Monday, April 4, 2016

4/3/16 WrestleMania 32

Whoa, three years since my last blog post here? That's what happens when I barely have any time for pro wrestling these days. I've done my best to keep up with as many storylines as possible. Ratings here are for the PPV only (no pre-show stuff).

Zack Ryder vs. Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn vs. Sin Cara vs. Stardust vs. The Miz (Ladder; Intercontinental Title): No surprise this match started the PPV. The usual big spots we've come to expect in a ladder match at WM. As expected, Owens and Zayn impressed. Even with Ryder basically being all vocal to get on the show, then getting his chance, I still personally didn't expect Ryder to come away with the title. Crowd loved it, though. A great match with a very good ending. ***3/4

Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles: Never thought I'd be writing on this blog that AJ Styles is now a member of WWE. Styles has shown good stuff, and while his arsenal is much safer than what it used to be, it's still great to see. A very good move to pair him with Jericho first. Several near falls here. Loved the Styles counter out of the Walls into the Calf Crusher. I didn't agree with the finish; Styles should have gone over here. ***1/2

League of Nations (Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, & Rusev) vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, & Big E): Wade Barrett was at ringside for LoN and predictably had a hand in the finish. I'll remember this match more for the giant box of Booty-O's on the stage. Otherwise, a typical tag match here. **

Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose (No Holds Barred): I like booking Lesnar strong. I can understand booking Ambrose as some lunatic who apparently loves pain or doesn't know when to stop. Here, I simply couldn't get into the match as much as I would have wanted. Lesnar is mostly a one-trick asskicker with suplexes and hard-hitting stuff. Because Lesnar is booked so strong, Ambrose had to resort to a nutshot and weapons for his offense. At least a dozen suplexes later and a few weapon shots, it was over after about 13 minutes. **

Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks (Women's Title): Before the Diva Revolution last year, we would have probably just had some Battle Royal or a 10-diva tag match like on the pre-show (and yes, I really feel bad for Paige and Natalya being stuck in that pre-show match). There was no legitimacy left in this division (even Natalya had been relegated to occasional matches or a valet role), and no reason to take any of the women seriously anymore. It was more than symbolic when Lita basically brought back the Women's Championship, saying good riddance to the butterfly belt and a huge "hello" to what may hopefully be a new age of women inspiring subsequent generations to become professional wrestlers. Three of the "Four Horsewomen" delivered huge here on the biggest stage with several counters and high-risk moves. Charlotte's moonsault reminded me so much of Kurt Angle's version, just majestic while suspended in air. I was hoping Becky would get the nod here, as she was the only one of the three yet to hold any gold yet in the company. Perhaps it was a sign that Becky got her usual entrance, while Sasha got Snoop Dogg (her real-life cousin and 2016 WWE HOF inductee) and Charlotte got her father (Ric Flair) and Ric's old robe. To me, Becky stood to lose the most here if she didn't win, while the others seemingly did not have that much further to fall. Luckily, all three had their moments to win. This would have sounded absurd a couple years ago, but I'm looking forward to future matches for this division. ***3/4

The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon (Hell in a Cell): If Shane won, he got control of RAW. If Taker lost, it would be his last Mania. Had this match taken place while The Streak remained intact (Lesnar broke it two years ago), it was an easy Undertaker prediction. However, given the situation, it at least seemed like not a bad idea to have Shane win, albeit with interference. It would have allowed a potentially fresher product while allowing Taker to step aside to let the next crop of stars head the show. Instead, the predictable carnage of weapons, escaping the cage, and the insane Shane bump unfolded. Everything was a setup to that insane Shane bump. No interference, no twists. This match may not have had the most potential, but I thought it could have been better. **3/4

20-Man Battle Royal (Andre the Giant Memorial): No way to take this seriously when Shaquille O'Neal is an entrant. Shook my head at the opening sequence between the big guys. Baron Corbin winning was a nice surprise and saved this from a worse rating. 1/2*

The Rock vs. Erick Rowan: Bray Wyatt is a master on the mic. The match was done in a blink of an eye. Then Super Cena "saved" the day. N/A

Roman Reigns vs. Triple H (WWE World Heavyweight Title): Vince keeps trying to get us to cheer Reigns, but that basically will only happen if he keeps hitting spears on Stephanie McMahon. HHH had his usual grand entrance. As much as the WWE Title should be defended on the last match of the show, I think HIAC could have also been worthy of the final slot. Again, this was a match that I just could not completely get into. You won't get a technical masterpiece from Reigns, and this was basically set up in the traditional "let's have the heel cheat to win or gain the advantage" formula. Since it's Mania, chances are the face (or in this case, the person Vince wanted as the face) triumphs in the end. It wasn't horrible, but again, just not a main event I'd consider worthy of the grandest stage. **

Final Thoughts: Unfortunately, in my eye, not as good of a Mania as prior years. Yes, the announced attendance (likely number of tickets sold) was over 101,000, but reports state that the event still legitimately broke the WM III inflated mark of 93,173. The most pleasant surprise may have been the Women's Title match, and I hope that sparks what that title picture will be like for years to come. The injury bug bit WWE pretty hard this year, with no Orton, no Neville, no Luke Harper, and a less-muscular Cena (still needs time to bulk back up after his injury). I hope that AJ Styles becomes a bigger part of the title picture by next year's Mania. In short, NXT Takeover: Dallas was a much better show. **1/2

Monday, April 8, 2013

4/7/13 WrestleMania XXIX

Hey all, it's been a while. For those wondering, I've tried to keep up on the WWE storylines as much as possible. It might be a day late, but here are my WM 29 ratings:

Miz vs. Wade Barrett (IC Title): Just saw the highlights of this from the main show. Miz got Barrett to submit to the Figure Four and become IC champ once again. Ric Flair must be proud of Miz as the Hall of Famer grieves over his son's tragic passing. N/A

Big Show, Sheamus, & Randy Orton vs. The Shield: Good match here. Shield booked strong as one would hope. Notable spot near the end of the match with Rollins doing the suicide dive to Orton and basically smashing his own face into the barricade. Triple spear from Show got a nice pop. Orton tagging himself in and Show not liking it will probably lead to a feud later. **3/4

Mark Henry vs. Ryback: Booker T issued a no-contact rule and that led to some bench press stuff on Smackdown. No one expected a wrestling clinic here anyway. Cole now references Bruno Sammartino when Henry goes for the bearhug. Ryback goes for Shellshocked, can't hold Henry up. Henry falls on Ryback and that's good enough for three. Huh?! Crowd reaction was fine. Ryback hits a spinebuster and Shellshocked after the match. *1/2

Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston (Tag Team Titles): Yup, I miss watching AJ Lee each week. WWE replayed the end to last week's RAW, where Langston got involved and Ziggler scored the pin on Daniel Bryan using the tights. Crowd going NUTS for DB. Nice start to the match with the AJ Lee "Kiss of Death" reference. JBL helps put Langston over as a strong dude. Ziggler hits the Zigzag on Kane but only two. Chokeslam to Ziggler and Flying Goat for three, champs retain. **

Fandango vs. Chris Jericho: Fandango's WM debut. Lilian Garcia introduces Fandango, who probably tried to compete with Undertaker for the longest ring entrance in WM history. Nice dancing intro, though. Jericho wasn't billed as being born in Manhasset, NY, although I guess he's more known for being from Winnipeg anyway. Fandango had gotten the upper hand on Jericho the past few weeks. Codebreaker to Fandango early, but Fandango knocked out of the ring. Jericho the clear ring general here. Fandango can springboard leap to the top like RVD. Impressive top-rope legdrop gets two. A second one misses. Jericho lionsault hits. He goes for the Walls but has some type of "tweaked knee" moment. Fandango rolls Jericho up for three. Y2J puts over another young guy on the roster, nothing new there. **1/4

Diddy performs "Comin' Home." Seriously a great song.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger (World Heavyweight Title): Main event intros here. Poor Jack Swagger. If not for his arrest, he probably would have been world champ. Think I caught a remix of ADR's original theme; not sure how long that's been around. Ricardo's on crutches to sell the ankle injury Swagger gave him. Swagger gets ADR in the Patriot Lock but ADR counters into a cross armbreaker -- then Swagger counters back to the Patriot Lock. Great segment. Colter of course gets involved. Swagger nearly forgets to get back in the ring (at 9) and ADR slaps on the cross armbreaker for the submission win. Another decent match, but could have been a lot better. **3/4

Undertaker vs. CM Punk: Another outstanding video package to get me up to speed on the storyline. One of the best segments: Taker beating Punk up with the urn tumbling to the floor like a fumble, and Paul Heyman picking up the urn and running with it like a defensive lineman going for a touchdown. Living Colour performs "Cult of Personality" as Punk walks to the ring. Love it. Taker looks in much better shape than he did at that house show several weeks ago; that portly gut is all but gone.

Punk with the mind games before the match; he teased ways to win via countout or DQ if he had to. Punk delivered Old School to Taker and a side Russian leg sweep for two. Flying Savage elbow gets two for Punk. GTS countered, Taker chokeslam for two. Snake eyes from Taker, but Punk hits the back heel kick for two. Taker wants Last Ride to Punk on the Spanish table, but Punk gets out and kicks Taker in the head. Punk with the elbow drop to Taker while the deadman is lying on the Spanish table. Taker gets in at nine and Punk looks distraught. Still maintain the Taker/HBK countout segment at WM 25 was the best one, given how Taker all but spiked his own head on the floor while doing the big dive.

Punk goes for the Vice, but Taker gets that "you are screwed" look. Punk's looking like he just crapped his pants. Taker delivers the Tombstone and Punk kicks out. Fans are going nuts. Ref bump spot. Punk with another running knee in the corner. Taker no-sells and goes for the Last Ride. Punk gets the urn and clocks Taker. Punk with the signature Taker pin and still just gets two. Crowd real loud now. Heyman gives a constipated look on the arena floor. Punk mocks Taker's throat slash. GTS countered. Taker Tombstone countered. GTS countered one more time. Taker hits the Tombstone and gets three. Another outstanding Undertaker WM match. Not on par with the HBK and HHH matches, but still awesome. ****

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (No Holds Barred): HBK is in HHH's corner tonight. As one would expect, not a complete wrestling clinic, more a physical massacre. Still, we had the nice wrestling moves from both guys. Lesnar loves the suplexes. Spanish table finally met its demise here. Crowd got a bit dead when Lesnar stayed on offense in the ring. Lesnar knocks HBK off the apron, then HHH hits a spinebuster. Pedigree countered. Lesnar goes for an F-5. HBK comes in for Sweet Chin Music but that's blocked. F-5 to HBK. Lesnar went to his knees prematurely on the first Pedigree, so it looked like he "blocked" the first attempt. HHH gets it the second time and gets two. Crowd's not impressed. HHH into the steel steps. Lesnar brings the bigger of the two steel steps into the ring and nukes HHH's shoulder again. Lesnar goes for the Kimura several times, no rope break in this match. HHH with a spinebuster to break that third Kimura attempt. Lesnar's left shoulder into the ringpost and HHH attacks that arm. Chair shot on the post and the steps.

KIMURA TO LESNAR! Lesnar screams for help. Heyman into the ring with a chair, but HBK with Sweet Chin Music to Heyman! Lesnar's in trouble. Lesnar picks HHH up and spinebuster on the steps. HHH re-locks the Kimura, so Lesnar slams him on the steps again. Kimura again! HHH counters Brock's counter and DDTs Lesnar on the steps. HHH with a sledgehammer shot to Lesnar and a Pedigree on the steps for three. Real nice, might have benefited if they added some blood to this one. ***3/4

Hall of Fame ceremony highlights. Probably the best HOF class in recent memory. Glad Bruno Sammartino's finally in. Whoa, Trish is pregnant with child! Howard Finkel does the formal announcement at WM 29.

Attendance announced as 80,676. Wonder how much that got inflated.

John Cena vs. The Rock (WWE Title): Twice in a lifetime! Main event intros. Pace is slow at the start; two guys just trying to set the tempo. Crowd is fairly quiet for a match that's supposed to have a heavyweight-type feel.

Rock sharpshooter countered. Cena misses the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and Rock plants him with a DDT. Rock Bottom countered and Cena locks in the STF. Looked like Cena was guiding Rock to counter while in the hold. Rock uses leverage to get a rollup for two. Rock catapulted, then a slam and Five Knuckle Shuffle from Cena. AA countered into a Rock spinebuster. Rock caught in the STF. Rock powers out!

Rock Bottom to Cena, but only two. AA to Rock for two. Crowd's not impressed. Cena misses the top-rope legdrop. Rock spinebuster and People's Elbow, and that gets two. More counters. Cena catches Rock, but Rock counters into a Rock Bottom for another two. Crowd perked up there. Rock for another People's Elbow. Cena pops up and hits the AA...TWO! Crowd starts to love it. But seriously, is this all the people will liven up for?!

Cena with a sloppy rollup for two. Rock tries the Rock Bottom but Cena hits a Rock Bottom?!?! That gets two and Cena has a look of disbelief. Yeah yeah.

Cena does the People's Elbow mocking, which got him caught last year. Rock pops up but Cena was ready. Cena goes for the AA but Rock counters again. Rock Bottom for ANOTHER TWO. This is getting old, dammit! Crowd still loves it, though.

Rock plants Cena with another DDT. Rock lies in wait. Cena gets up. Cena counters a Rock Bottom and hit sthe AA for three. And after all those false finishes, an AA wins it for Cena. Really?! Really?! ***1/2

Cena and Rock shake hands in the ring. Cena leaves to allow Rock to get one more salute from the fans. Rock meets a saluting Cena on the stage and they take one more curtain call. A nice, classy way to end the show.

Final Thoughts: WWE will probably keep preferring to hold PPVs in large stadiums and domes to up that attendance count. I saw a couple pics on Twitter where people were complaining about those barriers around the ring obstructing their view.

Not a PPV for the ages by any means. But it's still good enough to watch thanks to Taker/Punk and HHH/Lesnar. Cena and Rock was good, but that's why someone like Ziggler should have been in the main event. I agree it's great for business to have part-timers like Rock, HHH, and Lesnar wrestle. But it doesn't do the guys like Ziggler or Kofi Kingston any good.

You'll notice no MITB cash-in and Kofi was off the card completely. Heck, I heard Tonz of Funk (Brodus and Tensai) got taken off the card. I'd probably give the overall show about a ***1/4

Will Taker be at WM 30? Possibly, but unsure. Not sure who he'd face, but it could be someone like Lesnar or Cena. Assuming it's Taker's last match, have a damn farewell tour. Have it be for the WWE Title and make Taker retire as champ. Do something great for a guy who's stayed loyal to the company for that long.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Week in Review (TNA Lockdown 2013)

TNA Lockdown 2013 (3/10/13):

Kenny King took a nasty bump after botching what I think would be a moonsault onto Christian York. King wanted to use Zema Ion as a springboard (I assume) and just looked bad from the start. Kenny finished the match just fine, so just a scare there. Zema Ion with a hurricanrana to King -- and Ion basically does a moonsault-to-pin attempt on Christian York at the same time. Now that's awesome. Tower of Doom spot. York powerbomb to King, who did a fallaway slam on Ion. Multiple great spots. A kickass X-Division triple threat. I'd say another 3-4 minutes of this and it's easily over four stars. ***3/4

Joseph Park's gimmick is over with the crowd, but putting him in a match with Joey Ryan isn't what I had in mind. A comedic filler match.

Another reason why the Knockouts Division is a zillion times better than WWE's Divas. Gail Kim is a part of another great match. Listen to that crowd when Taryn Terrell speared Gail. Yup. I'd give that Knockouts match at least **1/2.

To me, the match between the Robbies was a snoozer. Just couldn't get into it.

Triple threat tag title match = win. Fun spot early with Chavo's multiple suplexes (a zillion amigos, I guess). Impressive double backbreaker by Hernandez. I loved the finish with Roode tagging himself in at the last second as Chavo hits the frog splash. Roode gets the pin to retain the titles. I hope the contract dispute has been taken care of, because Roode is gonna remain a huge factor in TNA. Another tremendous match. ***3/4

Predictable screwjob finish to get Wes Brisco his win over Kurt Angle. Gotta credit Angle for helping the new guys.

Good Lethal Lockdown match. Sting was the last guy in, and he brought the weapons. From there, it was basically Team TNA getting redemption. Nice big spot from Eric Young, doing the elbow drop from the top of the cage. Giving that around ***. At the time, it seemed like a big A&E loss for their momentum. But it turns out that didn't hurt the stable's momentum at all...

...because then the World Title match happened. Once the Hogans came down to ringside, that all but sealed the Bully Ray heel turn. I'm still not agreeing with doing that turn so quickly. Yes, a ton of people could see it coming a million miles away. Yes, Bully is way better as a heel. But why not hold off on it some more and gain even more guys in the A&E stable in the meantime? I for one would have loved to see someone like Brooke Hogan or Joseph Park in A&E before Bully joined. ***1/4 for the title match.

It felt like WCW and the nWo all over again when the beer bottles came flying into the ring. For the wrestler's safety, I wouldn't condone that.

As one saw from the PPV, not all matches were contested inside a steel cage. Excellent move. I thought the PPV was great overall, probably around ***1/2. Quality over quantity in PPVs is a damn good thing for TNA.

RAW (3/11/13):
Another awesome match from Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler. Not surprised there. ***3/4 for it.

Lesnar takes out the New Age Outlaws because of their ties to HHH. Great promo by Heyman to further the storyline. HHH now has to agree to accept a match with Lesnar and sign a contract, and only then will Lesnar announce his stipulations. Of course, HHH is accepting no matter what. Whatever the stipulation really is, it promises to be a war.

Nice to see the Bella Twins back on RAW. An interesting twist in the Cody Rhodes-Kaitlyn storyline that I didn't see coming. And Kaitlyn snorts on her laughing. Wonderful.

WWE's committed to a storyline between Mark Henry and Ryback. I'm not sure of this one. Matches between two non-agile big men generally haven't fared well.

Wade Barrett and Miz continue their feud over being movie stars. Yay...

Brad Maddox is one of the frontrunners for for worst promo of the year. Scripted like that or not, that was brutal. Just say Miz and Jericho have a match, winner faces Barrett for the IC Title next week. Moron.

And of course, Miz and Jericho didn't have a winner because of Barrett's interference. I like the triple threat match possibilities.

Awesome stuff between Halle Berry and Kane to promote The Call (movie comes out on Friday).

The match between Punk and Taker is really on now. I'm sure WWE would have brought Paul Bearer into the mix anyway, but Bearer's passing has made it even more of a big deal. Talk about real life and storyline meshing together. Great heel stuff from Punk as usual.

With my busy schedule this week, I didn't get to watch NXT, Main Event, Impact, Superstars, and Smackdown. I heard Impact had a good match between Sting and Austin Aries.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Week in Review (3/4 to 3/10; RIP Paul Bearer)

NOTE: TNA Lockdown takes place on March 10, but I'll try to recap that at another time. I'll be out of town for St. Patrick's Day weekend, so I probably won't get to watch everything anyway.

OK, trying out a week in review thing that I'll post on weekends, if possible. I still watch the shows briefly, so the recaps may be lengthy. Let's see how this one goes.

The big news this week was the passing of Paul Bearer, probably best known for being affiliated with the Undertaker. It made headlines on various news websites, and a lot of past and present WWE stars paid their respects. He'll be sorely missed.

Old School RAW (3/4/13):
Nice start with Undertaker's cameo and a "sign" that he'll be competing at WM 29. CM Punk went off on his vow to break the Streak, with Randy Orton, Big Show, and Sheamus all stating their claim to take on the Dead Man.

Funny how Cole and Lawler were mentioning how Ryback is one of the strongest guys in WWE when Cesaro is probably the strongest pound-for-pound guy in the company. Not to mention he made Ryback look real good. I loved the finish with Cesaro unable to get the Neutralizer on Ryback and Ryback counters into Shellshocked for three.

Interesting staredown between Ryback and Mark Henry. Probably will be a WM 29 match? Henry squashed poor Zack Ryder.

Ric Flair was at RAW, of course. Fittingly, Miz gets Dolph Ziggler to tap to the Figure Four. I think it's a match worth watching.

Rock was at RAW. Of course, John Cena has to get in his words, and he just wants redemption. Cena vowed to beat Rock last year and failed. Yeah, Cena will win this time. I get it. And who woulda thunk Cena would quote Mike Tyson? But hey, isn't Tyson in the WWE Hall of Fame? Has to mean something now!

Jack Swagger gets to beat up three WWE Legends that stand for what America seems to be: a common man, a military guy, and a guy with a 2x4 saying "HOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Nice to see the Million Dollar Man at RAW. Fitting pairing with the Primetime Players. Millions of Dollars! D-Young ate the pinfall again and DiBiase stuffed a $100 bill in his mouth. So much for that managerial idea. Not like it was gonna happen at this time anyway.

Tensai now completely matches Brodus Clay's dancing gear. Transformation complete for Sweet T? The match was a joke. Really. And vintage Honky Tonk Man guitar shot to Heath Slater.

What a surprise: Fandango won't wrestle until someone says his name properly.

No surprise again: HHH calls out Lesnar and they'll have another fight at WM 29. I love bloody wars!

Alberto Del Rio defeats Wade Barrett while Swagger looks on. Both guys in the World Title match are getting booked strongly, as they should be.

Nice to see the New Age Outlaws can still wrestle. But seriously, Primo and Epico deserve better than to lose to these guys. Did they do something to get buried like this?

Fatal Four Way was awesome. Loved seeing Punk try to steal the pin several times. Show KOs Punk but Sheamus goes after Show because first fall wins. Excellent finish. Sheamus Brogue Kicks Show, Orton RKOs Sheamus, then Punk with the GTS to Orton for three. ***

Undertaker comes out for the epic staredown spot with Punk. Like it would have been any other way. Will Punk break the Streak? Nah. Taker should win that and go to 21-0.

Main Event (3/6/13)
Was torn on watching much of this one, but I did enjoy the match between Randy Orton and Wade Barrett. Orton was over huge with the fans this week. Great crowd and Orton wins with an RKO. Solid finish. ***1/4

Zack Ryder lost again. Might as well turn him heel eventually.

Awesome spot in the match between Sin Cara and Antonio Cesaro. Cara flipped onto Cesaro's shoulders and into a sunset flip powerbomb for two. To me, it's more Cesaro being a huge asset to WWE for being able to work with a lot of people and help bring something new to each match he has. Amazing finish.

NXT (3/6/13):
From what I understand, Oliver Grey has a legit injury. They had the Wyatt Family "injure" him for storyline purposes. Good showing by Adrian Neville in a handicap match.

When was the last time Yoshi Tatsu won a match? I have no idea anymore.

Six-diva tag action on NXT?! Well, at least they'll get more time here than on the two "main shows" (RAW and Smackdown). Naomi with the hot tag again and she gets the win for her team. They actually got somewhere around 4 minutes! Whoa!

Summer Rae is relishing her role as "The First Lady of NXT." She's doing her job well because it makes me want to see Paige's eventual return.

Very good triple threat match to determine the #1 contender for the NXT Title (Conor O'Brian vs. Bo Dallas vs. Corey Graves). Bo and Graves teamed up at times to take down Conor, showing the "strange bedfellows" spots that can occur in these matches. Bray Wyatt slowly makes his way to the ring in the last couple minutes of the match. Graves locks in the 13th Step on Bo, then Conor with an awesome armbar submission on Graves. Bo and Graves had some sloppy work in the last few seconds of the match. Conor steals the win. I thought the lack of crowd reaction hurt this one a bunch; it truly deserved better. Otherwise, not much to complain about.

More seeds planted for Bo's storyline with Bray Wyatt. Conor gets his shot at Big E Langston. Graves gets to wait again, I guess.

TNA Impact (3/7/13):
A nice start to the show with Austin Aries calling out Jeff Hardy and having a match immediately. Aries booked strong here to try and set himself up for a future World Title shot. Aries jawjacks with the ref and we get a full moon shot. Vivid image there. Matt Morgan with the Carbon Footprint to end all that because he wants in the title picture.

Having D'Lo Brown join Aces & Eights as VP works because he is basically "at the core" of TNA management. Really helps drive the point home that anyone could be a part of the group.

So now that Taz is an A&E guy, Danny Davis is a Gut Check judge. Bruce Prichard and Al Snow remain the other two judges. The judges pick Lei'D Tapa over Ivelisse to face Gut Check judging, mainly for the different presence she brings to the ring and potential (second-generation star). Personally woulda picked Ivelisse.

Gail Kim pins Velvet Sky in the six-person mixed tag, so that probably means Velvet Sky retains at Lockdown. Bad Influence probably retains at Lockdown as well.

More drama in the AJ Styles storyline, this time a more physical assault on both his childhood friend and the cameraman for showing up to his house uninvited. Styles will be in Chicago to further this transformation. The new attitude is refreshing, and I like it so far.

Lei'D Tapa comes down to face the judges and the fans already don't like her. That alone makes me want to vote "yes" because I'd rather have a hot crowd than a person with talent who the fans don't give a crap about. Al Snow casts the deciding vote and says "yes," so Tapa gets her contract.

At the same time, this Gut Check process actually makes me question the voting a bit. If the judges had rejected Tapa, neither would get the contract, and that to me just feels like a waste of time overall. A double rejection may eventually happen only because if they plan to keep doing this once a month, TNA would have too many people on the roster for the amount of TV time allotted. Heck, it's already at that point and been so for years.

I'd propose Gut Check be limited to a few times a year, promising just a temporary 3-month developmental contract. The successful candidate would then train in OVW and, if there's improvement and promise after that time, they get the contract renewed for another set period. The ultimate goal basically would be to get to the main roster. This way, we can simply keep getting updates from OVW, give OVW that much more exposure, and we don't lose track of where these people have gone.

Remember all those other Gut Check participants that received their contracts? Yeah, I figured you would need to use Google to remember all of them. Christian York has easily benefited the most, and Joey Ryan (an unsuccessful candidate for a bigger storyline) even has gotten a bunch of screen time. Not lately, though.

Three matches between Team TNA and A&E to see who gets the man advantage for Lethal Lockdown. Devon beats Sting to give A&E a 1-0 lead. Later, Magnus and Samoa Joe defeat DOC and Garett Bischoff to tie things up, 1-1. Finally, Anderson defeats James Storm to give A&E the man advantage. So after things start 1-on-1, A&E will be able to keep sending in guys first to get a one-man advantage for a few minutes.

Show ends with Bully and Hardy in the ring, basically saying "may the best man win." A&E and Team TNA come out, and we get a lovely brawl as the show goes off the air.

Superstars (3/8/13):
Matches were taped at the venue of Old School RAW. Yes, more of Team Rhodes Scholars. Solid tag match between Rhodes Scholars and Usos. Cody with the Disaster Kick for three. I'd consider giving that kick a new name. It worked when Cody had his mask and calling the move "Beautiful Disaster."

Brock Lesnar answers HHH's challenge next week on RAW. He'll accept the challenge at some point. Might not be now just to fool some people.

Layla and Tamina Snuka got about four and a half minutes, which is above average for divas matches. Tamina rolls through and preps Layla for a Samoan drop but Layla counters into a rollup for three. Good stuff here.

Smackdown (3/8/13):
Dolph Ziggler won the fan poll with 51% of the vote to face Alberto Del Rio on Smackdown. Because Ziggler rules. Wade Barrett and Antonio Cesaro got 26% and 23%, respectively.

Ricardo Rodriguez and ADR mock Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger. You know, ADR really looks a lot like Seth Rollins with the wig and facial hair.

Team Hell No gets along this week and defeats 3MB. Slater taps to the NO lock.

If the point of Brad Maddox's character is to be annoying and obnoxious, then he's done very well. JBL, get back from mountain climbing ASAP.

Video footage on Old School  RAW where Shield attacks Big Show and takes him out. Yeah, that'll haunt Shield later.

Match between ADR and Ziggler takes place around the middle of the show. Ricardo tosses water on AJ. YES! Ref ejects AJ. NO! Langston's also ejected but that's fine with me. Add another awesome match to the recommended-watch list. Ziggler and Del Rio are both on a major roll this year. ***3/4

Another winning segment between Daniel Bryan and AJ. OK, so AJ is used to things lasting 18 seconds. ZING!

Yoshi Tatsu loses again! Well, at least he has a job, right?

Kaitlyn and Tamina get a match. Bonus points to Kaitlyn for flying into the second rope and hitting that with her face. Layla tries to get in the ring so the ref has to detain her. Tamina gets the win in a short match. Layla's likely turning heel down the road. I liked the heel Layla (i.e. being part of LayCool). Good stuff between Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow to further the Cody/Kaitlyn courtship.

Real physical match in the main event between Sheamus and Big Show. Brogue Kick to Show, then Shield comes out. Orton arrives to help Sheamus. Shield dominates. Big Show comes back in and nukes the Shield. Show reminds people he's not a face by KOing Sheamus, but then eats an RKO.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Semi-Retirement for Wrestling Blog

Hey everyone, I have recently accepted a full-time job, which means this wrestling blog will finally get sent to the backburner. I know I've said it several times before, but at least for now, I really mean it, especially as my food blog and YouTube channel would otherwise take up my remaining free time.

People might call this a semi-retirement, but I still plan to at least watch pro wrestling when I can. If a good match comes up, I'll try to blog about it here on the weekends, perhaps attempt to do some type of a "Week in Review" thing. I'm not sure how many people even read this dang blog anyway, but it's been awesome doing wrestling ratings for nearly five years (plus a couple of personal posts in 2007).

If you like food or seeing a guy doing crazy stuff, I'll be a bit more active there. Hope to see you around in the future!

3/1/13 Smackdown

Smackdown is in Oklahoma City. Lawler's joining Cole and Josh Mathews for Smackdown. JBL's busy climbing another mountain.

Alberto Del Rio comes out for his match. Sandow criticizes people with bad English. Ricardo has an outdated tuxedo and a spit bucket, eh? ADR says Sandow's mouth stinks. Oh, that's lovely. Now let's have a match.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Damien Sandow: A bit of mat wrestling and basic stuff to start. Competitive match here. I enjoy watching Sandow's aggression in the ring. ADR with the usual comeback because WWE loves to have wrestlers superstars use a specific sequence of moves on that type of spot. Sandow kicks out of that superkick. Swagger and "founding father" Zeb Colter watch in the back. Sandow counters the armbreaker and gets a two-count. ADR kidney punches and backstabber for two. Sandow with a neckbreaker for two. Terminus countered into the cross armbreaker. Sandow taps. Awesome back-and-forth stuff. **3/4

Jim Ross interviews Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter later.

Video package of the epic Cena/Punk match from RAW. Yeah, we know. Rock and Cena again at WM 29.

Team Hell No backstage segment. Rematch against Primetime Players coming up. Daniel Bryan gets to have his arm tied behind his back this time, while Kane is blindfolded. Kane still says he'll be beating PTPs and he doesn't have to look at DB's ugly goat face. Kane wins!

Antonio Cesaro vs. Miz (2 Out of 3 Falls; U.S. Title): So Miz gets ANOTHER crack at the title for whatever reason. Couldn't have elevated some random midcarder? Miz goes for some quick pins on the first fall. Cesaro with good counters and mat wrestling. Miz targets Cesaro's leg. "Miz is awesome" chants from the crowd. Good back-and-forth stuff on the first fall. Cesaro with a unique fireman's carry front slam for two. Miz cradle gets two, then Cesaro hits the Neutralizer out of nowhere for three and the first fall. During the commercial, Miz tied things up. Cesaro tried a dropkick or something from the second rope, and Miz caught him in the figure four for the submission win. Cesaro's knee continues to big him. Again, the third fall is where the two go even more all out to get the win. Miz gets another burst of adrenaline. Double neckbreaker countered and Cesaro hits the alley-oop Euro uppercut for two. Cesaro taunts Miz, then Miz hits the DDT for two. Miz with a ton of punches in the corner and the ref literally pulls Miz away. Running clothesline from Miz, then double axe handle. Figure four from Miz in the center of the ring. Crowd going nuts. Cesaro drags himself to the ropes. Miz figure four attempt again, Cesaro pushes him off. Miz nearly collides with the ref. Cesaro rollup, but Miz counters for two. Cesaro counters that and holds the tights to get three and retain. Excellent match here. ***1/2

Seems like Orton, in his own Viper manner, is thinking about teaming with Sheamus.

Jim Ross to the ring to interview Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter. Jim Ross notes that he recruited Swagger when Jack was still wrestling and playing football at Oklahoma. Way to diss your alma mater in your home state, Jack! Ross mentions the Swagger losing streak and the leave of absence and wants to know what began this resurgence. Colter goes on his preaching again of real Americans and not liking undocumented workers. "We the people!" Colter then with a metaphor of a fruit basket that begins to rot. Smell it or throw it out? ADR is stinky? Um, OK. Ross accuses Colter of brainwashing Swagger, and let the sparks fly! Swagger knocks JR's hat off and calls him a sympathizer. Del Rio comes out and basically calls Swagger a "Real Jack Ass." Oh, that's mature. Good stuff, but weak ending.

I love the heel "Real American" gimmick, and Swagger has probably kept his world title shot mainly because it's WM season. Midcarders would have probably gotten suspended or released by now.

Primetime Players vs. Team Hell No: Kane's blindfolded and gets to wear a hood with a goat face on it. WIN. DB then tells Kane to start the match. The ol' schoolboy trip thing doesn't work, so Titus has to use his whistle instead. DB with kicks and chops. DB pulls off an awesome crucifix with one arm to get two. DB tags Kane back in, so Kane uses the crowd to help find his opponent. Genius! D-Young tags in and Kane catches him with a chokeslam! Woohoo! D-Young moves out of the way so Kane can't find him. Kane ends up grabbing both DB and the ref. OOPS. Kane lets the ref go and finally realizes he also has DB by the beard. Titus rolls DB up for three. Probably the most entertaining match I've seen with one guy wearing a blindfold. *1/2

Kane realizes the goat face hood after the match. No hugging it out tonight! Kane puts the hood on DB and slaps him. Tough love.

Matt Striker interviews Big Show. Show wants to make a huge impact by chokeslamming Randy Orton.

Fandango (a.k.a. Johnny Curtis) finally gets a live interview with Striker. Good, passionate promo. Fandango debuts when Striker gets the name right. So we'll never see the debut happen. Way to go, Striker. But you probably saved Zack Ryder from jobbing again. Frankly, if all Lawler wanted to see tonight was Fandango's debut, that's pretty sad.

RAW segment again with Vince/Heyman "fight" -- that really paved the way for HHH/Lesnar.

Big Show vs. Randy Orton: Show dominant early with those big slaps. Orton catches Show with a dropkick but Show gets right back on offense. Show targets Orton's shoulder. Pace is super slow because Show's dominant. Show misses a second-rope elbow and the ring didn't break! Orton with a zillion punches then counters a chokeslam into a DDT for two. Show into the ring post, then the hangman's DDT with Show on the top rope. And here comes the Shield. Ha, a big, older black security guy accompanies Reigns just so Roman can get to the ring safely. Sheamus comes down to help Orton. Shield in the ring and they're brawling. Ref throws the match out, of course. *3/4

Reigns backs into Show, so Show KOs Reigns. OOPS. Ambrose and Rollins are stunned, so they retreat and help Reigns out of there. Show chokeslams Orton and Sheamus with the Brogue Kick to Show. Again, WWE books Sheamus like the next John Cena. Super Sheamus! Ugh.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

3/1/13 Superstars

Brodus Clay & Tensai vs. Primo & Epico: Tensai comes out in a black singlet to match Brodus. New wrestling gear! Nice double suplex from Primo and Epico, but that does nothing to stop momentum early on. "Sweet T" from the fans, which Tensai will eventually grow to accept. Tensai takes too long on the ropes and finally the cousins can take over. Tensai suplexes both opponents and hot tag to Brodus. Tensai with the blind tag and it leads to a Primo sandwich. Double splash and it's over. *1/2

RAW recap of Vince/Heyman leading to Lesnar and HHH brawl. Then Shield promo on RAW where Sheamus then comes out and Orton gets to RKO Seth Rollins.

Kofi Kingston vs. David Otunga: I have to agree with Striker this time. I wish Kofi Kingston would actually get a fresh, angry heel makeover and perhaps get on the road to becoming a main eventer, but alas, he's the fun, high-flying dude that stays in midcard. Kofi uses his quickness to his advantage and mocks Otunga's posing. Otunga crowds Kofi for a bit and works on the left arm. Otrunga misses an elbow drop and Kofi on the comeback. Otunga tries to escape the ring to avoid Trouble in Paradise but Kofi flies onto Otunga, tosses him back in, then hits Trouble in Paradise for three. *3/4

Of course, the show ends with the amazing Cena/Punk match from RAW. Match of the year candidate for sure.