WWE In 2019 – A Year In Review

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If you are looking for notable years in the history of professional wrestling, then 2019 will be remembered as one for the ages. Outside of the WWE; we have seen the continual excellence of the in-ring product from New Japan Pro Wrestling. This was no more evident than during the annual G1 Climax tournament over the summer, which was just the most amazing collection of the most incredibly great pro wrestling matches. I’ve never seen that many great matches in such a short space of time, it changed my entire outlook on the business and raised the game to new heights. We’ve also had the re-emergence (for real this time) of Impact Wrestling as a credible company. And of course, above all else 2019 will be remembered as the year that All Elite Wrestling began and immediately became the biggest competitor for WWE since the death of WCW. Putting together a roster of the best of everyone WWE couldn’t get, AEW has presented themselves as an alternative for those fans disillusioned with WWE and those in need of ‘something different’ with their wrestling. Very quickly with the likes of the Young Bucks, Cody, Kenny Omega and their inaugural World Champion Chris Jericho we’ve seen AEW put together a very impressive roster. And following on from a fantastic first show at Double Or Nothing in May which concluded with the debut emergence of Jon Moxley (in what was maybe the best wrestling moment of the year outside of WWE in 2019) they were off to the races. And they haven’t looked back!

As for WWE… I thought a year ago writing a review of 2018 that you couldn’t get a more eventful year to follow if you tried. But 2019 has simply been incredible for good and bad, but always eventful. So in case you have been living under a rock here’s a quick summary: January: Becky and Seth won the rumble matches to set up Mania against Ronda and Brock, February: After an injury to Ali, the road to KOFImania began as he fell breathtakingly short of winning the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber, March: After Roman Reigns return from battling Leukemia The Shield reunited (again), April: WrestleMania was one of the most eventful WWE shows of all time as Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston and Becky Lynch (winning both women’s titles in the main event no less) were all big winners, and two nights before we had NXT TakeOver: New York which was widely regarded as the best WWE show of all time for the quality of matches, May: Brock Lesnar returned and won the Money in the Bank Ladder match, June: Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia was the worst WWE show of all time featuring a beyond belief bad match between The Undertaker and Goldberg, July: Brock cashed in and won back the Universal title, August: Summerslam was a brilliant WWE PPV and one of the best from the main roster for a long long time featuring Seth Rollins winning back the Universal title, a redemption for Goldberg in a brilliant squash win over Dolph Ziggler and the debut match of The Fiend, September: Sasha Banks returned with blue hair as a heel after being gone since WrestleMania, October: Seth Rollins somehow became public enemy number 1 to the IWC whilst having a terrible HIAC match against The Fiend before losing the Universal title to him in Saudi Arabia, SmackDown moved to Fox, Brock Lesnar ended KOFImania in 7 seconds, we had another WWE Draft, NXT went to two hours and the Wednesday night war began, November: NXT invaded Raw and SmackDown… and WON, December: we had TLC… . And that’s not even the half of it all, 2019 in WWE has been WILD!

So last year in my blog reviewing 2018 in WWE I tipped 5 WWE superstars for big things in the year ahead. So how did I do you ask? … Matt Riddle, Kacy Cantanzaro, Mustafa Ali, WALTER and Io Shirai.

  • Matt Riddle: With his natural charisma and unique style The Original Bro continued to evolve as a MEGAstar. He had a great match with Velveteen Dream at TakeOver: New York before a feud with Killian Dain led his to an unsuccessful challenge to Adam Cole for the NXT Championship to kick off the first full hour NXT on USA Network. He was then a key part of the NXT invasion angle for Survivor Series as well as having a great match with Finn Balor at TakeOver: War Games. A good year for Matt Riddle, BRO!
  • Kacy Cantanzaro: After an eye-catching cameo in the Women’s Royal Rumble match it seemed the very popular acrobat was finally set to become a star in NXT’s blossoming women’s division. However in the months since Kacy has only been seen a handful of times on TV and pretty much all of those have been in losing efforts and/or being squashed. And in recent months rumours have been a plenty that Cantanzaro was in fact leaving or wanting to leave the company altogether, due to or in part as a result of an ongoing injury. So whilst the potential is there as it always has been, the future for the former Ninja warrior competitor is a totally mystery.
  • Mustafa Ali: At the start of the year (the then Mustafa) Ali looked to be well on his way to at least becoming a leading contender for the WWE Championship. But where one door closes another opens and after an injury robbed him of a spot in the Elimination Chamber, which in-turn led to the rise of Kofi Kingston, the momentum and fan desire behind Ali never quite reached the same levels. Although he did get his title shot along the way he had gone back down to being just an impressive in-ring performer, but behind many on the ladder. Although just by being that he always has the potential to break out again. Certainly if I’m booking Smackdown he’d be on my list of possible babyface heroes to conquer The Fiend… perhaps…
  • WALTER: Not going to mess about, I got this one SPOT ON. WALTER came in to WWE to confront then UK Champion Pete Dunne, won the title in a classic at Takeover: New York, remains undefeated, is the leader of Imperium, had ANOTHER all-time classic with Tyler Bate in defending his UK title, and is quite simply a freaking monster. An awesome first year in WWE for the Ring General. He’s capable of accomplishing absolutely anything the WWE and he want to accomplish.
  • Io Shirai: The ability to work effectively as both a babyface and a heel is not something many in pro wrestling can master. After beginning the year as one of the mos tendering good guys in the company, Io Shirai’s heel turn on her then friend Candice LeRae has seen her raise her game to an even higher level. Probably the mos talented in-ring female performer in the company has only got better and better as a character since she went bad. Her awesome strobe lighting entrance combined with a more aggressive in-ring style all adds up to a simply incredible professional wrestler. I can only predict continual great matches and great character performances for Io in 2020, and maybe even a nice shiny belt to go with it…?

So with the 5 I picked out last year for stardom looked at, why don’t we get cracking with reviewing the year of 2019 in WWE overall shall we? I’ll be listing the best matches, moments and superstars in the company in what really has been an incredible year for WWE as a whole.


TOP 20 WWE MATCHES OF THE YEAR 2019 

Once again in 2019 we have seem some absolutely exceptional matches across the board in WWE. Picking just the 20 was very very hard but I’ve done my best to rank the absolute elite of in-ring competition shown across Raw, SmackDown, NXT and PPVs & TakeOver shows this past year. Go back and watch every single one of these matches ASAP…!!!

20. Roman Reigns vs Buddy Murphy – SmackDown 13th August – ****1/2 

The so-called ‘best kept secret’ had a real breakout performance against WWE’s top dog. Anyone ever shits on Roman’s in-ring ability should watch this match. A really good watch.

19. The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & … somebody else…) vs Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley & Drew McIntyre – Fastlane – ****1/2 

This for a couple of reasons was always going to be memorable, but as a match it was actually really good. They built to the involvement of the returning Reigns very well, and the good guys got the job done to send the fans home happy. Good work all round.

18. Andrade with Zelina Vega vs Rey Mysterio – SmackDown 15th January – ****1/2 

This was quite simply one of the best regular weekly TV WWE matches I have seen on a Raw or SmackDown for a LONG time. Unlike any WWE TV match I’ve seen, this was two of Mexico’s finest ever putting on a hard hitting yet Lucha filled clinic.

17. Io Shirai vs Candice LeRae – NXT TakeOver: Toronto – ****1/2 

The best WWE women’s singles match of the year and it wasn’t even close. Expectations were high for this one given the in-ring ability of the competitors, but these two women did not disappoint.

16. Adam Cole (C) vs Daniel Bryan for the NXT Championship – SmackDown 1st November – ****1/2 

The build to Survivor Series this year gave us plenty of dream matches, and this was the first of them. And it was awesome. Two of THE best wrestlers on the planet had a great TV main event here, and Adam Cole added another feather to his incredible cap of victories in 2019.

15. Daniel Bryan (C) vs Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton vs Samoa Joe vs Jeff Hardy vs AJ Styles in an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship – Elimination Chamber – ****1/2 

This was one of the best chamber matches there’s ever been. 6 very talented in-ring performers put on a classic, and the story of Kofi Kingston had its most heartbreaking of nights. The image of the New Day to close the show consoling one another is one that will be etched in minds of fans around the world for a long long time to come.

14. At Styles vs Seth Rollins (C) for the Universal Championship – Money In the Bank – ****3/4 

It was Seth Rollins vs AJ Styles on a PPV for the world title. Need I say anymore?

13. Adam Cole (C) vs Johnny Gargano in a 2/3 falls Match (first fall was a singles match, 2nd fall was a street fight and 3rd fall was a barbed wire steel cage) for the NXT Championship – NXT TakeOver: Toronto – ****3/4 

This match had an impossible task of being a blow off match in a trilogy that had previously produced two of the best matches in the history of the company, so it was always going to be tough. But with the added stipulations this match was absolutely WILD!

12. Team Ciampa (Tomasso Ciampa, Kevin Owens, Keith Lee & Dominik Dijakovic) vs Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) in a War Games Match – NXT TakeOver: War Games – ****3/4 

We’ve seen some pretty spectacular War Games matches in NXT and this was no different. With the added element of the mystery 4th member of Team Ciampa, that was eventually revealed as former NXT Champion Kevin Owens this was a fantastic match full of brutality, great storytelling and an amazing finishing sequence that concluded with Ciampa sending Cole flying off the top of the cage and crashing through a table below. A finish worthy of such an amazing spectacle.

11. Team Ripley (Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox & Dakota Kai) vs Team Baszler (Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai & Kay Lee Ray) in a War Games Match – NXT TakeOver: War Games – ****3/4 

The women outshone their male counterparts inside NXT’s two cage structure this year, as the Rhea Ripley show rolled through War Games. In what was a super fun match to watch in which all participants got their own chance to shine, particularly Io Shirai, as well as the heel turn angle with Dakota Kai. But in the end it was captain Rhea who pinned Baszler for the win. The best women’s match in WWE of 2019, but that’s hardly a shock is it?

10. Velveteen Dream, Ricochet & Aleister Black vs Tomasso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano – Halftime Heat – ****3/4 

So as you may be able to guess, this was a special one match show put on directly opposite the Superbowl halftime show, and broadcast live on the WWE Network. And the result was a tremendously fun 6 man tag showcase featuring 6 of NXT’s top stars. It was as good as you’d think given those taking part, in fact such was its success that one Vincent K McMahon pretty much immediately commissioned for Ciampa, Gargano, Black and Ricochet to begin making appearances on Raw and SmackDown to capitalise on their stardom and newly found fame. A really fun watch with some guy called Shawn Michaels doing colour commentary too, and losing his mind like a fan watching made it all the more special.

9. Daniel Bryan (C) with Rowan vs Kofi Kingston with Big E & Xavier Woods for the WWE Championship – WrestleMania – ****3/4 

Of course everyone knows the story of KOFImania, and we all know how incredible a moment the finish was, but the match itself was pretty great too, in fact one of the better non NXT WWE matches of the year. The story told by the ultra-babyface challenger and the hated heel champion made for a masterclass of sports entertainment at its finest.

8. Ricochet (C) vs Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship – NXT TakeOver: Phoenix – ****3/4 

WHAT A MATCH!!! The brief heel run of Gargano earlier this year led him to finally become Johnny Champion, and he did so with yet another classic match on the TakeOver stage. This was at times brutal, and at times spectacular beyond belief. Go out of your way to watch this one, you will not be disappointed.

7. War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) (C) vs Ricochet & Aleister Black for the NXT Tag Team Championship – NXT TakeOver: New York – ****3/4 

The best NXT TakeOver show of all time began with the best tag match we’ve seen in WWE this year. It’s very rare you get a double babyface tag match on such a big stage, but this was truly exceptional stuff. The contrasting styles of the 4 participants made for some awesome sequences in front of a raucous New York crowd. It was a fitting NXT farewell to two legends of the brand as Black and Ricochet went out with a bang.

6. Matt Riddle vs Velveteen Dream (C) for the NXT North American Championship – NXT TakeOver: New York – ****3/4 

A match between two men who I’m sure will one day both be world champions. The amount of crowd investment into this match between two of the most charismatic stars in the whole company was awesome to watch. Riddle entering in Yankee coloured pin-stripped gear, Dream coming as a Statue of Liberty tribute, the crowd being 80% behind Dream, and then losing their minds when Dream did a Hogan type ‘Hulking up’ spot. This was so much fun, and the match were it was clear that both guys were among the best in the world, Dream as a star and Riddle as one of the best wrestlers on the planet.

5. Pete Dunne (C) vs Walter for the WWE United Kingdom Championship – NXT TakeOver: New York – ****3/4 

This was just an all out WAR. A proper brutal old school wrasslin FIGHT! This was just everything I hoped it would be and more. It marked the end of one of the most historic title reigns of the modern era, and the beginning of one that may well last as long if not longer…

4. Seth Rollins vs Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman for the Universal Championship – SummerSlam – ****3/4 

The first match of this trilogy was the memorable opener of Mania, the second was the squash win as Lesnar cashed in to get his belt back, and then… THIS MATCH… was a classic!!! 20 odd minutes of just pure mayhem, and perhaps the best compliment you can give it is the fact that public enemy number 1 Seth Rollins was booed walking in, yet by the end of it was cheered as the conquering hero by the Toronto crowd. A great way to end the best main roster PPV of the year.

3. Walter (C) vs Tyler Bate for the WWE United Kingdom Championship – NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff – *****

FORTY. TWO. MINUTES… I’ve never been left so spellbound by a match that was this long. It absolutely flew by. The ultimate David vs Goliath match-up delivered on every level… and then some!!! An ALL TIME classic.

2. Adam Cole vs Johnny Gargano (C) for the NXT Championship – NXT TakeOver: 25 – ***** 

Probably the hardest choice I had to make in putting this blog together was which one of the first two matches in this most amazing of trilogy’s would be my WWE match of the year. As long as you said it was one of these two I wouldn’t complain, or even Bate vs Walter for that matter. Adam Cole winning the NXT title after a masterclass of a match was amongst the most fun I’ve had watching wrestling in a long long time. You’ll struggle to find a better regular singles match anywhere in pro wrestling history.

1. Johnny Gargano vs Adam Cole in a 2/3 falls match for the vacant NXT Championship – NXT TakeOver: New York – *****

Just like last year, Johnny Gargano (who may be the best wrestler in WWE history in terms of average rating of his big matches) puts on the match of the year in the main event of the pre-WrestleMania TakeOver show. This time against a different opponent. And this time ending it by claiming the holy grail at long last. What’s funny is at the start of this match the crowd were maybe 80-20 in favour of Cole… by the time Cole was frantically tapping out for the second time the crowd would’ve probably rioted had anyone but Gargano won the title. Not even during the Ciampa – Gargano series from last year have I EVER seen a better story told in one match. Just an absolute masterpiece. It was a fitting ending (the best NXT match in history) to close out the best TakeOver of all time.


Top 10 WWE Moments of the Year 2019

Special mention: “I’m in remission Y’all”

I’ve made the decision to remove from the running Roman Reigns telling the world he had beaten Leukemia again. It felt not right to include something like that in a list of profession wrestling moments. That was so much more than wrestling, it was obviously the highlight of the year by a million miles.

I should also mention Kevin Owens being revealed as the surprise 4th member of Team Ciampa in the men’s War Games Match. This moment, up until Rhea Ripley won the title, was in my top 10, and was yet the latest reminder of just how cool WWE can be when they really want to be. We ALL wanted it to be KO, and it was KO, and it was awesome. But with that said let’s now look back at the ten most special, most spine tingling and all round most memorable moments from the mad year of WWE in 2019… imo…

10. Balor is NXT

We all had a good idea that NXT would come flying out the blocks once they went head to head with… THEM… but to not only open the show with Riddle vs Cole for the NXT title, but to reveal that the longest reigning NXT Champion of all time was returning to the brand was a HUGE move. Just listen to the noise Full Sail makes when that music hits. An awesome moment… yet as good as it was it wasn’t even the highlight of that same show…

9. The Queen is dead. Long reign the Queen

Rhea Ripley’s rise to the top of the NXT Women’s division was one of the better organic storylines in NXT for some time. She began the year losing the NXT UK women’s belt, then showed up and challenged the seemingly unbeatable Baszler… and then at long last on the final live NXT of the year she got her match. And the match was great. But the finish, the pop, the emotion and the post match celebration and hysteria made up for an amazing babyface moment. Everything just clicked. It took a top Rope Riptide for Ripley to get the 1,2,3… and the crowd really did go absolutely WILD!

8. There’s a Dr. in the house!

WrestleMania 35 was one of the most eventful shows in history. And as it was 2734746 hours long it’s easy to overlook many of the happenings on the show… but the segment with Elias that saw him be interrupted by Doctor of Thuganomics John Cena was one of the coolest moments of the show. For anyone who witnessed that incarnation of Cena it was a proper treat. And the way they did it with the weird Babe Ruth video before the big reveal caught everyone off guard. And Cena showed he still had the rhymes too. A proper great WrestleMania moment if ever there was one.

7. Daddy’s Home

After his successful NXT title defence to kick off the show, Adam Cole thought he had Finn Balor to cope with… by the end of the show his potential challengers just got a whole lot more vengeful… Daddy was home… and he was back to claim his Goldie. As NXT Champion Cole came out to proudly celebrate Undisputed Era finally being fully drapped in Gold, Cole was greeted on the entrance ramp by the returning former NXT Champion Tomasso Ciampa. Ciampa, out of action since just before WrestleMania weekend, walked out to an absolutely thunderous ovation from the Full Sail crowd. The best heel in the business in his previous run had returned as the most beloved of babyfaces. Daddy was home. And all was right again in the NXT world.

6. Rollins slays the Beast to open WrestleMania 

He told us he would do it. We didn’t believe him. We hoped and prayed he would, but we’d been here before (and unbeknown to us at the time, we would go there again… and again…)… but to the absolute shock of everyone not only did Brock Lesnar defending the Universal title against the Men’s Royal Rumble winner OPEN WrestleMania, but… after taking an absolute beating early on… one ref bump, a low blow and THREE Curb Stomps later… and suddenly the BeastSlayer had fulfilled his destiny and was swirling the Universal Championship around his head at the top of the huge WrestleMania entrance ramp. A quite superb moment of the year… For me it tops the moment that ended the great SummerSlam match the two had because it was Mania… and because of the manner of Rollins win. Regardless of what the majority of fans think of Seth right now, nobody can deny the magnitude of the moment of his Mania victory.

5. Johnny CHAMPION  

NXT TakeOver: New York. The greatest NXT TakeOver of all time. Main evented by the greatest match in NXT history. The conclusion of which was the pinnacle of a story of quite simply the ultimate babyface underdog story… Mr NXT, Mr Wrestling himself Johnny Gargano FINALLY capturing his ultimate prize. I’ve mentioned the match itself already but the shear joy from the New York crowd, his wife Candice joining the celebrations, and then being joined by his injured brother in war Tomasso Ciampa on stage at the end certainly bought a tear to the eye of this NXT fan for sure.

4. FINALLY… The Rock, has come back… … Home… 

For the first SmackDown on Fox to be the biggest success it could be, to gain as much main stream attention as it could get, they needed one guy. One name that was synonymous with the show SmackDown. And just a few days before the show aired… it was announced, they’d got him. But when he came out to aide Becky Lynch in her verbal battle with King Corbin to open the show he wasn’t Dwayne Johnson, he wasn’t the Hollywood megastar, he was The Rock, he was our Rock and he had come home. The reaction from the adoring crowd was incredible, the promo cut in the segment with Lynch and Corbin was fun for sure, but it had all the hallmarks you would want form a classic Rock promo. For sure one of the highlights of the year was the return of The Rock on the SmackDown on Fox premier show.

3. The Man is going to WrestleMANia 

I don’t like to say I told you so, but to every single person who was in the Warehouse sports bar in Huddersfield with me during the 2019 Royal Rumble show, and to everyone but me and our friend Lorraine who were the only two unhappy that Asuka had beaten Becky Lynch to retain the SmackDown women’s title, and to everyone who I told that it would ALL be fine, because Becky would somehow find her way into and WIN the Rumble later that same night… I TOLD YOU SO!!! The way they got her in to the match replacing an injured Lana, the HUGE reaction when she was finally allowed into the match, and the amazing crowd response when she Charlotte Flair fell to the floor outside the ring to crown Becky the winner. Just a brilliant babyface moment. The Man was going to WrestleMANia… and she’s never looked back since!!!

2. SummerSlam Lets In The Fiend 

The expectations for the debut of The Fiend were high. I’m not quite sure even the biggest of Bray Wyatt fans, aka ME, quite expected what we got at SummerSlam… and that was just during the entrance. I was stunned into silence, partly down to emotion, partly in shock and awe at what I was seeing. This monster brought to life made his way to the ring, old-Bray headlight in hand, the spotlight, the fireflies in the crowd, the Code Orange remix of his old song. It was absolutely beyond perfect. You can only make one first impression, and the entrance of The Fiend before his debut match at SummerSlam over Finn Balor was something I and every other WWE fan will never forget.

1. Kofi Did It!!! 

The story of Kofi Kingston’s chase of the WWE Championship was one of the best, if not the best, storylines of the year in WWE. I can’t quite recall the last time there was this much crowd support in favour of one result in a match. The match itself was just as good as the story told in the build up… but never will I forget the sheer overwhelming joy I felt when Kofi hit the Trouble In Paradise, pinned Daniel Bryan and at long last was able to hold the WWE Championship high into the WrestleMania sky. BY A MILE, my top WWE Moment of 2019 was Kofi Kingston winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.


Top 20 WWE Superstars of the Year 2019

Here we go, the big one! Now for arguments sake let me just point out now that for the interest of fairness I have decided to include in this last tag teams and factions as one single entrant, as a way of rewarding the merits of a tag teams year on the same level as a singles star. This, as you may see, will certainly do no harm for the likes of Adam Cole and Kofi Kingston’s placement on my list. I guess the key thing to mention here is that my top 20 is based on the entire year of 2019, not just right now or the recent past. With that in mind I should mention a notable omission from my list, a woman who had this list be based on November and December she could well be at the very top… Rhea Ripley.

For obvious reasons I’ve also chosen not to include Roman Reigns in my top 20. He beat Leukemia. He’d be top of any normal list base don that alone of course.

So without wasting anymore time, here is my full countdown of the top 20 superstars in WWE for the year of 2019!!!

20. Pete Dunne 

Although his record-breaking reign as United Kingdom champion came to an end, 2019 was one hell of a year for The Bruiserweight in WWE. After beating Joe Coffey to close the first UK TakeOver show, he was met by Walter, the man whom he would lose his title to in New York in one of the matches of the year. His move to the US NXT roster after that would see multiple great TakeOver showings as well as an NXT Title match at Survivor Series. Another stellar year for Birmingham’s finest.

19. AJ Styles 

It says all you need to know when an average AJ Styles year still sees him in the top 20 superstars of the last 12 months. A couple of US title reigns, a great world title match with Rollins, and a heel turn that came with a reunion with his good brothers Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Going in to 2020 Styles is again feuding with his Mania opponent form earlier this year, Randy Orton, so hopefully the good times will continue for the Phenomenal One.

18. Velveteen Dream 

I LOVE me some Vel-Ve-Teen!!! Sadly an injury cut short his year just before the NXT invasion angle began of which I’m sure he would of been a star of. But nonetheless it was still a great year for the former NXT North American Champion. And I can already feel the hype for his eventual return… where maybe he can make a proper RUMBLE of things…

17. Matt Riddle

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16. Kevin Owens 

Missed the first two months of the year. Comes back a face. Then goes heel. Misses Mania. Feuds with Kofi. Turns face. Gets tired of Shane O’Mac. Beats Shane in Toronto. Banishes Shane from WWE. Goes to Raw. Hates on Rollins. Becomes Raw’s top babyface. Makes a cameo back in NXT. Feuds with heel Rollins. Goes in to 202 as a possible (and many people’s dream choice) to challenge Lesnar at Mania. if 2020 goes better than 2019 for Kevin Owens things are looking very exciting indeed!

15. Io Shirai 

I think in 2020 if Io isn’t NXT Women’s Champion at some stage she’s either gone to Raw or SmackDown or she’s been injured… Her heel turn has only emphasized her incredible talent. An outstanding all-round performer who just has all you could need to be a star. She has that unique ability to make me put down whatever I am doing when she is on the screen. 2020 also saw her have the best women’s singles match of the year against friend turned rival Candice LeRae at TakeOver: Toronto followed by star making performances in the women’s War Games and Survivor Series 5v5v5 women’s matches.

14. The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) 

The Women’s tag titles had quickly drifted into a being an afterthought, yet to be on a team that could really make them mean something. By the end of the year they were on the line in a TLC match and MAIN EVENTING the final PPV of the year. ALL of that down to the work of The Kabuki Warriors. Two of the most endearing babyfaces have since gone all dark and heelish and it has only elevated them as a team to another level. Kairi finally has her much deserved main roster spotlight, and going in to 2020 Asuka looks set to once again face off against The Man Becky Lynch at next month’s Royal Rumble event.

13. Bayley 

One heck of an eventful year for Bayley. Her and Sasha as the lovable fighting babyfaces finally won the inaugural women’s tag titles in the Elimination Chamber… and then quickly lost them before their reign even got started at Mania… but as The Boss took her ball and went home, Bayley was busy winning and then successfully cashing in the Money in the Bank contract to become SmackDown Women’s Champion… only to lose it back to Charlotte… and THEN… AT LONG LONG LAST… with her new hair and new gear and new music… BAY LEY TURNED HEEL!!! AND SHE WAS OFF TO THE RACES READY TO PRINT WWE MONEY!!! Now as champion once again and with her blue-haired best friend back by her side The not-so huggable one goes in to 2020 as champion… for now at least…

12. Tomasso Ciampa 

Had he not had his dream match with Johnny Gargano tragically taken from him as the result of a serious neck injury, the former holder of his precious Goldie may have been much higher on this list. But from the moment the best heel of 2018 returned as maybe the most popular babyface in NXT to conclude the first 2 hours NXT on USA, he was back to his best. Daddy was indeed home, and if his performances across TakeOver: War Games/Survivor Series weekend are anything to go by, then 2020 will surely be the year when Goldie comes back home… mark your calendar for NXT TakeOver over WrestleMania weekend I’d say…

11. Charlotte Flair 

She was runner up in the Royal Rumble. She had multiple reigns as SmackDown Women’s Champion. SHE MAIN EVENTED WRESTLEMANIA!!! And yet STILL people say 2019 was an underwhelming year for The Queen???????? Just shows her lofty standards I guess…

10. Walter 

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He arrived. He battered lots of people. He won a big shiny belt. He continued to batter lots of people. 2019 was the year WALTER finally arrived in WWE, and he hasn’t disappointed one bit.

9. Shayna Baszler 

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You may think 9th is a bit harsh for a woman who was NXT Women’s Champion for about 11 3/4 months of the year, but it’s still been a stellar year for the Queen of Spades. Multiple good TakeOver matches with a variety of opponents, a win in the main event of Survivor Series in the Women’s Champion three way… and as we move in to 2020 she is many people’s (me included) favorite to win the Women’s Rumble and take on a certain MAN at WrestleMania…

8. Daniel Bryan 

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Daniel Bryan is and always have been one of THE best wrestlers in the world. He may well be the best overall WWE wrestler of the decade… even with a few years in retirement in between! In 2019 alone he made his own WWE title belt, was part of a huge title match with Kofi at Mania, won and lost and the broke up with his former tag champion friend Rowan, and then of ALL PEOPLE he decided to pick a fight with a Fiend… and literally had his head torn out over it. Now a clean shaven and freshly cut Bryan Danielson looking fella goes on to the Royal Rumble and in to 2020 willing letting in The Fiend… if 2019 showed one thing its that 2020 is going to be something special for the yes Movement general!

7. Johnny Gargano 

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So… its once again been an incredible year of amazing matches for arguably the best big match wrestler in company history. But with his long term health being constantly monitored we don’t get to see Johnny Wrestling as much as we’d like, so that hampers his placement on this list slightly. Although how could you not mention someone who had two of the best matches in WWE NXT history, won both the North American and NXT titles, and personified the name Mr Wrestling about as well as anyone possibly could. A destined showdown with Finn Balor at the February TakeOver looks already to set up 2020 to be another amazing year for Johnny Gargano.

6. Brock Lesnar

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Oh boy, this is where I get hate. Yes Brock Lesnar is this high on my list. He begins the year with a good match with Finn Balor, he was a part of an amazing Mania moment with Rollins, he came in as a very very late entrant on his way to winning the Money In The Bank ladder match, he won the Universal title back the next month, he had one of the matches of the year at SummerSlam against Rollins, he went to SmackDown and ended KofiMania in seconds, he packed off Cain Velasquez back to MMA, and to top it off he had a super fun Survivor Series match with Rey, and Dominik, Mysterio. When Brock Lesnar wrestles, people match, and more often than not when he has a proper match it’s really fucking good. And for all you moaning about Lesnar and how he is booked, stop hating on him so much, cause you’re only adding to his allure and his gimmick. The only question is for 2020 is who Brock makes in to a star next? Oh and Brock Lesnar… best seller in WWE. FACT.

5. Seth Rollins 

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Wow… where to even begin to talk about the year of Seth Rollins. Maybe just watch the 365 Documentary of Rollins they put on the WWE Network recently, that does a much better job than I could talking about the absolute wild 2019 for the BeastSlayer in WWE. But to win the Rumble, be the top babyface, win the Universal title twice, become public enemy number one and turn heel all in the space of the year. It’s been a madness, and who knows where 2020 will take the future Mr Lynch… 😉

4. The New Day 

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Hall of famers probably before 2019 even began, but my god they should go in one day based on the 2019 alone of The New Day. Kofi taking over the company en route to the ultimate title win at WrestleMania, a couple of SmackDown Tag title wins spread across the year, all whilst dancing and laughing and entertaining all of us along the way. Sadly they are down a member going in to 2020, with Xavier Woods on the shelf long term, but Big E and Kingston are still flying the flag for the Power of Positivity as the current SmackDown Tag Team Champions.

3. ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt 

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If you called BRAY WYATT being one of the absolute, if not the number 1, star of the company this time one year ago you’re simply a liar. Ever since the very first vignette teasing his return to TV aired the night after WrestleMania 2019 has been the year WWE Let In The Fiend. A monster like no other we’ve seen before he has captured the imagination of the wrestling world, and goes into 2020 as the champion of the A show of the company. Simply incredible.

2. Becky Lynch 

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The Man well and truly came around in WWE in 2019. She OWNED the whole damn company. Won the Royal Rumble. Became Becky2Belts in winning the main event of WrestleMANia, and has been Raw Women’s Champion ever since. She really is the star of the company event a year since her rise to stardom really began. Maybe… just maybe… her starpower could get EVEN BIGGER in 2020 if she found an opponent who was… hmmm.. maybe a little…ROWDY…???

1. Undisputed Era

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As we go in to 2020; Adam Cole is NXT Champion, Roderick Strong is the NXT North American Champion and Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly are the NXT Tag Team Champions. Adam Cole had the best two matches of the year as was the most entertaining superstar in the company, Strong won a triple threat against Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles at Survivor Series, and the formerly known as ReDragon proved time and time again why they may well be the best tag team in the world. It was well and truly proven once again, just like it was in 2018, that WWE and NXT are well and truly… UNDISPUTED!!!


So as you may be able to tell, 2019 was one heck of a year in WWE. We saw some of the most memorable matches and moments we may ever see, and 2020 looks set to be just as exciting. In particular keep an eye out for Ricochet (who I hope and pray they push as a TOP star of Raw at some stage), Damien Priest in NXT (who I think could be the next top heel of the brand), Tegan Nox (who I hope they mold into the top women’s star of NXT at long last), Austin Theory (the former Evolve champion at the very beginning of his NXT WWE Career, expect him to build on his recent TV North American title match with Roderick Strong and continue to impress) and the women’s tag team self-titled as ‘VXT’ in Deonna Purrazzo and Chelsea Green (both of whom I’ve long tipped to be big stars in NXT and I hope they can follow up their recent cameos on Monday Night Raw by making a big impact in their future TV appearances).

Thanks for reading my Review of 2019 in WWE. All the best for 2020.

Happy New Year.

Josh. 

 

Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua 2 – Preview

 

Picture via Andy Ruiz’s Instagram.

So as you may be able to tell from the title of this post, I have decided to try something different with nobodyisready.com. This will be my first ever blog post NOT about wrestling, instead I’ve decided to talk about another of my loves… boxing. It’s a sport I’ve fell in love with over the years, ever since I saw a young Amir Khan win his silver medal in Athens, and Ricky Hatton becoming a cult-hero I was hooked. Down the years I’ve followed the likes of David Haye, Floyd Mayweather, Carl Froch to name a few… and then in the London 2012 Olympics I saw a colossus of a man win a gold medal. Since then I watched all 22 of his professional fights with glee as he won every time, and beat the likes of Dillian Whyte, Charles Martin, Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin. On his way he collected an astonishing  record of 21 wins by knockout, with only former world champion Parker taking him to a decision victory, as AJ collected 3 of the 4 world heavyweight belts. On June 1st 2019 with talk already abound of a World title unification fight with Deontay Wilder, AJ was set for his American debut at Madison Square Garden defending his heavyweight title belts against loud-mouth challenger Jarrell Miller. The usually ultra-cool AJ had finally met an opponent who seemed to rile him, there was a real dislike from Joshua towards his would-be challenger and I certainly felt as a fan of his that he seriously had to control himself in the fight to avoid his personal feelings towards Miller getting in the way of his gameplan for victory. But on April 17th 2019, a matter of around 6 weeks before the fight, it was confirmed by the Voluntary Anti Doping Association that the camps of both fighters were informed that Miller had tested positive for a banned substance. Miller was out. And after a scramble by Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn to find a replacement challenger it was Andy Ruiz Jr who was brought in to take up the challenge of trying to take the belts from a real life fighting machine.

Picture from the Irish Mirror.

The build up was pretty extraordinary. At one press conference we had AJ let Ruiz pose with HIS world title belts! It was pretty incredible. Little did we know the fight itself would be one of the most amazing fights in boxing history. As it turned out June 1st 2019 was an amazing day for me. In the early evening me and my friend James went to a bar in Leicester town centre to watch the Champions League Final between Liverpool and Tottenham. Later I came home and watched NXT TakeOver: 25 which was an excellent wrestling show featuring one of the best matches in WWE history in the main event between Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano. My mammoth day of sport was completed by staying up until the very early hours of the next morning to watch my favourite boxer continue his march towards the ultimate goal of being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. This was a formality we ALL thought, and if anybody tells you they had even the slightest of doubts that Anthony Joshua would defeat Andy Ruiz Jr they’re simply a liar. 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

What was the main thing from Andy Ruiz Jr was just how absolute polar opposite physique wise the challenger was to the champion. Joshua with the physique of a God, Ruiz with twice the body fat that AJ has muscle. But MSG and the eyes of the world hadn’t come to see the fatman done good, they had come for the AJ show. But… signs that something was not right soon became apparent. AJ comes across to me as somewhat of an iceman, completely unflappable and not one to be stressed out by anything he faces. But I looked at a fighter I had seen 22 times in a pro ring, and I hadn’t seen him look like this. He looked stood in the ring before the fight like he was about to nod off, he didn’t seem relaxed, he seemed almost lethargic. At the time I remember thinking to myself that he seemed different to normal, not as alive to the situation and the bright lights that were on him. This was not someone making his pro debut for god sake, this was the heavyweight champion of the world?!?! Early on the fight was fairly uneventful, with Ruiz showing faint signs he had good punch power, but Joshua seemed to be feeling his way through the first couple of rounds, and AJ even catching Ruiz with a huge shot that sent Ruiz to the canvas in round 3 with a fierce combination of punches, this was the first time Ruiz had been down in his career. Ruiz had shown to be a good challenge but it looked to be going the same way as most of the others had gone before… and then… it all began to go wrong… an incredible exchange between both ended in amazing fashion as Joshua himself was put on the ring floor! The crowd roared in astonishment as Joshua looked on as the ref got to a count of 6 before he rose to his feet again and continued. AJ was back up, but this was an almighty shock to everyone’s system. 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

Ruiz looked to blast AJ out of there in Round 3, and towards the end of the round another combination of shots sent a wobbly Joshua down again! Yet somehow AJ got up and made it to his stool despite his legs looking very very shaky. I cannot explain the panic I felt as a loyal AJ fan watching at this point. Never in my worst nightmares before this fight did I even fathom a situation like this. Round 4 saw Ruiz really try and gain the most amazing win by flying out the blocks and backing AJ up, and then something happened which really alarmed me as an AJ fan… Early on in Round 4 AJ hit Ruiz with the sort of shot I’ve seen finish many of his prior opponents… yet this time as Sky Boxing commentator Adam Smith rightly said the shot on Ruiz “bounced off his chin” as if it was a measly jab and barely seemed to hurt Ruiz. What on earth was I watching I thought? Round 4 went by with a bit of a stalemate… but Ruiz Jr now was firmly the favourite to pull off the biggest of upsets. After Round 4 AJ is on his stool with his trainer Rob McCkracken giving him instructions, when Joshua asked “what shot was it?” that took him down… he didn’t even see the shot coming… “Jab, Jab, Right hand” his trainer told him to get him back in the game, seemingly the plan now was for AJ to go back to basics… Round 5 saw the crowd really get behind the champion, and AJ would respond with a big left hook that saw Ruiz back away quickly out of trouble, but he was soon backing the champion up again and taking the fight to him. The talk in the AJ corner after the round was again alarming to me as a fan, with McCracken telling Joshua again to go jab, jab, right hand as AJ had a bloody nose treated too, and that he simply had to win these rounds now. When you have to give the heavyweight champion this sort of basic level advice you really are desperate in my opinion. This was a new one for the untouchable Joshua… little did we know it would get even worse… Round 6 was a real dog fight from both at the start, the sky commentators between them had Ruiz one up and another had it level. Me personally, for what it’s worth, also had Ruiz a round up at this stage in the fight… as Round 6 went on Joshua had blood coming from his nose but it was fairly even with neither guy looking to hit that BIG shot… until Ruiz hit a couple of decent shots with 40 seconds left of the round and a couple more less than 30 left… Ruiz missed a big shot that AJ ducked under that I’m certain would’ve floored Joshua had he not dodged it, but another round had passed. Ruiz two rounds up in my books with another 6 still scheduled, this was NOT something we expected and certainly not to have seen two of the three knockdowns come from the challenger. At the stool again at the end of the round, the quote that has gone round and around ever since… 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

“Why am I feeling like this?” 

That was a direct quote from the then heavyweight champion of the world, half way through a fight. I froze as a fan watching. He was lost, he was gone, the end was surely near I thought. Mentally the indestructible force had been tagged… and Round 7… well… 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

AJ look determined but Ruiz wasn’t phased, at around the 2.30 remaining stage Ruiz hit the most amazing combo of shots that absolutely destroyed Joshua as he was sent down AGAIN… he got up quickly, but Ruiz was prancing around in the opposite corner as the ref told him to back off whilst he checked on Joshua… AJ backed into the corner as the ref continued his count… he got his hands up after the ref’s command with the count stopped at 8… Joshua even rose a grin as he went back in to the fire… at this stage it would be a miracle if Joshua survived this round let alone the rest of the fight… and so again not long after Ruiz got Joshua to take a knee after more shots… with AJ spitting out his gum shield to buy him some more time to try and recover… He just about beat the count and went back to the corner… but after a short delay the referee had seen enough and waved the fight off… 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

Andy Ruiz Jr had done the impossible. For many years people talked about when Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson, this would be just that for another generation and more. On around 6 weeks notice the overwhelming underdog had come in and stopped the previously undefeated AJ and became Mexico’s first ever world heavyweight champion of the sport of Boxing. I have watched a lot of sport in my time, and I’m a very passionate man and sports fan, I’ve not felt as much utter devastation at watching a sporting event as when I watched the end of this fight. 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

So flash forward around 6 months later. And we have Joshua’s chance at redemption. In the unusual surroundings of the Saudi Arabian desert, these two titans will clash again in possibly the most important fight in recent memory. Purely for everything that could happen depending on how this fight goes. I’ve thought for a long time that once again we would get to a point where we would again have an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Right now we have Andy Ruiz Jr in possession of the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO belts, Deontay Wilder with the WBC belt, as well as the undefeated Tyson Fury as the lineal champion (google it please it’d take me a long time to explain). We have Ruiz vs AJ 2 now, and Wilder vs Fury in their rematch this coming February following a draw in their first meeting. So logic would suggest we get the two winners of those fights go at it for all the gold? Well yes, but boxing is subject to a lot of bollocks. Different promoters and broadcasters can often get in the way of making certain fights. But I’ve always, maybe naively, thought that the likes of Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren and Lou DiBella would realise that if they worked together and got the SUPER fights made it’d make the eventual King even greater and make them ALL more millions upon millions along the way? Who knows what combo we have to do before we get to ONE champion; maybe Ruiz wins again and wants Wilder or Fury, maybe Joshua gets his revenge but they have to go again for a trilogy fight, maybe Fury beats Wilder but they want a third fight, but regardless I see it all ending with one true heavyweight champion. Exactly how it should be. Maybe just wishful thinking from me as a fan, but I live in hope. 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

Now… the big question I’m sure you all have for me is, who wins? Well, as many of you will know my favourite boxer and possible favourite sportsman full stop is Anthony Joshua. I’m a very loyal person and that goes on to who I follow in sports. I have been more confident than not ahead of every one of AJ’s fights before. This is the first time I’m not sure. I’m not saying I think Joshua will lose, I’m just not totally confident he will win. Ruiz has somewhat altered his ‘fat-man’ gimmick by trimming down a fair bit so it will be interesting to see how that affects him this time around. It will be interesting to see how he handles the fight and the occasion this time around now he is the man, now HE is the champion, as much as it will be interesting to see how Joshua comes out for the first time no longer being the undefeated would-be king. 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

The Gloves Are Off is an exceptional series that is hosted by Sky boxing’s and former champion Johnny Nelson. Essentially he sits in between two boxers ahead of a big fight and they talk about the upcoming clash. The one for Ruiz v Joshua 2 was fascinating viewing, as was the analysis special show that had Nelson host a discussion betwen Carl Froch, Tony Bellew, David Haye and Paulie Malignaggi about the huge upcoming fight. In the one between both the fighters themselves though, both guys seemed relaxed and happy enough and showed one another great respect, even swapping jokes and laughs along the way. But the big talking point of the show was when Nelson asked Ruiz about the finish of the first fight, and if he thought AJ had quit in fight number 1 (9.48 in the YouTube video of the show if you were wondering)? Joshua looked on and to me at least seemed fuming, Ruiz calmly said “erm… a little bit, I feel like he quit because of the way it was going…” 

WOW I thought. You’ve just told a PROUD fighter and man like Anthony Joshua that he QUIT. Now of course, only Joshua knows if he quit, but the fact is Ruiz believes or at least said he thought AJ QUIT. If that isn’t a personal shot at the man and character that Anthony Joshua is, I don’t know what is. 

So who will win? Well the sport of boxing is maybe the most illogical sport there is, anybody really can beat anybody as the first fight showed, we’ve all heard the phrase ‘a fighting chance’ or a ‘puncher’s chance’. But what’s funny to me is Andy Ruiz Jr has a professional boxing record of 33 wins from 34 fights. His only defeat being a split decision loss to former heavyweight champion Joseph Parker. Joseph Parker lost his title to Anthony Joshua, and since then Joseph Parker has been beaten once more this time by Dillian Whyte. Dillian Whyte’s only pro loss to date came against… Anthony Joshua. And of course Anthony Joshua’s only defeat as a pro came against Andy Ruiz Jr! All that make sense??? Pretty crazy sport Boxing isn’t it? And that was none more so evident that in the first fight. 

Second time around… My heart as always is with Joshua. My head says Ruiz shocks the world AGAIN. And although boxing is often THE hardest sport to predict, something tells me this fight will not last very long. 

Josh. 

Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr 1 – FULL FIGHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GLOVES ARE OFF – Andy Ruiz Jr vs Anthony Joshua 2

 

 

 

 

THE GLOVES ARE OFF – Analysing Andy Ruiz Jr vs Anthony Joshua 2

 

 

WWE Survivor Series 2019 – Review

On the whole I really enjoyed Survivor Series 2019. Sure it wasn’t perfect but it was a star-making night for a few people, we had some pretty decent wrestling and a lot of potential future stories they could now tell. So without wasting anymore time let me get into reviewing the show!!!

KICK OFF SHOW

So… basically I watched the show in a sports bar with some friends, and we only caught bits of the kick off show on our phones. Aside from the three matches the big news to come from the TWO HOUR pre-cursor to the main show, was the announcement by Shawn Michaels of who would make up Team NXT for the men’s 5v5v5 match later in the night… that team was comprised of: Tomasso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, Damien Priest… and the current United Kingdom WALTER!!!!!!!!!! Absolute scenes!!! And for the record here’s a brief summary of the three matches that took place before the main card got underway:

Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode (SmackDown) defeated The Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake) (NXT), Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado) (SmackDown), Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder (Raw), Imperium (Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel) (NXT), Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker) (SmackDown), Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze) (NXT), The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) (SmackDown), The O.C. (Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows) (Raw) and Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) (Raw) in a 10 team Interbrand Tag Team Battle Royal = SmackDown 1 – Raw 0 – NXT 0 

The order I’ve listed the teams were the order they were eliminated in. Don’t ask me why this took place. Other than for the sake of it, to get the tag teams on the show, and to get SmackDown a win on the kick off show… Looked fine enough a match for me for what it was… But it was a pre-show battle royal so was never going to be a classic match was it? … For the finish the final team to be eliminated were Street Profits after Montez Ford hit a frog splash on Dolph, but then Roode came and threw Ford out for the win. Expect ROO-DOLPH to challenge The New Day some time soon.

**1/4

Lio Rush (c) (NXT) defeated Kalisto (SmackDown) and Akira Tozawa (Raw) in a triple threat match to retain the NXT Cruiserweight Championship = NXT 1 – SmackDown 1 – Raw 0 

I liked how they had their token Cruiserweight match but still were able to do it tri-branded. Didn’t see much of this one at all but it went about 8 minutes and was alright in-ring wise without much crowd heat, so just like all the previous Cruiserweight PPV matches then… Rush retained by pinning Kalisto after a big splash.

Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) (Raw Tag Team Champions) defeated New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (SmackDown Tag Team Champions) and Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) (NXT Tag Team Champions) in a Triple Threat Tag Team match = Raw 1 – NXT 1 – SmackDown 1 

All tied up scorewise going into the main show… obviously… the vikings won hitting their finish on Kyle O’Reilly onto Bobby Fish and then Ivar pinned Fish. Kingston was taken out after hitting Trouble in Paradise on a ringpost, and Big E was taken OOA via a double team move from Viking Raiders.


Team NXT (Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai and Toni Storm) defeated Team Raw (Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Asuka, Kairi Sane and Sarah Logan) and Team SmackDown (Sasha Banks, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Lacey Evans and Nikki Cross) in a 5v5v5 Women’s Survivor Series Triple Threat elimination match = NXT 2 – Raw 1 – SmackDown 1

It became very clear very quickly that this was a pro NXT crowd, and this was a theme for the evening. Rhea Ripley was a megastar to these fans and this match only solidified this. In fact I now think WWE need to have Rhea not just win the NXT Women’s title from Shayna but have her lose it somehow before the Royal Rumble, WIN the Royal Rumble, and have her win the title on WWE’s A show of SmackDown. Put you best foot forward WWE and right now the success story of this whole tri-brand invasion thing is Rhea Ripley.

I should mention also that they had the theme in the matches of having it be a three way at all times, so there was always a legal participant from Raw, SmackDown and NXT at all times to it really was a triple threat match. In parts this match was fun and had some really cool spots and mini matches, but naturally given it had FIFTEEN participants it was a bit messy and a bit of a clusterfuck at times. I did enjoy it though. Fairly early on they did a spot where both Io Shirai and Candice LeRae were taken out ‘injured’ meaning Team NXT had to fight from underneath. I’ll run you through the eliminations: Bianca rolled up Nikki Cross whilst having Ripley pull Belair’s feet onto the ropes for extra leverage, Bianca pinned Sarah Logan after a 450 splash that looked awesome, Charlotte pinned Carmella, Sasha eliminated Kairi, Asuka pinned Dana Brooke, Asuka and Charlotte both of Team Raw seemed to argue and this led Asuka to blow her green mist into her own team captain’s eyes (this is part of the build to an apparent women’s tag title match at TLC between the Kabuki Warriors and Charlotte and Becky), Lacey hit Charlotte with the Women’s Right to pin her, Natalya pinned Lacey, in a really cool spot that protected Toni Storm loads she tapped out whilst having Natalya have her in the sharpshooter and Banks have the Bank Statement locked in at the same time, Raw’s Natalya and SmackDown’s Banks teamed up to eliminate Bianca Belair, but Banks then turned on Natalya and eliminated her. This left Rhea Ripley of NXT and Sasha Banks of SmackDown… or so we thought… Sasha looked at one stage as if she would disappoint the crowd as she had Rhea in the Bank Statement… but Io and Candice came back out, LeRae was able to distract the ref and this allowed for Io Shirai to do a springboard dropkick on Sasha and then Ripley followed that by hitting the Riptide FOR THE WIN! What an amazing few days for Rhea Ripley. A STAR has been born. And I could not be happier about it.

***

There was a really fun backstage segment where Kevin Owens appeared on the screen (he was super over with the crowd), and he was approached by Raw team captain Seth Rollins (he was not super over with the crowd, let me just put it like that). Rollins basically addressed how Owens helped Team Ciampa in the War Games match the previous night and where his loyalties lay tonight? Owens said he loves NXT but tonight Raw needs him so Rollins shouldn’t worry. He then asked how Rollins could possibly question anyone’s history and loyalty, and then did the Shield fist pose. This was great.

Roderick Strong (NXT North American Champion) defeated Raw’s AJ Styles (United States Champion) and SmackDown’s Shinsuke Nakamura (Intercontinental Champion) with Sami Zayn in a Triple Threat match = NXT 3 – Raw 1 – SmackDown 1 

Good match but you knew that already surely? Strong got his entrance cut short which the crowd didn’t like at all. Yeah this was just really really good stuff. Solid in ring work all round as you’d expect, but the crowd was semi-flat given all the shenanigans of the previous match. Strong won after AJ hit the Phenomenal Forearm on Nakamura and Strong came in and chucked AJ out the ring to get the pin for himself. I cheered very loudly as did my friends. The one Shinsuke Nakamura fan in the bar did not… HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

****

Daniel Bryan was backstage when The Miz came into shot. Miz tried to give Bryan a pep talk about how he had to be the one to stop The Fiend. With one line DBryan basically told Miz to get out of his face. Both guys were great here.

Adam Cole (C) defeated Pete Dunne to retain the NXT Championship

Really good good match for the time they had. Wasn’t like a blowaway TakeOver main event level match but definitely a top NXT TV show main event for sure. Pete Dunne was really over in Chicago, and of course so was Cole. Both hit all their big moves on eachother and there were a lot of nearfalls. Pete Dunne tried his finger break spot and attempted for the Bitter End after, but Cole was able to turn it into a Panama Sunrise and then hit the Last Shot knee for the win. What an insane run of matches this has been for Adam Cole recently.

****1/4

‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt (C) defeated Daniel Bryan to retain the Universal Championship

Now this is LOW praise of course, coming from me Bray Wyatt’s number 1 fan, but this was by a country mile the best match of The Fiend so far. They still did the red lighting thing, but as they didn’t have a giant cell around the ring and they didn’t move around the arena, this was a lot lot easier to follow the action still. Although as we discussed amongst the friends I was with it must be an absolute nightmare to follow the match if you’re in the arena… although they did this time have the match on the big screen. The Fiend wore the belt around his neck on the way to the ring. The story of the match was Bryan tried and tried to beatdown The Fiend but Wyatt just kept getting up. Bryan even summoned on the power of the YES Movement after his reluctance in recent weeks… and even hit the big running knee finish… but eventually succumb the Wyatt’s Mandible Claw to give The Fiend the win in about 10 minutes. I thought this was FINE.

***3/4

Rey Mysterio cut a good babyface promo, he was holding a metal pipe and said he was going to take out Lesnar’s knees and he hoped his son Dominick was watching closely on.

Team SmackDown (Roman Reigns, King Corbin & Shorty G & Mustafa Ali & Braun Strowman) defeated Team NXT (Keith Lee, Tomasso Ciampa, Matt Riddle, Damien Priest & Walter) and Team Raw (Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, Ricochet, Randy Orton & Kevin Owens) in 5v5v5 Men’s Survivor Series Triple Threat Elimination match = NXT 3 – SmackDown 2 – Raw 1

This had a few really cool moments, a few moments that were such typical of the worse parts of WWE booking it was incredibly irritating, but overall I enjoyed it. Sure it was a little messy in parts but again 15 guys in one match isn’t all going to run smoothly is it? Anyway… Walter was by a long way the most popular guy with the crowd at the beginning. His chopping exchange with Drew was incredible… and then McIntyre hit the Claymore and pinned Walter. The most over guy out first. Crowd hated it. Ffs. KO eliminated the former Chad Gable (who had a really fun exchange with Riddle), playing off the War Games match the night before… Tomasso Ciampa hit the draping DDT on Owens and eliminated him. Randy Orton pinned Damien Priest after an RKO. Matt Riddle eliminated Orton after a roll up pin which was super super cool. Not long after King Corbin eliminated Riddle which was super super NOT cool. Braun Strowman did his “run around the outside of the ring and take everyone out” thing twice and people loved it, but he got caught by Drew with the Claymore kick. This was enough to keep Strowman out the ring for the 10 count and he was out. Corbin pinned Ricochet, Rolins pinned Ali, Reigns pinned McIntyre after a big Spear. Then after some in-fighting between Corbin and Reigns that saw Roman hit Corbin with a Spear, Tomasso Ciampa took advantage and eliminated Corbin. Then they had public enemy number 1 Seth Rollins eliminate Ciampa after a curb stomp and a Roman Spear before that. Then it was basically the Keith Lee show. And it was awesome. So one guy left for each team. And 300plus pound Keith Lee has Chicago well and truly basking in his glory. Lee hit a jackhammer and then eliminated Rollins to a huge pop. The final exchange between Reigns and Lee was awesome. Everyone was desperate for Lee to win and he nearly did with a spirit bomb for a very very close nearfall. But it was Roman who got the win for his team with a Spear. Roman showed respect for Keith Lee after. Even in defeat this was a star making performance for Keith Lee.

I think Roman might win the rumble and face The Fiend…

****

Becky cut a really good promo to the camera.

Brock Lesnar (c) with Paul Heyman defeated Rey Mysterio in a No Holds Barred match to retain the WWE Championship

Fun for what it was. Brock dominated and stood on Rey’s metal pipe so he couldn’t use it as a weapon. Eventually Rey’s son Dominick came out to try and help his Dad, he even went to throw in the towel but Lesnar stopped that. Eventually Rey and then Dominick both have Brock lo blows to huge pops. And they then hit a double 619, and each hit a frog splash (must say that Dominick’s splash looked really great). Brock got out of the pin despite both guys jumping on him. Dominick got laughed off the top rope with a German by Brock, and Rey got caught from the top rope and hit with a big F5 for Lesnar to retain. I liked this.

***1/2

NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler defeated SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley and Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch in a triple threat match

This was an alright match. It was very much your classic three way match in that it always seemed to be two people in the ring and one out of it and they’d rotate. For the finish Shayna threw Becky over the announcers table on the outside and then back in the ring Bayley came off the top rope looking for the elbow drop on out for Baszler to catch her in the kirafuda cltuch for the win. NXT WINS SURVIVOR SERIES!!! Praise the Lord!!! The after match stuff was interesting for me; Lynch got a takedown on Shayna and threw her over an announce table, then jumped off a barricade with a “butt splash” which put Baszler threw the table. Commentary made a point of saying that although Shayna won, she didn’t beat Becky. The long term booker in me now thinks Becky vs Shayna could be a big time WrestleMania match perhaps if a certain someone else doesn’t come back after all……..

***

FINAL SCORE:

NXT 4

SmackDown 2

Raw 2

NXT WON!!!!!!!!!!!!

NXT WON!!!!!!!!!!!!

NXT WON!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s all. 😁

Josh.

NXT TakeOver: War Games 2019 – Review

Well then… that was something else wasn’t it…

We got the first TakeOver show of the NXT is now the main roster too era… and boy oh boy did it deliver. A typically great NXT big show that went exactly 2 and a half hours for the main show and three hours overall. Excellent. 5 good – great matches and lots and lots to talk about and celebrate.

The slightly different to usual TakeOver pre-show saw Charly, Sam (who was his usual asshole, heel-character self) and Pat (who was his usual short-wearing, man of the people, funny as heck self) stand at the top of the entrance ramp to present. We were told that just before we came on air Mia Yim was jumped from behind and was now not in the women’s War Games match (that would open the main show).

Angel Garza defeated Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott 

Good faced paced match. More exciting than the average WWE pre-show match. Really fun spots, highlights being Garza doing his ‘rip off his pants’ spot and then superkick Scott for a nearfall, (crowd was a little dead, but also the ref was audible shouting instructions like ‘stay down’ and ‘hard cam’ to help these guys along which really didn’t help my enjoyment of what was an alright match. A fun spot was when Scott did a jumping backheel kick to Garza, and finally in the finish where Scott blocked an attempted low blow from Garza, but Garza countered into a… well… I don’t know quite what it was but he locked a double underhook and then hit a sort-of sit out powerbomb type move and got the pin. This was fine, but heavily led by the ref.

**1/2 

They played a hype package for Riddle vs Balor. Sam Roberts shat on Riddle in NXT which came across as all Roberts’ pre-show comments now do, as BS and forced.

We saw the beaten Mia Yim being carried into an Ambulance led by Ripley, Candice and Tegan. Dakota Kai was hanging around too. Ripley then picked a reluctant Kai to be Yim’s replacement. The plot thickens…

They played a hype video for the men’s War Games match. Before Pat McAfee got the crowd hyped up before the main TakeOver show started.


Rhea Ripley & Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai defeated Shayna Baszler, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and Kay Lee Ray in a War Games Match

Ripley entered first up to a huge ovation. Everyone else got ok pops, Io Shirai was the other where the crowd reaction upon her coming out was notably loud. The wrestling itself in the early stages was really good, and that kept up all match pretty much. To follow on from there great singles match from the previous NXT TakeOver it was Candice and Io who started off the match for their teams. The crowd was split as the two women had a really fun mini-match, with Io at one point smashing LeRae’s face into the cage wall with her knee. Eventually after a slight fuck up with the countdown clock it was Bianca Belair who came into the match next and the former college athlete pretty quickly hit an awesome looking shooting star press onto a prone Candice. LeRae tried to mount a comeback but Belair, like an early 2000s Brock Lesnar, hit two consecutive lift up powerbombs and then another that sent Candice crashing into the War Games cage wall! Io Shirai then ran at the ropes back and forth a number of times before hitting a Dropkick. Next to enter to even the odds was Rhea Ripley who got a big reaction. The crowd ate it up when she went under the ring to bring out some weapons (trash cans and lids and kendo sticks, chairs as well but not tables that the crowd seemed desperate for). Ripley launches Belair onto one of the trash cans she had pulled out which looked a horrible bump to endure. NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray entered the match next. She also bought in a number of chairs from under the ring. She went to grab a table, but then didn’t just to annoy the crowd. There was an awesome spot where it looked like the heels were going to launch Candice onto a pile of chairs below, only for Ripley to come underneath all of them and launch everyone off the top in a tower of doom spot. The late replacement in the match Dakota Kai was next to enter… but just as she looked fired up to finally get into the match, she turned around and attacked her best friend and teammate Tegan Nox! Kai really went in wirh her attack as a a number of officials came out to try and stop it, including NXT GM William Regal who Kai even pushed away! In a really great heel move Kai used the cage door to repeatedly smash Tegan Nox’s surgically repaired knee. This was an awesome heel turn and made Kai into a bigger star immediately. Many, myself included saw it coming but the timing of it caught me off guard and it was executed really well. It was just what Kai’s character needed. Team Captain Shayna Baszler was the final person from her team to enter the match and looked to take great enjoyment from what had happened. With Kai turning on and abandoning her team and Tegan Nox now injured the match would now continue and begin officially 4vs2 in favour of the heel team. The heels dominated for a little bit until Candice stopped Belair hitting Ripley with her long ponytail by attacking her with a kendo stick. Io Shirai went up to the top of the cage and Candice followed, Kay Lee Ray tried to go after her but LeRae got her with a reverse Frankensteiner off the top for a nearfall. And then in the spot that I personally and I’m sure most watching dreamed of going into this match, Io Shirai hit her signatures moonsault OFF THE TOP OF THE WAR GAMES CAGE onto both Candice and Bianca below!!! This looked as spectacular as hoped. In a really cool spot Kay Lee Ray tried to jump off the top rope onto Ripley only for Rhea to smash her in mid air with a trash can! With Ripley pre occupied Shayna Baszler cane from behind and tried for the Kirifuda Clutch submission, it was locked in seemingly until Rhea Ripley appeared to handcuff herself to Baszler! She then kneed her in the face and with Shayna stunned she hit her Riptide slam-type move onto a couple of unfolded steel chairs that were in the ring for the pin fall and the win.

This was an exceptional match and for me at least the best War Games match in NXT so far. Every woman in this match individually was good to great. And the finish did exactly what I had hoped. Rhea Ripley, who comes off pinning Charlotte Flair on SmackDown now heads to Survivor Series having pinned Shayna here. Ripley was a star before this but she is absolutely a made woman now and this sets up a a HUGE NXT Women’s title match around the corner surely. A great great great match that I absolutely loved, and both myself and my mate Dan who I watched it with thought it absolutely flew by time wise whilst watching, which is maybe the best compliment you can give a match. This was absolutely brilliant and surpassed all the lofty expectations it had going in.

****3/4

Pete Dunne defeated Killian Dain & Damian Priest to earn an NXT Championship match against Adam Cole at Survivor Series 

In a contrast to usual TakeOver match order it was the men who had the un-enviable task of following a great match by the women. Dunne was by far the crowd favoruite. This was a really fun three way where all 3 guys got chances to shine. Unsurprisingly given the participants it was a really hard-hitting affair that suffered a little from coming after a War Games match, in terms of crowd investment. But it was good nonetheless. Highlights of the match included Dain (who for me was the MVP of the match) hit a fallaway slam/Samoan drop combo to both Dunne and Priest at the same time! Later on Priest hit Dunne with a Razors Edge onto the Spanish announce table which did not look like fun to take at all. Killian Dain, the absolute madman, then came flying through the ropes with a Tope onto Priest, and not long after hit a rolling senton onto Priest that sent them both through the barricade. Towards the end Dunne cracked both his opponents fingers and then hit a superplex on Dain, he followed with a Bitter End for Priest for a two count. For the finish Dunne had Dain in a sleeper hold but Dain fought off with a Samoan drop that saw both guys land on Priest (who was on the floor). This allowed Pete Dunne to take advantage by pushing Dain out the way and he pinned Priest for the win! I really liked this finish as it protected both the larger guys and was logical for the scheming and frankly much smaller Dunne to get a realistic win. The crowd popped huge for Pete Dunne, he faces Cole for the NXT Title tomorrow night now. That’s if Cole makes it that is… more on that later…

This was a fun and good enough match that suffered a little due to lack of crowd investment towards the later half after such a fast start and the match that came before this. Nonetheless for what it was it was perfectly fine a match.

***3/4

Finn Balor defeated Matt Riddle

The video package before this dream match was really good. Riddle came out in Black and Red attire, which I think is some form of reference to a Chicago based sports team??? When the now heel Finn Balor came out the spotlight for his entrance was solely on him, and his gear was all black. Sometimes its the subtle things that impress me the most. The fans chanted “RIIIIDDLE” in reference to his public “rival” Goldberg. The match itself was very mat-Wrestling heavy which I think we all needed at that stage of the show. Balor was in charge early and hit a Dropkick to Riddle through the ropes and caught him right in the face with his foot (it looked horrid and even worse on replay). They went back and forth after in the ring with strikes and Riddle got a near fall with a knee strike and a German Suplex. Riddle went for another knee and tried to follow with a power bomb but Balor hit back with a double foot stomp and a slingblade. And then in a spot me and Dan and I’m sure everyone else watching found absolutely hilarious; Riddle hit a Spear and then a Jackhammer for a nearfall on Balor. Matt Riddle uses the ultra protected finishers of Bill Goldberg as just another couple of regular moves. Fantastic. He then hit the “Bro 2 Sleep” (which for obvious reasons in Chicago got a big pop as the finisher of a certain someone). Riddle went for the Floating Bro but Balor got his knees up and then dropkicked Riddle into the corner. Finn went for the Coupe de Grace but Riddle moved, and then locked in the Bro-mission. Balor somehow rolled his way out of it and then followed with his old 1916 DDT for the finish and the win.

This was absolutely as good as you’d expect from these two. Both guys looked so good here. I can’t imagine there’s many guys as happy with their job in WWE right now than Balor. This was brilliant. On any other show match of the night but somehow only the 3rd best on this show.

****1/2

Tomasso Ciampa, Kevin Owens, Keith Lee & Dominik Dijakovic defeated Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) in a War Games match 

Shockingly enough… this was fucking fantastic stuff as well!!! Era coming out draped in all their gold really did make them look like a million dollars. Ciampa came out wearing his Psycho Killer mask from his indie days and also had face war-paint on. His camo-inspired gear and signature crutch too pleased me highly, again it’s the subtle things. Team captain Ciampa marched to the ring to start the match, and it was Roderick Strong who volunteered to start for Era. They had a fun brawl until O’Reilly entered and they ganged up on Ciampa. Dijakovic was next in and went on a tear. Bobby Fish was next in. Era were really in control now, Roderick Strong hilariously took the piss out of Dijakovic’s catchphrase by saying “feast your eyes DORK” which I found hilarious at the time. Keith Lee then entered at full speed to the delight of the crowd and looked really ready to go. He went at O’Reilly and Fish, he LEAPFROGGED over one guy (yes the 300pound plus Lee leapt over someone) and hit a crossbody after… I love me some Keith Lee!!! After Strong had hit Lee with a Dropkick Ciampa tried to make the save only to be outnumbered and beat on. Finally Adam Cole entered for Undisputed Era, and he took some tables from under the ring beforehand to the delight of the Chicago crowd. After sliding some tables in the ring he set one up leant against the barricade, but was then shoved from the ring steps by Ciampa as he went to go into the cage and Cole went crashing through the aforementioned table he’d just set up. It looked great. With the 7 pre announced participants now in the match we had the four Undisputed Era members in one ring and the three babyfaces of Team Ciampa stood tall in the other. They walked towards their downed opponents like Lions about to attack their prey… it led to a great mini brawl. Bobby Fish hit a low blow to Keith Lee before he could attack and Era seemed to gain the upperhand. This coincided with the countdown to the final entrant in the match, the mystery 4th member of Team Ciampa… the clock counted down and the crowd with it to zero… nobody came out for a few seconds… and THEN… KEVIN OWENS MUSIC PLAYED AND THE CROWD WENT APE SHIT!!! And out came the former NXT Champion sporting his old KO-NXT shirt as well!!! This was an awesome choice. The look on Adam Cole’s face was priceless. “HOLY BLEEP, HOLY BLEEP” Mauro called on commentary. And once again “Mystic Dan” called this spot on… anyway Owens came in like a house on fire and hit all the Era members with moves, Cole tried to get his irl friend to do the Undisputed Era sign… but after a mini tease Owens gave Cole a “suck it” and hit him with a Stunner (which Cole sold great by the way) and for a nearfall. Not long after Lee and Dijakovic threw Strong from one ring into the other but he kind of got caught in the ropes so didn’t quite make it fully. Kevin Owens seemed really fired up and shook the cage in excitement. Tables were set up everywhere. Keith Lee hit a huge crossbody onto everyone which looked great. Lee then really took a beating as Strong hit an Angle Slam on him from the top rope, and then Fish and O’Reilly hammered him with knee strikes. Meanwhile Cole and Owens went back and forth on the metal bit between the two rings. Owens looked to try a package piledriver onto the metal plate which the crowd were hot for in anticipation. But somehow Cole just about reversed it into a Panama Sunrise which the crowd gave a “holy shit” chant for. Tomasso Ciampa went on rampage after hitting knee strikes to Fish and O’Reilly and then Cole too. And then we came towards the finish which as it played out just got better and better and visually more spectacular each spot… so first of all Dominik Dijakovic sent Bobby Fish through a table with a chokeslam to take him out, he tried to do the same to Kyle O’Reilly but he got out of trouble with a triangle choke using another table to lean his back on for leverage… only for Kevin Owens to take the opportunity to climb to a nearby top turnbuckle and hit a frog splash to send O’Reilly through the table. Next it was Roddy Strong’s turn as Keith Lee hit a sit-out powerbomb onto Strong off the top rope through another table to take him out. Meanwhile… across the side of the other ring the two team captains were about to top the lot of them with a table spot of their own… and one for the ages… so by this stage both Ciampa and Cole had made their way to the top of the cage in the far corner, with two tables set up below… and after a brief back and forth of jostling for position (and Ciampa steadying his footing) Tomasso picked Adam Cole up and hit a Air Raid Crash from the TOP OF THE FUCKING WAR GAMES CAGE THROUGH THE TWO TABLES SET UP BELOW!!! The crowd went wild for this bump and it was of course enough to get the pin fall and the win for Ciampa. Immediately after of ALL PEOPLE the camera cut to Adam Cole’s girlfriend in the crowd who looked mortified. She was mentioned by name on commentary, Britt Baker (that’s AEW wrestler Britt Baker by the way). This was an amazing spot to end a brilliant match. My immediate thought was I hoped Ciampa was ok, but thankfully Keith Lee went to him to offer him a hand up and the babyface team celebrated to close the show.

This was another spectacular match. Ciampa was unreal levels of good in particular but everyone involved was great here. A brilliant match.

****3/4

And THAT was TakeOver! Another great NXT show as they always seem to be. So much set up for the future too; Ripley as a certified MEGAstar and the next contender to Shayna, Dakota Kai as a new heel and potential singles matches with all 4 members of team Ripley, You have Pete Dunne vs Adam Cole for the title at Survivor Series now (providing Cole survived that table bump that is) which really could steel the show, Finn Balor looked as big a star as he has done for years in a great match with Matt Riddle who wasn’t at all damaged even in defeat, and the main event sees Ciampa go even further up the ladder on his quest to bring his beloved Goldie back to Daddy by pinning the NXT Champion. And the big reveal of Kevin Owens came off great. What that means for Survivor Series with Owens as a member of Team Raw in the men’s 5v5v5, bearing in mind we still don’t have a reveal of Team NXT for that match remains to be seen.

Speaking of Survivor Series… it was revealed by Rhea Ripley on the usual post-TakeOver Facebook live chat with Triple H, hosted by Cathey Kelly, that the women’s NXT team for their 5v5v5 would be Rhea Ripley as team captain, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and former NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm!!!

One other bit of news from the show was the announcement that there will be another NXT TakeOver show coming from Portland, Oregon on Sunday February 16th 2020. There is no TakeOver over a Royal Rumble weekend (we’ve a Worlds Collide tournament instead, whatever that’ll look like). But if that TakeOver is anything near as good as this one was we are in for an absolute treat.

This was another really good NXT TakeOver show and one where all the big moments came off as huge as intended. And the wrestling and big spots were brilliant throughout the whole show. The main show went exactly 2 1/2 hours which is an absolute dream for us fans used to 4-5 hour main PPVs (another which we will likely get Sunday night as well) but it absolutely flew by. Another triumph. Bravo NXT. I love you so much and will be firmly in your corner for Survivor Series.

Josh.

 

Top 10 CM Punk WWE matches

We thought it would never happen. But last week it did… kind of… So to mark the unofficial WWE return of CM Punk, and given that Survivor Series weekend is coming at you from Punk’s home of Chicago this weekend, I thought now was as good a time as ever to bring back one of the signature post types of my blog. Sure a lot of you will know of the pipebomb, his cult-hero status and his acrimonious departure from WWE. But lost amongst some of that is how good a wrestler Punk was. It’s funny that you maybe wouldn’t say he was the GOAT at any one particular aspect of the in-ring stuff, but he was a solid 7-9/10 at all the little bits that make up a great wrestler. So join me as a I countdown the 10 times CM Punk showed how good he was between the ropes. Here is my run down of the 10 best WWE matches of CM Punk.

10. CM Punk vs Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing Match – Extreme Rules 2011

This was a match from the period I wasn’t really following the product. But in my research for this list it was certainly a pleasant surprise when I did watch it. It’s another example of when Randy Orton is motivated to put on a show, he’s one of the greats. As you can expect given the stipulation they both used all sorts of weapons in this one and there was so much to recap I’ll try and tell you the highlights in note form: match began with Punk smashing Orton’s body with a kendo stick, Orton launching Punk into a chair he had placed between the ropes in the corner and Punk went absolutely flying into the chair and went through the chair almost onto the floor (it looked horrid to take as a bump), Punk hitting a GTS for a 9 count, Orton hitting an RKO for a 9 himself, Punk placing Orton’s head into a chair and throwing him into the ringpost. Later Punk would try another GTS on the announce table, but Randy hit an RKO that Punk got up from at 9 but stumbled back down. Orton then set up for the Punt Kick, but Punk got out the way and dropped Orton down onto the ring steps. For the finish Punk went to the top rope, but Randy hit him with a load of shots with a kendo stick to Punk’s back, and then hit an RKO off the middle rope. And this was enough to keep Punk down for the 10 count and end this feud with a bang. And this was just the opener of that PPV! Good stuff.

****1/2 

9. CM Punk (C) vs Daniel Bryan in a No Disqualification match for the WWE Championship with special guest referee AJ Lee – Money In The Bank 2012

So by this point AJ Lee had chosen the affections of Punk over former boyfriend Daniel Bryan, and she then found herself here refereeing a match between the two for the WWE Championship. Naturally once again with these two guys, they put on a really good match. Despite the fact it really was a lot about AJ Lee it was still really great to watch, Lee got took out a few minutes in and replaced by Mike Chioda, Punk and Bryan brawled and fought in the meantime, such as a trade of kendo stick shots before Bryan hit Punk with a tonne of kendo shots to the back. Eventually AJ Lee came back to referee, the story seemed to be AJ wanting to decide who was going to win herself at various points, she dropped a chair in the middle of the ring and had both men try and crawl to it first, Bryan and AJ argued at different points and at another point CM Punk went to launch Daniel Bryan into a chair in the corner he had set up, but AJ Lee stepped in so he couldn’t do it. In a great-looking spot Daniel Bryan used a kendo stick to help him add pressure and force to the Yes Lock as AJ Lee smiled on… Punk escaped though and threw Bryan into the corner. CM punk would later hit his GTS but took so long to go for the pin as he was hurt that it was enough time for Bryan to kick out, this made Punk get mad at AJ Lee. To win the match Punk used a table and placed Bryan on it, and after a brief brawl Punk hit a back superplex to send Bryan through the table and then got the pin. AJ Lee counted it but wasn’t happy, with the idea that she wanted to be the deciding factor in the win and she wasn’t. It was a silly story but regardless the match was really good.

****1/2 

8. CM Punk with Paul Heyman defeated Chris Jericho – Payback 2013

This show is more remembered by those who know for being the show WWE asked an injured and beat up CM Punk to come in for, because it was in Chicago and they needed him. And he did. Unsurprisingly the live crowd were super hot for this and it only added to the big match occasion. Punk was the ultimate babyface to the crowd and Jericho was hated. This was another occasion where CM Punk and a top star just went out and put on a BANGER of a professional wrestling match. They went back and forth all match and you really didn’t have any idea who was going to win as it went on. There were a few great nearfall spots; Punk coming off the ropes for a springboard only for Jericho to catch him with a Codebreaker, Punk turning a Walls of Jericho into a nearfall via a small package and later Punk trying to hit a huracanrana only for Chris Jericho to block the attempt and again hit the Walls of Jericho. The finish came when Punk got out of a half-crab by hitting a series of strikes to Jericho’s head, he followed up with a GTS, and then as Jericho stumbled to the corner of the ring Punk would hit a second GTS for the 1, 2, 3. Great stuff.

****1/2 

7. CM Punk (C) vs Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship – Over The Limit 2012

This came across to me as the least WWE match I’ve seen for some time. These two wrestlers had a ‘rasslin match and it was great. Submission holds, various strike-based moves and the whole time the crowd were chanting loudly for both guys (interesting point to me was the younger members of the audience seemed to shout for Punk, with the adult male voices seeming to be behind Bryan). Maybe it was juts me but it looked like these two guys were having the time of their lives wrestling one another, and whilst the story of AJ Lee and the upcoming love-triangle of sorts was still to come it made a nice change to just see two great wrestlers wrestling for the WWE Championship. A lot of wrestling is about the storylines sure (as many of this list are), but a good match is a good match and this was good, would’ve been great but the finish was odd to me. Daniel Bryan had the Yes Lock applied , only for CM Punk to roll over Brayn and pin his hsoulders to the mat for the win and to retain his title, however as the ref slapped the mat for the third time Punk began to tap, but the refs hand hit first so Punk got the win just in time before he had to give up. Bryan was annoyed as Punk celebrated, and it did lead to a three way involving Kane (who had attacked Punk the Raw prior to this show) at the next PPV, but it was a minor annoyance on what was otherwise a really good match. CM Punk vs Daniel Bray was very good… I know, you’re shocked aren’t you…

****1/2 

6. CM Punk (with Paul Heyman) (C) vs The Rock for the WWE Championship – Royal Rumble 2013

Come on now, CM PUNK defended the WWE CHAMPIONSHIP against THE ROCK… I couldn’t do a CM Punk best matches list and not have this in there could I? This was a great spin on a classic wrestling tale; CM Punk as the evil long reigning champion against literally the People’s Champion, the returning hero The Rock. For all the hype it had, and yes it was the match that led to TWICE in a lifetime at that year’s Mania and long term was maybe the result that led CM Punk to leave the company and denied him of his WrestleMania main event spot he craved so badly… but this match was everything you could want in a professional wrestling bout. Great drama, a hot crowd to go with it, and a great story in the match itself of Punk using every trick in the book to try and combat the valiant challenger. The finish here was excellent; to get around the pre-match stipulation set by Mr McMahon banning The Shield from getting involved, just as Rock was about to hit the People’s Elbow the lights went out… and in the darkness The Shield put Rock through an announce table and had vanished when the lights came back on… the genius plan from Heyman and Punk seemed to have ruined the dream of The Rock as Punk pinned him not long after to retain. But then… Vince came out and told Punk that he saw through his plan and was about to strip Punk of the title, until The Rock (still battered and exhausted at ringside following the attack) said he didn’t want it that way, and asked for the match to be restarted. Vince agreed and the match was back underway… and eventually The Rock DID hit the People’s Elbow, and he DID pin Punk to end his 434 day reign. The Rock was the WWE Champion, and the moment was made even greater by the false ending from before so just made the eventual Rock win even more special. A classic in how to draw a crowd in and get them to pop even louder. Great stuff all round here, aside from Punk not getting that Mania main event he and his title run deserved.

****1/2 

5. CM Punk with Paul Heyman vs The Undertaker – WrestleMania 29

Of all the matches on this list, this is maybe the one I’m most familiar with. So as Punk didn’t get to defend the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania, he did get the next best thing; The Undertaker match. Following the death of Paul Bearer it was Punk and Heyman who mocked the passing in challenging Taker for his then WrestleMania undefeated streak, and also took possession of Taker’s coveted Urn. The match itself was great, Punk helped take Undertaker to maybe one of the last great matches of his long and illustrious career. They went just over 22 minutes, told an exceptional story, had a tonne of nearfalls with big move after big move from both guys, and the finish was great too; with the ref down Punk hit Taker with the urn and then did Undertaker’s traditional pin, only for Undertaker to kick out. They both then traded nearly hitting their finish with the crowd at fever pitch, until finally Taker hit the Tombstone for the win. Taker’s streak was up to 21-0, he had the urn back, and all was right in The Undertaker’s world… for another year at least…

****1/2 

4. CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy (C) in a TLC Match for the World Heavyweight Championship – SummerSlam 2009

It was pretty notable when you look back at the fact that Jeff Hardy and CM punk had a series of matches for the world title in WWE, and the fact this match main evented this PPV ahead of a John Cena vs Randy Orton WWE Championship match.  Chances are if you liked CM Punk you liked Jeff Hardy so this was somewhat of a dream for fans at this time. Of all their matches this one is the best of them for me. Jeff Hardy of course is no stranger to these type of matches, and he didn’t disappoint here either, and neither did CM Punk. They used all the Tables, Ladder and Chairs to try and beat down eachother as Punk looked to make good on his pre-match promise to ‘end’ Jeff Hardy. This all the hallmarks of a classic TLC match, in that it was not one for the squeamish as both guys came crashing onto ladders and through tables and colliding with chairs in what was a brutal test of will and desire that went just over 20 minutes. In the most amazing spot Jeff Hardy climbed to the top of the tallest ladder I think I’ve ever seen, and hit a prone CM Punk with a Swanton Bomb through the announce table. It was a pretty spectacular visual but one I’m sure left both men feeling the consequences. They did the stretcher job for both guys and even put Jeff in a neck brace, as much as he tried to get off and back into the match. Punk crawled to the ladder only for Jeff to jump back into life to stop him… The finish of the match though was one of heartbreak for the LA crowd, as  Punk desperately climbed the ladder and Jeff followed and tried to fight Punk off, the challenger hit Hardy with a stiff kick to his injured ribs that sent him crashing to the floor below, and CM Punk pulled down his newly won World Heavyweight Championship belt. A GREAT TLC match that Jim Ross rightfully called a ‘thrill ride for the ages’. The crowd in the arena did though go from stunned silence to jubilation as a returning Undertaker then appeared to confront the new world champion, but this was another night where CM Punk captured gold from a top babyface in a really good match.

****3/4 

3. CM Punk vs John Cena in a Number 1 Contenders Match for the WWE Championship – Raw February 25th 2013

So the idea here was that this was to decide who would face The Rock at WrestleMania for the title, so we all knew who was going to win of course… but I don’t think we expected them to put on a match, on regular weekly WWE TV no less, that was this compelling. The quote from the Bleacher Report recap of the match said “This wasn’t just the best match on Raw in years. It was one of the best WWE matches I’ve ever seen period.”. It was big move after big move, and was fitting given what was at stake. I really want you all to go and watch this because this was just a really really great wrestling match and if you don’t enjoy this match I don’t think you’re watching the right thing to be honest. There was a moment of controversy towards the end of the match; John Cena got hit by Punk with a Piledriver. That form of the move was outlawed in WWE and thus Vince McMahon was furious. Cena, given he was the top guy, took the heat for it. Cena kicked out of the piledriver, Punk later went for the big elbow drop but then bizzarely Cena did a move I don’t think I’ve seen him do before or since, a Huracanrana! It was an odd-looking one but still was just a shock to see Cena do that move… he then hit the AA for the win to set up TWICE in a lifetime at that year’s WrestleMania. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter review of the match called it “among the best matches in Raw TV history”. This was a classic.

****3/4 

2. CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman in a No Disqualifications Match – SummerSlam 2013

Billed as ‘The Best vs The Beast’ this was a match that came about following Punk’s former manager and long-term friend Paul Heyman turning on his former charge and choose to back the rather larger horse of Brock Lesnar. There was a lot of emotion going into this and expectations were high. It did not disappoint. We are used to in 2018-19 Lesnar having classics with guys smaller than him (Styles/Bryan/Rollins) and it began here against CM Punk. Lesnar rag-dolled and beat on Punk early on as the crowd tried to roar their hero back into it, Punk eventually getting Lesnar to the outside as the momentum began to shift. It wouldn’t last all that long as Lesnar beat on Punk and squashed every comeback The Best In The World would try. and then in the second half of the match, it went from good… to GREAT! Punk and Lesnar went back and forth with big move after big move in a classic sign of a Paul Heyman match, and from then on out the crowd were electric trying to will Punk to a miracle. At long last though CM Punk finally got his hands on his former ally, eventually putting Heyman in the Anaconda Vice submission and making him tap furiously… until Brock hit a few huge chair shots and then the F5 onto the chair for the win. This was a classic that if CM Punk had of win I’d have had down as about as perfect as this match could of been.

****3/4 

1. CM Punk vs John Cena (C) for the WWE Championship – Money In The Bank 2011 (if CM Punk won the WWE Championship, John Cena would be fired)

Often on his various podcasts, Conrad Thompson will tell his listeners to ‘go out of you way to watch this match’. Well… I’m telling you right now to go out of you way to watch this match. You’ve heard of the pipebomb from Punk right? Well this was the match that the pipebomb was leading to. The story here was essentially CM Punk’s contract with WWE was legitimately expiring, he was holding WWE ransom wanting his demands to be met, and so they made a story out of it. CM Punk was leaving WWE and wanted to hit them where it hurt the most, by beating their top guy on the way out and taking the holy grail of the WWE Championship with him. As a result a match for Punk was set up against WWE Champion John Cena, and the pre-match stipulation set by Vince McMahon was made that, given what was at stake and the possible disaster that could happen, it was announced if Punk won, Cena would be fired. Oh… and for good measure the match was in CM Punk’s hometown of Chicago. There about as much hype for this one as was humanely possible. What we got was absolutely extraordinary. CM Punk, the top heel in the company, got about as loud a babyface reaction as you’ve ever heard. John Cena, the biggest star and top babyface champion, got one of the most incredible heel reactions of boos from the crowd you’ve ever heard. The match itself was absolutely fantastic, and sure it’s the popular thing to hate on John Cena but who the fuck was the idiots chanting ‘you can’t wrestle’ to John Cena. This absolutely dispelled that myth once and for all. I don’t really want to talk about the move for move details of the match, just go out of you way to go and watch it. They went just over 33 minutes. And it was great great great stuff. The finish of the match was about as incredible as you could have had… In a clear call-back to “the incident in Montreal” When Cena had Punk in his STF submission Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis tried to get the bell rung to end the match and to screw Punk, but valiant superhero Cena went out of the ring and hit Johnny Ace, and told Vince that he wasn’t going to win that way, and Vince couldn’t get his dream result to be rid of Punk and to keep his company’s championship in house… but Cena got back in the ring, CM Punk picked him up, he hit the GTS, and he pinned John Cena in the middle of the ring 1, 2, 3. Vince’s worst nightmare had come true and his disgust was clear to see. CM Punk had won the WWE Championship to a thunderous reaction from a raucous Chicago crowd. Even Vince’s panic of trying to get Alberto Del Rio to cash in his Money In The Bank contract he had won that same night didn’t work as Punk just kicked him in the head. And then just as he claimed he would, CM Punk looked Vince in the eye, blew him a kiss, and then ran through the crowd with the WWE Championship in hand… This match well and truly lived up to the most hype a WWE match has had for many, many years. An all-time CLASSIC. A masterpiece and by a long way the best WWE match of CM Punk’s career.

*****

and we never saw or heard from CM Punk in WWE ever again…

😉

 

Josh. 

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.