Cubed Circle Newsletter Issue #80: New Japan 04/05, Rock Injury, RAW from London + More!

Cubed Circle Newsletter – New Japan 04/05

 

For a full-colour PDF with picture click here

 

It hasn’t been the busiest of news weeks this week from a wrestling perspective, there were no big shows or major happenings, but I still feel that we have a fun edition of the newsletter for you this week. This week we look at the April 6th 2013 New Japan show from Korakuen Hall, RAW from London, the Rock’s Injury and what it means for his future, some quick thoughts on lower than expected WrestleMania early buyrate estimates, Impact, NXT and apparently a very good edition of SmackDown with Ben Carass. I would also like to remind readers that there is an active survey running at this very moment to determine what you want out of the newsletter – to have your voice heard simply head over to tinyurl.com/CCWSurv80. And with that I hope you enjoy this week’s newsletter and have a great week.

 

– Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor

 

News

 

WrestleMania 29 – Rock’s Final Match Ever?

 

Despite the fact that this week has been rather slow when it comes to the news, there is one story that may possibly land up being one of the most memorable in the coming months and even years. As most of you know by now the Rock suffered serious injuries in his WrestleMania 29 mainevent match against John Cena. He tore his abdominal muscles after taking the first AA, and then went on to suffer an abductor that tore straight off of his pelvis, and a hernia. Rock’s original plan was to let his injuries scar over as he has another big blockbuster coming up in Hercules that he has been preparing for physically for quite some time.

 

Things didn’t go as planned however, as Rock had to undergo surgery on April 23rd. He began physical therapy on the 17th in the hope that he could simply bare the extreme pain and continue his preparation, but things were obviously more serious than that and surgery was needed. If you are looking for an indicator of just how bad things were you can look no further than the following tweet that he sent out after visiting the hospital “Saw my doctor who had to push my intestines back through the tear in my abdomen. Kinda romantic. Surgery is next week.”.

 

On the 22nd edition of Pete Rosenburg’s radio show, Rock openly talked about the possibility of his career being over, when asked about if it was his final match he said the following: “Possibly, to be honest with you. The goal three years ago was I sat down with Vince McMahon and strategized about it, about three WrestleManias back to back. I committed myself to the company and I was very proud of that moment. It didn’t matter if I lost or I did the job, but it was an honour to do the honours. There is no better way to give back then by doing the honours.”

 

It will be interesting to see how Rock’s attitude towards wrestling another match changes over the next few months, as the plan for WrestleMania XXX clearly was Lesnar/Rock and if that falls through it will be very interesting to see just where there go with Lesnar. Of course, if Rock does proclaim this his final match was with Cena that isn’t to say that he won’t still make semi-regular appearances, as he clearly still has a deep love for the business otherwise he obviously wouldn’t be in his situation. There have been many people over the years that have tried really hard to get him as far away as possible from pro-wrestling, but his plan has seemingly always been to become an accepted big time star and then return to the ring.

 

A very recent major mention of his in-ring exploits was that of action movie director Michael Bay who said to E! News “He was pushing it too hard. (He) needs to grow up and stop wrestling 300 pound men.”. Bay clearly isn’t a fan of the product, as I doubt Rock with the schedule he works will be wrestling any 300 pound men apart from Lesnar, and even then I only think that he really exceeded that weight at Mania.

 

I guess from there we will just have to take a wait and see approach as I doubt that anyone, possibly including the Rock, don’t know what is going to happen, and it will probably be safest for everyone to wait until he has healed up until we start speculating.

 

WrestleMania Buy-Rate May Be A Shocker

 

Staying on topic with shows featuring the Rock, it seems as if there is a possibility that what was presumably (and still is) going to be the largest grossing wrestling event in history, may have delivered under estimates when it comes to pay-per-view performance. Of course, it is too early to state exactly how much the show did on pay-per-view. You usually have to wait until at least a few months after the show, as estimates vary widely, but there are some estimates that range as low as under a million buys.

 

If these estimates are true, and that is a big if, then there will definitely be major ramifications. For one it may result in WWE taking a long hard look at Cena as the top babyface, and hopefully to the way that they built the show. In all honesty as much as a Cena heel turn would have fitted in on the night, Cena being the face going in probably wouldn’t be a main reason for a huge decline in buys, in fact there are two other main factors that I would blame ahead of it.

 

The first is obviously something that we talked about a lot in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, and that was the lack of great, intense, Mania level build for all three of the top matches including Rock/Cena, Undertaker/Punk and Lesnar/Triple H. It would show that while the Mania name can draw, and having a big show does help, it would also show that those numbers aren’t as set in stone as the WWE would like to believe, and strong build is important.

 

I don’t want to say anything until we get a more concrete estimate of the buyrate; however, it will be very interesting to watch the estimates for the buyrate over the next few months, and even more importantly to observe WWE’s reaction to the shifts.

 

Reports

 

NJPW Road to Invasion Attack April 5th 2013

Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

 

Overall Thoughts:

 

What is often the case with New Japan shows leading up to a big pay-per-view event, is that they will have a lot of tags or singles matches that look to be good, but are missing a few elements that would help them reach the level of a great match. Whether it is a comedy figure inserted into a serious tag match, or somebody who isn’t the best worker, there is normally some kind of slight draw back on most of the matches on the card, which makes sense given that these shows are meant to be fun shows for TV and the fans in attendance, but their main job is to promote the pay-per-views and big-shows. New Japan managed to overcome the first situation completely with this show, by putting on a show that was fun and unique from top to bottom, had three great matches, and built incredibly well to the Invasion Attack show which took place over WrestleMania weekend. In short, this was a show at the level that you would expect a regular pay-per-view to deliver at, or at least that was the case with the top three matches on the card. What I normally do, is I recommend a handful of matches from the card and say that it is fine to skip everything else, but in all honesty you will in all likelihood have a blast watching this show, as it was a really fun time. If you skip through intermission and recaps you should be able to watch the whole thing in two hours quite easily so there is no reason that you shouldn’t check this show out.

 

1. Ryusuke Taguchi vs. KUSHIDA

 

They started off with some very smooth junior exchanges before Taguchi landed a plancha to the floor and took KUSHIDA down to the mat for some work. KUSHIDA made his comeback making his way back up to his feet and landing a topé con giro on Taguchi. KUSHIDA made his way out of a double chicken wing and went for a standing Moonsault, but Taguchi got the knees up, a rollup exchange ensued with Taguchi pinning KUSHIDA in the culmination of the exchange with a rollup in 08:47.

*** 1/4

 

2. Yuji Nagata & Hirooki Goto vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Captain New Japan

 

This may seem rather strange, but I have actually never realized how great the first few seconds of Nakanishi’s theme were until this match. Nagata and Nakanishi had a neat little exchange before Goto went at it with New Japan. Goto and Nagata went to work on New Japan in a very similar manner to what you would expect from watching other Captain tags. The tag was made to Nakanishi who clocked Goto with his usual windup lariat. Nagata fired off on Nakanishi with some strikes, Nakanishi thought that Nagata was going for a highkick, but instead Nagata struck him with a dropkick to the knee. Nagata was gorilla pressed onto Goto and the tag was made to New Japan who landed his diving headbutt. Nagata fired off with an exploder on Nakanishi and a backdrop on New Japan for the win in 08:01.You know what? Neither Nakanishi, nor New Japan are the greatest wrestlers in the world, that is for certain. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a fun match, and that is what they did here.

***

 

3. Togi Makabe, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima w/Tomoaki Honma vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Jado & YOSHI-HASHI w/Masato Tanaka

 

This match started off just like every other midcard CHAOS tag, that is with the heels attacking the faces before the bell. Makabe was then caned through the ropes by Tanaka and a caning spree ensued, with Tanaka landing cane shot after cane shot on the floor. CHAOS worked on Makabe for the next few minutes or so before Makabe busted out a belly to belly suplex on Takahashi and making the tag to Tenzan who ran wild on HASHI. Kojima was tagged in and he went on a huge machine gun chop run on the chest of HASHI. Makabe landed a lariat knocking Tanaka off of the apron and TenKoji landed the 3D on Jado. Honma took Tanaka out for the rest of the match and Kojima pinned Jado in 10:29 with a lariat. However, after the match Tanaka still landed some chair shots on Honma, before his teammates were able to make the save.

 

4. Minoru Suzuki & Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Toru Yano & Takahashi Iizuka

 

Despite the fact that Takayama is extremely beaten down, and honestly has very little mobility left, it did feel like a special appearance from him and the fact that he was tagging with Suzuki helped to bring a unique flavor to this match – an added flavor that has been desperately needed in the Iizuka/Yano matches of the last few months Takayama and Suzuki were in there working on both Yano and Iizuka for quite some time until Yano removed the turnbuckle cover and got some offense in. Yano went for a rollup, but Suzuki grabbed an armbar. Iizuka broke it up, and he was sent to the floor for his trouble. Suzuki and Yano had a great exchange leading to an all out heel on heel barrage from everyone involved on everyone involved – in fact Yano even took out the referee. The finish came when Yano went for a chair shot, and threw Suzuki the chair. Yano did the old Eddie Guerrero gimmick for the win, where he would throw Suzuki a chair and them lie down before the referee woke up. You can’t do it all of the time, nor would you want to, but I always enjoy these heel on heel Yano/Iizuka matches; super fun stuff. After the match Suzuki and Takayama took it out on the Young Lions at ringside.

** 3/4

 

5. Hiroshi Tanahashi & BUSHI vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo

 

Tanahashi did his smarmy clean break leading to Okada firing off on him with elbows leading to a great series of exchanges and counters before both men met face to face and the tags were made to BUSHI & Gedo. Okada broke up a BUSHI dive attempt by dropping him hard on his face off of a bodypress. Okada and Gedo started the heat on BUSHI leading to Tanahashi becoming fired up and finally being tagged in to go at it with Okada a second time. Tanahashi went after Okada’s legs setting up for the cloverleaf, which Gedo served to break up. Okada landed his belly to back over the shoulder over the knee neckbreaker for two and went to the top rope for his top rope elbow. He signaled for the rainmaker, but Tanahashi countered it with a small package and went back after the leg. Okada landed heavy rain and the tags were made to Gedo and BUSHI. BUSHI landed a beautiful topé and code breaker for two. BUSHI went for the 450, but was thrown to the mat by Okada who was tagged in seconds later. Gedo tackled Tanahashi and Okada then locked in red ink for the win in 12:15 to close off a great match to set up Okada’s match with Tanahashi.

*** 3/4

 

6.IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match

Prince Devitt vs. Alex Shelley

 

Devitt fell to the floor after attempting to catch up with Shelley and was caught with a monster topé knocking Devitt over the barricade. Shelley had the advantage back in the ring stretching Devitt. Devitt placed Shelley on a chair on the outside and landed a huge dropkick. Shelley gave Devitt a pair of middle fingers before coming off of the topé rope with a cross body and landing a huge boot before diving off of the apron with a flying knee. Devitt landed a huge flying dropkick and it was at that point that it was apparent that his noes had been busted open from the knee, which in hindsight added a lot to the match. Shelley grabbed a cradle for two and Devitt landed a big pelé kick. Devitt did the funky weapon taunt and was caused with sliced bread for two. Shelley landed a big enzuigiri and superkick, Devitt was fired up, but he was immediately caught with a suplex and fisherman’s buster for two. Shelley grabbed the Shelley clutch for two, and landed a super sliced bread number two, but Devitt still kicked out! Devitt got his knees up off of a splash and landed a lariat for two. Devitt landed his footstomp and followed it with the bloody Sunday for the win in 17:38. After the match Devitt posed over the body of Shelley in a precursor to his heel turn.

**** 1/4

 

7. IWGP Tag Team Championship Match

Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr.& Lance Archer) w/ TAKA Michinoku vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii

 

This was of course a match furthering the CHAOS/Suzuki-gun program. Nakamura and Smith started off with the kind of fast pace exchanges that you would expect from juniors and not men of their size. Ishii and Archer were tagged in, with Ishii getting a good reaction. Archer no sold all of Archer’s chops completely, and wouldn’t go down for a lariat or shoulder block either, Ishii landed a big lariat that rocked Archer, and followed it with a brain buster. However, a few moments later TAKA grabbed the leg of Ishii from the outside, which gave KES the advantage. KES working on Ishii was a great visual, as Ishii is significantly shorter than Archer, Smith and Nakamura, and the fans really get behind him in the underdog role. Ishii went for a German on Smith, it was blocked, but he was able to block a lariat from Smith and land the German. This allowed him to make the tag to Nakamura, who ran wild. Nakamura went for the Boma Ye on Archer, but was swiftly overpowered. Smith overpowered the referee, and he took a bump, which is a concern given the overuse of ref bumps as of late. Nakamura at it with Smith after a double down. Ishii landed a lariat knocking Smith out of his boots so to speak, and took him to the top rope for a superplex. Smith landed a big backdrop for two, Ishii landed a lariat, but Archer came in for a double team. Nakamura was neutralized on the floor and Smith landed a jackknife, but yet again Ishii kicked out. They went for the Killer Bomb ,but Shinsuke ran in, and they bombarded Smith with a flurry of kicks. Archer laid Shinsuke out with a spinout side slam, and a few moments later all three men were down. Ishii went crazy with forearms and was caught with a powerbomb, but Nakamura dove in to make the save. KES landed a killer bomb on Nakamura, but Ishii was able to land a lariat on Smith for two. The crowd was going haywire at this point for Ishii. However, they landed the Killer Bomb moments later for the win in 20:47.

 

You may think that because the Killer Elite Squad were one half of this match that the match was probably good, but not great; however, I can assure you that was far from the case. Even though they were in there with not only two of the best workers in the company, but honestly two of the best workers in the world, in Shinsuke Nakamura and Tomohiro Ishii, they were able to hold their own in a manner that they often simply don’t get enough credit for. When I finished watching the match that came before this, the Junior Heavyweight title match with Alex Shelley challenging Devitt, I thought that there was little chance of this match being able to surpass it, well like is the case with many a New Japan show, I was wrong and my expectations were happily exceeded.

**** 1/4

 

After the match Smith cut a very fiery heel Gaijin promo for the Invasion attack show. Nakamura left and into the ring came Nakanishi, Kojima, Tenzan to challenge KES for the next shot – all in English. While they were there Yano ran in to stealthy steal the tag titles; however, Suzuki quickly disposed of him and brought the titles back to his Suzuki-gun compatriots. Suzuki proceeded to cut a promo to close off the show.

 

WWE Monday Night RAW April 22nd 2013

O2 Arena, London, England

 

Overall Thoughts:

 

Suffice to say this episode of Monday Night RAW was not the second coming of the magical night at the Izod Center like some expected it to be, and while it was not a bad show, I would be lying if I said that anything apart from the Undertaker match made me the least bit excited for the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. Historically the Extreme Rules, and post-WrestleMania shows in general are some of the best of the year, but I certainly don’t feel that it will be the case this year, as there seem to be no blow away or intriguing matches set for the show. The one shining light on this show was the Undertaker six-man tag, which was the best match on RAW…well, since Cena/Punk from a few months back. It wasn’t a classic on the level of that match, but it was a great outing from all six men involved. Apart from that there is really no reason to go back and watch this show if you haven’t already.

 

Heyman was in the ring to open the show, seventy five percent or so of the crowd were behind Heyman. They showed clips of Lesnar killing the 3MB last week. Heyman announced that Hunter wasn’t on RAW that evening to boos. Heyman read an email from Triple H saying that he would address Heyman’s offer next week. Heyman went after Triple H on the mic, until of course Triple H’s music hit, which led to Heyman making the face of a deer stuck in the headlights. Hunter said that he had lied and he accepted the challenge before landing a pedigree on Heyman. There wasn’t all that much substance from Triple H here, but Heyman did a great job with the material he was given as always. Truth made his way out, and he was the most over he has been in months in London, which can be partially attributed to the fact that his singing gimmick is back. They cut to Cole doing the “what’s up” gimmick at the announce table like a complete fool. Cesaro made it out yodeling – an extreme pity. The crowd began to chant “ole”, which led to Lawler making his “bizzaro world” reference. Truth pinned Cesaro, and I don’t know what that means. The Shield were shown arriving via helicopter, which was a great visual, even if they were taking the helicopter out of necessity due to the fact that they had to work another show quite far away.

 

Clay made it out with Sweet T and the Funkadactyls for a match with Damien Sandow, who was of course accompanied by Cody Rhodes. The crowd broke out in a “Cody’s mustache” chant, followed shortly by chants of “Albert”…oh, and of course Fandango-ing ensued. The camera crew did a very bad job of covering up Sandow calling spots. Sandow pinned Clay with a tights assisted rollup in a mediocre match. Another recap of Ziggler’s cash in was shown. Ziggler was backstage talking to his world title backstage, when AJ came by and Ziggler suggested that AJ challenge for the Diva’s title. Ziggler then ordered Langston to walk off while they kissed. Vickie and Maddox interupted to tell Ziggler that if he lost to Jericho the triple threat at Extreme Rules would become a four way. I hope with all my being that this leads to Langston, Ziggler and AJ winning a ton of gold. A recap was shown of the Punk

walk out from last week. There was a Shield video, I really agree with Ben in that the grainy low quality footage worked far better. Ambrose stated that they were the judge, jury and executioner and Undertaker would know what justice tastes like for the first time in his life. Reigns did his “Believe in the Shield” gimmick.

 

Chris Jericho and his sparkly jacket made their way down to the ring to a big ovation. Although it wasn’t mentioned out right, I really liked the fact that Jericho defeating Ziggler weeks ago led to this match. I must say that I am a really big fan of the AJ/Ziggler/Langston dynamic, I hope they stick with it. Before the break Jericho caught Ziggler with a baseball slide off of an AJ kiss. When they came back Langston landed a cheap shot and the crowd sang Fandango’s music. The big turning point was when Jericho went flying over the top turnbuckle, into the ring post and onto the floor. Jericho ran wild after finding his way out of a sleeper hold. However, Langston was able to land a big right hand before he was able to attempt the lionsault. Ziggler grabbed a second sleeper, but Jericho powered out. The crowd were doing the Mexican wave, which Jericho played along with, and honestly helped the crowd get back into the match. Ziggler landed a fameasser for two, he went to the top rope, but Jericho hung him up. Then, what was probably the most negative product of the East Rutherford crowd – the we are awesome chant made its return. I sincerely hope that it doesn’t become the new “what?” Jericho landed a code breaker, but hesitated for a few seconds, which was a little weird. AJ jumped on the top rope for a springboard dropkick on Big E. Jericho locked in the lionsault, but Fandango’s music hit, the crowd danced, and Ziggler won with the Zig Zag in an awfully queer, albeit unique finish. A recap aired of last week’s Shield beatdown on Cena with Ryback standing by. Mick Foley was backstage with Matthews, plugging his DVD, getting cheap pops, and psycho analyzing Ryback’s heel turn. There was an ad for the WWE App; advertisers will not be pleased.

 

Sweet T and Rhodes were in the ring for a match. T landed a delayed inverted double arm suplex, which was unique. Tensai landed his cannonball in the corner. Sandow was dropped to the floor and T landed his splash for the win. Kane and Bryan were backstage, and Bryan was complaining that Undertaker wasn’t there for Bryan to explain his game plan. Kane asked Bryan to promise not to show Undertaker diagrams or to give him a hug. It was just then when the camera went down and the Shield beat Kane and Bryan down. There was a recap of the Henry/Big Show match from SmackDown. Josh Matthews interviewed Ryback backstage, he wanted to confront Foley in the ring – his lines were fine, but boy he sounds like a text to speech program. He now ends with “Ryback rules”, so I suppose they are trying to take away the most over part of the gimmick – the “feed me more” chant. Zack Ryder made it out for a match with Big E. Langston, a man who can out perform Ryback in almost every single avenue. Langston pinned Ryder with the Big Ending and held the pin for far more than five seconds, but no one brought attention to it. There was a trailer for the For All Mankind DVD – it was incredibly awesome.

 

Undertaker made it out first, which struck me as something that felt very out of place and really made sense given that Kane and Bryan had been taken out. The Shield made out and the Undertaker fought them off, Kane’s pyro went off and the crowd went absolutely insane. The Shield rolled out to the floor so they didn’t have to be stuck in any rest holds during the break, and the bell rang when they went back on air. The crowd gave Undertaker the “you still got it” chant, which really isn’t what I would want if I was him. Team Undertaker was in control for the first five minutes or so, before Reigns got the advantage on Kane. Kane made the hot tag to Bryan, which was the best idea, because they could have Bryan run wild and sell, which he is both really good at, and then have him make the hot tag. Bryan landed a topé on Rollins who took a spectacular bump against the barricade to huge “this is awesome” chants. Bryan missed the missile dropkick in the corner before the break. When they came back the Shield was still in control. Rollins yelled “your time is up deadman”, which got a big pop and the Undertaker went crazy on the apron. Reigns missed a splash in the corner, which led to the hot tag to the a Undertaker who ran wild. Like always they had Undertaker almost land his finish, but Reigns ran in with a spear for two. Kane was tagged in, but Rollins landed an enzuigiri. Ambrose was tagged in and caught with a chokeslam. Bryan went to the top rope, but was hung up by Reigns, Undertaker was neutralized on the floor, Bryan missed the diving headbutt, and Ambrose grabbed the pin for the win in a very good match – probably **** level. In all honesty that should have been the mainevent. Some Rock surgery update tweets were shown.

 

Mick Foley was backstage with John Cena. He didn’t want Foley to go out there to confront Ryback, but Foley wanted to make his own mistake. Fandango made it out with a new dancer, NXT star Summer Rae. And well who was he set to face? William Regal of course. Regal busted out some dance moves before going after Fandango. Fandango pinned Regal with a neckbreaker, which I guess is his new finish. Fandango said his name and the crowd did it along with him. Jericho attacked Fandango on the ramp throwing him off the stage, and dancing with his partner; the first reference to Dancing with the Stars in this program. There was a five women battle royal for a number one contender’s opportunity. Kaitlyn was on commentary. Tamina Snuka, Naomi, Aksana, Layla and AJ were the participants, with AJ being the only one to get an announcement. Snuka killed AJ with a superkick at the start of the match when she attempted to miss Tamina. Aksana couldn’t even get her way out to the floor without failing. Layla was the last Diva standing apart from AJ and she attempted to throw her out to the floor, but AJ sprung up and landed a superkick through the middle rope. The Ziggler Family to hold all of the titles – hoping! There was a trailer on RAW is Trailers for a movie entitled ‘No One Lives’ with Brodus Clay.

 

Foley made his way to the ring, chair in hand. Believe it or not he got the “what?” treatment; no, this crowd was not as good as the Izod Center crowd. Ryback made his way down to the ring. Foley said that he couldn’t make Ryback do anything, but showed him clips of Ryback abandoning Cena last week. Ryback said that he loved what he did, Foley asked what happened to Ryback. Ryback told Foley to be careful what he wished for. Foley got extremely fired up saying that he himself didn’t know how many times he had been left alone, because he never doubted anyone around him. Foley brought the crowd back at this point. Foley said that there were “slight physical differences between us”- I’ll say! Foley said that Ryback had to wake up. Ryback then got fired up and acted like a spoiled kid. He did the old shtick of saying that he was getting what he wanted. He called the people stupid and asked how Foley could lecture him on how to be a man. He then called him a “fat, pathetic, lazy bastard”, which really was a stiff shot. Foley threatened to use the chair and they had a face off with Ryback throwing the chair out. This led to Cena running out and Foley sliding to the floor. The Shield’s music hit and Cena abandoned Ryback. Of course Cena actually made it back in with a chair clearing house. Cena then laid Ryback out to close off the TV portion of the show.

 

RAW Ratings April 22nd 2013

 

RAW on Monday, a taped show from the 02 Arena in London, did a strong rating doing a 3.13 rating and 4.4 million viewers, which can obviously be attributed in large part to the Undertaker. The show was number one for the night on cable when it came to overall viewership,but its number one hour peaked in the number two slot in the 18-49 demographic behind ‘Love & Hip-Hop’ on VH1, which was the number one show for the night on cable in that demographic. Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta drew 2.169 million viewers in the 20:00 to 21:00 hour averaging a 1.71. There were a lot of interesting patterns throughout the show that are ultimately very telling when it comes to the general public’s interest in certain acts.

 

The show opened with a 3.04 for the Triple H/Heyman segment, which is acceptable, but not above average in any way. The R-Truth/Cesaro match next lost 163,000 viewers. It was followed by the Clay/Sandow match coupled with the AJ/Vickie/Maddox backstage segment, which gained a combined 153,000 viewers, which would have been an impressive gain if they were coming off of a big high from the opening segment. Chris Jericho versus Dolf Ziggler at 21:00 drew 439,000 viewers at 21:00 to a 3.35, which I would consider a big success and feather in the cap of Ziggler as champion, with the obvious credit going to Jericho as well.

 

The 20:00 to 21:00 hour drew 4.186 million viewers (1.794 million viewers and a 1.42 rating in the 18-49 demo, what was interesting about that was the fact that it was 7th for the night on cable, a spot that they normally don’t drop to. Given that it was the hour where Love & Hip-Hop had its success, I would think that there is a very large cross over between the two audiences).

 

In the post 21:00 segment Cody Rhodes versus Tensai lost 224,000 viewers, a number that I would consider quite good considering the high that they were coming off of from the previous segment. The Langston/Ryder match lost 139,000 viewers. The Undertaker, Kane and Bryan versus the Shield match gained 581,000 at 22:00, doing a show high rating of 3.5, which was really good.

 

The 21:00 to 22:00 hour drew 4.654 million viewers (2.114 million viewers in the 18-49 demo and a 1.67 rating, putting it in the number two position for the night).

 

Then in probably one of the most telling segments of the show, the Fandango/William Regal match for the short time that it was on did one of the worst losses in a very long time – 949,000 viewers. In fact you have to go all the way back to the May 14th edition of RAW last year, where a six-man tag match with Brodus Clay, R-Truth and Kofi Kingston facing Dolf Ziggler, Miz and Jack Swagger, which lost 996,000 viewers. The Regal match landed up doing a 2.83 quarter, which shows two things. The first is that Fandango doesn’t seem to be as over with the general public as many think, and the second is something that is quite related and that is what’s over in the building doesn’t necessarily translate to TV and visa versa, which is exactly what the problem is when WWE attempts to make local sports references. The Diva’s Battle Royal to determine the number one contender for the Diva’s title gained 302,000 viewers, which doesn’t tell you much given how bad the drop-off was from the prior segment. Finally the mainevent segment with the Ryback/Cena/Foley/Shield confrontation gained a respectable 548,000 viewers, which isn’t really all that great especially given how many viewers the Fandango segment lost. The overrun did a 3.43 quarter.

 

The 22:00 to 23:05 hour drew 4.357 million viewers (2.059 million viewers and a 1.63 rating in the 18-49 demo – number three for the night in front of Teen Mom II and the NBA Grizzlies/Clippers game). The demographics for the show were as follows. A 2.6 in males 18-49, a 2.6 in male teens (up 30% from last week), a 1.2 in female teens (up 33% from last week), and a 1.0 in females 18-49.

 

WWE – NXT: Clash of the Champions.

April 24th 2013 – Full Sail University, Florida.

Ben Carass.

 

Dusty Rhodes greeted us from behind the booker’s table in his office and welcomed us to the first ever NXT Clash of the Champions. Dusty said the Clash was close to his heart then claimed to have assembled a series of championship matches over the past several weeks. Big Dust told us to enjoy the show and finished with a huge cheesy grin that was straight out of the old working man vignettes.

 

Antonio Cesaro came out to defend the US title and a crawler graphic alerted us that this match was taped while Antonio was still the champion, as if it wasn’t clear enough to understand with the belt around his waist. At least they tried. Before the match, Cesaro said the people needed to give him a standing ovation because he is the greatest US Champ in history then claimed he would hold the title for a long time. Adrian Neville interrupted and came out for the opener. Byron Saxton made the in-ring introductions and Mike Chioda was the ref to add some ambiance to this “special” show.

 

US Championship Match: Adrian Neville (NXT Tag Champ) vs. Antonio Cesaro (US Champ)

 

They set up the story with Cesaro using his size and power to control the quickness of Neville; Adrian showed some flashes of speed and Cesaro incredulously rolled to the outside after taking a tilt-o-whirl headscissors. Neville didn’t fall for the chase and bait around ringside, but Cesaro cut him off with a hotshot into the buckle to start the heat. After the break, the crawler notified us again that the match was taped weeks ago, because wrestling fans are stupid. Nevillie’s hope spots came with a backslide and a boot to the face, but Cesaro countered a crossbody off the top into a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker for a two count. Cesaro went back to the heat with a chinlock; Neville fought up and low bridged Antonio to the floor then scored with a top rope Asai moonsault. Adrian made a comeback with a springboard dropkick and a standing shooting-star press for a two count then got another near-fall after countering the pop-up uppercut into a hurricanrana. In an impressive spot, Cesaro caught Neville in mid-air as he performed a moosault-press, but Neville turned it in to a float-over DDT. Cesaro cut Neville off on the top the smashed him with a running European uppercut; Antonio picked Neville up off the top into the neutralizer position and planted him to pick up the victory.

 

Antonio Cesaro defeated Adrian Neville via pinfall, at 8:11.

 

This was a good outing from each guy; they both looked great, plus the story made sense and flowed nicely. I say this every week, but seeing Cesaro out there just wrestling really brought it home, it is wholly depressing to see how he is being used now. I don’t know what is going on; maybe he looked at somebody the wrong way, because I refuse to believe that they would just flip the switch on him and start beating him to death then lumber him with a gimmick which equals certain death.

 

The NXT taping system throws up continuity issues like this every now and then; while airing a match in which Cesaro defended a title he had already lost showed a lack of booking strategy, it is far from the stupidest example of non-linear booking I can think of. Before he squashed the Honky Tonk Man at SummerSlam 1988, the Ultimate Warrior won the IC title twice at two different TV tapings; they filmed some squashes with Hellwig as Champion that aired after the PPV and at each set of tapings, Jack Tunny came out to reverse the title switch and Honky headed into SummerSlam with the strap. Also at WrestleWar 1991, The Freebirds beat Doom for the WCW Tag belts, despite the fact that they had already dropped them to The Steiners at a TV taping a week earlier.

 

Kaitlyn showed up to defend her belt against AJ, who got no intro and was already in the ring.

 

Diva’s Championship Match: Kaitlyn (Champion) vs. AJ Lee

 

After being slapped in the face, Kaitlyn went on the attack, however AJ avoided a shoulder charge in the corner and began to work on the arm. Regal gave us a lecture on the difference between a backhammer and a hammerlock then AJ landed an armbar takedown. Out of nowhere, with no transition or build, Kaitlyn started a comeback and completely no-sold her arm that had been worked on for the entire match. AJ landed a crossbody off the top, but Kaitlyn rolled through and hit an inverted DDT for a two count; AJ side-stepped a spear and Kaitlyn spilled to the floor. AJ worked a sleeper then landed a shining wizard for a near fall. For the finish, AJ went nuts and threw a bunch of wild punches then Kaitlyn just hit a spear and pinned her.

 

Kaitlyn defeated AJ via pinfall, at 5:13.

 

A lamentable performance all around here; I was ready for this thing to end when Kaitlyn hit the inverted DDT, but they just kept going and it didn’t get much better. Kaitlyn took one of her wacky bumps that looks like she is killing herself, which I can’t believe no one has told her to stop doing yet and her selling was appalling.

Big E. Langston made his fired up babyface entrance then Brad Maddox came out to no music and made his own introduction; he amusingly billed himself as 295lbs then said he would be the next NXT Champ.

 

NXT Championship Match: Big E. Langston (Champion) vs. Brad Maddox

 

Maddox tried to talk his way out of taking a beating, but Big E. delivered a backdrop then hit a big body check, which Maddox sold tremendously. Big E. scored with the big ending to get the three count.

 

Big E. Langston defeated Brad Maddox via pinfall, at 1:10.

 

Big E. killed Maddox with his move and counted to five after the match. Maddox tried to leave, but Big E. rolled him back inside to perform his shtick again.

Not much to say here, it was just your average Big E. match, although I will say Maddox is the best guy at getting squashed I’ve seen in a long time. He was totally committed to making himself look like a geek and made Big E. seem like an animal.

 

They recapped the brief Bo Dallas/Wade Barrett angle from three months ago then Bo was in the back with Tony Dawson. Bo said he was underestimated like Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mr Perfect and Randy Savage, but added they were all former IC Champions. Bo claimed Barrett was entering his house and would feel the “Bo Barrage”.

 

Bo Dallas came out to some horrendous new music then Wade Barrett appeared for the main event.

 

Intercontinental Championship Match: Bo Dallas vs. Wade Barrett (Champion)

 

There were loud “No More Bo” chants at the bell; Dallas got some shine in with some quick pin attempts and a dropkick. After the break, Wade was in control and wrenched the arm of Dallas; somehow Bo collapsed in a heep and landed on his head, which the fans loved. Barrett landed a boot to the face then went for the heat; Bo fought up from a chinlock, but Wade cut him off and hit a pump-handle slam for a two count. Barrett kept the heat on with knee strikes and a boot which dropped Bo to the floor. The crowd chanted for Wade some more then, much to the fans dismay, Bo fought up from another chinlock. Dallas delivered a drop toehold into the buckle for the transition then started his comeback. Bo countered another pump-handle into an inverted DDT, but Wade prevented a tornado bulldog and scored with the Traylorslam for a near fall. Dallas avoided the bullhammer to land a tornado bulldog which got another two count then the finish came when Bo came off the second rope

 

and Wade caught him in mid-air with the bullhammer and got the three count.

 

Wade Barrett defeated Bo Dallas via pinfall, at 9:42.

 

Wade left up the aisle with his title, as Bo laid “out cold” on the mat; Regal put over Dallas’ effort in the match and Tom Phillips hyped Chris Jericho for next week’s show.

 

The main event was decent and the finish was good; the only thing that hurt the match was the crowd not caring about Bo at all while he was selling. The young college crowd are simply not into the smiling pretty-boy babyface role he plays and even when they tried to make him into a tough-guy fighter last year, the people at Full Sail were having none of it. It’s a pity really, because other than selling and firing up, there is not much else Bo has at this point. His mic skills are nowhere near what they need to be for a heel turn and there are not too many options left at this point to try get him over as a face.

 

This was a decent show for the most part; even though the finishes of the matches were never in doubt, the opener and main event were good, which is usually the case with NXT and Maddox made the obligatory Big E. squash a lot of fun. Nothing advanced any feuds or angles, however I wouldn’t be completely against them doing another one of these Clashes, but one or two a year would be enough. Next week is the big Paige vs. Summer Rae encounter, which Paige gets the nod in; it will be interesting to see if Summer is still with Fandango on Raw this Monday and if she is, it will be even more intriguing to see what they do with her on the May 2nd NXT tapings. Also Jericho defeats Bray Wyatt, which doesn’t sound like the best idea in the world, but I’ll reserve any judgment until I see the match.

 

TNA Impact April 25th 2013

Kovalchick Convention & Athletic Complex, Indiana, Pennsylvania

 

Overall Thoughts:

 

TNA has been putting on a constant stream of good live shows over the last couple of months, but I am afraid that this show was not one of them. That isn’t to say that this was an intrinsically bad show, because that it was not; however, it suffered from many of the same problems that the majority of the TNA shows over the past few weeks or even months have been suffering from. For one, there was the matter of run-ins and disqualifications, which admittedly was an Aces & Eights problem in the past, but on this show it was less of an Aces & Eights issue and more a problem with most of the matches regardless of Aces & Eights involvement or not. They built so much of the show around Hogan too, which simply isn’t what you want out of a show in 2013, especially given the fact that he was far and away the most over person on the show. Everyone has been laid out by the Aces & Eights over the past few months, so to have Hogan and Sting be the ones to put them away without breaking a sweat makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The best stuff on the show were probably the Fortune set of segments, which is the angle that far and away has the most attention from my perspective. Yes, this will sound like our stereotypical, hates TNA, ignorant internet fan comment, but you really would be better off watching one of the great New Japan shows from the past few weeks in place of this – it simply had to be said.

 

Bully Ray and crew were shown attempting to walk into the building, but they were stopped by security. How did they make their way passed you ask? Why, Ray threatened to have Anderson bite their faces off – great security guards these were! Storm made his way out to address his match with Styles from last week. Styles appeared in the crowd like the Sting knock-off that he is, and Storm put over his new submission before calling the Aces & Eights out; however, before anyone could make their way down to the ring Daniels and Kazarian made it out to plead their case. They were also laid out last weekend and proclaimed that TNA could only be saved by the reformation of Fortune. Styles of course gave no reply, Storm told them to shut up, but Kazarian and Daniels called Storm irrelevant. This led to a two on one beatdown with Storm being laid out with a low blow. Then in one of the most unintentionally funny things that they have done on this show for a very long time, a whole troop of Aces & Eights came skipping down to the ring and went to beat down Storm – it was simply a bizarre visual. Joe Park made it out for the save, but was overcome by the numbers. They wanted to put him through a table, Ray made it out, and he and Devon landed the 3D through the table. After the break Park was stretchered out and Ray was in the ring cutting a promo saying how they were responsible for killing the fan’s heroes. They had nobody left as he began to list names, and instead of what this kind of segment usually leads to, which is a big surprise babyface storming his way out, Ray moved on straight to Hogan,and reminded everyone who they were. This opening segment was way too much of the same for my liking – you can’t sustain a show like this. After Ray and friends left, Tenay announced that Hogan had left the building earlier on.

 

There was a video package dedicated to the Mickie James/Tessmacher discussion with Brooke Hogan. Taryn Terrell made her way out to the ring. After the break Hogan was shown walking into the building in a very bad mood. Tara and ODB were in the ring for a match with Terrell. Once again ODB is far too much of a distraction as Knockout’s referee. The match went a couple of minutes too long with Terrell winning with a rollup. Robbie E and Jesse, two men who have been off the current taping roster for a while, were backstage with E attempting to psyche Jesse up for a match with Rob Terry, E’s former partner, next. Terry made his way out first, with Jesse being introduced next by E. They proceeded to have a bad match as expected with T pinning Jesse with his chokeslam like maneuver. Kazarian and Daniels approached Bobby Roode backstage, continuing their quest to reunite Fortune. They left Roode to go think about it and walked off with Aries peering around the corner. Tenay said that Hardy was thinking about quitting, so I guess they are running another worked retirement angle after they just ran a couple of Storm and Styles. There was a video package highlighting the return of Chris Sabin next week – I hope he doesn’t quickly become another Petey Williams.

 

Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez made their way out for a tag title match. Aries however confronted Roode backstage about the reformation of Fortune. He put doubts into the mind of Roode and he wanted Roode to focus on the Tag Titles. Daniels and Kazarian were on commentary, which was of course quite great. Aries boasted in front of Roode, which led to Chavo getting the brief advantage. Aries and Roode argued on the apron before the tag was made. Hernandez missed his dive from the apron, which is worlds safer than when he would go off course on his dive to the outside. Chavo was tagged in and ran wild. He went for the frogsplash, but Kazarian ran in for the distraction. Aries was sent to the floor with an awkward fall. Daniels attempted to take Hernandez out behind the referee’s back with the STO, but hit Roode instead, which resulted in Chavo pinning Roode with the frogsplash. Morgan was asked about his thoughts on Hogan coming down to the ring, and he said that he would propose his solution next. There was this week’s Aces & Eights/Bully Ray retrospective. Morgan made his way out to air his grievances. He listed things such as Sting’s suspension (or whatever the case with Sting was), Ray being made number one contender and so on. The crowd chanted for Hogan, and out he came to a very strong reaction. He sold himself as the solution to all of Hogan’s problems. He listed all of the things he could do for Hogan, until stating that he would charge a fee – that is a world title opportunity at Slammiversary. Hogan stated that he had been looking for Morgan to be the second coming of himself, but he was doing it for all the wrong reasons. His promo culminated when he said that he would handle Ray himself and that he never heard “Andre The Giant wine like a little b***h”.

 

The Aces & Eights were giggling backstage. There was a poll asking fans who they wanted to see in the next X Division three-way the choices were Rashad Cameron, Rockstar Spud and of all people, Suicide; that is in fact one disjointed list. Mickie James made her way down to the ring for her Knockout’s title match with Velvet Sky. They focused on a sign reading “Velvet Sky is rated V” now what does that mean exactly? Is it V for violence? Do you have to be five years of age at minimum to view a Velvet Sky match? That sign made no sense. The match went through the commercial break with James working over the knee of Sky. Sky pinned James with a cradle to retain the title, in a match that was better than I expected. Ray and Devon were talking backstage, and Ray promised that he would put the final nail in the Hulkamania coffin. Brook Hogan and Hulk were talking backstage, She didn’t want him to go, but he said that he wanted to prove that he was a good man. What happened to the “have fun!” deal?

 

Ray listed all of the names he had put out and called Hogan down to the ring. Ray said that all he saw when looking into Hogan’s eyes was fear, because Ray reminded Hogan of himself. He was the last of Hogan’s dying breed, he got the what treatment until Ray said that he would be the one to kill Hulkamania. Hogan said that Hulkamania would never die. Ray spat in Hogan’s face, which led to Hogan tearing off his shirt and Ray and Hogan did the “you!” gimmick. Hogan then landed some shots on Ray and Ray fled the ring. Ray brought all of the Aces & Eights in the ring, the lights went out and Sting was in the ring baseball bat in hand, and he cleared house with Hogan. Sting pointed his bat in the face of Hogan and left to close of the show.

 

Ironically it was at the point of the mainevent segment where the live crowd was at its weakest when I was the most excited. I was perfectly happy with the way that the segment was moving along, that was until Ray spat in the face of Hogan, at which point the segment completely lost me, as they had Bully Ray, far and away the company’s top heel, sell for the now 59 year old Hulk Hogan – do they have any idea how bad that comes across? It would be one thing if Ray was a comedy heel figure on the undercard, but he isn’t. He is the company’s top heel and leader of a stable that the babyfaces have been attempting to vanquish for months. The TNA babyface lockeroom were all laid out, each man, one by one, and you expect the viewer to believe that Sting and Hogan could simply vanquish them? That is absurd. I would have been incredibly high on this segment if two active or even better up and coming babyfaces, were in the role. Heck even Kurt Angle would have been fine, but this just made me sad.

 

WWE SmackDown – April 26th 2013.

O2 Arena: London, England.

Ben Carass.

 

The video recap this week set up the No DQ match between Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger then showed The Shield going over Team Hell No and The Undertaker in the Six-man on Raw; a graphic hyped Taker’s first match on SmackDown in three years against Dean Ambrose.

 

Jack Swagger entered the arena with Zeb Colter to kick off the show; Cole, Josh and JBL checked in on commentary. Ricardo Rodriguez introduced Alberto Del Rio, who came out selling his leg from last week with his knee taped up

 

No Disqualification Match: Alberto Del Rio w/ Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Jack Swagger w/ Zeb Colter

 

Del Rio started out fast with a topé then brought a kendo stick into play, however Swagger grabbed the cane and used it to work over the knee. Swagger dumped Del Rio over the top to the floor with a backdrop; Alberto came back and got the upper hand during the brawl on the outside then suplexed Swagger on the ramp. Del Rio pulled out a ladder which Swagger ended up eating with a front bump; after the break Alberto hung Swagger up in the ropes and delivered several shots to the spine with the kendo stick then hit a double-knee backbreaker for a two count. Swagger countered the armbreaker, only to take a face full of Alberto’s superkick. There was a nice sequence which played off the finish from last week, Del Rio countered the patriot lock into the armbreaker, but Swagger stacked him up for a two count and instead of getting rolled up, Swagger sent Alberto into a chair that had been set up in the corner. Del Rio took a pretty safe shot to the head with the ladder; Swagger just ran towards him, Alberto got his hands up and bumped off the ladder. The finish saw Swagger get caught in the armbreaker after trying for a Vaderbomb, but Zeb handed Jack the kendo stick which allowed him to break the hold. Swagger unleashed some shots with the cane then dumped the ladder on Alberto’s corpse and pinned him with the doctor bomb.

 

Jack Swagger defeated Alberto Del Rio via pinfall, at 14:01.

 

This was another good match this week and a great way to start off the show, especially if you think about the Fandango/Santino opening segment last Friday; Both guys were working hard, although the finish seemed a little flat. I feared the three guys in the World title match at Extreme Rules would start trading wins, however the least they could have done was put Swagger over last week and had the babyface win the gimmick match.

 

Layla made her entrance and tried to suck up to the crowd by wearing Union Jack themed attire; if she really wanted to impress the British fans, not talking in an American accent and still claiming to be English would be a start. Everybody’s favourite (shoot) Lithuanian, Aksana was already in the ring. Note the world “shoot”, as Nikita is the best fake Lithuanian in history.

 

Layla vs. Aksana

 

Aksana dropped Layla off the apron with a boot, but wasted too much time posing and took a baseball slide to the floor. Aksana delivered a hotshot then a knee strike to the head and went for the heat by working over the arm; Layla got some kicks in for some hope, however Aksana cut her off. For the finish, Layla executed a rolling inside-cradle into a double over-hook pinning combination and got the three.

 

Layla defeated Aksana via pinfall, at 3:00.

 

This was no good at all. Both these women are horrendous professional wrestlers and every time I have to sit through a match between the two, I die a little inside.

 

Cole and JBL put over the Six-man from Raw then they showed a full ten minutes of the match.

 

A promo from The Shield aired; Rollins said justice had prevailed on Raw and Reigns claimed they, “broke the unbreakable” then stated it was an injustice that Team Hell No still had the Tag belts, but Rollins added that wouldn’t be for long. Ambrose said they accomplished what they set out to do on Raw, but something felt missing then declared it was the fact that Taker was still breathing. Ambrose continued and brilliantly stated he would do what nobody had done in 21 WrestleManias: beat The Undertaker. Rollins promised Taker would not rest in peace and Reigns closed with, “but you will believe in The Shield.”

 

I say the same thing about The Shield every week, but they are fantastic in their backstage promos. Just to change it up, I will say that it might be time to start developing each guy’s individual character and find out exactly why they came together and what compels them to act the way they do. Although I have no problem with them holding off on that as long as possible; we don’t need to find out everything about them in a month. When they choose to go that route, it has the potential to be a lengthy unveiling of each guy’s disposition and should not be rushed. It also appears like Rollins and Reigns are heading for a Tag title shot, which should inject some life into the division, at least for a couple of weeks anyway.

 

Summer Rae and her legs came out; Fandango was there too. JBL called Summer, “Mrs Fandango” and Cole told him he was making an assumption that they were married. JBL asked Cole what her name was and he said “I don’t know”, so JBL claimed he needed someway of referencing her. Since the UK has taken to Fandango’s entrance music, a lot of my fellow countrymen were dancing along to his song. After the break, Justin Gabriel was in the ring, preparing to do the honours.

 

Justin Gabriel vs. Fandango w/ Dancer (Summer Rae)

 

Gabriel made fun of Fandango’s dancing then took a few shots, but scored with an armdrag and got a two count off a roll up. Gabriel delivered another armdrag and worked a top wristlock; Fandango fought up as the crowd chanted his name then tied Gabriel up in the ropes and unloaded some blows to the back of the head. Fandango landed his enzuigiri from the floor for a two count; Gabriel came back with some kicks, but Fandango countered a springboard crossbody with a kick to the gut and hit his reverse STO, only he was facing the wrong way, which made it look like a Russian leg-sweep. Fandango came off the top with his big legdrop for the finish and the crowd danced again.

 

Fandango defeated Justin Gabriel via pinfall, at 2:55.

 

Summer got in the ring and did the splits; she passed Fandango a microphone and he told everyone how to say his name.

 

Nothing special here; I’m pleasantly surprised at how much offence Gabriel got in, as I was expecting a full on squash. I guess Fandango will just be rolling over under-card guys when Jericho isn’t around. They didn’t really try to make Fandango the heel here, however the only chance of that really happening in London would have been to send out Barrett or Regal again. I imagine this craze will be on its last legs by the time they get to Columbus, OH for Raw.

 

Sheamus showed up for a match with The Big Show; they showed the run-ins Sheamus had with Mark Henry over the past couple of weeks then Show marched down ramp to the ring.

 

Sheamus vs. Big Show

 

Sheamus showed some fight, but Show was too huge and delivered a variety of shots then dumped Sheamus over the top. Sheamus got his forearm smashes in as a hope spot, but Show scored with a sidewalk slam and an elbow drop. Show got the heat and a two count off the final cut; Sheamus tried for a bodyslam but collapsed under the giant’s weight. Show kept the heat on up until the commercial and was still in control after the break; Sheamus took the ring post spot then they showed a slow motion replay of Show delivering a bodyslam during the break. The announcers sold the slam like it was the most devastating thing imaginable. Sheamus teased getting counted out after being sent into the steps then Show went to work on the arm. Sheamus fought up from a top wristlock and scored with a DDT for the double-down, but nobody in the crowd cared, as they were too busy doing the Fandango dance. Sheamus started his comeback which received some considerable crowd sweetening, but after Show took white noise the crowd came to life. Show avoided the Brogue kick by rolling to the floor and the two brawled briefly; Sheamus hung Show up on the top rope then went up for his flying shoulder block. Mark Henry showed up at ringside and caused a distraction; Show hit Sheamus with the KO punch to get the victory.

 

The Big Show defeated Sheamus via pinfall, at 12:07.

 

I enjoyed this match; the crowd didn’t seem into it that much, but it I liked the story they went with. Show beat Sheamus up endlessly and even did a few more “giant” spots than normal; even the announcers put over a simple bodyslam as a deadly move when done by Big Show, which was great, I only wish they would do it every week. Sheamus didn’t look weak, as he showed enough fight and picked up the giant for the white noise. Henry getting involved is logical since I’m sure he and Sheamus will be facing each other at Extreme Rules. I enjoy Sheamus when he is booked against guys who can believably put him in jeopardy; if he is constantly the happy-go-lucky guy that beats up everyone and jokes about it, it is tough to get behind him. Luckily, Show and Henry are the perfect opponents to plant the smallest seed of doubt that maybe Sheamus will be unable to battle his way to victory against either big man. All things considered this was a good showing even though we had seen it countless times last year.

 

William Regal came down for another match in his home country after losing to Fandango on Raw; Wade Barrett hit the stage and said he never believed the stories about the London grave robbers until he saw the corpse of Regal in the ring. Wade told Regal he would send him back “from whence” he came.

 

Non-Title Match: William Regal vs. Wade Barrett (IC Champion)

 

Regal was all kinds of fired up and started out with some aggressive forearms, he avoided the bullhammer, to land an exploder-suplex, however Barrett avoided a knee trembler and hit the bullhammer for the pin.

 

Wade Barrett defeated William Regal via pinfall, at 1:00.

 

It’s a shame to see a Regal match given so little time, especially since that match with Ohno on NXT proved he can still go. Still, he is such a pro, for the brief time he was in there he showed more fire than John Cena has shown in years.

 

They showed Triple H giving Paul Heyman the pedigree on Raw that hyped the Cage match with Lesnar.

 

Randy Orton came down then after the break Mark Henry trudged his way down the ramp.

 

Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry

 

Henry went for the world’s strongest slam early, but rolled to the floor after Orton escaped and drilled him with a right hand. On the outside, Orton sent Henry into the ring post then got back in the ring to deliver some stomps; Henry took out Randy with a body check then got the heat briefly with some shoulder blocks in the corner. Orton fired back and scored with the hangman’s DDT then set up for an RKO; Henry rolled to the outside again and sent Orton spine-first into the ring post. When the two went back to the ring, Sheamus made a run-in and hit Henry with the Brogue kick to cause the DQ; Orton didn’t seem to care about losing and planted Henry with an RKO.

 

Mark Henry defeated Randy Orton via disqualification, at 4:50.

 

Not a lot to shout about here; Henry didn’t get much heat on Randy, I guess because he got pinned clean last week by Show. Orton is in a strange place at the moment, you could see in his eye on the way out he wasn’t feeling it; the man clearly is on the verge of just not trying anymore and giving up all together. When the crowd was flat, instead of getting the people behind him with body language and psychology, Randy simply turned to face them, yelled “Come on” and waved his arms up and down like an indy geek. The minute he starts using other shortcuts like cheap pops or coming out in the colours of the hometown sports team, you know he has thrown in the towel. Most of us figured out Orton is a lackluster babyface in 2004 when he had that dire one month World title reign, however since there is nobody to fill the number two face role on SmackDown, I expect more hollow performances from Randy until they elevate someone to fill that spot.

 

A recap of the Cena/Ryback/Shield main event angle from Raw rolled then The Undertaker made his full ring entrance. Dean Ambrose came through the crowd with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns for his first televised one-on-one match since being on the main roster.

 

The Undertaker vs. Dean Ambrose w/ The Shield

 

Reigns caused a distraction by jumping on the apron and Ambrose delivered some shots; Taker countered to unleash his trademark strikes in the corner. Taker tossed Ambrose over the top then sent him into the barricade, before dropping the guillotine legdrop on the apron. Ambrose avoided a big boot in the corner and beat down Taker on the outside. After the break Ambrose got the heat on The Undertaker (let that sink in) and scored with a dropkick then a neckbreaker. Ambrose did the “cut throat” sign, but Taker snatched him by the throat; the two traded blows then Taker hit the chokeslam and dropped Rollins off the apron. Reigns distracted the ref, which allowed Ambrose to nail Taker with a low blow and a DDT for a near fall. Ambrose went to follow up, but Taker trapped him in the gogoplata and got the tap-out.

 

The Undertaker defeated Dean Ambrose via submission, at 4:58.

 

After the match, Rollins and Reigns swarmed all over Undertaker; Taker fought back and sent Reigns into the barricade, tossed Rollins into the crowd then hit Ambrose with a chair to the stomach. Reigns speared Taker through the barricade then Ambrose delivered two chair shots. The Shield gave Taker the triple powerbomb through the announce table; Rollins yelled, “deadman!” and the three stood over the fallen legend as the show went off the air.

 

The main event was fine from a technical standpoint; they didn’t do a whole lot, but what they did was good and because it was Taker, everything was over from the opening bell. The post-match angle was amazing to see; I know the Nexus destroyed Taker on the 900th episode of Raw, but this was pulled off much better and meant a whole lot more. All three of The Shield guys have the potential to be big stars and they are already legit main-eventers as a team, so this was a big deal. This could be a way of writing Taker out of storyline for a while; he could always work Extreme Rules, but at this point I don’t see it. Mostly because he got the win over Ambrose, if he were sticking around for the PPV then surely The Shield would have just caused a DQ here. Maybe Kane and Bryan will get another partner for Six-man, or perhaps we’ll get a match for the Tag belts.

 

I can’t remember the last time I said this, but I thought this was a very good edition of SmackDown. From the stellar opener to the solid Show vs. Sheamus match and from a spectacle standpoint a must-see main event, which is a rarity on Friday nights, this was a highly entertaining show. If at all possible, I would advise anyone who has not seen the show to try and catch the 43 minute international version; it has the three matches that are worth seeing, no women’s or Fandango match and considerably less footage from Raw. Nevertheless, they shot a big angle, and I don’t mean Alberto Del Rio coming out after the show to attack Randy Orton like last year which they played up huge, or Big Show’s tour bus being vandalised, this was a legit big angle and made SmackDown feel important and relevant for the first time in an eternity.

 

Bits & Pieces

 

TNA Impact did its second lowest rating of the year so far this Thursday averaging 1.23 million viewers and going up against stiff competition in the NFL Draft. It is now the second time in a row that the live show hasn’t performed at a level that it has been expected to.

 

For what it’s worth, there is now a new NWA World Tile belt for the first time in decades. The belt is very reminiscent of the belt that Harley Race wore before it was replaced by one of the most iconic title belts in history, the Dome Globe NWA World Title belt.

 

As we predicted last week, Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr., the Killer Elite Squad, won the NWA World Tag Team titles in Houston Texas from Ryan Genesis and Scott Summers. This makes them double champions, but the titles obviously won’t be on the line at Wrestling Dontaku, New Japan’s next big show.

 

Scott Hall sent out an update following his surgery that he underwent a number of week’s ago “Post op visit with surgeon this am. 15 days after operation and I’m healing ahead of schedule. Gnarly x rays will be posted later. ThanksSCOTT HALL”

 

Nigel McGuiness did an interview with Kayfabe Wrestling Radio talking a multitude of topics, including Charlie Haas and Dolph Ziggler wearing the belt in the same manner that he did. Here are some of the highlights:

 

On Charlie Haas: “Well, I wasn’t there for the show, so I didn’t see it; all I heard is what people have told me about it after the fact. I could come out here and say things about Charlie, things I’ve felt for a long time, but I’m a bigger man than that. I could get drunk and go out there and make an ass out of myself but I’m an adult and I don’t do that. You know what I mean? If there’s ever a day when I need to talk to Charlie, I’ll talk to Charlie face-to-face and that’s the way I do business; I don’t air my dirty laundry in public. I could say a lot of things about him, his place in that company, his place in the business in general but I won’t do it because I’m a positive guy and I want to speak about the positives of Ring of Honor as opposed to the negatives.”

 

On the way that Ziggler wears the belt: “You know they say ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ but you just never know. I’ve known Nick for a long time; I knew him when he was just starting out, I think he paid his way to OVW and he’s been a real success story. I think of all those guys who have come through the developmental system, he’s certainly one of the best. You can certainly liken him to a Curt Henning, you know Mr. Perfect, someone like that; he’s the Curt Henning of our generation. Obviously, he has the negative in the sense that he didn’t have the background that Curt Henning did, and no one did. None of us had that ability to work the territories in the way Curt Henning did, so we’re all struggling to keep up and Nick’s done a fantastic job of doing that. If he did take it from me (the way of wearing the belt); good for him. As I said, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but a lot of times you have to understand as well, with some notable exceptions; sometimes it just happens by chance, some people do things that other people have done along the way. So, I don’t know and like I said, I wish him all the best and I know he’s worked hard for that spot and I hope he continues to do well.”

 

You can listen to the interview at WildTalkRadio.com

 

ROH has found a replacement for its May 4th and 5th shows in Toronto due to a vacancy that was caused by the knee injury that Naomichi Marufuji suffered on a NOAH show back in April. The man replacing Marufuji will be a man that has a great deal to do with the success of ROH’s early years – Paul London. London will be facing Richards on the May 4th Border Wars show, and Michael Elgin on the May 5th TV taping.

 

Next Week’s Newsletter

 

Next week we look at the April 21st and 23rd New Japan Shows, the build on the way to Extreme Rules, more on the Rock and his health, ROH and so much more!

 

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