Cubed Circle Newsletter 94: WWE House Show South Africa, G1 Package, RAW + More!

Cubed Circle Newsletter – South Africa House Shows 


This week was a pretty uneventful week news wise, and it is for that reason that we have a smaller issue for you this week, together with a slight different format to accompany the change. Sure, Randy Orton was hit low at a WWE house show in South Africa, and the G1 was given a $150 or nothing price, but there were no major news stories this week. Of course there was the Ortiz story, which is pretty big, but I have a piece coming on that next week rather. Next week we will be covering a ton of G1 shows, and more, but until then I hope you enjoy this week’s issue…and for what is now the third time…I hope I don’t burst into flames aboard an aircraft.


–Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor


For a full-colour PDF with pictures click here.




The way that things are going to work this week is that instead of covering the news in designated pieces under headings and subheadings, coupled with the bits and pieces section, we are just going to lump everything together under this unified banner. Why are we doing this you ask? Well, the thing is that it solves two problems. The first is that I have to catch a plane tomorrow, and with the WWE house show, transport et cetera, eating into my time it hasn’t been possible to get all of the news coverage in. The second is that apart from the Tito Ortiz story, which will be covered in next week’s issue, there really hasn’t been any huge news. It is for those reasons that I thought that it would be good to try something different. It certainly wouldn’t work every week, or even most weeks, but for one such as this I for one find it satisfactory.


One of the wackier news stories of the year took place in, of all places, the WWE house show at the Grandwest Arena in Cape Town on July 30th. There was much confusion over the incident at the time, but the basic story was that a local indie wrestler, Tshepo Sekhabi, hopped the guardrail, and was able to sneak up behind Randy Orton, Elmer Fudd style, before landing a Ric Flair esque low blow. This of course sent Orton down to the mat, but he was able to make it up to his feet and land a kick to the head of Sekhabi. This event portrayed the security at the venue as so inept that many thought that it would have had to have been a work, after all WWE even posted the video on their own website. However, if that was the case things certainly didn’t match up.


First of all there was the case of motive, what could WWE possibly gain from running a once off angle such as this? It isn’t like it would increase attendance, and even if they did get some random coverage, so what? Then again this is the same company that goes on and on about twitter accolades, so you never know. Still, there were many facts such as the nature of the pull apart, and the kick that made it seem like more shoot than work. News that broke on Saturday confirmed this as Sekhabi was charged, and pleaded guilty after posting a promo on the internet, obviously very proud of his premeditated assault. Even if charges were never pressed there were still a multitude of circumstances that I witnessed at the Johannesburg house show with my own two eyes, which would certainly make the run in more than plausible.


To put it bluntly the security at the Coca-Cola Dome was no good. People were instructed to not stand on their chairs multiple times throughout the show, they did. They were told not to record, but they did (I too am guilty of this). People were told to stay in their seats, and if you were at the event you certainly know that this didn’t happen. So the environment, at least at the show that I was at was certainly such that if you were in the right location you would have been able to hop the guardrail. To use an example from the show, Sheamus landed his brogue kick, and I actually thought that I was at the Dome during a hot match, as it sounded like the fans were stomping their feet…no, just fans stampeding from every direction to see the finish. It is pretty clear at this point that the incident was a shoot, but it certainly was a bizarre occurrence.


As for the show itself, I had a great time. It was a WWE house show no matter what direction you look at it from, but in South Africa we really don’t get a high influx of foreign talent or international promotions coming in, and WWE is the only major promotion to run shows here, so when you get a house show it really is a treat. None of the matches really went over ten minutes, and as was expected, there really weren’t any nearfalls or big spots, and that’s fine, because I doubt that anybody expected them in the first place. I was also impressed with the new house show setup. While it feels more sterile, from a viewing perspective it was far more enjoyable. The last WWE house show that I went to was in 2007, and while I don’t know if this show was as good as that RAW show, it certainly was a fun time.


The other wacky news story this week came when New Japan announced that all of their G1 shows would be available on iPPV (something that we covered last week) but you could either buy the $150 package, or nothing. This was obviously a major downer for a lot of people, including myself, who planned on ordering around three shows, maybe four. I was originally going to order the first night, Osaka show and finals, but I simply have to resort to a different distribution method at this point — the exchange rate isn’t the greatest, and this announcement didn’t help much.


From what I have seen and read this seems to be a Ustream based decision only, as the shows are available to buy on their own on Japanese distribution site, NikoNiko. This means that this was a deal mainly aimed at hardcore fans abroad, but even then it wasn’t a good idea, as many people that I know would have ordered quite a few single shows, but now aren’t ordering the show at all, as they are either abandoning the G1 this year, or are simply watching it via nefarious means, and those extra buys probably would have outweighed the extra money that they would have brought in this way.


This is a story that broke right before press time, but Kurt Angle seems to be going to rehab after being arrested for a DWI late Friday night. He was released on $2000 surety bond. This isn’t the first time, so I really hope that things are alright with him. Sticking with TNA, Keiji Mutoh met with Jeff Jarrett this week to discuss possible talent exchanges.


On June 27th at the ROH TV tapings in Providence the Forever Hooligans (Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov), the IWGP Jr. Tag Champions, defeated reDragon (Kyle ‘O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) to become the ROH World Tag Team champions. Yano & Iizuka lost the GHC Tag Titles recently, but if they had held onto them for a few more weeks New Japan tag team talent would have been in possession of three different sets of non-NJPW tag titles.


Brock Lesnar will be back on this week’s edition of RAW from Green Bay, which has me really excited for the progression of the Punk/Lesnar angle.




WWE Monday Night RAW July 29th 2013 (Taped July 23rd 2013)

Laredo Energy Center, Laredo, Texas


Overall Thoughts:


Due to the ongoing WWE Tour of faraway and exotic lands, last week’s edition of SmackDown and this week’s edition of RAW were taped. Taped editions of RAW have a reputation for being pretty uneventful, but the good news is that they taped it the next day rather than straight after; a six hour taping simply wouldn’t be viable at this point anyway. I remember back in 2011  that they actually taped a show straight after that famous Vegas Punk promo, which must have really taken most people in the arena out of the show. Still, even with this week’s show being taped the next day it was missing the flair of previous weeks. As they tend to do on these taped shows, they ran quite a few long matches, and while that was fine, the crowd wasn’t hot enough to carry most of them. JBL was off climbing mountains somewhere, so that also changed the feeling of the show. As far as the mainevent angle went, which was the progression of the Cena/Bryan angle throughout the show, it was a positive and a negative. On the one hand they are building the tension between Bryan and Cena up really well, as they started at the level of mutual respect and are now building from there. On the other hand, Vince saying that he would want Cena and Bryan to spontaneously combust, and that he wouldn’t like either man as champion, was so stupid. It’s fine to say that about Bryan, and I understand that Vince is the heel authority figure, but at the end of the day no one can really suspend their disbelief to any extent for that component of the angle, and in the end it, and the McMahon angle as a whole, are a detriment to an otherwise good angle.


Vince and Maddox made it out to open up the show. Maddox was forced to apologize for allowing Cena to choose the number one contender. Vince gave his speech on how Bryan was short, ugly, mentally unstable etc. This surprisingly got the “what” treatment. Bryan then made it out to a good ovation. Bryan believed that Maddox’ words last week were those of Vince McMahon. Brad was told to leave the ring. Bryan talked about how he didn’t have an ounce of Vince’s respect after giving him years of his career. Vince asked if he respected Cena. Bryan respected Cena, as a person, human being and the fact that he chose him as a challenger. Vince stated outright that Cena was lying about his motives for choosing Bryan, basically saying that Bryan was the easier opponent. Vince claimed that Bryan didn’t have ruthless aggression, the kind that catapulted Cena to the top. Vince said that he wouldn’t beat Cena, but he didn’t want either of them to win. He didn’t want either of them to win at Summerslam, in fact I believe he wished spontaneous combustion upon them! Bryan urged Vince to listen to the crowd, and asked if they wanted a new champion before orchestrating a huge yes chant. This queued up the Shield after Bryan had just left. Vince had the wackiest material for this promo.


After the break The Usos and Henry made it out for a six-man. The first big spot came when Henry and Reigns had a face off. Reigns wanted a test of strength, but kicked Reigns in the gut instead, which wasn’t a babyface move at all. Henry and the Usos wore Ambrose down, it looked like the Shield was going to get the advantage, but Henry cleaned house setting up for a double tope from the Usos for the pre-break high spot. The Shield got the heat on Jay, Rollins taunted Henry, but the hot tag was soon made. Henry and the Usos ran wild, but Ambrose got the knees up off of a splash and landed the bulldog DDT for the win in a good TV match. Henry cleaned house again after this clean victory following a shot from behind on Ambrose, which was another move that wasn’t very indicative of a babyface –in fact, Lawler even called Henry a “sore loser”. They showed a clip from earlier in the day with some random people grabbing some stuff from the buffet. Ryback came by. He accused the one guy of wanting to say something, and he simply pushed him up against the wall, slapped him hard a couple of times, with food on occasion and then threw him straight through the table. This was wacky, but it got over what it needed to; good fun. There was a Wyatt Family vignette. Kane came by Maddox backstage looking for the Wyatts, Maddox didn’t know where they were, but suggested that he send them a message in his match against Bryan. Cole announced a new October PPV entitled ‘Battleground’.


 Van Dam made it out for a match with Fandango. They were having your standard Van Dam TV match when Fandango ran off and got counted out –I hate this lazy countout gimmick that they do just about every night. After the match Fandango said his name and left. This accomplished what exactly? AJ was rambling like a crazy person to Langston backstage. She insinuated that Langston had romantic feelings for her, and walked off. AJ was out with Big E for a match with Kaitlyn. They cut to Langston repeatedly during the match who was deep in thought. AJ worked over the arm. Kaitlyn ended up pinning AJ in a match that wasn’t as good as their match from a month or two ago, but was still fun, and a better Diva’s match than most. AJ threw a tantrum after the match, before Ziggler’s music hit. He wanted a match with Langston right then and there and Langston accepted. Langston landed power move after power move. Ziggler fired back with a dropkick and went after the knee before dropping Langston down to the floor. However, as soon as she got an opportunity AJ ran after Ziggler pulling his hair and clawing at his eyes for the DQ. This was a fun big man/little man match while it lasted. Langston was quite upset with AJ after the match, and was taken down with a zig zag from behind.


Cena was talking on the phone backstage. Bryan came by and asked if Vince was telling the truth. Cena told Bryan to not believe a word that he said. Bryan said that Vince had always been honest with him. Cena asked if Bryan was calling him a liar, and walked off. Christian was out for a match with Del Rio. They had a physical match with Christian pinning Del Rio with a rollup to set up their title match. I really liked this, as the work was good, and it was logically booked. There was a recap of Sandow’s search for the briefcase on Smackdown. Rhodes was out for a match with Barrett. Rhodes pinned Barrett with the Cross Rhodes to further his newly found push. Sandow then came out yelling “damn you”! Sandow said that Rhodes came from a family of clowns, and said that carny folk were beneath him and walked off. Bryan and Kane made it down for their match. Bryan landed flying dropkick after flying dropkick in the corner mid way trough the match. Kane went for the chokeslam, but Bryan grabbed a small package for the win. For a match between two former team mates this was incredibly unremarkable. After the match Kane landed a chokeslam, and went to let off his pyro, but the Wyatts made it out. Harper and Rowan went after Kane, Kane fought back, but Harper killed Kane with a big boot. Wyatt then got in the ring for his swinging neckbreaker. Wyatt went off on how Kane was the devil’s favourite demon, and he should be careful who he says that to, because you never know who will be listening. Wyatt was great here. They aired a backstage segment with the Bella Twins and Natalya, who the Bellas called an ugly duckling. Natalya was out for a match with Nikki Bella. During this terrible match the other Bella made it out with a duck whistle for the distraction and victory — please, take all of these women off of my TV –I hated this. Heyman was backstage psyching Axel up. Axel made it out with Heyman, and Heyman cut a promo saying that he was the most exclusive advocate in the history of the business, and being a Heyman guy means that you are amongst the elite in the history of the business. Axel said that his father became Mr. Perfect despite winning the title in Texas, he was more perfect than perfect. R-Truth was in the ring for a match. Punk ran down during the match and took Axel out…the bell did not ring at all. Punk went after Heyman, but Axel ran back at Punk to make the save. Heyman then sprinted off before Axel was clotheslined over the barricade and down to the floor.


Triple H was talking to Vince backstage. Vince suggested that he was trying to use reverse psychology, he wanted someone who could beat Cena, someone like Triple H, but 23 years younger. Stephanie suggested a corporate makeover, Vince wished her luck and walked off. Cena and Ryback were out for their mainevent tables match. Towards the last few minutes of the match, Cena threw a table at Ryback, Ryback slid under the ring and landed a big spear on Cena on the floor. Cena went for the AA through a ladder/steps bridge, and they did a creative spot where both men faced off between the bridge. Both men grabbed steps, Ryback crushed the table with the steps. It turns out that they landed at a stalemate, but Cena landed the spinout powerbomb on the steps and the five knuckle shuffle. Ryback made it back up, and landed a big clothesline. Ryback almost ran through the table, but Cena then landed an AA through a table in the corner for the win. This sent Bryan yes’ing his way down to the ring. Bryan grabbed the title and looked like he was going to hand it to Cena, pulled it away and said that it was going to be his. The fans chanted yes, Cena played along, but then grabbed it out of Bryan’s hands and mouthed that he would have to order it. The mainevent went a tad long, but the final angle was good.


RAW Ratings for July 29th 2013


The RAW viewership for Monday’s taped edition of RAW was slightly down from last week drawing a 2.9 rating and 3.77 million viewers over three hours. As far as patterns go it followed what is now a very standard RAW pattern of starting out low peaking for a second hour, and then dropping off slightly towards the end, only to gain a large amount of viewers for the overrun segment.


The show started off very low at a 2.87 for a wacky Vince promo, together with Maddox and Bryan. The Shield six-man against the Usos and Henry then dropped off even further by losing a very bad 409,000 viewers, which is terrible for how low they started. This really does show just how far the Shield have fallen, and to no fault mostly. A Wyatt Family promo and Ryback killing people in catering gained 167,000 viewers, which isn’t surprising given the fact that they started off very low, and couldn’t have dropped much further from there. The RVD/Fandango match gained a further 135,000 viewers. AJ versus Kaitlyn and the Ziggler/Big.E matches at 21:00 gained 361,000 to a 3.06 quarter.


The 20:00 to 21:00 hour drew 3.66 million viewers (a 1.21 rating and 1.536 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, ninth for the night on cable behind the Big Bang Theory).


In the post 21:00 segment Alberto and Christian lost 206,000 viewers. Cody Rhodes versus Wade Barrett lost a further 85,000 viewers. Then in the 22:00 slot Kane and Bryan gained only 60,000 viewers, which brought them down to a 2.9, simply awful.


The 21:00 to 22:00 hour drew 3.9 million viewers (a 1.29 and 1.632 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, sixth for the night on cable behind the 22:00 Big Bang Theory show).


Brie Bella versus Natalya lost a further 92,000 viewers. Axel versus R-Truh even with the Punk run in lost 145,000 viewers. Finally, coming off all of those heavy loses, the Cena/Ryback tables match did very well gaining 769,000 viewers to a 3.29 overrun.


The 22:00 to 23:08 hour drew 3.75 million viewers (a 1.26 and 1.599 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, fifth for the night, behind the second hour). The demos for the night were as follows: 2.0 in males 18-49, a 2.0 in male teenagers, a 1.0 in females 18-49 and a 1.0 in female teenagers.


WWE – NXT. July 31st 2013.

Full Sail University, Florida.

Ben Carass.


Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady showed up to get us started this week. Enzo said they were the realist guys in the room and “Big Cass” claimed the duo was undefeated as a team. Enzo insisted the pair were not, “S.A.W.F.T – Soft” then he stated the NXT landscape was a giant dance floor and the two comedy geeks began to party in the ring. Tons of Funk came out and upstaged the heels with their signature brand of synchronised lard jiggling; Enzo and Cassady began to head up the ramp, but Mason Ryan appeared and intimidated the heels back towards the ring. Tons of Funk easily took care of Amore and Cassady then Ryan finished off Enzo with a cobra clutch slam. After some coaxing from the tubby funsters, Mason Ryan began to dance with Brodus and Sweet T in the most uncoordinated manner imaginable.


What a wretched way to start the show. The only positive thing I can say about this segment is that the fans have taken a liking to Enzo and his goofy character, which isn’t exactly perfect since the he is more over than the babyface (Ryan) that he is feuding with.


Emma and Paige were in the Commissioner’s office with Dusty Rhodes. The Dream put them over for their title match last week then Summer Rae walked in and claimed she should have the pretty new belt because she had beaten Paige before. Paige offered to break Summer’s face, however Summer said none of this would have happened if Emma didn’t “steal a victory” over her in the semi-final. Emma told her she lost fair and square then said Summer’s dancing sucked. “Mrs Fandango” was outraged, but Dusty calmed things down then Summer challenged Emma to a dance contest; keep in mind, the very first thing on this show was two teams coming out and dancing. Dusty said that was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard, but he admitted he liked the idea; I imagine this was what the WCW booking team meetings were like. Emma accepted the challenge and did her goofy funky lobster dance; Summer mocked her moves then Paige told the both of them that the winner would be irrelevant, because they would ultimately lose to her.


All that hard work Paige and Emma put in last week is going to be completely negated when Emma becomes the number one contender after winning a dance-off. This has got to be one of the worst NXT openings in history.


Tony Dawson and William Regal lied through their teeth and said the show had been great so far then Charlotte made her entrance, sadly without Ric Flair. Sasha Banks emerged for the first match on the show.


Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks


Sasha controlled her much bigger opponent with some basic opening holds and armdrags; Charlotte executed a roll-up from the splits position then landed a chop. Sasha sold like she was insulted by the chop and she unleashed a series of horrible looking slaps then landed her springboard armdrag for a two count. Sasha worked a camel-clutch then got another two off a reverse jack-knife pinning combo and followed up with a running double knee strike in the corner. Charlotte did the Ray Stevens flip in the corner for the transition then she delivered a

clothesline and hit a flipping Ace-crusher for the finish.


Charlotte defeated Sasha Banks via pinfall, at 3:17.


This wasn’t very good at all. Bayley did a good job of carrying Charlotte in her debut, unfortunately Sasha was unable to do the same and as a result the match came off clunky, plus both women looked very green here. I’m all for pushing the daughter of Ric Flair, however it does nobody any good at all to put her on TV before she is ready.


Renee Young tried to interview Tyler Breeze about his debut last week, however the male model was too interested in looking at the selfies he took on his cell phone. Tyler put himself over for being gorgeous and talked about the world not being ready to experience his beauty. For some reason, CJ Parker was mugging for the camera in the background then he suddenly vanished without being noticed. Tyler told Renee the interview was over and she looked confused then said: “Tyler Breeze has left the building”.


A Wyatt Family vignette aired then after a break, Aiden English and Mickey Keegan were in the ring. The Wyatt Family made their main roster entrance, complete with intro video and lantern.


The Wyatt Family w/Bray Wyatt vs. Mickey Keegan & Aiden English


The Family went on the attack right away; Keegan got dumped to the floor then Harper hit English with a discuss lariat and Rowan landed a splash to complete the squash.


The Wyatt Family defeated Mickey Keegan & Aiden English via pinfall, at 0:26.


The fans swayed their arms to the melodic theme music and Bray Wyatt planted English with his reverse STO then got on the stick. He said today was the day he changed everything and the day Hell froze over, because he had decided to bring down the machine. Bray stated that his family would say goodbye to NXT for the time being, however he would not be hard to find, because all you have to do is look up and follow the buzzards. Wyatt posed with Harper and Rowan as the crowd chanted, “thank you Bray”.


This was a very interesting segment and finally something decent on this horrible show. The match was nothing, but Bray’s promo was fantastic and more concise than usual. Plus he didn’t heel on the fans for their positive reaction and as a result the whole arena came off as Wyatt Family followers. The crowd at Full Sail are a strange bunch; I wouldn’t say they are a “smart” crowd, but they do cheer for who they like, heel or face and they react to guys that have returned from the main roster like heroes returning from war. I’d say they actually helped this promo and made the Family seem like big stars.


Corey Graves was sat in the locker room; Adrian Neville walked in and said he would be in Corey’s corner for his match against Scott Dawson later on, just in case the Wyatt Family wanted payback for losing the Tag Team titles. Graves said they would show the Family what going through Hell was really like and stated the Tag Champs don’t run from anyone. Neville repeated the sentiment and stated, “we run from no one”.


Sylvester LeFort hit the stage and talked about the importance of money. He said there was only one man that came to mind when he thought about money then brought out Scott Dawson. Corey Graves was accompanied out by fellow Tag Champ, Adrian Neville.


Corey Graves (NXT Tag Team Champion) w/Adrian Neville vs. Scott Dawson w/Sylvester LeFort


Graves missed a splash in the corner early and Dawson began to get the heat immediately. Dawson dropped some elbows and landed some shots, which led to some near-falls then Graves landed a boot after a telegraphed backdrop. Finish saw Corey hit a chop-block then apply the Fuller-lock to get the tap-out.


Corey Graves defeated Scott Dawson via submission, at 2:02.


Neville got in the ring and the Tag Champs held their belts in the air; The Shield’s music hit and the people at Full Sail freaked out. The trio stood on the stage and Rollins declared they were back then reminded everyone that the last time they were on NXT they left Graves laying in the middle of the ring. Rollins noted that Corey had won himself a Tag Team Championship and was almost like himself and Roman Reigns, almost but not quite. Ambrose accused Neville of being a “thief” for sneaking into Kassius Ohno’s spot and stealing the Tag Team Championship, which was an injustice that was punishable by the law of the Shield. Ambrose said Neville had “won the lottery”, because he was being offered a shot at greatness then challenged Adrian to a match. Neville wanted to do it right then and there for the US Title, but Ambrose stated he wasn’t just another “NXT chump” and told Adrian he would have to wait until next week. Neville stated he would destroy the Shield piece by piece, starting with Ambrose and said justice would be served when he won the US Title then he told the Shield to, “believe in that”.

The match was way too short, however it didn’t hurt Dawson all that much because he took 99% of the offence. I enjoyed the post-match angle; Ambrose and Rollins were as good as ever, plus Neville delivered his lines confidently and everything he said invoked a reaction from the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, he still needs more practice, which he should be awarded after his performance here.


Leo Kruger came down and they showed footage of his victory over Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro in the three-way from two weeks ago. Antonio Cesaro got a babyface pop when he came through the curtain to join Leo. Sami Zayn was out next then Bo Dallas was booed out of the building when he showed up for the main event.


Bo Dallas (NXT Champion) & Sami Zayn vs. Leo Kruger & Antonio Cesaro


Sami shone at the start with a series of armdrags to Kruger then much to the crowd’s displeasure,

Bo Dallas tagged in. A big, “we the people” chant broke out, as Bo took Cesaro over with some armdrags of his own. The heat spot was the old chase and cut off, with Sami pursuing Antonio then getting caught by Leo; Sami fought from underneath, but was shut down before the break. The heels kept the heat on Sami with frequent tags; Cesaro landed a big European uppercut and Regal explained that Europeans are so good at that specific uppercut, because a punch was illegal in all forms of European wrestling and guys had to figure out another way to knock their opponent down. He should have just said, we didn’t used to throw hokey looking punches in Europe, because we knew better and wanted to protect the integrity of the style. Sami showed some fight, but Kruger and Cesaro kept him in their half of the ring; Antonio landed a flurry of shots in the corner then delivered a nasty looking powerbomb for a two count. Sami fought up from a chinlock to land a boot, however Cesaro managed to make the tag and Leo cut Zayn off, however Sami rolled up Kruger who kicked out, which led to Sami making the hot tag. Bo ran wild on Leo and landed his tornado bulldog, but Cesaro broke up the pin; Sami took Antonio over the top with a clothesline and the two brawled up the ramp, to the back. For the finish, Bo delivered his wacky belly-to-belly and Leo rolled to the floor; Bo rolled him back inside and went for a splash in the corner, but Leo caught him with a knee then hit the slice (open handed clothesline) for the three count.


Leo Kruger & Antonio Cesaro defeated Bo Dallas & Sami Zayn via pinfall, at 9:35 (TV Time).


Leo did some bizarre panting gimmick then he headed up the ramp and with a crazed look said “ta, ta Bo”.


A decent match, however it wasn’t at the level of other NXT tag main events, plus the hot tag and finish were flat due to the crowd’s hatred of Bo Dallas. They really need to kill this Cena gimmick dead, as I cannot see how it is productive in any way. At least Cena has enough charisma to shrug off the flack he receives and it’s not too hard to understand why the kids and women idolise the guy; Bo on the other hand comes off like a complete, unfunny joke. Maybe if they have him go heel he might stand a better chance, but the geniuses in creative have really dealt Bo a bad hand. Instead of listening to the fans, they panicked and thought, “What can we do? We want Bo as the top babyface, but the people hate him”. So, and remember these people get paid for this, they came up with the “Bo-lievers” garbage and just assumed their idea of playing up the “mixed reaction” would work, because it’s worked for ten years with Cena. There is only one problem, and hold on to your seat: Bo Dallas is not, nor will he ever be, John Cena.

This was a dire episode of NXT; really one of the worst editions of the show I can remember since the restart of the series last year. The first decent thing was Bray Wyatt’s promo, nearly a third of the way through the show and the main event was ok. I cannot recommend you skip this episode enough; for the first 20 minutes of this show, it was literally one horrendous thing after another. Next week could be interesting, with Neville vs. Ambrose and Bo vs. Kruger for the belt, however we also get a title contender decided by winning a dance contest. Regardless, I can’t see how next week’s show could be much worse than what we got here.


TNA iMPACT August 1st 2013

Kay Yeager Coliseum, Wichita Falls, Texas


Overall Thoughts:


It would be difficult to give this show a thumbs down due to the two very good matches that helped carry the show. The Sabin/Manik match earlier on the card was very good, with a particularly engrossing opening sequence, and the Aries/Styles match was everything that you would have expected. They had a physical war that was probably one of the best TNA TV matches that we have seen in months. As for the August 1st videos that led to the introduction of Ortiz, I wasn’t a big fan at all. Firstly it was stupid to build to his debut in one week, with a bonus couple of days via twitter, which only a very small percentage of the audience was able to see. Ignoring the build, the reveal itself was super lackluster, as the lights went off and out he came with very little fanfare, reaction or reason. In fact, I don’t even know if the fans in the building were able to realize the correlation between Ortiz and the videos, and if they did, I don’t know what portion knew who Ortiz was. Making matters worse is the fact that they now have a third MMA fighter on the roster that they can’t do anything with and that they have to use in angles given that he has been introduced as such. If you watch one thing from this show it should be the Aries/Styles match, because it was very good — everything else was very much skippable.


Daniels and Kazarian were discussing the August 1st warning videos. Taz was trying to get in the building, but was told that he wasn’t allowed in the building due to Hogan’s orders. Taz yelled that they were done and left. Borash and Tenay were the ones on commentary, which was fine by me, because Borash is really great in the role. There was an August 1st Warning video; the first time that anyone outside of twitter was introduced to one of these. Austin Aries made it out in a suit to chants of his name. He congratulated Sabin and he would be coming after him by winning the BFG series. He called the Styles/Aries match a dream match, and even got a cheap pop, so he is now a babyface for no apparent reason. I guess him wishing Sabin luck was the turn. He promised a win and great showing when Roode made it out. People had forgotten exactly what Roode was capable of, as he listed his accolades. Aries sad that he would make it to the finals so that he could beat Roode again and wished him luck to close off a fun opening spot. Hernandez made it out as Aries was walking off, but Roode jumped him on his way into the ring. Roode was in control after the break sending Hernandez into the steps. Hernandez missed a big splash, which allowed Roode to grab a crossface, but Hernandez powered out. Roode grabbed a low blow, but Hernandez still kicked out of the cradle. This sent Roode into a rage throwing chairs into the ring. He used this as a distraction to grab a beer bottle from under the ring, which he smashed over Hernandez’ head for the pin.


The Mainevent Mafia was walking through the back. There was a clip of Kazarian live tweeting. ODB and Young were backstage talking about ODB’s first match back in a while for later on. Park came by and provided Park with a solution to his bleeding problem. He provided him with a box for later on and they walked off. Then TJ Perkins and Sabin were backstage. Perkins was trying to explain how the mask had provided him with power — this was so stupid. Sabin asked for his best. Why do this? A hummer limousine rolled up. Jay Bradley made it out as they showed a pretty bad pretaped promo. Joe Park made it out with Young and his box to go up against Bradley, in the box was amateur wrestling headgear. Park ended up pinning Bradley with a Samoan drop, so Bradley really isn’t doing well. The Mafia was talking backstage asking if anyone had any information on the August 1st warning; nothing. They all proclaimed that they were ready to make sacrifices and make the Aces & Eights an offer that they couldn’t refuse. Manik made it out for his match with Sabin, I still don’t get the point of the mask. They had an awesome exchange to open up the match. Manik unloaded with an impressive strike series. Sabin landed the cradle shock soon after for the win in a good TV match. Ray stormed the ring after the match and laid both Manik and Sabin out with the chain. Sabin unloaded with strikes and chops cleaning house with an enzuigiri.


Taz came by the limo and opened the door only to reveal another laptop. Storm was shown live tweeting. Daniels and Kazarian were talking backstage talking about how TNA was trying to plant descent between the two of them. Daniels said that he was undefeated, and called Kazarian “poor Frankie”, which sent Kazarian off. He said that he would earn his points, and not have them handed to him. He emptied Daniels appletini. Please don’t end this team, please! ODB was out for a match with Kim. They got quite a bit of time going back and forth before Kim threw ODB to the floor and threw her into the steps for a double count out. This sent Kim after ODB for a pull apart. They cut to emo Styles backstage calling himself “greedy and power hungry”. There was another August 1st Warning video, and they showed a video of King Mo’s recent Bellator win. Ray was giving the Aces & Eights a prep talk in the back saying how he wanted to break both of Sabin’s knees. Brooke came by…to the club house! This was done very nonchalantly, and she said that there were some things that Ray wouldn’t like in the Harcore Justice contract and left…basically blackmailing him for a divorce. Styles and Aries were out for a BFG series match. They went back and forth. Styles made it out of the lash chancery and went for the calf killer, but Aries landed a brainbuster and Styles still kicked out. Styles got the knees up off of a 450 splash. Styles went for a springboard, but the ropes were cut out from under him, and Aries was dropped face first on the apron with a front suplex. Aries then landed a back body drop off of the ramp to the outside, with Styles hitting his head on the way down. Aries then shot out with a tope, but was sent into the steps. Death and carnage. Styles was dropped right on his head with a backdrop, but popped up with a pele with Aries falling on Styles for the win. This was an awesome TV match, worth going out of your way to see. (*** ¾)


The Mafia made it out in their suits, and said that they still needed the Aces & Eights gone. They brought the Aces & Eights down to proclaim their offer. Anderson said that they wouldn’t back down. Angle wanted a 5 on 5 match for Hardcore Justice. The person who was pinned would leave the company forever, so a better way to cost cuts. This led to a big brawl. Anderson then accepted after the Mafia cleaned house. Then the lights went out and Tito Ortiz made it out with no rhyme reason or video package and the show ended. What a terrible debut this was.


WWE SmackDown – August 2nd 2013.

Toyota Centre: Houston, TX 

Ben Carass.


For the first time in a while, SmackDown opened with the full title sequence and pyro; Cole welcomed us to the show then some graphics hyped CM Punk vs. Fandango, plus AJ vs. Kaitlyn for the Diva’s Title. Alberto Del Rio came out to announce his opponent for SummerSlam and at ringside Michael Cole was join by Alex Riley. Apparently Riley is the current colour guy on SuperStars, which was news to me, as I haven’t watched that show since Bryan vs. Regal from Liverpool in 2011. Alberto said the fans didn’t support him during his babyface run as champ, but they could do nothing about him holding the belt again and he thanked Vickie Guerrero for letting him choose his challenger at SummerSlam. Alberto claimed John Cena had wasted his choice by picking Daniel Bryan, which made Del Rio think about selecting the beast Brock Lesnar as his opponent, however Del Rio noted Brock was already booked at the PPV. He then said he thought about doing something crazy by giving the shot to Houston’s own Booker T, but Alberto called Book a disappointment just like everyone else from Houston. So, Del Rio got to the point and said his real choice was big, fast, strong, and one of the greatest athletes of all-time; after a drumroll, a picture Ricardo Rodriguez appeared on the Tron and Alberto declared his pal as the number one contender. Vickie Guerrero showed up; she felt disrespected by Del Rio’s choice and told him ‘¡Cállate!’ which got a nice reaction from the crowd. Vickie called Ricardo a, “jiggly little man-child” and said she expected better from Alberto. Del Rio told her he meant no disrespect then offered to choose somebody else, like the Brooklyn Brawler; Vickie insisted she, nor Vince McMahon would like that decision and she booked a number one contender’s three-way. Rob Van Dam was announced first and he came out; Christian followed then Randy Orton was the final participant in the match. All three guys stood on the stage and eyeballed Alberto.


This was fine, however from a logic standpoint why were the Van Dam, Orton and Christian ready to come out with their music all cued up if Del Rio was supposed to select his opponent? Maybe Vickie knew he would make a poor choice or perhaps the music guy assumed Alberto would pick one of the three. Anyway, there have been much worse in-ring angles than this to start off the show; this was just your average SmackDown opening segment and it set up the three-way admirably.


Cole and A-Ry hyped AJ vs. Kaitlyn and Punk vs. Fandango again, then after a break the two talked about the Cody Rhodes/Damien Sandow angle. They showed a recap of the show long storyline of Cody stealing the briefcase last week then Jack Swagger was in the ring with Zeb Colter. Cody Rhodes made his way out; he interrupted Zeb’s pre-match rant and dropped Swagger with a right hand before the bell.


Cody Rhodes vs. Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter


Cody landed a knee strike to make the first cover of the match, however Swagger came back with his high single-leg and started to get some heat. Cody showed some fight and went for the disaster-kick, but Swagger caught him with an axe-handle then landed a Vader-bomb for a two count. The finish came out of nowhere when Cody reversed the Doctor-bomb into a roll-up to get the three.


Cody Rhodes defeated Jack Swagger via pinfall, at 2:02.


Not much to this one, although I like a finish that tells the people a match can end at any time and you don’t need a bunch of falsies every time. The win was good for Cody, but not so much for Swagger, who seems to be learning what happens when you get caught driving with barely even enough marijuana to make one joint with.


After a break, Josh Matthews was in the back with Cody and he asked why Rhodes threw Sandow’s briefcase into the Gulf of Mexico. Cody said he didn’t blame Damien for costing him the briefcase at Money in the Bank, because he probably would have done the same and claimed his real issue was with Sandow’s arrogance. Cody said he was fed up with listening to Damien talk down to everyone and made a joke comparing throwing the briefcase into the Gulf to the deep water Horizon oil spill then added the best part of Team Rhodes Scholars was, Rhodes. Sandow jumped Cody from behind and laid a beating on him, until Road Dogg and IRS showed up to pull Damien off him.


I liked that they established Cody is not whining about losing the briefcase and instead has finally had enough of Sandow’s obnoxious heel behaviour.


Sin Cara took a break from looking through random equipment boxes in the back and appeared for a match. Big E. Langston came down and they showed the finish of Big E. vs. Dolph Ziggler on Raw. Riley said he felt bad for the heel Big E, because he lost his best friend and had to deal with the crazy AJ. I thought that was Ziggler’s gimmick, you know, the supposed face in this whole angle.


Sin Cara vs. Big E. Langston


The utterly redundant gimmick lighting was deployed, however it did Sin Cara no good, as Big E landed a clothesline right away. Cara came back with an enzuigiri for a two count, but Big E delivered a backdrop; Ziggler was watching on a TV in the back. Big E got the heat and worked a camel-clutch in the ropes then slapped on an abdominal-stretch. Finish saw Sin Cara land a couple of enzuigiris from the apron then he went for a springboard cross-body; Big E caught him in his finish, but Cara escaped and tried for a lionsault. Big E caught him again and planted him with the big ending to get the pin.


Big E. Langston defeated Sin Cara via pinfall, at 2:51.


In the back, Ziggler shook his head and looked concerned; Big E pounded his chest in celebration.


This was nothing more than a prolonged squash, which I’m fine with as Big E has hardly been established as an unstoppable powerhouse going into this programme with Dolph. I certainly hope we don’t get another match between the two with a screwy finish on Raw.


A vignette recapped the Wyatt Family’s path of destruction since their debut then Kaitlyn, with Layla, showed up for an interview with Renee Young. Kaitlyn said she was ready for the match and brought up that she won the Diva’s title in the same arena earlier this year. Layla claimed in all her years, she had never seen anyone like Kaitlyn and the two hugged.


Del Rio was in Vickie’s newly redecorated office, complete with leopard print walls and cushions. Vickie asked if Alberto was afraid of a little competition and Del Rio stated he was scared of no man then claimed Vickie was mistreating the World Champ. Brad Maddox walked in and told Vickie she made the right call; Alberto was outraged, but Maddox told him he would be under his authority on Raw and Del Rio stormed off.


This literally achieved nothing.


Fandango and Summer Rae danced their way out then we saw the segment from last week that led to this match. CM Punk made his entrance and they showed Punk taking out Curtis Axel on Raw.


CM Punk vs. Fandango w/ Summer Rae


Punk shone early with some strikes then they traded a few basic opening spots. Punk went for a GTS, but Fandango escaped and slid to the floor. We came back from commercial just in time for the heat spot; Summer was bad-mouthing Punk on the floor and Fandango took advantage with an ambush right hand then he whipped Punk into the steps and tried to take a count-out. Punk beat the count at 9 and he began to sell for the heat; for whatever reason, Riley talked about the ill-fated season 4 of NXT that Johnny Curtis won. Punk fought up from a chinlock to land a series of strikes in the corner for some hope, but Fandango cut him off with a boot to the face. Fandango missed a knee off the second rope and Punk started his comeback then went up top for the Macho Man elbow. Fandango rolled to the apron, where he caught Punk with a kick and followed up with a sloppy version of the falcon arrow for a near-fall. For the finish, Punk crotched Fandango on the top rope and landed a superplex and floated over into the anaconda-vice to get the tap.


CM Punk defeated Fandango via submission, at 8:45 (TV Time).


Punk celebrated and Cole hyped the SummerSlam match with Lesnar.


This was fairly average, but it was entertaining and they did fine with the traditional lengthy middle of the show match; other than his WrestleMania match with Jericho I’d say this was probably Fandango’s best outing to date. Much like his match with Darren Young, Punk sold a lot and had a competitive match with a guy he didn’t have to do that for. Although, I’m not sure beating the ballroom dancer is the best way to build Punk up for a fight with a killing machine like Lesnar.


Rob Van Dam was with Renee in the back; RVD told her he was ready for anything, including Christian and Orton. Christian appeared and he stated that he deserved one more match. Orton then showed up; he said that he had the chance to win the WWE and World Title then told RVD he had a welcome back present in the form of an RKO. Van Dam replied that he didn’t return to the WWE for a trip down memory lane and declared he wanted the gold.


Kaitlyn came out with Layla; they showed her pinning AJ on Raw then the Diva’s Champ skipped out. Cole said Maddox and Vickie had decided that Big E was no longer allowed at ringside for AJ’s matches, because it gave her an unfair advantage.


What? So is nobody in the entire company allowed a second anymore? Clearly not, as Layla accompanied Kaitlyn. This had better not be the spilt of Big E and AJ, because they just wasted weeks of potential stories.


Diva’s Championship Match: Kaitlyn w/ Layla vs. AJ (C)


Kaitlyn used her power to get the early advantage; AJ delivered an arm-ringer which dropped Kaitlyn throat first across the bottom rope then worked a sleeper. Kaitlyn fought up, only to eat a spinning heel kick, however she came back with a dropkick and landed her gutbuster. AJ rolled to the floor and Kaitlyn sent her into the barricade then set up for a spear. Layla stepped in front of AJ and said, “no”; AJ sent Kaitlyn head first into the barricade then got the submission with the black widow.


AJ defeated Kaitlyn via submission, at 3:18 to retain the Diva’s Championship.


AJ and Layla skipped up the ramp then celebrated their deception with a hug.

At least this turn sort-of made sense, as Kaitlyn buried Layla a few weeks ago with those text messages. Still, I am not looking forward to a feud between Kaitlyn and Layla; hopefully, Kaitlyn will run through her quickly on her way to AJ again and we don’t have to put up with weeks of the two heels bullying Kaitlyn for being fat. Also, I have no idea where this leaves Big E.


The Raw rebound told the story of Cena choosing Bryan and the subsequent fallout then we got an unnecessary amount of Cena vs. Ryback in the tables match from last Monday.

A briefcase-less Randy Orton was out first for the main event then Christian and Rob Van Dam hit the ring for the three-way. Alberto Del Rio came out to the stage and said he would be watching backstage while the three beat the “guacamole” out of each other then said one of the guys in the ring would be tapping out to ADR at SummerSlam.


Number One Contender’s Match for the World Championship: Randy Orton vs. Christian vs. Rob Van Dam


All three men traded shots then Orton was dumped outside. Van Dam caught Christian with a springboard kick then went for rolling thunder, but Orton dragged him to the floor. Van Dam sent Randy into the steps then draped him over the rail and landed his legdrop off the apron; Christian hit RVD with a spear on the floor as the lead in to the break. When we joined things again, Christian planted Van Dam with a tornado DDT for a two count then Orton got back in and hit Christian with a Thesz-press. Randy delivered a superplex for a two count, but Van Dam entered and nailed each guy with some kicks then scored with a split-leg moonsault on Orton to get a near-fall. Christian dumped both men to the outside and bodyslammed Randy on the floor; Van Dam countered and slammed Christian then took out both men with a summersault plancha. After another break, Orton escaped the killswitch, but took a big thrust-kick off the top from Van Dam; RVD hit Christian with the five-star frogsplash and Orton broke up the pin. Randy countered rolling thunder into a powerslam then dropkicked Van Dam off the apron; Christian tried for the killswitch again, however Randy escaped to land the hangman’s DDT. The finish came when Van Dam got back in the ring and Orton dropped him with an RKO immediately; Christian countered another RKO into a backslide to get the win.


Christian defeated Randy Orton & Rob Van Dam to become the number one contender for the World Championship, at 9:15 (TV Time).


Cole put over Christian for the victory, as well as Orton and Van Dam for their effort. Orton circled Christian then the two shook hands; Van Dam got to his feet and he shook hands with Christian too. Josh Matthews got in the ring for the Joe Rogan post-fight interview, however Del Rio jumped Christian from behind and drilled him with a short superkick. The show went off the air with Alberto standing over the fallen body of his challenger at SummerSlam.


This main event was great and the post-match angle was nicely done. All three guys looked good in the match and they all got most of their signature stuff in; there was good action right from the start and credit should also go to Michael Cole, who can get over a great match and an important win when he isn’t clowning around with JBL or Lawler. I am a little surprised at Christian getting the shot, as I have been somewhat critical of how he has been booked since his return and Van Dam might have been a better choice. But that’s irrelevant now, so let’s see if they can give Christian some steam with the two weeks of shows before the PPV. Putting on exciting matches every week is probably a good place to start and he has more than proven he is capable of doing exactly that.


Another average SmackDown this week. The main event is worth your time and Punk vs. Fandango was fine; other than that there wasn’t much else of any real importance. Sandow attacked Cody backstage to keep their story going and Layla made an inconsequential turn that nobody cares about. I imagine they will do something with Maddox and Del Rio on Raw, as they hinted that Brad was using his authority to keep Alberto in line. However they will likely just forget all about that and have Christian coming for revenge after the attack at the end of the main event here.


Next Week’s Issue


We have a huge issue for you next week covering tons from the G1, the Tito Ortiz story, news on Angle, RAW from Green Bay with Lesnar, Mark Robinson covers PWG’s new DVD ‘Is Your Body Ready?’, Ben covers what will hopefully be a better edition of NXT, SmackDown, we look at iMPACT with more Tito and tons more!




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