Cubed Circle Newsletter — Road to Night of Champions Part I
It is September 8th 2013 and our penultimate issue leading up to issue 100. In a turn of events that was quite apropos leading up to the 100th issue, last week as I mentioned, I broke the site completely (don’t go around deleting wp and SQL files, it does not help issues, I can assure you) for three days, and was a nightmare to fix. Luckily we were able to get the site back up on Monday, but as I have said so many times, technical issues are very much our forte. Regardless of those technical issues we have a standard edition of the Cubed Circle Newsletter this week with coverage of WWE on the Road to Night of Champions, iMPACT, RAW, NXT and SmackDown with Ben Carass, and tons of random news at the end of the issue. We were going to have coverage of this week’s New Japan iPPV on the Road to Destruction, but unfortunately time didn’t really work out the way I had wanted it to. But, never fear, as we will be covering that show and much more in issue 100 next week! With all of that out of the way I hope that you enjoy the newsletter and your week!
— Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor
Night of Champions Build Pretty Bumpy
While this week hasn’t been the quickest in terms of breaking news and stories, there is no shortage of items to talk about when it comes to the amount of logical inconsistencies and perplexing story telling that we have seen over this week and last. Whether it was TNA and their creative teams failed attempts to book a simple round robin tournament (even if they say it was never supposed to be a round robin tournament to begin with), to WWE and their clear ineptitude when it comes to properly booking a top babyface star. Indeed, there is no shortage of armchair booking to be done here.
Whilst the “TNA is TNA” excuse is a bit of a cop out in many situations, I would like to use it here, as let’s face it, people expect these things from TNA. What makes far much more of a difference when it comes to long term business, and the direction that the business takes for the rest of 2013, is the handling of WWE’s top angle with Daniel Bryan being built as the current top babyface of the promotion after SummerSlam, and building to Night of Champions. When they did the Triple H heel turn at SummerSlam, I understood the move, although I have never been a very big fan of such quick title swaps. Never the less, they followed it along in what felt like a relatively reasonable manner the next night by having the McMahons explain their motives for the heel turn and why they didn’t want to have Bryan as champion. Bringing up the cosmetic appearance of Bryan, his size, and how much Orton was the face of the company, and while there is certainly room for a character such as the current heel Triple H to make such comments towards a star like Bryan, in the end when done as frequently as they have been in recent weeks it is a detriment to the product in the end.
Apart from picking Bryan apart on promos, and doing so to other people on the roster who are far less shielded, they have had the Shield lay Bryan out on just about every show now leading to Night of Champions. Having the Shield destroy Bryan as a once off, maybe twice off gimmick is fine, but when he is destroyed week after week and nothing happens, then the public perception of the babyface starts to roll down hill, and that’s what’s going to happen here if they are not careful. There is a reason that during a tag match the heels get the heat, build the babyface up, cut the face back down, build them back up, and drop them back down again even harder before making the tag — it gets the crowd invested in the match to the point where they want to see the tag more than anything else, and then you give it to them. This is what they were doing with Bryan, but unlike the babyface in the classic model he is getting no heat spots, and no openings, and while the crowd are into Bryan as a performer at the time being, if they continue in this path I doubt that they could prolong that heat.
What followed on this week’s edition of RAW was even more perplexing, as Big Show in the babyface role, was forced under rather strange and obscured conditions, to have a match with Bryan in the mainevent. On the surface that seems fine enough, but the main issue, apart from Bryan not coming off as a sympathetic character at all, was that the Big Show was able to lay him out without even trying, which is fine for a midcard act, but not so fine for the person that you are trying to build as your top babyface.
Then when looking at Night of Champions you are left with an even bigger problem, as I doubt they will put the title on Bryan, but with all of the heat being placed on him, and all of these beatdowns taking place, unless they follow it up with something special, they run the risk of losing their audience’s interest in the long run. To go back to the tag team analogy it would be the equivalent of getting the heat for so long, and with no hope spots thrown in, that the crowd eventually die down and don’t care for the hot tag, in this case Orton’s comeuppance and Bryan’s title victory.
These are all things that tie in directly with another recurring summer theme, and that is the placement of Triple H in hot feuds, and the role of the heel authority figure in modern pro-wrestling, but that, dear reader, is a discussion for issue 100 next week.
WWE Monday Night RAW September 2nd 2013
Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa
I have heard many mixed opinions on this week’s edition of RAW, some say that it was a fine show, others describe it as very bad, and while most times I tend to lean towards the middle of arguments of this sort, I find myself tending quite the ways towards the latter. It was by no means a show on the level of the Triple H walk out show, or the Muppet edition of RAW, but from a creative standpoint this week’s show was very weak. Most of these weaknesses came in the form of the Big Show angle, which simply didn’t work from multiple aspects. It didn’t work because Big Show wasn’t Stephanie’s “giant” at 12 years old. It didn’t work because Bryan didn’t come across as sympathetic. It just didn’t make much sense is the point. What is a subject that has fewer people split is the matter of Triple H burying half the roster, which is walking a very fine line between a gimmick that can work a very large percentage of the audience, and one that is very counter productive. In the beginning I was leaning more towards the former, but at this point, especially with this week’s edition of SmackDown and Triple H’s past history; I think that they are balancing on the wrong side of that line. They have repeated the same exact angle week in and week out, and while Bryan has come across as a great character at times, they have more opportunities in other directions, and right now those aren’t being harnessed. There just isn’t room for a Steve Austin like character in the mold of the 1990s in 2013, and even if there was, they certainly aren’t doing a good job with it.
The show opened up in identical fashion to last week with the Shield at ringside, and Triple H in the ring welcoming Orton. Michael Cole claimed that one anonymous member of the locker room called this a ‘Reign of Terror’. If the wrestlers can’t say it, why can the announcers? Orton mentioned Bryan, and the whole crowd chanted “yes”. He claimed that his actions on RAW and SmackDown were simple acts of retaliation to the deformation of his car last week. Orton asked if Bryan should face him at Night of Champions. “No”. Did Bryan have a chance of beating him? “No”. Should Bryan give up is opportunity to face Orton at Night of Champions? “Yes”. Hunter went off saying that he wanted to deliver the best product possible. Bryan was a detriment to himself, and the people were to blame too, for chanting yes. The crowd erupted. There is a difference between what is best for business, and what the people cheer for he said. Bryan was like Doink, and like Doink he should never reach the brass ring. If this was real, surely Doink would have reached the brass ring if he was good enough. If not, then what is the point of the entire company? Triple H said that he could bring the European or a cruiserweight title for Bryan to aspire to. Just then Bryan made it out. The only clowns he saw were Orton and Hunter. So I guess they just threw Doink’s name in there for a silly clown joke. He understood why both men wanted him to give up his title shot. He asked if he should give up his shot, but said that it was the same answer to the question of whether or not Orton was more masculine than Stephanie McMahon. “No” — your standard goofy babyface line this was. Orton had never been told no, but he had. He was told that he was nothing more than a “good little hand”, and he would never be champion. Bryan was incredibly fired up at this point, and said that if Orton and Hunter didn’t think that Bryan could beat Orton he would have them wrestle one on one. Bryan had more heart than Orton. Triple H said that there was one person that Bryan could be angry with, a person who was 7 foot, 500lbs, and had an iron clad contract; and that’s why he would go one on one with Big Show in the mainevent. This opening segment felt exactly the same as the majority of segments that have opened RAW and SmackDown over the past few weeks, and was only made worse by some of the generic dialogue that Bryan was handed.
After the break Triple H and Randy Orton were walking backstage, when they came by Cody. Rhodes who said that he thought the mainevent would be great, as long as there was no interference. Rhodes stated that Orton/Bryan one on one was best for business. Triple H and Orton commented on how they weren’t invited to Rhodes’ wedding. Rhodes was then placed in a match against Orton, where if he lost he would be gone from the company. Miz was down for a singles match with Fandango. They showed a clip from the break with Miz landing a stiff boot to the face of Fandango, and possibly breaking his nose. Miz grabbed the figure four soon after with Fandango tapping immediately. Bryan was warming up backstage when Booker came by. He attempted to convince Bryan to not fight the system, he was “too good for high school gyms”. Booker T spoke of the McMahon family like the Mafia saying that their reach went far, and they could end his career. A recap was shown of the Punk/Heyman segment last week.
Ziggler was out for a match against an undisclosed opponent when he was jumped from behind by Ambrose. Ambrose whispered for Ziggler to “respect the business”. This brought Ryback out for the scheduled match. Ryback fish hooked Ziggler, who sold it like his brains were about to fly out of his mouth; “you can’t wrestle” chants. Ziggler was able get a brief hope spot in, but was killed with a huge clothesline. Ryback then got Ziggler up for the shell shock and the win. I liked this as it sets up an Ambrose/Ziggler program, something that could be very good, and Ryback was able to progress in his current role. Triple H and Stephanie were admiring Ryback’s work backstage, when Maddox came by saying that Big Show was refusing to fight Bryan. Stephanie said that she would address it and it would not be a private affair. There was a Los Matadores vignette. Stephanie came down and basically told her story of how she grew up with Andre, but replaced Andre with Big Show. She called Big Show her giant when she was 12 years old, and I don’t know what that really meant. I don’t know if they wanted us to believe that Stephanie was 12 years old in 1999, or that Big Show was around in the late 80s, or that Stephanie just has a thing against big people and thinks that they are all the same. What was this? Stephanie apparently revealed that Big Show was broke, and that if he didn’t perform his iron clad contract wouldn’t hold. The contract is iron clad! She asked how long he could keep this up. Stephanie then brought up his “biggest fear” — giants don’t live as long as real people, I believe she said. We always talk about how reality should be incorporated into promos in wrestling, but this was not one of those times, as it hit far too close to the actual situation; acromegaly is not very fun. No one cared about this. She then hugged him saying that the only person he hurt was her. Show made one of his great crying faces, but other than that this segment was nonsensical and actually pretty annoying.
When they came back Show was backstage crying, rampaging and destroying stuff backstage leaving office folk fleeing in terror. In fact, one member of the crew was apparently struck with one of the flying chairs during the rampage. The Prime Time players were out for a match with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal. Titus has a new spot where he blows his whistle while landing stomps. ‘O Neal pinned Mahal with a sitout spinebuster. Heyman came by Maddox backstage and told him to get off of the phone. Heyman was incredibly upset at Maddox’ decisions last week. He was angered by the fact that he was booked in the handicap match at the PPV. Heyman asked if it was best for business, which cued Triple H. Triple H didn’t see a way for Heyman to wrestle his way out. If he did he got his congratulations, but either way he won. You want to make the audience believe that Heyman will get destroyed at the pay-per-view — planting doubt makes no sense. They aired a Wyatt family promo, with Wyatt focusing on the story of Icarus. I predict Kane as a future member of this stable after he finishes filming. Rhodes was out for his match with Orton. They really attempted to play this up as a big match with people watching in the back, but the fans were far more interested in chanting for Randy Savage, which was apparently due to some people dressed like Flair, Hogan and Savage in the crowd. Finally toward the closing quarter or so the crowd got behind Rhodes leading to a missed standing Moonsault spot. Orton attempted to get the crowd rallied behind him like he was a babyface, but the RKO was countered into the Cross Rhodes for two; huge pop. Rhodes grabbed a cradle, and missed a disaster kick selling the knee, which Orton kicked and then landed the RKO for the win. So Rhodes is gone for his wedding and that’s how just about everyone in the building took it. Triple H made it out next playing a great heel saying how he respected Rhodes, and he needed winners. He told Rhodes that he was fired, and they walked off.
Punk made it down kendo stick in hand. He had no promises, there was nothing to say, everything that he and Heyman had to say had been said. He was dressed to compete; he wanted a fight. He wanted Heyman, but he would happily go through Axel to do it. They wouldn’t come down, but it was fine, because he would have them in 13 days. Punk got a cheap pop, which isn’t like him. He guaranteed that he was going to get his hands on Heyman, and if you ordered Night of Champions on PPV you would see a side of Punk that Heyman & Axel wished they had never witnessed (really selling the point that Punk would get Heyman here). Punk had broken Heyman’s heart, but at Night of Champions he would break his face. He promised to break Heyman’s face in fact, so I guess they are going to have Punk get his hands on Axel at the pay-per-view. They aired another recap of the Punk/Heyman angle. Big Show came by Bryan in the back, and he explained that he was under a ton of pressure. Bryan came off as such an uncaring self centered heel here, not caring at all for the Big Show. Brie Bella, Naomi, and Natalya were out for a triple threat match. AJ was on commentary, until she ran in for the DQ, which was stupid given that triple threat matches are usually no DQ anyway. This cued a beatdown on AJ, apparently three on one advantage babyfaces. Really, who is supposed to be the heel side here?
There was a new Los Matadores vignette. Ricardo made it down in his t-shirt and attempted to roll his R’s in the introduction of RVD, to mixed results. Damien Sandow was in the ring for his match. Del Rio made it out with music for the distraction. After the break Sandow was in control. Van Dam concluded the match with a five star frogsplash; I would have been happy if this match had been cut by a few minutes. They showed a clip from the WWE app of Stephanie booking a fatal fourway for the Diva’s title at Night of Champions — that should be something else. Rhodes cut a promo backstage saying how the McMahon’s had always hated the Rhodes Family. Matthews asked if he wanted to tell his wife anything, and he walked off. These interviewers really do ask the stupidest questions. A trailer aired for Edge on RAW next week. Big Show and Bryan were out for the mainevent with most of the roaster out on the ramp. Show called for Bryan to stop repeatedly, but Bryan chopped Big Show down; how unlikeable. Show yelled that he didn’t want to hurt Bryan, and Bryan responded with kicks. Bryan unloaded with his yes kicks, but was thrown off of the cover. Bryan went up top, but was caught with a spear. Big Show was about to leave the ring, he had enough of beating the new top babyface of the company without even trying, but Triple H and the Shield ran out. Hunter demanded that Show finish it. Show faced off with Hunter, but denied his orders and walked off. This led to a Shield assault as Show slid in, Triple H came in to interrupt and told Show to think of his family. Big Show then had to stand by while Bryan take a triple powerbomb. Big Show was in tears, but was ordered to ball up his fist and knock Bryan out. Show yelled that he would not, bringing Stephanie down, saying that it was his last chance. Big Show was pressured back into the corner and Bryan was held for the KO punch. Show shifted his gaze to Hunter, but Stephanie stepped in and he KO’d Bryan before collapsing in a heap. They walked Show off as Orton stormed down to the ring next. He rolled a broken down Bryan over and whispered in his face, which was inaudible. Orton then placed his foot on Bryan’s chest and lifted the title above his head to close the show off. Not a very effective angle to say the least.
RAW Ratings For August 29th 2013
Due to Nielsen starting a new season last week we didn’t have the segment by segment ratings for the show, but we have them this week. Unfortunately, due to Labour Day, this week’s ratings are mostly unavailable. Last week’s show was very eventful, as there were quite a few surprising trends. The information for the 18-49 demo, viewership and the like was included in last week’s issue. The show drew a 3.07 rating and 4.19 million viewers.
Fandango and Cody Rhodes stayed even off of the opening segment. The tag match that followed between Miz & Rhodes and Sandow & Fandango lost 275,000 viewers, which is fine coming off of the opening segment. Punk versus Axel at 21:00 gained 683,000 viewers to a 3.4, which is very good for that time slot, which usually doesn’t gain much past the 300,000 range. The Brie Bella & Natalya match followed by AJ’s promo on Total Divas lost 545,000 viewers, a terrible loss, although they were coming off of an above average gain. Del Rio versus Van Dam gained 140,000 viewers. Randy Orton versus Christian lost those 140,000 viewers soon after in the 22:00 slot to a 3.0, which is shocking for that slot. I guess people really weren’t interested in a match between these two. The Daniel Bryan segment where he spray painted Orton’s car stayed even, which would usually be good for the post-22:00 slot, but considering that they lost viewers in the segment prior it was neither here nor there. Jack Swagger versus Titus ‘O’Neil lost 135,000 viewers, which is fine for that time slot and for the guys involved. Finally, in what was the biggest story coming out of the ratings by far, the Bryan/Shield match with the post match beatdown gained 1,092,000 viewers to a 3.7, which would rank amongst the top overrun gains for this year, and last year. Tremendous news for Bryan.
RAW Ratings for September 2nd
The following is the majority of the information that we have on the ratings at this point, taken from the site. We will have more on the segment by segment, and 18-49 demo viewership next week with issue 100.
“The ratings for this week’s edition of Monday Night RAW, much like last week, were met with delays due to Labor day. The show performed well as a whole going up against College Football, which placed second for the night behind a Comedy Central roast of all things — RAW drew 2.9 rating. The first hour drew 3.69 million viewers (a 1.4 rating in the 18-49 demo, fifth for the night on cable behind the final hour), the second hour drew 4.146 million viewers (a 1.6 in the 18-49 demo, third for the night behind the College Football game, which drew a 1.7), finally the third and final hour drew 3.974 million viewers (a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo).”
WWE – NXT
September 4th 2013 – Full Sail University, Florida.
Bayley appeared to start the show with a Diva’s tag match; Charlotte showed up as her partner then Alicia Fox and Aksana came down to take on the babyfaces.
Bayley & Charlotte vs. Alicia Fox & Aksana
Bayley wanted a hug, but Aksana double-crossed her and started to get the heat; Alicia landed a northern-lights for a two count then the heels worked over Bayley in their corner with some quick tags. Bayley avoided a clothesline and applied a hug, however she turned it into a belly-to-belly for the transition then Charlotte got the hot tag and sort-of ran wild on Alicia. She did the Ray Stevens flip in the corner then went up top and took the slam off the top that her dad use to take in every match, although she rolled through to get a near-fall off a clothesline. The finish came when Bayley tagged herself in, which annoyed Charlotte; Alicia whipped her into the corner and went for a big boot. Bayley moved and Aksana ate the kick then Bayley rolled up Alicia to get the pin.
Bayley & Charlotte defeated Alicia Fox & Aksana via pinfall, at 4:29.
Bayley hugged Charlotte and the two left up the ramp together.
This wasn’t very good and the finish was totally bizarre. I don’t understand the need for the miscommunication from the babyfaces when they were going over in the match. I get someone making the blind tag, which angers their partner, if they were going to lose or perhaps set up a turn. The former obviously didn’t happen and I doubt a turn is coming for either woman, plus they acted all friendly again after they had won, making the whole thing pointless. On a positive note, it appears I was incorrect about Bayley’s gimmick being a mentally handicapped person. She is basically being presented as a “star-struck” mark, so add that to the list of wacky gimmicks in developmental.
Sylvester LeFort was in the locker room with Scott Dawson and Alexander Rusev; he informed Dawson they would get their revenge on Mason Ryan then told Rusev “someone” would have his back the next time he has a big match. Sylvester asked what Rusev he was going to do to Ryan and Rusev snapped his piece of wood, with “Ryan” written on it, over his knee. Sylvester was over joyed and declared after Rusev’s victory they would all have a tonne of money then said they would go to Caesar’s to celebrate.
The Ascension made their hokey entrance and they showed the Underworld duo attacking Corey Graves last week. Graves came down, with Neville, for some revenge on Victor.
Corey Graves (NXT Tag Team Champion) w/ Adrian Neville vs. Rick Victor w/ Conor O’Brian
Victor still had Corey’s title, and he taunted him with his belt; Graves fired up early with a multitude of shots then he started to go after the leg. Victor landed some blows to the taped-up ribs of Corey, but Graves showed some spirit and came back with more strikes then landed a suplex for a two count. Graves delivered a crossbody, however this hurt his ribs and Victor stomped the injured body part. Corey fought back again, but Victor dumped him ribs first across the top rope and Graves spilled to the floor. After a break Victor had the heat and he removed the tape from Corey’s ribs; Victor hit a gut-buster for a two count, stomped the ribs some more then proceeded to get the heat in an extremely boring manner. Graves finally started his comeback after he caught Victor with a back elbow in the corner; after a flurry of shots, there was an awkward five second pause which kind of killed the momentum then Corey hit an STO. Finish saw O’Brian get on the apron; Neville ran in and hit him with a dropkick then took him out with a plancha. Victor tried for another gutbuster, but Corey countered into a small package and got three.
Corey Graves defeated Rick Victor via pinfall, at 6:34 (TV Time).
Corey got his belt back then he and Neville split before the heels could attempt another beat down.
An ok match, but it lagged in the middle during the heat, which doesn’t bode well for the Tag Title match that the cyber-goth team are destined to receive. Corey looked great up to that point; he beat up the much bigger Victor for a long time and kept fighting despite his injury. The story of the match was decent with the ribs being the focus point, however I understand the psychology in the argument that a much smaller, injured babyface should not dominate a monster heel. Still, the babyface came off strong, so I wouldn’t complain too much.
Sasha Banks was doing her make-up in the back, when Summer Rae walked in and told her that her match with Paige next week could actually make her relevant. Summer explained that Paige calls herself the “Anti-Diva”, because she thinks she is too good to be a real Diva then she encouraged Sasha to give Paige the beating of a lifetime. Summer told Sasha to find her “inner rage” and to use it next week.
I like the idea that Summer is so deceitful, she would try corrupt a good person like Sasha just to get one over on Paige; that makes sense in the context of their feud. I have no idea where they go with Sasha when she turns and Paige beats her though.
Paige joined Renee Young for an interview, backstage. Paige said she didn’t care what Summer was up to then stated that Sasha was, “good, very good”, but noted she was the champion then explained that being an Anti-Diva meant not about being a “cover girl”, but was about “covering girls in the ring”. Paige promised she would become the most dominant diva to ever step into the WWE then told Sasha to ask Summer Rae what s like to be in the ring with a “fighter”.
Sylvester LeFort hit the stage with Scott Dawson and he introduced the “Bulgarian brute”, Alexander Rusev. Mason Ryan lumbered out for a battle of the big men.
Mason Ryan vs. Alexander Rusev w/ Sylvester LeFort & Scott Dawson
They did the big man lock-up fight for dominance then Rusev took over with a spinning heel kick. Rusev landed multiple headbutts and got some heat; Ryan avoided a splash in the corner then made a comeback and landed a big boot. Dawson got on the apron, so Ryan brought him in the hard way then sent him right back out with a clothesline. Sylvester also got on the apron, which distracted Ryan and Rusev hit a shoulder block in the corner then slapped on the camel-clutch to get the tap-out.
Alexander Rusev defeated Mason Ryan via submission, at 3:52.
Sylvester and his stable stood over the fallen Ryan; Tom Phillips and Alex Riley put over Rusev for his victory, despite the interference.
The match was a sluggish affair, but at least it was short. There is obviously a rematch coming after Dawson & LeFort got involved, which I guess didn’t cause a DQ because they never actually touched Ryan, who didn’t come off particularly well here. He gets tepid reactions from the crowd anyway and having him tap, because he was too stupid to ignore the heel geek manager didn’t do him any favours. Rusev is an enigma at the moment; he needs more time to develop in the ring, but his natural agility, power-lifter look and presence already gives him a head start on guys like Ryan. He needs to stop his goofy fake muay-thai stance though; anybody that knows even a little about martial arts is able to see through the act. Also, his stance reminds me of E Honda from Street Fighter, who was a Sumo, not a thai, or sambo fighter; the latter of which Rusev is actually trained in.
In the parking lot, a camera man rushed over to find Leo Kruger standing over Xavier Woods, who was selling his neck. Leo chuckled then said “ta-ta” to Xavier and walked away.
This sets up the main event for next week.
Sami Zayn came out for the main event; Riley acted like praise from Michael Cole was the highest honour Sami could ever receive. Jack Swagger showed up with Zeb Colter and they showed Swag jumping Sami last week.
Sami Zayn vs. Jack Swagger w/ Zeb Colter
Sami started off with some good aggression and fired off a flurry of shots; Zayn continued to shine then hit a dropkick. Swagger rolled outside and Sami set up for a big dive; Zeb pulled Swag out of the way and Sami spring-boarded back into the ring. The people went nuts then started an “Ole” chant. Zeb distracted Zayn and Swagger landed a clothesline to start the heat, before the break. When we came back Sami got some shots in for the hope, but Swagger hit a belly-to-belly for a two count. Sami side-stepped Swagger, who flew over the top and Zayn wiped him out with a plancha; Sami followed up with a crossbody off the top to start the near-falls then Swagger got a two off his high single-leg. Swagger tried for the Oklahoma stampede, however Sami escaped to land a blue-thunder bomb for another near-fall. Sami fought out if the ankle-lock, but got caught with a doctor-bomb and only just got his shoulder up before three. Swagger applied the ankle-lock and Sami fought to the ropes; Zayn got his knees up to block the Vader-bomb for the transition then he drilled Swag with his running big boot in the corner for a near-fall that the people went crazy for. Another great falsie followed, when Sami delivered a sunset-bomb off the top; Bo Dallas came down to ringside and cheered on Sami. Zayn told him to leave, which gave Swagger the chance to apply the ankle-lock and get the tap-out.
Jack Swagger defeated Sami Zayn via submission, at 8:13 (TV Time).
Sami struggled to his feet, Zeb and Swagger did the, “we the people” bit then the show ended with Bo Dallas staring at Sami from the ramp.
A very good main event, not on the level of Zayn/Cesaro, but still highly enjoyable. Like Mason Ryan, the finish didn’t really cover Sami in glory. I would have liked a little more overt interference from Bo, just to protect Sami, who the NXT fans have absolutely fallen in love with and elected “the next guy”. Still, this was a solid match that is worth checking out. If it were up to me, I’d have the creative team working round the clock to come up with an angle or storyline to bring Sami in on Raw; it will be an absolute travesty if he spends another 6 months down in Florida.
NXT was decent this week, although the main event is the only thing worth your time. If you are into the stories on the show, then there are a few things to get excited about, like Sami going after the title, Alexander Rusev making a big impact and a feud with Leo Kruger & Xavier Woods. Of course, there are always downsides, such as the Ascension on their way to a Tag Title match and a Sasha Banks heel turn.
TNA iMPACT September 4th 2013 (Taped: August 29th 2013)
CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland, Ohio
Ignoring all of the issues with the BFG series up to this point I enjoyed the first hour and forty minutes or so of this show. It wasn’t great or even good, but it was fine wrestling television. However, I did have a problem with the final segment, which was a Bully Ray/Sting non-title match. It was turned into a no DQ match by Hogan, which was the first stupid booking decision, given that Ray is the one who brings in the Aces & Eights all of the time, something that he did here. What impetus would Hogan have for making it a no DQ match in that case? The other reason that it was stupid was that Tito Ortiz was supposed to be banned from ringside, yet it was made no DQ. Finally, Anderson costed Ray the match by refusing to give him the hammer and morphed back into the Anderson of old (sounds familiar doesn’t it)? The crowd were into it, and as far as execution went it was good. However, there was no reason to have Sting submit Ray, when he can’t get another title shot, and isn’t even supposed to be in a program with the World Champion. It simply made no sense to beat the World Champion in such a throw away TV match. Other than that it was an okay show, with a long TV battle royal — there was nothing to really look out for here.
Ray, Tito Ortiz, Tessmacher and the rest of the Aces & Eights were in the ring. Ray was attempting to make good with the rest of the crew, with Tito getting the most heat out of anyone with “Tito sucks” chants. Ray played a similar role to his smarmy face at the start of the year, sucking up to Anderson, who didn’t look too impressed, playing into events at the end of the night. He ran down all of the Aces & Eights matches on the card, and claimed that he had Hogan in check mate. Ray was seated at ringside for Knux’s match with Chris Sabin, which was up next. Sabin attempted to chop Knux down early, but was soon overcome by Knux’s power. Even if it was only a few weeks ago, it is so strange to think that Sabin was ever the Heavyweight Champion of this company. Knux went for a hammer shot, Sabin tackled him, there was a scramble for the hammer, and Sabin managed to grab it and kill Knux for the DQ. After the match Sabin seemed to be very confused as to why he had been DQ’d when he had just landed a shot with a hammer. TNA now has “did you know” like facts, this time stating that it was the number one wrestling programming in Germany for two weeks running, Velvet Sky was attempting to calm Sabin down who was going nuts about the hammer and how he didn’t bring it into play, but Knux did. I don’t know if it was due to the heavy contrast with Velvet Sky, but Sabin was very convincing here.
Mickie James made it down still playing her unknowing heel gimmick. She hoped to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame one day, and was very upset that she wasn’t invited to the VMAs. She had in her hand a MVA award, and claimed that she was friends with Miley Cyrus, and made some pop culture references. ODB made it down playing the defender of Rock & Roll and was pretty over for it. James soon landed a cheap shot with her trophy, before getting clocked with a clothesline by ODB who lifted the title above her head. James ripped the title out of her hands, but ODB ripped James’ top off to reveal a relatively moderate amount of clothing for wrestling attire standards. Both women performed very well here, James has sunken into this role so well. Bradley and Hernandez were asked what their motives were, now that they couldn’t win the BFG series. Bradley said that he had been hired by “a certain Corporation” and he wasn’t opposed to Hernandez doing the same. This played into NOTHING during the battle royal. The Aces & Eights were eating backstage, which didn’t have anything to do with the show. Knux had some food stuck in his beard
Bradley and Hernandez were out first for the 20 point gauntlet. Bradley asked Hernandez about his offer, and said that their only job was to eliminate one person, but Hernandez was having none of it. Joe Park was out next followed by Anderson. They cut to a break, Joe made it down, and they cut to a second break. When they came back Styles was out and he landed a Cactus Jack style clothesline on Park. Park was eliminated, but Styles’ feet also touched the floor, which they really should have covered up better given that this was a taped show. TNA really needs to work on its quality control, although they have bigger issues at present. Kazarian was down next and went straight after Styles. Joe eliminated Anderson with an enzuigiri. Daniels made it down, and he joined Kazarian in working over Styles…appletini chants. Hardy was down for the equivalent of a pre-break spot before the commercial. Roode was out after the break. Styles eliminated Bradley with a reverse suplex, this time managing to not eliminate himself. Aries flew in with a Hernandez style tope into the ring taking out Daniels & Kazarian — a spot that looked great with the cape. Magnus was the final entrant. Samoa Joe was tossed out by Daniels with an assist from Kazarian. Roode threw Hardy out. Kazarian was backdropped onto the ramp and eliminated, which doesn’t have the same effect as being tossed to the floor from my perspective. Magnus was the next one out, eliminated by Daniels, which gave he and Roode the advantage over Aries and Styles. Aries was eliminated by Styles, followed by Roode, which left Daniels & Styles as the final two. The crowd was very fond of this idea, as the two duked it out. Styles then landed a pele and clothesline to clinch a spot in the finals. This came as no surprise since it made no sense from a logical perspective, given that Styles’ road to Bound for Glory has been pretty much a year long angle, although I wouldn’t see that stopping TNA to be honest. This put Styles at the top of the leader board, so he could pick his semifinal opponent later on in the night,
Ray was very upset about Anderson losing his match using the old “if you looked up x in the dictionary your name would be next to it”, which is a line that I hate either in and out of wrestling. He threatened to strip Anderson’s jacket off, burned it and urinate on it if he disappointed him again. A backstage Styles promo aired. It was very choppy and felt as though it was running in fast forward for whatever reason. They aired a highly edited version of Hogan’s announcement last week. There was a strange interview segment with Rampage and Sting backstage, with Sting explaining that he couldn’t challenge for the title again, but that was the reason that he had a family. Storm and Gunner made it down before being attacked by Bischoff and Briscoe. The match started a few moments later. Bischoff got the win after a cheap shot with a chain, in a match that went far too long considering the men involved. Roode, Aries and Magnus were out for Styles’ BFG semi finals match decision. He faced off with Roode and Aries, but he ended up picking Aries saying that he was the biggest blemish on his BFG series record. Roode said that he had the weakest link in Magnus. Magnus had defeated him earlier in the tournament, but it was a different day, he was a different man, and he would take back his title. Magnus claimed that he would become the world champion at Bound for Glory. The trailer for Bound for Glory really exemplified so many of TNA’s issues, as it was neither the world champion, nor anyone else on the active roster who was announced first and as the “biggest name in professional wrestling”, but Hulk Hogan…and Sting second. Ray was out with Tito and Tessmacher. Ray reminded Sting that he could never wrestle for the World Title again. Ray yelled “screw you and Hogan”, which brought Hogan down. Tito was banned from ringside. Hogan turned this into a no DQ match seconds later and said that Ray wouldn’t like it. Wait…hold on. First of all how could Tito be banned from ringside if this was no DQ. Secondly, wouldn’t a no DQ match favor Ray? It really isn’t that difficult to think these things through, really, it isn’t. Taz handed Ray something sharp that he stripped the ring canvas and padding with like at Slammiversary. Sting locked in the scorpion death lock, and the Aces & Eights stormed in — and that’s why this made no sense! Like we have seen time anytime again the Mafia ran out to clean house. Sting was sent onto the exposed boards, but grabbed a scorpion. Anderson pulled out a hammer, but turned on Ray handing it the referee for the submission, So Ray submitted to a man that can’t get a title shot and is 54 years old. Another stupid idea — in a week abundant with them. Anderson got in the ring and did his Mr. Anderson gimmick, which the crowd was very much into to close off the show.
WWE SmackDown – September 6th 2013.
Target Centre: Minneapolis, MN.
Show opened with the story of Cody Rhodes losing his job on Raw then after the titles, Triple was in the ring with Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox for a “Town Hall Meeting”; the geek squad were on the stage again, while the Shield stood at the bottom of the ramp. Triple H said Cody was fired because he showed insubordination to the C.O.O then explained that since the C.O.O represented the WWE, Hunter claimed he was the WWE. Trips claimed he would not stand for insubordination and declared, because Cody didn’t go to the ring and perform his job properly, “Cody Rhodes fired Cody Rhodes”. How original, I wonder who came up with that. Hunter stated that he was friends with Cody and his family, so firing him was not easy to do, however as C.O.O, Trips was willing to bear that responsibility and be the bad guy. Triple H told the wrestlers on the stage that they had the opportunity to speak their minds about anything they wanted, without fear of repercussions; everybody was scared, so Trips assured them there was nothing to worry about. Damien Sandow stepped up and said he fully supported the termination of Cody Rhodes, because Cody exemplified everything that was bad for business. Hunter was grateful, however he claimed he didn’t want anyone to suck up to him and asked for somebody else’s opinion. Kofi Kingston grew a set and told Hunter that a locker room full of terrified workers wasn’t good for business and that Cody had his livelihood taken away. Triple H began to reply, but 3MB interrupted him and Slater told Kofi nobody cared about his question. Heath said he felt uncomfortable with Big Show just standing around watching everything unfold then told Trips he was doing a great job running the WWE. Hunter ignored the remark and buried Slater for being an idiot then asked for another opinion. Rob Van Dam was next to speak; he stated that Hunter brought him back under the premise that things were better now, but as Rob explained, “the vibe” was “not cool, dude”. Trips needlessly made a joke about waiting since 2000 to hear RVD call him “dude” then informed Rob he still had as much faith in him as he did when he resigned. Ryback got on the mic and announced he was sick of people calling him a bully; Hunter agreed then said it wasn’t Ryback’s fault that Dolph Ziggler was attacked before their match on Raw and booked a rematch for tonight. Trips noted that Daniel Bryan wasn’t on the stage, because his ego was too big to stand out there with the rest of the “little people” then he announced Daniel Bryan vs. any member of the Shield he wanted. Triple H informed everyone that this had been a helpful experience and wanted to reward the people who spoke up, so he booked Kofi vs. Curtis Axel in a non-title match and RVD vs. Orton, also non-title. Randy came out after a big introduction from Hunter.
This gimmick of everybody standing on the stage is getting pretty ridiculous; it’s one thing to do nothing while Daniel Bryan is being beaten down, but for everyone to be too scared to even speak is quite pathetic. Thankfully, Kofi wasn’t buried by Hunter when he stepped up; unlike Van Dam, the number one contender to the World Title, who Trips just dismissed as a joke. Also, Triple H needs to stop trying to play stand-up comedian; his lines about Slater and RVD were not even funny, plus if he is supposed to be the big evil owner, then trying to get himself over by cracking jokes about everybody else is hardly the way to go. Letting Bryan pick one of the Shield isn’t exactly sound logic either; why wouldn’t Hunter just book another 3-on-1 match? And while we’re on the subject of logic, why doesn’t the entire roster just walk out on Triple H like they did in 2011?
Non-Title Match: Rob Van Dam w/ Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Randy Orton (WWE Champion)
Alberto Del Rio joined Cole and JBL for this one. Van Dam shone early and landed a slingshot legdrop on the apron then his thrust-kick off the top; Orton countered rolling thunder into a powerslam. Cole asked Del Rio about his loss to RVD a couple of weeks ago and Alberto said that didn’t matter, because it was non-title then he stated that Christian and even Jack Swagger had beaten him in non-title matches, but he was still the champ. Way to put yourself over. Del Rio then claimed Ricardo was stealing money from him for 4 years and deserved his beating. Van Dam got a near-fall off the split-leg moonsault then draped Randy over the rail and went for his legdrop off the apron. Orton moved and Van Dam’s leg smashed into the rail for the big heat spot; Alberto smiled. Orton hit a dropkick and dumped RVD to the outside before the break. Randy still had the heat; Van Dam got some hope spot kicks in, however Orton avoided a monkey-flip and kicked the injured leg to shut him down then delivered the hangman’s DDT. RVD countered the RKO with a boot to the face and got a near-fall off his wacky roll-up then hit rolling thunder, although he missed the 5 star. A clunky transition to the finish followed: Rob rolled out; Randy followed, scared Ricardo away and tossed RVD back inside then Rob caught him with a spin-kick. Del Rio sent Ricardo into the ring post and Van Dam took out Alberto with a summersault plancha. Orton tossed Rob into the announce table then hit the hangman’s DDT on the floor. Randy rolled him back inside and hit the RKO to get the win.
Randy Orton defeated Rob Van Dam via pinfall, at 11:18 (TV Time).
Randy stood tall with his belt then left; Del Rio beat up Van Dam some more and slapped on the armbreaker. Alberto also stood tall with his belt.
The match was fine, I guess; although it was a little clunky and they seemed to go for near-falls right off the bat, which took some drama away, as they had little to build to, plus there wasn’t enough work on the leg from Randy after the big heat spot for my liking. We got another example of idiotic WWE booking, with the World Title contender losing to the WWE Champ and most of the heat for Del Rio vs. RVD seems to be on Ricardo and Alberto. I suppose they had Del Rio attack Van Dam, but that was hardly enough to get the programme going after it was just established Rob is not at the level of the top guys.
Daniel Bryan was with Renee Young in the back. He explained that he didn’t think he was better than anyone and said management didn’t invite him to the town meeting. Bryan stated that wanting to be WWE Champion didn’t equate to having an ego problem then said he knew it wouldn’t be one-on-one with the Shield and offered them the chance to pick which one of them gets beaten up first. Bryan declared he knew he could beat any member of the Shield, just like he knew he could beat Randy Orton for the WWE Title.
A decent promo, but it really is getting close to the time that Bryan needs to be doing more than just talking about who he is going to beat up.
Elsewhere in the back, AJ rallied the other heel divas and buried the girls on Total Divas. Layla, Alicia Fox and Aksana all agreed with AJ, who had demised a plan to show those “no talent, reality wannabes”.
Dolph Ziggler came down and they showed Ambrose giving him a whoopin’ on Monday. Bully-Ry confidently strolled out for the rematch from Raw.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Ryback
The slippery Ziggler out manoeuvred “the big guy” then hit a dropkick, but missed a splash in the corner and Ryback got the heat. Dean Ambrose showed up at the announce table; Cole was scared, but he eventually settled down and asked why he attacked Dolph. Ambrose explained that he taught Ziggler a lesson for “disrespecting the business like an entitled little punk”. Dolph countered a bearhug with a DDT for a double-down then side-stepped a charging Ryback, who took the ring post spot. Cole asked if Triple H told Ambrose to attack Ziggler; Dean told him the Shield would always be there to deliver justice. Dolph made a comeback, but Cole was more concerned with Ambrose and asked again about the Shield’s relationship with Hunter. Ambrose said the Shield worked for themselves and for the good of the business. Ziggler got a near-fall off the Rocker-dropper then they spilled to the floor, where Dolph avoided another shoulder block and Ryback went into the steps. Dolph went after Ambrose, however Dean ran away and Ryback nailed Ziggler with a clothesline. The finish saw Ryback get the pinfall after the shellshock.
Ryback defeated Dolph Ziggler via pinfall, at 4:02.
Not much to the match, but Ambrose was great on commentary and was smart enough to at least put over Ziggler’s speed even while he was cutting a promo on him. I’m not sure what is going on with Dolph at the minute, but it doesn’t take a genius to realise that he has suffered a drastic fall down the card and is hardly been booked like a credible babyface. He could have tried to help Bryan or at least spoken up, then Tripe H could book him against Ambrose as a punishment; it’s not perfect, but it’s better than jobbing the guy out every week. I like the way Ryback’s character has evolved into a cocky jerk that only acts tough around geeks. Hopefully the plan is for him to run into someone he can’t bully and he resorts to some kind of heel chicanery.
Kofi Kingston showed up then Curtis Axel was accompanied out by Paul Heyman; they showed CM Punk promising to break Paul’s face at the PPV.
Non-Title Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Curtis Axel (IC Champion) w/ Paul Heyman
There was a hometown chant for Axel and they started with some chain wrestling. Kofi delivered a wacky hurricanrana off the ropes and hit a dropkick; Axel rolled to the floor and Kofi missed a baseball slide, but came back to land an axe-handle off the steps. Paul distracted Kofi and Axel speared him off the apron as the commercial lead-in spot. Axel had the heat after the break; Kofi showed some fight, but took a lariat to the back of the head for a two count. Axel came off the second rope, however Kofi got his feet up for a double-down. Kofi tried to get a comeback going and Axel countered a crossbody with a dropkick for a near-fall. Axel crotched Kofi on the top and delivered some shots in the tree of woe. The finish came out of nowhere when Kofi reversed a suplex into the SOS to get the flash pin.
Kofi Kingston defeated Curtis Axel via pinfall, at 6:38 (TV Time).
Paul dropped the IC belt due to the shock of Curtis losing; Axel complained to the referee and Cole sold the idea that if Punk pinned Axel at the PPV, then Paul would die.
The match was decent and they got me into it straight away with the slow pace that built, although the way they started it seemed like they were going to go much longer than 6 minutes. Axel getting pinned was pretty dumb; I understand they wanted to sell the idea that if Kofi can beat him, then Punk will have no problem. But making him look like a loser isn’t going to help establish him as a serious act, which he is already struggling to achieve and without Paul he would be nothing. After Punk’s promo I assume Paul is taking a beating and disappearing for a while, however I fear for Curtis if that is the case. If Punk didn’t promise to kill Paul, I would advocate bringing in another Heyman guy and off they could go with that.
The same Wyatt Family promo from Raw aired then Heyman was in the back, on his phone. Renee wanted a word with him and asked if he was concerned about being left alone in the ring with CM Punk. Paul blamed himself for Kofi’s victory and said he was too preoccupied with Punk to strategize properly. He also stated that Punk claimed he would show a side of himself that the fans may not be comfortable with, however Paul promised that his bad side was much worse than Punk’s. Renee reminded him that Punk vowed to break his face and Paul stormed away in incredulity.
Brie Bella and Naomi were already in the ring for a Total Divas showdown.
Brie Bella w/ Nikki Bella vs. Naomi w/ Cameron
Brie dominated from the bell then worked an ugly cobra-clutch. Naomi made a comeback with some dropkicks then both women spilled to the floor. AJ, Layla, Alicia Fox and Aksana ran down to beat the hell out of the reality stars.
Brie Bella and Naomi fought to a no-contest, in 1:28.
AJ got on the stick and announced that she was the Diva’s champion.
It’s amusing that AJ buried everyone involved with Total Divas, when they will most likely include this angle on the second part of the first season. I assume Naomi will be the one to get a title match, as she is the most competent of the babyfaces, other than Natalya, who didn’t feel the need to come help her co-stars.
A vignette for Los Matadores aired; I am predicting that dressing Primo and Epico up in some knock-off Aldo Montoya masks and having them pretend to be Mexican bullfighters will die a horrible death. Zeb Colter and the Real Americans were in the ring; they did their catchphrase bit then the Usos showed up.
The Usos vs. The Real Americans w/ Zeb Colter
Cesaro immediately drilled Jimmy with a dropkick and Swagger caught him with a chop-block on the floor. The heels worked over Jimmy in their corner; Cesaro leapfrogged over Swagger into a double-stomp then they delivered a double-team uranage. Jimmy dumped Swagger over the top and made the hot tag; Jey hiptossed Cesaro over the top then took him out with a big plancha. Jey got a two count off the running hip attack then he sent Swagger back outside with a superkick. Cesaro got a near-fall off an inside-cradle. The finish saw Jimmy fly off the apron, however Swagger sent him into the barricade then Swag shoved Jey off the top rope and Cesaro drilled him with a European uppercut , which Jey sold tremendously.
The Real Americans defeated The Usos via pinfall, at 3:42.
A fun little match here. My guess is they are heating up the Americans to feud with Los Matadores when they come in, which makes sense and would allow Zeb to cut some over-the-top promos on them. I just can’t see the bullfighters getting over as babyfaces and with Mark Henry out with his torn hamstring, who is left to challenge the Shield at the PPV? You could go with the Usos again, but that is hardly ideal after their push was cooled off after Money in the Bank.
Big Show was in Triple H’s office; Hunter asked what the matter with Show was and the giant stated that Trips knew exactly what was wrong. Triple H said 3MB had no right to talk to Show like that and claimed he wouldn’t allow anyone to disrespect him. Trips booked a 3-on-1 handicap match and told Show to let his rage out on 3MB.
The Raw rebound and was all about the Big Show being manipulated by the McMahons, not the guy who will be headlining the PPV, Daniel Bryan. 3MB were already out then Show made a beeline to the ring.
3-on-1 Handicap Match: Big Show vs. 3MB
Show dumped Mahal and McIntyre outside then sent Drew into the barricade and nailed Jinder with his big open-hand shots. Show speared Drew on the floor then planted Jinder and McIntyre with a double chokeslam, before he KO’d Slater with his right hand.
Big Show defeated 3MB via pinfall, at 2:19.
Show angrily walked up the ramp then the Shield’s music hit and the trio came through the crowd. Triple H appeared and ushered Show to the back.
I don’t really get what the match accomplished, other than establishing Show can still be a killer as well as a blubbering softy. They didn’t mention it here, but claiming Show blew all his money was absolutely preposterous. I remember when they did something similar with Shawn Michaels to explain his alliance with JBL, which was also laughable. Why would anyone get behind an idiot that was stupid enough to squander millions of dollars? Anyone that is dumb enough to do that deserves to be broke and ridiculed. Not only is Show a weak-willed, hyper-sensitive giant baby, he apparently is a complete moron as well. How the babyfaces are being booked in this company is beyond belief at this point.
A vignette hyped Edge would be on SmackDown next week the Daniel Bryan came down for the main event. The bell rang and Roman Reigns stepped forward, however Rollins blind-sided Bryan and went on the attack.
Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins w/ Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns
Rollins delivered some stomps, but Bryan came back with a knee and landed some of his
signature kicks then took Seth over the top with a Cactus—clothesline. Reigns and Ambrose closed in on Bryan, so he tossed Reigns back inside, however he was distracted by the Shield and Rollins dumped him to the floor. Rollins worked a chinlock; Bryan fought up and landed some aggressive forearms then he hit a release German suplex. Bryan fired up and scored with his dropkick in the corner and a missile dropkick off the top for a two count. He drilled Rollins with more kicks, but Seth cut him off on the top with an enzuigiri and Bryan spilled to the floor, where Reigns nailed him with a clothesline. Rollins whipped Bryan into the steps then came off the top; Bryan caught him in the Yes-lock, but Reigns and Ambrose got on the apron. Bryan got rid of them with a pair of dropkicks, took out Reigns with a tope, gave Ambrose a hiptoss on the floor then cut off a tope from Rollins with a forearm smash. Finish saw Bryan hit the busaiku knee of death to get the three.
Daniel Bryan defeated Seth Rollin via pinfall, at 6:02.
Bryan hightailed it out of danger, however Randy Orton laid him out with the belt from behind on the stage. For what has to be the fifth or sixth show in a row, Orton stood over Bryan with his belt as they faded to black.
The match was fun and Bryan looked great in fighting off the Shield, plus he needed a clean pin after all the beatings he has taken. I’m perfectly fine with Bryan being laid out, however they haven’t really booked him to get any retribution other than spray-painting the car. The night after SummerSlam, I thought they were going to do the old Steve Austin gimmick of being thrown out of the building, only to return and whoop some serious ass. But they just announced Bryan had returned, which killed any chance of a surprise run-in, and had him get beaten up. This angle isn’t perfect, but I’m not too concerned for Bryan just yet, although he has either got to win the title or lay out everybody except Triple H after all the heat the heels have got on him. Of course it would be better if this programme was focused on Bryan chasing Orton, who could have just hired the Shield as his bodyguards, but Triple H just can’t help himself when it comes to latching on to the hottest act in the company. Still, the biggest issue, to me at least, is the rest of the roster being buried week after week. We’ve seen it for years, that Triple H and even Stephanie will get their heat no matter who they neuter or what the cost along the way. Something is going to have to change, both with the booking of Bryan, the top babyface who needs to show the crowd they were right for believing in him, and with the short-sighted treatment of the rest of the roster, especially the babyfaces that are all coming across as pathetic like Show and Ziggler. I could rant forever about how this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen, but I’ll give them a chance and see what they do on the go-home shows. Although, if we get another two shows with everybody standing on the stage being buried and looking like chumps, then I might just lose my patience with the McMahon/Helmsley era part II: burials with a vengeance. Remember when they fired Mick Foley and the Rock assembled the entire roster to threaten a walk out on live TV unless they rehired him? My point is, stars like Rock, Austin, Taker and even Triple H would never ever stand on the stage and do absolutely nothing, because, and get ready, it would be BAD FOR BUSINESS.
As a TV show, SmackDown was more enjoyable than last week and had some good wrestling, however the booking on display was a complete disaster. Hunter wasn’t messing around and buried everyone right from the start. I can’t understand why they would put Van Dam in the ring with Orton, when RVD was never going to go over; he’s the number one contender for the World Title and was treated like every other geek that was on the stage. Ziggler looked stupid and weak again, although Ambrose was great and saved that segment. Axel got pinned clean by the resident mid-carder, I guess to make him look beatable. Big Show was Triple H’s puppet again and killed 3MB for no reason, hopefully that was a tease for what could happen to the Shield when, or if Show finally stands up for himself. Then they gave Bryan a much needed clean pin, but couldn’t resist having Orton lay him out, which after all the other lunacy on this show, didn’t really bother me. Like I said, some good wrestling to check out if for whatever reason you are starved for WWE style matches, but if you like logical booking then avoid this show if you want to keep your sanity, and the furniture in your living-room in one piece.
Bits & Pieces
In a very surprising turn of events, this week’s edition of iMPACT, which most people expected to die in the ratings due to the season debut of Thursday Night Football, drew 1.31 million viewers. What is more surprising than the fact that they weren’t destroyed was that they actually drew a higher number of viewers than both last week and the week prior. It has become a joke at this point, but iMPACT really is destined to do the same rating no matter what else is going on pretty much.
Last week it looked like AJ Styles wouldn’t be renewing his contract with TNA, after they offered him a deal that featured no year on year increase. His current contract, that he signed in September of 2008, has a clause stating that his salary must increase by a given amount each year. It was set to expire this month, but he has signed a three month extension, so this shouldn’t interrupt current plans for Bound for Glory. Obviously, TNA has put many cost cutting measures into place over the past months, so I don’t know what the future will hold for Styles with the company. Styles actually asked fans where they would like to see him most on his Facebook fan page last week. Even with the changes that have taken place over the last few years I don’t know how interested WWE will be in signing him, especially when he is a homegrown TNA talent and is 36 years old.
According to what I have seen and read, there were some very worried people in TNA last week, when Dixie Carter was not at the tapings, and was instead at a college football game. Make of that what you will.
As the William Regal photo with PWG star, Willie Mack, on the front page of the site would indicate, William Regal was in fact at the first night of BOLA this year scouting talent.
Speaking of PWG and recruitment of talent Sami Callihan and Samuray del Sol have both been given their NXT ring names. Both names are rather outlandish, as WWE names tend to be, with Callihan being rebranded as Solomon Crowe, and del Sol, as Kalisto. Solomon seems to fit for some reason, but Solomon and Crowe together just doesn’t seem to work. Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards were the standouts at the WWE tryout camp according to this week’s Wrestling Observer. While things seem to be going well for independent talent and WWE as a whole, things aren’t going so well for one particular former indie star, Kassius Ohno, the former Chris Hero. News got out a few weeks ago that he was told to get in shape, and while I don’t know how that’s going, he has been removed from the NXT opening package. Hopefully they are repackaging him, and this isn’t evidence for his release.
Christian suffered a concussion in his match with Randy Orton on the August 26th edition of RAW, and will be kept out of action for the time being.
In some very sad news, Ian Rotten’s two TPI shows for September 13th and 14th were cancelled due to his diagnosis with stomach cancer. The following was his statement on the issue from his Facebook page:
“Some of you may have seen that guys are saying that they are now open next weekend, and I have waited this long in an attempt to get ahold of everyone that was booked on the show so the boys would find out from me rather than social media. Many of you may have noticed the lack of updates the past couple weeks. I have been battling pancreatitis and my uncontrolled diabetes. I was hospitalized on Friday, August 30th, and through the processes of treating pancreatitis and running other tests on me, I was diagnosed today with gastric stomach cancer. I will be undergoing chemotherapy on Wednesday, twice a week for the next six weeks in an effort to get rid of this which is being diagnosed and told to me as in a very early stage. I’m not asking for anybodies sympathy, I’m not asking for anybodies money. If you have bought tickets to either the September or October show, your money will be returned to you within the next two weeks. I do ask if you believe in our Lord almighty that you say a prayer for me…and if you don’t, any good vibes will definitely be appreciated too. I realize in this day and age to some people this may even be good news. To those people I hope that this terrible disease never strikes your family. To the people I was unable to get a hold of, and you’re finding out this way, I apologize, but our fans deserve to know and with guys saying they were open next weekend and stuff it was time to give them an answer. Know that I am not writing a bucket list, and that I am planning for the future. To the boys that I spoke to today, thank you so much for your overwhelming support. I cannot tell you how much your words of encouragement and love have meant to me getting through this beyond harsh day. My hopes are in 7 weeks I am given a clean bill of health and to begin preparing a great show for the first weekend in December. Thanks to all for understanding, and I hope you have a blessed day.”
As a follow up to the Shiraishi/Onita story last week. Onita blowing up a cardboard cutout of Shiraishi with a baseball bat was an angle to build to, wait for it…no rope barbed wire double explosion baseball bat death match, where Shiraishi accompanied Akebono of all people to face Atsushi Onita — a match that Onita won, naturally. For what it’s worth, Akebono has been signed to an actual contract with All Japan.
Keiji Mutoh announced this week that the inaugural Wrestle-1 show from the Tokyo Dome City hall on September 8th will be available on iPPV for $20 from ustream.tv/w-1. The card was also announced in a roundabout way, but there are 17 unknowns on the card. The idea behind having so many unannounced wrestlers on the show, is that they will be able to draw on the name and intrigue for the first show, given that some people will purchase the show just to see how it turns out. The show is headline with Mutoh and a mystery partner against a mystery team, and that’s how most of the card is laid out. It is a unique idea, one that look’s like this when laid out:
Keiji Muto & X vs. X & X
Funaki & Masayuki Kono vs. X & X
Kaz Hayashi & Shuji Kondo vs. X & X
Minoru Tanaka & X vs. X & X
KAI vs. X
Ryota Hama & Yasufumi Nakanoue vs. X & X
Yamato & Inaba vs. X & X
Women’s match X vs. X
Depending on how things work out, we may have a review of this show in next week’s issue.
Diamond Ring ran what was probably its best show since the first couple on August 31st at Korakuen Hall selling out (something that All Japan cannot do) with an attendance of 1,889. The show was headlined by a trios match with Kensuke Sasaki, Jun Akiyama & Go Shiozaki going over Omori, Suwama & Kento Miyahara. Another match that looks very good on paper was Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi versus Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki. If this surfaces it should be one to look out for.
Next Week’s Issue
Next week is our 100th issue, which means that the newsletter is two years old at this point. I didn’t give as much as I would have liked to away in this week’s feature, as it just so happens that the current Daniel Bryan angle plays into some things that we talked about all the way back in the first issue! We will also be looking at the two New Japan iPPVs, the go-home show for Night of Champions, a preview for that show, possible Wrestle-1 coverage, two weeks of RAW ratings and more!
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