After Elimination Chamber, I had hopes for WWE. I really did. John Cena was eliminated early, and the match came down to AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt. And for once, I was surprised by an outcome–WWE put the strap on the Eater of Worlds and it felt like there was a definite shift in direction. But last night, as Monday Night Raw put on the most useless pay-per-view of the year a mere four weeks from WrestleMania, Vince McMahon took a gold-plated dump in our collective mouths.
On paper, having Bill Goldberg come back seems like a fairy tale dream. Right up there with Chris Benoit being tossed into the WWE Hall of Fame. But upon closer scrutiny you see the endless laundry list of problems with this sort of thing. Goldberg is 50 years old and he just won the biggest title in the company. And he’s headed to WrestleMania to face Brock Lesnar, whom is almost 40 years old. Why on earth have these two old men hijacked the biggest wrestling event of the year?
The booking at Fastlane was terrible. Owens came in and out of the ring, walked around the apron, talked trash and delayed the bell ring. When the previous match of Bayley and Charlotte was still going on at 10:50, we all knew some sort of bullshit was coming. When Owens finally got in the ring after wasting our time for five minutes, Chris Jericho’s music hit, the bell rung and then one spear and a jackhammer later, Owens had lost his title.
There was no reason for Goldberg to have a title when facing Lesnar. There was no reason why the inevitable Owens vs Jericho match at Mania couldn’t have been for a title. Instead, Owens vs Jericho is a mostly useless fight, and we now have two old-timers fighting for the Universal Title. One thing for certain that Fastlane did set up was leaving no doubt that Smackdown Live is the better brand, hands down.
Granted, maybe ten or eleven years ago, this might have worked. When Goldberg came to WWE from WCW, this might have been the angle they should have used. But he hasn’t wrestled in 12 years. Then he comes back and “beats” the biggest monster in the company in less than two minutes. Then goes on to “beat” Kevin Owens in less than 30 seconds. Professional wrestling constantly asks us to suspend disbelief, but come on. This is getting a little ridiculous now.
It’s the same formula WWE always desperately goes back to. They recruit gladiators from the Attitude Era and Monday Night Wars and neuter them, parading them around on a leash, and continue watering down our memories of days gone by. Let’s bring back The Undertaker for another year to be embarrassed on live TV as he’s carried through a match gasping for air and spending half the match on his back. Let’s bring back Ric Flair to put over his daughter’s opponent while standing in the middle of the ring red-faced and crying. Let’s bring back The Rock to put over his cousin only to have them both get booed out of the Royal Rumble. Rinse and repeat. And let’s not even mention the epic tragedy of Sting’s WWE “career.”
It is utterly baffling why Vince McMahon and the WWE are so terrified of their young talent. They aren’t prepared to take a chance or push younger guys. It has been that way for a very long time. There are guys (and girls) on the roster that other promotions would kill to have as their champion just being squandered and wasting away into obscurity. We could have a fresh, revitalized WrestleMania with amazing young talent. But instead, valuable ring time is going to be stolen by HHH, Goldberg, Lesnar, and The Undertaker. These guys all had their heydays. They’ve been in the spotlight. News flash, Vince: you aren’t “Showcasing Immortals.” You are cramming the same tired crap down our throats, risking the life and limb of the athletes who should have long since retired from active competition.
They used to call WrestleMania “The Granddaddy of Them All” and that’s never been more true than it is now. Most of these guys are old enough to have grandchildren and frankly, it’s getting a little hard to tune in every year to the same old tripe. I mean, Goldberg has a solid white goatee and white chest hair for crying out loud. Sad times.
Jamie Curtis Baker
As we predicted earlier, the 2016 TLC is set to be a spectacle. This is one of the premiere events of the year and the fact that it is a Smackdown Live exclusive has us excited that perhaps it will be a really powerful pay-per-view for WWE. Without further ado, let’s get into the show with our live play-by-play, match results and instant feedback.
The pre-show gave us some tag team action to get things going. American Alpha, Hype Bros and Apollo Crews took on The Vaudevillians, The Ascension and Curt Hawkins. Whole lot of silliness and antics throughout this one. Too many goofy personalities crammed into one match. As a general rule, I’m not a fan of massive tag team matches. Ten competitors outside of a Royal Rumble or a battle royale is far too many. The Alphas did pretty solid and the match wasn’t flat by any stretch of the term. All ten guys put on a great show for the crowd, who were lively and behind the match. In the end Gable and Jordan pick up the pinfall for their team. Okay match with the correct ending.
The first match as the show begins is for the Smackdown Live tag team titles. The Wyatt Family (featuring Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt) challenging Heath Slater and Rhyno. This match was a little short in my opinion. Solid action. The finish was Wyatt distracting Rhyno and Orton hit him with an RKO out of nowhere. After the match, Orton and Bray put the titles on Harper’s shoulders and then posed for the crowd. Very interesting booking here. This is the first time heels have held these titles. It will be fun to see what they do with it. Give it up for Smackdown always pushing the unexpected into our laps. With the pre-show victory, one has to assume American Alpha will be coming down the line to challenge The Wyatt Family for their new shiny belts.
Next up is a No Disqualification match between Nikki Bella and Carmella. As feuds go, this one is ice cold. It doesn’t really do anything in the grander scheme for either woman or the viewing audience. But, a No DQ match is usually a good way to keep me interested. There’s always the possibility of serious injury or death, two things I have often wished on Nikki Bella (and her boyfriend). Carmella dominates to start and eventually ties Nikki upside down in the corner. She gets a kendo stick out and hits Nikki in the stomach. Nikki turns the table when she sprays Carmella in the face with a fire extinguisher. Rack Attack 2.0 lays Carmella out and Nikki picks up the pinfall win. After the match, Carmella gets on the mic and says she didn’t attack Nikki at Survivor Series. She tells her it was Natalya. Duh, we all knew that the moment it happened.
It’s not even 9:00PM yet and the third match is about to start. That seems odd. Half their matches in the first hour? Maybe WWE is starting to end PPV’s earlier. The next bout is Dolph Ziggler challenging The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship in none other than a ladder match. Ziggler the aggressor to start the match. The fight spills out of the ring and Miz plants Ziggler on the ramp with a super kick. They stay outside the ring for quite awhile using ladders as weapons against one another. Ziggler hits an outstanding satellite DDT on a ladder and both men are down. Ziggler finally gets a large ladder into the ring. He attempts to set it up but Miz dropkicks him from behind.
The Miz mocks Daniel Bryan at one point with a YES! gesture right before dropkicking a ladder into Ziggler. Both men climb a ladder and trade blows right below the title. Ziggler knocks Miz off but before he can recover, Miz yanks him down. Miz goes to work on Ziggler’s leg, slamming it into a ladder over and over. Miz wraps Ziggler’s leg through a ladder wrung and then locks in a Figure Four leglock. Ouch. Miz then hits a Skull Crushing Finale into a ladder. Miz sets up a ladder and tries to grab the belt. Ziggler knocks the ladder away and Miz is hanging from the belt! Ziggler slams the ladder into his knee and Miz falls to the mat and rolls out of the ring. Ziggler climbs up the ladder on one leg, but before he gets to the top, Miz runs in and powerbombs him into a ladder. The pair are at the top of a ladder again and then Ziggler starts hitting Miz with headbutts. Miz falls down. Miz pops up and kicks Ziggler in the junk. Twice. Ziggler crumples to the mat as Miz climbs up and retains his IC title.
As ladder matches go, nothing groundbreaking happens. It’s hard to top some of the epic matches we’ve seen in the past. But it is entertaining throughout. Both men bring their a-game. The crowd was really behind Ziggler so the finish was booed, but it was actually really great. I enjoyed that bout. Best match so far tonight. After the match, The Miz gets on the mic and dedicates his victory to Daniel Bryan.
Next match is a chairs match between Baron Corbin and Kalisto. As you might expect, Corbin dominates to start this match, spilling the action out around the ring. He manhandles Kalisto like a paper doll. Kalisto rallies with some nice offense and the two manage to get some oh’s and ah’s from the crowd with some pretty devastating moves, ie: violence. Kalisto dives out of the ring towards Corbin, but he catches the tiny Lucha and hits a Deep Six on the floor. In the ring, Corbin covers but Kalisto kicks out. Corbin hits End of Days on a pile of chairs and that’s the ballgame. A breakout out match for both guys, really. Very nice to watch. The arena crowd was flat, but make no mistake that this was a really great match to watch.
Natalya is interviewed and asked about attacking Nikki. Instead she wishes Becky Lynch luck in her title defense. Then she calls the comments Carmella made absurd and calls her a liar. Natalya versus Nikki or Carmella is not a very promising feud. Let’s hope they skip that and move on to something else. This interview did segue nicely into the next match. Alexa Bliss challenging Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a tables match. Both ladies aggressive to start. Becky is the first to set a table up outside the ring, but Alexa stops her from utilizing it. The crowd is shit throughout this one, chanting for other things unrelated to the match. Charlotte and Sasha spoiled us on Raw this past week, but Becky and Alexa are putting on a good show. Outside the ring, Alexa powerbombs Becky through a table for the win! What!? That’s exciting! Alexa Bliss is my favorite female on both rosters so this is really great. Yes!
The main event of the night is Dean Ambrose challenging AJ Styles in a traditional TLC match for the WWE World Championship. The championship hangs high above the ring. Ambrose going right after the champ as soon as the bell rings. Ambrose clotheslines Styles outside the ring. He follows the champ out and they fight up the ramp. This spills out into the crowd. Ambrose is all over the map. He puts a trash can on Styles and hits him near the announce table with a chair. He gets in the ring and sets up a ladder, but Styles recovers enough to stop him, planting him on the mat. Styles takes control as the crowd rallies behind him, chanting his name.
Ambrose pounds Styles into a group of chairs, garnering a “Holy Shit!” chant from the crowd. Ambrose throws Styles through the metal legs of a table. Styles bounces back and suplexes Ambrose through a table. Wow, a really terrific few minutes of action. Goodness. Dirty Deeds and Phenomenal Forearm both countered, respectively, and then Ambrose throws Styles out of the ring. Ambrose puts Styles on one announce table and sets a ladder up on a second table. Ambrose off the ladder, dropping an elbow into Styles, crashing through the announce table. Mauro Ranallo screams, “Oh my god!” and then the announce team falls silent as the crowd chants, “This is awesome!”
Ambrose leaves Styles in the wreckage and gets a ladder into the ring. He climbs towards the belt. Styles gets on the apron and leaps off the top rope to hit a Phenomenal Forearm, knocking Ambrose off the ladder. They both recover and crawl up either side of the ladder. They knock each other off the ladder and then Ambrose spins Styles into the ladder. Styles sets Ambrose on a table outside the ring and does a 450 splash off the top rope, driving Ambrose through the table. Styles sets a ladder up in the ring as James Ellsworth comes down. Styles foregoes the ladder and goes after Ellsworth. Ambrose hops up and hits Dirty Deeds on the steel steps.
Ambrose scrambles into the ring and sets up a ladder under the title. Ambrose gets up two rungs before Styles joins him on the ladder. Ambrose knocks him off the ladder and out of the ring. Just as Ambrose is reaching for the title Ellsworth tips the ladder over and Ambrose goes through two tables! Ellsworth cheers on Styles has he sets up a ladder and slowly works his way to the top. Styles grabs his title and retains. What a fantastic match. Easily the best match of the night. Bravo. Once again, Smackdown Live has outdone themselves, continuing to stand out within the WWE brand split.
What did you think of tonight’s pay-per-view? Let us know in the comments below! See you all tomorrow for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Disclaimer: I was in a bad mood when I wrote this so reader discretion advised. Read at your own risk.
Our constant readers may have noticed that the F2H family failed to post their usual live review articles about Smackdown Live’s No Mercy and last night’s Monday Night Raw. Have we lost faith in Vince McMahon’s promotion? Are we bored with the product? I’ll answer your question with a question: does a bear shit in the woods? In this instance, the bear is Sean Waltman and the woods is Rena Lesnar’s luggage; and the answer is an emphatic yes.
While on the surface the No Mercy pay-per-view seemed like a solid venture, when you scrutinize it even a little bit, the entire show folds like a wet house of cards. Here is a short list of some of the more cringe-worthy moments of the show. The pre-show featured Jerry Lawler awkwardly flirting and eye-fucking Nikki Bella, a 4-team tag match (overkill in any scenario) that included The Acesnsion, and Curt Hawkins big debut that was only a declaration by him that he would have a match on Tuesday.
Prior to the show, WWE announced the “main event” triple-threat would go on first to start the show, essentially confirming WWE’s lack of confidence in their own product, being fearful that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would pull viewers and bomb their PPV. Although the triple-threat was a decent match, it still featured yet another John Cena title attempt, grasping for the coveted Ric Flair record; and Dean Ambrose in the main event picture, a man with no charism, character evolution, or ability to carry a promotion as either a heel or babyface. And while AJ Styles put on a great outing, I am still watching him on NJPW every week on AXS-TV and his crimped style with WWE is nowhere near his best work in a ring.
No Mercy also featured Nikki Bella utilizing the antiquated 50/50 booking style of WWE in order to beat Carmella. Speaking of the women, Becky Lynch was suddenly injured and not competing. So we saw Naomi not only wrestle but defeat Alexa Bliss. Both finishes were weak and did nothing at all for the losers while barely giving a boost to the winners. The third women’s match of the night was between Jack Swagger and Baron Corbin. Yeah, I said it. Why is this on a pay-per-view? Nobody cares!
The highlight of the night was Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. This was an excellent match and the best on the entire card. Nothing to complain about here. The main event was Randy Orton taking on Bray Wyatt. Oh great, two of the weakest in-between heel/face chimeras in the entire company. Wyatt has strewn together infinitely more losses than wins. And Orton has been a watered down version of himself ever since returning from injury. The build to this match was terribly dis-interesting. And the big “twist” finish was a Luke Harper run in. This ended a pay-per-view in 2016.
Skip ahead to Monday Night Raw and now we’re really swimming out to the deep end with no life preservers. We’re talking about a show that surprisingly opened with Sasha Banks and Charlotte declaring they were having a rematch INSIDE Hell in a Cell. This was a groundbreaking moment…that was immediately cut short by Rusev interrupting. He insults both of them, along with all women’s wrestling (as does Lana) and hijacks what should have been an epic segment. Then Roman Reigns comes out and further buries the angle. Then, in all of Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley’s jaded wisdom, they put Charlotte on a team with Rusev against the team of Banks and Reigns. Despite Rusev belittling Charlotte, she now gets the “honor” of being his tag team partner.
Do you know why this segment happened? Because Kevin Dunn (a guy that probably has twenty Donald Trump signs in his yard) objectifies women and probably doesn’t think they can carry a moment on their own. They needed big, strong men to come out and bolster their credibility. “Nobody is going to buy women in the Cell! We need men to put it over!” Nevermind the fact that when you have a match with Roman Reigns, Rusev, Charlotte, Lana, and Sasha Banks, the only goddamn babyface in the entire thing is Banks. Reigns is not a face! But WWE continues to try and pair him with any one in order to try and persuade the crowd to oh and ah over him.
Then we have a match between Kofi Kingston and Cesaro. The big angle here is Sheamus sits ringside and tweets during the match. Oh, just brilliant fucking television. Really helps sell Cesaro and Sheamus as a team and absolutely helps make New Day look strong. *vomits in mouth, down onto Ultimate Warrior t-shirt*
Bayley comes out and wrestles Cami Fields. Who? Exactly. She beats a jobber and then gets attacked from behind by Dana Brooke (wearing a way-too-tight outfit) and then Brooke just stands there awkwardly like Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights when he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Brilliant. There were four horsewomen in NXT. Becky has the Smackdown Women’s Title. Sasha and Charlotte are breaking new ground fighting for the Raw Women’s Title. Meanwhile, Bayley is given about two minutes against someone named Cami Fields. Just a real career booster for her. Good job, Vince!
The newly formed Cruiserweight Division continues to get its legs cut out from underneath it as WWE, despite having three hours of television, just keeps hitting us with Cruiserweight tag-team matches. We get Tony Nese and Drew Gulak against Sin Cara and Lince Dorado. Without fanfare, Sin Cara is now suddenly in the division. Dorado spends the whole match carrying Sin Cara before picking up the win. According to Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon, there are only two Cruiserweights named T.J. Perkins and Brian Kendrick. Anybody who isn’t them will just be the bathroom break match on Raw.
Then we come back from commercial to find Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in the ring. Oh boy! That’ll really boost the ratings! Luckily we are saved by Enzo Amore and Big Cass. But before we can even see them wrestle, they are attacked by The Club. So let me get this straight. Cesaro and Sheamus, a team thrown together two weeks ago get to face New Day, but two of the top three tag teams on Raw have a segment with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel? Then WWE hits us with a bullshit 4-team tag at a PPV the night before? Why not save the multi-team matches for actual talent? I’d definitely watch New Day vs Enzo and Cass vs The Club any day.
Oh, but that segment isn’t even over. After The Club and Enzo and Cass leave, Axel and Dallas are still competing! They demand a team! So we have to suffer through not only them in a match, but a hastily thrown together Sami Zayn and Neville tag-team. Is Teddy Long running creative all of a sudden? We’ve had five matches so far and four of them have featured tag teams! Brilliant! I’m just as baffled as Vince as to why the ratings continue to tank. Fuck you, McMahon.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, we then are “treated” to a match between R-Truth and Titus O’Neal thrown together, on the premise, and I shit you not, of Truth trying to give O’Neal’s favorite candy bar to another wrestler. Now, while I can appreciate both men as they have skill and could be great if pushed properly (yeah right, as if that would ever happen), they certainly should not be in a match facing each other. Why, you might ask? Because they have a combined age of fucking 83. R-Truth is in his mid-forties and Titus is 39. This is not a live-TV match. This is not something you expose people to and then try to laugh off the sliding ratings to the board of directors. In simple terms, this is not a match you put on TV if you want people to take what you do seriously.
Backstage segment with Perkins and Kendrick showcasing the 50/50 booking again. I won’t even elaborate on any of that. Braun Strowman then squashes the “Splash Brothers” (who look like a Sheamus and Xavier Woods cosplay couple) and then asks Foley for stronger competition. If only Braun could be what he’s asking for: better talent. He has become a spectacle much like Big Show, Kane, and The Great Kahli before him. Vince will take a giant, twist and contort them, and turn them into a traveling freakshow.
And then the inter-gender match. Holy shit what a waste of time. Rusev and Charlotte against Reigns and Banks. The big creative ending here was Sasha making Charlotte tap to the Bank Statement timed perfectly with Reigns hitting Rusev with a spear. Been there, done that, played all the way out. Then Reigns and Banks stand with their arms in the air, smiling. As if Reigns was suddenly a good guy. Then T.J. Perkins defeated Jinder Mahal. Oh wait, that was Ariya Daivari. Another useless squash match doing nothing for anybody, including the viewers.
The main event was Seth Rollins versus Chris Jericho. Alright, I really can’t complain about this if I’m being fair and unbiased. It was a great match, highlight of the night for me. My only real gripe is that Jericho has main-evented a shit ton of Raw’s this year and did so again last night. Yes, Jericho is awesome. And his work these past few weeks with Kevin Owens has really been the crutch that has saved Raw from swirling into a black hole from wince there is no return. That being said, Jericho is older than both R-Truth and Titus O’Neal. Is the best WWE can do is to have a 45-year-old in the main event? Does that sound bonkers to anyone else? It says a lot about how incredibly talented and what great shape Y2J is in; but it also speaks volumes about how weak WWE thinks their own product is.
They don’t trust their youngers guys to do the job. They don’t have faith or confidence in their roster. And this is true across the board. Both Raw and Smackdown suffer from this inability to pull the trigger on younger talent. The result is getting a 39-year-old John Cena in a main event trying to get another world title. When is WWE going to move on? They speak of a new era and yet continue hitting us with out-to-pasture talent. Now the big hyped up sell is a potential match between Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg, a match about fifteen years too late between two men with a combined age of 88. Granted, both men are genetic anomalies (Lesnar more so on the chemically enhanced side) and will probably look great. But the point being is that WWE continues to live in the past. And the WWE Universe seems nostalgic to days gone by.
That’s why Sasha Banks gets a pop for mentioning Eddie Guerrero. That’s why Charlotte gets a “Woooooooooo!” every single time she mentions her dad. WWE doesn’t do anything to make their current talent relevant. They are censored and limited and forced to get over by mentioning long since retired or dead Superstars. It’s a vicious cycle all the way around. Fear, uncertainty, doubt; it all mixes together to make WWE unsure of their talent, the talent unsure of their place, and the fans unsure of why they should even give two shits about any of it. There are so many problems to list but I’m just one man and this article is already absurdly long. I have a love/hate relationship with WWE. It’s a frustrating partnership because I see the potential of what this company could be. As a kid I watched wrestling. Then I grew up. But wrestling never did. It plateaued and in some instances took a step back.
You can blame the break of kayfabe. You can blame the dirt sheets. You can blame the internet. You can even blame Vince for bringing too many promotions together and “killing the biz.” It doesn’t matter what the cause was. The effect is what truly matters, and in this case the effect is mediocre, unfulfilling, lazy, and often boring professional wrestling. CM Punk said it best: “Vince McMahon is a millionaire who should be a billionaire.” The reason why he isn’t is that the wrestling experience he presents is no longer thrilling to a certain extent. We demand more but WWE keeps coming up short. Smackdown Live is on tonight and we won’t be doing a live review for that either. If they want us to write something, they need to give us something worthwhile to write about. Until then, let the onslaught begin.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
After WWE tweeted that not only would Becky Lynch not be able to compete at the No Mercy PPV due to medical reasons, but that the main event would start the show, my husband decided that we would skip writing a results article and just try to enjoy the show. The first Smackdown exclusive PPV, Backlash, had a terrible card but turned out to be a great three hours, so I went into No Mercy with a healthy amount of optimism. My mistake.
Curt Hawkins was initially going to have his debut match at No Mercy, but instead popped out randomly during the preshow at around 7:15pm EST before the majority of fans were even in their seats. He walked to the ring to a list of Chuck Norris-type facts while waving around a walking stick. Hawkins announced that his first match would actually be on October 11th on Smackdown, and the crowd couldn’t care less. This was such a poor choice for what was meant to be a strong debut.
The preshow kickoff match featured The Hype Bros and American Alpha versus The Ascension and The Vaudevillains. It was a solid fight, with the Hype Bros and American Alpha picking up the win after a nine minute match. I don’t think this was the best use of the preshow though. We have an entire hour to eat up, and the match only gets 15% of that time? We don’t need to hear Jerry Lawler sexually harass female talent for 45 minutes. Give us longer and better preshow matches.
Our first match was the “main event” where AJ Styles successfully defended his title against John Cena and Dean Ambrose in a Triple Threat match. Styles actually tapped out, but because both Cena and Ambrose simultaneously had a submission hold on him, the match was restarted. First off, I cannot for the life of me figure out why this main event opened the PPV. I thought that maybe they were saving something else for the end of the night, but that wasn’t the case at all. Perhaps they moved it so it wasn’t airing during the debate, but that doesn’t make sense either since everything is On Demand on the Network. It was a confusing move, and I still have yet to figure out why they did it.
Nikki Bella defeated Carmella in a decent match, but Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss in a match that would have been better left off the card. The women had a little over 5 minutes to compete, and it ended with Bliss throwing a fit after her loss. It makes her look weak and childish, which is a poor move considering she is the number one contender for Lynch’s title. Time and time again, we hear about the Women’s Revolution. I’m still waiting for it to begin.
The highlight of the night for me was watching Tag Team Champions Heath Slater and Rhyno successfully retain against The Usos. It was a solid match and it’s so amazing to hear Slater being cheered for, getting hot tags, and being able to actually perform in the ring instead of job out. The second high point for me was Dolph Ziggler defeating The Miz and becoming Intercontinental Champion. This was a twenty minute match of nonstop action. Online rumors had Ziggler leaving WWE to pursue a career in comedy, and I’m glad it wasn’t true.
Baron Corbin defeated the new and improved Jack Swagger in a singles match that was forgettable. Our actual main event was Bray Wyatt versus Randy Orton. I was terrified that WWE was going to try and turn this into their version of Impact Wrestling’s The Great War, but they spared us. Unfortunately, they couldn’t even bother making this match a No Disqualification fight. It was good to see Bray Wyatt finally get a win, but he still didn’t get it clean thanks to a surprise return by Luke Harper. Harper didn’t interfere, simply showed up as a distraction to allow Wyatt to steal a win.
Overall, this PPV was better suited for a Tuesday night episode of Smackdown than it was for a Sunday evening. Whatever magic went into Backlash was completely lost for No Mercy. We apologize for the lack of coverage on Sunday, but have no regrets, as any article we posted was going to tear that PPV into pieces. Hopefully they can get it together by Tuesday and give their talent the better booking they deserve.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
We reviewed Part 1 of Wrestle Kingdom 10 earlier this week. Last night, AXSTV and New Japan Pro Wrestling brought us Part 2 of the January 4, 2016 matches from the Tokyo Dome in Japan. The first broadcast was amazing and so this one is expected to be just as good.
The first bout is the first ever Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Championship featuring Toru Yano, Jay Briscoe, and Mark Briscoe against Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Tama Tonga. Before the match starts Yano spits and throws water on his opponents and all six men start brawling with each other. It’s chaos in the early going as The Briscoes double team Takahashi outside the ring. Yano and Tonga finally slow things down as the legal men fighting in the ring with their respective teammates on the apron. Yano is isolated in the corner and Bad Luck Fale is tagged in. He sits on Yano’s chest to try and get the pin, but he kicks out at two. All three Bullet Club members get in the ring and triple-team Yano after taking out The Briscoes. Fale squashes him in the corner and Yano desperately needs to make a tag.
Mark Briscoe gets the tag against Takahashi and puts on a nice series of offense. Takahashi counters with a fisherman’s buster and then tags Tonga in. Jay Briscoe gets the tag and plants Tonga, cover but kick out. Huge neckbreaker by Jay but Tonga again kicks out. Jim Ross and Josh Barnett question the slow count by the ref. Tonga takes control for a moment but Jay battles back. Jay gets Tonga up on his shoulder trying to slam him down, but Tonga holds on to the top rope for dear life. Yano runs over with a steel chair and smashes it down on Tonga’s hands, forcing him to let go. Mark leaps off the top rope and hits Doomsday Device with his brother, planting Tonga. Jay covers for the three count and the team of Jay and Mark Briscoe and Yano are the first ever Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Champions!
The second match of the night is Los Ingobernables de Japon member and villainous heel Tetsuya Naito taking on Hirooki Goto. His fellow Los Ingobernables members, Bushi and EVIL, accompany Naito to the ring which is not good news for his opponent, Goto, who comes out all alone. Naito attacks a camera man before the match for getting too close to him. Before the match starts EVIL and Bushi attack Goto from behind. Naito rolls in and starts fighting Goto as the bell rings. But Goto isn’t staying down for long, he forces Naito to roll out of the ring with his attack. As Goto starts fighting Naito, EVIL attacks from behind and viciously throws Goto into the steel guard rail. Ouch.
EVIL puts a chair on Gotos neck and then whacks it with another chair. Naito sets up a table and gets Goto up on the apron. Naito hits a neckbreaker into the table on Goto. Back in the ring, Goto hits a sunset flip powerbomb off the top rope which is really amazing. He covers, but Naito miraculously kicks out at two and we head to commercial. When we return, Naito and Goto battle in the center of the ring. Naito hits a hurricanrana off the top rope and gets a near fall on Goto. The two trade forearms in the middle and work the crowd into a frenzy. Goto picks up Naito and hits a neckbreaker, driving Naito down onto his knee. Goto tries to kick Naito, but Naito grabs his foot and swings it into the ref, knocking him to the mat. Doesn’t take long for EVIL to come in and hold Goto as Bushi spits mist at him.
But Goto moves and the mist hits EVIL. Goto plants Bushi and turns to face Naito. Naito kicks Goto in the groan and covers. The ref has recovered, he counts but only a two count. Goto lifts Naito and hits his Shouten Kai suplex finisher. He covers and that’s the ball game. Goto wins an incredible match! Nice final couple of minutes at the end of that one with lovely back and forth with everyone setting up a strong finish. Really enjoyed that one. Goto stands alone and overcomes incredible odds. After the match, he is interviewed backstage and asked about his victory. He says it was sort of a hollow victory because he was fighting Naito and it wasn’t for a title. He also says he has never wrestled in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. He says this year he will become the face of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
The final match of the night was for the IWGP Tag Team Championship with champs Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows being challenged by Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma. Anderson and Honma start things off. Anderson rakes the eyes of Honma and then moves out of the way of Honma’s falling headbutt. Gallows tagged in and he punches Honma in the corner. Anderson gets back in and misses with a running senton. Honma tags in Makabe. He makes easy work of Anderson, forcing him to roll out of the ring and regroup. Honma and Makabe double team Gallows, knocking him outside the ring as well. All four men fight out on the floor. Gallows throws Makabe into the guard rail and then clocks him with a chain, as Anderson distracts the ref.
Back in the ring, Anderson clobbers Makabe with strikes. Gallows tags in and continues attacking Makabe. Honma is outside the ring with blood on the back of his head. Hasn’t stirred much for a few moments. Gallows and Anderson double team Makabe. Anderson covers three times, but Makabe kicks out each time. Makabe with a hard clothesline on Anderson and finally Honma has recovered. Makabe tags him in and he slams Gallows then drops a headbutt on Anderson. Honma chops Anderson in the corner, whips him to the other but Anderson recovers and kicks him away. Gallows trips Honma up and then gets in the ring to help Anderson hit a couple of moves into a cover. Makabe interrupts the count and keeps his team alive.
Gallows and Anderson set up Honma for the Magic Killer but Makabe breaks it up and knocks Gallows out of the ring. Headbutt on Anderson by Honma. He slams Anderson and then hits the top rope. Unfortunately, Gallows runs in and punches him, stunning Honma. Anderson tries to get a Gun Stun off the top rope, but Honma jumps down onto the apron. Back in the ring, Anderson hits a brutal running powerbomb on Honma but the small man kicks out at two and three-quarters. Honma counters two Gun Stuns in the ring and then headbutts Anderson. Both men are down. Both Gallows and Makabe are tagged in. Nelson Powerslam on Makabe and Gallows covers, but only a near fall. Anderson and Gallows try to tag team Makabe, but he knocks them both down with a double clothesline.
Makebe and Gallows collide with each other and Makabe wins that exchange with a clothesline. Makabe and Honma set up Anderson for a Headbutt Doomsday Device off the top rope. Honma slams Gallows and then hits a falling headbutt. Makabe climbs the top rope and hits a King Kong Knee Drop and covers. One. Two. Three! Honma and Makabe win! This is the 39-year-old Honma’s first ever championship in the company! What a moment. Wow, fantastic match. After the match, Honma says it is a dream come true. He thanks Makabe and says this is all because of him. The DVR shows another new episode next Friday so you know we’ll be here with coverage. Maybe some Wrestle Kingdom 10 Part 3?? We can only hope. Just a wonderful program with three great matches.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Tonight we witness the fallout four days removed from Bound For Glory. The champion Bobby Lashley kicks off the show fresh off his successful title defense Sunday. He says it doesn’t matter who comes out from the locker room, everybody needs to realize he is the realest man in the business. He calls himself the hero and the blue chipper. Aron Rex interrupts him which seems like an odd story to just start out of nowhere. Not sure about random storylines, but I’ll give TNA the benefit of the doubt and we’ll see where this goes. Rex says at BFG he changed the game and makes a big deal of his Grand Championship. Lashley says the Grand title means nothing against the World title. Then they are both interrupted by….Gail Kim? Say what?
Gail says with all the talk about titles and “Who’s the man?”, it’s 2016 and she says women are changing the business. Just then Broken Matt Hardy comes out with Reby and Maxell (but not Jeff), with both tag belts draped around his neck. The crowd starts chanting for Maxell. Matt says, “Yes. Fellow champeens. You speak of change? I am change!” Hardy says he is always ready to delete, delete, delete. X-Division Champion DJ Z interrupts and now we have every TNA champ in the ring. DJ Z says we have a ring full of champions. Lashley says there is only one champ in the ring. He says he has a fight to prepare for and he is taking a few weeks off and let the second-rate champions stay behind.
Billy Corgan comes out wearing a fur coat. Um, what? Corgan says all titles will be on the line tonight except X-Division because something called “Team X-Gold” is premiering tonight. Corgan says he picked three men and out of respect to Lashley, the champ gets to pick his opponent. Team X-Gold is next as we head to commercial. Very bizarre opening, but once again something new and different from TNA. They take risks every single week.
Braxton Sutter, Mandrews and DJ Z are all on a team. Their opponents are Trevor Lee, Andrew Everett, and Marshe Rockett. Exciting, high-octane match with lots of moves. Rockett seems out of place in this environment with both his skillset and his size. Huge powerbomb by Sutter on Trevor Lee and than Mandrews hits a beautiful shooting star press off the top rope after a tag. He covers and picks up the pinfall victory for his team. Not sure where Team X-Gold is leading, but again, it’s something new so we’ll give it a shot. That was a fun match so can’t really complain about it at all. Enjoyed it quite a bit.
After a commercial. Moose is introduced as a potential opponent for Lashley tonight. Crowd starts a Moose chant. Eli Drake has a nice late show setup and he starts a Fact of Life segment. He says his guest for the night is known as “The Choke Artist” and he brings out Ethan Carter III. Drake antagonizes EC3 with the Dummy! Yeah! button until EC3 stops him. He says he is going to kill Drake, rip off his limbs, set him on fire and piss on the ashes. He dares Eli Drake to press the button so he can kick his ass. Well, that escalated quickly. Drake stands up and gets in EC3’s face. He cuts a fantastic promo. Wow. He lays into EC3. That was amazing. Gave me goosebumps. That’s how heels work a mic. Possibly the worst tag lashing EC3 has taken since he came to TNA.
Eddie Edwards is introduced as another option for Lashley to wrestle tonight. Sienna comes out to face Gail Kim. As Gail poses on the apron, Sienna throws Allie into her, knocking her to the floor. Sienna picks her up and throws her into the steel post after the bell rings. Sienna gets Gail in the ring and dominates her for several moments. Out of no where, Gail rolls up Sienna for the pinfall win. Lousy match with a funky ending. Not really feelings that one. After the match Sienna and Laurel Van Ness assault Gail Kim. Maria Kanellis-Bennett gets on the mic and says she gets her rematch and that it’s going to be a no DQ match. She orders Allie to slap Gail, but she refuses and Maria shoves Allie to the floor.
Ethan Carter III is introduced as the third option for Lashley tonight. Wolf Creek Cage Match up next with “tools of torture” hanging from the walls of the cage. Spoiler: it’s pretty much Lethal Lockdown. Broken Matt and Jeff Hardy are played out to Reby on piano, set to defend their TNA Tag Team Championships against Decay. Rosemary doesn’t come out and Matt immediately sends Reby to go look after King Maxell. Jeff and Matt work well in tandem, double teaming Crazzy Steve but Abyss helps take them down. Steve and Abyss get weapons down. Steve chokes Matt with a grappling hook. Abyss beats Jeff with a wooden stick. Steve hits Jeff with a trash can and Abyss turns the stick on Matt. The Hardy’s fight back with the same weapons and then double suplex Steve. Matt gets the chainsaw down off the cage. Before he can start it, Steve knocks him to the mat. Abyss chokeslams him, but then takes a Twist of Fate by Jeff. Jeff climbs towards the top of the cage. When he gets there, Rosemary comes down and runs up, spitting mist in his face. Reby attacks Rosemary with a rabbit head staff. Our cable feed skips ahead three minutes into the middle of a commercial for some reason and we didn’t get to see the finish. The Hardy’s retained, and from what we gathered on Twitter, Reby smeared blood on her face. Mad that I missed the ending to this one. Thanks, POP-TV.
Cody and Brandi Rhodes come down to the ring. They finally give him a mic. I for one thought it was odd not to have him speak at Bound For Glory. Cody says, “I didn’t wait to be kicked out of my former house. I left on my own,” which garners a TNA chant from the crowd. He says he came there for one thing, and it’s not to wrestle a guy on his list, Mike Bennett. He wants the world heavyweight championship; at which point Mike Bennett interrupts. Mike tries to start speaking but the crowd cuts him off chanting Cody’s name. Mike starts to speak but he says the word “fight” and Cody immediately interrupts saying, “We should fight!” and then he attacks Mike. Cody gets on the mic and says he wants his first match next week to be against The Miracle.
Grand Championship bout next with Aron Rex defending against Baron Dax. First round starts off with Rex being aggressive. Dax fights back and hits a neck breaker. He goes for a quick cover, but Rex kicks out at two. For the next two minutes Dax dominates Rex with unrelenting attack. The first round ends with Dax mounting Rex and bashing him with punches. The judges give round one unanimously to Dax. He continues going after Rex at the start of the second round. Rex reverses a neck breaker and locks in the Royal Arch submission and 40 seconds into round two Rex wins via submission! Aron Rex retains his title. Brief but hearty match. I enjoyed that a lot, to be honest.
Lashley comes to the ring and his three opponents come out to the top of the ramp. Lashley picks what he calls the easiest of the three and gives Eddie Edwards a title shot. The bell rings and Lashley sprints at Eddie. He ducks and throws Lashley shoulder first into the post. Lashley isn’t taken down and he tosses Eddie. Lashley pins him against the ropes and punches him. Suplex by Lashley and a cover, but Eddie kicks out. Powerbomb by Lashley and Eddie just can’t find any offense. Powerslam by Lashley and this thing is looking one-sided. Lashley sets up for the spear and Eddie ducks and spills him outside the ring. Eddie dives out after him, the two colliding with the steel guard rail.
Eddie leaps out again, connecting with his opponent. Eddie tries for a third time but Lashley moves and Eddie goes flying into the steel guard rail. Back in the ring, Eddie Edwards hits Boston Tea Party finisher and pins Bobby Lashley! Holy shit! Eddie Edwards is the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion! That was very unexpected. What!? That was just another blockbuster episode of TNA, again beating out Raw and Smackdown both this week. Billy Corgan and Company continue to raise the bar, take risks, and push the boundaries of their promotion. Gets better every week and I can’t wait to see what they do next!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
The WWE Universe will have to be a little bit more quiet with those YES! chants from now on. E! News confirmed earlier today that Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella (real names: Bryan and Brianna Danielson) were expecting their first child. News broke earlier today. Daniel and Brie married in 2014 and have been tip-toeing around the idea of having kids in the public eye for awhile. Brie was very vocal about wanting children and now she got her wish.
The child is expected to be born sometime in the spring next year. It’s cool news. Hopefully it’s a boy and Daniel Bryan can raise it to be a submission specialist and he can be a second generation WWE Superstar. Face To Heel extends congrats to the Danielson family and hope all goes well. Brie has reportedly stated she may not be done with wrestling, but wants to be a mother before stepping foot back in a ring. This news will certainly bring in giant revenues for E! Network with the new spinoff show Total Bellas that premieres later tonight. The timing couldn’t be any more scripted unless WWE Creative was involved.
On a personal note, I hope this doesn’t inspire Brie’s sister, Nikki Bella, to want children. I do not want any John Cena hellspawns. Not then, not now, not forever. No thank you. Join us in just a little bit as we live tweet NXT and write our review.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
We reviewed an episode a few weeks ago that was the go-home presentation leading us into Wrestle Kingdom 10. Last Friday, we finally got our first glimpse into New Japan Pro Wrestling’s premiere annual event. Without further ado, here’s what you missed from the episode on AXSTV.
These matches occurred at the January 4th, 2016 pay-per-view from the Tokyo Dome in Japan. The first match is for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Champ Shinsuke Nakamura defends against AJ Styles. Styles with a headlock to start. Nakamura blocks a Styles Clash and Styles scrambles away from some knees by Nakamura. The two lock up, Nakamura shoves him against the ropes and the two play mind games. Big dropkick by Styles. The two spill out of the ring and Nakamura slams Styles back first into the steel guard rail. Back in the ring, Nakamura goes to work with some swift kicks. Nakamura is dominating the questionably injured Styles. He sets him up on the top rope and runs to knee him in the gut, but Styles counters and hits a springboard forearm off the ropes. The pair trade some devastating blows in the center ring until Styles hits a face buster and covers. Nakamura kicks out at two. Penalty Kick by Styles and then a Shining Wizard by Nakamura. He gets his own nearfall on Styles. Commercial break.
When we return, Nakamura tries a fireman’s carry, but Styles blocks it, gets a near fall and then wallops Nakamura with knee. He climbs the top rope and hits a 450 splash beautifully. He covers and Nakamura barely gets a shoulder up. Crowd in a frenzy. Nakamura reverses a punch into a cross arm breaker submission in the dead center of the ring. He doesn’t quite get it fully locked in and instead switches to a triangle lock. Styles lifts him up into a modified Styles Clash! That was nice. He covers, but Nakamura kicks out! Crowd is even more hyped up now. Styles lifts Nakamura up and hits a Bloody Sunday DDT. Instead of covering, Styles stomps Nakamura on the back of the neck and then tosses him into the corner. Styles goes to the top turnbuckle. He lifts Nakamura up with him. Nakamura counters with a kick to the head. He lifts Styles up into a fireman’s carry and then hits an Avalanche Landslide. He covers, but Styles kicks out. These false finishes are flawless. So well done. Nakamura runs across the ring and hits a knee to the back of Styles’ head. Bomaye finisher and Nakamura covers for the win! Crowd goes wild. He puts his fist out to Styles. Styles bumps it and crowd cheers even louder.
Fantastic first half of the episode. Great match, good strong style but with reserved respect. You cannot lose watching Styles vs Nakamura. The second bout of the broadcast is Kenny Omega defending his IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship against Kushida. Kushida comes out in a Back to the Future theme which is really, really awesome. HaHa. He has a Doc Brown and everything. Kenny Omega appears to come out “trying” to imitate some sort of a Terminator-like entrance, but it doesn’t really work that well. When he gets to the ring, The Young Bucks come down and join him ringside with Bullet Club backup. Before the match can begin, Omega and the Bucks triple superkick Doc Brown and then triple team Kushida, beating him down to the mat. The Young Bucks leave the ring and the ref rings the bell. Unfair start, but typical Bullet Club antics.
Omega goes right after Kushida, unrelenting with his assault. Strikes, kicks, chops. Dropkick by Kushida, but before he can go on the attack, The Young Bucks distract him on the apron and he has to spend time fending them off. The ref holds Kushida back and while he is distracted, Omega sprays Kushida in the face with something. Kushida baseball slides out of the ring and then takes a trash can to the face by one of The Young Bucks. Omega holds a trash can as he moonsaults off the security railing and slams right onto Kushida. This isn’t supposed to be a no holds barred match, but the ref seems unwilling to take action. The Young Bucks start playing the Terminator theme song, drumming it on the bottom of trash cans. Omega flips over the top rope and takes out Kushida.
Back in the ring, Omega hits a face buster and tries the first pinfall. Kushida kicks out at two. He takes the tape off his wrist and starts choking Kushida. Still no interference by the ref. Omega slaps Kushida in the face. Omega tries a vertical suplex, but Kushida knees him and hits a penalty kick. Several more kicks by Kushida then a back elbow off the ropes. He puts in a double wrist lock, but Omega gets his foot on the rope. And now all of a sudden the ref breaks things up. Some back and forth action topped off with Kushida hitting a swan dive off the top rope, landing on Omega outside the ring. Dropkick by Kushida then a moonsault. He covers, but Omega kicks out. Cross arm breaker but Omega reverses it and suplexes him. The action is strong and steady in this one. We head to a commercial break.
Both men are down when we return. Omega on his feet first. He goes to Kushida and lifts him to the top rope. Double wrist lock by Kushida as he reverses and then he just leaps off the top rope dealing terrible damage to Omega’s left arm. Omega then gets kicked in the same arm. Huge windup punch by Kushida. Kushida scrambles up the turnbuckle and tries a corckscrew moonsault. He misses and Omega recovers in the corner. But Kushida is back immediately to kick Omega’s arm. Off the ropes, Omega suplexes Kushida into a bridge cover, but Kushida counters into a wristlock. Beautiful series of offense by both. The Young Bucks interfere, trying to drag Omega to the ropes. Doc Brown runs over and hits the Bucks with trash can shots. Omega lifts Kushida again but it’s reversed. Forearm by Kushida, big kick by Omega. Kushida is down and the crowd is on their feet. Sit up powerbomb by Omega and it looks like it might be over but somehow Kushida kicks out. Knee to the face by Omega. And another. Omega tries a one-winged angel, but Kushida reverses it down and into a cover. Ref counts three and Kushida is the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion. Wow, what a fun match that was to watch. Wonderful in-ring story told between the two. Great bout.
Two outstanding matches presented from Wrestle Kingdom 10. This broadcast said it was Part 1 so we should be seeing many pay-per-view quality matches in the coming weeks on AXSTV. Of course now you can see both Nakamura and Styles with WWE. AJ Styles will defend his WWE World Championship in a triple-threat against John Cena and Dean Ambrose this Sunday at No Mercy.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
It was rumored for the past few months that we might see Brock Lesnar taking on Bill Goldberg at WrestleMania next year. It would seem now that the timetable on that has been drastically pushed forward and we might see the match-up before the end of this year.
Infamous Dave Meltzer recently said on Wrestling Observer Radio that Goldberg was in negotiations with WWE for an in-ring return, and that possibly the contract had already been drawn up. And former WWE Hall of Fame commentator Jim Ross stated on his own podcast that the idea of Lesnar versus Goldberg was being seriously discussed by WWE and was something they were very interested in accomplishing soon. He later tweeted: “Another source says that Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar is a done deal and that it will likely go down at Survivor Series. If true, bravo WWE.”
In August, Lesnar told What Culture, “If Bill Goldberg has the balls to step back in the ring with me…..where you at? Where are ya? Let’s go.” Of course, neither Lesnar or Goldberg are commenting. Goldberg teased on Twitter that you never know what rumors you can believe online with the hashtag Who’s Next. It should be noted that Goldberg had surgery on both knees a few months ago, so he may not even be physically ready for Survivor Series.
Whatever WWE has in store for the former undefeated (173-0) WCW mega star, it would seem inevitable that Goldberg would clash with Lesnar. That’s Vince McMahon’s wet dream. We will continue to monitor the story and provide further updates as more rumors and/or news comes in.
You can check out Goldberg on SportsCenter tonight with Jonathan Coachman on the “Off The Top Rope” segment. Maybe he will let some details slip or give us a teaser. Survivor Series will be next month in Toronto, Canada.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
It would seem only obvious with the brand split and apparent mental implosion of Paige–and virtual unreliability of several of the other WWE female wrestlers on E!–that Nikki and Brie Bella (real names: Stephanie and Brianna Garcia-Colace) would get their own spinoff show. The Bella Twins, recently named Female Athletes of the Year by the Teen Choice Awards, are a staple within WWE. Although not very skilled within the ring, their marketable personas helped to to catapult the recent revolution of female wrestling within WWE. They can sell merchandise and are likable by kids and women. And for that, WWE is capitalizing on their brand to get further exposure.
Their personal lives can, on the surface, seem very enthralling. Nikki is dating WWE Superstar John Cena. And Brie is married to beloved, semi-retired Daniel Bryan. That in and of itself would make watching the show at least potentially interesting at times. Add to the fact that their mom is married to Johnny Ace and you can raise some eyebrows. Yes, their step-father is John Laurinaitis. While the show itself isn’t necessarily self-perpetuating, just their average daily lives should be enough to give E! network a solid 3-4 seasons before they get desperate and start madly scripting nonsense.
While most wresting fans, and certainly WWE’s key demographic, could care less about this sort of programming, it is good exposure for WWE to reach out and try and nab some female viewers. With the “success” of Keeping up with the Kardashians, it would seem Total Bellas is a sure fire hit that will be on TV for more seasons than it should. Total Bellas premieres tonight at 8:00PM EST on the E! network. This Sunday, Nikki Bella will face Carmella at No Mercy, live on the WWE Network.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker