chuckle. Trish says she has a surprise for Finkel, Howard states to Stratus that ‘you have the puppies, and I have the weener’ (and I thought I was going to vomit). Turns out the surprise was Lillian Garcia, Howard’s rival for the Raw ring announcer’s job. She slapped him HARD and gave him a low blow and the crowd popped.

I’m trying to sell this as an amazing show, and it was. But christ this segment was trash.

ANYWAY… back to the good stuff…

Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) defeated The Rock (C) to win the WWE Undisputed Championship 

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler handed over the commentary duties to Michael Cole and Tazz. They played a great video package ahead of the match; it told how Brock had won the King of the Ring tournament, before The Rock won the WWE title in a 3 way against Kurt Angle and Undertaker at the Vengeance PPV, to set up the mega match with a guy in Lesnar who since his arrival on the main roster had been on an absolute tear, even taking out Hulk Hogan as part of his rampant run to this point. I should mention the amazing visual of Lesnar wiping Hogan’s blood across his own chest like some form of monster gorilla, it was BADASS! The ‘next big thing’ Brock got a massive pop coming out, and The Rock was cheered too as he left the belt at the top of the ramp and sprinted into the ring to get him some of Lesnar as the match got underway. This was a really fun match and although Rock and Lesnar worked as the babyface and the heel (with Heyman helping out Brock at every chance he got), the crowd reactions were the opposite. Michael Cole at one stage said the line about how a Brock Lesnar win would make Paul Heyman millions, which given the events of the time since then is incredible in hindsight. As the match went on the crowd split just grew and grew in favour of Lesnar and away from Rock. We even got ‘Rocky SUCKS’ chants as well as when Rock had Lesnar in the Sharpshooter he could be seen looking up in disgust as the crowd chanted “LET’S GO LESNAR”, and they went crazy when Brock was able to escape the submission hold! Lesnar later got the big bearhug move on Rock (the same move he used to put away Hulk Hogan a few weeks prior), and when The Rock raised his hand up after it had dropped twice prior to tease the finish, the crowd booed heavy when Rock showed he still had life. By the point that The Rock was looking to put Lesnar away with a Rock Bottom the crowd was furious at the prospect of the champion retaining. The crowd really were turning on Rock at this stage, and that only got louder when Rock used a low blow on Lesnar. Rock followed up by catapulting Lesnar into the ringpost on the outside, and would then get his revenge on Paul Heyman for his interference with a Rock Bottom through the announce table, which was… ugly… Rock got back in the ring and hit the Rock Bottom, only for Brock to kick out. Not long after Lesnar hit a Rock Bottom of his own, but of course Rock kicked out. Lesnar escaped from a Rock Bottom attempt and hit the F5, but Rock kicked out! Rock would eventually go for the People’s Elbow to the fury of the live crowd, but as he came off the ropes Lesnar got up and hit a big clothesline, and everyone cheered. Brock then hit the F5 again for the 1, 2, 3 to spark jubilant reactions from the fans in the arena. It should also be noted, and credit to The Rock for this, but he did not move or roll out of the ring after the bell had rung. he stayed DOWN and sold Lesnar’s finish like he was dead. And if that from THE ROCK isn’t doing a favour for Lesnar I don’t know what is. This was a heck of a match! Brock Lesnar had become the (then) youngest champion in WWE history. Cole on commentary during the post match said ‘this monster in on top of the world, the next big thing has arrived’ as Brock celebrated with the WWE title to close the show.

****

After the show went off the air The Rock did a promo for the live crowd. He went to do the whole ‘Finally, The Rock, has come back….’ gimmick, but he was getting heavily booed. So Rock then said ‘it doesn’t matter where The Rock has come back to’! He went on to say that like it or not he’s still the people’s champion and when he did the  “If you smell…” he stopped short, and said that it was no longer ‘sing along with The Rock time’. Knowing he was going away and hearing he was being booed, The Rock went heel impromptu on the live crowd. Just tremendous. He would not have another match in WWE until February of the next year. It was well known going in that The Rock was indeed leaving for a while to go to Hollywood, which may have been the main cause of the negative reaction.

Let me also put this into context… March 18th 2002 the night after WrestleMania (the one where Rock faced some guy called Hulk Hogan), Brock Lesnar came out and laid wast to a few guys in his first appearance on the main roster. A little over FIVE MONTHS later this same young man was beating The Rock in the main event of SummerSlam for the WWE Championship. Imagine someone right now coming to Raw or SmackDown from NXT, having had no prior TV wrestling experience, and then in six months time at a big PPV beating someone like Roman Reigns or Kofi or Seth Rollins for one of the big championships in the main event. Incredible stuff.


The main aftermath of this show saw SmackDown general manager Stephanie McMahon announce she had signed Brock Lesnar to an exclusive deal that would see the WWE Undisputed Championship be solely on the SmackDown brand. This would lead to Raw GM Eric Bischoff creating his own world title in the form of the old ‘big gold belt’, eventually awarding the World Heavyweight Championship to Triple H. Lesnar would defend the WWE Championship against The Undertaker in the months that followed. Shawn Michaels would indeed return full time to in-ring competition and even won the newly created World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H in the first ever Elimination Chamber Match at that year’s Survivor Series. The Boyhood dream would come true, all over again.

This was just THE most fun show to watch. I loved it so much. Great wrestling, brilliant storytelling and the anointment of the new big star at the end of the night.

The feedback from the readers of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter was 99.7% of them gave the show a thumbs up, just 0.3% gave it thumbs in the middle, ZERO gave it thumbs down. The best WWE PPV I’ve ever seen. I could not recommend this show enough. Tremendous.

Josh. 

THE WORST WWE PPV OF ALL TIME – Review

(WARNING: IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PROFANITY DO NOT READ THIS BLOG… I HAVE A LOT TO SAY ABOUT THIS SHOW AND NOT MUCH OF IT IS GOOD)


So… you’ve read the title of this blog post, so let me not waste any more time and begin to describe to you this fucking wretched show… WWE ECW had at this stage been around for a few months as WWE’s third brand and attempt to revive the much loved underground promotion. And already it was beginning to die a death. I have always thought and many have said the same thing, if you called this brand anything but ‘ECW’ it may have done OK… but if ECW was well on its way to death row then this show was the night the letters E.C.W were put in the electric chair, AND given the lethal injection, AND had its head cut off.

Perhaps given what took place in the build-up to this show it should not come as a shock what happened on the night itself. Only two matches were officially announced for the show before it aired, and yet WWE still charged the usual $40 for people to see it. WWE sent out a promotional email the day before the show promoting TWO matches (the Hardys vs MNM tag and the main event) but adding that “ALL THIS AND MUCH MORE!”were to come on the show. Even on WWE.com MINUTES before the show began they had a grey table that had 8 spaces for possible matches in with only TWO being listed. According to the F4W Newsletter as of the afternoon of the day of the show the creative team in WWE knew of only FOUR matches that were to be on the show… so whoever came up with the idea of the other two matches on the card that took place… I have no words that are positive to say about them… This show pulled in 90,000 pay per view buys with 55,000 of them domestic buys in the USA which goes without saying is the lowest in company history before the WWE Network came into existence. I actually feel legitimately sorry for the poor souls who paid money to watch this abomination on their TV screens. I hope they received the necessary medical-aftercare.

On December 3rd 3006; the WWE ECW December To Dismember PPV took place. Professional Wrestling was never the same again, and the brand of Extreme Championship Wrestling official DIED!


A video package played promoting the EXTREME Elimination Chamber played to open the PPV. The theme song for the show was ‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool. This may or may not have been the best thing about the show. I noted immediately that the upper deck of the arena on the far side (straight on from the entrance ramp) is closed off. The James Brown Arena in Augusta, Georgia was set up to seat 8000… it was reported that approximately 2300 people were here to endure this show, at least some of them didn’t have to pay for the horror. The Voice of ECW Joey Styles and former ECW Champion Tazz were the commentary team and so had the best (or in this case the dirt worst) seats in the house. It should be noted by the way that Styles opened up by stating that a ‘new champion would be crowned in the Extreme Elimination Chamber’ to which Tazz had somewhat of a… puzzled… reaction to, so we were already off to a tremendous start…

Our opening contest was one of the two pre-announced matches for the show. So as far as we knew this match was going an hour and a half…

Team Extreme (Matt Hardy & Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy) defeated MNM (Joey Mercury & Johnny Nitro with Melina)

So in December 2006 Jeff Hardy and Johnny Nitro were feuding for the IC title on RAW, Matt Hardy was on SMACKDOWN, MNM were a tag team together on SMACKDOWN, The Hardys were a tag team on ECW, and yet for ‘one night only’ (apparently) this match was opening an ECW PPV. Got all that? … Matt and Jeff were announced as ‘Team Extreme’ despite having ‘The Hardys’ on their titantron… The camera men seemed to be going out of their way to NOT shoot the crowd on the hard-cam side of the arena to avoid the many, many empty seats in that, and many other, parts of the arena. They did not dim the arena lights nor put the spotlight in the ring as they did for ECW TV, which of all the shows in the world it seemed sadly ironic not to dim the arena lights for THIS show. The crowd at various points called Melina a ‘crackhoar’, which was charming. As a match it was fine but it was every Hardy Boyz match you’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a bunch believe me. The crowd very quickly became bored, as was I, but did pop for Jeff and the stuff he did. Melina on the outside seemed to scream every now and then in delight when her guys gained an advantage, but it quickly became incredibly annoying. One of the highlights was Johnny Nitro accidentally dropkicking Melina off the apron in what was probably one of the bigger bumps in her career. As I’ve said this match was fine… we got three hot tags and they fit in a gazillion different moves and spots in the LONG time they had, but again I feel like I’ve seen this exact match from The Hardys a silly amount of times. Matt and Jeff did get the win after a double neckbreaker by Matt off the top followed by a Swanton by Jeff. It went TWENTY TWO MINUTES but if it had of gone 10 it would’ve been much better. On a regular PPV this match would be seen as average, on this PPV it was the best match of the show by a mile.

***1/4

They plugged the Extreme Chamber and played an interview filmed for ECW.com with Rob Van Dam.

And that Ladies and Gentleman was where everything ‘average’ on the good-bad scale ended. For the duration of what was still to come please adjust your scale to tell you where on the scale of bad-THE ABSOLUTE DRIVELING SHITS everything from now on ranks.

Balls Mahoney defeated Matt Striker in a ‘Striker’s Rules’ Match

Striker (doing his School Teacher gimmick) came to the ring dressed in the ugliest pink sweater you’ve ever seen. He introduced his opponent, then cut a typical condescending promo being anti-violence and anti-extreme. He said his match tonight was under ‘Striker rules: No eye gauging, no hair pulling, no moves off the top rope, and no foul language’. The camera kept zooming on Matt Striker’s arse… he had a picture of his own face on his wrestling shorts… After Mahoney came out and the bell rung the crowd was dead (please someone count how many times in this review I make a comment about the crowd being dead), they did though take great joy in chanting ‘Balls’. Watching this I could tell why Matt Striker eventually moved into commentary and well away from being a wrestler. I got a glimpse during this match that seemed to show the entire upper and most of the middle deck on the hard-cam side was either closed off or had a lot of empty seats… or both. Tazz said on commentary that Striker had a ‘facey ass’ which was my personal highlight of this match. Mercifully Balls ended the match and got the win with a sit out spinebuster. Was this a good wrestling match? Absolutely not. Both these guys in-ring absolutely suck and they very quickly after the finish moved on to the next segment… figures… The F4W review of this show said of this match “This sucked a cock”. In my opinion that would be being polite.

1/2* (0.5)

They showed CM Punk backstage. This would usually make me very happy, but I know what’s to come so I’m already sad.

They then cut to Sabu backstage who it appeared had been attacked, then Paul Heyman came in and asked what had happened. Heyman raised the point to the emergency officials that Sabu was in the main event tonight… As the segment closed the crowd can be heard chanting ‘bull-shit’… and so it begins…

Elijah Burke & Sylvester Terkay defeated ‘The Full Blooded Italians’ aka F.B.I (Little Guido Maritato & Tony Mamaluke) with Trinity

To be totally honest when Terkay came out with Burke my exact words were ‘who the fuck is that?’. It appears from some quick internet research that his very brief and forgettable run with WWE was the most noteworthy happening of his pro-wrestling career. Burke cut a decent promo before the match putting over their team, as I noted that the very upper deck on the side facing the hard-cam also seems to be closed off. Essentially Terkay was a big guy and the FBI were the perfect cannon fodder for him… but let’s just say Burke was the more charismatic one of this tag team (and that’s being generous). Little Guido by the way may be better known to some of you as Nunzio in WWE. The size difference between Terkay and Little Guido was absurd. The crowd chanted ‘get the tables’ which is code for ‘WE ARE BORED SHITLESS SO PLEASE DO SOMETHING EXCITING’. Elijah Burke got the win for his team with the Elijah Experience (a facebuster-type move). After the match Terkay got the heat with the Ryback suplex on Guido after the match… just as you could hear someone chanting ‘TNA, TNA, TNA’… which I think is app for the quality of this match. This would have been a throwaway segment and match on an episode of WWE ECW (not even a Raw or SmackDown)… this was on a PAY PER VIEW event …Yeah… this just sucked. Elijah Burke makes up for * of this match rating just for being him.

*1/4

Sabu was shown being wheeled into an ambulance as a concerned RVD and CM Punk looked on. I think they were most sad at Sabu being put in an ambulance as it was symbolic of where the brand he spent many years nearly dying for was heading.

Daivari with The Great Khali defeated Tommy Dreamer

Just read again who was in this next match. Then decide what it was like and how fucking horrific it was. It was exactly like you’re imagining. Daivari cut a promo in his native dialect as he came to the ring with Khali, then ECW hero Tommy Dreamer came out to a half-decent reaction. I say it was decent, it was more decent for this crowd and the tens of hundreds of people that looked to be in it. After they tried to have a professional wrestling match for a little while Khali eventually interfered and the ref banned him from ringside. Yes indeed, the referee went out of his way to tell the only interesting thing about this match to go away. And then after that Khali seemed somewhat confused and/or was terribly acting and didn’t know what was going on (all whilst he was frowning and pointing at the ring). It seemed to take forever to get him to actually leave. And with Khali now gone so too went any level of enjoyment I could have watching this match. People could be seen leaving and some of those that stayed were shouting their displeasure at what they were seeing. TOMMY DREAMER THE ECW ICON got ZERO reaction when he did the big babyface comeback. The wrestling they tried to do was very basic and the crowd chanted ‘we want hardcore’… good luck with that… Daivari won after a roll up just as Dreamer was setting up for his finish. The Crowd died a death as a result and they weren’t anywhere near loud to begin with. This was boring as fuck as a match and the wrestling wasn’t much better. Thankfully to me at least Khali came back out with Dreamer after Daivari had left and he then did the double-arm Chokeslam to a helpless Dreamer onto the apron floor. They showed a stupid number of replays of this to really hammer home this crowd pleasing moment… Yes I personally, for all of my sins, enjoyed seeing Khali kill someone, but I don’t think having a giant monster come back out and beat up a guy who was a hero to a crowd already hating life by this point was the best of ideas. On the night ECW officially died an icon of the brand Tommy Dreamer was pinned by Daivari in a fucking abysmal match and then was pulverized by The Great Khali. Seems fitting on the night ECW was killed to literally try to do the same to its heart and soul. When THE GREAT KHALI is the only thing saving you from a DUD rating I think that says it all.

1/4* (0.25)

Paul Heyman was backstage and found Hardcore Holly and got him to be in the main event. The crowd booed. Fuck this shit.

NOW THEN… NOW THEN… NOW THEN… HERE WE FUCKING GO!!! STRAP YOURSELF IN BECAUSE THIS IS WHERE IT GETS GOOD!!!

Kevin Thorn and Ariel defeated Mike Knox and Kelly Kelly

The story of these two teams is Kevin Thorn and Ariel are vampires (yes just take it in and accept it). Mike Knox was a big hairy asshole and Kelly Kelly was his young and gorgeous girlfriend who was for some bizarre reason going out with a complete knobhead. Ariel is somewhat of an infamous figure in pro-wrestling folklore given her ‘colourful’ past and her ‘notable’ assets. So… I’ll tell you what happened in the match and then I’ll give you my thoughts. Kelly Kelly got a mic before the match and took the time to talk about CM Punk (who on the TV leading up to the show young Kelly had developed somewhat of a crush on), she wished him good luck in the main event. The match began with the two men having an exchange of lock ups and basic moves. Then the women came in and Ariel beat Kelly up. Kelly crawled over to get the tag, but Mike Knox walked out on her. The crowd actually reacted somewhat loud for this. Ariel then beat up Kelly Kelly some more then pinned her. After the match finished The Sandman came through the crowd and beat up Thorn with his cane all the way to the back of the arena. The crowd liked The Sandman. Now… here is everything I wrote on the page for my notes:

– Terrible lock ups from the 2 men in the match
– “Mercifully this match is over (mercifully for Kelly Kelly)” – Joey Styles
– Not even T&A could save this
– the t&a was as good as the ‘wrestling’ was bad
– THE FINISH WAS A LEG SWEEP?!?!
– I’D WATCH a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g over watching this again
– I’ve never heard a ppv crowd be so silent
– the ‘angle’ in the match got FIVE SECONDS of heat…
– WTF was this??
– Horrific
– Abysmal
– the driveling shits
– awful
– an ABORTION

This was one of the worst professional wrestling matches I have ever seen.

DUD

Rebecca (don’t ask because I don’t know either) was backstage interviewing Bobby Lashley (Rebecca by the way had a score of -10 on the charisma scale and seemed to have the TV personality of a plank of wood). The interview segment included a recap of Lashley vs Big Show from ECW the previous week. The story is Heyman hates Lashley so Big Show and Test and Heyman’s goons beat him up.

We then saw Big Show/Heyman/Test/the goons walking backstage, before a video played hyping the main event.

Paul Heyman and his guards (literally two guys in black with black helmets if you were wondering) came to the ring. He ran down the rules and cut a promo before the chamber itself came down. During Heyman’s promo he said the line “The day of Sabu and the Sandman and Rob Van Dam has come to an end”. Hasn’t it fucking just. The crowd really shat on Paul during this and seemed to vent their anger at him for what his once great creation had become; Heyman said he’d topped himself tonight with the Extreme Elimination Chamber and a fan shouted ‘You Suck’, Heyman said that Sabu wasn’t in the chamber but Holly would be taking his place and the crowd chanted ‘BULLSHIT’, Heyman said that it was now the day of the Big Show and a fan screamed ‘Who’s going to retire next year’. When PAUL FUCKING HEYMAN the godfather, master and creator of Extreme Championship Wrestling is getting responses from the crowd like that you know hell really has frozen over and everything that ECW once represented was LONG gone.

Aside from them venting their anger at what they had witnessed personally towards the leader of ECW, this crowd by this point was D.E.A.D.!

Bobby Lashley defeated Big Show (C), Test, Rob Van Dam, Hardcore Holly & CM Punk in an Extreme Elimination Chamber Match to win the ECW World Championship

Big Show was billed at 507 pounds. The crowd is DEAD. Punk got a decent reaction, one of the few all night. Big Show got hold of a barbed wire bat, CM Punk got a steel chair, Test got hold of a crowbar, Lashley had a table in his pod. Hardcore Holly (who was booed a little) and RVD began the match in the ring with the other 4 men in pods waiting to enter. Although Punk and to a lesser level RVD got pops coming out overall the lack of crowd reaction for these entrances was absurd. So Van Dam and Holly started the match which was about as much a clash of styles as you could get… included in their exchange was RVD doing his Rolling Thunder move to Holly onto the steel (which looked like it was pretty grim to take), and later Holly hit the stiffest dropkick you’ve ever seen right in Rob’s face… so 1-1… After 5 minutes had gone in the match (it felt like it had been going on for double that) it was time for the first pod to open and another participant to join and hopefully improve the dreadfully dull action. Joyfully for the crowd their favourite CM Punk was that lucky individual, and there was a spot not long after where RVD threw a chair at Punk and the crowd loved it. RVD tried to monkey flip Punk onto a steel chair but he fucked up the move and the crowd let him know all about it… ‘you fucked up, you fucked up…’ … (this is a crowd at an ECW show letting ROB VAN DAM know he had made a mistake… if ever it was obvious this was WWE ECW you could tell from that crowd response alone). Although Punk later got his own back busting Van Dam open with a chair not long afterwards. Although it was fun to see RVD and Punk go at it the match itself was largely boring at this point to me, and the facial expression of the ECW Champion Big Show in his pod looking on reflected a similar mood. The crowd displayed their clear enjoyment of the match by chanting ‘Test’s a faggot’ which was… interesting… Test just so happened to come out next and went on a rampage with a crowbar, including him clawing away at RVD with the weapon and busting him open some more (to their credit this was a gruesome looking spot). So… you’ll remember the various points in this blog where I’ve stated my own and the live crowd in the arena watching this show and the love shown towards CM Punk… well guess what??? Yes of course RVD hit the 5 star and pinned and eliminated first…. CM PUNK! Great way to make the people even more UTTERLY MISERABLE having to watch this shower of SHIT of a show!!! Not long after their was a really weird moment where Test hit a big kick to Hardcore Holly’s face and looked to have pinned him, but Holly seemed to have kicked out, but both guys seemed to suggest it was a 3 and told the ref so, and despite the fact the ref himself had not counted a 3 told Holly to leave anyway… it was a mess to say the least.  The time between Punk going out and Holly getting ‘pinned’ was about 10 seconds. And as if eliminating CM Punk wasn’t bad enough they then took Van Dam out by having Test hit an Elbow Drop from the top of a pod onto a prone RVD (whom had a chair on his face at the time). This was a fun spot but booking wise this match was just getting worse and worse. Naturally the crowd booed and chanted ‘bullshit’. There was even a chant of “where’s our refunds?” … and what was a largely boring match that had some decent talent in it had now lost the two most over guys in the match by a MILE and solid in-ring worker like Bob Holly who MAYBE could’ve held it all together… nice… The goons that worked on behalf of Paul Heyman then stopped Bobby Lashley getting out of his pod when it was supposed to be his turn, so then Lashley used a table to smash the chains at the top of his pod and then climbed through the top of it to get to to Test (this got next to no reaction despite appearing to be the big babyface-superhero spot)… and quickly after that Lashley speared poor Test before Big Show was even out of his pod… christ… “This is bullshit” was the response from the crowd… they booed some more and I think chanted this was boring… I wonder where and how this will end… We had to wait for a full two minutes of the two men just staring at each other with Show still inside his pod, which may not sound like a long time but when absolutely NOTHING is going on aside from two men looking at each other ahead of a showdown that we all know is only going to end one way and nobody cares about… suddenly two minutes seems like twenty… And then yes, Show came out from his pod with a barbed wire bat in hand. He tried to use it only for Lashley to block the attack with a steel chair, and then the bat got stuck in the chains of the cell, which was typical at this stage. Lashley then just beat his ass and even launched him through one of the Plexiglass pods. Big Show was busted open at this stage as Paul Heyman did his most OTT acting possible as he screamed ‘Run for your life’ and later ‘Fight for survival’. Big Show somewhat rallied and tried for chokeslam only for Lashley to counter and turn it into a DDT. And as the soon-to-be champion babyface was about to overcome the evil monster the crowd were chanting ‘Let’s go Big Show’… good job guys… And finally we were all put out our misery as Lashley ducked under a clothesline, hit the spear and got the pin. Bobby Lashley is your new ECW World Champion… and the crowd… well they did not go wild let me just say that.

**1/4


If you go and watch this on the WWE network, the total running time of the show is 2:14:23. WWE charged $39.95 for people in the USA wanting to order it at the time. You absolute FUCKERS! After the show outside the arena there were reports of a huge fight that broke out in the parking lot. Reports say it was between ‘rednecks and punks’, but because all the Police were on the other side of the arena there was nobody to break it up. So witnesses said the people would fight, look around for police suspecting possible arrest, realize no Police were coming, and then carry on fighting. Someone who was at the show told Bryan Alvarez of the F4W website that this fight was quote ‘far better than the Elimination Chamber’.

After the show went off the air the Big Show was in the ring, and being he was born around 17 miles from the arena the show was in, he got a standing ovation and chants of ‘Thank you Show’. Big Show was offered a new lucrative contract by WWE in the wake of the event, but declined the offer due to burnout and generally feeling beat up. On the next Tuesday’s ECW TV show Big Show lost in his title rematch to Lashley and wouldn’t be seen again on WWE TV until the No Way Out PPV in 2008 where he would begin the build to his famous WrestleMania match with boxer Floyd Mayweather. The new ECW World Champion coming out of the show, Bobby Lashley, after getting through the Big Show rematch had a short feud with Rob Van Dam, before successfully defending his title against Test at the Royal Rumble PPV the month after. And then would be announced as Donald Trump’s hired gun in the Battle of the Billionaires extravaganza at WrestleMania 23… and the rest is history. But the person who’s working-life was most altered by this show was not the soon to be semi-retired Big Show, not the newly anointed champion Bobby Lashley. If this was the night the remaining essences of the original ECW died, then the brand’s founding father Paul Heyman wasn’t just caught in the crossfire, he was ripped to shreds.

After watching all he once created figuratively die at his very hands Paul Heyman cut a promo in the ring after the show was off the air. He said Big Show would get his rematch on the next ECW TV episode. The F4W newsletter reported that Heyman was “crying and passionate and ended the promo by walking off screen, and one source said it appeared to be a meltdown in process”. It seems to me from looking into this further that although Heyman DID write the PPV (including the main event and all the eliminations and the decision to take out Sabu, whom at this stage was really not in a good way health-wise), it was strongly dictated to him what should be the end result of the main event. Imagine being a sports coach and being told the tactics and game-plan you as the coach HAVE to play, see how that ends up… Essentially Heyman wanted CM Punk to win, and expanded on this in a 2008 interview where he explained his idea was to have Punk come into the match first, and very quickly tap out the then champion Big Show, before going on to win the whole thing. Big Show was apparently all for the idea of making Punk into a star, but Vince McMahon thought otherwise. Heyman even apparently told McMahon on the night of the show that the fans wouldn’t like what he had planned, but of course we know what happened, and we know how it was received.

The history between Paul Heyman and WWE & Vince McMahon has seen Heyman have many different positions and dealings with the company, and seemingly just as many clashes, disagreements and acrimonious splits with Vince. When WWE bought back ECW they made the call to place Heyman in charge… but of course, Vince had to get his two-pence in… and as you can imagine it, as always, didn’t end well. Not long after December To Dismember ended WWE put up a statement on their website saying that Vince McMahon had sent Paul Heyman home as a result of “slumping television ratings and a disgruntled talent roster”. It has been widely reported since that the two came to heads on a plane ride to the an arena for an upcoming show, and after the production meeting was over Heyman was escorted out of the arena and thus immediately fired from the ECW creative team after Vince had blamed Heyman for the terrible feedback the PPV had received. Shortly after this, following a meeting with both Vince and Stephanie McMahon, Heyman went home from the company but remained under contract. The meeting apparently was much of what you’d expect; Vince and Heyman going back and forth, Vince angry at the PPV being terrible and Heyman countering with complaints about the limits Vince put on him as ECW’s head. As with every case of this sort in history Vince MCMAHON got his way, and Heyman was sent home. Although Vince and the WWE persisted for some years after this with the idea of ECW being a 3rd brand to go along with Raw and SmackDown the show would go through many, MANY personnel changes in the big on screen roles and backstage creative positions, but it never EVER got even close to being a respected 3rd brand. The final episode of WWE ECW would air on February 16th 2010. It was replaced in its time-slot by a new reality/competition based show in an attempt to find the next big WWE star, the new show would be called ‘NXT’. 


In the 2006 Wrestling Observer Newsletter year-end awards, WWE ECW’s December to Dismember PPV was voted the “worst major wrestling show of the year”.

This was THE worst WWE PPV I have ever seen.

Josh. 

 

 

 

 

 

NXT moves to the USA Network: EVERYTHING you need to know!!!

N

So it’s official then… on August 20th 2019 the announcement was made that from the September 18th edition onwards that NXT will now be a 2 hour LIVE weekly show, but still coming each week from Full Sail University.

“The move to USA Network provides an opportunity to deepen our relationship with NBC Universal and further build the NXT brand… Over the long term, our goal is to develop a following that can be monetized to the same level as our flagship programs, Raw and SmackDown”. – Vince McMahon (as quoted in the article on WWE.com that accompanied the announcement).

So as someone who has absolutely adored NXT ever since I first set eyes on TakeOver: Dallas in 2016 we have become accustomed so almost being scared of what Vince and the main roster could do with superstars that Triple H has molded into megastars during their time at the PC and in the Black and Gold brand… only for them to become a laughing stock on Raw and SmackDown… Bobby Roode was NXT Champion, Robert Roode is a joke… and that’s just one example… ALTHOUGH… times are certainly changing and with the recent success of the likes of Ricochet and Drew McIntyre on Raw maybe the days of all NXT stars being wasted on main roster might be over? And whereas when it was first rumoured some time back I was very nervous about my beloved NXT being opened up to the wider world, and ruined… now it’s happening we are in a position where I’m actually very excited about what this could mean for the future of NXT. It would appear that the idea of ‘call-ups’ from NXT to the main roster seems to be over, just to keep NXT strong you’d think. We used to see the top NXT stars after each big 4 ppv ascend and often do so before their time in NXT seemed to be done, leaving NXT in somewhat of a whole creatively. We had the 6 NXT call ups last year seemingly out of the blue, then we had that weird time when Gargano and Ciampa were on the main roster for 5 minutes until Ciampa got hurt. And Aleister Black and Ricochet were on all 3 brands for a large part of the build to WrestleMania season. But now NXT is definitely the 3rd brand you would think a lot more talent will be staying in NXT for longer. And that for me is a GREAT thing. No need to call people up for the sake of it, and certainly if they are not ready as going up months too early has killed the main roster careers of some people before they seem to get started (Apollo Crews and Lacey Evans come to mind). I’m not too sure about NXT staying at Full Sail, but I think the venue seeming to be ridden of atmosphere in some NXT episodes was more down to the fans having sat through many hours of tapped shows than the venue itself. So now it’s more a 2 hour live show each week I’m sure will see the loyal crowd be able to retain their energy for the majority of each episode. The crowd are usually really good at the start of tapings so lets hope they keep this up and remain as hot for the weekly live shows.

I think with NXT going big time now and being in a position where it is credible enough to be on a mainstream TV network, credit has to be given to Triple H. NXT is his brainchild and he has molded and guided its direction every step of the way from its purely developmental territory origins, to the stage now where it is essentially a WWE-independent promotion full of the best talents from around the world and with every TakeOver show being consistently great. I guess we know now why he was seemingly overlooked for the recent jobs at Raw and SmackDown given to Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff. If NXT is seen as Triple H’s ‘trial run’ ahead of him taking over from his father-in-law as head of Raw and SmackDown in the future then this will be the most testing period of his time in charge of the Black and Gold brand. Triple H himself even said on a Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast that a 3rd hour of TV each week was increasingly difficult to write for and manage, so how will his own creative process have to change now that they will be doing a 2 hour weekly show as opposed to a set of tapings every other month or so.

“Can’t describe this announcement in any other word than PROUD. Proud of everyone involved from day one. Proud you’ve let your voice be heard and carried the banner of this brand. Proud you’ve loudly & clearly said #WeAreNXT. And I’m proud to say, we’re just getting started.” – Triple H on Twitter.

With NXT looking to be going head-to-head each with AEW’s TV show I think it’s wise to have it start a few weeks before AEW begins in October (the head start can only be a good thing), but I also think a lot of people who would’ve watched the AEW show will also watch NXT now, so right away that will take some of their potential audience away, so wise choice again from WWE. Lets just hope Vince does leave the running of the NXT shows to Triple H and his crew to run and McMahon and Kevin Dunn keep well away. You can be sure though that if we get to a stage where AEW are beating NXT in the ratings then Vince just wont be able to help himself but to get involved. Don’t be too surprised if we see Roman Reigns or Randy Orton pop up at Full Sail in the future… We’re definitely now in a wrestling war, and the prospect of WWE NXT vs AEW is something that excites me greatly. Already in recent weeks we have seen both Raw and SmackDown dramatically raise their game in terms of quality of shows, and SummerSlam was the best WWE main roster PPV for a LONG long time. So WWE is well on the up now with their biggest competition in 20 years in its early days of existence. Plus… WWE have The Fiend… so that trumps everything AEW have right??? One thing is for sure that AEW are going to fire back HARD with their next big PPV on August 31st ALL OUT being headlined by the potential crowning of some guy called CHRIS JERICHO as their first World Champion and other featured bouts including Cody vs Shawn Spears (IDK who he is, but he’s a PERFECT TEN and a ‘good hand’ I’ve heard…) and also Kenny Omega up against some guy called ‘Jon Moxley’… who apparently is a big deal…

Congrats to @WWENXT for making the big move to the @USA_Network! Runners always race faster when somebody is right behind them. Gonna be fun to see which team the world decides to join! #ChooseJericho @AEWrestling @AEWonTNT – AEW wrestler Chris Jericho on Twitter.

There is of course the one ace in their pack AEW could always play on August 31st that would again blow WWE away and change the landscape of the wrestling war… it all depends on if a certain former WWE Champion that just so happens to be born and bred from Chicago Illinois… if that man decides he wants to end his self imposed exile from wresting, and remind us all again why he is the real BEST IN THE WORLD… we can dream cant we?

I think one thing we can definitely say is that NXT’s days as the ‘developmental’ brand of WWE appear to be officially over. As I’ve said the show will now be shown on the USA Network in America, but still be on the WWE Network just a few hours later. So for most we wills till be able to watch it on the WWE Network, so that’s a big plus for me as a paying subscriber. As a result of this move to two hours I will no longer be able to guarantee I will be able to watch the show with enough attention to be able to write about it properly, and certainly can’t guarantee that I can view the show in detail soon enough after it is broadcast for it to be worth me continuing to write weekly reviews of the NXT shows. Therefore, for what seems like the 10000th time in 2019, I will be changing again what I write about. One thing I will say as much as I don’t know right now what I’ll write about is that I WILL be continuing blogging about professional wrestling. For a variety of reasons nobodyisready.com has been such a great thing for me to do and I will definitely be keeping it going, but I’ll be taking a short while now to decide what I’m going to write about going forward. Having a full time job as well as a few other outside interests will all influence on what I choose in the end, and the fact WWE seems to be on the up again in that their most recent shows have genuinely been so much better than previous months it’s a really exciting time to be a fan again, and for people like me it offers so much more for me to write about.

If you do have any suggestions or ideas on what you’d like me to write about going forward feel free to let me know.

Josh. 

NXT TV: Episode 520 (14/8/2019) – Review

For those of you who haven’t really followed an NXT post-TakeOver show, this will likely follow the usual format of showing lots of video packages looking back at the TakeOver show, a few interviews and the two matches that were filmed in front of the live crowd in the arena before the TakeOver pre-show went on the air. The next set of tapings are scheduled for this Thursday (so today if you read this on the day it comes out) so normal service will be resumed next week. I wont spend much time taking about the video packages shown, I’ll just point you in the direction of my review of the show, as well as simply telling you to go to the WWE Network and see the show for yourself. It was as usual with these TakeOver shows a great one.

We opened with a full recap match by match of TakeOver: Toronto, with the Slipknot theme song of the show accompanying the video footage.

After the usual NXT intro package we were treated to a welcome return…

Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango) defeated The Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler and Wesley Black with Jaxson Ryker) 

Breezango got a heroes ovation from the crowd. After Fandango last week said their fashion sense was ‘whack’ they were in black gear this week that was not dissimilar to their old gear, just a little more… subtle… shall we say. Everything else about the act and entrance was the same as before which is cool. Forgotten Sons got a few boos but if Triple H and the rest of the bookers of NXT FORGOT them too, I don’t think anyone would remember them anytime soon. Dango hadn’t lost a step it seemed, and maybe a coincidence but Breeze looked rejuvenated. Ryker did get involved early on to cut off the Breezango momentum, and Cutler got a few nearfalls on Breeze after during their attack. Breeze fought off both men but the number soon caught up with him with Wesley Blake now legal. As Breeze went to leap to tag in Fandango he was hoisted down by Jaxson Ryker, only this time the ref caught The Forgotten Sons heavy-hitter in the act and banned him from ringside to the delight of the Toronto crowd. Not long after Breeze was able to leap to tag in his dancer of a partner, who in turn ran wild on Wesley Blake with a series of chops, and a couple of slams on Cutler before hitting a tornado DDT, and then his signature gyration of his hips to please the crowd. Fandango then went to the top only for Blake to catch him with a forearm after he had moved out the way, before carrying Fandango over to his corner, tagging in his partner, hitting a Frankensteiner followed by a diving headbutt by his partner. Tyler Breeze was able to drive the other Forgotten Son into them to stop the pinfall attempt. Not long after Fandango had got out of a possible double-team move he sent Wesley Blake and Cutler to the outside of the ring, tagged in Tyler Breeze and then hit an amazing tope con giro dive to the outside. he then put Blake back in the ring, tagged himself in from Breeze who had Blake held over his knees for Dango to then strike Blake (leaving him laying helpless over Breeze’s knees), and then Fandango did a springboard elbow drop for the pinfall. I don’t know if they used to do this move but it looked unique to me and one if they keep it going could really become something. Anyway Breezango get the babyface pop after their return win and Fandango did all the dancing stuff that the crowd joined in with and had enjoyed a lot. The Forgotten Sons? Christ I don’t even know for them anymore, this is not a good act and they’re not booked strong AT ALL…

Video recap of the NXT North American title match from TakeOver. This was followed by an interview with Cathy Kelley talking to Pete Dunne. He was not happy and thought he should be standing here starting his next title reign and said if it wasn’t for Velveteen stropping the ref from counting the three he’d have the North American Championship hanging out his mouth right now. It would appear the Pete Dunne pursuit of the North American title isn’t over.

Jordan Myles was seen warming up ahead of the final of the Breakout tournament in the main event of the show.

Video recap of the Breakout tournament (the same one that was shown last week).

We were shown highlights of the NXT tag title match form TakeOver. Fish and O’Reilly where then spoken to backstage by Cathy Kelley after their loss. In short, they were not happy. They made a point of showing a slow-motion replay form the match which shows O’Reilly tagging out to Bobby Fish during the match (well he was thrown into him and Fish fell off the apron so it’s a questionable tag, but one that would be enough for them to use), but it ended up being O’Reilly who was pinned. This would appear to be how they are going to set up the rematch for the next tapings I would presume.

We were shown an AWESOME video package titled ‘DESCENT INTO DARKNESS’ looking at the recent events that have seen Io Shirai turn heel. The video package was shown to the song ‘Scary Mask’ by Poppy featuring FEVER 333, which was the other TakeOver: Toronto theme song. This was excellent. Where this all leads to for Io other than her decimating the babyface NXT Women’s roster I don’t know… the NXT Women’s champion begin the other top heel in the division complicates things, but regardless seeing Io destroy various women each week is going to be great.

After we saw a recap of her win over Mia Yim, Shayna Baszler was interview by… CATHY KELLEY (who I hope is getting paid per interview for this episode). She was asked if any other competitor had pushed her as hard as Mia Yim did (erm… maybe Kairi Sane who a year ago actually pinned Shayna for the title perhaps???)… Shayna simply replied with “and still”.

We were shown exclusive footage of the NXT Championship match from Toronto.

They recapped Matt Riddle coming out at TakeOver to call out Killian Dain and the brawl between the two that ensued. Their match will finally happen on next week’s NXT.

Jordan Myles defeated Cameron Grimes to win the NXT Breakout Tournament 

I’ve been a little critical of this tournament so far. I’ve not liked the formulaic structure of the matches, they’ve done little in the way that has made these guys come across as big stars, and the two guys who have stood out to me the most as having potential (Dexter Lumis and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott) both got beat. Much like the rest of the tournament this match was just OK… the crowd were pretty silent throughout most of the match. As always they started with the basic grappling exchanges, before they went to the outside where Grimes got the advantage. Myles eventually made his comeback and later hit a big crossbody off the top for a 2 count. Cameron Grimes hit an Orange Crush for a nearfall, Jordan Myles got a modified Uranage with a bridging German suplex for a nearfall of his own. They exchanged moves in a decent exchange after until Myles hit a brainbuster before going to the top for a Midnight Star 450 splash for the 3 count and the win. Myles wins the tournament and is now guaranteed an NXT Championship opportunity for a title of his choice. NXT GM William Regal then came out to congratulate him whilst also presenting him with his contract for that future title opportunity. The show ended with Myles looking very happy with his newly won contract.

Come back next week for a normal episode of NXT featuring Killian Dain vs Matt Riddle. It will be the first from the tapings happening this week so we will get the follow up to NXT TakeOver: Toronto. I really am not sure what direction they will be heading in with regards to who next for Shayna (considering both Yim and LeRae suffered losses in Toronto) and as for the NXT Championship it was made clear that Cole vs Gargano 3 was the end of that feud. And given the ovation and farewell given to the fallen challenger after TakeOver had ended, could we even see an NXT goodbye speech by one of the brands greatest ever servants. All will be revealed over the next few weeks, but as always in NXT I trust.

Josh. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NXT TakeOver: Toronto 2019 – Review

With so many possible scenarios and permutations going in to the show NXT TakeOver: Toronto 2019 had the potential to be one of the most unpredictable and fascinating shows for some time. Headlined by Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era’s quest to be draped in Gold by the end of the evening, as well as a women’s title match and a potential show stealing match between two of the best female wrestler’s on the planet. It promised to be a heck of a show. It as always did not disappoint.

KICK OFF SHOW

The panel of Charly Caruso, Sam Roberts (who this time wasn’t as intolerable as usual in his role as the heel analyst) and the ever-improving Pat McAfee (who was wearing a denim jacket as well as a denim shirt combo with the jacket having his name sewn onto it). They previewed the upcoming show and the card in full. The main thing to come from the kick off show was the reveal that the third fall for the main event would be some form of steel cage with weapons emblazoned on its walls for the two men to inflict suffering to one another with. This is going to be something else!

MAIN SHOW

We began with a promo video being played on the titantron as the Slipknot theme song for the show being played.

Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) (C) defeated Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship 

Street Profits came out first and got a good pop. Era came out after and got maybe a bigger one (partly down to O’Reilly being Canadian I’d presume). This was a great match and really picked up towards the end and the crowd matched the level of the in-ring action with the noise they made. The crowd seemed split between the two teams throughout with duelling chants. Dawkins and O’Reilly tried to out-mock one another during the opening exchanges, Ford (who was absolutely fantastic in this match and gave off the impression he could be a big singles star someday) was eventually tagged in as Street Profits began to work over Bobby Fish’s arm. They had some really good back and forth double team moves, Dawkins got a hot streak of moves before being eventually outnumbered. Eventually Ford got in and hit a big lariat and then a standing moonsault (which for a built, 6 foot 4 guy was a hell of a feat). Montez then hit a spinebuster and , appeared to tease and set up a People’s Elbow, only for Kyle O’Reilly to grab his leg when Ford was running the ropes. Later on Fish & O’Reilly hit a cool ddt – German suplex double team move, and not long after Fish hit a big exploder off the top rope and O’Reilly followed this up with a big knee drop before locking in a leg submission. Dawkins jumped in to break up the hold, and later ran wild after getting tagged in, and with the help of Ford they hit a ‘Doomsday Blockbuster’ on Kyle O’Reilly that got a 2 count with Bobby Fish making the save. A huge brawl followed involving all 4 men, and after that Montez Ford flew over the ropes for a tope con giro, that again for a fairly tall guy to do was a really cool visual. Back in the ring (with the crowd at fever pitch by now) Angelo Dawkins followed up on his spot in their title win at the last TakeOver with spears again here to both Fish & O’Reilly. This allowed for Montez Ford to climb up and hit a big frog splash on Kyle O’Reilly for the CLEAN win. Street Profits retain and this now really legitimises them as very credible champions. As per usual with NXT tag title matches and TakeOver show openers, this was a good, good match.

****1/4

They showed my favourite man called Trevor (and yours) in the crowd, aka Ricochet. He, shockingly enough, was well liked.

Io Shirai defeated Candice LeRae 

I’m delighted to write this was a good match. Heel Io Shirai came out and had me swooning I’ll just say that… She was the scariest heel I’ve seen in the women’s division for some time and when you think of just how much a contrast that is from the Genius of the sky mega-babyface she was before you have to credit her skills as a versatile performer. Candice was Candice in that she played the fighting babyface who is a good wrestler to an exceptional standard. It was nice to see LeRae be the one to take the fight to Shirai as she attacked Io before the bell had rung. Eventually Io suplexed Candice onto one of the announce tables which did not look fun to take. Io took charge of the match from here on, until she missed an attempt at a missile drop kick and LeRae got back into it. She got an octopus lock in and then blocked an attempted 619 and followed up with a neckbreaker. However Io Shirai did hit the 619, and not long after in an amazing spot Candice went flying to the outside of the ring with a tope which turned into a ddt to the floor that looked awesome. Candice hit a double footstomp for a nearfall, then another via a reverse-rana, before a 3rd near pin that came after she hit a move associated with her indie tag team partner Joey Ryan, which if you knew was a nice touch. The crowd popped big for Io hitting a top rope Spanish Fly, only for Candice to kick out of the pin. Io then countered a backslide attempt from Candice into a backbreaker. Shirai then went to the top and hit her Moonsault finisher… but CANDICE KICKED OUT!!! The crowd popped big for that as I think they thought, and us watching on the TV all assumed also, that Candice was going to get the win. But not long after Io locked in the Koji Clutch and Candice eventually passed out and Jessica Carr the ref rang the bell. The crowd were gutted their hero Candice didn’t win but they were totally invested into this match. Io Shirai came off as a megastar heel here and if Shayna was to lose the title you could easily see Io holding it for just as long and being just as unbeatable. Candice was also very good here. This was the best women’s match I’ve seen this year and one of the best women’s matches I’ve seen for a while.

****1/2

After this we had Matt Riddle come out through the crowd and call out Killian Dain. Eventually the Belfast beast came out and the two brawled all over the place. Lots of officials and security people came out to try and separate them. The brawl came to a dramatic conclusion with Dain hitting almost like a crossbody that sent Riddle and one of the ‘officials’ crashing through a load of tables that were at the areas below and next to the entrance ramp. I liked this as it got these two on the show in some form and teased what I’m sure is going to be a real war when they eventually have the match for real.

Evolve Champion Austin Theory was pictured in the crowd… Hmmm…

Velveteen Dream (C) defeated Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne in a triple threat match to retain the NXT North American Championship

Dream’s entrance saw a number of people come out dressed as Canadian wrestling legend… THE MOUNTIE as THE MOUNTIE’S theme song blared out… until order was restored and the performers took off their outfits to reveal they were dancers of the local championship winning Basketball team the Toronto Rapters. Naturally this got Dream an even bigger babyface pop. Strong and Dunne more so got good pops coming out. They did a number of spots where two of the three would double team the other. Strong at one stage hit multiple backbreaker-type moves to both men, Dream got a giant pop by doing the sharpshooter to Roderick Strong, but Dunne broke it up with a double drop kick. After Strong went to the outside Pete Dunne hit a big moonsault to the floor. After exchanges between the three there was a spot where Strong and Dunne were on the top rope and exchanged who seemed in charge, before Dream joined them and it resulted in both Strong and Dunne crashing to the floor whilst Dream was also sent flying as Dunne had grabbed Dream by his fingers and launched him off the top as well. In another great spot Pete Dunne had Strong in a triangle hold in the corner of the ring, but Velveteen Dream broke it up by leaping from the top of the opposite turnbuckle and hitting a diving elbow to Strong. Strong later had his StrongHold submission on both men at the same time, Dream tried to outdo him but failed in trying a double Dream Valley Driver, but Dunne was able to hit a double signature move hitting both men simultaneously with the finger break spot. Dunne looked to have the match won with a Bitter End but Dream stopped the pin. They all hit a series of big moves on one another and the finish came about when Strong hit the End of Heartache to Dunne but Velveteen came flying in with his big elbow drop and this sent Strong off of Dunne and Dream manoeuvred himself into position for the pin. Three way matches can sometimes but clusterfucks but this was great fun. The three guys, who I noted could not have had more different routes to where they are now in the business if they tried, all mixed really well. Three big crowd favourites really put on a show and the most over guy of the three got the win. Undisputed Era’s quest to be draped in Gold was failing at an alarming rate so far. This was a really good match.

****1/2 

Shayna Baszler (C) defeated Mia Yim to retain the NXT Women’s Championship 

Yim came out accompanied with a load of people all wearing her backwards cap and a bandana covering her face get-up. Shayna appeared to once again get the only proper heel ovation from the crowd during a TakeOver show. This was a proper fight between two women who had a really personal build up so it made sense they’d be extremely physical with one another. After the early grappling spilled to the outside of the ring Yim trapped Baszler’s arm between the ring post and the steel steps, and then she kicked the steps so that her arm got the full brunt of being trapped between the two obstacles. Baszler would get her own back by targeting an arm of Yim throughout. They really just exchanged strikes and submission attempts in what, with both women hurt and selling arm injuries, became a battle of who could survive the longest. After Yim had gained a nearfall from an avalanche Code Red Shayna almost immediately tried to lock in the Kirifuda Clutch… but as Yim had attacked Shayna’s arm all match Yim was able to grapple her way out of the hold. And in a call back to Baszler’s signature spot Mia Yim then stomped on Shayna’s injured arm. Yim further targeted the champion’s arm with an Armbar, only for Shayna to again get the clutch locked in… but again Yim was able to get out of the weakened Baszler’s hold. So because Shayna was too hurt to beat Yim using her arms, she moved into a head scissors that Yim couldn’t get out of so she was forced to tap out. This was great booking for me as it came across as very logical thinking from Shayna and something that you’d think she’d do if this were a shoot. I like when stuff makes sense and is logical. This was not on the level of the other women’s match on the card, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be and I’m not saying this was a bad match by any means. In fact this match was good. We did not see either of Marina Shafir or Jessamyn Duke (who had both been taken out by Yim in the build to this match in recent weeks) at any point.

***3/4 

Ahead of their main event match at the NXT UK TakeOver show at the end of the month both UK Champion Walter and his challenger Tyler Bate were pictured at ringside in the crowd.

Adam Cole (C) defeated Johnny Gargano in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match to retain the NXT Championship 

I may be wrong but I feel there’s going to be a lot of different opinions from people who saw this match. But as always I’m going to give my review and opinion and my view only and you can make what you want of it. So… Gargano came out with Wolverine inspired gear. Adam Cole as the “heel” champion maybe got the biggest ovation of the show. It was made very clear in the build up that this would be the definitive end of these two’s rivalry, and it ended in a way that would be befitting of that. The first fall would be a classic one on one wrestling match. I didn’t take an awful lot of notes on this one as I was just so emotionally invested in it… and as I’ll get into a lot went down and it was a LONG match. So the first fall was unsurprisingly just a good wrestling match between two men who in their first two matches put on the two best WWE matches this year by a mile and two of the best in company history. The finish of fall one was fascinating, Cole went to the outside and got a steel chair, and after the ref had his back turned to get rid of the chair Cole just punt kicked Gargano low, however Gargano kicked out at 2. The first fall came to an end when Cole was arguing with the ref about the chair and turned around into a big superkick by Gargano. And then Gargano used the chair and hit Cole with it! So Adam Cole had won the first fall by DQ. It quickly became clear that Gargano had in mind that he would sacrifice the first fall in order to get more of a head start and just beatdown Cole in the second fall. As the announcer explained the second fall was a street fight Gargano now (legally) attacked Cole with a load of chair shots. Cole rolled to the outside for mercy, so Gargano just launched the chair right into Cole’s face which even sat in my BAY BAY t shirt made me laugh out loud. After Gargano took Cole right around the arena and through the crowd beating him up the two made it back to the ringside area. Gargano jumped into Cole with a crossbody and they crashed through the barricade. Cole then took them both to the nearby announce table, but Gargano countered with a backdrop that sent Cole crashing through the adjacent announce table. Gargano got two tables and put them in the ring (bare this in mind as you read on). Cole hit a shining wizard, followed by a Ushigoroshi on a chair for a near fall. After in frustration Cole wedged a chair in one of the corners of the ring, only for Gargano to use that to his own advantage by picking Cole up and launching him into the chair. After this Gargano locked in the Gargano escape to level the match at a fall a piece. And so now was the time for the weapon filled cage… I’m not even sure how I go about explaining just how much chaos happened so I’ll do my best to say the highlights in some form of order (should also note that it was announced that this fall could only be won by pinfall or submission and NOT by escaping the cage): They exchanged kendo stick shots, Gargano jumped down from a ladder to hit a hurricanrana, Cole was hit with a superkick whilst sat in a chair, Gargano sprayed Cole in the face with a fire extinguisher before jumping down for a ddt that got a nearfall, Gargano with more kendo stick shots and then got hit with a superkick after bringing a sledgehammer (that garnered a Triple H chant from the crowd), Cole got two nearfalls after Gargano twice kicked out of the Panama Sunrise, Gargano locked in a crossface with the help of a kendo stick but Cole would BITE Gargano’s hand to break the submission, Gargano got a nearfall with a top rope Canadian Destroyer, Gargano retrieved wire cutters and climbed the cage before cutting a piece of the barbed wire that was across the top of the cage, Cole saw this and tried to escape somehow, they made their way to a side of the cage that conveniently has some form of platform set up so they could stand on it level with the top of the cage… Now, remember those tables Gargano had bought in earlier? They were by now set up side by side and below the platform the two men were now stood on! Gargano tried to rake Cole with the barbed wire, but the commotion sent them both crashing through the tables below in what was a horrific looking bump, and one of those tables split into a gazillion pieces. Cole was the one who was able to put his arm over Gargano and that got him the pin. Gargano was flat out and pretty much didn’t move at all after. Cole’s back looked in terrible shape and I think it may have been splinters that cut his back up. Strong, Fish and O’Reilly came out after to help their victorious yet battered leader to his feet as the show closed with Era together at the top of the ramp with Gargano still flat out in the ring. This match went FORTY SIX MINUTES, the first fall was simply a great wrestling match, the 2nd more of a brawl and the third was just weapon spot after weapon spot with a horrible looking spot to end it. I don’t think it was of the level of their two previous matches, but that’s an incredibly difficult standard to live up to and nonetheless this was a great match.

****3/4

In has since emerged that after the show went off the air a lot of officials as well as his wife Candice LeRae came out to try and help Gargano to his feet. NXT General Manager William Regal also came out to embrace Gargano. Regal raised Gargano’s arm at the top of the entrance ramp to allow Gargano to soak in the standing ovation he deserved. I think you can figure out what this looks like… keep an eye out the next three nights of shows in WWE…

Overall this was yet another great TakeOver with 5 matches that were all varying levels of good. This was a star making night for the Street Profits as well as both Io Shirai as a heel and Candice LeRae as a great wrestler. I’m a little lost as to what the future of the NXT Championship will be as with Gargano having now seemingly been removed from title contention, Dream still North American Champion and Matt Riddle having Killian Dain to deal with I couldn’t pick who will face the champion next now… Same for Shayna Baszler as champion too. But overall another job well done by NXT.

Josh. 

NXT TakeOver: Toronto 2019 – Preview

Again before a big 4 PPV we have an NXT TakeOver show. Again the card is STACKED. Again it’s going to be a great show. AGAIN I, and this show more than ever, I really don’t know who’s going to win which I guess makes it all the more fun. So lets get into it, here’s my preview of NXT TakeOver’s return to Toronto!

NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) (C) 

NXT have had a recent history of TakeOver shows opening with the Tag Title match. And they’ve all been great. And I don’t think this will be any different. Street Profits finally got their big babyface moment at TakeOver 25, and whilst they’ve been a great act and solid champions I just think that sometimes you have to sacrifice things for the greater good, and booking-wise, as you will see with my later predictions, this factors in to a wider storyline. For so long now Adam Cole has mentioned that Undisputed Era will be ‘draped in gold’ and hold all the titles in NXT. And part of the reason I think it could happen given their various opponents is because of how over as babyfaces they are. I don’t think the NXT universe are going to suddenly stop cheering Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins if they were to lose to Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly (ideally via some form of interference or cheating, which is a theme I’d like to see for the night). Kyle O’Reilly is from Canada so that’d help the crowd reaction, not that Undisputed Era ever get anything but a great crowd reactions at TakeOver shows but still. And even if Era didn’t win here it’d not only be interesting story-wise but be a massive win to legitimize the Street Profits even more so. But I’m not sitting on the fence and I’m letting my heart decide my prediction. One thing that is for sure is this match will be great. I think they’re going to do it. I hope they do. Undisputed Era will finally have their night where by the end of it they will all be DRAPPED IN GOLD!!! #drapedingold

Prediction: Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly become the new NXT Tag Team Champions

Candice LeRae vs Io Shirai 

After the ‘Genuis Of The Sky’ became the EVIL of the sky following her attack on her former ally Candice LeRae these two have since taken part in a series of aggressive confrontations and segments. And although it was originally rumoured that the Breakout Stars Tournament Final was apparently going to be on this show, we now have the pleasure of seeing two of the finest female wrestlers in the world go at it on the grand stage of NXT TakeOver. What a time to be alive! It has been YEARS since we had two women’s matches on a TakeOver show, and for sure the crowd will be hot for this one. They booed Io for a full EIGHT MINUTES when they tapped her first segment of her as a heel, and Candice is immensely popular with the NXT fandom everytime she’s at Full Sail. As far as a prediction goes I’ve during the course of this week changed my mind for this one… I think Candice takes it. Although the old school booking would make you think the recently turned-heel should win here, in my opinion Candice is next to take on Baszler for the title, and therefore I think she could do with a big TakeOver win. As for Io you could easily have her get her heat back with a beatdown either after the match, or at the next set of tapings. This is going to be fantastic if given the time, which on a TakeOver I would think they will be. Fingers crossed.

Prediction: Candice LeRae 

NXT North American Championship: Roderick Strong vs Pete Dunne vs Velveteen Dream (C) 

I think Dream has been a great champion and the whole idea of a mid-card title in NXT was made for people like Dream. Someone who is as over as anyone on the roster, but doesn’t quite fit into the NXT Championship picture. I’m already excited to see what form of entrance and special ring gear he wears (full Bret Hart cosplay ideally but given his recent AEW appearance I’d presume not, so maybe someone like Edge). Equally Pete Dunne is long overdue his run on NXT US as opposed to the UK show. Sure NXT UK has so much talent but I always presumed the long term idea was that we’d have NXT’s all over the world and that the US show would be the main one where the best talents from the NXT’s around the world could graduate to. Pete Dunne deserved his ‘call up’ based on his Walter match in New York alone, he’s got history with Roderick Strong of course given it was Dunne who Strong originally turned on to join the Undisputed Era… but I don’t think he needs to win here. And so that leaves us with Roderick Strong. Everything logic wise suggests Strong shouldn’t even be in this match, he lost to Matt Riddle at the last TakeOver and tapped out to Pete Dunne on a recent NXT episode. It seems logical that if anyone is going to ruin Adam Cole’s proclamation that Era would be ‘draped in gold’ it would be Strong. They teased a dissension in the ranks between Strong and Cole around TakeOver New York time but that seemed to be squashed when Cole won the title. But if and when they do split it seems obvious that it’d be Strong who would break up the group. And part of my prediction plays into the next TakeOver show, which I’ll get into more when I discuss the main event, but at the end of the day it’s all part of the main point of this show… in my opinion… #drappedingold

Prediction: Roderick Strong wins becomes the new NXT North American Champion

NXT Women’s Championship: Mia Yim vs Shayna Baszler (C)

So this is the match where everything logic and pattern wise goes out the window. I just can’t see Mia being the one to dethrone Shayna. It’ll be a fine match I think given they are irl friends, and with it Yim’s TakeOver debut and the fact that Shayna seems to always rise to the occasion at these shows I think in-ring it’ll be good. I don’t think Mia Yim, as good as she is, is the right woman to take the title from Shayna. But at the same time we are kind of short now given Shirai has turned heel of potential and credible babyface challengers to Baszler. If there is a way to have Shayna win but in a way where Yim was wronged you could have them go again at the next TakeOver and then have Candice LeRae be next up to take on The Queen of Spades? Now here’s the logic that I’m going to disregard; always on these shows we usually have a 3-2 of babyface to heel or heel to babyface wins. And (spoiler alert) I have 4 heels and just 1 babyface going over on this show… so to retain the normal 3-2 face/heel or heel/face wins MAYBE you could have Yim shock everyone and get the title here, and then drop it back to Shayna at a later date… maybe… But I don’t see why you’d do that as it’d only hurt Shayna to me and take away from the moment and the woman who is finally the one to take the title once and for all.

Prediction: Shayna Baszler retains

NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano vs Adam Cole (C) – 2 out of 3 Falls Match (Fall 1 is a singles match, Fall 2 is a Street Fight and Fall 3 is TBD by NXT General Manager William Regal) 

Now you could say that maybe they’ll have Fish & O’Reilly and then Roderick Strong do their bit and the plot-twist be that their great leader be the one to fuck up his own proclamation. That’d be interesting right? Well, yes but they’ve made a point of saying over and over that this is IT… Cole vs Gargano 3 will be their final match against one another. So that makes me think Cole is more likely to win. I don’t know what story you could tell with Gargano after so perhaps he’d be done in NXT with a loss here? And I’ve got this wild theory/dream/idea for the next TakeOver show that directly comes from the Undisputed Era being ‘DRAPED IN GOLD’ after this show. So… the next TakeOver (not til November but bare with me) is once again going to be headlined by a War Games match… last year we had a 4 on 4 War Games featuring the Undisputed Era against a tag team and 2 singles stars… now… maybe… just maybe… we could have The Undisputed Era (the NXT Champion Adam Cole, the North American Champion Roderick Strong and the NXT Tag Team Champions Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) on one team and then any 4 against them. You could put the titles on the line but for the result I want and think would make sense it’d make more sense to just do a War Games match without the titles up for grabs. So THIS is when and how I’d have the Undisputed Era begin to implode, you’d have Strong lose the fall for the champions team. The next TakeOver you have the Era individually defend their titles against their respected War Games match counterparts. Hypothetically maybe Street Profits, Velveteen Dream and maybe Matt Riddle could be the opposing team, but I don’t think it’s as important who they faced as long as it made sense at the time. But I’m firmly pinning my colours to the mast, and it may all fuck up and sure there’s lots of things you could do and ways you could have Adam Cole’s grand plan be fucked up somehow. But I think the better long term story starts with them having their big night on this show… BAY BAY #drapedingold

Prediction: Adam Cole retains

So… I don’t think I need to let you all know after you’ve read my blog that this show is going to be great. But I’ll say that this is the most unpredictable TakeOver show for some time, and I think that makes it the most exciting show going into it for a long time. The one certainty is that it’ll be memorable!

One final thing I’d like to whisper before I sign off with regards to Cole winning, someone needing to get redemption for him perhaps, and what on earth this mystery third fall could be or involve, and the potential interference of the Undisputed Era in the Cole vs Gargano 3 match, and who next for Cole if this is indeed the end of his rivalry with Gargano, and Matt Riddle (who looked to be the long term next in line before he began his feud getting beat up by Killian Dain) being just not in the spot to challenge Cole anytime soon…

If only Gargano had a friend who has a personal interest in the NXT Championship with some unfinished business…

If only…

Josh. 

NXT TV: Episode 519 (7/8/2019) – Review

NXT Tag Team Championship Match contract signing 

NXT General Manager William Regal opened the show this week in the ring. He would then introduce the champions the Street Profits, who came out to a typically big reaction. After they danced and jived their way to the ring as only they can Regal went to introduce their opponents, before Angelo Dawkins stopped him. He said he thought  they could give this team a proper introduction, Montez Ford then did the Road Dogg New Age Outlaws intro… but instead called the Undisputed Era “the next tag team, to get their ass whopped, by the Street Profits”. Ford also called them “O’Reilly Auto Parts and Laurence Fishburne Jr” … the crowd loved this and so did I. I want to believe that Road Dogg, who now works for NXT backstage, had a personal involvement with this segment but regardless this was great. Fish and O’Reilly did then come out, Fish looking very serious and O’Reilly rocking out as always. Ford was dancing the whole time to the Era theme song. As Bobby Fish went to speak Full Sail played their part and chanted “Auto Parts”… Fish and O’Reilly said the Street Profits weren’t on their level, but for the first time in their careers the autographs of theirs were in demand, and they stand no chance of leaving TakeOver with their titles around their waists. Fish went on to say not only are they better than them, but bell-to-bell they are funnier than them (which in the case of Kyle O’Reilly may actually be true). O’Reilly was then prodded into telling a joke he told Fish previously, O’Reilly said the joke was the Street Profits are the NXT Tag Team Champions. Ford and Dawkins went full OTT in hysterics at this… then they got serious with the best change of facial expression I’ve ever seen. Ford, in a much more slow and meaningful tone that normal, put over Fish and O’Reilly’s accomplishments in NXT thus far and their position in the brand, they said they had possibly beaten every tag team in NXT history (Dawkins mentioned AOP, Sanity, Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan, and even Moustache Mountain by name). Dawkins said you guys are possibly the best tag team in NXT ever (Potentially given match quality… but I think The Revival may argue that point)… Ford then questioned what makes them think losing is an option? That now they are featured and now they see us as far as they have come in their lives that losing is an option (Ford was proper fired up at this stage and was practically shouting), there’s only one option and that is to win, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN WIN…! Dawkins said at TakeOver: Toronto the Street Profits ‘gone beat this ass… and that is Undisputed!’. Street Profits then signed the contract before Fish and O’Reilly did too. Street Profits music played as they had a tense stare-down with their opponents as they left the ring, their was no physicality between the two teams. This was really good.

They played a video package looking ahead to the triple threat match for the North American title at TakeOver between the champion Velveteen Dream, the Undisputed era’s Roderick Strong and the former UK Champion Pete Dunne. SPOILER ALERT: that match might just be really good…

They later played a video previewing Shayna Baszler defending her NXT Women’s Championship against Mia Yim at TakeOver. Sure it’s a stacked card and you might be able to argue this the weakest match, but I still think it’ll be good and their irl friendship should mean they know eachother in the ring really well and they put on a great match. Baszler is usually one who really raises her game at the big TakeOver shows and Yim has been around long enough to be able to put on a good match with anyone.

Shane Thorne defeated Joaquin Wilde 

So Shane Thorne was the guy who came out and slatted the Breakout Tournament before, and questioned why there wasn’t such a tournament when he came to NXT? There’s also been a few social media clips saying the same sort of thing. So you would think he’d come out here and get upset by the “rookie” right? That’s what you’d think, and he’d come across as a GEEK… but no, Thorne got the win here. I was pleasantly surprised, not that I think much of Thorne anyway but losing after all he’s said would’ve just made him look silly. Wilde taunted Thorne early on in the match and seemed to have the advantage, until Thorne his a big brainbuster. Wilde got back into it after a springboard back elbow and then a powerbomb for a 2 count. The two then got into a real brawl, with Wilde hitting a kick and the a tope con giro (essentially he dived onto him over the ropes). Thorne teased that he was willing to take the count out, before he tripped Wilde on the ring apron and then launched him into the steel ring steps. Thorne then continued the beatdown back in the ring before eventually taking mercy with a running knee strike for the win. This was fine, but the crowd was about as dead and bored watching it as I was…

They played… yep you guessed it… a PREVIEW VIDEO… this time looking at Io Shirai vs Candice LeRae, which really could steel the show and the entire weekend in Toronto. Heel Io Shirai is everything I didn’t know I needed in my life until I found it.

They played a tribute video to Harley Race, who passed away recently. No jokes or gimmicks from me about this one, it was straight up great.

Matt Riddle vs Killian Dain 

The match never got started. Riddle came out and Dain jumped him from behind. He hit a huge crossbody and then laid in with strikes. Riddle tried to fightback but Dain cameback with a headbutt before a Cannonball as Riddle was slumped against the ring steps. As much as we’d all love to see this match happen for real, this did the job it needed to.

They played a video recapping the Breakout Tournament… urgh… the final (which will be tapped before TakeOver and shown on next week’s NXT) is between Jordan Myles and Cameron Grimes.

They recapped last week’s beatdown by The Forgotten Sons on Tyler Breeze, and then the returning Fandango (who is now officially listed as being an NXT roster member once again by the way) making the save. Cathy Kellety interviewed them after. I have missed these two together so so much, and could watch them all day. Fandango told Breeze he thinks their fashion sense is now “whack”,  he suggested to Breeze they need a makeover, Breeze said ‘like a refresher’ and Dango said it would be ‘Breezango… re-imagined’. I don’t care what they come up with but I’m already excited. Breezango vs Forgotten Sons is next week. That Toronto crowd is gonna go nuts for Breezango.

The final 15 minutes or so of the show was a video called ‘Prime Target TakeOver’ that looked and recounted the rivalry heading in to Cole vs Gargano 3. As much as we’ve had a gazillion video packages on this show it is the usual format for go-home NXT’s. And the videos have all been good and done a great job of making the whole card feel like a big deal. The one thing I have noted form this is that over and over it’s been said that this will be the absolute definitive end of this rivalry. Regal has been rather secretive about what the third fall of the match will be and says only he knows what it is… Hmmmm…. There was a great bit of the video by the way that showed Gargano in the PC offering advice to some of the talent their on moves etc. It was really cool to see. Equally as cool was seeing Gargano in a conversation with some guy called Seth Rollins… He later spoke with someone called Finn Balor… nice to see he has time for his fans…

So yes not much in the way of a show on this week’s NXT. More a long preview of TakeOver. But nonetheless if the idea of a go-home show is to sell the PPV this absolutely did its job.

Josh.