It’s safe to assume you’ve spent the week watching multiple hours of programming from WWE and TNA. Maybe not all of it, but I’m sure you’re all aware of what happened this week on TV. Even if you haven’t seen the shows, you will have read the reviews here. Or at least you should have.
Perhaps you’ve put some time aside to listen to some podcasts (especially my show MFX because it’s frigging great) which will have given you even more comment and opinion on the week in wrestling.
No doubt you’re about to reach ‘wrestling information overload’ and the last thing you need is someone recapping some of the events of the week, in a blatant attempt to find something to write about, when there’s not really anything left to say. Oh, wait, that’s just what I’m going to do. Ah bollocks…
Hopefully I can find an entertaining way to review some of the events of the past week in the world of professional wrestling. I’m not making any promises though. This could be a completely fruitless undertaking and a giant waste of everyone’s time. I want to make that clear from the start.
So, with your expectations suitably lowered, and almost two hundred words of nothing already written, I suppose I should actually get into this. The plan is to take a look at some of the stand out moments from WWE, TNA and anything else wrestling related that’s caught my eye during the past seven days. Given how boring the last week of WWE and TNA programming has been, this could be short and sweet.
Let’s kick off with WWE and see what’s been making headlines in Vince McMahon’s bizarre wonderland of pretend fighting and excessive dancing…
RAW was a completely forgettable, below average and almost painfully boring show. It was highlighted by two things: Cena and Bryan’s promos and the Punk/Brock confrontation.
Put aside the fact that the McMahon’s are now not just attempting to highjack the Cena/Bryan match at Summerslam, but have in fact taken full control of it, along with a number of hostages, and are now redirecting it South America where they hope to live out the rest of their days in the Bolivian jungle. Try to remember what’s important here – Cena and Bryan. Entertainer vs. Wrestler. The IWC’s hero vs. the IWC’s most hated enemy.
While the McMahon’s are still proving to be an unwelcome distraction, on RAW this week it was Bryan and Cena who took centre stage on the mic. Bryan still remains very underrated when it comes to his mic work. He showed on RAW that he can more than hold up his side of the verbal sell job of the Summerslam main event. It’d be great if he wasn’t weighed down with this extra storyline involving the McMahons but given what he’s got to work with, he’s doing alright.
Cena was excellent. I know most of you are sick of him, but when it comes to match selling promos, Cena is in a league of his own. His intensity was pitch perfect and while his delivery was weird and a little distracting (somewhere between Dr Dre and Foghorn Leghorn), the content of the promo did a lot to add a dynamic to the feud that doesn’t involve a McMahon or a makeover. They needed to up the intensity on both sides and they did that this week without any physical contact between them. Good stuff.
The other Summerslam main event also gained more momentum on RAW this week as CM Punk and Brock Lesnar clashed again. The intensity and physicality of Brock, mixed with the never back down attitude of Punk, is the perfect blend and has resulted in great heat from the live crowds and universal praise from us fickle dicks in the IWC. This week was no different.
I loved the moment when Punk grabbed the chair, swung it at Brock and the beast caught it, tore it out of Punk’s hands with ease and threw it away. It was like a bully taking a weedy kid’s packed lunch. The expression on Punk’s face sold this moment perfectly. Then the fire Punk showed in taking the fight to Brock just brought everything up a level. Heyman’s performance shouldn’t be overlooked either, he’s the glue holding all of this together and he’s doing a tremendous job.
The feud between these two has been built so simply and with such great timing (it’s going to peak AT Summerslam, as opposed to a few weeks before – something WWE have been guilty of in the run up to other big matches) that it can’t fail to draw. I want to see these two hook ‘em up and I’m sure a good percentage of those of you who are reading this feel just the same.
I’m actually excited about Summerslam this year and it’s due to these two matches. If you don’t care about Wrestler vs. Entertainer or The Best vs. The Beast, then WWE just isn’t for you anymore. These two feuds are the best that WWE can produce at the moment and a few issues aside (the fun smothering McMahon factor) both matches have me convinced that Summerslam will be worth the purchase this year.
Unfortunately a lot of the undercard doesn’t interest me in the slightest. That’s been WWE’s big weakness for the last few years: nothing interesting really ever happens on the undercard. Neither the IC nor the US Champion have a match on the show, let alone a heated feud. Those who are on the show just aren’t clicking. Anything involving any combination of the following wrestlers bores me more than Church: Christian, Del Rio, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow and The Miz.
Christian’s return has been a complete bust. The dude selling popcorn is more over than him. The reaction to his entrance makes the pop for Tito Ortiz on IMPACT sound like the fucking Road Warriors just appeared. He’s too old, too orange, too balding (all that forward brushing at the hairline is fooling no one) and too boring for the role he’s currently in. Someone get this man a heel turn and STAT.
Del Rio just lost the only entertaining part of his act in Ricardo. Maybe they’ll let him keep the bucket (which is also more over than Del Rio). WWE continue to push ADR well past his level of overness (is that a word? I’m saying it is). While he can work a decent match, it takes more than that to be a main event WWE superstar and right now, Del Rio doesn’t have it.
On paper, Cody and Sandow should be a great feud. The two former tag team partners battling it out should be one of the top feuds in the company. It’s not. It’s utterly boring. Their battle over the pack lunch box of destiny is arse backwards.
Cody is being the shitty heel and Damien is the guy being relentlessly pursued and beaten up at every turn. That’s why people aren’t reacting to Cody as babyface. How are you meant to have sympathy for a guy who is basically a bad loser and who always gets the better of the heel? Maybe the match at Summerslam will save it, but the build has been clunky at best and woeful at worst.
And Miz is going to be hosting the fucking PPV! I thought the point of the guest host deal was it encouraged people to buy the show (Rock a few Wrestlemanias ago) or if they had some shitty movie or TV show to hype (all the guest hosts on RAW a few years back). Anyone who thinks Miz is a good choice as host should immediately be removed from the general population, as they are obviously too stupid to live with the rest of us.
Although on the plus side, Miz won’t be wrestling on the show and therefore there will be a noticeable lack of calf humping as he won’t get the chance to use his special needs version of the figure four. Actually, he probably will at some point. Just to be a dick.
In other news, Sheamus will miss Summerslam as he’s recently undergone shoulder surgery. By all accounts he’ll be on the shelf for four to six months. While no one wants to see a wrestler get injured, this time away could actually be good for Sheamus.
His character has become staler than the bread at an orphanage. Add to that his personality has become this weird, perma-smiling, crappy anecdote telling, butt nugget and you can see why a few months away could do Sheamus the world of good. Here’s hoping when he comes back WWE give him back some of the edge they have so relentlessly ground down over the last year or so.
So that’s World Wrestling Entertainment dealt with. I wonder what’s been going down over at Total Non-stop Apathy…
For the love of GOD can someone either teach Chris Sabin how to cut a promo or just remove all promo privileges from him? Seriously, his public speaking ability reminds me of performances in a school nativity play – all nervous, monotone and utterly wooden.
He’s THE WORLD CHAMPION for Christ’s sake. If the World Champion can’t cut a convincing promo to get people interested in his matches…HE SHOULDN’T BE WORLD CHAMPION!! Or at the very least he should have someone cutting the promos for him.
You’d think with such great promo guys around him like Bully Ray or Austin Aries that he’d pick up some tips and start improving. Instead he just gets worse with each passing week. The fans aren’t into him as World Champion and the fact that when he speaks he sounds like a terrified teenager, trying to buy booze for the first time, doesn’t exactly help matters.
I used that Total Non-stop Apathy joke at the beginning because there is no other word I can think of that so accurately sums up my feelings on IMPACT at the moment. I don’t like it. I don’t hate it. It’s just ‘there.’ It exists as a TV show but if it wasn’t there, I wouldn’t really miss it. There is nothing that connects with me as a viewer where I have to see what happens next. I have not looked forward to an edition of IMPACT in a long time because I know exactly what is going to happen.
The show has been stuck in the mud for months. Their formula is old and boring. The show has become far too predictable. You can be sure that the following things will happen on IMPACT EVERY DAMN WEEK, maybe not in this order, but they will definitely happen:
A Hulk Hogan promo where someone is declared “the future of this business, brother” and Andre The Giant is referenced.
Great workers won’t be involved in feuds; instead they’ll be used to have good matches that are ultimately pointless.
Great workers will still outshine everyone who is being featured above them.
Christopher Daniels and Kazarian will make you laugh with a promo.
Brick Hogan will fail at acting.
Brick Hogan will tower over most of the roster.
Brick Hogan will say something in an incredibly goofy fashion, if given more than 2 lines to say.
The Knockouts will be the best thing on the show.
Aces and Eights will have a group meeting where they vow to do something later that night, which they then fail to do.
Sting will lead the Main Event Mafia on a tour of the building. His tie will look stupid but not as stupid as Kurt Angle’s American flag sunglasses.
Magnus will be ridiculously good looking. So good looking he distracts you from the rest of the show and leaves you questioning your sexuality.
The Main Event Mafia will have a group meeting where they vow to have a fight with Ace and Eights. Rampage Jackson will look confused throughout the meeting. When he last watched wrestling, wrestlers didn’t pretend to be in the mafia and have meetings – THEY WRESTLED!!
AJ Styles will act like a moody teenager in the dark.
AJ Styles fringe will grow an inch.
AJ Styles will bump his head because he’s always hanging around in the dark.
The crowd will not know how to react to AJ because his character is so poorly defined and performed, so instead they will sit in confused silence.
Mike Tenay will use the word ‘factor’ in a stupid fashion – see last week’s “Sabin is suffering from the look ahead factor.”
Taz will not take anything even remotely seriously.
A MMA guy will appear on the show.
Hulk Hogan will utter the phrase, “cut the crap” just before he makes an important statement.
Duckman will yawn and tweet for 70% of the show.
Ok, that last one doesn’t happen ON the show, but it is as a direct result OF the show.
Oh yeah and there will be more bullshit with Bellator fighters appearing on TNA to promote a PPV that no TNA fans are going to buy. Hey KipSmither, look, I mentioned Bellator again. That must mean it’s time to bring out your tried and tested “didn’t he fight He-Man” joke! Anyway, I’ve gone on about TNMMA enough this week and if I start again today I’ll only end up boring us all more than I already have.
The only good news to come out of TNA this week was the tease that Hulk Hogan: The Movie is in fact a real idea and could become a reality in the near future. Everything about this news is both utterly hilarious and unbelievably terrifying. If you think TNA are being reamed by Bellator to promote their shit, wait till you see what Hogan does if this movie does indeed come about.
The thought of who they could get to play Hogan is endless and will probably just result in Hogan playing himself. Or maybe Brick can cover the early years. A roided up Gary Busey in a bald cap/mullet combo and with a giant fake moustache is my first choice.
The potential for an utter train wreck of a movie is high here, especially if Hogan is involved as a producer (which he certainly will be). I’d imagine we’re talking Sharknado levels of hilarity. I’m not getting my hopes up too much though, whenever Hogan says something, it’s usually a lie. Then again, if it does happen, I’m predicting a clean sweep at the Razzies, brother.
So that’s been the week in WWE and TNA. Like I said earlier, slim pickings. Thankfully, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, New Japan Pro Wrestling have rode in to town to save us from this boring, heatless and unimaginative nonsense. I’m talking about the NJPW G-1 Climax tournament which comes to an end this weekend.
If you’re unfamiliar with the G-1 Climax tournament or even NJPW then you should read this article by my buddy Cool Bryan (http://wrestlingrambles.com/2013/08/09/why-arent-you-watching-new-japan-pro-wrestling/) which gives you a ton of great reasons why you should get familiar with it.
The tournament set up is pretty simple. It’s nine shows over eleven nights. The competitors are split into two blocks and they compete against the other wrestlers in their block in a round robin format. It’s 2 points for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss. The top point scorers from each block then face each other for the Championship on the final show.
The Championship is kind of like WWE’s MITB, in that it allows the winner a World Title shot in the future. Unlike MITB, the Championship match has to be picked ahead of time. So there’s no element of winning a gruelling tournament, beating all your peers and then cashing in like a cowardly bitch when the World Champion is hurt. This is a good thing.
I’m not going to recap the tournament or anything like that. All I’m going to do is direct you to You Tube where you can find most of the shows. Night 2 and Night 4 have been the best so far. The amount of great matches on these shows is almost unbelievable. There have been more stars thrown around following these shows than you find in most galaxies.
The mix of styles, the great crowd heat, the decisive and well booked finishes – all of it has combined to make this one of the best tournaments in NJPW history. If you find yourself bored to tears by WWE and can’t bring yourself to care enough about TNA to watch IMPACT, give the G-1 Climax tournament a try. You won’t regret it.
If you don’t want to watch the full shows, try a couple of these matches out for size:
Night 2 – Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito – the kind of state of the art match that all X-Division title matches should be. It’s high flying, it’s hard hitting, it’s innovative, it’s exciting.
Night 2 – Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada – this is more physical and with little high flying. Instead it’s a bad ass striker in Goto taking on one of the best pure athletes in wrestling today in the IWGP Champion Okada. This match is worth watching just to see Okada’s elbow off the top and his drop kick which is without a doubt the best in the business today.
Night 2 – Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – the plucky, popular and hard hitting underdog Ishii, against the ace of NJPW and the biggest star in Japanese wrestling in Tanahashi. This match will be mentioned a lot in the MOTY voting. Go out of your way to see this. The crowd reaction to the finish is on par with Punk winning in Chicago.
Night 4 – Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata – just an intense, brutal, insane war. The beat down Shibata gives Ishii in the corner with repeated elbow strikes should result in immediate arrest. For what it’s worth, Dave Meltzer gave this match 5 stars in the Observer this week. I can’t argue with that. Another must see.
Night 4 – Prince Devitt vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – two of the best in the world clash in what is a more US style match (tons of interference and a ref bump). Worth watching to see how great Devitt as a heel and how much genuine heat he generates. Tanahashi continues to be the best all round worker in the world today.
Night 4 – Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi – again, another MOTY contender and a great clash of styles. I think out of the twenty plus matches I’ve seen this week, this was the best. So much innovation and a great story told throughout. These two are super talented and Ibushi is having a breakout tournament, especially considering he’s thought of mainly as a light weight high flyer. He more than hangs with Nakamura and his shoot style. Just great stuff.
That should keep you going for a few hours. Seriously, I can’t recommend these matches highly enough. Especially if you’re looking for fantastic in-ring action, without all the added rubbish you get with TNA and WWE. They have been the highlight of my week and they will be yours too.
So, that’s been my week. Hopefully that wasn’t too much of a rehash for you all. I’m expecting better next week with the go-home show for Summerslam and the Hardcore Justice edition of IMPACT. I will no doubt be disappointed but such is the life of a snarkcastic wrestling fan.
Remember, you can follow me on Twitter which is @MFXDuckman and you can listen to me every week on the MFX Podcast. I’m not going to pimp the show too much here. Just check out the most recent one posted on the front page here. It’s a shit ton of fun and will brighten your day.
Thanks for reading and be sure to keep supporting Wrestling Rambles and everyone who contributes here.
Until next time…