Cubed Circle Newsletter Issue #93: New Japan KIZUNA Road, Mark Robinson on TNA, 3 Hour Raws 1 Year Later + Tons More!

Cubed Circle Newsletter – New Japan KIZUNA ROAD


We have a big issue for you this week as promised, as Mark Robinson returns with a look at TNA’s woes, we look at the RAW move to three hours one year on, New Japan announces nine iPPVs in one month, we look at their Kizuna Road iPPV from last weekend, RAW from Monday Night with tons of Daniel Bryan, the ratings that were down slightly from last week, Ben Carass looks at NXT, we look at TNA and its follow-up to Sabin’s world title win, and Ben closes it out with the weekly SmackDown report. All of that and more in this week’s issue. Now that we have all of that out of the way, I hope that you enjoy this week’s newsletter, and have a great week!


— Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor


For a full-colour PDF with pictures click here!


The Trouble With TNA by Mark Robinson


Before I begin with this week’s article, I’d just like to apologise for not having one last week. I recently moved and I’ve still got cardboard boxes stacked up to my eyeballs.


There is a sense of irony in TNA crowning a new world heavyweight champion, who hails from a city that in the same week declared itself bankrupt. But yes, Chris Sabin defeated Bully Ray to become TNA heavyweight champion to an overwhelming response of ‘meh’.


Now let’s get one thing clear: Chris Sabin is a damn fine professional wrestler, and just for the absolute nightmare that must have been the last two years of his career, I see no reason why he shouldn’t have been rewarded with the title. To come back from not one, but two ACL tears is either a showcase of the love and commitment to wrestling that Sabin desires, or is just plain bloody stupid. And regardless of your thoughts on Chris Sabin as a wrestler, performer and personality, the title switch worked in popping a rating.


This all comes at a time though where TNA seems to be having an internal crisis. A number of people from behind the curtains as well as several wrestlers have all been axed or have been granted their request to leave. There are reports of wrestler’s not being paid on time and rumours that morale is at an all time low.


As I said, a lot of this is speculation, but it all fits a little too conveniently with the recent move out of the iMPACT Zone, and life on the road for a weekly wrestling television show isn’t cheap. Every wrestling company needs to make cuts, but why Wes Brisco still has a job is rather baffling. Still, here are five more things TNA can do to save a bit of cash going forward.



1. Strip down the iMPACT tapings to the bare bones.



Sure, you want to look like you’re part of the big leagues, but let’s be honest, putting the curtains up on half of a 5,000 seated arena is just embarrassing. So stick to buildings of 1,500 or so, strip down the entrance ramp and titantron, and just let the in-ring action do all the talking. If this sounds ridiculous, I would like to point you in the direction of Kazuchika Okada V Tetsuya Naito from March 2012. With the additional benefit of being one of the best matches of 2012, it managed to invoke a big-fight heavyweight championship feel from a venue that, at maximum, holds 2,000 people. Yes you need a hot crowd as well, and some cities are better than others, but a smaller, intimate crowd that’s into your show is a hell of a lot livelier than a half-empty arena.



2. Get back in New Japan’s good books.



Between 2005 and 2008, TNA was a North American melting pot of wrestling. Bringing in a plethora of talent like Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroki Goto and Naruki Doi (not New Japan, but you get my point). This in turn gave us fantasy match-ups like Samoa Joe vs. Jushin Liger and AJ Styles vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi; add on top the TNA world X cup tournaments that the company put on (including a stupendous three way elimination tag match from Victory Road 2008) and it’s baffling to see the complete reluctance the company has towards such ventures, and of course the incompetence by the company over the years. Examples include changing the IWGP tag team championships without New Japan’s blessing; Jeff Hardy from the January 4th Tokyo Dome show back in 2011; and having Kazuchika Okada for 18 months and doing absolutely nothing with him. With New Japan being undoubtedly the second biggest wrestling company at the moment, it could be nothing but a positive for TNA to get back on track with New Japan Pro Wrestling.



3. Get back in Ring of Honor’s good books.



As well as cross-exchanging talent with New Japan, TNA and Ring of Honor had a pretty good working agreement for a while. And while ROH’s roster has been extracted thin by WWE and TNA over the past few years, there is a still a number of tag teams and wrestlers that the company could use to fill out the roster with.



4. Sort out the sodding X-Division.



We could sit here all day and argue about whether the X-Division is the way to lead TNA into the Promised Land, but there’s no doubting the entertainment that the division provides. And during the company’s heyday, the amount of incredible matches that were put forth rivalled that achieved by the WCW cruiserweight division of the mid to late 90’s. The biggest issues currently lie in the lack of consistency to the roster – oh and every match being a triple threat. Each year with the Destination X presentation, TNA provides a showcase for a whole bunch of talented wrestlers, what is the reasoning for not allowing them the chance to shine the rest of the year?


Even giving a guy like Jigsaw (Rubix) a shot every few weeks can be nothing but a benefit. And it’s a level of massive ignorance that the company hasn’t been snapping up talent like El Generico and PAC to help bolster the division over the last few years?



5. Oh they fired Jesse Sorensen? Well let the company die already then.




The Big RAW Move – 156 Hours Later


On July 23rd 2012, pretty much one year ago this week, the WWE put on what was perhaps the largest edition of RAW over the past few years — RAW 1000. The show featured many of the bigger angles leading into the later stages of 2012, including the announcement that Rock would challenge for the WWE championship at the start of this year. However, what was an even larger news story than the WWE’s big show was the fact that RAW 1000 would be the first in a long line of three hour shows, in fact the company was moving its flagship show to a three hour format permanently.


The move in 2012, and still even a year later, is met with much criticism. At the time, many people including myself, touted it as a move that would only last a few months, one that was short sided, and had little upside. As we moved into the months of heavy competition, football season and the like, there seemed to be a major problem, as not only had the product suffered as a whole, but the ratings were falling dramatically with a new fifteen year low established just about every week. It looked like a failing experiment that would send the company to a very bad place if they were not careful, but one year on is that still the case? Has the move to three hours been a net negative for the WWE product?


There are no plans from a WWE perspective to move back to the two hour format, and it is for that reason that the above questions are of even greater relevance. From a simple fan perspective the three hour format is a mixed bag. I will admit it, when the move first came about, and for the many months that followed, I was a huge detractor of the three hour format. However, now that the product seems to be hotter than it has been in a long time, and they have some great workers in top positions, we are able to get great matches on TV every week, which is something that couldn’t be said for RAW in its old form. Is this due to the nature of the product? Of course. And as we have seen when the product is not so hot, it can be more than a drag. However, right now the product is good, and they have some great workers, so in that sense the move to three hours is a definite positive.


There are many areas where it certainly falls short. When speaking of the hot product, I would bet that the show from an angle driven standpoint would be far better under a two hour format. The undercard angles wouldn’t get as much time as they do now, which would certainly be a negative, but the angles that received a decent amount of time would be more concentrated and impactful than they are now. A move to two hours would also help with crowd reactions outside of the north east, as in most areas the crowd burns out for large sections of the show, and doesn’t react as well to angles that should come off stronger than they do.


When looking at it from a business perspective there are a couple of additional points to keep in mind, the first of which is in regard to rights fees. Obviously, the first and main point to bring up is that they are generating additional revenue by running another hour, and that additional revenue is probably enough to circumvent many of the negatives that they are experiencing. However, when it comes to the ratings, if you look at them from month to month, and quarter to quarter, there is a slow decline in viewership, and part of that is certainly due to the third hour.


Things are different for hardcore fans, they will stick around regardless of most outside factors, and while they are a good base to have, you have to heavily cater to the casual market, otherwise you simply aren’t going to be able to put on a product like WWE’s. I believe that the casual fan, who watches RAW because it is something that’s on TV, and pretty much just another piece of programming, isn’t going to sit through three hours most likely. If you look at the quarter hours it is more apparent now than perhaps in any time over the past few years that the casual fan chooses their spots. They will come in at the beginning, leave, come back for the 21:00 segment, leave, come back again for the 22:00…and so on. That was a trend that would have taken place regardless of the move to three hours, but it is a process sped up by the move.


The other big concern when the move to three hours was first announced was the effects that it would have on the pay-per-view business. The concern was that with over three hours of first run, cannon level programming, there was little incentive for the casual fan to bite and buy B shows, or even a larger show like a Summerslam or Survivor Series. Has that been the case? I don’t believe that there is all too much evidence to support that argument. After all, the buy-rates for many of the B shows have been up marginally from either their 2011 or 2012 counterparts, which would mean that it hasn’t had a great effect on that aspect of the business a year in.


There were many people at the time who also equated this move to a similar decision that WCW made with its flagship show, Nitro, in 1998 with its move to three hours — a move that served as one of the many bad executive decisions that killed the company, and that is the key. It wasn’t simply the move to three hours that killed Nitro, but a host of terrible decisions, especially in 1998 when many of the warning signs were already out in full force. Of course, there is also the argument that WCW was doing well in its move to three hours, and then when overexposure took hold it was too late; the company was already in horrid financial condition, but I don’t see that being the case with WWE. Then there is also the fact that they are the only game in town, which already makes the RAW/Nitro comparison far less analogous.


Would I like to see RAW move back to a two hour format at this point? Well, it would make my life easier, and Tuesdays would become more manageable. Plus, when RAW isn’t so hot, moving into the post-22:00 hour makes every minute literally feels like five, however, the situation is not all bad. As we discussed above, the three hour format, particularly over the past few months, has given us some great matches that we wouldn’t have gotten in the past. And I think that is the key to three hours, they need to put on long matches with important angles in-between, as the constant angle approach tends to burn people out faster.


The reality is that I wouldn’t complain at all if RAW moved back, in fact in some ways I think that it would be a major positive. However, it is shortsighted to think of this format as a harsh and absolute evil, because looking at it objectively it isn’t. We have been handed some great matches as a result of the move, and who knows how the last year would have played out if RAW was simply a two hour product. It is possible that many of the key members of the roster over the past year wouldn’t have been given their big opportunities without the three hour format. So to answer the question, is it a net negative? No, and it isn’t the opposite either. When the product is good, then it is a fine move and nobody will complain, and when the product is not so good it will become the cancer killing the company — that’s the way that wrestling fans, and people in general react. Three hour RAWs are neither positive nor negative, but rather a mixture of both, a tool if you will – and it should be observed as such.


New Japan Deliver Intense iPPV Schedule


I have been asking myself a question quite a few times over the past week, an important question, and that question simply is how much is too much? How much is too much, New Japan, or puro in general? Well, any rational human being would state with confidence that under ideal circumstances, in a perfect world, there is no such thing, you simply can’t have too much Japanese pro-wrestling. I have heard of this mystical burnout, but haven’t experienced it yet. So surely I was overjoyed when New Japan announced earlier this week that all nine G1 shows would be on iPPV…well, kind of.


The original iPPV G1 show announced by New Japan was the big show from the Osaka Bodymaker Coliseum, which was great news given that we normally don’t even get to see the G1 until months later, but the majority of the fanbase was clamoring for more. The other two major shows of the tournament the August 1st opening show from Act City Hamamatsu and the August 11th final night show from Sumo Hall hadn’t been announced yet, causing a bit of a scare given that some people reckoned that the shows simply wouldn’t be placed on iPPV – boy were we wrong.


As it turns out, as we mentioned earlier, every single show will be on iPPV, either individually or as a bundle that works out slightly cheaper at $150 for all nine shows. Now heading back to our original question, and hence our original answer, is this overkill? We have a clear cut answer to that question already, and that answer is a resounding “no”, but I would like to go back a little, didn’t I say “under ideal circumstances”?


That’s thing, in an ideal world with an infinite amount of time, and money (specifically the latter), I would have no problem ordering this show, but we don’t live in an ideal world, and in the end this will become an issue. I would find the time to watch all of the shows, but with the exchange rate being what it is (not very good over here by the way), $150 is a lot of money, and I don’t know if I will be willing to pay that for many of the less remarkable G1 shows.


When it comes to actually buying shows my limit is probably four, and I am still going to purchase four shows most likely, the opening night, the Osaka show, the final and one of the other nights depending on which one I find the most interesting. However, I am not going to be ordering all of these shows. That isn’t to say that some people won’t, but they didn’t need to place every one of these shows on iPPV.


The other question to be asked here is whether or not they are going to burn out their audience with this many iPPVs, and remember that the main audience for New Japan is not the international market, but the domestic one. In a vacuum I really don’t view this as overkill, as the G1 is the kind of wrestling tournament akin to a major sporting league (and I don’t really follow sports, so forgive me if this is a gross misrepresentation of reality), in that they are basically selling a season ticket to all of the games, a once off package that is done once a year, and as such it really is a perfectly fine idea.


To be honest I would have preferred it if they were running between four or five shows as opposed to nine, but then again that is probably because I am simply not going to be able to follow those shows. I have seen the argument tossed around that by having so many shows in such a short period of time you run the risk of burning the audience out, and more importantly showing that not all of your iPPVs are must see, but I don’t see that as the case.


What is going to make the audience view the iPPVs as not being must see events is not going to be this run of G1 shows, as the G1 is special, but it is going to have to do more with what comes after the G1. If they run a show every month to six weeks or so things should be fine, and I would be happy with a number closer to once a month (from a business perspective). If they decide to go the “two shows a month” route, then they definitely run the risk of undermining the value of their iPPVs, which we have seen across pro-wrestling and MMA countless times in the past.


So far the only other post-G1 iPPVs announced are the ‘King of Pro-Wrestling’ show on October 14th (right smack dab in the middle of exam season), and an iPPV in November and December. The November show will probably be a show similar in nature to the Tanahashi/Yujiro show from last year, where they don’t risk too much heading into the Dome. The December show will be a Tag League show, which doesn’t have me very excited, as last year’s Tag League final was perhaps the weakest iPPV that the company has ever put on.


There is going to be a lot to do and see heading into this year’s G1 season, and it is perhaps one of the best times to be a fan outside of Japan with the amount of content we are receiving this year. The fact that we are going to be getting the opener, finals and Osaka show is more than enough for me, and everything else just seems like a bonus. I am sure that if you pick and choose you are bound to discover some gems this year, there’s no way that you couldn’t with this line-up.




New Japan Yoshinoya Presents Kizuna Road July 20th 2013

Akita Municipal Gymnasium, Akita, Japan


0. Gedo, Jado, Yujiro Takahashi & YOSHI HASHI vs. Tomoaki Honma, KUSHIDA, Tiger Mask & Manabu Nakanishi


There is now a “Nakanishi Lando” t-shirt complete with bloody handprint out, which Nogami was holding up – if only…They did the majority of the usual pre-show, preliminary spots, including the delayed Jado Flair flop, chops and brawling out on the floor. Like Ishii and his prelim stint, Honma was far and away the most over person in the match, and likewise the most talented. After the heel foursome landed their big moves, the faces did the same and Nakanishi finished Jado off with a spinning overhead chop from the top – I don’t think that I have ever been that scared that someone was going to hurt themselves over a middle rope overhead chop.



1. IWGP Junior Tag Team Title Match

Forever Hooligans (Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov) vs.TAKA Michinoku & Taichi


It was quite a strange situation here, because the music of Michinoku & Taichi was muted, but the Forever Hooligans came down to Rick Ross music, not their new music, and it was not muted.. Koslov saying the national anthem as always, but this time held a note for very long – Taka & Taichi even clapped. They then began to sing the Japanese anthem before taking Koslov and Romero down with a cheap shot. While this was a heel/heel match it was quite apparent that the Hooligans were the faces here. They did a lot of comedy and heelish spots that you would expect out of Taichi and TAKA, fake handshakes, distractions, eye rakes and the like. Koslov did a couple of Katska kicks on Taka and went for a dive, but was clubbed with a chair by Taichi before he could make it. Taka then proceeded to land kazatzka kicks of his own before passing Taichi the same hat. Taichi landed the Romero style repeating lariats in the corner for two while Romero himself waited out on the arpon. Koslov caught a Taichi kazatzka kick before landing an enzuigiri. He almost made the tag to Romer, but TAKA pulled him off at the last possible moment. Koslov finally made the tag following an enzuigiri and ran wild. The tags were made to Taichi and Koslov soon after. They went for the doomsday, and Koslov kicking out of a Gedo clutch was the first spot that really brought the crowd to life. Taichi landed a series of powerbombs and got the swan clutch, but Romero ran in to break it up. Taichi was dropped to the floor for a tope, Michinoku shot out soon after, and everyone was knocked down by a Koslov tope con giro. Koslov landed a 450 on Taicho for two, but this time TAKA was in to break it up. Taichi countered an elbow, and grabbed another clutch, but still Koslov kicked out. This allowed TAKA to be dropped down for the floor, and Romero and Koslov landed the contract killer for the win in 17:27. I think that this match would have benefited from a few fewer minutes, as while the crowd was not dead at any portion, if they had gone shorter the crowd reactions would have been better. Still, this was a very fun match. After the match Romero thanked Akita and proclaimed that they would be champions forever.

*** ½


2. Minoru Suzuki vs. Tomohiro Ishii


Ishii and Suzuki immediately got into each other’s faces and went straight at it as the bell sounded. Suzuki locked in an armbar in the ropes and worked over the arm out on the floor. Suzuki locked in another figure four on the apron, and got a smirk across his face, which popped the crowd. Suzuki grabbed another armbar in the ring, but Ishii made it to the ropes. Ishii fired back with an elbow and scoop slam, which was the spot that woke up a crowd that had been quiet for the first period of the match. Ishii fired off with chops and forearms, not to the reaction you would have expected. Ishii pulled a tongue, which Ishii soon clobbered out of him. Suzuki locked the sleeper in and dragged Ishii to the mat. Ishii began to face, but got his foot on the bottom rope. Suzuki was doing an Anderson Silva like gimmick, dodging every one of Ishii’s shots and killing him with slaps. Ishii managed to fire back with a headbutt. He went for a sleeper, but Ishii landed an enzuigiri. Suzuki went for the piledriver, Ishii dropped him back on his head, and fired off with two big lariats for two. They exchanged elbows, until Suzuki landed a headbutt. Ishii came back with a slap, but Suzuki landed a dropkick. Then in a really clever spot Ishii went for a headbutt, but was caught with a slap, and then met his demise at the hands of a suspended Gotch piledriver in 11:51. It’s a shame that this exact same match wasn’t in front of a better crowd, as it could have legitimately been near match of the year contention. It was still great, and the finish was very clever, but they didn’t have the crowd eating out of their hands like they would in most other cities.



They did a very Josh Matthews/WWE inspired segment with El Terrible welcoming the interviewer into the Bullet Club locker room. Devitt was asked how he felt, and he answered in a very patronizing manner that he was feeling great. He was asked his thoughts on Okada and they did a joking rainmaker with Anderson. He was asked his thoughts on the criticism of the Club, and he simply said that they were real. He was then chucked out. This was simply tremendous; worth the price of the show alone.


3. IWGP Tag Team Championship Match

Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka


I had my usual “this was the same match that we see every time” description lined up, and it looked like it was going to be just that, but the two teams brawled to a double count out. Kojima & Tenzan then called Yano Iizuka back, so that they could have a match fitting of the previous description. They did all of the usual spots, the turnbuckle pad was removed, Iizuka and Yano worked over Tenzan with cheap heelish tactics, until Kojima was brought in and met the same date – rinse and repeat. Iizuka got the iron fingers out, but was foiled and caught with the 3D, but the referee was pulled out of the ring. Kojima landed lariats on both men, handcuffed Yano to the ring post and Tenzan pinned Iizuka with a moonsault, which is a finish that we certainly don’t see too often.

* ¾


There was a backstage segment in Okada’s locker room. Gedo said the majority of the meaningful stuff I would presume.


4. NEVER Championship Match

Masato Tanaka vs. Tetsuya Naito


Naito and Tanaka went at it with a great exchange before going to the outside with a strike exchange. Naito landed a big running dropkick from the top of the ramp. Tanaka then murdered Naito with a kendo stick shot straight to the head – the top of the stick actually exploded just about with this shot. Next Naito was placed on a table out on the floor. He went for a superplex through it, but was hung up and placed on the table once more. This time Tanaka managed a splash through the entire thing. Tanaka then landed a big stiff running elbow in the ring, really doing wonders for poor Naito. Tanaka was bullying Naito around, which once again was one of those things that just didn’t get the reaction you would have expected. Tanaka slapped a limp Naito around in the corner, Naito responded and was able to land a neckbreaker. Naito landed a big frankensteiner and dropkick. Tanaka threw Naito from post to post, each time catching him with a rigged forearm or lariat. Naito then ducked the sliding D, and landed a bridging German suplex for two followed by a dragon suplex for two. Tanaka avoided the stardust press before landed a release German and lariat. Naito grabbed a rollup for two, but was caught with a big lariat for two. This allowed Tanaka to hit the sliding D for two and a pop. Tanaka then landed a second Sliding D for the win in 11:50. Much like the Suzuki match this was an an exceptionally worked match, but while the crowd was into it they weren’t into it enough to bring it to the level of great.

*** ¾


5. IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. La Sombra


Nakamura was wearing red tights, which made a nice change from his usual black pants. They had a very fun little hold exchange to start the match off. La Sombra landed some shots that rang throughout the arena like gunshots. Sombra went for a tope, but was caught with a leaping high kick and knee on the apron. Nakamura then landed a corkscrew plancha of his own, which was uber impressive. Sombra landed some more loud chops, but Shinsuke remained unphased and dropped him with a kick. Sombra shot out with a beautiful tope and both men were left laying on the outside. Sombra then landed a split legged moonsault that he dropped into in the most flashy manner. Nakamura landed a big single leg dropkick before being dropped with a Sombra powerbomb. They had a chest slap and forearm battle, Sombra the proceeded to scale the scaffolding, which he proceeded to land a perfect moonsault off of. A straight jacket German followed, Sombra went for a tumbling moonsault, but Nakamura got the knees up and landed a codebreaker. Nakamura went for the boma ye, Sombra countered, but was caught with a knee drop. Nakamura went for an armbar, but was dropped in an armbar slam. The referee counted two and was shoved. Nakamura then managed to counter a dropkick, and once again went for the springboard boma ye and slipped – stop doing that stupid move! He then landed a second rope boma ye followed by a regular one for the win in 13:59 This was a very good match, wacky slip up aside. Nakamura and Sombra had this crowd so into the match, and this was a crowd that wasn’t into some of the great stuff before it. I am not a huge Lucha fan, but Sombra is tremendous.



6. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jushin Thunder Liger, Togi Makabe & Captain New Japan vs. Karl Anderson, El Terrible, Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale


The two best workers in the match, Tanahashi and Anderson started off. Anderson played the air guitar, and I must tell you that he is no Tanahashi when playing the air guitar. Makabe and Tonga were in next, and the crowd was once again very alive. Things broke down from there as Liger decided to land a baseball slide on Anderson and Tonga. Anderson went for one on Liger, but caught Fale and Liger landed a senton off the apron. Liger was the subject of the Bullet Club’s thuggery this time around, as he was worked on by the Bullet Club. Makabe was tagged in, but soon he was singled out. He made the tg to New Japan, with only Liger on the apron cheering him on. Terrible was caught with a Tanahashi dragon screw. Makabe took out Fale and Anderson and Fale was dropped to the floor. Tanahashi then landed the high fly flow on Terrible for the win in 12:07. Tanahashi did his air guitar on the way out.

** ½


7. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hirooki Goto


Goto went straight after Shibata before he had even removed his ring jacket. Shibata fired back with a back suplex, Shibata landed one of his own. Goto went for a soccer kick, but Shibata rolled out to the floor. Goto landed some stiff kicks to Goto’s chest. Shibata grabbed a figure four, Goto reversed the pressure and Shibata brought it back numerous times before Goto made it to the ropes. Shibata bludgeoned Goto with elbows, incredibly stiff shots for weak reaction here. Shibata landed a diving dropkick, followed by a crossface, but Goto made it to the ropes. Goto landed a lariat before the two went at it in a big slap battle. The two went back and forth with lariats and large boots, but neither would give. Shibata landed three backdrops before they did the same back drop spot as last time to applause. Shibata as on the apron when he was caught with a lariat to the back. The two fought on the top rope, Goto went for the top rope fireman’s carry over the knee neckbreaker, but couldn’t grab all of it and ended up not making contact with the knee. Goto landed the front facing Shouten for two to chants of his name. Shibata landed a rifle kick right to the chest. They teased the double count out spot again, but Shibata made it up at, nine – this spot worked well. Unlike in the last match, it was Goto who was landing the headbutts this time. Shibata was able to still land another headbutt for a second double down and this time it was the finish – this finish was very much overdone.

*** ½


8. Yuji Nagata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba


Before the match they showed clips of Sakuraba and Nagata during the UWFi/NJPW feud, which I thought was great. They started off with an MMA style grappling battle with Nagata attempting to get inside of the guard of Nagata. Sakuraba began to land his signature Mongolian chops from inside of Nagata’s guard. They did some great slap exchanges too. There were long segments on nothing much happening with Sakuraba backing off before Nagata unloaded with some big strikes. Sakuraba took Nagata to the mat. Nagata went after Sakuraba’s arm, and locked in the demon armbar. Sakuraba took Nagata back down where Nagata tried for a kimura, but Sakuraba grabbed an armbar for the win in 10:12. The crowd didn’t not react for this one, and it was a very unique match, but for it to work it would have needed to have been in an Osaka or Tokyo show. Nagata denied Sakuraba a handshake, so Sakuraba offered the pinky and Nagata accepted.

*** ½


9. IWGP Heavyweight Title Match

Kazuchika Okada w/ Gedo vs. Prince Devitt w/ Karl Anderson, Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga


Before the match they aired a really effective video package. The fans were super behind Okada. Devitt ducked the rainmaker, and Okada was able to avoid a high kick. Okada went for his basement dropkick on Devitt, but was pulled out by Fale allowing for a double foot stomp between the apron and Fale. Devitt removed the turnbuckle pad behind the back of the referee. Anderson assisted Devitt in administering an abdominal stretch, which made the Okada chants even louder. Devitt did the rain maker pose and Gedo jumped up on the apron allowing for a powerbomb on the apron from Anderson. Okada fought back with some elbows and sent Devitt into his own exposed turnbuckle. Okada did a kip-up, which is certainly new. Okada landed his elbow and got ready for the rainmaker. However, Devitt countered into a roll-up, and landed his tope con giro. Devitt caught Okada with a double foot stomp and planted Okada with a bloody Sunday for two. Devitt missed the stomp and was caught with the belly to back over the shoulder over the knee neckbreaker for two. A forearm exchange followed, and Okada perched Devitt on the top rope before landing a straight vertical drop kick that sent Devitt sliding down onto the apron. Okada then landed a tope con giro, yes, O…KA…DA…landed a tope con giro! Okada locked in Red Ink, but evitt made it out. There was a ref bump against the exposed turnbuckle, which made me realize that it isn’t only fans outside of Japan who call him red shoes, but also the commentator. Devitt brought in some chairs and the Club ran in, but Okada cleared house. Fale went for the spike on Okada, Gedo dived in for the save, looked like he was going to be spiked, but Okada dropkicked Fale out of the ring. Devitt countered a tombstone into one of his own and landed the double stomp on a chair for two. Devitt landed a lariat, and they exchanged finish attempts, Devitt blocked the rainmaker, but Okada landed a dropkick and the tombstone followed by the rainmaker for the win in 19:14. After the match Okada thanked Gedo

**** ¼


WWE Monday Night RAW July 22nd 2013

Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas


Overall Thoughts:


While this week’s show was nowhere near as good as last week’s incredible show from Brooklyn it was still an enjoyable show, and the majority of the big segments were really performed well. However, there were patches in the middle that brought the show done from great to simply good. One very large improvement that the WWE has made to its three hour shows as of late is that they are doing much longer matches, which ultimately makes the show feel shorter. The mainevent match, well I guess the second mainevent match, between Bryan and Cesaro was the kind of match that you would have expected on a New Japan show, and was one of the better TV matches of the entire year. There was also a tremendous promo spot between Heyman and Punk, and a segment that I personally loved with Henry & the Usos together with the Shield. Obviously there was one of the worst segments of the year in the Total Divas Miz TV spot, but the positives ultimately outweighed the negatives when it came to this show.


Brad Maddox made it out with a drum roll just like last week. He announced the official contract signing for Summerslam right then and there, which was a rather interesting placement on the show. Maddox questioned Cena’s choice in Bryan, and Cena stated that it was because of the fans who wanted to see Cena/Bryan. Maddox brought up all of Bryan’s storyline shortcomings including the fact that he couldn’t hold a relationship together, on the same show that they plugged Total Divas mind you. This brought out Bryan to a very good ovation, not on the level of Brooklyn or anywhere close, but still sizeable. There were loud chants of his name. Cena called the people that Maddox worked for “dumb asses”, and spoke about how size was not everything and brought up Michaels, Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero. Cena said that he would not hand Bryan the title, and signed; saying that even the best competition wouldn’t be good enough to beat him. Maddox interrupted Bryan. and was sternly reprimanded. However, Maddox said that everyone didn’t think that Bryan deserved it, some did, but many didn’t. Maddox then said that Bryan would have more than one match that night. Maddox chanted “no” to the question of whether or not Bryan would survive and Bryan as well as the crowd responded with chants of “yes”. I liked this segment, although it seemed like a rather strange time to do a contract signing, both this far out and at this time in the show.


Sheamus and Del Rio made it out for a singles match. The back of Sheamus’ leg was very blue, even two weeks removed from the Money in the Bank show. JBL once again called Del Rio a “four time Mexican champion”, what is that, and when did Del Rio win it? Never…yes? Sandow was shown watching from the back. Sheamus landed some stiff shots fighting Del Rio off. Sheamus went for a brogue kick later on, was superkicked in the knee, but he countered the armbreaker into an attempted white noise. Sheamus’ leg buckled and Del Rio grabbed a crucifix for the win. Once again they really kicked off the show with a very good longer match, which is ultimately the best way to do these long shows. Plus, the match made Del Rio look strong with a semi-clean win over an injured Sheamus. Booker T and Teddy Long were standing by backstage for an interview spot. Booker said that he respected the choice to make Vickie GM, but was shocked. Long said that he took some serious punishment when Booker was out, and he was kicked out for his trouble, The two bickered back and forth, and Long concluded that Vince made the right decision not placing Booker in the role. Christian was out for a match with Titus ‘O Neal. Christian won an average match with the killswitch after carrying Titus. Ryback was standing by backstage with Matthews. Matthews asked if Ryback liked to intimidate people, which led to Ryback proclaiming that he hates “average” and then chased Josh off – I guess Ryback is upset that he can’t attain that status. Henry made it out talking about how he was from Texas for a big pop. He was proud of the effort that he put into his match with Cena and called the Shield out. Henry smirked, but was beaten down even with the crowd behind him. This brought the Usos down and they cleaned house. I loved this segment, Henry was just so great, and it got me so excited for the six-man at Summerslam.


Bryan was warming up backstage when Cena came by saying that he thought that the matches later on were a wish from above. Bryan wanted to prove that he belonged, he would fight, and he would win. If Cena interfered it would mean nothing, and therefore he requested that Cena not interfere. Darren Young made it out for a match with Dolf Ziggler. The fans were into Ziggler here with a quick win with the zig zag. After the match Langston ran out with AJ for a beatdown, but Ziggler outsmarted Langston and ran off; something that I don’t think is going to work in the babyface capacity. There was the return of the WWE app tutorial, because wrestling fans are stupid you see. There was another young superstar Summerslam commercial. Miz was in the ring for Miz TV and the cast of Total Divas. Good lord…they first aired a trailer with some Bella hijinks – basically some very awkward acting centered around how one Bella thought that the new lady looked like her, and how angry she was over this. Jerry Lawler introduced himself to the two of the new divas, he then turned to Eva Maria (I don’t really know what her name was supposed to be, since they called her Eva Marie, Eva Marie and Eva Maria on the same show) , she slapped Lawler saying that she was unhappy with the way that he looked at her and the segment ended, just like that – well that was terribly over scripted and unneeded. How this show will succeed in any way I do not know?


Maddox was on the phone backstage when Triple H came by. He asked if Maddox didn’t think that Bryan was championship material, and said that Vince put words in his mouth. He didn’t care what “the old man” thought. Hunter didn’t want to override Maddox’ decisions, because Bryan could overcome anything. He said that there were two trains the one was heading for the future, and the other leading to a dead end. Stephanie came by saying that she had an idea for the future. There was a great Wyatt Family recap video. Fandango and Rhodes made it out for a match with Sandow on commentary. At one point Cody went to land a moonsault to a standing Fandango, who literally had to leap in the way to land it cleanly. Rhodes took both Fandango and Sandow out with a disaster kick when Sandow leaped on the apron. Rhodes then landed his neckbreaker for the win.


Punk made it out to address the Lesnar/Heyman situation. Punk had taken Lesnar’s best and was still standing. Punk mentioned Lesnar’s UFC reign, and basically said that it was Lesnar’s most important accolade, over the WWE title mind you. He also used the word “b**ch” again. He mentioned all the people Lesnar had destroyed, but his biggest weapon of all was fear. He then yelled with great conviction that he was not afraid of Lesnar. He said that Heyman would regret his choice for the rest of his life, because he would make Lesnar disappear again, because the ring was his home. He had taken it to Undertaker, proven it against Cena, Triple H and others. There would not be a third time, a promise he would take to his grave. Monsters were put on Earth for one reason to be slaughtered – a great line. He wanted Lesnar at Summerslam, he wanted the best versus the beast. Heyman appeared “via satellite”. Heyman ran down Texas. Heyman asked if Punk was a coward or fool. Heyman said that Lesnar was in the best fighting shape of his life, and said Punk was in terrible shape – challenge accepted. Heyman said that the best was the beast, Lesnar’s best friend in the world, Brock Lesnar. This was a great segment, given that we are only in week two of this angle I can’t wait to see where they go next, as these two, most likely the two best promos in the business, are given as free a reign as you can have in 2013, and they deliver week in and week out. Tremendous work.


Barrett was out for a match with Van Dam. Van Dam pinned poor Barrett with the five star frog splash. Bryan made it out for his gauntlet match. Swagger, Cesaro and Colter made it out first, and Colter went on about all the wrongs of Texas. Swagger was in, and the fans chanted that Oklahoma sucked. Bryan submitted Swagger with relatively little effort, before Cesaro was brought in straight after. If you had told 2006 me that Claudio Castagnoli and Bryan Danielson would have been at the top of a RAW card, having an ROH match, I don’t know how I would have reacted. Cesaro landed a Swagger assisted uppercut off of a Cesaro distraction. They had some awesome spots like an uppercut and forearm exchange with Cesaro murdering Bryan. Bryan fired back with some elbows and and reigned some elbows down on the mat. Bryan then shot out with tope on Swagger and Cesaro. Cesaro went for the uppercut, but Bryan dropped down into a small package in an awesome match for the time that they got (****). I doubt that it will make much difference, but I really hope that they take note of Cesaro after this. Before the break Maddox was backstage with what looked to be Alex Riley for no reason, and basically said that the next one would be tough. After the break Ryback came down. Bryan landed leg kicks straight out of the gate, but Ryback soon got the advantage shouting that Bryan was a little man in a big man’s world. There were loud “you can’t wrestle”, chants. Bryan locked in a Boston crab, but Ryback made it to the ropes. Bryan was still able to land a couple of dropkicks, but was dropped down with a clothesline. Ryback grabbed a table, but Bryan shot out with another tope. Bryan unloaded with the yes kicks and grabbed a rollup for two before going for the yes lock, but Ryback powered out. Bryan continued to fight back, landing a big missile dropkick for two. Bryan took a rough powerbomb out on the floor before being powerbombed through a table for the DQ. Cena ran down for the save, and Cena wanted a tables match before Ryback walked off – well we have already seen that before; in fact that is the dark mainevent after most RAW shows. Vince came by Maddox in the back, and he asked about Bryan not having competition next week. He he wanted Bryan to face someone bigger than him, faster, a friend – and Brad booked Kane. It was strange that they didn’t play up Cena coming to help Bryan more, since it was mentioned at the start of the program, but it might come up next week. If you watch one thing from this entire show it should be Bryan/Cesaro.


RAW Ratings for July 22nd 2013


This week’s edition of RAW was down slightly from last week doing a 2.95 rating and averaging 4.00 million viewers over the three hours. It wasn’t going up against major competition, but it wasn’t as much of a hot show as last week’s show from Brooklyn. The more important pattern to look at here is the fact that their top hour was the second and not the third this week, breaking from what has been quite a positive pattern over the past few weeks.


The show opened at a slightly below average 2.99 with the Cena/Bryan contract signing with Brad Maddox. The Sheamus/Alberto Del Rio match that followed lost 191,000 viewers. Surprisingly enough, Christian versus Titus ‘O Neal of all matches gained 85,000 viewers. The Mark Henry/Shield segment, and the Darren Young/Ziggler before the post-match with Langston at 21:00 gained a strong 373,000 viewers to a 3.19 rating, something that you wouldn’t expect from the performers and matches involved.


The 20:00 to 21:00 hour drew 3.92 million viewers (a 1.3 and 1.609 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, sixth for the night on cable behind Family Guy and Hit the Floor).


The post-match with the Langston beatdown and Total Divas Miz TV segment lost 125,000 viewers, which was a far better number that what I would have expected. The Brad Maddox segment backstage with Triple H and Stephanie lost a further 251,000 viewers. Then in another surprise, Cody Rhodes and Fandango gained 4,000 viewers. At 22:00 the CM Punk/Heyman interview segment gained 201,000 viewers to 3.07 quarter.


The 21:00 to 22:00 hour drew 4.16 million viewers (a 1.4 and 1.781 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, second for the night on cable behind Love & Hip-Hop).


In the post 22:00 segment Rob Van Dam versus Wade Barrett, and Daniel Bryan versus Jack Swagger lost 295,000 viewers. Daniel Bryan verus Antonio Cesaro then gained 150,000 viewers, which is a segment that loses a fair amount of viewers most weeks. Finally, the Daniel Bryan/Ryback match, with Cena making it down for the save, and Brad Maddox & Vince booking next week’s mainevent gained 331,000 viewers to a 3.20 rating. That isn’t a terrible overrun, but I would consider it weak.


The 22:00 to 23:09 drew 3.93 million viewers (a 1.4 and 1.079 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, third for the night behind the second hour). The demos for the show were as follows: a 2.3 in males 18-49, a 2.3 in male teenagers, a 0.9 in females 18-49, and a 0.9 in female teenagers.


As a quick extra note, as you may have noticed, for the past couple of weeks we have had the 18-49 rating, but not the viewership…well…here is that data:



20:00-21:00: 1,859,000

21:00-22:00: 1,968,000

22:00-23:09: 2,035,000



20:00-21:00: 1,721,000

21:00-22:00: 2,028,000

22:00-23:07: 2,084,000



20:00-21:00: 1,497,000

21:00-22:00: 1,672,000

22:00-23:10: 1,775,000


WWE – NXT. July 24th 2013.

Full Sail University, Florida.

Ben Carass.


A video hyping the final of the NXT women’s title tournament got us started this week. They showed footage of each diva going over in their respective semi-finals, interspersed with sit-down promos from the girls. Emma said she danced her way to the final, while Paige stated she would win, because she was a fighter and Emma was a dancer.

Tom Phillips and Brad Maddox bumbled their way through welcoming viewers to the show then Emma made her wacky entrance. Paige got her usual warm reception from the Florida crowd and Byron Saxton made the in-ring introductions.


NXT Women’s Championship Tournament Final: Paige vs. Emma


There were loud duelling chants for each woman at the start and both girls scored a couple of near falls during the opening stages. Paige fought up from a hammerlock and landed a headbutt, but Emma countered a backslide into a tarantula, which Tom Phillips called: “the tul-Emma”, seriously the man actually said that. Paige sent Emma through the ropes with a kick to the gut as a somewhat unspectacular commercial lead-in spot. After the break, Paige worked over Emma with some holds and got a two count off a bridging fisherman-suplex then continued with some more less than thrilling offence. Emma finally came back to land her low cross-body in the corner to get a near-fall then they played off the finish of Emma’s semi-final win over Summer Rae with the same sunset-flip reversal spot, which only got two. Emma took over for a while then Paige fought up from a waistlock to land a series of back elbows in the corner and followed up by applying a sloppy cloverleaf. Emma fought out then tried for the Muta-lock, however Paige rolled to the apron where she delivered a headbutt and multiple knee strikes. Emma cut Paige off on the top to deliver a superplex; the spot rather generously got a “this is awesome” chant and Paige got her foot on the rope to prevent the pinfall. The finish saw Paige hit a couple of kicks then the lightening spiral to get the three.


Paige defeated Emma via pinfall, at 8:49 (TV Time) to become the first NXT Women’s Champion.


Paige cried and celebrated with her new belt then all of the divas in the back came down to congratulate her; even heels like Rosa and Alicia Fox were out there. Triple H pulled a Hulk Hogan and the familiar refrain of Motörhead rang throughout Full Sail University. In all seriousness, Trips raised Paige’s hand then quickly got out of there and left the new champ sobbing in the ring.


Both women worked very hard and the time given to the match was admirable, however the match was quite boring up until the superplex spot. The previous 7 minutes consisted of poorly executed rest holds and sloppily performed spots. Both of the girls basically took it in turns to get the heat and make a little comeback then they went into the near-falls and the finish came somewhat anti-climatically. Still, they tried to tell a story and get over the importance of victory to each woman with a lot more pinfall attempts than you normally see in NXT matches.


A promo from Zeb Colter and Antonio Cesaro rolled. Zeb claimed he had reason to believe Sami Zayn was not a real American and was in the country illegally, because he had done a background check on Sami which had come up with nothing. Zeb said this was proof that “Sami Zayn” didn’t exist and he vowed to find out who Zayn really was and where he came from. Zeb talked about how Sami used to wear a mask just like people south of the border, who try to sneak into America to take jobs away from “real Americans.” Zeb added that if his investigations turn out to be accurate then he and Antonio would try get Sami deported. Cesaro said he would make Sami’s life inside, and outside the ring a living nightmare then did the “we the people” gimmick.


I enjoyed this promo greatly and hope it actually leads to an investigation angle with Zeb trying to expose the former El Generico. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely they would ever do anything like that and this promo was probably just taken from Zeb’s YouTube page to kill some air-time.


Angelo Dawkins was this week’s token jobber. Tyler Breeze appeared to some Euro-dance music so horrible it was enough to make you wish to be stricken with deafness; he took pictures of himself pouting all throughout his entrance and he was announced from: “Milan, Italy”. The genius of creative knows no bounds.


Tyler Breeze vs. Angelo Dawkins


Breeze continued taking selfies after the bell; Dawkins tried to go on the attack, but Tyler made him look like a goof and took over with some forearm shots. Dawkins got a two count off a roll-up, but Breeze threw some more shots and hit a Sean Waltman-style spinning heel kick for the finish.


Tyler Breeze defeated Angelo Dawkins via pinfall, at 1:19.


They showed a replay of Tyler’s entrance (yes his entrance) and he took more snaps of himself on his way out.


I’m not into this gimmick at all, maybe it will grow on me with some tweaking here and there. Although I did think Mike Dalton had a lot of potential during his brief stint prior to this new gimmick, so at least he is being used for something.


A promo from the new Ascension aired. Victor said this was the awakening of the entire universe and O’Brian stated they would rise again. A graphic hyped them in action for after the break.

The Ascension got their full dramatic entrance then Mickey Keegan and Aiden English showed up to take a beating.


The Ascension vs. Mickey Keegan & Aiden English


The big guys worked over English with power moves and heavy shots. Victor dropped Keegan off the apron then the Ascension delivered a double hiptoss slam and hit a new version of their old total elimination finish, Victor threw a diving back elbow instead of a high roundhouse kick, to get the win.


The Ascension defeated Mickey Keegan & Aiden English via pinfall, at 1:54.


This was as unspectacular as it sounded. I’m all for O’Brian being hidden in a tag team, as his run with Big E. over the NXT Title was utterly shambolic, and the reformation of the Ascension should enable him to improve without being too exposed. However, Rick Victor is nowhere near as developed as Kenneth Cameron was and is unlikely to be able to carry the bulk of the work load.


Sheamus came out for what was the main event of the entire night of tapings on June 20th. Luke Harper came through the curtain with Bray Wyatt and Eric Rowan for the match that was set up last week.


Sheamus vs. Luke Harper w/Bray Wyatt & Eric Rowan


Harper rolled to the floor after an even opening exchange then the two began to trade some heavy shots; Sheamus dumped Harper on the apron with a clothesline then started to throw his clubbing forearms. Rowan tried to get involved, however he got trapped and Sheamus drilled him with his big forearms, however this enabled Harper to hit a big back elbow that sent Sheamus to the floor then Rowan unleashed a clothesline. Harper had the heat after the break; Sheamus fought up from a chinlock to land a front powerslam for a double-down. They traded some more shots then Sheamus started his comeback, but Harper cut him off with a Traylorslam to start the near-falls. Sheamus avoided a splash off the second rope and delivered a Finlayroll to get a two count, then Harper ducked the Brogue kick and scored with his discus lariat for another two. Finish saw Rowan get on the apron and Sheamus sent Harper into his partner then he hit white noise and followed up with a Brogue kick to get the victory.


Sheamus defeated Luke Harper via pinfall, at 8:58 (TV Time).


Wyatt laughed after his charge was defeated and he applauded the victory of Sheamus. Rowan helped Harper to the back and Sheamus stood tall in the ring.


A decent main event and as you might have expected, they hit each other very hard. I’ve been a fan of the guy for years, but Harper is so great at portraying the crazed redneck and he was totally believable at getting the heat on Sheamus. It’s a shame Rowan is so far behind in terms of his all-round game, because Harper clearly deserves his spot on the main roster.

This was an average show, with a fair opener and a good main event. The show dropped off a cliff in the middle with the unimpressive debut of Tyler Breeze and the lacklustre re-emergence of the Ascension, which doesn’t fill me with confidence for either of those acts going forward. Next week’s show should be the first episode taped on July 11th; however as I noted two weeks ago, the reports from that show had the first episode marked for the 5th of August, which is a Monday. I assume somebody just got their dates mixed up and the show featuring The Shield and a main event of Leo Kruger & Antonio Cesaro vs. Bo Dallas & Sami Zayn will air as planned.


TNA iMPACT July 27th 2013

Broadbent Arena, Louisville, Kentucky


Overall Thoughts:


I enjoyed this week’s edition of iMPACT, it had some good matches spread throughout the show, even if a lot of the booking didn’t really work out all too well. They based the entire show around a Bully Ray lawsuit, and while I was fine with that, the resolution was basically Hulk blowing the lawsuit off and making a match, which really makes you wonder why they would book such an angle in the first place. Then there was the entire TJ Perkins deal, which I still don’t fully grasp — it makes zero sense to me. However, the Ultimate X match was fun, and very over the top, and both Daniels & Joe, and Styles & Hardy had a fun match. It wasn’t as good as last week’s show, but at least they are building these special editions of iMPACT over a few weeks.


The Mainevent Mafia made it out to open the show. Sting claimed that Sabin winning the title was the greatest moment of his own career – somehow I really doubt that. Angle then brought Sabin out saying that they had accomplished one of their main goals in having Ray lose the title. Sabin stated that he had made history, and the title was what everyone in the BFG series wanted. Sabin then challenged the new X champion, who would be decided in the Ultimate X match, to a champion versus champion match next week. This brought out Ray and a lawyer who looked exactly like Kevin Nash — in fact he looked more like Kevin Nash than the Bella Twins look like each other at this point. The lawyer stated that they were suing iMPACT wrestling, and he threatened to end TNA as a whole (not too hard I’m guessing), and he said that he would win for Ray if they did not give them what they wanted, and they walked off. There was a Trent personality profile. Hogan was talking on his phone backstage and blew off the interviewer. They then cut to TJ Perkins, in the Suicide costume without the mask. He claimed that Manik was his alter ego, and that was that — this was so incredibly stupid. If you know who he is, and see him without the mask all the time, why wear the mask? This just made me mad. Manik, Dutt and Trent were out for the Ultimate X Match — the scaffolding was far taller than usual. After the break Trent landed the reverse piledriver on the ramp, which was so stupid given that you land right on your knees. Dutt killed Trent with a superkick in a series of big kicks in an exchange. Meanwhile Manik was on the ramp the entire time, which is the second time that they have done that. Trent and Dutt then climbed straight to the top of the X and sat down on the scaffolding and traded strikes. Trent kicked Dutt, which was scary enough, but both men then went for a suplex and Trent was caught in between the rings and then began to walk on it like a tightrope; it was terrifying. Manik then snuck in while Trent was standing on it! Men were hanging everywhere, Trent was dropped off and Manik grabbed the teeny tiny title in a fun Ultimate X match.


Ray was talking to Anderson backstage saying that Hogan didn’t know what to do, and they had him right where they wanted him. Ray said that the BFG series was more important than being VP, and he wanted Anderson to go out there and get the job done. Anderson was out for a match with Hernandez. Hernandez was pinned by Anderson with the mic check…no one cared. Eric Young was showing Joe Park a clip of his DQ loss a few weeks ago. Velvet Sky came out saying that she wanted to watch Kim and James tear into each other. Kim and James made it out for a title match. They did the whole heel trying to out heel the other heel gimmick. Kim argued with ODB and they had a face off. Kim slapped ODB, which allowed James to grab a rollup for the win after being distracted with Sky out on the floor. Kim and ODB faced off after the match until Brooke came down to the ring, and she called Kim “little miss pig”. Hogan then reminded Kim that ODB was a wrestler, ODB got ready for a fight, but Kim left…so this was punishment how? Hogan was complaining to Dixie asking how things came to that. Dixie reminded Hogan about how Sabin had blown out his legs. Hogan recommended that they use Aces & Eights tactics, but Dixie said that it wouldn’t be an option. They then seemed like they needed to strip Sabin of the title.


Daniels made it down for a match with Samoa Joe. Anderson came down for a distraction and Daniels landed the BME onto the face of Joe for two, he kicked out, but Daniels landed a second for the win. Sting made it down into Angle’s lockeroom, and he wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page. Angle seemed worried about the lawsuit. Styles and Hardy made it out for the BFG Series mainevent. They wrestled a big style match busting out a lot a big moves towards the end. The big story that they were trying to tell was that Styles was forced to bust out a ton of his older moves, which were sold as glimpses of the old Styles. Styles actually submitted Hardy, which I didn’t expect at all.


Hogan was backstage saying that he had to do what needed to be done. Ray made it down to the ring microphone in hand. He was disgusted that people had been praising Sabin (I wonder how the people who had just witnessed Sabin win the title at the tapings felt about this) he asked how low a man would have to sink to hit someone else in the head with a hammer. He would sue everyone, do whatever it took to right the wrong. He wanted Sabin to do the right thing, and hand the title back over to him. This brought Sabin out. Ray demanded the title again, and Sabin said that he was out there to see what a crybaby Ray had become. He was finally the world champion after everything he had been through. Ray would only get the title back if he pried it from his dead hands. Ray said that he would get it back is lawsuit, and asked how Sabin could call himself a man. Ray demanded that Hogan come out and out he came. He had a counter for Ray with no negotiation and he tore up the legal document. Ray claimed that he couldn’t do that, but you see Hogan was the GM, the law! Hogan reminded him about his rematch clause and Ray would get his rematch on August 14th, and there would be Justice…Hardcore Justice. Neither the Mafia nor the Aces & Eights would be involved, and it would be a steel cage match, because in 2013 that means no interference.


I wasn’t a very big fan of this segment for two reasons, the first was the fact that the lawsuit was made pointless in the first week, and the second was that everyone knows that steel cage matches don’t mean that there will be no interference in 2013 — so why do them?


WWE SmackDown – July 26th 2013.

American Bank Centre: Corpus Christi, TX 

Ben Carass.


Michael Cole welcomed us to the show after the titles then Randy Orton came out to get things going with a singles match. Damien Sandow was his opponent and he cut a promo calling himself the “uncrowned World Champion.” Damien said he was glad to see the fans had taken time away from “cow tipping” and “watching the bug zapper on the front porch” to be enlightened. JBL joked, all the Halliburtons around made it feel like the Cauliflower Alley Club; Cole pretended he knew what Bradshaw was talking about and did his phony laugh.


Randy Orton vs. Damien Sandow


Things started out slow, with both guys going on offence with some shots. Randy missed a knee-drop, however he recovered to send Sandow over the top to the floor where Orton delivered a belly-to-back on the barricade. The heat spot came right before the break when Sandow hung Randy up on the top rope; when we joined the action again, Orton got the ten punch deal in for a hope spot, but was shut down by a knee to the gut. Sandow got some heat with strikes and worked a bodyscissors then dropped his fancy elbow for a two count. Randy fought out of another bodyscissors to start his comeback with clotheslines and his snap powerslam. The finish saw Cody Rhodes come down to ringside, as Sandow countered the hangman’s DDT with a backdrop over the top rope. Cody stole Damien’s briefcase, which distracted our intellectual saviour and Orton slid in to hit an RKO for the win.


Randy Orton defeated Damien Sandow via pinfall, at 11:21 (TV Time).


After the match, Cody taunted Sandow and left with the blue briefcase.


The match was ok; nothing spectacular. Obviously they put the WWE contract holder over the World Title contract holder, which I guess doesn’t really mean much at this point since Orton beat the actual World Champion last week. Still, it’s like the Champion vs. Champion matches WWE is so fond of, why even book the match in the first place when it is going to hurt one of your, supposed, major players.


CM Punk hit the ring for a promo; we saw Brock Lesnar murdering Punk two weeks ago on Raw then Punk said, “the best vs. the beast” was official. Punk said that Paul Heyman was his mentor for eight years and in that time, he learned how to exploit people’s weaknesses. He stated Brock’s biggest downfall was that he trusted Heyman, while Paul E’s weakness was his ego. Punk said he realised Paul treated him like “just another horse in the race”, however Heyman always wanted two horses in the race and always wanted Punk vs. Lesnar, with himself in each man’s corner. Punk declared that Paul wanted it all, but at SummerSlam he would take everything from him then vowed to take everything Brock could dish-out and stated he would kick Lesnar in the face repeatedly until he became an “unrecognisable pile of failure.” Fandango’s music interrupted and he danced out with Summer Rae; as soon as he got in the ring, Punk drilled him with some shots then laid him out with the GTS.


CM Punk in solid promo shocker. He wasn’t given the time to cut a vitriolic style promo like in previous weeks on Raw, however anything Punk says carries such a significance and is delivered in such an authentic manner that it is hard not to believe that this little guy could actually have a chance to stop the monster that is Brock Lesnar.


Wade Barrett and the Prime Time Players were in the ring; Mark Henry made his entrance then the Usos came out with their usual routine. They showed Henry fighting off the Shield and the Usos running down to help from Raw; Cole said Henry and the Usos would take on the Shield in a six-man this coming Monday.


Mark Henry & The Usos vs. Wade Barrett & The Prime Time Players


The Usos worked over Young early; Titus caught Jimmy with a cheap-shot from the outside then Barrett came in to get some heat on the Uso. Cole and JBL talked about the new Royal baby, which as an Englishman I could literally not care less about if I tried, then Titus delivered a standing fall-away slam. Jimmy landed an enzuigiri for the transition and Mark Henry got the hot tag in. Henry ran wild on Titus, dropped Young with a body check then planted O’Neil with a front powerslam, but Barrett broke up the pin. Jey nailed Wade with a superkick and caught Young with a second then Henry hit the world’s strongest slam on Titus for the finish.


Mark Henry & The Usos defeated Wade Barrett & The Prime Time Players via pinfall, at 3:24.

Another basic outing here, but Henry & the Usos looked good to set up their match with the Shield, which they will inevitably lose. It’s unlikely they will book a rematch for SummerSlam, so maybe we’ll get a singles and a tag for the belts or perhaps they’ll go in another direction and have Henry assemble a team of super heavyweights to take on the Shield. Although other than Big Show, who is still not cleared, I don’t know who else they could put in there besides Khali, and nobody wants that.


The finish of the Bryan vs. Ryback match aired and Cole hyped Kane vs. Bryan, plus Cena vs. Ryback in the tables match for the upcoming Raw.

Vickie Guerrero was on the phone in her office; Alberto Del Rio walked in and claimed Vickie owed him for booking the World Champ in a match with Rob Van Dam. Alberto wanted the same deal that Brad Maddox gave John Cena and asked Vickie to allow him to choose his own challenger at SummerSlam. Vickie told Del Rio he had a week to think about it then RVD walked in. Van Dam said the answer was obvious and did his thumb gimmick, but Del Rio told RVD he would have to earn a title shot. Rob said he would do just that by beating Alberto later on.


Damien Sandow was in the back, looking for Cody. He came across Sin Cara, who was seemingly rummaging through some unattended technical equipment or just looking through a box of trash, either way it was completely bizarre, but the masked looter just shook his head at everything Damien said. Sandow realised he was wasting his time with Sin Cara and continued his search for Rhodes.


Rob Van Dam made his entrance then after a break Del Rio showed up to some obviously sweetened boos. Cole put over Alberto for his win over Sheamus on Raw.


Non-Title Match: RVD vs. Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight Champion)


Del Rio went to the floor and stalled for a while then tried to sneak back inside when Van Dam had his back turned, however RVD was too smart and threw a spin kick, which even with editing still looked like it missed by a mile. The finish came soon after; Alberto backed off into the corner and began to sell his ribs. Del Rio told Mike Chioda, “no mas, no mas”, but Chioda claimed he couldn’t understand him and urged the champ to speak English. Alberto continued to communicate to the ref in Spanish; Chioda asked if he wanted to stop the match then Van Dam went after Del Rio. Chioda separated the two, but Del Rio caught Van Dam with a superkick on the break and got the pin.


Alberto Del Rio defeated Rob Van Dam via pinfall, at 2:40.


Cole was outraged with Del Rio’s cheap shot; JBL played the heel and sided with Alberto.

This was a strange move considering that Christian becomes the number one contender next week. If Van Dam were getting the shot then this would have at least made sense, however that appears not to be the plan, so I have no idea what this achieved. I suppose it got a little heat on Del Rio and made him seem like a sneaky heel, which could play into the story heading into the match with Christian at SummerSlam.


Sandow was still looking for Cody in the back. He interrupted a discussion between Booker T and Mark Henry to ask if they had seen Rhodes; Booker said no and Henry stated he was not a snitch. Sandow pleaded with Booker to tell him what was going on, because he was the GM, or at least he used to be. Book did his bug-eye bit and squared off with Damien; Henry calmed Booker down and encouraged Sandow to hit the bricks then Henry and Booker went back to their private conversation.


AJ skipped out with Big E. Langston for a, “state of my mind address”. “This may be one of the great speeches of all-time”, Cole said sarcastically. She stated that she was not in fact on the verge of a mental breakdown and said she was “fine” after Dolph Ziggler ripped her out. AJ told everyone she was “A-OK”, because she was still the Diva’s Champion then looked at her belt and declared, “this is never leaving me.” Just to prove how “fine” she was, AJ pulled out “the keys to Dolph Ziggler’s home” and claimed she wanted to use them to enter the house and burn in to the ground, however she was now ready to let go of them. Ziggler came out on to the stage; he had a great line and told AJ he had given away thousands of keys like that before, plus he had already changed the locks a couple of times since AJ left. Big E. handed AJ a suitcase, which they had apparently stolen from the locker room. Dolph played it cool and told the two that everything in the ring was replicable. AJ began to pull out items and proceeded to cut them up with scissors: his driver’s licence, passport, credit cards. The deal was that Ziggler didn’t give a damn about any of his stuff being destroyed, because getting everything renewed was easier than dealing with AJ. Finally after Dolph’s taunting and the realisation that her plan had failed, AJ began throwing Ziggler’s clothes all around the ring. She freaked out and shoved Big E then left the ring in a huff; Kaitlyn appeared out of nowhere and drilled her with a spear. Dolph followed and he nailed Big E with a Rockerdropper on the floor.


This was an odd segment. First, having two theft angles on the same show is quite short-sighted, but what I found even more stupid was AJ committing destruction of property on worldwide TV. I thought the idea here was stupid, however Dolph was great in essentially trolling AJ, who also was not as horrible in her role as she could have been. Personally I believe Dolph could use a little work on his babyface promos, but the crowd seemed to enjoy him talking about his female conquests here, so maybe that is an avenue to explore.


A lengthy Raw rebound told the story of the Daniel Bryan gauntlet then Tons of Funk hit the ring with the Funkadactyls. The Wyatt Family made their entrance, lantern and all, for their in-ring debut. Bray took a seat in his chair and when he blew out his lantern, Harper and Rowan were stood in the ring.


Tons of Funk w/ the Funkadactyls vs. The Wyatt Family w/Bray Wyatt


Harper started out and threw some big shots at Sweet T; Rowan stood on the apron with his lamb mask on. Tensai hit a clothesline and went for a cover, however a now unmasked Rowan broke up the pin. Brodus came in, but Rowan dumped him outside quickly. Finish saw Harper hit Sweet T with his discus lariat then Rowan got the pin off a splash.


The Wyatt Family defeated Tons of Funk via pinfall, at 1:51.


Bray Wyatt entered the ring while Harper and Rowan held Tensai. Bray gave ‘T a kiss on the forehead and dropped him with his swinging reverse STO. Wyatt got on the mic and said he and his friends had always being waiting for Kane to come find them.


The match was pretty much a squash, so I have no complaints other than they should have flipped the finish and had Harper hit his big clothesline after the splash from Rowan. I’m in to the idea of the Wyatt Family trying to recruit Kane, which could result in a heel turn if he does actually join them after a lengthy inner battle with himself to do the right thing. If I remember correctly, there was a similar deal with the Corporation trying to get Kane to embrace his evil side, while X-Pac tried to humanise the monster, which lead to a conflict between Kane’s evil and humane desires.


Damien Sandow stormed into Vickie’s office and asked if she had seen Cody Rhodes. Vickie claimed she had not seen the elusive grandson of a plumber, however she had, get this, called the authorities! Damien told her he didn’t have time to wait around and stated he would get his briefcase back tonight. “Has anyone seen Cody?!” bellowed Damien on his way out of the office.

Christian appeared for the main event then Jack Swagger came out with Zeb Colter. Zeb did his usual pre-match promo and told a tale of how the border agents let him pass through without a vehicle search, because he looked like a real American. Zeb told Christian he had outstayed his welcome in the US and stated he wanted his country back. The heels ended with the “we the people” deal.


Christian vs. Jack Swagger w/ Zeb Colter


Swagger took a backdrop to the floor and Christian hit a slingshot press over the top. Swagger cut Christian off on the top with the Kurt Angle running overhead belly-to-belly superplex, which was the big spot before the break. When joined the action again Christian landed a dropkick off the second rope, although he missed a cross-body off the top and Swagger went for the Doctor-bomb. Both guys countered the other’s finish, which lead to Christian delivering an inverted DDT for a two count. Swagger fought out of the killswitch again and executed his big high single leg to get another two then tried for a Vader-bomb. Christian got his knees up and the finish came when he scored with a diving sunset-flip off the second rope; Swagger turned the pinning combination into the ankle-lock, but Christian rolled through then side-stepped the charging Swagger, who took the ring post spot and Christian hit the killswitch to get the three.


Christian defeated Jack Swagger via pinfall, at 5:08 (TV Time).


This was good, however quite short compared to most SmackDown main events. Still, they had a pretty decent little match and since Christian is on the road to SummerSlam then him winning here is only logical. What is not logical however, is the way he was booked after his return. He won a couple of matches, pinned Dean Ambrose in a Six-man then seemingly went on a losing streak until someone figured out what to do with him. Had they planned Christian for a title match at SummerSlam prior to bringing him back, then they could have got him over as a big deal, which he certainly is not at the minute.


A dishevelled Damien Sandow stormed down to the ring after the match and demanded a microphone. He stated a warrant would be issued when the cops showed up and declared Cody should be arrested for grand larceny. Sandow called for Vickie Guerrero to fire Cody for his thievery, but then Rhodes appeared on the Tron. Cody was outside, by the shore of the Gulf of Mexico and said he would hand over the briefcase; all Damien had to do was go get it. Sandow ran up the ramp then after a break, we followed Damien on his way through the back and across the street to the location where Cody was waiting. Sandow pleaded with Rhodes not to do anything stupid then told Cody he carried Team Rhodes Scholars and even admitted that Cody was more intelligent than him. Finally, Damien told Rhodes he had better facial hair and he was more handsome than him; Cody liked the sound of that and asked to hear it one more time. Sandow obliged, however Cody tossed the briefcase into the water anyway. Damien fell to his knees and screamed in horror, “somebody help me! My briefcase! I can’t swim!” In a final act of desperation, Sandow leaped into the water and began to flail widely; “I can’t swim!” he yelled again, then made his way to a ladder and climbed out of the filthy looking Gulf. Sandow lay on the shore and spit up some water then began to sob as the show went off the air.


WWE loves to do these wacky B-Movie style segments and this one is far from the worst one I’ve ever seen: remember those Al Wilson/Torie Wilson/Dawn Marie bits? Sure the acting here was cringe-worthy and I’m not sure jumping in the Gulf of Mexico is a good example for youngsters about the dangers of open water, however I couldn’t help laugh at Sandow doing the helpless mother gimmick when he saw his briefcase go in the drink. I’m intrigued where they go from here. It appears that Damien is going to be absent from Raw and next week’s SmackDown, unless they shoot a backstage segment or something; perhaps Sandow caught some kind of disease from the grimy looking Gulf or was too distraught to come to work after losing his title contract.


SmackDown wasn’t up to much this week. If you were expecting the usual solid middle of the show match and good main event, then you may be a little disappointed; Orton vs. Sandow was average and Christian vs. Swagger was way too short. I guess the big news would be the Wyatt Family going over in their debut and the deal with the briefcase. Other than the CM Punk promo, there were very few stellar moments on this show. The Van Dam/Del Rio finish was baffling, considering where they are going, plus Henry and The Usos got a win to set up a match with The Shield, which they had already lost by the time SmackDown was taped.

Let’s have a look at the results for next week’s show.


WWE – SmackDown (Taped for August 2nd). Houston, TX.


The show kicks off with Alberto Del Rio picking his SummerSlam opponent. He teases choosing, Brock Lesnar & Booker T, but chooses Ricardo Rodriguez. Vickie Guerrero shows up and feels disrespected by Alberto’s choice, so she books a number one contenders three-way with Randy Orton, Rob Van Dam & Christian.


Cody Rhodes pins Jack Swagger with a roll-up. Apparently before the match they show footage of Cody tossing the briefcase into the Gulf of Mexico.


Big E. Langston squashes Sin Cara.


In what was described as a “fairly even match”, CM Punk submits Fandango with the Anaconda Vice.


AJ Lee downs Kaitlyn to retain her Diva’s Championship. Layla seemingly turns heel on Kaitlyn and leaves with AJ.


Christian goes over RVD & Randy Orton to get the World Title shot at SummerSlam. Del Rio runs in and attacks Christian after the match to close the show.

(For anyone that cares, the dark main event saw Del Rio retain the World Heavyweight Championship over Dolph Ziggler in a street fight.)


Bits & Pieces


When it comes to the Wrestle-1/All Japan war of sorts, it looks like the fans have pretty much chosen their sides, as Wrestle-1’s first show seems to have sold out the Tokyo Dome City Hall for September 8th, which is quite the feat considering how far away that show is. Meanwhile, All Japan is only drawing in the very low hundreds for most of its recent shows, which is really sad to see.


At first it looked like last week’s TNA rating was due to the Cops lead-in, but while they lost viewers after the lead-in they gain viewers throughout the show to a peak at the Ray/Sabin match, which was about equivalent to the lead in viewership. This week the Cops lead-in helped again with the show drawing 1.31 million viewers — the quarter ratings next week will be important.


If things weren’t bad enough for TNA, things got worse this week. Bruce Pritchard, who has been released at this point, was held accountable for a fiasco involving the Missouri State Athletic Commission. Basically, the state of Missouri requires tons of tests in order to wrestle in the state, including blood tests for Hepatitis A and B, together with HIV tests, and if you are a female performer, pregnancy tests and so on. However, somewhere along the line six performers were not licensed, including TNA champion Chris Sabin, Brooke Tessmacher, Jay Bradley, Wes Briscoe, Garrett Bischoff and others. This meant that some workers on the show, including poor James Storm who suffered a stinger a couple of days prior, had to work double, or in some cases, triple duty. There were only around 250 people at the show (I guess TNA and All Japan could join forces), and they had a meet and greet session to compensate. Things only got worse as Jesse Sorensen was cut, after he was promised a “job for life” following his most likely career ending injury in a match against Zema Ion. Some would like to blame Dixie Carter, but the truth is that Janet Carter is the one making all of these cuts. This was a PR disaster.


On Friday, August 1st, I will be going to the WWE house show at the Coca-Cola Dome in Johannesburg, so there may be a little content related to that next week. What may also appear the same week are a few thoughts on Dragon Gate’s big iPPV from last week, as there are two reportedly excellent shows on that card. There will most likely be no major G1 content, but it will start the following weak, with a ton of show reports.


Below is a list of times, and dates for all of the G1 Climax shows courtesy of SenorLariato: 


New Japan G1 Climax Schedule















Next Week’s Issue


Next week we look at what I am sure will be more in the way of TNA news, the road to the G1, the Road to SummerSlam with a taped edition of RAW, a small part of the WWE World Tour and much more!




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