Monthly Archives: September 2016

Clash of Champions

​So, it’s the first Raw only pay per view of the new era. When I first heard WWE had trademarked the name ahead of the brand split I had hoped it would be a combined event, with the raw champions taking on their smackdown counterparts  (it’s not too late to make this happen next year Vincent! ) but alas, it wasn’t to be. Here are my thoughts on the event:

Pre Show Nia vs Alicia – decent match to warm up the crowd. Enough from Alicia to make it worth while while allowing Niz to still be a dominant force.
Tag titles: great match, but I wish it could have gone longer. New day are superb as a team these days and Gallows and Anderson are starting to show us why they were so dominant and highly regarded in NJPW. Finish was well worked to allow the feud to continue.

Cruiserweight title – phenomenal match. Really showcased what cruiserweight wrestling is about these days – so much more than high flying choreography which many write it off as. Perkins is one of the world’s best. Nice post match segment to establish a feud and a cruiserweight heel.

Sheamus vs Cesaro – awesome match to end an awesome series. The stock of both these guys must have gone up massively over the course of this series. I’d go as far as to say that it has been Sheamus’s best work in WWE. Each match has been brilliant and this one took it up a notch. Seeing guts this size hit 619s and coming of the top rope to the outside is mad. They really sold the tired end to a series angle, so we’ll that I’m wondering if the couple of “botched” moves may have been done on purpose to add to the angle. A no contest draw seems a fitting end to the series, but I’m intrigued as to what that means for the storyline.

Y2J vs Sami Zayn – another incredible match. It was always going to be! Sami is one of the best around at the minute and Jericho is one of the best ever. Great match. As this wasn’t really a big feud or storyline the winner probably doesn’t have a massive bearing on anything, although I’ll look forward to seeing if there is any further fallout on raw. I would have preferred Sami to go over, but the match was great.

Halfway through the event and it’s already the best main roster show for ages!

Women’s title – superb triple threat from 3 amazing wrestlers. Told a great story and really showcased to the world how good women’s wrestling is at the moment. I did think the finish could have been better though. I’d like to see where they go next.

US Title – what does it say about Americans that a guy can interrupt a wedding celebration, smash the bride through the cake and repeatedly attack the groom yet still be considered the face because the other guy is foreign? The match itself wasn’t bad. It was the weakest on the card but it was still a solid performance from both wrestlers and was a good way to recover from the women’s title and get ready for the universal championship. More of the crowd seem to be warming to reigns and the crowd battles are intresting to listen to. These two have certainly given the title some meaning.

Main Event, great match between two awesome superstars. Built on the rivalry and added to the ongoing story. I would have liked a clean finish, but get that this finish may be better long term. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here (hell in a cell I presume?!).

All in all, a superb event, I’d go as far as to say it’s my favourite WWE main roster event of the year. So good that it’s hard to pick a match of the night, I think I’ll go for Cesaro vs Sheamus but it could have easily been one of 4 others. Here’s hoping it’s a standard they can continue.
What did you think of the event? What was your match of the night?

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John Cena

Recently I rewatched an old old match from smack down, where some kid called John Cena took on Kurt Angle’s open challenge. The match itself was amazing, and it really got me thinking about things.

Cena was, is, a talented wrestler. There was a rather long period in the middle of his career where he perhaps became over reliant in a small subset of his moves, but all throughout he gave us amazing matches. Vs RVD at One Night Stand, Vs CM Punk at Sumerslam, tons of others. He’s consistently produced great matches, and the last 2 years have seen him at his best in the ring, in my opinion – his Sumerslam match with AJ perhaps being his best ever.

He was loved. I was lucky enough to attend Wrestlemania XX and he opened the show challenging Big Show for the US Title and the crowd went wild. Cena, cena, cena was chanted on mass for the whole match. He must still be well loved in some circles,  as he is still the top merch seller, but he now receives boos and John Cena Sucks chants at most live shows.

His mix skills are superb, they always has been. He knows how to play a crowd. Even know he does it, he can wind them up to Cena Sucks or let’s go Cena chants, or both simultaneously, at the drop of a hat.

So what went wrong?

I’m inclined to think he may have got a little stale. When he burst on the scene he was a little edgy and pushed the limits at times. But as his popularity grew he became more clean cut, and was held up as a hero more, and started to “pander” more. I think it was this, coupled with said over reliance on a reduced move set, that may have done it.  Coupled with some bad booking – for which I don’t think he can be blamed. 

Is there a way back?

Last tuesday he came out at the beginning of smack down to a heavy, heavy chorus of boos and John Cena Sucks chants. But he cut his promo a little differently. He had a bit of that old edge going and he really ripped Ambrose. The crowd changed. By the end of the segment he was getting all the chants and the laughs. At the end of the night he was getting the cheers and Ambrose got a ton of heat for hitting him with dirty deeds.

Cena has been around a while,  and is one of the most successful ever. He clearly works hard and is still improving even know. I think he’s certainly done enough to be talked about as a future hall of famer. On top of that, he seems like a genuinely great guy. He has no qualms about putting guys over (Kevin Owens beat him on his first night, he gave Enzo and Cass a leg up on NxT, using his open challenge to give guys a shot – similar to the shot he got from Kurt Angle in his open challlenge etc) and he has made more wishes with the make a wish foundation that anyone, ever.

I hope to see him stick around for a while, to see him win back the crowd permanently he did on Tuesday, to have some amazing matches with the superstars of the new era and pass on some of that knowledge. 

#Letsgocena

Progress 35 – Writing Nirvana on other peoples bags

So I finally got round to watching progress 35. And what a show! Progress is, in my opinion, the best British promotion by far. The talent, the being and the match quality are awesome and unlike some if the other big British promotions they run mainly off their roster with the odd import making a rare appearance.

The show kicked off with. “British Strong Style” – which was Pete Dunne and Trentham Severn,against Damien Dunne and Tyler Bate. This was building on events from progress 33 where Pete and tent turned in their respective partners mid match. This was a great opening match, some massive spots and it was well worked throughout, telling a good story.  I love that Trentham and Tyler are feuding despite holding the Chikira tag titles. The only problem I have with this match is that it means no singles match for Pete Dunne – who is fast becoming a firm favourite of mine.
Match 2-Nixon Newell vs Alex Windsor – this was a good solid match that was well worked. Nixon Newell is an impressive wrestler who I’ve seen twice recently and can’t wait to see more of. Alex Winsor is also a cracking performer and the match was great. I like the fact Progress are finally building towards a women’s title and expanding the women’s division. I’m hoping for Nixon Newell vs Pollyanna in the near future.

4way – great match but a tad shorter than it should have been. Jack Gallagher great as ever, his tie up move is my current favourite. Zack Gibson getting a car stereo was absolutely hilarious.

Joe Coffey vs Dave mastiff – great big guys match. I’m loving the Atlas tournament  (you may have guessed by the name of the blog!) And I love that the Progress mid card title is for big guys, this shows how wrestling has changed over the years. I always think, while watching his matches, that one who looks like Dave Mastiff should be that agile!

Will Ospreay vs Shane Strickland – what a match! On most cards this would have been the match of the night by a mile. Brilliant agility on show from both, brilliant heel work from will and an alround great match that showed it all. The crowd chanted “Both these guys” and it seemed very fitting.

Weirdly, Will apologised for the heel behaviour,which left me with unanswered questions about his reasoning. 

Haskins vs Whiplash – a great match, and some killer heel mic work from whiplash to start. I hear a lot of negative things about haskins, but I’ve yet to see him have anything other than a brilliant match. I wouldn’t be too upset if he dethroned the Villain at Brixton. 

Rampage vs T Bone – team single square off! Two of the best British heavy weights gave us an incredible mat h and I can’t wait for the AtLas final at Brixton!

Marty Scurll vs Mark Andrews. Marty seems to be continually unable to restless aarch that will not be a candidate for match of the year. The whole thing was brilliant start to finish, the moves, the spot’s,  the story line, hitting a powerbomb into a chicken wing. Match of the night and a great great performance from two great wrestlers.

Superb show, and it really sets up things for chapter 36 in Brixton, which looks to have an amazing card  that we know already will feature 

Joe Coffey vs Rampage Brown

Zack Sabre Junior vs Tomasso Ciampa (3 falls)

Women’s 6 man –  Alex Windsor, Dahlia Black and Jinny vs Nixon Newell, Laura Di matter and Pollyanna 

8 man tag Moser, Andrews, Dennis and Gallagher vs The Origin

Sebastian vs The Pastor

London Rit’s vs British Strong Style

Scurll Vs Haskins Vs Tommy F****** End 

What a line up. I’m already excited and can’t wait!

Backlash 

​Another month, another WWE PPV event. Now we have seen another brand split we may even see 20 per year, plus takeovers. I worry about this becoming too much, I think maybe 6 each per year then 6 joint ones (the big 4, plus a rebooted king of the ring and “clash of champions” – but I would have had that as a card of raw vs smackdown exhibition matches – each champion squaring off against their opposite numbers). Anyway, worries aside, I watched backlash and here are my thoughts.

Women’s six pack elimination – I thought this was a great showcase. There were some great spots and it built on the Nikki vs Carmella storyline well. Plus I loved the Alabama slam from Nikki! One of my favourite moves! Becky deserved the victory and I like the fact that it looks like they are already building to have 2 women’s matches at No Mercy. 
Hype bros vs Usos a filler match, which was all it was ever going to be. Neither of these teams interest me too much, although I’m interested to see where heel uso gimmick goes. Decent enough match for a filler match. Winner was fairly incidental.

Miz – Dolph. A great start, I liked the reference to Punks UFC fight, although I can see the argument that it may have been disrespectful. This was a great match featuring two of the most underrated wrestlers in WWE today. It told a good story and I thought Miz using Bryan’s moves was an inspired twist. Great ending too. Miz is white Hot at the moment. 

Kane vs Bray – solid match for a last minute change. Built on the Bray Orton rivalry well and it’s good to see Kane back on a PPV card.

Heath and Rhino – solid match, great story, love the team and the skits. Think the dynamic is great. Long may the reign continue! Although it wouldnt surprise me if they drop straight away.

Main Event – Match of the night, and it was always going to be. Feel a bit for Dean, would have liked his reign to be longer, but it would have been hard to keep the belt off AJ any longer. I’ve been massively impressed with AJ through his entire career and it’s great to see him final reach the pinnacle of the business.

The finish was good, but I worry that they may ruin the title run with no clean wins – as they did with Jericho as undisputed champion and many others. 

All in all a solid first outing for the blue brand in the first single brand PPV of the new era. To say that the show was this good and there is still Kalisto, Crews, American Alpha, Vaudevillains, Corbin and Cena on the roster with Hawkins and Benjamin to come shows a decent amount of depth, although I still feel a couple more would be beneficial – time to promote Joe!

I’m already looking forward to No mercy! Nikki Carmella should be a great match. I’m hoping for Becky vs Alexa. I wouldn’t mind AJ vs Dean again,and finally getting to see Bray Vs Randy. Plu’s it will be American Alphas main roster PPV debut. Awesome. 

The pegasus kid

It’s one of the most tragic stories in professional wrestling history. In fact it’s one of the most tragic stories in all history. The story of Chris Beniot.

He was an extremely talented wrestler who despite being of small stature and battle depression and addiction rose to the very top of his industry. The pinnacle of his career being at a show I was lucky enough to attend, Wrestlemania 20, where he won the world title. His great friend Eddie Guerrero, who had shared many of the ups and downs of his career, held the WWE championship at the time and the show ended with the two of them embracing in the ring with their titles under a shower of confetti.

Within a couple of years, both men were dead, victims of their own excesses. Both under tragic circumstances. Eddie, despite having being clean for a long time, lost his life because his heart gave out due to historic drug use. Just when he was booked for another title run.

Chris Beniot’s story had an even more tragic end, he killed his wife, his youngest son, and them himself over the course of 3 days. We will never know what actually happened in that house, over those 3 days, but what is clear is that Chris Beniot lost his mind. 

The postmortem showed a brain that was so mangled from concussive injuries that it resembled the brain of an 85 year old suffering from Altzheimer’s Disease. He was 40. 

Clearly the amount of concussive injuries had an impact on his mental health and he had more than most due in part to.his move set and in part to his willingness to take chair shots to the head. His storied history with steriods and alcohol abuse will also have had an affect on his mental state. These will have exasperated the insecurities and hang ups that he always harboured, common ones and specific ones he reportedly held about his size and what that meant for his place in an industry dominated by giants.

The final shot to his fragile state was losing Eddie. Kurt Angle, a long time friend, says that Chris was never the same after that. His diary mentions premonitions of his death, and I’ve heard surviving friends and family members say that this was a recurring theme, a paranoia he harboured.

The 18 months that passed between Eddie dying and the Benoit tragedy must have been hell. Chris’s mental state deteriorated and he never sought help, and no one noticed. Many people said in hindsight that he became a different person after Eddie, but no one did anything. 

This may be the 21st century, but society has not found its way to a very enlightened place on mental health. It’s still something that is shied away from and not spoken of. Especially when it’s men. Especially when it’s men in a macho industry like professional wrestling.

I’m a big rugby league fan, and rugby league suffers similarly with mental health but recently those involved in the sport have been driving change. Trying to create a culture when it is talked about. I feel that this is a great thing, and I feel that society as a whole needs to follow this lead.

I read an article this morning about HHH and his closest friends in wrestling. One of those listed was Benoit and the article said “Triple H needs to move on and forget about whatever friendship may have existed.” This sums up what is wrong with society. 

When the events of that weekend were revealed, Benoit was removed from WWE history. He is listed when necessary and only when necessary, in title reigns etc. On the WWE network every Wrestlemania has the main event listed in its description bar 1. The aforementioned Wrestlemania 20, where Benoit finally achieved his dream and won the title. Instead the description reads “Triple H defends the world championship in a triple threat match”. WWE is a massive, massive company and they could have used the opportunity to spotlight these issues and address the taboo that exists around these issues. Instead they erased him.

I don’t blame them, they probably feared a backlash. They probably worried they may appear to be defending a murderer. 

Today is world suicide prevention day, which is part of world suicide prevention month, and this coincides with the news that a biopic about Benoit is on its way. Maybe now is the time to acknowledge Benoit, and look at the causes of this tragedy,  to try and stop it from happening ever again.

CwC Live Finals

Are you excited? I’m excited. This week we will see the finals of the CwC on WWE Network. 

I was surprised Noam Dar lost, but it does mean that ZSJ – one of the top 3 or 4 British wrestlers in the world today (in my opinion) has made the semis.

The other 3 semi finalists are Gran Metalik, Kota Ibushi and TJ Perkins. All 4 semi finalists have impressed me immensely.

I’m at a point where I genuinely don’t know who will win, and I’m not even sure who I want to win!

A ZSJ win would be great, especially given the recent winning spree the British have been on in international tournaments. And his technical ability is second to none. I certainly hope he takes the win over Gran Metalik and makes the final.

The other semi final has two of the guys who have stood out most for me. Ibushi is phenomenal, but Perkins has, for me, been on abother level. I feel that he and Jack Gallagher have been the two most impressive in the tournament and I hope he meets ZSJ in the final.

A ZSJ TJ Perkins final would be incredible. And my loyalties would be seriously torn! I think I’d have to support ZSJ but would certainly not be disappointed to see TJ take home the trophy. Whatever happens – it will be amazing!

The CwC has been a great success and I can’t wait for next year’s installment.  I also can’t wait to see cruiserweights on Raw.

Have you enjoyed the CwC? Who’s your favourite been? Who are you most looking forward ro seeing on Raw? For me, it’s Jack Gallagher.

The British are HERE

Recently I have been really enjoying tournament wrestling. New Japan lead the way with the G1 climax and the best of the Super Juniors which were both amazing, the Super J cup provided some awesome stuff (Ospreay vs Sydal anyone?). Progress’s Atlas tournament has been great. This year’s Battle of Los Angeles sounded incredible – can’t wait to see it. Even the WWE have got in on the act with the Cruiserweight Classic and the Smackdown tag titles tournament.

I was thinking about these tournaments, and it occurred to me that the last 12 months have been pretty successful for our British exports.

Battle of Los Angeles 2015 – Zack Sabre Jr

Last year Sheppey’s own technical wizard showed the best the independent scene has to offer that he was the top of the pile. Zack has had some incredible matches before, during and since this tournament and his recent work in the CWC has been awesome. He recently gave us a masterclass in gaining heat when he fought Jeff Cobb in Rev Pro and showed how two friends can blput on a face vs face showcase when he fought Will Ospreay in Progress.

Best of the Super Juniors 2016 – Will Ospreay 

The aerial assassin sent shockwaves through the world when he made the final of this, never mind when he lifted the trophy. It’s unheard of for someone so young and inexperienced to pick up this trophy,  but that’s testament to the hard work Will has put in in his short but amazing career. He continues to impress and improve and I look forward to seeing Will Ospreay on top of the world for many, many years.

Battle of Los Angeles 2016 – Marty Scull

The villain. Probably my favourite wrestler in the world today. Superb at gaining heat. Oozing charisma with every breath and seemingly unable to wrestle a match that isn’t a match of the year candidate. (His 3 vs Will Ospreay – including from WCPW Stacked available free – and 2 vs Chris Hero are just 5 of many amazing Marty Scurll matches this year.)

I, like many other wrestling fans, was delighted to see the Progress champion win this tournament and I can’t wait to see him scale further heights in the world of pro wrestling.

Cruiserweight Classic – Noam Dar?

The CWC has been a tremendous tournament. There has been some amazing matches and it’s still pretty hard to pick a winner. The three British entrants have shown themselves really well. My favourite match so far has been Jack Gallagher vs Akira Tozawa. Unfortunately Jack lost and can’t bring home the trophy, but he has done enough to earn himself a spot in the cruiserweight division on Raw.

We do know, however, that there will be 1 British star in the semi finals, as tomorrow’s quarter final features Noam Dar vs the afforementioned Zack Sabre Jr. This match will be awesome, and I have a feeling that the winner could go all the way and continue the trend of British winners. 

I suspect that will be Noam Dar, I’ve had a feeling about hin winning since I saw the video of hin and Finn Balor in New York prior to summerslam and he was one of the first named in Raw’s cruiserweight division.

The 5 superstars mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg, there are lots, lots more amazingly talented British wrestlers out there. And now even the WWE are realising that the British are here. 

WCPW Stacked

WCPW is a fairly new British promotion which is growing rapidly, thanks in part to its weekly YouTube show loaded which has featured some superb matches. Not least this instant classic from Will Ospreay and Martin Kirby. 

As well as their weekly show they have bigger events and Stacked is one of them. The event had a “stacked” card and was held in WCPW’s home territory Newcastle, England. Stacked took place on 24th August and was streamed on YouTube on September 3rd. Being made available on YouTube video a few hours after the stream (click the links below to find the matches).

As well as the stacked card, this show included my all time favourite on the mic – Alex Shane – on commentary, and this for me added a whole new level to the event. Shane is extremely knowledgeable about pro wrestling and as such adds great insight to each match, as well as being genuinely funny and excellent at being a heel commentator. He made an excellent team with Dave Bradshaw.

It was also great to see Steve Linsky refereeing, he’s been a favourite of mine since he took the best ref bump ever by coming off the balcony at the Coventry skydome during an Alex Shane match year and years ago.

The show started with “guest General Manager” Eric Bischoff, the segment was funny and I feel it added star power to the event early.

Joe Coffey vs Moose

This was fantasticmatch to kick us off, big guys collided in a very watchable way.Some great spots. I thought the ending could have had more though, Moose tool a lot of big hits but Coffey went down a little easily. Still a great match and Joe Coffey seems to get better every time I see him.

El Ligero vs Pete Dunne vs EC3

What a great match. Pete Dunne is fast becoming one of my favourite wrestlers. EC3 is a solid worker and El Ligero is always entertaining. I really enjoyed the whole thing. Good spots and a great story told.

Doug Williams vs Drew Galloway 

It was testament to the strength of the card that these two faced off in the third match, and boy was it a great match. Doug Williams was, in my opinion, the greatest wrestler ever. And while he may not be as amazing as he was in his prime, he’s still a phenomenal in ring performer and I thought he really turned back the clock with his work in this match. Drew has been great his entire career, since the days he and sheamus fought all over Europe pre WWE.  For whatever reason wwe didn’t work.out but he has reinvigorated himself leaving since and this was a great match. Two skilled performers telling a great story.
This match in particular was lifted further by Alex Shane’s phenomenal commentary. He built heat for Doug with Brexit talk and even set everyone straigh on the Montreal screw job – “was it a work? Of course it was.”

Ospreay vs Scurll

Arguably the best two cruiserweight in the world today. Arguably the best two British wrestlers in the world today. Arguably the best two wrestlers in the world today. I would certainly say they are my two favourite wrestlers active today, and they are wrestling each other in a match where my favourite talker is commentating and my favourite referee, Steve Linsky, is calling the shots. This was always going to be the match of the night,  and again is testament to the strength of the card that it was on so early, it could easily have headlined, as I have seen these two do elsewhere. 

These two have fought in Progress and Rev Pro already this year, but this is a match up I will never get tired of seeing. They raised the bar again with a match that prompted Alex Shane to exclaim “the best match we’ve ever seen in this promotion”, and it would be hard to argue with him.
Marty showed his technical brilliance and Will showed off his aerial ability, we saw all the trademarks we expect from each of them and much, much more. When Marty was building heat from the crowd Dave Bradshaw exclaimed “he won’t gain many fans that way”, to which Shane responded with “when you are that cool Dave you don’t need fans!” A great way to sum up the villain. 

Martin Kirby and Travis Banks vs Liam Slater and Gabriel Kidd.

This tag match was well worked. All 4 wrestlers got over well. I’ve seen a lot of Kirkby over the years and he’s always solid. As is Travis who I’ve seen a bit of in Progress recently. Slater I’ve seen once before with RISE at the Brudenell and I was impressed, he impressed me again and Gabriel Kidd, who I had never seen, was also impressive. Not a patch on the previous match, but great all the same.

Bea Priestley vs Nixon Newell

Last women standing match. Some really good stuff which showcased the quality that there is in the women’s division here in WCPW. It was a great way to introduce a women’s title. Both women wrestled really well and came up with some incredibly innovative ways to use steel chairs. My only slight criticism is that it was a tad in the short side.

Grado vs Primate 

I saw Primate in the flesh recently have a falls count anywhere match in RISE against the muscle cat at a social club. It was an incredible match so I had high hopes for this match against a TNA star. The match didn’t disappoint on quality, putting both wrestlers over and being very entertaining, however I was left feeling a little short changed by the match length in this match too.

Main Event – Big Damo vs Rampage Brown vs Joe Hendry vs Joseph Connors.

This was a great fatal 4 way. Damo and Rampage looked strong as ever and put some great work into the match. A match that had some superb spots and told two great stories, one of Damo and Rampage continuing a long running feud, and the other showing the development of friendship into something else between Hendry and Connors. This was a really well booked and worked match made even better by the commentary gold from Alex Shane.

I was very impressed by the event and I look forward to many more WCPW showings in the future.