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Friday, 31 August 2007

On the 'roid to nowhere.......

I suspect that by now you have read about the controversy which has been stirred up once again surrounding steroids and wrestling.

If you have not, please go to and let them fill you in. The rest of us will wait.

Ok, you’re back, lets get on.

So is this a positive or negative occurrence for the WWE and wrestling in general?

The significance of the people alleged to be involved makes the situation much more……well, significant. If this were 10 names of the undercard, wrestlers in developmental or something, this wouldn’t make much of an impact. You’d see loads of people like me having a pop at the WWE not having the bottle to censure the top names. There can be no such accusations here.

As well as minor names like Sho Funaki and Charlie Haas, you have holders of minor titles like Shane Helms and Chavo Guererro, the latter of course having been a part of Summerslam against Rey Mysterio, and more importantly a man closer than anyone on the roster to Eddie and Chris Benoit.

That leaves six names, which are rumoured to be William Regal (Current Raw General Manager), Umaga (Intercontinental Champion) John Morrison (ECW Champion), Edge (former world champion, still would be if not for injury) Randy Orton (Number one contender in the biggest push of his life) and Ken Kennedy (Destined for the top, major part of every broadcast, and more importantly penciled in to be Vince’s kid and be in the main event at Wrestlemania)

There’s no punches pulled is there? 6-8 big names are gone. For a month anyway.

I make it that if Umaga and Morrison have to lose their belts, it’ll be at least SIX occasions this year that a title plan has had to change. Edge and The Undertaker had to drop the straps when injured, the Benoit tragedy led to Morrison picking the ECW belt up, and Kennedy would surely have won a title with his Money in the Bank contract.

I cannot and will not comment on the accusations against the wrestlers, and indeed what their futures may hold.

I will, though, say that this could make or break the WWE. If they lose star power in droves, their fanbase may react in kind. Next week, you could have three TV shows which features a roster devoid of:

Shawn Michaels
Bobby LashleyThe Undertaker
Chris Benoit
Rob Van Dam
Big Show
Ken Kennedy
John Morrison
William Regal
Randy Orton

Factor in that Batista and King Booker are both on the list of suspected users of Pharmacy, and that Triple H and Rey Mysterio have only been back a week, you are looking at a roster which has as its top 10 stars, apart from those above, maybe:

1) John Cena
2) The Great Khali
3) Mark Henry
4) Carlito
5) MVP
6) Jeff Hardy
7) Matt Hardy
8) CM Punk
9) Kane
10) Finlay

That’s pretty weak (although to be fair I’ve left out Flair) as a roster goes, so why should we watch?

Well, there is an argument which suggest that in the face of a seriously average product, a serious incident such as what happened with Chris Benoit occurs, and although the ratings dropped to below the desired level as far as the WWE are concerned they didn’t dip too low. Consider that crisis talks came when Raw’s rating went down to 3.4, and Raw’s replacement this week on USA Network, The US Open Tennis, drew a 1.0.

So maybe people will watch wrestling come what may. The people that now watch are the hardcore, the true fans, those that are probably too set in their ways to stop watching wrestling. If there was a credible threat they may stop watching WWE itself, but there is no such competition, so that’s moot.

Why not then, allow a bit more creativity to emerge. Get rid of slow moving goons like Mark Henry, Khali and Viscera that have never drawn any money. See what kind of wrestling, yes wrestling, talent you could get hold of. Let Punk do what Punk wants to do, and try to get the Brian Danielson’s and such to the big leagues and let them wrestle.

Khali, Batista, Masters, Knox etc – no one cares.

Morgan, Test, Tomko, Steiner – no one cares.

It was said that a monopoly in wrestling would harm the business because there would be lots out of work and no upward mobility. Possibly.

However, although there is still one main company, it is kind of a duopoly thanks to TNA.

The trouble is, both rosters have elements of festering, boredom inducing rubbish polluting the airwaves, pushing down the more stellar talent.

Those mentioned above clearly suck.

The ‘best of’ roster, however, looks awesome. Imagaine a company populated with:

Samoa Joe, Finlay, Carlito, CM Punk, AJ Styles, Shawn Michaels, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, Rey Mysterio, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Shelton Benjamin, Jeff Hardy, Christian Cage, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Super Crazy, Homicide, Chris Harris, Petey Williams, MVP, Matt Hardy, Jay Lethal, Senshi/Low Ki, Jamie Noble, Elijah Burke, Elix Skipper.

Then add your extra talent like John Cena, Kurt Angle, Sting, Jarrett, Abyss, Taker and a few others. That’s what you want.

I’ve seen quite few Ring of Honor and other independent events, but from what I have seen and what I’ve heard, the likes of Mistico, Nigel McGuiness, The Briscoes, Colt Cabana (I think he is in developmental now) Doug Williams, Claudio Castagnoli, Matt Sydal.

Factor in Teddy Hart, Harry Smith and the like and you might be onto something.

Surely its worth thinking about.

Actually, no, scrap that. What the world wants is a Snitsky and Big Daddy V monster push, and a return for Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli.


Monday, 27 August 2007

Summerslam Live Notes

Are you ready to partake of a PPV? The Biggest Partaking of the summer? Thought so. Hop in.

As usual, I’m here in the UK, with my laptop, writing live notes on the Pay Per View. For all of you watching in this in the states, remember your friend across the pond stays up until 4am for you.

I also make sure I stay completely sober and lucid so that I give a good account and also that I have to work in the morning. However, if Summerslam sucks, that’s it, I’m getting wasted next time.

Well, the opening pyro is going off, and the video preview has aired. The build up still focuses on Triple H, who has the climb the mountain of a guy who has defeated, erm, a 50+ year old who wrestles on RAW about 4 times a year. Oh, and he punked out a non-wrestling 60 year old. The only more frightening bookers are the ones who write the damn stuff.

And it’s Kane. Out to face Fit Finlay in the opener. Cole tells us that this started when Fit spilled coffee on Kane. Hang on, didn’t that happen to Kane before, with the caffeine dropper that time being Jericho?

No truth in the rumour that The Big Red Dentist retaliated by throwing hot tea over Finlay’s leg. Fit didn’t feel it, obviously.

Not far off a ten-minuter, and a pretty darn decent opener. A genuine back and forth encounter with Finlay selling his ass off and also looking like a legitimate tough guy. Couple of fake finishes, clean finishes. No problems here.

After a little backstage skit involving all the general managers, coach, Vince a lack of babes (“go get the scrubbers”) Santino Morella (“Every week I have to put up with that. Moron.”) and MVP, Vince goes to far.

He said……………….erm……he said……………..that…………….

He said English women are ugly. Listen, I know plenty of Americans. Many are fat. That doesn’t make them all fat. English women, on the whole, are no uglier than anywhere in the world. Except Sweden, they are all babes. Oh, and Holland. And maybe Norway.

When the WWE comes to Birmhingam here in the UK in October, and I will be there, I hope I get to interview one of the men involved. And I tell you what, if I was a more interesting persona and didn’t live such a sad existence, so that I actually had a girlfriend, then I’d show them a picture of her. Actually the last one was a bit of a dog, so that might be……oh, I’m mad, ok. Bloody annoyed, you get the idea.

I spent a long time writing that rant, and the IC title match is underway. It has also pretty much followed the plan I outline in the preview earlier on today.

So Kennedy nails Umaga with a monitor. OK. So it’s no DQ. So why don’t they all just go mental with chairs and shit.

I just went to the website of Aka the Wild Samoan, apparently his class involves teaching fellow Samoans the ability to hit someone to make them fall in a sitting position against the turnbuckle. Only Samoans can do that, you know. Oh, and X-Pac, but he shagged Chyna, so he doesn’t count. For anything.

Well, its finished, and strictly speaking I’m now 2 for 2 for predicting matchwinners, although I did think that Kennedy would not be the one to job. Weird booking to me, but anyway.

So we are about to witness the return of Rey Mysterio, and Chavo is out. He is wearing a poncho with Warrior written on it. Warrior? Are you kidding? Rey’s back, Triple H is back, Taker is coming back, and now the Warrior?

Now on WWEShopzone, Sombreros with “Destrucity” written on them, PiƱatas which break when you shake the ropes, and a talking doll that says “Queering don’t make the world work, Gringos.”

And here I was having a go at English stereotypes.

The match is underway, and speaking of the Ultimate Warrior, Rey is covered in silver paint for some reason. Those crazy Mexican make up ladies. A hundred body paints. I bet they have a thousand masks. And a Million Mascaras.

After the secret stipulation was completed (the match couldn’t end until Rey’s body paint had worn off) Rey Mysterio does the usual for a returning superstar. That is, kick out of an apparently unkickoutable (fuck off, I know it isn’t a real word, but its nearly 2 in the pissing morning, gimme a break) move, hit his big move after 3 attempts and get the win. In the big story of the evening, I’m 3 out of 3.

Todd Grisham gets acted off the screen by a stuffed parrot before interviewing Booker T, who both annoys and kills me at the same time. He will beat Triple H apparently. Booker, you book your own territory, so does The Game. Work it out son.

Divas battle royal time. Women get elimitaed here and there, but because WWE divas are only cast out of one mould, JR and King don’t really know who is being eliminated.

The phrase I would choose to sum up the Divas Battle Royal is: Assisted Bumps.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide if I mean that the girls had to practically throw themselves out of the ring, or their surgically enhanced chests.

Beth Phoenix’s celebrations (4 from 4, by the way) are interrupted by Monty Porter. Maybe this is the contest he was talking about challenging Matt Hardy to? Diva Fucking!!

Hardy is a veteran, of course – Lita, Ashley. Matt will beat him at that, and then win the most acrimonious break up contest.

Nah, its beer drinking. Or is it. Matt says he isn’t going to compete in a beer drinking contest. He has a substitute. Quicker than you can say “The Condemned is now available is retail store and bagain bins for a buck 99” the fans are chanting for Austin. (I’d piss myself laughing if its Sandman!)

And its…………….Gillberg!!!!

No, wait, its Austin. And he is psyched for the hardcore beverage consuming contest. Fuck fear, drink (light) beer. Ernest “The Cat” Miller Lite. No mic time for Austin, just a stunner and a celebration with beer.

The ring is now covered in beer, which is now reacting with the silver paint and starting to merge to form the shape of a human man from the future. No wait, that’s Terminator 2, isn’t it?

And Judgment Day was back in May.

OK, I gave Cryme Tyme some stick earlier on. But I’ve got to say, getting Coach, Teddy Long and then Regal to circle Vince chanting “Money, Money, Yeah, Yeah” was a masterstroke. Round it off with that damn Simmons guy (not Richard) and that was a funny segment. Regal is the funniest (and Whitest) guy in the history of the WWE.

ECW is on fourth last then – a ‘world’ title isn’t as valuable as Triple H’s return, which is fair.

I’ve just realized I haven’t commented much on match quality since the opener. Well, the IC match was average at best, Rey and Chavo was great, would have been excellent if could have gone longer (a lot to ask of Rey, though, admittedly) and the Divas battle royal was laughable.

Punk kicks out of a few early covers, but not because he wants to win, but because he daren’t lay on the beer stained mat for too long. He’s straightedge, you know, the alcohol might permeate into his body.

Morrison retains (and the bastard ruins my undefeated streak) in the most pissweak ending of a title match in months. That was a shame, because up until the sham of a finish, this was a solid match. To the live audience, it doesn’t matter either way, because they appear not to know who either man was. At one point, a small “CM Punk” chant started up. I swear about 10,000 people then said “ah, that’s him. And other guy looks like that kid who used to be on Tough Enough.”

Tazz says that a great man once said “By any means necessary.” Yes he did, Tazzwell, but now that man only says “Damn”, and other homophones.

After a fantastic visual where Booker poses in the aisleway and looks like his hair is on fire, and an announcement that JR might be bias – hope that guys who broke your arm gets his ass kicked, huh Jim? – here comes the returning Triple H, complete with 3 part theme music.

The intro included the “Gentleman, we can rebuild him.” I would say that about 4% of the WWE’s target audience actually get that reference. If you do, I hope you share with me the irony that the line in question was used for a character called Steve Austin.

Not the WWE’s Steve Austin either. Not the Bionic Redneck, but the Bionic Man. Or the Six Million Dollar man. Or are they the same guy? Anyway, I don’t mean Steve Williams. Not Dr. Death Steve Williams, the other Steve Williams.

The bell has gone, and Booker attacks………….

No, not Tiger Woods’ caddy Steve Williams, I mean the wrestler, who isn’t Dr Death. And not Dr Death the Batman Villain, nor Jack Kervorkian or Harold Shipman.

(If you don’t know who Jack Kervorkian is, then here is a random line from his Wikipedia page – “In the 1980s, Kevorkian wrote a series of articles for the German journal Medicine and Law that laid out his thinking on the ethics of euthanasia. fuckin bitch who does this kinf of shit. go to hell”. I’m not kidding, that’s what it says. Go take a look -

Anyway, its Triple H, not A Texas Rattlesnake, not Dr Death, not a Six Million Dollar man, not a golf caddy, not a killer medical practitioner.

Back to the match, and…………oh its finished.

Anyway, big entrance? Check. Dominant performance? Check. Kick out of a finisher (The Book End)? Check. Three attempts to hit his move (Pedigree)? Check. A win?

If you don’t know the answer to that, you are too stupid to live, to own a computer or to write for the WWE creative team.

And if you thought the people were pumped up for the return of The Game, how excited do you think they’ll be for a Great Khali match?

A video airs for the Smackdown Title match, and basically puts over the Indian Giant’s now vice grip move. Please, please, please let me see him do that move on Hornswoggle, That would be awesome.

Did you know that the common Dormouse can breed once or twice a year, have a typical size of 2-3” and live about 5 years? Too boring? OK, how about the fact that the largest employer in Liechtenstein is a company that manufactures concrete fastening systems? Still boring?

OK, try this Batista won by DQ after Khali got bored (who didn’t) and hit The Animal with a chair. Still bored.

OK, here’s a hot chick.

Am I forgiven? Good

Anyway, after a “boring” chant, Michael Cole announced that the fans were understandably irritated. JBL, at the close of the match, refrained from shouting ‘ball game’ and instead denounced the ending, stating that the fans deserve better. Bradshaw, my old friend, you are spot on.

As for my prediction, technically I was wrong, because I said Great Khali would win. But he did retain. Can I have a half point? If you let me have a half point I’ll give you another hot chick. I’ll wait to hear from you.

Its time for the main event. The usual mixed Cena reception, but nothing too postive towards Randy either.

King just dropped a Liechtenstein reference, I swear to God I did mine first!

Maybe I was wrong – noticeable support for Orton. Say what you like about limited movesets for these guys and the superior talent of someone like Punk, Punk wrestled solidly for 10 minutes to no reaction. Orton got a headlock in then knocked Cena down with a shoulderblock and the roof nearly came off the Meadowlands.

Orton just missed his big punt, and Cena has the STFU applied. Orton reaches the ropes. I just want to note know that I think Orton did a little Iron Sheik homage by tapping his boot on the mat three times.

This just in from the Sheik:
“RandyOrtonjaghsnosdfndgbdswonkydonkeyfbkdskndsfbkjnculcbskdbcbslovealbatrossfnsdvfsvsasextyphoonfbdsdfbsdbfsbdstarofstallionfarmvvvvvsadsdldonkldsncsndcnsancsdncn” Or something.

Damn it. Cena got the win. Not that I’m a huge Cena hater or an Orton mark. I just thought the time was right. I thought that match was decent. It had the big fight atmosphere, as JBL said (wrongly) about the previous match. I would liked to have seen a little more believable set of false finishes, because as soon as Randy hit the RKO out of the STFU, he played up an injury, meaning you knew Cena would kick out of the pin. 10 seconds later, it was over after an FU.

A better main event than I expected.

Predcitions were 5-3 tonight, and ironically the 3 I got wrong were all title matches!

Overall I thought that it was an average Pay Per View, better than a lot of ones we’ve seen this year, but that’s like saying stale bread is tastier than tree bark. Seeing Austin was cool, but for me every PPV needs two or three of that size of events. No-one turns face or heel, returns unannounced, or pulls off a miraculous result anymore. That’s the biggest problem. The match quality wasn’t, and generally isn’t high, but in the modern product, that is secondary to good psychology and entertainment. That is why the main event was good. It had the crowd completely into it and told a story.

Forced into a numbers rating I’ll go 6.5/10. Not fantastic, but passable, and much better than a lot of 4 or less out of 10 shows we’ve seen of late. Nowhere near Wrestlemania though.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Summerslam Preview


The biggest party of the summer? Maybe. The biggest talking point of the year? Potentially. The most laboured intro I’ve written for a while? Probably. Let’s get on……….

Summerslam is hours away, and as is customary, I would like to give you some thoughts of how I see this evening planning out.

I’m going to start with a rumoured match, because if it goes ahead it seems like a credible opener.

Cade and Murdoch v Cryme Time (Raw Tag Titles)
Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch were given a run with the Hardys. It was entertaining. They were given the belts. Fair enough.

Then what? They’ve been underused almost the point of me forgetting they were the champs until I saw a belt on their shoulders. Cryme Tyme are a team for whom I struggle to find affection. Their ‘comedy’ skits are not to my mind all that funny, and they are hardly Tully and Arn in the ring, are they?

So this match is much of a muchness, really.

For the record, I think if this does go ahead, I’ll go with the belts switching to Cryme Tyme, purely because I think the WWE Creative team think they could do more with them than Cade and Murdoch.

Now, what I’d prefer to see, usually, would be the match left out, so that the rest of the card could go longer. However, pretty much every match has a reason why it probably shouldn’t be stretched, due to weaknesses, either talent-based or due to injury, so adding a match, especially a babyface title change, makes sense.

Selection – Cryme Tyme

Diva Battle Royal
This may go on one before the main event, which presumably will be Orton v Cena, although I have one idea of an alternative, which I’ll explain in a sec.

This is an excuse to do 2 things: get a whole host of beautiful women on the screen (No complaints here) and find another opponent to Candice Michelle.

I can see just two credible contenders. One is Beth Phoenix. She seems to be the most pushed heel on RAW, and would be akin to feeding a monster heel to Candice. The other idea is that they could do a Smackdown v Raw type thing, and have Victoria win. I’d say the first theory is the most credible.

Selection – Beth Phoenix

Kane v Finlay
I’m told this is going to be a ‘comedy’ bout. AAAAAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

Damn it, you have less naturally gifted wrestlers on the roster now than anytime in the last 20 years, and with one of them, Fit Finlay, you have him playing second fiddle to a midget wrestler masquerading as a leprechaun.

Fine, do whatever, it just annoys the hell out of me. I’d want people like Cody Rhodes, people like Harry Smith, Teddy Hart, and so forth working with and learning from a guy like Finlay. Stands to reason.

I don’t particular care who wins this, but I’ll go for Kane, just because life’s a bitch like that. (By the way, I have no problem with Kane, but Glen Jacobs isn’t exactly the future).

Selection – Kane

Umaga v Ken Kennedy v Carlito
Blurring the line of faces and heels come these three, feuding for the IC title, and I suspect this will be the old triple threat formula.

We start out with the monster (Umaga, obviously) taking out the two plucky underdogs, before they eventually team up sufficiently (i.e. they cheat) to get the upper hand. Eventually, they get rid of him, and turn on each other, before the big guy come back and cleans house.

Now, most people are suggesting that Kennedy will take the strap here, but I’m going to go against the grain. I’m taking Umaga, who will defeat Carlito to retain. Kennedy doesn’t need a belt if the big plans apparently in store for him, in my mind, and as long as he is not involved in the decision he wouldn’t lose much credibility.

Selection – Umaga

Rey Mysterio v Chavo Guerrero
Triple H v King Booker
I’ve mixed these two matches in together, because I can’t see anything other than big wins for the returning faces. If we are to believe the rumours, Trips is set for the big run with the McMahons and Kennedy, while Rey is a former champ who surely would not lose his return against the guy who put him out. No complications, simple booking.

Selections – Triple H and Rey Mysterio

John Morrison v CM Punk
That’s right, this one again.

I don’t really understand why some sort of stipulation isn’t added for this. I mean, I’m not talking Mink Coat on a Pole match or anything, but maybe a submission match or two-of-out-three falls or something. It really does portray a small time image that they can’t think of anyone else to fight in the main event for ECW, and does sort of stick two fingers up to us, the fans, that a match that wasn’t even great the first couple of times round is rehashed.

Its one thing doing Kurt Angle v Shawn Michaels three times, and as much as I like these guys, HBK or the Olympic Hero they ain’t. And to be honest, every time I think about these two having a match, I think about Benoit. And I hate think about that guy now.

I like Punk, and I think after having him lose a couple of times, they might just give him a run.

Selection – CM Punk

Batista v The Great Khali
Now if Punk chasing a title for a third time is incredible, Batista must be on challenge 238 or something by now. I’m not a huge Batista fan anymore, but frankly I’ll be marking out harder than anyone if they finally get the belt of the big Indian lummox.

However, head ruling heart, I don’t think he’ll do it. I see Khali retaining, Taker returning to beat Mark Henry, then going for Khali and taking the belt.

Selection – The Great Khali

John Cena v Randy Orton
Summerslam is Orton’s event. This is where he won his first title and beat the Undertaker. OK, he lost to Hogan, but you know, what do you expect?

To me, the time is right. Cena has been a fantastic champion, and say what you like about the guy, has carried the company in a down period, as well as carrying a lot of guys to decent matches, regardless of what people may say.

He is in danger, though, of burning out his fuse and outstaying his welcome as champion. So I think that Orton may well do it tonight.

If the projected Kennedy/McMahon storyline is set to drag all the way to Wrestlemania, they need to take it slow. And if so, I wouldn’t expect The Game to be involved yet. So the original Triple H v Orton idea could yet happen. I don’t know how they’d feature Cena – maybe a Triple Threat – but I’m sticking with that theory.

Enjoy Summerslam if you are getting it.

Have a good night,