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
Shelton Benjamin was scheduled to return back to the WWE ring in August. Unfortunately for him, and wrestling fans, he is now on the injured list after the discovery of a tear in his rotator cuff.
He recently spoke on the Jim Ross Report podcast and stated he has been wrestling actively with the tear for more than two months. After taking an awkward Suplex in a New Japan Pro match, Benjamin landed squarely on his shoulder, taking his and his opponents weight full on it. He continued to wrestle and felt soreness but did not realize the full extent of his injury.
Benjamin was signed in July, and was teased with a vignette on Smackdown Live. However, once the injury was fully explored it was determined he was not medically cleared to wrestle after his full physical examination. He is slated for surgery sometime in the near future and the date to his return to action is currently unknown. Shelton Benjamin is a former WWE United States, Intercontinental, and Tag Team Champion. It’s a shame he was put on the back burner, but WWE has wonderful doctors and there will no doubt be a triumphant return for The Gold Standard.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
It’s not often that the F2H family gets to cover Ring of Honor. Unfortunately, our cable provider doesn’t air their regular broadcast. So we really only ever get to “stream” the pay-per-views. We do, however, cover New Japan Pro Wrestling. And tonight that world famous organization clashes with the ROH all stars to bring us one epic night from Las Vegas!
We start things off with Kamaitachi vs Jay White vs Donovan Dijak (accompanied by Prince Nana) vs Lio Rush in a four-way to determine the #1 Contender for the Ring of Honor Television Championship. Rush and White clear the ring and go after each other with lots of speedy, high-flying moves. This one is hard to follow as there is one fight going on outside the ring and another inside the ring, and at the same time it’s supposed to be a tag match. Weird booking. But the action is fun and there isn’t a dull moment. Jay White takes control of the match with European uppercuts to all his competitors. Lio Rush is fast as hell and he’s taking down guys left and right! Can barely keep up with this one. Some really amazing moves from all four guys. The crowd is in a frenzy. Dijak does a corkscrew senton off the top rope to take down all three guys outside the ring. That big man can get up! Dijak hits Feast Your Eyes finisher on Lio Rush and becomes the #1 Contender to the TV title. That was a thrilling match to kick off the show. Great job to all four guys. Wow!
“The Last Real Man,” Silas Young comes out next to take on NJPW royalty in Katsuyori Shibata. Crowd starts a Shibata chant as soon as he hits the ring. Strong grappling to start this one. Shibata gets Young against the ropes and they break apart. Slingshot over the top rope and Young takes Shibata down. Really great technical style hoss match. Big, powerful moves and skilled action. These guys came to play. Shibata is always a pleasure to watch. Moonsault by Young and he covers, the ref counts three but Shibata leans up and the ref says it was only two. Young cusses the ref out, but keeps fighting. Rear naked choke by Shibata then a Penalty Kick by Shibata into a cover for the win. Spotty finish, mostly because the ref fucked up. But overall another entertaining battle. After the match, the two slap each other and then shake hands. Crowd applauds.
Bullet Club vs Chaos in a 6-man tag up next. Don’t know a lot about the six guys in this match, or even their names. But the match overall is a fun spot-fest that fires the crowd up. The turnbuckle pad is used as a weapon at one point and this whole thing breaks down into utter madness as all six men get in the ring to brawl. Chaos wins this one, but after The Bullet Club just beats the hell out of them. Hangman Page comes down and starts putting the noose on Tama Tonga’s neck. Jay Briscoe runs in to save the day. Briscoe and Page square off, a new ref comes out and this match is underway! No holds barred!
Briscoe and Page grab chairs and whack them together. Full on fist shots by Briscoe as Page is on the mat. Briscoe flies into the crowd as he topples Page into the barricade. Crowd starts a “Man Up!” chant. Briscoe suplexes Page on the ramp. Back in the ring Briscoe uses Hangman’s noose and wraps it around Page’s neck. But Page recovers and throws a steel chair in Jay’s face. Page’s turn to use the noose as he chokes Briscoe against the ropes. Ref can’t do anything here, as we have no rules! Submission hold hanging off the rope as Briscoe is being choked by the noose. Outside the ring, Page powerbombs Briscoe into a chair. He uses the noose to tie up Briscoe’s hands on the barricade. Page grabs a chair, kicks Jay in the head, and hits him with the chair. Then spits on him. Page searches under the ring, and pulls out a table. Page sets Briscoe up on the ring apron, lifts him, but fails. Briscoe blocks it and falls into the ring. Page grabs another chair. The two trade blows in the ring and Briscoe flips Page onto the chair as it lays flat on the mat. Page spits right in Briscoe’s eyes. Neckbreaker by an enraged Briscoe. He picks up the chair. He puts the chair over Page’s throat and kicks the bottom of it, then hits a spinning neckbreaker. Crowd erupts. Jay sets the chair up in the corner through the second and third ropes. He puts Page’s face against it and then wraps the noose around his neck. He ties the noose around the top rope. He runs and leaps into Page, once. Twice. And a third time as the crowd chants “One More Time!” Huge clothesline into a two count, but Page kicks out. Briscoe tries to use the table, but Page moves and nothing happens.
Page puts the noose around Briscoe’s neck and tries to hang him off the rope but Briscoe blocks it. Page drops him outside the ring. Page tries a flip off the apron but catches a big boot right to the face. Crowd explodes. He rolls Page up onto the apron and sets him up for a powerbomb into the setup table. But Page blocks it and slams Briscoe head first into the table. Page lands badly though, and gashes his knee open pretty badly. It starts running blood down his leg. Something white is sticking out of it. Briscoe’s back is bleeding. They roll into the ring and Page tries a pin but Jay barely kicks out. Page wraps the noose around his neck and tries to choke out Briscoe. His face turns red as blood oozes down his back. Crowd starts another “Man Up!” chant. Right of Passage finisher by Hangman Page. He covers and that’s all she wrote! Page defeats Briscoe. Goodness! What a match! One of the best things I’ve seen all week in the world of pro-wrestling.
Dalton Castle peacocks to the ring to take on “The Rainmaker,” Kazuchika Okada, in another NJPW and ROH square off. Let the streamers fly! Okada is the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, so this is a huge match for Dalton Castle’s career. Win or lose, he’s got to bring it. Crowd is hyped for both competitors as they enter the ring. Split chant from the crowd before the bell rings. First ever matchup between these two, and both shake hands before they begin. Respect from both as the match starts slow, with both feeling out the other. Crowd continues chanting for them both. Clever back and forth at the start, setting up a good story in the ring. Okada hits a big move and Dalton’s Boys come up on the apron to fan him off, showing their own fangirl appreciation. Ha! Running knee on the apron and Castle takes over. Okada falls to the floor outside the ring. Slow grind for a few moments as Castle puts on some holds down on the ring mat. Castle did a Hurricanrana to throw Okada out of the ring. Back in the ring, Okada kicks out at two but then takes a toss by Castle, who has really taken control of this match. Castle suplexes into a bridge and pins Okada. Narrow kick out at two and a half.
The Boys get in the ring to interfere but Okada stops them. He leaps off the top rope and drops an elbow on a prone Castle. Castle pops up and spins Okada around on his shoulder, hits Bangarang and goes for a cover, but Okada rolls out of the ring. Ref starts a ten count. Castle comes out, stopping the count. He pushes Okada into the ring. Suplex on Okada, another two count. Okada hits a Tombstone Piledriver on Castle and then sets him up for the Rainmaker. One. Two. Three. And that’s the ball game. Okada wins in a really exceptional match. Dalton Castle came into his own skin and this one was just another great bout on what has been an off the charts match card so far tonight.
The Television Championship title is on the line next as Mark Briscoe challenges Bobby Fish. Grappling into ground work submission to start. Then see-saw strike trading. The pace is slow, but they are trying to do something here. The animosity is palpable. A fantastic running reverse neckbreaker by Briscoe off the arpon. Then he slams Fish back first onto the apron. Off the apron again, Briscoe drops a running elbow on Fish. Back in the ring, Fish takes control working Briscoe’s back and leg. Briscoe fights back and tries a pinfall. His back is hurting him and his offense has been hindered. Fish gets him up and down with a double knee shot. The story told throughout this one is great. It was easy to get emotionally invested. Powerbomb by Briscoe, and he takes to the tap rope. He drops a frog-splash elbow on Fish. Narrow kick out and the crowd can’t believe it. The two trade blows on the top rope and Briscoe takes a hard suplex on his neck. Fish tosses him into the corner and suplexes him down for the count. Three seconds later and Fish retains. Now that was an old school type of wrestling match. Really loved that one. No hard feelings afterward as both men shake hands in the ring. All love and respect. The crowd just got a real treat with these two.
Triple threat tag team match for the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship up next. Tetsuya Naito and Evil vs Michael Eglin and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs the current champs The Addiction. Glad for this match as the introduction of all three teams is long and drawn out so I finally get a break to grab a beer and take a piss. This has been non-stop action all night. I’m exhausted! Naito and Tanahashi start the match off. But its short lived as Christopher Daniels tags himself in on Tanahashi. Naito plays mind games and then hip-tosses Daniels out of the ring. Naito tags in Evil and they double team Daniels. Eglin and Kazarian tag in. The Addiction take over the match and isolate Tanahashi in their corner. Naito tags himself in and then he and Evil double team Tanahashi. Then Naito and Evil go after The Addiction. We lose track of who the two legal men are. Kazarian and Eglin are, apparently. Eglin wallops Kazarian in the corner. Eglin double suplexes The Addiction! All hell breaks loose with people diving out of the ring and guys being thrown into the barricades. Crowd is eating it up. The action is incredible. The ref gets distracted and Daniels accidentally clocks Kazarian with the title belt. Tanahashi hits a Slingblade on Evil. Tanahashi goes for a High Fly Flow, Daniels tags himself in unbeknownst to Tanahashi, who lands on Evil. Daniels runs in and covers both, as the legal man and The Addiction retains! Clever finish! I liked that alot.
The Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Championship is on the line next as Adam Cole challenges Jay Lethal in a match that has been many months in the making. Lethal goes to work early, with some huge chops in the corners. Cole recovers and stomps him. Lethal ducks, as Cole goes over the top rope. Outside the ring, Lethal continues chopping. Then a dropkick to the back and Cole is down. Lethal checks under the ring but comes back empty handed. He dropkicks Cole again. He checks another side of the ring and comes out again with nothing. He walks around the ring and on the third side, he pulls out a table. Lethal props Cole against the table and climbs to the top rope. Lethal jumps but Cole moves and Lethal throws himself into the table. Lethal’s head is now busted open and bleeding. Cole throws Lethal against the ring post. The champion is reeling now. Lethal has a contusion on his lower back. Looks nasty. Both table spots tonight have been brutal with men landing badly and getting hurt.
Lethal dropkicks Cole out of the ring. He runs, bouncing off the ropes and dives out onto Cole. He does it again and again with the second and third times sending Cole into the barricade. And a fourth time. Then a fifth. Crowd is rowdy. A sixth dive and this time Cole counters, throwing Lethal into the barricade. Cole throws the champ into the ring. The two trade punches in the middle of the ring. Cole spits on Lethal and then hits a Shining Wizard. Only a two count on the champion. Cole sets up in the corner, stomping his foot for a super kick. Lethal stands, moves out of the way and clotheslines the challenger to the mat. Low blow by Cole and the ref doesn’t see it. A cover, but Lethal gets his leg on the rope at the last possible second to keep hanging on. Cole locks on a sleeper hold and Lethal starts to fade. Lethal fights back and hits the Lethal Combination. Both men down, gasping for air. Lethal covers, two count. Lethal suplexes Cole. And again. The champ climbs to the top rope. He drops an elbow and covers Cole. Two count. The two trade kicks back and forth to the crowd’s chagrin. Lethal tries his finisher, but Cole lands a super kick. Cole hits two Last Shots but Lethal kicks out! Cole screams, “The title is mine! You ain’t shit!” Then he spits on Lethal. Lethal hits the Lethal Injection but Cole kicks out. Crowd is out of their minds! “This Is Awesome!” chant. Last Shot, Shining Wizard, Last Shot by Cole and he covers Lethal to take the title! Oh my! The world title changes hands! Jay Lethal put on the fight of his life but just couldn’t over come! A fantastic sports spectacle! Now, THAT is pro-wrestling. Cole doesn’t realize that Kyle O’Riley has crept up behind him. He turns and O’Riley clobbers him to end the show.
A fantastic crowd in Las Vegas tonight, helped to feed the atmosphere and make each wrestler feel welcomed. All competitors brought their A-game and the night flew by. There wasn’t a bad match on the card, at all. There were no lulls in action, there wasn’t even time to take a breath. This one was balls to the walls from the gate. Bravo to Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling both for bringing us an epic pay-per-view. I enjoyed every moment. What did you all think? Let us know your favorites moments and matches in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
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Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
The second round got off to an exceptional start last week with two huge matches. Tonight, WWE Network brings us three bouts. If this tournament is any indication, whenever they bring the Cruiserweight Division up to Monday Night Raw, it’s going to take on a life of its own.
Akira Tozawa (Japan) comes out fired up to take on Jack Gallagher (England). Crowd starts a “Jackie Boy!” chant as soon as the bell rings. Tozawa goes after him right out of the gate, dropping him to the mat. Waist lock as they stand up but Gallagher reverses it into a wristlock. Tozawa takes it right back to the mat with a leg submission which gets reversed. The pair break apart and the crowd applauds. Hats off to all competitors in this tournament. The majority of the matches have had great in-ring psychology and have told compelling stories in less than twenty minutes, these two are no exception. Gallagher ties Tozawa into a pretzel and leaves him screaming in the middle of the ring. He lines up his foot and kicks him square in the ass. Hilarious segment.
Another “Jackie Boy!” chant. Tozawa gets up, enraged, but he takes an uppercut. Leg lareat by Tozawa into a two count. Crowd starts a slow clap. Body slam followed by a senton and Tozawa gets another two count. Gallagher goes to work on Tozawa’s left leg, torquing it on the mat. Tozawa reaches the ropes to break it up but Gallagher goes right back after the leg in the middle of the ring. Tozawa bounces off the corner and lands a huge kick to the face of Gallagher. Tozawa limping now. Heel hook submission on Tozawa’s bad leg. Crowd starts screaming for him to chant. But somehow Tozawa crawls and scrapes until he reaches the bottom rope. Tozawa can barely stand. Ref asks him if he wants to quit but he says no. German suplex out of no where from Tozawa! Another suplex into a bridge and Tozawa wins via pinfall! Unexpected outcome. Thought Gallagher would win that one. But a really exciting match to watch. Both guys really brought it and the crowd was lively. Nice start to the show.
The second match brings us Hoho Lun (Hong Kong) against Noam Dar (Scotland). Lun with some early offense and he tries a pinfall, but no avail during the opening minutes. Dar slows it down with a wristlock but moments later Lun dropkicks him into another near fall. Crowd polite but not quite yet into this one. Dar kicks Lun in the knee and he falls off the apron, outside the ring. Some ground work for both and then a big kick by Lun for another two count. The crowd starts a chant for Dar to the tune of Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars. HaHaHa. Elbow drop by Dar and then he works on Lun’s left knee. Bit of advice if any wrestler’s are reading this blog. If the previous match worked a specific body part, avoid working that body part if you immediately follow that match. Lun drops Dar and climbs to the second turn buckle. He dropkicks him, but it was a bad spot. Lun gets another near fall after a modified driver. Suplex into a bridge and another near fall. Dar wraps him up in a knee bar and Lun taps. A mostly flat match. The crowd tried to liven things up, but neither guy really has the oomph to make it all the way to the finals.
Tonight’s main event is two golden boys from the good ole USA, Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese battling each other for the chance to advance into the third round. Kendrick tries sprinting right at Nese to start the match, but Nese clobbers him with a massive boot and takes total control. Kendrick rolls out of the ring and stumbles around. Nese leaves the ring and chops the beejesus out of him multiple times and then kicks him again. Crowd excited. This one is lopsided from the get-go. Nese throws Kendrick in the ring and almost gets a three count. Another huge chop by Nese. Kendrick somehow gets Nese’s arm stuck in the turnbuckle pad and he kicks Nese’s leg. Kendrick gets a clothesline blocked and takes another near pinfall. Leg drop by Nese. How good is this guy? Kendrick manages to hold on using anything to his advantage, and not everything legal. He keeps putting Nese into submission holds. The offense is so fun to watch that I stopped typing for a minute. Just enjoying it. Nese is so talented. And Kendrick has that savvy heel heat drawing power; but somehow also has this quirky underdog quality to him that makes you not really want to hate him. He’s a fighter. Both these guys really giving us a clinic here in this one. The finish is Nese missing with a 450 Splash, as Kendrick turns it into a submission and makes him tap. That match was solid as hell, but I dislike the ending. I know HHH will probably scope Nese up ASAP, but I was pulling for him to go deep into the tournament. Congrats to both guys for really putting on another fantastic Cruiserweight Classic match. We’ll have to see how far Kendrick’s bag of tricks take him in the tournament.
Another edge of your seat episode from WWE. This Cruiserweight Classic is really turning out to be quite a gem. Once this thing is over, I really look forward to seeing all these guys move up to NXT. What did you think of tonight’s episode? Let us know in the comments below.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
The show starts with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan having Randy Orton sign his contract for SummerSlam. Heath Slater knocks and enters with a giant fruit basket. He tosses an apple at Orton. Slater says he rewatched Smackdown from last week and is wondering about the contract they were going to give him. After the opening intro, Maryse and The Miz are in the ring doing some MizTV. Dean Ambrose interrupts quickly. Dolph Ziggler cuts him off as he starts speaking. Ziggler and Ambrose nearly square off, but Miz gets between them and starts firing shots. The segment is a little awkward. Ambrose tries to school Ziggler on being a champ, even though Ziggler has won the world title three times. Ambrose keeps calling him “kiddo” and acting like Ziggler has never been in a competitive match in his life. Creative had zero ideas for his promo. Just generic spew of mediocrity. Ziggler responds, actually fired up and showing emotion. He ends his rant by clocking Ambrose in the face and saying, “This Sunday, you’ll see that I’m just that damn good.”
Twelve man tag match coming up next. Yes. Six days before a pay-per-view. A twelve man tag match. (((sigh))) The Usos, American Alpha, and The Hype Bros taking on The Vaudevillians, The Ascension, and Breezango. I don’t really care enough to write about this one. No tag title on Smackdown so what is even the point? This is a waste of air, and a big waste of time for American Alpha. There is no point to this match and the outcome matters for absolutely nothing. American Alpha wins. What a terribly boring Smackdown so far.
As if things couldn’t get worse, Naomi comes out under black lights doing some sort of weird Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader routine wearing neon clothes, carrying a backpack and throwing things into the audience. Alright, to be fair to her, it does look kind of cool. But just when I get into that, Eva Marie comes out and makes me hate this segment all over again. Let’s see what sort of shenanigans she has to get out of her match this week. The announcer says she was delayed due to traffic and will not be able to compete. Naomi doesn’t even have a match. They just cut away to Del Rio backstage. What was the point?
After the break, Randy Orton comes out after a brief Curt Hawkins teaser promo. Heath Slater comes out to continue his campaign for a new contract. Orton throws him shoulder first in two corners and then clothes lines him to the mat. He lays into him with a bunch of stomps and then whips him into the corner. No offense from Slater yet. Several strikes by Orton, so many, in fact, the ref calls for the bell. Crowd starts booing. Orton tosses Slater out of the ring. Then over the announce table into the commentary chairs. He drops him stomach first onto the barricade and then rolls him back into the ring. Slater can barely get up. Orton suplexes Slater and then mocks Brock Lesnar’s bouncing shuffle. He suplexes him again and then ‘goes to that place.’ Slater stands up and takes an RKO. Technically, Slater won, so he should get a contract now, right? Right?!
Slater is shown backstage with a doctor and is loopy. Bryan and Shane come up and he confuses them for Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon. The contract they are about to give him gets taken away as Shane is insulted.
The Wyatt Family comes to the ring. Dean Ambrose vs Erick Rowan. Another meaningless segment. There has been nothing of value tonight on Smackdown; certainly not a whole lot leading into what’s taking place on Sunday. Just a bunch of strange booking decisions. Dirty Deeds and Ambrose wins. After the match Bray Wyatt turns his rocking chair around on Rowan. He stares at the sheep mask, disappointed. He places it on the chair and walks out, leaving Rowan in the ring by himself.
Becky Lynch and Carmella take on Natalya and Alexa Bliss after the break. Eva Marie interrupts during the match and Naomi chases her around the ring. Natalya gets distracted and takes a submission tapout from Becky Lynch. Another lackluster match.
The main event is Del Rio vs John Cena, with AJ Styles on commentary. Cena for some reason has red, white, and blue arm bands on for some reason. And has an American flag on his pants, with a matching red, white, blue belt. Attitude Adjustment takes this one home as Cena wins. Decent match, all things considered. Styles runs in after and attacks Cena from behind. A few moments later, Cena hits an AA off the steel steps against Styles into the announce table. Just an absolute awful Smackdown. I keep seeing people on social media saying Smackdown has gotten better and I just don’t see it. Dismal. Sorry for such a heartless article, but I really can’t get excited with WWE’s direction right now. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below. See you tomorrow for NXT and the Cruiserweight Classic.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Tonight’s broadcast is LIVE, and I’m excited. Aaron Haddad, also known as WWE’s Damien Sandow, has signed with TNA and is said to be debuting tonight, and I can’t wait to see him. Tonight, James Storm and Bobby Lashley will face off in Storm’s first shot at the World Heavyweight title in five years. Ethan Carter III kicks off our night; he won the Bound for Glory playoffs, securing himself a spot in the main event. He is a fantastic heel, a perfect babyface; he wins at everything he does. The crowd gives him a “next world champ” chant as he addresses his accomplishments in TNA. He is on a quest to be the best, to borrow his words.
Of course, Bobby Lashley comes out to give his two cents. Lashley tells EC3 that Bound for Glory is months away, and he is NOT the best; Lashley is the best because of the two titles he currently holds. EC3 acknowledges Lashley’s accomplishments and successes. As Lashley begins at rant about how great he is, James Storm interrupts. wondering why we’re discussing Bound for Glory when we’re broadcasting live and it is him that has a match tonight for the title. Good promo, but the mic issues put a damper on things. Storm baits Lashley, who comes down the ramp, and the two begin fighting. As they go backstage, Mike Bennett and Moose appear and start pummeling EC3. Thankfully, Eddie Edwards comes to the rescue, and the four men fight over the two discarded titles in the middle of the ring. Edwards calls for a ref, moving their tag match to right now.
The bell rings before anyone is in the ring, and we cut to commercial. After the break, EC3 and Bennett are in the ring. EC3 quickly isolates Bennett in his corner before tagging Edwards in. Edwards and EC3 (or EddiEc3, as Edwards called them) are working perfectly together. Bennett is finally able to crawl to Moose, who wastes time getting the crowd chanting his name, allowing Edwards to gain the upper hand. Moose hits a killer drop kick to throw Edwards from the ring. Edwards is able to hit Moose with a DDT, then tag in EC3. He mocks Moose’s chant, then tells him to suck it before delivering clotheslines and taking the big man down. Bennett tries to assist, but EC3 throws him on top of Moose. EC3 and Edwards do the wolves howl and dive from the ring to knock their opponents out. Edwards hits a hurricanrana from the top rope, but Bennett breaks up the pin. This is a fantastic match! Moose pins Edwards for the win, but Bennett sneaks in a tag and pins Edwards, officially winning the match. Moose looks thrown off, but a win is a win.
Right before the break, a black and white screen says “he is doing it his way,” and then music breaks through. Hallelujah! I just started clapping and cheering in my living room! WWE made a huge mistake letting this talent go. When we come back, the Hallelujah plays before breaking into a different beat with flashing lights. Aron Rex, formerly known as Damien Sandow, comes out looking happy, healthy, and appreciative of the welcome from TNA! He says “Impact Wrestling has done what too many people were scared to do; give me a microphone on live TV!” He takes a shot at Ryback’s “glass ceilings” comment, takes a very clear shot at WWE, then says that this is all about the fans and for the fans. He says he’s been labeled “too entertaining” to get a world title shot, but no matter what any majority shareholder or authority figure believes, anyone in the ring directly works for the fans. If you haven’t watched this, stop reading right now and look this promo up because it is genius. The crowd starts chanting “you’re a genius!” What a welcome for Aron Rex!
Backstage, Gail Kim is speaking to Maria Kanellis about a match tonight, when Marti Bell comes out of nowhere to attack her. Their match tonight will be no disqualification. Edwards moves to confront Bennett and Moose about the way they ruin all his opportunities, setting up a match between Edwards and Moose for next week. But now, our Knockouts match between Bell and Kim. Before Kim can even get to the ring, Bell is on the attack. Maria and Allie come to the ring, and Allie starts squeaking and abusing my ear drums. The bell finally rings as Bell straddles Kim and lands punch after punch. Bell hits a side Russian leg sweep to take Kim down before kicking her in the back over and over. With Allie’s interference and no disqualifications, this match is stacked against Kim. Kim is able to hit a couple of clotheslines and tries for a pin. Maria hops on the apron to knock Kim from the top rope before ordering Allie to get in the ring. Even three against one, Kim is able to pick up the win, but is immediately attacked by Bell. Thankfully, Jade runs out to even the numbers and save Kim. She then turns her attention to Allie, knocking the screechy woman down. Maria, angry about the outcome, makes a match for next week; Jade versus Gail Kim.
Outside a watering hole, Matt Hardy visits his Obsolete Mule, accompanied by his drone. King Maxel has nearly been kidnapped! The drone will protect King Maxel and Rebecca with his life! The Mule and Matt Hardy are on their way to the Zone of Impact now. I’ll be honest; it is exhausting to type the way he talks. I can’t imagine how he does this week after week.
Anyway, back in the ring we go. Broken Matt Hardy says something, but I can’t recall because I’m laughing so hard at the way he just said “condition.” Con-dee-shion? It was amazing. He address Decay and talks about his “pre-me-neeesion” that Decay tried to kidnap Maxel. Matt promises to take the tag titles from Decay with the help of “Ob-So-LEEEET” Brother Nero. How is Jeff Hardy keeping a straight face??? Jeff asks Matt why he ate a guy’s face last week, and Matt says it’s because ants aren’t allowed to touch Gods. Matt says Jeff owes him because of his broken leg last year. Jeff wants the Hardys to go back to how they were, but Matt says the Hardys are OVAH! The Tribunal interrupts, and Al Snow mocks Matt and calls Jeff a loser. Snow says that if Matt wants the titles, he needs to do what he did and go to France to find real competitors. Baron Dax and Basile Baraka enter the ring to compete in a “tag” match against Matt and Jeff, only I’m pretty sure it’ll be Jeff against the two alone. Just as the match starts, we break for commercial.
As we return, Al Snow is kicking Jeff, who lays outside of the ring. Jeff tries to tag in Matt, but he refuses. Outside the ring, Matt gets in a fan’s face and says DELETE DELETE DELETE, causing the fan to rip up his “Jeff Hardy Is Not Obsolete” sign and start chanting DELETE! He then bites Al Snow. Broken Matt Hardy is fantastic. Matt takes off his boot and uses it to beat Dax in the head. In the ring, Jeff hits Twist of Fate to pin Baraka for the win! Jeff then takes out his anger on poor Dax and Baraka, knocking them out over and over before then taking down Snow. Matt is laughing as Jeff goes for the tables. Jeff throws Snow from the ring, rolls him onto a table, then dives onto Snow, breaking the table beneath them. Jeff says “the only person who punishes me is me” before putting himself through a table. Glorious. Maniacal laughter from both brothers now. What am I watching??!? Jeff starts yelling BROTHER NERO! I AM BROTHER NERO!
Rosemary tells us that no one is ever in control with Decay, and Bram learned that the hard way. Abyss says that Decay is what makes him beautiful. Bram’s destruction was a lesson to all the other fools who dare to challenge Decay. Back in the ring, Drew Galloway walks out looking all business. Galloway addresses the fact that EC3 has cost him his shot at the title during the Bound for Glory playoffs three different times. He says one time is an accident, but three times? EC3 is a snake in the grass and is green with envy, jealous of Galloway and trying to sabotage his career. He proposes a match; EC3 versus Galloway for the main event of Bound for Glory.
Time for our main event; James Storm versus Bobby Lashley. The winner will walk away with all three titles; World Heavyweight, King of the Mountain, and X Division. James Storm is announced as the challenger, and Lashley takes that as his cue to attack Storm. The bell is rung and the match is officially on. Storm quickly turns the match in his favor, attacking Lashley outside of the ring and taking the big man to his knees. Lashley tries to counter with a kick, but Storm hits a clothesline. Lashley grabs something off the announcer’s table to use as a weapon, but Storm doesn’t allow it. After the break, Lashley is in control of this match; Storm is down on the mat and hurting. Lashley delivers a powerful bodyslam, and Storm looks like he is in trouble. He hits Storm with a vertical suplex, then tries for the spear but Storm dodges and knocks him down. Storm lands a kick to the back of the head, but Lashley hits a crossbody and goes for a pin. Lashley finally hits Storm with the spear and nearly wins the match, but Storm is out at the last possible moment. Storm hits TWO last calls, but it still isn’t enough to get Lashley down for the three count. Lashley hits a final spear and pins Storm for the win! Lashley now has THREE titles. Count them!
As Lashley celebrates, Aron Rex walks out to quietly watch out champion. His intentions are clear and I can’t wait to see what he has in store. Rex is an incredible addition to Impact Wrestling, and I guarantee Vince McMahon is kicking himself for the decision to release him. Next week is the Ascension to Hell, where tag teams will compete for a title shot opportunity. Tonight was a fantastic night of wrestling. Please leave your thoughts below, and follow us on Twitter at facetoheel for more coverage. See you all next week!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
News broke earlier today that Aaron Haddad, better known as Damien Sandow of WWE fame and Aron Stevens on the independent scene, signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and will be making his debut tonight. This is incredible news for pro-wrestling fans, especially those who harbor no ill will towards Dixie Carter and her Impact Zone product.
Haddad, who has been wrestling professionally since 2001, was misused by Vince McMahon despite the greatness of the Sandow character and was released from WWE earlier this year. For the past few months he’s been wrestling on the independent circuits and has now found a new home. His signing to TNA is a huge deal for many reasons. First and foremost being he’s a great worker. He can go in the ring, against any opponent, and his mic skills are impeccable. Now that he has a chip on his shoulder thanks to the McMahon’s, Haddad is probably about to go on a masterful run that will be a highlight of his career.
He could have signed anywhere and been instantly well received. But signing with TNA is an indication of good things from the company. They recently signed Ring of Honor monster, Moose. And now Haddad. As we have said before, TNA is getting better, and Haddad is going to up the ante. Whether coming in to be in a tag team (imagine him and The Miracle, Mike Bennett, being arrogant heels and winning the tag titles) or as a singles competitor (imagine him and The Miracle, Mike Bennett, trading verbal barbs and putting on a clinic in the ring) Haddad is going to succeed. It will be interesting to see where he slides into the roster right out of the gate tonight.
Most importantly though, signing both Moose and Haddad so close together has to put a dent in those vicious online rumors that TNA is having financial problems and will be imploding any minute now. Back off, internet trolls; TNA is still in the game. What do you guys think of this epic signing? Who should Haddad set his sights on for his first opponent? And what are the long term effects of TNA adding him to the roster? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, be sure to tune in tonight on POPTV for an all new Impact Wrestling. Watch it live to help their ratings. And in the words of the great Damien Sandow, “You’re Welcome!”
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
On Monday Night Raw this week, a United States Championship #1 Contender Battle Royal took place. Prior to a commercial break, a giant photo was shown of the entire field participating in the match. The Big Guy, Ryback, was among them. The match came and went, but Ryback was no where to be seen. Shortly before Raw went off air, reports hit social media that Ryback was asked to go home and stay off television until a deal could be reached with his contract.
Immediately we all thought he was bitching about his paycheck. Turns out, it went much deeper than that. Earlier today, Ryback, real name Ryan Reeves, put a post up on his Tumblr account about the entire incident. You can read the full text HERE but the gist of his gripes with WWE is that the lowcard losers on the roster ultimately make less over their career than the guys who win more matches. He makes several valid arguments and he’s not wrong on his view points. However, it’s hard to get behind him when we all have a pretty good idea what these guys make in a year.
Even the so-called “jobbers” make more than probably 99% of their viewing audience. They get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to appear on TV every week, be characters in video games, and sell their faces and catchphrases on t-shirts. Granted, professional wrestlers make significantly less than other sports athletes. And unless your name is Brock Lesnar, you aren’t getting a whole lot of big name endorsements. Even so, they are considered well-paid entertainers. According to Total Sportek analysis, even a guy like Eric Rowan makes $80,145. That’s a sum that even a lot of people with college degrees don’t get.
Ryback is justified in his comments, albeit going about trying to create change in a backwards way. WWE doesn’t have unions (to my knowledge no wrestling promotion does) and signed wrestlers just have to eat shit and take their contract, quit and go elsewhere, or become an undeniable cash cow that has leverage to negotiate a mega-contract. Wrestlers are considered “independent contractors” and most promoters consider that a carte-blanche to pay out whatever they deem appropriate.
At the end of the day, nobody sympathizes with a professional athlete demanding more money. Especially a guy like Ryback who was just in a title match at the last two pay-per-views. Whether the NFL, MLB, NBA, or WWE, they are all outrageously overpaid, with the majority making more than the President. Every guy coming up wants a bigger contract than the guy he replaced. So it has been, so it will probably always be. A greedy self-image for the big stars in a sport leaves little left but crumbs for the lower guys. And that’s the real issue here. Not that they all get paid too much (they do) or that they think they are entitled to more (they aren’t) but that equivalent athletes on the same playing field aren’t being treated in an equal way. If the same two guys wrestle ten times, and the same wrestler wins each match in a predetermined outcome, shouldn’t both wrestlers get paid the same?
It makes sense, but there are better ways to promoting change. Storming off, or quitting the company, does very little to alleviate problems. Just ask CM Punk. According to Ryback, this has been an ongoing issue since he was working the Intercontinental Championship. What Ryback should really do is get the locker room together and corner the chairman. Vince McMahon isn’t going to respond to someone bailing on him. Change comes when someone stands up and fights the good fight, and Ryback can’t do that from home on his couch. We’re not saying anything new here. Anybody who has ever had qualms about wrestling for McMahon has heard this song and dance before. Nobody seems to learn from other superstars mistakes. Frustration leads to anger which leads to hate, and that hatred ultimately sends them all packing. Change doesn’t come, and then we’re left right back where we started from.
Questioning the companies pay structure while at the same time asking for a bump in salary, makes Ryback come across as a little self-centered. He cushioned his rant by declaring he wanted to look out for the losers, but his actions point more towards a selfishness that has an unquenchable appetite. This article is coming from a guy who’s avatar picture is him holding a CM Punk sign while wearing a Triple H t-shirt. So trust me, I know all about inflated ego.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker