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WWE TLC Review

 


 

WWE held their annual event ‘Table, Ladders, and Chairs Event’ (TLC) for the Raw brand, TLC was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Sunday October 22, 2017.  WWE announced two days prior to the event Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt would miss the event due to a medical condition later speculated as the Mumps.  The replacements was Smackdown’s AJ Style facing ‘Demon’ Finn Balor and the return of Kurt Angle. The event had one TLC match, featuring Kurt Angle’s WWE return with the Shield (Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose) vs. The Miz, Braun Strowman, Kane, Sheamus, and Cesaro.  TLC was a fun event with some good matches.

 

(Kickoff Show)

 

Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox

 

Banks and Fox have great chemistry together in the ring.  Fox plays ‘the crazy girl’ heel character great.  This match was solid. Banks in the end come out on top, locking her finisher, ‘the Bank statement’ on Fox.

 

Winner: Sasha Banks, 3 stars

 

During the kick-off show, Elias interrupted a conversation between Jason Jordan (kayfabe son of Kurt Angle) and Kurt Angle.  Elias and Jordan’s interaction would be throughout the event, as Elias made several attempts to sing, with Jordan throwing produce at him. This interaction would lead match between the two, before the main event.  It was something different adding a change of pace through TLC.

 

TLC Main-Card

 

Asuka vs. Emma

 

All hardcore fans was looking forward to the debut of Asuka on the main roster.  In NXT, Asuka went unbeaten as champion, her reign was over 500 days, finally relinquishing the NXT title heading to the main roster.  Asuka was everything, the hype had built.   Emma put on a great heel performance as well.  Finally, Asuka was able to submit Emma via ‘Asuka lock.’ Another solid performance from the ladies on the roster tonight.

 

Winner: Asuka, 3 stars


 

Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann vs. The Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher

 

This was a fun match, but I wish their was a title at stake.  I would have prefered this match would have been a ladder match.  I could only imagine Rich Swann hitting the Phoenix Splash off of a ladder.  All four competitors gave a solid performance.

 

Winner Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann, 3 stars

 

RAW Women’s Championship

Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Mickie James

 

The only prediction where I was wrong. I picked Mickie James, because I felt this would have given us a new storyline.  The match was good paced, and Alexa won in true heel fashion capitalizing on an awkward instance where the referee stopped James from pulling Alexa’s hair, giving Bliss an opportunity to launch James into a turnbuckle setting up the DDT finisher of champion.  Champions find a way to win, and hopefully somewhere down the road, Asuka will get her opportunity to win the championship.

 

Winner: Alexis Bliss, 3 stars

 

Cruiserweight Championship

 

Kalisto (c) vs. Enzo Amore

 

Unfortunately, we had to endure an Enzo win here hitting his finisher Jaw-Done-Zo. Kalisto made this match worthy of the main-card.  Clearly, on 205live, Enzo is going to be the focus of the show.  At some point, Enzo is going to turn off fans.  It would be nice, if there was a Cruiserweight tag titles to highlight the different superstars, and give fans a reason to be interested in the product.

 

Winner: Enzo Amore,  2 stars (only because of Kalisto’s work in the match)

 

Singles Match

Demon Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles

 

This is a hardcore wrestling fan dream match. Two former leaders of the Bullet Club facing each other. The Bray Wyatt replacement AJ Styles is a much needed upgrade. This match was Wrestlemania worthy.  Each superstar is just ahead of curve in performing in the ring. Though Balor won, AJ Style once again proved, he is arguably the best in the WWE.  The epic moment at the end, where Balor and Styles gave each other, a ‘Too-Sweet’ was just awesome.

 

Winner: Finn Balor, 5 stars

 

Elias vs.  Jason Jordan

 

No doubt, this was a ‘break’ match for everyone in anticipation of the main event. This match was nothing special other than giving two future featured guys a spotlight.  Jason Jordan picked up the win in a controversial rollup pin of Elias.

 

Winner:  Jason Jordan, 2 stars

 

5-on-3 Handicap Tables

, Ladders and Chairs Main Event

 

Kurt Angle, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman, The Miz, Kane, Sheamus and Cesaro

 

Again, hardcore fans have been given a treat in October. Kurt Angle's in ring return, because of medical issues per say with Reigns. Regardless of the truth, all fans should enjoy this moment. It has been 10 years since last Angle competed in a WWE ring. Epic Shield Entrance with Angle geared out as a shield member. This match was one hell of a rollercoaster ride. Rollins, Ambrose, and Angle dominated the start of the match. The 5 on 3 numbers game overwhelmed Angle, Rollins, and Ambrose. Angle put over Strowman going through a table walking to the back with assistance. The Miz and company dominated Rollins and Ambrose, calling for a garbage truck, to end the Shield once and for all.  However, things broke down for Team Miz, when Kane inadvertently hit Strowman with a chair.  At the entrance stage, Kane turned on Strowman chokeslamming him through the stage.  The WWE had decorated the TLC set with hanging chairs, one of these props, was near where Kane had chokeslammed Braun.  The chairs come crashing down, on Strowman, he was out for a few minutes.  When Strowman stirred, he attacked everyone on his team, ending in Team Miz putting Strowman in the garbage truck.  Clearly, there will be hell to pay.  Taking Rollins and Ambrose were taken back to the ring, Kane setting up to chokeslam Ambrose, Angle’s music hit.  Angle olympic slammed Sheamus on the floor, and Cesaro got slammed through a table. One thing about this match; there were a few botches on the tables not breaking which I am sure Vince was not well pleased with after TLC.  Regardless, the match ended in typical baby-face fashion. As I predicted, The Miz took the pin by getting finishers from Ambrose, Rollins and Angle.  Then, in Shield nostalgia, The Miz was powerbomb in typical Shield fashion.  It was clear, Angle enjoyed himself.  The crowd left happy.  The match was a crazy rollercoaster ride, but it was fun to watch.

 

Winner: Team Angle  4 stars (simply, because of the crazy fun of the match)


 

Overall, I give this PPV, 3.1 stars.  The event was fun and I recommend all fans watch.  The only issue is that for a TLC build of the event, there was only one TLC match type.  Would have been interesting to see a table and ladder match.  Leading to Survivor Series, it seems the WWE is going to go with Smackdown vs. Raw which I do not mind.  I think, Balor should get a title shot at the Royal Rumble for the Raw brand. Also, I would like to see AJ Styles get another WWE title run on Smackdown Live.

 

Marvelous Mike, Guru of Pro Wrestling

@realguruwrestle

 

WWE HELL IN A CELL- Review

 

WWE held their annual event ‘Hell In A Cell’ (HIAC) for the Smackdown brand, Hell In A Cell  was held from The Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday October 8, 2017.  The event had two HIAC matches, The New Day v. The Usos, and Kevin Owens v. Shane McMahon. Also, the WWE title was on the line with Shinsuke Nakamura v. Jinder Mahal.  HIAC was a good paced event.  I will again maintain, these 3hr events seem to be more entertaining.  

 

Kick-Off Show - Hell In A Cell

 

Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin vs. The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley)

 

This was the first match on the evening.  Benjamin/Gable have the potential to be a great tag team.  The story of this match however was the continued delusion of the Hype Bros. The match itself was well paced, but friction between Ryder and Rawley is evident foreshadowing a heel turn for Ryder.  Gable was able to perform a bulldog from the top rope leading to the pinfall. I am glad Ryder/Rawley have a story, but both guys ceiling is lower midcard.  A feud between them would be more relevant if something like a TV title was at stake. Benjamin/Gable hopefully will soon be in the tag title scene.  Benjamin could be a main event caliber talent.  I can certainly envision a WWE title reign someday.  Dream matchups against Styles, KO, Nakamura, and Orton would bring up the level of the card.  I would prefer to see Benjamin as a heel eventually turning on Gable.  Gable could be a solid midcard talent, with huge upside.

 

Gable pins Ryder :  2 stars

 

Hell In A Cell:  Main Card

 

Tag Team Championship Hell In A Cell Match:  The New Day v. The Usos

 

Another classic match from these two tag teams, both teams proved they need to be considered the top tag teams in the world of pro wrestling. The match was the highlight of the HIAC event. The Usos utilized handcuffs and kendo sticks on both Big E and Xavier Woods. The WWE is about moments. The moment Big E broke the handcuffs simply was classic. There were so many near falls in this match to keep the audience in suspense. I recommend if you want to watch one match of HIAC, watch this one. The Usos stock of tag team legends is rising to rank of their relatives, The Wild Samoans.  I can certainly see another elimination tag team match at Survivor Series.  In the end the Usos, hit the Double Uce with a chair across Woods chest picking up the pinfall becoming 5x tag team champions. In 2017, this feud has arguably been the best in pro wrestling.

 

Uso’s pin Woods,  4.5 stars


 

Randy Orton vs. Rusev

 

This feud has been mediocre at best.  At Summerslam, Orton completely buried Rusev defeating less than 30secs. Rusev has tremendous upside, but his gimmick has been lacking ‘the monster.’  Rusev simply works better with Lana his wife as his valet. This match was decent.  There was a good slow pace storyline throughout the match.  I would have prefered a double-turn in this match.  Orton works better as a heel. However, there is a danger Rusev turning face.  The WWE has a tendency to make ‘foreign’ competitors comedy acts when they go face.  The transition from Rusev’s attempt of the Accolade (Camel-Clutch) to Orton slithering into the RKO (out of nowhere) got a huge crowd pop.  Give credit to both performers, for good storytelling in this match.  

 

Orton pins Rusev via RKO - 3 stars

 

United States Championship Triple Threat Match:  AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger

 

Overall this match was decent.  Nice to see Dillinger is getting a mid-card push.  Corbin is continuing to develop as a somewhat monster heel.  Of course, AJ Styles carried the entire match selling like a champ.  Dillinger simply was in the match to protect Styles from being pinned.  We will see if Corbin has enough star power to make the US Title seem relevant.  I would honestly like to see Sami Zayn get a US Title run.  Dillinger is solid mid-card talent, but he lacks the excitement factor that he had in NXT.  I do believe Styles move on to another program soon.  I look for Styles to have title shot at Survivor Series.  As stated before, Styles carried the match. In the end, Corbin pushed Styles out of the ring after he hit his finisher on Dillinger picking up the pinfall.  A good heel tactic to get the victory to get his first title reign in the WWE.

 

Corbin pins Dillinger  3 stars

 

Smackdown  Women’s Championship -- Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya

 

A match that was technically sound throughout contest. The story of this match was Charlotte dealing with a kayfabe nagging leg, which Natalya had been focusing on throughout the match.  Charlotte sold this injury like a champ, and I thought for certain this would lead to Carmella cashing in her MITB briefcase.  In the end, Charlotte won by DQ when Natalya used a chair on the outside of the ring.  The finish was a classic old school WCW, disappointing. Highlights of the matchup was Natalya failure to get the submission with the Sharpshooter and Charlotte hitting her moonsault. Honestly, I miss heel Charlotte. She was such a great heel on Raw. Her adding shades of her father, Ric Flair, was awesome, via Flair walk.  The story will continue as Charlotte chases the Smackdown Women’s Championship.  

 

Charlotte picks up the win via DQ of Natalya, who retain the championship-- 2.5 stars

 

WWE Championship - Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

 

I will say Mahal is improving every match, but still his gimmick has gotten old.  Slowly, the WWE is killing what makes Nakamura a special attraction with his continued losses to Mahal.  Winning or losing doesn’t matter in pro wrestling, but fans want to see the favorite overcome the bad guy. Mahal’s promos have went from decent to borderline racist during this feud with Nakamura. The matchup all fans want to see at Wrestlemania is Nakamura vs. AJ Styles.  I do not know if Vince and WWE Creative see the potential in this match, but they have booked Nakamura as another flash in the pan, nostalgia act instead of the mega-star that Shinsuke Nakamura potential is. The argument proponents cite is Mahal needs to be champion during the India tour. Without the WWE championship, honestly, Mahal couldn’t draw a damn dime anywhere, and he isn’t drawing at all during his reign. Unless, Mahal vs. Khali is the end game during the India tour, the point of Mahal being champion is pointless. Simply, Mahal has ‘go away’ heat instead of heel heat.  He has not elevated Nakamura at all which is the primary job of a heel.  Nakamura is the kind of charismatic personality that crosses ethnicity.  Mahal is improving as I stated; he is working his ass off to improve his in ring abilities. The creative team behind him lately has done no favors.  Charles Robinson, the referee ejected the Singh Brothers from ringside, gave fans hope.  Mahal tricked Nakamura again, hitting his finisher for the win. There just is no chemistry between Mahal and Nakamura.  

 

Mahal pins Nakamura -- 1.5 stars

 

Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler

 

This match was descent. Ziggler put Roode over in the short match, retaining some heel heat.  My issue with Ziggler, is he is not original.  Though tremendously talent in the ring, he comes up short to deliver time and again.  These two performers had a limited time to get their stuff in.  I think Ziggler spoofing past WWE legends has hurt his stock. The best thing for Dolph is to go to the indies and find himself like Cody Rhodes. He did generate heat to get over Roode; it is evident Ziggler simply doesn’t care.

 

Roode pins Ziggler,  -- 2 stars

 

Hell In A Cell-- Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon

 

The WWE is a showcase of athletic dramatic storytelling.  This match simply was good storytelling from start to finish.  There weren’t many wrestling holds.  However, it was a forgone conclusion, the match was ending with Shane diving off of HIAC.  There are certain matches where ‘getting juice’ or blood makes the match believable. HIAC is such the case.  Though WWE corporate is TV-PG, there comes a time, where it is necessary.  Shane and KO got their spots in.  Shane is commended for putting it all on the line to entertain the fans.  The ending had been spoiled by a number of ‘Wrestling Rumor’ sites, unfortunately I read a headline on twitter.  Zayn needed a heel turn as a character.  WWE certainly was underutilizing as a talent.  Shane can be written off of TV now.  I think most fail to see how good he was in the role of the classic ‘Bill Watts’ commissioner.  KO arguably has become the best heel in the WWE, and character on SDLive.

 

KO pins Shane -- 3 stars

 

Overall, Hell In A Cell was an average PPV.  The tag championship match was the best match of the evening.  I recommend picking out my highest rated matches.  

 

Overall rating --  2.69 stars, average PPV

 

Marvelous Mike Guru of Pro Wrestling

@realguruwrestle

WWE held their annual event ‘No Mercy’ for the Raw brand, No Mercy was held in the Staple Center in Los Angeles, California, this past Sunday September 24, 2017.  The event had arguably two Wrestlemania caliber matches, Roman Reigns vs. John Cena, and Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar, for the WWE Universal Title. No Mercy was a good paced event.  I will again maintain, these 3hr events seem to be more entertaining.  

 

Kick-Off Show - No Mercy

 

Elias vs. Apollo Cruz with Titus O’Neal

 

This was the first match on the evening.  Elias has become entertaining, drawing the crowd in with his guitar gimmick singing and letting them down insulting the town the WWE event is located.  Elias the hipster singing gimmick down to perfection.  The match with Apollo Cruz was short and entertaining.  There was again to much talking on the preshow, it would have been great to see a multi-man cruiserweight match.  Elias/Cruz was a decent match to start the show.

 

Elias pins Cruz :  2 stars

 

No Mercy:  Main Card

 

The Miz with the Miztourage v. Jason Jordan for the Intercontinental Championship

 

Jason Jordan has exceeded my expectations with his single run with the gimmick of being Kurt Angle’s estranged son.  Slowly, he is improving discovering being a single star in the WWE.  I would give Jordan a year before we can legitimately judge his performance.  The story of this match was if Jordan could overcome the numbers game of the Miztourage.  Jordan is becoming a suplex machine, which I love to watch.  However, in the end, the Miz prevailed with interference, hitting the skull crushing finale on Jordan.

 

The Miz pins Jordan,  2.5 stars

 

Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt

 

Balor without ‘the demon’ gimmick, faced Bray Wyatt proving Finn is ‘an extraordinary man, that can do extraordinary things.’ Wyatt taunted Finn telling him that ‘Finn, You ain’t no demon, you ain’t even a man.’  These words fueled a fire in Finn to unleash a flurry of offense, ending the match rather quickly, with the Coup de Grace.  Hopefully, the feud between Wyatt and Finn is over.  

 

Balor pins Wyatt - 2 stars

 

Big Cass vs. Big Show, with Enzo Amore in a shark cage

 

Everyone has to give prompts to the Big Show in putting Big Cass over in this match.  This is the twilight of Big Show’s career; he is giving back to the business.  Enzo’s attitude has gotten him a lot of backstage heat causing the breakup of him and Big Cass.  Sadly, this past Monday Night Raw, Big Cass suffered an ACL tear in a match with Enzo.  Enzo was relegated to the cruiserweight weight division on 205live which is a good move if he straightens out his backstage antics.  The match at Summerslam lack chemistry between Show and Cass.  The Big Show suffered a kayfabe injury with his hand; Cass took advantage of the injury hit his Empire Elbow for the pin.  At one point in the shark cage, Enzo stripped to his underwear putting on body oil and escaping the cage.  Cass destroyed him. This match was the worse on the card.  Enzo was not an attraction, but he was just awful.  Cass needs a lot of work, in the ring perhaps going back to NXT where he can get some help.

 

Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Team Championship

 

These teams put on another good match that had a lot of action in the ring.  The highlight sadly was Cesaro, taking a bump into the ring post busting out his two front teeth.  Cesaro and Sheamus pushed the champs to the limit.  Highlight of the match was Sheamus catching Ambrose with White Noise, and Cesaro catching Rollins off the second rope powerbombing him onto Ambrose.  For ‘The Bar’ things went bad fast, after Sheamus inadvertently Brogue kicking Cesaro, turning around into Rollins finisher Rain Trigger knee strike, (stolen from Kenny Omega, V-trigger in NJPW), Ambrose then hitting Dirty Deeds.  This was a very entertaining match.  A note on the Raw tag team division.  The division is spread a little thin on tag teams since Jeff Hardy’s shoulder was recently injured on Raw.  The Revival is suffering an injury as well with Scott Dawson.  Hopefully, we will see The Miztourge now move into the top spot challenging the tag team champs.

 

Ambrose pins Sheamus  -  3.5 stars

 

Raw Women’s Championship -- Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley vs. Nia Jax vs. Emma

 

Alexa Bliss faced an uphill battle in this match.  Most people would have picked Nia Jax or another talent in this match. The story of this match, was Alexa surviving, and everyone else neutralizing Nia Jax.  Bayley and Banks both broke up pinning attempts on Bliss adding to the drama on if Banks would finally turn heel.  It would have been great to see this happen.  Finally, Alexa hit the DDT on Bayley to retain her title.  Alexa proclaimed herself ‘the only true Goddess’ of the Raw Women’s division.  I am glad to see the DDT finally reclaim its devastating history as a finisher, instead of a high-spot.  Clearly, every fan is ready for Asuka to make her debut to bring some new life into the women’s division.  Also, I would like to see Paige to return and reclaim her ‘star.’  The women’s division on Raw could use both Asuka and Paige.

 

Alexa Bliss, pins  Bayley  via ‘DDT’ -- 3.5 stars

 

Roman Reigns vs. John Cena

I expected this match to be as the writing was on the wall.  Cena and Reigns fought a decent contest.  Cena did everything in his power, to oversell in an attempt to sprinkle the ‘Cena dust’ on Reigns. One of the first matches, I have noticed ‘passion’ in Reigns. I recommend, everyone go to Podcast one, look up the E & C Pod of Awesomeness, with Edge and Christian, listen to the Cena interview. This match was entertaining.  The story was Cena was unable to overcome Reigns.  I didn’t seem organic; the finish seemed to scripted.  Reigns is ‘the guy’ at least in the WWE. Vince in his mind, has created ‘The Undertaker’ 2.0.  Cena seemed to truly be ‘relieved’ that ‘the torch’ had been taken by Reigns to be the face of the company. Listen to Cena on Raw Talk after No Mercy. I will wait and see what comes of Reigns if he is able to continue this momentum.  I do not want to see, Reigns seemly taking another ‘legend’ and giving them ‘the ole yellower’ treatment.  Cena will remain part-time.  I hope to see him land the role of Shazam in the upcoming film with ‘The Rock.’ Cena in whatever role he serves will always be one the best ambassadors for the WWE making it more mainstream entertainment.  Reigns, is getting into a program with The Miz.  I look at Wrestlemania the matchup to be title for title, Reigns the IC champ vs. Brock Lesnar, The WWE Universal Champ.  A recreation of the Hogan/Warrior matchup from Wrestlemania V. The WWE is in better hands with Reigns, than it was with The Warrior.  However, as I wrote last month’s issue, the measuring stick will be if Reigns can be a ‘mega-superstar’ draw.  No matter how much ‘dust’ the WWE attempts to sprinkle on Reigns, a company can not artificially create charisma.

 

Reigns pins Cena -- 2.5 stars

 

Cruiserweight Title Match -- Enzo Amore vs. Neville

 

Mediocre storytelling in this match, however, pathetic wrestling from Enzo.  Enzo hit his finisher, a modified Tornado-DDT off the top rope, which Neville kicked out.  This match was a weak attempt of a double turn.  Neville was over confident, and it cost him the title. Enzo is awful in the ring.  He can give a promo, but Enzo gets annoying after a while.  In the long-run, Enzo winning the championship does nothing to help build the 205Live brand. Enzo can barely run the ropes without tripping over his own feet.  I understand the title switch to get a buzz for the 205Live brand.  WWE creative will never understand, the cruiserweights need to fly and be the best talent in the ring.  The puppet strings are on the division to hinder these talents from all their abilities, so they can not outshine the other main roster talent.  The cruiserweights are their own division, with their own show, but the old school promoter’s mentality has been the detriment of the brand. Enzo could have his place in the division, but simply he lacks the respect of everyone in the locker-room.  Neville made the fans feel, the WWE Cruiserweight championship was a world championship. Most likely, Enzo turning heel is to set up a reunion with Big Cass when he returns from injury.  At least, WWE creative has allowed Enzo to go full heel.  Honestly, I would prefer a heel Jack Gallagher champ, because he can actually, do one thing, Enzo can’t do, wrestle. I will be honest, most hardcore fans who never has stepped in the ring, could legitimately out perform Enzo in the ring.  Enzo racked Neville and pinned him for the 1-2-3.

 

Enzo pins Neville,  -- 1 star

 

WWE Universal Championship Match -- Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman

 

I thought this was an amazing match.  The Beast, Brock Lesnar versus The Monster among men, Braun Strowman.  Braun dominated the majority of this match.  Over the summer, Lesnar has made the Universal Championship legit.  I admit that I would have liked to see Strowman win, but Lesnar proved a champion finds a way to win.  The story of No Mercy is Lesnar and Reigns remained dominant heading to Wrestlemania seven months down the road.  WWE has a larger long-term plan for Reigns and Lesnar.  Fans should not be upset Braun lost.  He has proven himself as a main event draw.  I hope in two years, WWE gives us Strowman v. Reigns in the main event of Wrestlemania.  Strowman can help Reigns be a big money draw.  There is nothing lost with Strowman losing to Brock Lesnar.

 

Lesnar pins Strowman -- 3.5 stars

 

Overall, No Mercy was an average PPV.  The later half of the event was entertaining.  I recommend picking out my highest rated matches.  

 

Overall rating -- 2.56 stars, average PPV

 

Marvelous Mike Guru of Pro Wrestling

@realguruwrestle

 

A Falling Star: Sexy Star’s Fall From Grace

 

Few can argue, in season 3, of Lucha Underground, the most iconic stories in pro wrestling was that of Dulce Maria Garcia Rivas, aka Sexy Star.  Though for years, the masked superstar has been at the top of AAA Mexico Promotion, winning the Reina de Reinas Championship three times.  Her story was brought to an audience in the United States during the first three seasons of Lucha Underground (LU).  Even Though LU is a taped television show directed by Robert Rodriguez, I believe u have to consider the promotion one of the best written promotions in the United States.  LU captures the essence of Lucha Libre, and the Hispanic Culture.  I consider LU the third best promotions in the world. At the center, of all the various stories, in season 3 was Sexy Star.  

 

The story of a woman who overcame domestic abuse to become a kick-ass fighter and wrestler. A woman whose message that her mask represents all women, that inside of all women is a sexy star to overcome the odds of a male dominated society.  Regardless of your opinion, a wrestling fan can appreciate the drama that unfolded in the program Lucha Underground.  With Sexy Star rise to fame, the future looked bright for the female luchador.

 

In AAA, traditionally there has been a lot of backstage politics and drama with the Hispanic female wrestlers.  Recently, AAA stripping the title from Taya Valkyrie, (Johnny Mundo’s girlfriend) brought a lot of heat because the promotion did so, with Taya not losing in a match.  Reportedly Taya missed an appearance due to a minor car accident, and management was upset with her.  A match was made to determine the next Reina de Reinas Champion and the returning Sexy Star won.  Apparently, there was a lot of backstage politics between Sexy Star and Vampiro (AAA head booker).  Many of the other female luchadors were unhappy with this move among them Lady Shani.

 

At Triple-Mania, ( AAA’s largest event of the year), Sexy Star was set to defend her Reina de Reinas AAA title in a three way match with Lady Shani and Ayako Hamada.  Lady Shani had promised Sexy Star to shoot on her during the match, because she was a friend of Taya and disagreed with the backstage politics Sexy Star allegedly had been playing. As a last minute decision, for a cross-promotional match, GFW’s Rosemary was added to the match.  This was a great addition.  Rosemary is one of the top female wrestlers in the world,and has been a constant presence in GFW/TNA for a number of years. Rosemary was completely unaware of any drama going on in AAA in the women’s division.  

 

The match was pretty straightforward for each competitor.  Sexy Star took on body slam, and rolled out of the ring for a portion of the contest. There seemed to be some stiff shots from Lady Shani on Sexy Star, but Ayako and Rosemary received their fair share.  Lady Shani actually took most of the damage in this match. Sexy Star made her comeback in the match, the crowd was with her.  She caught Rosemary in an armbar, and Rosemary tapped.  However, Sexy Star refused to release the hold and legitimately shoot on Rosemary separating her shoulder.

 

Rosemary gave her body to Sexy Star, and Sexy violated the bond of trust competitors have with each other in the ring. There was no excuse for the actions of Sexy Star.  Rosemary was innocent in this entire AAA drama fest over the Reina de Reinas Title. In the past, American wrestlers have visited Mexican promotions and have been shooted on, but in the modern era this is not the way to conduct business.  

 

Across the wrestling world, this incident overshadowed everything that happened at Triple-Mania.

Doctor Wagner Jr., a lucha libre, pioneer lost his mask to Psycho Clown potentially retiring, but Sexy Star’s shoot on Rosemary was the headlines. Every wrestler weighed in on the Sexy Star/Rosemary incident.  The predominate theme of the wrestling world was Sexy Star being banned from bookings in the United States.  Cody Rhodes, current ROH champion, tweeted that ‘he would not share a locker room’ with Sexy Star.’  Stone Cold Steve Austin had the best response on his podcast on podcastone.  In summarizing his statement, Austin said ‘accidents happen in the ring, sometimes stiff shots are expected, but there is no place in the wrestling business, for people ‘to go into business for themselves’, and maliciously to injure an opponent...He goes on to say ‘people have to feed their families and have to work to make a living...no way he would book Sexy Star on any show.’

 

Rosemary responded on twitter….calling Sexy Star an ‘asshole.’  Sexy Star responded twice in two long letters, not one time did she apologize to my knowledge.  All the momentum Sexy Star had built in LU, she flushed the respect as wrestling fans down the toilet along with her chances of going to the WWE.  I have no idea if Lucha Underground will continue to use Sexy Star in their promotion. AAA should at least suspend the luchadora. Though Sexy Star is married to former WBC Featherweight Champion Jhonny Gonzalez, her future in pro wrestling is dismal at best.  She is already losing bookings in the United States.  AAA actually owns the rights to wrestling mask gimmick Sexy Star.  Perhaps AAA should fire, Dulce Maria Garcia Rivas, for her actions, replacing her with a new luchadora.  Sexy Star broke the code, and is falling star in the twilight.

 

Marvelous Mike, Guru Of Pro Wrestling

@realguruwrestle

 

 

 

Greatest Wrestling Personality Of All-time:

Remembering Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan


 

    On Sunday, it was reported the wrestling universe lost the late great WWE/WCW manager and announcer Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan.  Over the last ten years, Heenan had been unable to speak due to complications from throat cancer.  While a new generation of wrestling fans are unfamiliar with the icon, Bobby Heenan can be credited being the one of biggest stars of the WWE in Rock N-Wrestling Era of the 1980s.  When Heenan phased out of managing career, ‘The Brain’ became as big of wrestling star with Gorilla Monsoon/Roddy Piper announcing on WWE ‘Primetime Wrestling’ show, and later as a color analyst with WCW.  I believe Heenan is one of most influential wrestling personalities of all-time. Heenan talent wasn’t as a in ring performer, though he oversold to get the babyface over.  Bobby simply could outtalk anyone in the wrestling business.  

 

    Heenan made his first prominent appearance in 1974 with Verne Gagne’s AWA.  He coined the gimmick of ‘The Brain’ managing notably AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel.  During his time in the AWA, Dick The Bruiser famously gave Heenan the name of ‘The Weasel;’ a nickname that would follow Heenan his entire career.  Heenan formed the first Heenan Family consisting of Bockwinkel, ‘The Crippler’ Ray Stevens, BlackJack Lanza, & Bobby Duncum Sr.  

 

    In 1984, Bobby Heenan jumped to the WWE with Hulk Hogan. In the WWE, Heenan became larger than life.  As ‘Wrestling With Wregret’ wrestling personality Brian Zane, said in a tribute to Heenan, ‘it can be argued Hogan’s main nemesis during his epic title reign during the 1980s was Bobby Heenan.’ Hogan was the cartoonish hero, and Bobby Heenan was his arch-nemesis.  Just like Superman needed Lex Luthor, Hogan needed Heenan.  The Heenan family stable was the one constant heel faction from 1984-1993.  Bobby Heenan defined what a ‘heel’ should be in the world of wrestling.  There is no question, Bobby Heenan was the greatest manager in pro wrestling history.  Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, Ken Patera, ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff, Andre the Giant, High Chief Sivi Afi, The Brain Busters (Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson), ‘Playboy’ Buddy Rose, ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude, The Islanders (Haku and Tama), ‘King’ Harley Race, Hercules, The Barbarian, ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig, The Brooklyn Brawler, Ric Flair, and ‘The Red Rooster’ Terry Taylor were all the talent Bobby Heenen managed during his managing career.  Most of these talents were all the major opponents of Hogan during his first reign as WWE Champion. The promos and match announcing of Heenan was epic during this period.  The majority of talent Heenan managed made it to the top of the card, except Terry Taylor, which reportedly wouldn’t listen to Heenan’s advice.  On occasion Heenan has found himself, as a in ring wrestler, ‘The Brain’ simply was a complete star. The worse talent Heenan had to deal with was The Ultimate Warrior. Though one of the most memorable occasions, Heenan had to wear a Weasel suit. ‘The Brain’ went to any length to entertain the fans.  The highlight of Heenan’s career was Wrestlemania III, Hogan v. Andre The Giant. Clearly, can be argued the biggest moment in wrestling history.  Finally in 1992 at the Royal Rumble, a talent managed by Bobby Heenan, Ric Flair won the WWE title.  It was entertaining listening Heenan on commentary with ‘the homer’ call.   

 

    Heenan transitioned into a full-time announcer role with the WWE.  If you haven’t watched any of episodes of WWF Primetime Wrestling, I encourage fans to do so. They are on youtube, and on the WWE Network.  The program is so entertaining and hilarious.  As Vince decided to end the Primetime Program, one of the most iconic moments of the first WWE Monday Night Raw, is when Gorilla Monsoon told security not to let Heenan in the building.  Heenan went through many attempts to bribe his way into the arena. This response can be found on the WWE Network.In WCW, Bobby Heenan became a huge part of the Monday Night Nitro, as a color analyst.  No one was better than Heenan, there are many memorable moments and comments.  From the PPV,Heenan cussed at Brian Pillman on-air, laughing at Hacksaw Jim Duggan.  Most iconic kayfabe moment as a personality came, in 1996, when Hulk Hogan turned heel.  Heenan justified every promo that he had given about Hogan saying ‘he wasn’t a nice guy.’ For wrestling fans, following his career, it was justification.  

 

    There are many claims, on different wrestling personalities to be the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.).  Bobby Heenan could have been a huge wrestling star in any era of wrestling.  Today, he no doubt would have been a mainstream sensation.  Heenan has influenced an entire generations of those involved in the wrestling business.  Today, I wish more talent prospects was allowed to be managers. Promoters need to open the door to managers that can get talent over with the crowd. I believe that it is one role in the wrestling industry that is lacking. One thing is for certain.  Only one Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, never be another.  I encourage everyone to go back, and relive the moments the G.O.A.T. gave us. Rest In Peace, Mr. Heenan.

 

Marvelous Mike, Guru of Pro Wrestling

@realguruwrestle

 

The RollerCoaster That Is GFW (TNA)


 

    Most hardcore wrestling fans hoped for stability finally with the former promotion TNA after its sell to Anthem Sports less than a year ago.  Excluding the legal battle with former talent of The Hardys, over the ‘creative rights’ of the ‘Broken Gimmick.’ TNA began to lay a solid foundation to have a viable promotion for the near future.  The signing of former TNA founder Jeff Jarrett as head of wrestling operations was the first move the company made.  Despite people’s feelings over Jarrett, few can argue Jarrett is a creative guru in wrestling.  

Jarrett was able to mold partnerships with AAA in Mexico and Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan.  Also, through his past relationships with Spike TV.  TNA was able to secure a huge TV deal with Spike in the UK.  Jarrett brought back Dutch Mantel to TNA, who was responsible for past TNA success, and has traditionally been associated with the initial success of some of pro wrestling’s biggest stars, such as Stone Cold Steve Austin. Bruce Prichard was signed as on-air TV personality.  Prichard has over 30 years of experience as an executive for the WWE, and currently has the #1 pro wrestling podcast ‘Something To Wrestle’ on the MLB Radio network. After Prichard’s contract expired, Jarrett brought in Jim Cornette which initially helped with ratings.

    TNA also signed a huge TV deal in India, and had a very successful tour of India.  TNA rebranded the promotion to Global Force Wrestling (GFW) , a brand created by Jarrett after his first departure from TNA.  Few could doubt the promotion needed rebranding from the Russo coined termed TNA.  The young talent on the roster also seemed to bring life to the promotion.  The ratings in the United States saw marginal gains. Even with Alberto El Patron (Del Rio) former WWE champion and superstar, becoming the promotion’s first unified GFW Champion.

 

    Two major issue, I believed got GFW off to wrong start with hardcore wrestling fans. TNA/GFW will always have their core fans, but the majority of wrestling fans were turned off by the promotion by their treatment of The Hardys. Personally, GFW dragging out the legal claims over ‘The Broken Universe’, just left a sour taste for the entire promotion. The twitter wars between Reby Hardy (Matt Hardy’s wife, former TNA Knockout talent) and GFW/TNA management has not went well for the promotion. GFW has alienated a lot of fans not relinquishing rights over a gimmick that wasn’t created under Anthem ownership.  

    Most smart wrestling fans, tune into the WWE, but they seek a wrestling product that is different. When Anthem took the reigns of TNA with Jarrett basically at the helm, the promotion constantly attempted to compare itself to the WWE from having TNA talent accuse WWE talent of gimmick infringement, to scheduling GFW/TNA first house shows in years in Connecticut in the shadow of WWE headquarters.  El Patron constant rants against the WWE on-air to twitter.  The announce team and Prichard bringing up the WWE in tapings.  If GFW, focused on the their talent in the ring the promotion would have been better.  El Patron wasn’t the best representative to be ‘face’ of GFW.  His constant drunken rants on social media and accusations of domestic abuse, has not reflected well for the promotion.  

Though El Patron was suspended and stripped of the title, GFW soon faced with the drama of Jeff Jarrett’s appearance at AAA’s biggest show of the year, Triple-Mania in Mexico City.  Jarrett was scheduled for a wrestling appearance. When Jarrett’s music hit, the former world champion clearly was not in wrestling shape. Jarrett completely embarrassed GFW, by throwing burritos at the crowd.  As stated by the announce team for the event, the last time American wrestlers did this, the crowd rioted.  Jarrett continued his antics arguing with the people in the crowd well after La Parka eliminated him from the match.  Jarrett should have wore a T-shirt if he was in bad shape, and he should have used opportunity to promote GFW instead of making it a mockery. From reports, Ed Nordholm (Anthem’s executive over GFW) and Vampiro (AAA’s booking executive), had a heated argument with Jarrett backstage after the match. Less than a week later, Jarrett has resigned from this position with GFW, and has taken a permanent leave of absence from the promotion.  

    After Jarrett’s departure, the snowball effect seems to have once again of executive drama has overshadowed the GFW product in the ring.  Jarrett apparently was forced out due to ‘personal’ issues.  Rumors are Jarrett has issues with alcoholism.  I do hope Jarrett gets the help he needs to overcome whatever ‘personal’ issues he has.  However, Anthem used Jarrett’s connections in the wrestling business to make the partnerships with AAA, NOAH, and Spike Tv UK.  It seems unfair if Jarrett was forced out.  Days after Jarrett’s departure, Sport Illustrated reported Anthem was looking to sell GFW because the promotion was ‘hemorrhaging’ funds. The same day GFW announced a TV deal in Germany, and days laters the creation of the GFW network.  Also, recently, GFW has signed John Impact to a limited contract, (aka Johnny Mundo (AAA Triple grand champion, Lucha Underground Champion, former WWE talent John Morrison) and his girlfriend Taya (former AAA women’s champion).  Showing complete lack of business savvy, Anthem reportedly still doesn’t own rights to Global Force Wrestling (GFW) brand title.  I think this is ridiculous to conduct business in this way.  Anthem, is rumored yet again to rebrand the promotion.

Jim Cornette as discussed on this popular wrestling podcast was scheduled to appear at GFW PPV ‘Bound For Glory.’ However, it was announced this weekend, note just a few weeks before the event, the GFW event will be in Toronto.  Cornette still has legal issues in Canada due to accusations of assault back when he was a manager, so Cornette can not enter the country.  Anthem announced they have parted ways with Cornette stating their new ‘creative’ brain trust will focus more on in ring talent than wrestling personalities.  Love Cornette or hate him, Cornette is as talented as Paul Heyman selling the match, building talent. Cornette reaches weekly many hardcore wrestling fans, again, instead of working with Cornette to pre-record his segments, GFW drops the ball again.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the direction of the promotion. Ed Nordholm and GFW executives are in damage control phase going on popular wrestling podcast to dismiss all these rumors.      Apparently, the promotion is turmoil. It is unclear of the truth behind most of rumors.  I want GFW to be owned by stable ownership, to give fans options to view different styles of wrestling, and so talent have options to work and be successful. As Bubba Ray Dudley tweeted, ‘the issue with TNA has never been with the talent in the ring, but the management.’ It has taken months to get ‘Impact GFW’ to a watchable program.  We will see what the future holds for Anthem’s experiment with GFW/TNA; fans can only hope management does not repeat the mistakes of the past.

 

Marvelous Mike, the Guru Of Pro Wrestling

@realguruwrestle

 

 

Summerslam 2017 Review

 

WWE held their second largest event of year, Summerslam in the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York, this past Sunday August 21, 2017.  Every title from the WWE except the Intercontinental Championship was up for grabs during the event. With the Kickoff show, Summerslam was close to a six hour event.  Though I was entertained, I find it difficult to commit six-hours to one event in a day.  I wish the WWE would split events such as Summerslam and Wrestlemania into two nights.  Of course, NXT Takeovers would need to move to Friday nights, but overall I think the WWE would benefit having an entire weekend of live events, and fans would not be exhausted. Overall, the event was a major success, and entertaining for the WWE Universe.

 

Kick-Off Show - Summerslam

 

The Miz and TheMiztourge (Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas) with Maryse vs. The Hardys and Jason Jordan

 

This was the first match on the evening.  The intercontinental championship was the only title not defended at Summerslam.  Fans were still making their way to their seats inside The Barclay Center.  The Hardys usually have a prime stop on the card, but tonight was mostly a night off.  Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas have went from being forgotten on the roster, to putting together a nice run as The Miz’s sidekicks.  Jason Jordan, current gimmick Kurt Angle’s son, still developing as a single competitor.  The Miz picked up the pin over Jordan.  It was sad, the IC champ and the Hardys had to perform to an empty mostly empty arena.  I’ve seen better matches from each of the superstars on Monday Night Raw.  

 

The Miz pins Jordan  :  2.5 stars

 

Neville vs. Akira Tozawa with Titus O’Neil for the Cruiserweight Championship

 

Neville has been the face of the cruiserweight division since he won the Championship at the Royal Rumble.  On Monday Night Raw before Summerslam, Neville dropped the title to Tozawa.  This booking decision made no sense, and made less sense with Neville winning at Summerslam.  This match was decent, but still being a fan of Junior Weight division in New Japan Pro Wrestling; I wish the WWE would just take the reins off cruiserweights and let them fly more.  Though Tozawa is extremely talented, Neville proved Tozawa is not on the Neville level.  There simply needs to be more star power in the cruiserweight division to make fans want to get involved in these matches.

 

Neville picks up the win via ‘Red Arrow’ off the top rope.  3 stars

 

The New Day vs. The Usos  Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship

 

These two teams work well together.  The Usos have found their gimmick as a bad ass heel team.  The last SDLive PPV ‘Battleground’ was controversial but these superstars by far had the best match.  This match should have been on the main card.  Everything you would want in tag match was found in this matchup. The Alley Uso launching Xavier Woods over the top rope, and catching Woods into a Samoan Drop was spectacular.  Finally, the Usos were able to hit the Double Uso on Big E, with each in different corners connecting frog splashes.  I look forward seeing both teams working together again.

 

The Usos, new Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions.  4 stars

 

The next segment was a live commercial for KFC featuring several WWE superstars. This was an empty way to get people on the show including Becky Lynch perhaps the most talent women’s superstar on SDLive.  Though the segment was funny, ending in Shawn Michaels dressing up as Colonel Sanders, I really thought this was a waste of time.  I tune into Summerslam to watch the superstars wrestle.  I understand not everyone can be on the main show due to time restraints.  However, there could have been less analysis from special guests and more in ring action.  A two hour kick off show only included three matches. Simply, this is not fair, to the fans or the competitors in the ring.

 

Summerslam:  Main Card

 

John Cena v. Baron Corbin

 

Baron Corbin has all the makings of the next big thing on Smackdown Live.  His future was bright winning the Money In The Bank ladder match securing a future WWE Title opportunity.  As with some past winners, momentum is stopped by backstage politics, particularly one superstar’s name, John Cena.  Cena has been known, to give the kiss of death to certain upcoming talents.  Corbin’s backstage ‘heat’ stems from his heel interaction with fellow superstars and certain fans on twitter.  There has been ‘wrestling insiders’ such as Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer magazine have been critical of Corbin’s in ring ability and taken their criticism to social media.  Corbin over the last few months has created controversy in and out of the ring.  Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated reported overhearing Cena saying ‘Corbin wasn’t ready’ to be a main event guy.  On the Smackdown Live before Summerslam, Corbin failed to ‘cash-in’ his MITB via Cena interference.  

 

The Summerslam match was a continuation of Cena’s burial of Corbin.  When Corbin hit the ring, Cena grabbed JBL’s cowboy hat.  I knew this was a tell sign of the outcome of the match.  The match was descent, but clearly sad, that Super-Cena couldn’t make Corbin look strong.  The future is up in the air with Corbin.  Clearly, WWE creative has plans for Corbin in the future, however, the question is whether Corbin will be able to survive the backstage politics.  With Cena, debuting on Monday Night Raw, Corbin may be able overcome the odds reaching his potential.  

 

John Cena pins Corbin via AA,  1.5 stars

 

Smackdown Women’s Championship -  Natalya vs.  Naomi

 

Perhaps the longest stint between title reigns ever in the WWE, Natalya last won a WWE women’s title seven years ago.  Clearly a leader in the Women’s locker room, as a fan, it was good to see Natalya get a title run before retiring.  There was nothing spectacular in this match. It was good storytelling of Natalya being able to lock the sharpshooter on Naomi.  Finally, Nattie locked in the sharpshooter in the middle of the ring, and Naomi had no choice but to tapout.

 

Natalya submits Naomi via Sharpshooter - new Smackdown Women’s Champion - 2.5 stars

 

Big Cass vs. Big Show, with Enzo Amore in a shark cage

 

Everyone has to give prompts to the Big Show in putting Big Cass over in this match.  This is the twilight of Big Show’s career; he is giving back to the business.  Enzo’s attitude has gotten him a lot of backstage heat causing the breakup of him and Big Cass.  Sadly, this past Monday Night Raw, Big Cass suffered an ACL tear in a match with Enzo.  Enzo was relegated to the cruiserweight weight division on 205live which is a good move if he straightens out his backstage antics.  The match at Summerslam lack chemistry between Show and Cass.  The Big Show suffered a kayfabe injury with his hand; Cass took advantage of the injury hit his Empire Elbow for the pin.  At one point in the shark cage, Enzo stripped to his underwear putting on body oil and escaping the cage.  Cass destroyed him. This match was the worse on the card.  Enzo was not an attraction, but he was just awful.  Cass needs a lot of work, in the ring perhaps going back to NXT where he can get some help.

 

Big Cass via Empire Elbow pins Big Show - 1 star

 

Randy Orton vs. Rusev

 

Rusev is another talent with tremendous potential.  He is talented on the mic and in the ring.  However, Rusev was victim to another ‘inflated’ ego of a WWE superstar.  Smackdown Live’s last PPV ‘Battleground’ at least John Cena had a good match with Rusev, making him look a legit superstar. Before the match, Rusev assaulted Orton during his entrance in the ring.  After the bell ring, Orton hit an RKO and picked up the win over Rusev in less than 30secs.  For some reason, Rusev since his feud with Roman Reigns in 2016, he never recovered his momentum after suffering an injury. Regardless, of time restraints for the Summerslam event, Rusev deserved better.

 

Orton pins Rusev via RKO - 1 star

 

Raw Women’s Championship -- Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss

 

With an injury to Bayley, Sasha Banks moved into the #1 contender spot with a victory over Nia Jax.  Dealing with several plagued injuries, Banks found herself lost in the wastelands of mediocrity with the feud of Bayley/Bliss taking up the majority of 2017.  Alex Bliss has proven to be one of the best heels in the WWE on both brands.  After the ‘superstar’ shakeup after Wrestlemania, Bliss found herself at the top of the card.  Many fans have been expecting a heel turn for Banks, but Bliss has filled that role. With rumored real life heat, between Bliss and Banks, the elements for a memorable match was set at Summerslam.  For whatever reason, there seems to be little or no chemistry between Banks and Bliss. Banks has a strong fan following, and another championship run for Banks went over well.  With many lackluster or horrible matches on the card previously, Banks winning gave the Brooklyn crowd something to cheer.  Personally, I am not a fan of the Sasha Banks’ character.  Her in ring skills are average, and she is victim of the 50/50 booking so popular with WWE creative.  I honestly don't know whether to cheer her triumphant moments, or boo her heel tendencies as a talent. Banks was finally able to submit Bliss with her ‘Bank statement’ crossface.  Banks becomes a four-time champion.  I am of the opinion the number of title runs is not equal to the quality of a tenure as a champion.  Hopefully, Banks will be given good run as Raw Women’s Champion, instead of playing ‘hot-potato’ with the title.  One question, Banks has to ask herself, rumored coming up on 2017 TLC  PPV, Is she ready for Asuka?  Asuka won at NXT Takeover Brooklyn, suffered a broken collarbone in the process, forcing her to relinquish the NXT championship and will be debuting on Raw when she is ready.

 

Sasha Banks, submits Bliss, via ‘Bank Statement’ -- 2.5 stars

 

Finn Balor (Demon gimmick) vs. Bray Wyatt

 

Bray Wyatt picked a clean victory over Balor on the Monday Night Raw. After the match, Wyatt pour a bucket of imitation blood on Balor.  This was good storytelling, causing Balor to unleash his ‘Demon’ gimmick at Summerslam.  These two superstars have arguably the best entrances in Pro Wrestling. Balor embraced the entire persona of ‘the Demon.’ I wish the storytelling was a bit better in this match.  Wyatt seems lost without the Wyatt family.  Luke Harper literally has been M.I.A. from WWE programming.  This was a missed opportunity to bring Harper back to the WWE Universe.  Harper is yet another victim of lackluster booking and vision of WWE Creative.  Harper in my opinion is the most talented of the young ‘big men’ in the WWE more so than Corbin or Cass.  Harper and Wyatt have thrived as a faction.  Balor picked up the win via Coup de Grace on Wyatt.  Another missed opportunity of the WWE to tell a great story with Wyatt.

 

Finn Balor pins Bray Wyatt -- 2.5 stars

 

Raw Tag Team Championship --Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus & Cesaro

 

Great storytelling leading to this match between Rollins and Ambrose, whether half of the faction, The Shield, would reunite.  Overall, this was another great tag team match.  The highlight among fans on social media and wrestlers throughout the industry, when Cesaro, left the ring area, grabbed a beach-ball someone in the crowd had started playing with distracting fans.  I commend Cesaro for doing this.  It is completely disrespectful for fans to play with beach-balls when there is action going on in the ring.  The action in this match was back and forth.  I recommend this match.  In the end, Ambrose and Rollins pick up the pin with a huge crowd pop.  With this win, Dean Ambrose is your New Grand Slam Champ. With 1xWorld, 2xIC, 1xUS & now 1xTag title. #SummerSlam.  This is an amazing accomplishment.  

 

Ambrose pins Sheamus via Dirty Deeds,  -- 4 stars

 

United States Championship Match -- AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens with Shane McMahon special referee

 

With the Shane McMahon element, this match was the best of the Styles/Owens feud.  The storytelling was masterful on all parts.  There were confrontations between all three stars.  False pins, near falls, finishers, and ref bumps were contained in this match. In the end, Styles picked the pinfall over Owens in a very entertaining contest.

 

AJ Styles pins Owens -- 3.5 stars

 

WWE Championship --Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jinder Mahal with the Singh Brothers at ringside

 

Nakamura’s entrance was epic all signs pointed to a Nakamura win.  Mahal matched up well with Nakamura.  Both had decent chemistry in the ring.  Mahal also showed he has greatly been improving in the ring.  In the end, Nakamura was unable to handle the interference of the Singh Brothers. On Smackdown Live, two week prior to Summerslam, Nakamura picked up a win over John Cena for the #1 contender to the WWE Champion at Summerslam.  Nakamura botched a gutwrench suplex dropping Cena on his neck.  This botch did not set well with Vince McMahon.  Rumors are this is the reason Nakamura lost here at Summerslam.  In my opinion, Nakamura should have won.  Mahal though getting better, Jinder is not carrying the brand internationally.  Shinsuke should not have been in this match, if he was going to lose.  A theme of this PPV is backstage politics seem to hindering storylines and feel good moments in the WWE.

 

Mahal pins Nakamura via Colossus Slam -- 3 stars

 

WWE Universal Championship Fatal 4 way matchup --Brock Lesnar v. Samoa Joe v. Roman Reigns v. Braun Strowman

 

One of the most anticipated aspects of this match was  Lesnar v. Strowman. Braun certainly delivered at the beginning of this match completely destroying Lesnar and Reigns.  This match turned into an instant classic.  Strowman put Lesnar through two announcer tables, and turned the other table on top of Lesnar.  Brock was carried to back, with the Barclay Center singing ‘Hey Hey Goodbye’ as Lesnar was carried off on a stretcher.  The violence ensued between Reigns, Strowman, and Joe.  When suddenly, Lesnar made his epic return destroying everyone sending everyone to ‘Suplex City’ but Strowman.  With help from Reigns, Strowman was neutralized.  Finally, Lesnar was able to retain his championship hitting an F5 on Reigns, pinning him.  Lesnar has received a lot of criticism not doing much in the ring over the last year. Clearly, Lesnar earned his money during this match.  

 

Lesnar pins Roman Reigns -- 5 stars

 

Overall, Summerslam was a long average PPV.  The later half of the event was entertaining.  I recommend picking out my highest rated matches.  I wish the WWE would get away with so much politics involved in their events. Clearly, new stars could be made, if only the politics were left out. The WWE championship was between to foreign born superstars, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The main event was awesome, and also the two tag championship were good matches.  Again, I would like the event to be a two day event because at the end these long events exhaust the fans.

 

Overall rating -- 2.77 stars, average PPV

 

Marvelous Mike Guru of Pro Wrestling

@realguruwrestle

 

 

The Reign’s Experiment: Is Roman Reigns Over?

 

Roman Reigns is the most polarizing talent in all of Pro Wrestling.  His fans, adore him, and his critics loathe his existence in sport’s entertainment.  There is no talent in the WWE in recent years that has been pushed to main event scene more than Reigns.  In Vince McMahon’s mind, Reigns is ‘the chosen one’ to lead the corporation in the future.  Many fans do not feel this share this opinion.  Some fans are displeased with corporate WWE, that Reigns has been ‘forced’ as the choice to lead the brand.  Reigns’ fans arguably are some of the most loyal, wrestling fans in sports entertainment. They are quick on social media to voice their displeasure to anyone questioning their hero.  In article, I will explore the arguments on if Reigns is truly over with the entire WWE universe.  

 

First, after watching Reign’s development for a few years, it is only fair to discuss my impressions on Roman Reigns.  Personally, I have no vested interest in Reign’s as an in ring talent. I believe that he does ‘work’ hard in the ring, but at climactic turning points in a match he fails to sell to the crowd.  I feel conflicted as a wrestling fan.  On one hand, Reigns will deliver a heel promo in the ring, he selling like a baby-face in a match.  I see a lack of connection with Reigns with his fan base in his ring performances.  Excluding the booing , Reigns fails to connect with those that are cheering him.  At times, the crowd reactions to Reigns, seems to be artificially generated.  It has been reported on several wrestling news sites; the WWE artificially pipes in cheers, Reign’s signs, and muffles boos. This interference of production hinders the natural crowd dynamic taking away from the wrestling product.  I do think Reigns has tremendous potential, and I would like to see the kid ‘get over’ eventually as a baby-face; he would be larger than life.  However, as many such as Jim Ross argue, a period of Reigns being in full heel mode would do wonders.  Reign’s is arguably the most hated wrestling in the pro wrestling industry as voted by Pro Wrestling Magazine 2016.  The WWE disagrees and continues the 50/50 booking of Reigns.

 

In 2017, one of the greatest rivalries in wrestling has been Roman Reigns v. Braun Strowman.  These two are the yin and yang for each other.  I will give credit to Reigns making Strowman into a star.  This rivalry will continue for years to come. A wrestlemania main event is in the future of these two superstars.  Reigns has sold his ass off in the ring, helping to create ‘the monster among men.’  Many wrestling rumor mills, predict Reigns will once again headline at Wrestlemania 34 facing Brock Lesnar.  As Lesnar’s contract comes to an end with the WWE, it only makes sense for argument to be settled on the grandest stage; who is the best out of the only two men, to beat The Undertaker.  Reigns no doubt could put on another good match with Lesnar; who he faced previously for the WWE title.  No doubt, the polarization of both lovers and haters of Reigns will boo or cheer the superstar.  

Roman appeals to many different types of fans on a positive level.  First, kids cheer Reigns for the most part.  For the WWE, this segment of the population is important.  Though far from Hulkamania phenomenon of the 1980s, merchandise sells are important.  Next, a portion of women are huge Reign’s fans.  This segment is huge for the WWE; also, this segment of the market which the WWE desires to grow having an attractive guy as Roman, appeals to these mostly casual fans.  Third, Reigns’ is the bad-ass too many male wrestling fans, that they wish they could be in real life.  The actions of Reigns recently crashing an ambulance with his opponent, Braun Strowman inside appealed to the inner thug of these fans. This is more evidence of the conflicted booking decisions of the WWE.  A guy that is suppose to be a role-model.  One of the primary faces of the company doing many make-a-wish, and meet-and-greets, is acting like nothing more a common street thug.  This is not the message parents desire to send to kids.  

 

With Reigns being so polarizing as a character, it is easy to see why a majority of hardcore fans, do not like him.  This was evident the Monday Raw after Wrestlemania 33.  Reigns had once again, main evented the showcase of the immortals.  He was ‘chosen’ to apparently be The Undertaker’s last opponent, beating Taker clean in the ring.  While Taker did the ‘right’ thing passing the torch to the next generation of superstars, few fans agreed with the decision for Reigns to be that choice.  Reigns perhaps gave one of the best heel promos in the last decade.  Though simple, it fed the crowd, and generated real heel heat. I believe the Wrestlemania was less about Reigns and more about an appreciation of Taker’s historic 25 plus years in the WWE.  Creative had the perfect opportunity to turn Reigns heel, but failed to do so. Some fans on each side of the Reign’s argument take it too far.  The WWE portrays fictional characters that demonstrate athletic competition in the ring.  This isn't real life.  We can be for or against a wrestler, but leave it in the ring.  Also, it is important to remain civil on social media. We can voice our opinions but realize; it's just wrestling. There is no need for personal attacks against these athletes that leave it all in the ring.  We can be passionate and be civil at the same time.  There will always be trolls. I am critical of Reigns, simply because I want to see him succeed.  I do see a lack of passion for the wrestling business as a fan; where his attitude even on talk shows, is the WWE is just a job not a passion.  At this pinnacle of the business, wrestling has to a passion. Eat, sleep, rinse repeat, the business. It’s the difference between being the next Stone Cold Steve Austin or the Rock; or  satisfied just being a guy that always could have been, but….you fill in the blanks.  

 

I ask first has the Reigns experient been successful.  Honestly, anyone in Titan Towers (WWE Headquarters) privately would say it hasn't happened according to plan.  No doubt, there are those behind the scenes that thought the Reigns experiment would be further along with the millions of dollars invested into this talent.  Paraphrasing Triple H response if Reigns was successful as a heel or face, simply put the business has changed, there are no good guys or bad guys anymore. Even Reign’s supporters say, doesn’t matter if they boo or cheer, Reigns is getting a reaction.  I beg to differ.  Creative is responsible for creating this conflicted response of Reigns. I fear the 50/50 booking will come back haunt Reigns overtime.  Our society, even wrestling, needs good guys to cheer.  In the mind of Vince McMahon perhaps, he thinks that he has created the next Undertaker.  Taker was a borderline good or bad guy his career.  There is no doubts, the Undertaker was staple for decades in the WWE.  Roman Reigns is no Undertaker; he simply lacks the charisma.  Though Reigns is talented, somehow he is missing ‘IT.’  I think possible he would find the missing part with a heel run.

 

Next, the question ‘is Reigns over?’  As, we have discussed, this is a conflicted answer.  No doubts he is a leader in merchandise sales, but with Reigns in the main event will it sell out the arena or cause new subscribers to the WWE network?  The first part, I do believe Reigns is over with his fans supporting him buying merchandise.  The second, I argue, no.  If this was true, Vince would not be looking for part-timers such as Brock Lesnar or Goldberg to draw at big events of the year.  Does Reigns have the ability to sell out an arena, like Stone Cold, Hogan, The Rock, or even Cena?  Reigns is simply not at this level yet.  He has the ability to get there, but Reigns needs the passion to ‘grab that brass ring.’ Even when Reigns won the Royal Rumble in 2016, and The Rock endorsed him, Reigns was booed out of the building.  People can make the excuse that the event was in Philadelphia, but The Rock owned Philly in the day.  The solution is simple.  The WWE needs to stop artificially attempting to push Reigns.  They need to listen, and turn Reigns heel.  He would be the biggest heel in the wrestling world.  Then, turn him face.  Some say that it isn’t Reigns fault for having to stay on script. When your the self-proclaimed guy, you fight for what think is right, and have passion about your character.  I want to see Reigns succeed.  In time, Reigns may be the biggest name in the business. In the world of professional wrestling, you follow the momentum, or get lost in the dust of another trailblazer, such as Kenny Omega.

 

Marvelous Mike, Guru of Pro Wrestling

 

 

WWE Battleground

 

The WWE Smackdown hosted the annual “Battleground” this Sunday July 23rd in Philiphelda.  The event is a prelude to Summerslam, which is WWE’s second largest event of the year.  The event featured The Punjabi Prison match as main event on the WWE Network.  Battleground was a solid PPV leading into Summerslam.  In social media, there was a lot controversy surrounding the main event and the finish of the US title match on the card. Despite the negative opinions of some ‘smart’ mark (smarks) fans, the results of the PPV had a surprisingly build to various superstars leading into WWE’s showcase event of the summer.

 

The Kick-Off Show

 

Adien English v. ‘The Perfect 10’ Tye Dillinger

 

Fans have seen this matchup several times already.  Nothing new or memorable happened in this match.  I was glad to see, these guys made the card.  English mocked Dillinger a few times which was comical, and rolled up Dillinger for a surprize win.  Clearly English, is an enhancement guy, but glad to see creative gave him a win.  Dillinger is waiting to get a push.  There is no doubt that Tye is over and a fan favorite.  Eventually, I hope to see Dillinger in the United State Title picture.  

 

Results:  Adien English winner, 2 1 / 2 stars

 

WWE Battleground

 

The Usos vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) (Big E at ringside) (Smackdown Tag Team Championship)

 

This match was arguably the matchup of the night.  Both the Usos and New Day delivered in this match.  This match is a clear example of how great the tag team division could be if they were given the spotlight.  There were several highspots with false finishes.  Woods was caught with a superkick while he was coming off the top-rope, but he managed to kick out.  The Philly crowd was into this match.  In the end, Woods picked up the pinfall giving the New Day This was a great exciting match.

 

Results:  The New Day Wins, (New Smackdown Tag Team Champions)  4 stars

 

Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

 

Nakamura, the fan favorite with the Philly crowd singing along with his entrance music.  This match turned into a matter of Nakamura surviving the assault of Corbin. Clearly, Corbin is superstar ready to ascend to the main event ranks.  From a creative perspective, this match would be difficult to book because you would want both guys to remain strong going into Summerslam. Both guys have to be protected.  Thus, this explains Corbin getting a DQ, while Nakamura still remains unbeaten. I picked this match to be the match of the night, but it was rather brief, and undramatic.  I understand the result, leads to more story to develop going into summerslam.  

 

Results:  Nakamura wins via DQ of Corbin  2 1 / 2 stars

 

Women’s Fatal Five Way Elimination Match For #1 Contender Match (Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Lana vs. Natalya vs. Tamina)

 

Excluding Lana, the women in this match really did a great job.  Lana really needs to spend some time in NXT.  There was many instances in the match; Lana was just not in sync with the other women.  Tamina took a lot slack out of Lana’s inability in the ring.  Becky,Charlotte,Tamina, and Natalya carried the match. The sequences between these four women held the crowd’s attention in the match.  Namoi on commentary was unnecessary.  In the end Natalya was able to pin the final two women, Becky and Charlotte. Natalya is a good performer in ring, and before she retires, Nattie should get a title run.  

 

Results:  Natalya pins Charlotte for the win  3 1 / 2 stars

 

Kevin Owens vs.  AJ Styles ( United States Title Match)

 

A few weeks ago AJ Styles won the #1 Contender in a Battle Royal Smackdown Live. In the next few days, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, AJ Styles won the United State title on a house show event that was not televised.  Also, the same night in Los Angeles, New Japan Pro Wrestling crowned arguably the best wrestler in the world, Kenny Omega the new NJPW United States Champion.  It shocked the wrestling world that the WWE changed a major title on a house show event. The WWE, historically, has changed their mid card titles about every three years on house show events.  While this is great for limited audience in attendance, the events not being televised on the WWE network makes no sense in the modern era.  WWE tapes these events, and if something like this occurs, fans around the world should be able to enjoy these moments, not simply on clips on youtube.  

 

It is important to discuss the story involved going into this match.  Many because the house show results, thought Kevin Owen’s popular gimmick as the Face Of America, had come to an end.  Conceptually, I could make no sense of this move by creative, because of the build of the Owen’s character.  In my opinion, Owens is great champion, and the best heel in the WWE.

 

This match at Battleground was overall great as expected with several sequences back and forth.  Owens in the end literally threw Styles into the ref.  The match ended uneventful and a bit awkward.  Most smarks lite up social media with their displeasure.  I however thought it was a good ending.  Not every match has to end with a finisher. There needs to be awkward finishes now and then, to let us remember the unpredictability of wrestling.  Owens winning sort of sets things right in many respects, and completely makes the house show title win, nothing more than a cheap crowd pop.  I am disappointed to a degree how titles in the WWE are treated as playing a game of ‘hot potato.’ Hopefully, at Summerslam, we will see new opponents for Styles and Owens.

 

Results:  Kevin Owens picks up win via rollup, (New United States Champion) 3 stars

 

John Cena vs. Rusev (Flag Match)

 

As long as there is pro wrestling, promoters are always gonna use the Anti-foreigner gimmick to get a cheap crowd pop from the crowd.  While in our society, we wish that promoters could move on from these stereotypes; most likely they never will.  It was a foregone conclusion, Cena was winning this match.  Rusev, did a great job, and hopefully will get into a higher profile program.  The match itself was pretty good.  Rusev and Cena captured the classic heel vs. face in ring psychology.  It was a feel good match for the Philly crowd.

 

Results:  John Cena winner via AA on Rusev through tables, 2 1 / 2 stars

 

Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis

 

This was the debut PPV of Mike Kanellis.  While there wasn’t much of a story going into this match, the match was decent with Maria Kanellis interfering in the match.  Nothing eventual was about this match, this was just a fast time filler match before the main event. Zayn picked up the win over Kanellis. I recommend everyone to go to the E and C Podcast of Awesomeness (Edge and Christian), and check out their interview with Mike (Kanellis) Bennett on PodcastOne.com.  The interview gives insight to the journey of Mike Bennett to the WWE, clearly he has a lot to offer and fans will enjoy his journey in the WWE.

 

Results:  Zayn picks up the pinfall.  2 stars

 

Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton (Punjabi Prison; WWE Championship; No DQ)

 

The Punjabi Prison match concept is both visually difficult to follow, and the match is one of the hardest gimmick matches to work for the talent.  By far this match, was the best of Punjabi Prison matches ever to take place. In the beginning inside of the first struction around the ring, Mahal dominated the match.  Orton made his comeback hitting the RKO on the champ.  I thought the slow pace of the match certainly favored Mahal.  The first structure consists of a bamboo cage with four gates controlled by four different refs.  A competitor calls for one cage door to be opened, then both competitors have a minute to escape via the door.  There was descent psychology by both Orton and Mahal going through battles to make through each door as it opened.  Mahal made it through as the Sighn brothers pulled to to the outside the ring.  There was another giant cage of bamboo that surrounded the outside of the ring. A competitor has to climb over the structure, the first one to do so, wins the match.  Orton pretty much laid waste to Mahal and both Sigh brothers.  Though this is days of ‘no blood’ policy in the WWE, I feel that it would have added so much to this match if both guys would have been bleeding in this match. In past concepts of the Punjabi Prison, there were spikes to show the brutality of the structure. In this era of the WWE, they again have been removed.  Though the match was a bit claustrophobic, there was nothing to make the audience to feel this structure was brutal.  Orton received a cut on his back, but this had little effect on the storytelling.  Orton utilized a kendo stick and chair from under the ring.  The Philly crowd would have popped if he would have brought out the tables, vintage old ECW.  Samir Sigh was so small he could actually climb to the outside of the structure.  In attempting to stop Orton, he took a nasty bump falling off the side of cage into an announce table, which got a huge crowd pop.  The match ended when The Great Khali made his WWE return, literally choking out Orton on the side of cage, while Mahal climb over the structure for the win.  This was a good win for Jinder Mahal.  The third and perhaps final time he will face Orton defending his WWE championship.  

 

Visually, the interior cage was brutal to see the action.  I would doubt that we will see this match again in the WWE.  Mahal most likely will go on and face John Cena at Summerslam.  The champ is improving every title defense he has.  If he can get a win over Cena, I think that he may remain the WWE champion until Wrestlemania.  Clearly, bring in Khali, the WWE is in serious expansion mode in India.  Khali is a major star still in India.  I wish that Jinder could have a title defense against Khali on the India tour that is rumored sometime in the fall.  A major presence of the WWE in India is good for the entire WWE Universe.  


 

Results:  Jinder Mahal wins retaining the WWE championship  3 stars

 

Overall rating for the Battleground PPV,  2.86 stars, average PPV, worth watching.

 

Marvelous Mike, Guru Of Pro Wrestling

 

 

 

WWE MITB

 

The WWE held its annual Money In The Bank (MITB) Pay-Per-Views on the WWE Network yesterday from St. Louis. Most fans anticipated the event hosted by this year's Smackdown brand.  MITB usually is one of WWE's best PPVs of the year as the winner of the event has the right to cash-in the MITB briefcase for a WWE title opportunity. This year, there were two MITB matches.  The main event was the traditional MITB match, but also was the first women's MITB match. 
Kick-Off Show Match
The Hype Bros v. The Colons –
Zack Ryder starts off the match with Primo Colon. This was Ryder's first match in six months returning from an injury.  He did not show much ring rust.  Both Ryder and Mojo Rawley got most of their moves in the match. Colons had a few descent spots in the match.  Mojo tagged Ryder back in who hit his finishing move the Rough Ryder picking up the win. 
Winner:  The Hype Bros.  2 stars
The Main Card of MITB
Women's MITB match: Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Tamina Snuka vs. Becky Lynch
While I would not have picked this historic match to start the show, Charlotte Flair was the first lady to make her way to the ring.  The other women soon followed the St. Louis crowd seemed to anticipate a great match though the hype would soon drown in horrible booking.  The match started off with a descent pace, with Charlotte, Tamina, and Becky dominating the match early.  It seemed pace slowed quite a bit.  Whoever was the agent of this match, just failed to convey any sense of direction to the women. The women were limited on what exactly they could do in the match.  We could almost guarantee with Charlotte in the match.  Fans would have been treated to a moonsault or superfly off the ladder.  Instead we got the same spot of a moonsault off the top rope.  Natalya got her sharpshooter spot, but the match just seemed rushed and moments of horrible in ring psychology.  To make things worse, James Ellsworth knocked Becky Lynch off the ladder then proceeded to climb retrieve the MITB briefcase handing it to Carmella who was declared the winner.  A historic match which should have celebrated the athletic feats of women’s was ended as a Divas comedy match.  Vince McMahon solely is to blame for this outcome and booking of this match.  Women have fought so hard to become equals in the ring, have been shamed by the booking decisions of someone clearly out of touch with the audience.
Winner:  Carmella  1 / 2 stars
SmackDown Tag Team Title Match: The New Day vs. The Usos

This was a descent tag team match.  Both teams were competitive, and decent in ring psychology.  There were a few false finishes on both sides.  I was entertained by this match.  I had picked the New Day to win this match.  New Day were able to hit their finisher, The Midnight Hour, but Jimmy Uso pulled Jey out of the ring.  The Uso’s walked away with their titles as referee counted them out.  This was great heel tactic of the Usos that retain their titles because of champion’s advantage and continue heat with the WWE universe. It was a great way to continue to story with the New Day.
Winners by Count-Out:  The New Day 2 1 / 2 stars
SmackDown Women's Title Match: Lana vs. Naomi
Lana had received a lot of negative feedback from fans when this match was announced because this was her first official match in the WWE.  Many thought she didn’t deserve the opportunity of fight for the women’s championship.  Overall, Lana did a descent job in her first match.  I didn’t see any botches.  Namoi looked good as a defending champion in this match.  This match was far from a clinic, but it was a title defense which was needed on the card.  Carmella along with her baggage Ellsworthless made their way to the ring to taunt Namoi.  This clearly seemed to distract Lana more than Namoi.  The champ put Lana into her submission finisher in which Lana had no choice to tap out.  Carmella strolled off taunting Namoi with the MITB briefcase. 
Winner:  Namoi  2 stars
Next, we had a video package in the PPV with the fashion files.  Breezango were hilarious; it was a much needed comedy break.  Also, we get Maria Kanellis and Mike Bennett had promo announcing themselves as Mike and Maria Kanellis.  It is good to see both on the main roster in the WWE.  Mike and Maria are extremely talented in ring, and on the microphone.  I expect great things from them on Smackdown Live.  The PPV so far had been just awful so far.  To be honest, I imagine it was difficult for Randy Orton or Jinder Mahal to follow these matches. 
WWE Title Match: Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal with the Singh Brothers
The announce team points at ringside various wrestling legends as Cowboy Bob Orton, Ric Flair, Larry ‘The Axe’ Hennig, Sgt. Slaughter, and Baron Von Rasche.  This was foreshadowing some involvement at least from Cowboy Bob Orton in the match. One thing became apparent in this match, Mahal is getting better in the ring.  The match overall was descent.  Of course, the match would not be a technical masterpiece.  Orton had good ring psychology selling a ‘leg injury’ he suffered in the course of the match.  Orton finally hit the RKO but one of Singh brothers placed Jinder’s foot on the bottom rope.  The referee threatened to DQ Mahal, but Orton pleaded with the ref not to do so.  Mahal had the ring presence to roll out of the ring.  The referee then ejected the Singh Brothers from ringside.  On their way back, they mocked the legends at ringside, grabbing Bob Orton.  Of course, this infuriated Randy Orton.  He rolled to the outside and began to destory the Singh Brothers.  Finally, came back into the ring, Mahal kicked Orton with a gut shot, and Jinder was able to captialize hitting the Khallas finishing move for the win. 
Winner:   Jinder Mahal  2 1 / 2 stars
 
 
Breezango vs. The Ascension
The match was very short.  Clearly, this match was a filler match before the main event.  The Ascension should have cheated to win to further the storyline, but the WWE chose to once again bury The Ascension in the WWE wastelands.  Breezango is entertaining, at least both teams made it on the PPV. 
Winner:  Breezango –  1.5 stars
MITB Ladder Match: AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens
This match lived up to the hype.  At the entrances, the storytelling began with Corbin attacking Nakamura on the entrance ramp.  Corbin set the tone of match from start to finish.  There were numerous high-spots in this match.  Everyone was able to get their signature moves in.  There were several stiff bumps from AJ Styles to Kevin Owens.  I thought Styles was legit injured falling from the chain holding the MITB briefcase.  In my opinion, a  40 year doesn’t need to be taking those kind of bumps.  KO received a tiger suplex on the edge of the ring apron from Zayn; another unnecessary bump.  The highlight of MITB, was Nakamura’s return.  He literally hit his finisher Kinshasha, on participate but Styles.  The WWE is about creating a moment and sharing that moment with fans.  The storyline of the night was AJ Styles v. Nakamura in the ring one on one.  Every diehard wrestling fan has dreamed of the rematch between the two since Wrestle Kingdom 10 in New Japan Pro Wrestling.  I hope this is foreshadowing a Wrestlemania 34 moment in the Superdome in New Orleans.  At the end of the match, Baron Corbin runs in tips over the ladder sending Nakamura and Styles into the ropes.  Then, Corbin retrieves the MITB briefcase.  Corbin is clearly ready for the spotlight.  MITB is about launching superstars into their career. This match was the best match on the card.  It was unpredictable.  The match psychology was great.  I wish the women would have been given the same opportunity in their MITB match. 
Winner:   Baron Corbin – 5 stars
I recommend any wrestling fan to go watch the men’s MITB match and the WWE championship match.  As I stated, I give credit to Jinder Mahal for attempting to improve in the ring though he still has much to improve.  I was disppointed that the women were not given the same opportunity as the men to display their in ring psychology and athleticism.  Booking them so poorly, is not honoring their hard work.
Overall MITB 2017 rating is 2.29, average PPV

 

 

 

 

Social Media War In Wrestling...

 

Monday Night Raw recently there was a segment with Alexa Bliss and Bayley that received quite a bit of of negative fan feedback. The sentiment was designed to get more sympathy for Bayley as a Babyface. Alexa Bliss the WWE champion who plays a heel has always been able to execute promos to get heat on herself and to elevate the baby face. It is the job of the heel to make the baby face look good and to generate a positive crowd reaction for the baby face. In this particular instance it seems according to most ‘expert’ fans that Bayley was made out to be a goofball. Some of Bayley’s superfans no doubt are frustrated with the way she has been booked recently. The segment started out with a table in the middle of the Ring highlighting Bayley’s accomplishments in life with her 4th grade teacher, a high school friend and an ex-boyfriend of Bayleys. The purpose of this was to make Bayley look like an innocent girl instead of a competitor that could win at the pay-per-view Extreme Rules this Sunday. There were boos and various chants from the crowd that caused this segment not to get over with them. This was the material that Alexa Bliss was given to execute this promo. While Alexa did the best job possible to to get through this segment, I feel that there were many unwarranted criticisms of the segment as a whole. The WWE has had other segments similar to this in the past their success depended upon the superstars that were involved.

Many critics say such as Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez of the ‘Wrestling Observer Newsletter’ that this generated go home heat for Alexa Bliss. Go home heat is different than regular heat for the heel. Go home heat is the fans are displeased with the segment or superstar cutting the promo, and want the segment to end. Regular Heat generates heat for the heel because of their villain actions, and gets the baby face over with the crowd. However I beg to differ. Bliss was simply doing her job with the material that had been given to her which Meltzer did state.  The overall tone of the critique was that the entire segment was awful.  A point which I disagree with Meltzer and Alvarez.

Though the segment has been cut from the WWE recap of the Bliss/Bayley confrontation on Youtube, I feel that this segment and the reaction that it generated only exemplifies a greater problem within the WWE fanbase. The WWE on Monday nights has a three-hour program that they have to write for every week, and it is the  longest running episodic TV series in the history in ‘primetime’ TV. Writers/Producers are going to hit and miss sometimes on the segments, not every segment is going to be successful.  Monday Night Raw is a live broadcast, not a taped show. The segment was supposed to be a comedy segment generated overwhelming criticism from the WWE Universe which I felt is unwarranted. Superfans are like a pack of wild hyenas overreacting on social media when things do not go according to subculture status quo.   I said on my podcast earlier this week that everybody wants to be a Booker or ‘expert’ and nobody wants to be a fan in the current wrestling landscape. As fans,  we need to take things less serious and be  light-hearted with them, and enjoy the moment. Bayley ended the segment by coming down confronting Alexa Bliss.  Bliss had hidden under the table Kendo stick, and she preceded to hit Bayley with the Kendo stick knocking her out of the ring;  the heel generated Heat for themselves creating sympathy for the Babyface.  The baby-face will get their revenge and/or go over at the Pay-Per-View.

This segment is an example of the growing negative fan reaction social media. Some fans reactions are taken to the extreme for Monday Night Raw and WWE programming. They engage hateful rants with each other, and WWE Superstars, to the point that the fans become trolls.  I have witness twitter wars that escalated into racism, which is sad. Ultimately, these instants have resulted in less interaction with the WWE Superstars and the fans. Trolls are not limited to the WWE.  The psychology mechanism within some fans is set off, and they become raging trolls.  Though there has been no psychological studies on this subject to my knowledge, a unique subculture of superfans exists which stems from some popular Youtubers.  Not all Youtube content providers generate negativity.  If a person, chooses to support another in their endeavors to provide entertainment, that is their choice.  My issue is with the Youtuber content providers that create such a negative tone that it causes people to quit watching the WWE product.  They self anoint themselves ‘experts,’ and use expletives to get themselves popular.  These Youtubers have created a unique subculture in wrestling.  The superfans, that go to shows, chant distracting things, go online and relish on twitter that they cause a superstar to stumble over their lines are from this subculture.  Most of the Youtubers gimmick is a work.  They publicly proclaim that their dream is to work in the WWE. I ask, the reader, this question.  Why would the WWE employ anyone, that daily condemns and humiliates the superstars, creative, and executives?  

There is a lack also of real journalism that report wrestling news.  Dirt-sheets writers are not journalists,  reporting rumors is not a substitute for reporting facts.  Every fan, including myself, enjoys speculating the direction storylines will go.  While dirt-sheet writers, reflect on a larger issue of sensationalism in news, every fan has fell victim to dirt sheets directly or indirectly ruining pay-per view results. Personally, I attempt to stay away from dirt-sheets because I want to enjoy the moments in wrestling.  I was recently a victim of dirt sheet news, which completely ruined the ending to a pay-per view.  The fault lies with me being on social media during an event.  Lurking around corners at venues, waiting for phones calls from ‘unnamed sources’ on who will win, at the upcoming pay-per view is not journalism.  A person creating  rumors, to gain responses on twitter, is not the character of a professional journalist.  The WWE plays off of the dirt-sheets providing enough false information, to maintain the appearance of actual storylines.  Dirt-sheet writers are never wrong in their own eyes.  The WWE just went in a different direction, and then the writer creates negative press, feeding to some superfans’ egos justifying a negative press piece about WWE Creative.  Wrestling is about moments, share these moments, and do not ruin them for other fans that could careless about the dirt-sheets.

When I began commenting on wrestling, I made mistakes and was overly critical.  I tweeted smartass remarks to different people.  Then, someone asked me, do you want to be a journalist or like everyone else on twitter.  I apologize for comments, and I have enough character to admit mistakes.  A negative environment, makes a negative attitude.  If you are serious about being in the wrestling business or any business be professional.  I agree wrestling is a culture where we can escape from the reality of our society.  However, realize the work and dedication of all involved to bring us this entertainment weekly. If the trollish negativity does not stop superstars are going to get to the point that they  are not going to have any interaction with fans. Why would a person want to subject themselves to trolls?

I agree that there are things that could improve storylines at times.  Fans need to discuss these things in a logical constructive manner. I have always been one to say if you go to the event chant whatever you want, but it is getting to the point to where most of these crowds want to take over the show and not let the superstars do their jobs. Is going to come to the point to where the crowd noise is completely edited?  The crowd is part of dynamic that makes wrestling great.  However, fans need to learn how to have respect for the superstars and those putting on the show.   Fans are not the ones that are writing the storylines and booking the matches.  Wrestling does not work that way.  I never seen a fan write a script for soap opera on daytime tv. I’m not saying that fans cannot let their voices be heard.  I know negativity sales. Critics want to be negative, so that they can generate notoriety for themselves and ultimately so that they can gain people’s support. Critics always proclaim that they  are the only ones that has the special remedy to fix all of problems with the WWE. Yet, they have never written for tv, never produced a live show, and never even had one wrestling match in their lives.

I have never done these things, but I am no expert. I am just a fan, that writes.  I hope to have opportunities in wrestling, time will tell.  My goal is to present talent to an audience so that they can reach their potential.  I offer opinions on how to improve the product in the ring, but I am self-proclaimed guru, a guide, not the all-powerful Wizard of Superfans.  I am concerned with these negative trends on social media.  I believe the atmosphere of ‘haters’ is adversely affecting the WWE ratings. The expectations of most superfans are unrealistic for the WWE.  If superfans’ favorites do not win or there is a cheesy segment, the trend of social media reflects their attitudes.  Some superfans resemble an adolescent throwing a fit to a parent, than civilized adults. People become literally enraged when the Youtubers sell their ‘mystical hate juice’ to audience of believers, resulting in people switching off wrestling.   People engaging in such smut driven hate should be ashamed to call themselves wrestling fans.  On top of this, Youtubers that produce smut driven content, then go on a ‘cryfest’ about how Youtube puts an age restriction on their content, and for everyone support their channel for a $1 a month.  I honestly think these Youtubers are worse than post reconstructive carpet-baggers that polluted the south after the United States Civil War. Honestly, I do not understand how anyone could subscribe to such content.  Yes, I wish that I had more subscribers to my channel.  If people want to support my content, the links are provided to do so. I am not going to be the used car salesperson of wrestling. Also,  I refuse to lower myself to these depths of depravity of smut.  I will not pay a damn penny to ask a Youtuber a question about wrestling.  Everyone that watches wrestling content is just as qualified to give opinions as these Con-Artists.

I believe WWE needs to respond to fans.  I do not know the solutions to the issue of social media negativity.  I do not work for the WWE or apart of that culture.  I feel if fans knew the work involved putting on one WWE Live Raw TV show, that many would appreciate the product.  I know this article will not be popular amongst most fans.  I write what motivates me.  I do not write to please anyone.  However,  I believe, offering a counter argument to all the negative fan reactions, is needed.  To the superstars, I want them to keep doing their best as they do every week.  Wrestling is one of the greatest forms of entertainment, let us celebrate, the moments as fan.  

Less Hate, More Love,

 

Marvelous Mike The Guru of Pro Wrestling

 

 

...Dive Revolution

 

In 1982, Jimmy 'Super-fly' Snuka leaped off a steel-cage in Madison Square garden and changed wrestling. I am sure, traditionalist at the time issued tons of criticism over the high flying move that would mold some of the future stars of pro wrestling. One child in attendance was Mick Foley. Foley would take the 'Superfly' tactics to the extreme, by risking body and limbs in an effort to entertain wrestling fans around the world. Today, pro wrestling Indy scene is full of high flyers. In some matches, we find more high spots than fans would experience in an entire show. I remember watching as a child the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) or NWA (National Wrestling Alliance); only one match featured high flying action.

Promotions never would put their main title on the high flyer gimmick guy. Always the muscle wrestler such as Hulk Hogan or in ring technical wrestler such as Ric Flair were the face of the company, only once during the Rock-in Wrestling Era was a high flyer a world champion, Ricky Steamboat. To a degree, in 2017, the same philosophy holds true. WWE current main champions are Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton, both are technical wrestlers. Lesnar is a former Ultimate Fighting Champion that completely destroys opponents. Orton is a savvy mat wrestler that wears his opponent down so he can finish them off with a modified cutter, the RKO. Sure there have been a few high flyers champions throughout the WWE. First, to a degree, the late great Macho Man Randy Savage would finish opponents off with his flying elbow. Shawn Michaels, Mr. Wrestlemania, perhaps was the only high-flyer reaching the heights of in the WWE throughout the 1990s. Rey Mysertio, Rod Van Damm (RVD) and the late Eddie Guerrero in the early 2000s. AJ Styles and Finn Balor are currently the only wrestlers in the WWE reaching the championship that could be defined as a high-flyers. The WWE tends to use the high-flyers to excite the crowd, in a few match-ups, then present other stars that fits the mold of a champion. Other promotions around the world do not follow this trend.

High-Flyers are more popular on the independent scene than in the WWE. Though the WWE, has started a cruiser-weight division and program 205live; high flying wrestlers are a subgroup not the mainstream. Also, today, the WWE style focuses on a structured and scripted story, rather than the organic nature of wrestling.

Vince McMahon created a vacuum in independent wrestling buying out all his competition in the territories at the end of the Rock-in Wrestling Era. The system of traditionally training wrestlers was gone. During the 1990s, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) absorbed Crockett promotions and NWA provided competition to the WWE, but eventually McMahon bought WCW when Time Warner Cable sold WCW pennies on the dollar. The WWE was left standing alone.

Independent wrestling was virtually dead. The only employment options of many wrestlers was Japanese and Mexican Wrestling Promotions. The Independent scene was therefore reborn in these styles of wrestling, which do not fit the WWE style. In the territory days of wrestling, wrestlers became journeyman mechanics. If a wrestler was on a downturn of their run say in the Florida territories, they could find success in another territory. Wrestlers were groomed, trained, and molded in basically the same way. With the territories gone, the WWE went through a series of failed training promotions or partnerships with Indy promotions to find their superstars of tomorrow. Wrestlers in the WWE are called superstars. Vince says “...that he is in the entertainment business not the wrestling business...” Only on rare occasions even signing wrestlers from WCW translated into success with the WWE. There is an endless list of talents that met their career ends in the WWE because they did not conform to WWE style. Only a handful such as Steve Austin, Triple H, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and etc had superstar success. Going from the WWE to WCW was the same, for example, Bret Hart was the hottest wrestler at the end of 1997 in the world. Backstage politics in the WCW failed to capitalize on this success. Bret Hart never reached the level of success he had in the WWE. WCW and WWE focused more market cannibalization rather than attempting to shape the wrestling industry as a whole. I give credit however to former WCW executive Eric Bischoff for showcasing Lucha Wrestling in the WCW. Bischoff was the first promoter to consistently feature high-flyers to the national mainstream wrestling audience.

 

Other promotions attempted to fill the Indy wrestling gap were Extreme Championship Wrestling  (ECW) and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). ECW attempted to redefine pro wrestling which met some regional success, and TNA sought to compete with the larger WWE, but financial mis-management and lack of national media distribution ended each of these promotions. ECW was bought out by the WWE, and relaunched by the mega power in a watered down version which never appealed to audiences. One can find dilluted parts of ECW genre in the WWE. TNA was bought by Anthem Sports that is currently repacking the brand as Impact Wrestling, but in the USA, they are rather obscure failing to capture their former glory. Impact Executives these days seemed to be more concerned engaging in twitter battles with former talents that moved on to the WWE than focusing on building their brand.

 

In 2017, the hottest Indy promotions are New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and Ring Of Honor (ROH). The IWGP champion Kazuchika Okada can legitimately claim to be the real pro wrestling champion because of his track record. Also, NJPW has the best and most popular wrestler on the planet, Kenny Omega. ROH works in a partnership with NJPW along with the largest Hispanic promotion in Mexico CMLL. As long as these three promotions work in a partnership, they can within a few years be competitive with the WWE. The WWE is to wrestling what Walmart is to the retail industry. Only by creating a niche in the market can competition occur. No promotion will be successful with head to head competition with the WWE. Only if you define your identity such as NJPW and ROH can a promotion create a demand in the marketplace by being an alternative to the entertainment driven WWE. With the media distrubtion of ROH's parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting group, and online global prescene of NJPW, the formula of potential financial success exists.

 

Though the WWE continues to expand globally, much of the audience of today prefers the sports presentation of NJPW/ROH/CMLL. NJPW will have it first major event in Los Angeles this July, the final of the G1 tournament. Also, NJPW will be opening their first dojo training facility in the United States next year. The presentation in NJPW is more athletic driven which is the case in the most popular Indy promotions in the USA than story driven as in the WWE. Therefore, the conflict and criticism from 'old' territorial wrestlers and wrestling personalities has recently been the trend on social media. Rip Rogers former wrestler and current owner of a wrestling school took to twitter criticizing popular Indy sensation and NJPW rising star Will Ospreay. Also, famous wrestling personality and former manager of the famed Midnight Express Jim Cornette has fumed his critical opinions of the high flying less selling or over selling performances of Omega, Ospreay and current Indy wrestlers. Both seem more concerned about cutting promos than offering constructive criticism. Current WWE champion Randy Orton, jumped on the bandwagon recently on twitter. WWE is even making an angle with a 205live star Drew Gulak, 'No Fly Zone.' The traditional boys club of wrestling is attempting to squash the movement Ospreay and the others like him are creating in pro wrestling.

 

Historically in pro wrestling, if a person(s) did not conform to the status quo they were 'blackballed' from the business. Pro Wrestling has always been a unique subculture that was xenophobic. If you are critical attempting to make waves 'in the business,' you simply could not find work. However, this is 2017 not 1975, the negative aspects of kayfabe are all but dead. Audience demands to be more involved behind the curtain. Social media is the power of the audience. Close minded and protected societies often hate revolutionaries that seek to bring change or will not conform to the status quo. The central theme behind the curtain, of this issue is control. The fear of losing on how the wrestling industry is precieved by the public. Traditionalists in wrestling have come against a movement that they cannot control therefore they attempt to squash anyone involved. Once Thedore Beza wrote to King of Navarre in France a statement regarding a group the King of Navaree was attempting to suppress that they... “are an anvil that has beaten many hammers...” The 'powers that be' attempted to stop the Renaissance artists but their result was fueling the fire of a movement that redefined humanity.

Ospreay's response to his critics has been to coin the simple movement '….dive.' I commend Ospreay's passion for the business of pro wrestling as an art. Ospreay is the 'DA Vinci' of pro wrestling leading a renaissance movement. While the fine tuning of his in ring abilities have yet to come, wrestling fans are witnessing art. The WWE and washed up wrestlers hold on to memories of past glories, only serve to self promote their already inflated egos. I love wrestling tradition, and I am entertained at times by the WWE product. The dedication of the WWE superstars is admirable. Also, I believe past superstars and wrestling personalities can teach 'tricks of the trade' to future stars through constructive criticism. Examples of this are former WWE mega star Stone Cold Steve Austin, along with former pro wrestlers'Lance Storm, and Don Callis offering concrete education to young wrestlers on their prospective podcasts. However, I do not support the blatant attempts to spread vile poison in the wrestling that only serves to inflate self serving egos of fossils that currently couldn't draw a damn dime outside the geographic region of the former NWA territories. Journalists such as myself often are 'blackballed', but I really could careless if I ever work for the 'powers that be.' I am certain that this will be the case. I write because I have a passion for wrestling, not to pad inflated egos. My message to the '..dive' movement is continue doing what you do best. Perfect your craft by surrounding yourself with the best teachers possible. To all the fans, support the Indy wrestling and let 'the ...dive' revolution run wild.

Marvelous Mike, Guru Of Pro Wrestling




TTWS