Cubed Circle Newsletter Issue #72: CM Punk vs. Cena Classic, All Japan Purchase, Mania Direction, Diamond Ring + So Much More!

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Cubed Circle Newsletter

 

In this week’s newsletter we look at the current Mania direction as of Monday Night, the All Japan purchase, Diamond Ring’s 1st Year Anniversary show, Monday Night RAW with a match of the year candidate, another strong week of ratings, TNA Impact from the Impact Zone once more, and Ben Carass covers NXT and SmackDown! Also you will notice that the format of both the RAW and Impact reports has changed, hopefully for the better. However, the change is far from permanent, so if you have any thoughts you can send feedback to any of the contact details provided at the bottom of the page; and with that I hope you enjoy this week’s Cubed Circle Newsletter.

 

News

 

Mania Direction On Track Slowly But Surely

 

While the build to WrestleMania has been progressing far slower this year than year’s past, after this Monday’s edition of RAW I can finally feel the Mania spirit in the air. It is looking to be a card made up predominantly of matches that were set in place months ago (something that is not a bad thing), some even leading back to the middle of last year and beyond. These matches are John Cena vs. Rock II, Brock Lesnar versus Triple H II and CM Punk vs. The Undertaker.

 

While the final match on the list, Undertaker vs. CM Punk, is far from official and the build isn’t even fully underway yet, it definitely looks like they are going in that direction. As we noted in last weeks newsletter Undertaker did work a house show in Waco, Texas last week, and that does indicate that he is working the show. What pretty much locked this in stone is the fact that they outright mentioned it on RAW, and even aired some footage, which they wouldn’t have put the time into doing unless he is returning.

 

They have done similar things in the past, such as the worked Flair entrance snafu, but I personally feel that it was rather stupid to show the footage on RAW, even if they are going with the program next week. It isn’t like airing the footage the week prior is going to elevate the next week’s ratings, or even draw extra interest in the way that it was brought across; so why do it then? Still, they have five weeks of television to build to the match, which should be more than enough considering how talented both men are.

 

It looked like they could have been going in an unexpected direction last week when it came to the WWE title picture for WrestleMania, in the sense that they had John Cena put his championship opportunity on the line against Punk on this week’s RAW. The two expected scenarios going in were that they would either have Undertaker cost Punk the title shot, or do a dusty finish leading to a three-way, but instead they did something far different. They decided to have Punk and Cena put on a twenty plus minute match, which turned out to be a near classic with Cena pinning Punk clean to regain his championship opportunity. Some could argue that having Undertaker come out would have been a better idea, but I cannot see any way that they could have made it better.

 

Rock is currently working under a very busy schedule so will be missing at least some of his dates over the coming weeks, but I would suspect that he will be able to make all of the big ones and that should be fine. In fact, having the build start late will probably be a big positive, as most would agree that the build to last year’s match became rather tedious after a while. The match on RAW didn’t hurt Punk one bit either, as having him go out there and have a phenomenal pro-wrestling match on RAW made the title and WrestleMania seem even more important at this point.

 

Jack Swagger didn’t in fact lose his title shot after last week’s DUI, speeding and marijuana charges, which is in some ways very surprising, but in other ways quite typical. Swagger only incurred minimal fines as it was a first time offense, and it looks like the WWE will either serve him with a fine, which is standard mainevent guy protocol in this situation, or they will suspend him following WrestleMania.

 

The thing that probably saved Swagger in this case is the fact that Vince is a big fan of the angle with Zeb Coulter, which has garnered a lot of mainstream publicity over the past few weeks. The funny thing is that the angle simply isn’t getting over, and Del Rio versus Swagger would probably mean more without any of it, even with the publicity. The reality is that the racist angle became outdated in the 80s in most areas, and some could even make the argument that it went out of date long before then.

 

It will work in certain markets (one would assume ones with large Hispanic populations, although you never know), but in the majority of the places that the WWE visits it doesn’t mean much, and while the immigration debate is a relevant topic, it isn’t something that really fits pro-wrestling anymore, apart from placed like Lucha Libre USA, who are much smaller and have a different audience. Part of the reason that Vince probably loves the angle so much is due to how much publicity it has gotten, which seems to have been a thing with Vince dating back a long time.

 

Initially, I had absolutely no interest in Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar II, but after Monday’s angle I have to say that they have caught my interest. The angle on Monday was basically simply a wild brawl after Triple H came down to save Vince from Lesnar, but the brawling was so ugly, in the sense that it was believable and gritty, that it added further realism to Brock Lesnar’s gimmick since returning last year. What made the entire angle even better (or worse depending on who you are) was the fact that Lesnar is an absolute maniac and dived head first into the ring post busting himself open and requiring 12 stitches. I don’t know if they will be able to maintain the intensity throughout the entire angle, but that sure was a great opening to the second part of Brock Lesnar versus Triple H.

 

As a whole this year’s WrestleMania is shaping up to be a very big show, but there is still some stuff that isn’t quite settled yet, which is going to make the next few weeks very interesting.

 

AJPW Purchased

 

In what is by far the biggest puro story of the last few months All Japan Pro Wrestling was officially purchased by Speed Partners, a mobile business owned by Nobuo Shiraishi. The purchase comes at a time where All Japan, have suffice to say, not been lighting the world on fire when it comes to their business end, but have been putting on a consistently good product in-ring. The promotion was owned by Keiji Mutoh and an assortment of other business partners before the purchase.

 

This move explains many of the changes that have been happening to All Japan over the last couple of weeks, like being able to sign the Burning Group from Pro-Wrestling NOAH, who they realistically wouldn’t have been able to afford prior to the purchase. Shiraishi and New Japan owner, Takaaki Kidani, have apparently been friends for many years, and were apart of a generation of fans that grew up in the Japanese pro-wrestling boom period of the late 80s and early 90s.

 

Despite the fact that Shiraishi and Kidani seem to be good friends there seems to be the beginnings of an inter-promotional rivalry brewing, either shoot or work. It is clear that Shiraishi has big plans for All Japan, much like Kidani did when Bushiroad purchased New Japan at the start of 2012, which like we said at the time of the New Japan purchase could be a good or bad thing. On the one hand you have a guy that has a lot of ambition when it comes to how far he wants to take the product, but on the other hand this could lead to some naive decisions.

 

It was rumored a couple of months ago, and Kidani has said himself that he planned on purchasing All Japan and turning it into New Japan’s equivalent of the SmackDown brand, but that obviously would have been a bad move in the context of New Japan. He has said things similar to Kidani, statements about wanting to open up an MMA promotion have been passed around, and he has reportedly said things along the lines of All Japan being able to purchase New Japan within a few years.

 

Shiraishi has opened up two separate companies, one will keep the All Japan name and is what the company will operate under, the other has been formed under the name ‘All Japan Systems’ and will handle merchandising and the like. It also looks like All Japan will start hosting their own internet-pay-per-views soon, which can only be a good move for them considering how good New Japan is doing on that end. Shiraishi has also expressed a goal to start running the big All Japan shows at the Tokyo Dome within a few years, but as of the way things stand now I can’t see that working out in the current climate.

 

More outrageous statements involving both Shiraishi and Kidani have followed, with Shiraishi reportedly saying that the only good wrestlers in the New Japan company are Nakamura and Nagata, as for how serious these statements were and if there was possibly something lost in translation, I don’t know. Plus, there is also the fact that Kidani really wants to play a role as a New Japan character and with both men being friends I wouldn’t be surprised if Shiraishi felt that way too, which would mean that this could very well be a work; in fact for now I would assume that a lot of it is. That could change, and there does seem to be a competitive rivalry between the two, but for now that is only a safe assumption. Shiraishi has also expressed the want for a better TV deal, which I see as a big positive and is something that Kidani has also had his eye on for a while.

 

As a whole this is a positive outcome for Japanese pro-wrestling, New Japan is getting hot and it would be the best thing for both companies if the same would happen to All Japan. However, as for how big of a success this can become, I don’t know. However, from what we have seen from Kidani, surprisingly enough a business savvy promoter ignorant in a lot of respects to the pro-wresting business can be successful and even a huge positive for a promotion. Will we look at the purchase of All Japan as a turning point in the history of wrestling in Japan? I don’t know, and time will certainly tell. However, not much was thought of the Bushiroad purchase on first site, and looked what proceeded that.

 

Reports

 

Diamond Ring Dream Anniversary February 11th 2013

Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

 

Overall Thoughts:

 

This was the 1st year anniversary of the Diamond Ring promotion, although in reality the Diamond Ring promotion is really just a re-branded Kensuke Office. I found this to be a very fun show, I wasn’t expecting any blow-away matches going in, but the top two matches on the card certainly delivered. Nothing on the lower card was adversely bad, and there was still a lot of fun stuff on there. However, if you only see two matches from this show it should be the final two.

 

1. Opening Battle Royal for a Shot at Kensuke Sasaki

 

The entire premise of the match was bizarre to say the least. They basically through a bunch of lower card acts in there and had them reach for a giant globe above the ring to gain the match. The strange part was due to the fact that this was both a battle royal and ladder match, but with…well…no ladders. The majority of the match was comedy based with the first portion of the match focusing on everyone trying to get rid of Takayama. He was finally eliminated following a nefarious handshake, which led to some really bizarre spots. The match came down to Honda and Rongai, with Rongai smashing the globe for the win.

DUD

 

2. Manami Toyota & Meiko Satomura vs. Yumiko Hotta & Sonoko Kato

 

The match was joined in progress with only around the final four minutes of a twelve minute long match shown. From what I saw it was a fun match, but obviously nothing blow away. Toyota is still a phenomenal worker, and has retained so much of her athleticism. Toyota pinned Kato with the Japanese Ocean Bomb.

~** 3/4

 

3. Tajiri, Satoshi Kajiwara & Ryuji Hijikata vs. Fujita Jr. Hayato, Kenichiro Arai & K-ness

 

K-ness and Kajiwara had a an enzuigiri exchange, which allowed Kajiwara to make the tag to Tajiri after being worked on for a couple of minutes. K-ness ducked the buzz-saw kick, and with a really weird distraction Arai walked in, which sent Tajiri into the corner. Hayato and Hijikata had a big kick exchange, Hijikata got the better of it, but Hayato landed a headbutt and highkick. Arai and Kajiwara went a it. The tag was made to Hayato and he took Kajiwara out with a highkick, but Hijikata made it in for the save. Tajiri caught Arai with a buzz-saw kick and Kajiwara landed a moonsault for the win. The match only got seven minutes or so, but they certainly did the most with what they had, and while this wasn’t a four star match or anything close it was really fun.

*** 1/4

 

4. Osamu Nishimura vs. Mitsuhiro Kitamiya

 

The gimmick as far as I could tell, was that Nishimura wanted to have an old-school style match with, the rookie, Kitamiya. They had a fun little match only going around seven minutes or so with Nishimura pinning Kitamiya with a back slide, but this was the second match that Kitamiya had to work on this show.

 

5. Kento Miyahara, Mitsuhiro Kitamiya & Satoshi Kajiwara & Taishi Takizawa vs. Kazunari Murakami, Kengo Nishimura & TARU & Brother YASSHI

 

The opposing factions cut promos and then broke out into a brawl, the bell rang a couple of times and eventually the match settled down. This led to some hateful exchanges in the ring, and the crowd was just about as into it as anything else on the entire show, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it had nuclear heat or anything, but they did care. They went about fifteen minutes and didn’t really stop for the majority of the match, the match was really intense with the rivalry really being put over. They worked over Kitamiya for the majority of the match before the hot tag was made to Takizawa. Murakami was simply amazing throughout the entire match bringing tons of intensity to everything that he did. Miyahara pinned Taru with a German suplex to end the match. After the match Miyahara and Takizawa joined the Voodoo Murderes turning on their team mates

*** 1/2

 

5. Kensuke Sasaki & Takashi Sugiura vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Shinjiro Otani

 

This was Sasaki’s return match following surgery to correct cervical herniation between the sixth and seventh disks that he underwent in November of last year. Nakajima landed some big kicks on Sasaki to start the match off and the tags were made to Otani and Sugiura. As expected both men worked really stiff with each other landing really hard strikes. Nakajima and Sugiura went at it next with Sugiura knocking Nakajima down to the mat with a stiff slap. Sugiura proceeded to take Nakajima into the crowd where they had a light brawl. Nakajima went at Sasaki with face washes in the corner and Otani landed a big boot to Sugiura. Sugiura landed a German suplex on Otani, but he no sold it and stood right back up in defiance. However, he was quickly taken down with a spear from Sugiura. Otani neutralized Sugiura on the floor, which led to Otani and Nakajima both landing dropkicks. Sasaki and Nakajima traded strikes, Nakajima was knocked down, but shot back with a bridging German suplex on Sasaki. Nakajima was killed with a lariat, but still he kicked out. Finally, Sasaki landed a Northern Bomb on Nakajima for the win. The match was very good, and about what you would expect from these four. Otani isn’t what he used to be by any stretch, but he was serviceable here, and despite the fact that Sasaki and Sugiura have taken so much punishment over the years they can still put on really great matches. And then as for Nakajima…well…he is Nakajima. After the match Nakajima and Sasaki had a face off so hopefully that sets up a singles match down the line.

****

 

WWE Monday Night RAW February 25th 2013

United Airlines Centre, Dallas, Texas

 

Overall Thoughts:

 

It would be very difficult not to give this show a thumbs up, while the majority of the show wasn’t anything to right home about, both the opening and closing segments were phenomenal, with the mainevent being a candidate for the best RAW match in history. This was the first show this year where I honestly felt like we were on the Road to WrestleMania, and while there was still no Undertaker on the show they managed to get me excited for two matches that before this Monday I had very little interest in.

 

The opening segment wouldn’t have been nearly as good without the blood, but it still would have been very good and the blood just added tons to it. The mainevent will almost certainly settle in my top five matches of this year, it was that good. And you have to ask yourself, if Punk and Cena had another all time classic on RAW this week, a five star match in 2011 and a four and half star match in 2012 how could it not be considered one of the best in ring feuds that the WWE has put on over the last few years?

 

Segment by Segment:

 

Instead of the usual recap video the show opened up with a video package of the Heyman/Vince McMahon angle. Instead of the Impact style narrator they had the same guy that does the Hall of Fame videos do the narration, which was more than a fast improvement. Vince came down to the ring on crutches, Lawler and Cole sold the injury as a complete hip replacement. He wanted to open up the show with a fight, and swore that he could beat Heyman with no legs. He called Heyman out, calling him “the Ultimate Fighter”; I don’t know what that was about. Heyman said that he was a real man, and got some cheap heat with a Cowboys reference. He said that Vince put so many promotions out of business including his own, but he would take everything from Vince. Heyman wanted to talk civilly, but Heyman speared Vince to his feet and landed a shot with the crutch. Vince however caught the one crutch shot and went after Heyman, but out rushed Lesnar and Vince sold it like his death was at hand. Triple H seemed to be late on his queue, but his music hit and out Triple H came complete with water bottle. Lesnar rushed Triple H, which led to some great melee. Lesnar was thrown into the post, and he dived head first into the post twice. He came up bleeding, and landed up requiring multiple stitches to close the wound. The moral of the story? Don’t dive head first into the post!. Lesnar was sent over the barricade, and Triple H was F5ed on the announce table, which didn’t break. Lesnar’s entire face was covered in blood, which was a phenomenal visual. Lesnar went for a chair shot, but Triple H grabbed a spinebuster and chair shot to the back. I don’t know if they were doing too much here, but this was a money angle for their Mania match, as it certainly got me excited for the program – a program that prior to this show I had no interest in. As for Lesnar bleeding, it added a ton to the angle, and having Lesnar walk away from it smiling really added an extra dynamic to the angle. The fact that they don’t normally have blood in any of these angles, and when Lesnar is around they do certainly adds another layer on intensity to his act.

 

Ryback came for his match against Dolf Ziggler who was with AJ and Big E. Langston. They had Ryback land the majority of the offense before the break, and when they came back he landed a delayed vertical suplex, Ziggler rolled to the floor, which allowed Big E. To lay Ryback out on the floor following a distracting. They had Ziggler get some offense in after that point, but Ryback finished him off with spinebuster after spinebuster and then landed the marching Samoan drop for the win. I understand the impetus, because they made Ryback look really good through Ziggler’s selling ability, but beating Ziggler like this simply makes no sense. They aired a trailer for the new WWE film, ‘The Call’.

 

CM Punk came out before the break for a promo after the break. Punk said that the night was not about a match, or about Cena, the Rock, WrestleMania, the people or even the WWE championship. The night was about the future – CM Punk. He got fired up saying that he was an icon among superstars, a legend, an immortal; God. He then stepped out of the ring and walked off. I thought that this was a great, I don’t know how great the material was, but Punk made the promo. They then announced Donald Trump as the next inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame, and honestly he is one of the most worthy celebrities to go into the Hall of Fame.

 

After the break Henry and Khali were in the ring for a match up. They didn’t go all that long having Henry pin Khali with the world’s strongest slam, which really begs the question as to why they had Henry avoid Khali last week. There was a trailer for the Marine 3; I haven’t seen the movie, but Miz cannot be believable as an action movie star. Miz came out for Miz TV and there was a Fandango promo saying that he would premiere on SmackDown – once again this will not work. Swagger, Del Rio, Coulter, Ricardo and Miz were in the ring and Miz’s mic wasn’t working. Coulter mentioned Beck and how he “chickened out”. It turned into a political debate not only on American immigration laws, but on Mexican ones too. The whole gimmick was that Coulter kept cutting Del Rio off like Bill ‘O Reilly or something. Coulter called immigrants criminals, which led to Del Rio snapping. Del Rio then gave a speech putting America over. He finally got to the point of asking Swagger and Coulter to make them leave and he unbuttoned his shirt. Swagger said that they would see them at WrestleMania and did his “we the people” gimmick and walked off. This segment went far too long, as at one point it didn’t feel like a conflict between two conflicting characters, but a political debate, and that isn’t going to do anyone any good. Then in what was an extremely unbelievable place to put the most important part of the segment they had Swagger attack Miz during the break on WWE Active.

 

Orton came down for his match with Antonio Cesaro. They had a fun match with Orton pinning Cesaro when he came off the top rope with a flying uppercut. I know that most people don’t really care about the championship anymore, but it still bugs me that they beat the US Champion without even a shudder of importance placed on the pinfall. They were protecting Cesaro so well, and it’s a shame that they stopped. Kane and Bryan made-up backstage. Bryan and Kane said that they could win their match later on on their own. Bryan said he could win with his eyes closed and Kane said that he could win with one arm behind his back. Vickie came by, along with Maddox, and they did in fact make those threats a reality. The gimmick is that Maddox keeps interrupting Vickie; so they are already getting on each others nerves. They for some reason aired one of the WrestleMania 21 video package parodies from 2005.

 

Sheamus came out in a suit talking about the Oscars and why he had a problem with the Oscars. He said that they overlooked Wade Barrett in ‘Dead Man Down’. They showed the trailer and obviously Barrett wasn’t in it, at least noticeably. I know that ‘Dead Man Down’ is besides the point, but this was out of the Oscar voting period anyway; in fact it hasn’t even been released. They paused the clip on Barrett’s face. Out came Barrett, and he said that Sheamus was green with envy. Barrett said that he would be at the premiere, Sheamus made a joke about Barrett’s nose and he went for his finish, but Sheamus ducked it and went for the brogue kick. Barrett then rolled out of the ring, still everyone was smiling – I am glad they care so much, it sure makes me want to care.

 

Damien Sandow was on commentary for R-Truth versus Cody Rhodes. Truth pinned Rhodes clean after an unremarkable match, Sandow rushed the ring, but Truth cleaned house. Cole and Lawler aired a YouTube clip of Coulter and Sandow talking about jobs. Bryan was in the ring with a bag over his head and Kane with an arm behind his back. Bryan almost locked the no lock in on the referee. Titus blew his whistle and landed a shot from behind. Bryan accidentally hit Kane, but managed to make the tag and Kane ran wild with a hand tied behind his back. He landed the chokeslam for the win. This was just so hokey, and it really is a shame that a man as talented as Bryan has been reduced to this; still there is hope for the post-Mania season. They aired a new WWEshop campaign entitled “Get the gear, get the girl.” Never has “do not try this at home” rung more true.

 

The Shield came down for an in-ring segment. Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins all got a turn, and Rollins was the only one to really get the “what?” treatment, but by the time that he was finished the chants had stopped. Sheamus challenged anyone, and out came Sheamus. Sheamus issued a challenge, Reigns and Ambrose exited the ring, but Orton ran through the crowd and nailed Rollins with an RKO. Miz and Swagger made it out for a match set up earlier on, during the commercial break in fact. Swagger was out there with Coulter and planted Miz with a belly to belly suplex on the floor. Both men had a surprisingly fun and competitive match; the finish came when Miz hung his leg up in-between the middle and top ropes, which led to Swagger going after the leg and locking in the ankle lock for the win. Lawler, the man who had the heart attack months ago was sampling the Sonic chicken that was placed at ringside. They aired a tOut of Triple H challenging Lesnar, and then some pretty embarrassing tOuts from people at home. Josh Matthews was backstage with Cena, he said that there would be no excuse and the best man would be going to WrestleMania. There was a trailer for Chris Jericho’s Robot Combat League – it looks awesome. Then in an act of absolute stupidity they aired a tOut of Undertaker returning in Waco, Texas.

 

Punk and Cena came out for their match for the number one contendership at WrestleMania. Both men traded holds until one of the big early spots of the match came when Punk ducked a shoulder block, and Cena was sent to the floor, which allowed Punk to land a topé. Cena went for the AA, but Punk rolled through into the anaconda vice in an awesome counter. Cena grabbed a rollup, but Punk kicked out and landed a neckbreaker. Punk went for the GTS, but Cena grabbed the leg and went for the STF, Punk made his way out and landed a flying clothesline for another count of two. Punk, went for another clothesline, but Cena grabbed an STF. Punk then countered into an anaconda vice, but Cena countered back into the STF! Punk rolled Cena up and both men were down. Both men traded shots, Cena landed a flurry of shots, and followed them with the spinout powerbomb, Punk countered the five knuckle shuffle with an upkick. He went for the GTS, but Cena countered that! Punk landed a huge high knee, but Cena landed the spinout powerbomb and five knuckle shuffle. Punk countered the AA into the GTS, but Cena countered into a huge powerbomb for two, which got a colossal reaction. Cena went to the top rope, Punk followed suit, but Punk was knocked down to the mat and was caught with a leg drop – for two again. The crowd was buying every single one of these moves as if they were the hugest moves in the world. Punk landed a highkick to the back and one to the front, but Cena landed an AA – still Punk kicked out! This match had the feel of a big 90s All Japan match at this point. Cena was sent into the ringpost and the referee was counting Cena out, but he made it back in at nine.. Punk landed the GTS, but Cena kicked out again! Cena countered a second GTS into the STF. Punk made it to the ropes! Punk landed a kick to the knee and landed a Lawler style piledriver, which is banned in the WWE, and was something that Vince wasn’t too happy about – luckily Cena took the fall! My God this was great. Punk went for repeated covers, but Cena still kicked out. Punk went back to the top rope, but Cena moved out of the way of the elbow and landed a wacky hurricanrana and AA for the win. Say what you want, about anything, but this match was one of the best RAW matches in years, like match of the year level. It had the feel of a big All Japan match from the 90s, and while they could have done a dusty finish to set up Punk vs. Undertaker, this was out of this world – and may very well be the best match of 2013. (**** 3/4)

 

RAW Ratings for February 25th 2013

 

*Please note that the segment by segment viewership numbers are approximations this week.

 

RAW once again pulled off a very good rating this week drawing 4.7 million viewers and a 3.43 rating. They showcased a drop-off once again to some degree, but that’s to be expected considering the current format. Originally on the site I said that all three hours were in the top spots for the night on cable, but that was not in fact the case . In reality RAW was actually third for the night on cable as a whole. The biggest news coming out of the show was probably how successful the mainevent was, and considering how big of a fan I am of the match that makes me very happy.

 

The show opened up strong doing a 3.6 quarter with the Brock Lesnar/Vince McMahon/Paul Heyman/Triple H angle, which comes as no surprise considering the star power in that segment. Dolf Ziggler versus Ryback lost about 285,000 viewers, about what you would expect considering how strong the opening was. Then in a really telling segment the CM Punk promo and trailer for ‘The Call’ gained a whopping 420,000 viewers. This wasn’t only an excellent gain by regular standards of this segment, but it also followed a very big opening quarter, which makes it all the more impressive The Mark Henry/Great Khali match lost around 285,000 viewers, but they then gained most of them back in the 21:00 segment with Coulter, Swagger, Del Rio, Miz and Ricardo to a 3.7 quarter, and that was great for a multitude of reasons.

 

The 20:00 to 21:00 segment drew 4.87 million viewers (2.160 million viewers and a 1.71 rating in the 18-49 demo) – up from last week.

 

In the post-21:00 segment Randy Orton versus Antonio Cesaro lost around 435,000 viewers, which was fine for a post-21:00 drop-off following such good numbers. R-Truth versus Cody Rhodes stayed even, which I was really surprised about. Then the tag team match with the Prime Time Players against Bryan & Kane, with Bryan being blindfolded and Kane having one arm tied behind his back lost a further 285,000 viewers, around what you would expect. In the 22:00 segment, the Shield promo together with the Orton and Sheamus melee gained 285,000 viewers to a 3.6 quarter – around what you would expect for that hour.

 

The 21:00 to 22:00 hour drew 4.7 million viewers (2.162 million viewers and a 1.71 rating in the 18-49 demo).

 

The Swagger/Miz match in the post-22:00 segment lost 450,000 viewers in the biggest drop-off of the night. However, it isn’t too far off from what they normally do in that segment. The John Cena promo gained 140,000 viewers and then in what was the biggest news item coming out of the ratings for this show, John Cena versus CM Punk having a match of the year candidate gained 1.002 million viewers to an outstanding 3.9 overrun. Obviously there was a lot more here than simply a good TV match, but hopefully this allows for a change in mindset to at least some degree when it comes to matches on TV.

 

The 22:00 to 23:12 (yes,they went 12 minutes over again) drew 4.70 million viewers (2.220 million viewers and a 1.75 rating in the 18-49 demo), which means that while they were down in overall viewership, but they did do the biggest hour of the show in the 18-49 demo. The audience was 68.4% male and they drew a 3.0 in males while doing a 1.0 in females. I would consider the show a very big success ratings wise, and it will be interesting to see if this success carries over at least to some extent in the post-Mania season.

 

WWE –NXT

February 27th 2013 – Full Sail University, Florida.

Ben Carass.

After not being seen since his horrendous inset promo on Raw, Bo Dallas was in the office of Dusty Rhodes. Corey Graves showed up and wanted to know what Bo was doing there; Dusty told him he would have to hand something over before The Dream would explain. Graves produced the NXT Championship belt that he stole last week and surrendered it to the GM. Big Dust put Bo over for winning the Royal Rumble tournament and beating Wade Barrett; Rhodes then booked Graves and Dallas a number one contender’s triple-threat match with Connor O’Brian as the main event. Graves claimed he would show everyone what he means when he says “stay down”.

Justin Gabriel was accompanied by Tyson Kidd for the opener; Leo Kruger appeared to some new Rage against the Machine style music after last week’s attack on Kidd.

 

Justin Gabriel w/ Tyson Kidd vs. Leo Kruger

 

Gabriel controlled Kruger on the mat at a deliberate pace until Leo threw a forearm and landed some shots, however Kruger rolled to the outside after taking a head-scissors out of the corner.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Kruger was in control after the break and hit a big spinebuster then went to work on Gabriel’s arm following a ring post spot. Gabriel got some hope spots in which led to a near-fall, but Kruger went back to the heat with an armbar takedown. Leo worked over the arm until it was time for the comeback, which came when Gabriel escaped a hammerlock with a snapmare. Kruger cut off Gabriel as he went for the 450 then hung his arm up on the top rope and connected with a big clothesline for a two count. The ever clueless Tony Dawson asked Regal, “a lariat right?” Leo tried for a superplex which was turned into a sunset flip and Gabriel hit the 450 splash for the finish.

 

Justin Gabriel defeated Leo Kruger via pinfall, at 11:43.

 

After the match, Kruger drilled Gabriel with one of Kidd’s crutches and menacingly backed up the ramp.

 

A solid showing here from both guys; Leo did his part in there and didn’t rely on the highly talented Gabriel to carry the match. This had nice pacing, everything made sense and was executed as crisply as any match you’re likely to see on NXT. It appears like Kruger & Ohno have gone their separate directions already, which is a shame considering they would have made great opponents for Neville & Grey. The good news is Leo seems to be getting a decent singles push again and we are only two weeks away from the Ohno/Regal feud really kicking off.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Much to the dismay of pro wrestling journalists all over the world, Aksana came out for a match; things picked up when Emma made her goofy entrance and was tremendous in awkwardly skinning the cat into the ring. The gimmick is basically Jillian Hall’s horrendous singer that believes she is genuinely talented, only with farcical dancing.

 

Emma vs. Aksana

 

Aksana capitalised on the wacky dancing and took over; Emma went to the apron then work stumbled to the floor. Aksana got hung up over the top rope then Emma gained the advantage with a couple of Biels and looked like she was tossing around a dead walrus rather than a 95lbs woman. After some confusing storytelling, Aksana got the win with a spinebuster.

 

Aksana defeated Emma via pinfall, at 4:40.

 

From bell-to-bell, this was an unmitigated disaster; Emma’s entrance turned out to be the highlight of this entire segment. We had two women acting like heels with their body language, both resorted to hair pulling throughout, Aksana got the jump for the immediate heat, however after selling for Emma she went into babyface mode and started a brief comeback. To make things worse, the crowd got behind Emma just before she began to get the heat on Aksana; this match was a mess.

 

Dawson said there was some “breaking news” developing in the back and they threw it to Renee Young who was standing in front of an unconscious Bo Dallas. She claimed to have no idea what was going on and that “they” just found Dallas knocked out on the floor. Renee speculated that Bo may not be able to compete in the three-way as Dr. Sampson checked over the fallen Dallas.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Corey Graves was out first for the main event and Connor O’Brian followed with his full gimmicky entrance; Dawson said it would now be a singles match.

 

Number One Contender’s Match: Corey Graves vs. Connor O’Brian

 

They got over O’Brian’s strength and he controlled from the start; Graves was dumped over the top and had his head driven into the apron. Graves bated O’Brian with a chase and got back in the ring to take control with a kick that caught O’Brian as he was stepping through the ropes. Graves went after the knee and wrapped O’Brian’s leg around the ring post then worked some holds on the body part.

 

Commercial Break.

 

The two traded shots on the floor then Graves took the fight back inside and attacked the injured knee once again. O’Brian raked the face to break a hold then went into a comeback and delivered a flapjack. There was a lights out spot and The Shield appeared in the ring to the biggest reaction of the night by a mile.

 

Corey Graves & Connor O’Brian fought to a no-contest in 10:34.

 

The Shield beatdown Graves and O’Brian; obviously “washing machine” cam was used during the melee. The trio planted Graves with the triple powerbomb then drilled O’Brian with their feared finish.

 

Ambrose said that was a reminder for everybody to watch their backs wherever they were and stated, “You can’t run from justice”. Rollins added that The Shield “rights the wrongs of an industry gone awry” and that things would get a lot worse before they got better. Rollins asserted that Sheamus, Cena and Ryback could attest to how bad things can get then Reigns added, “We’re always watching; no one is outside the reach of The Shield”. The three closed the promo with, “believe in The Shield” and walked over the corpses of Graves and O’Brian on their way to the back.

 

The main event was a poor outing; nobody in the crowd cared at all about this match and the heel vs. heel dynamic once again failed to excite the Full Sail faithful. Interestingly, Bo Dallas did not even appear at the January set of tapings, which means his backstage stuff was shot afterwards and spliced in; the angle they shot sets up another 3 way next week, which unbelievably Connor O’Brian gets the nod in. I know O’Brian has been working some Raw house shows, however he is far from ready to be called up, let only being the NXT Champion. I’m assuming that The Shied were referring to the way Rollins lost the NXT title, which is a little strange considering they have the right to never appear on this show again now their act is over. However it is nice to see that the quest for Justice has brought them back to NXT, after it took every babyface on the roster to help Big E. capture the belt from Seth.

 

Overall this was a lacklustre show; the opener was decent, however the other two matches were completely missable. The angle with The Shield was entertaining, but I don’t see what it accomplished since they are no longer fulltime characters on NXT. There was no update on Paige’s condition nor did we get a promo from Summer Rae, which is a little short-sighted considering the potential in their feud. Things should get better with the imminent Ohno/Regal feud, I just wish the programme could play out on a bigger stage than NXT.

 

TNA Impact February 28th 2013

Impact Zone, Orlando, Florida

 

Overall Thoughts:

 

This was the first show at the Impact Zone in weeks, and while the show obviously didn’t come off as major league as in the UK, I felt that they did a good job here and put on an enjoyable show. The main thing that I noticed coming coming away from the show was that they are really focusing on personality profiles, which can only be a good thing. They tried their hardest to make me care about the Gut Check contestants, the title match and AJ Styles and they did a good job for the most part.

 

While I still find the Aces & Eights overbearing, they at least introduced some new plot points this week, even if they are rather uninteresting. Also, the build leading up to Ray versus Hardy for the title at Lockdown should be interesting. All in all this was a fun show, and while it wasn’t blow away it certainly did have its entertaining moments over the time that I had it on for.

 

Segment by Segment:

 

Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan were shown entering the building; Brooke said in the worst way possible that Hogan was doing better, but was badly hurt. Ray came out. He listed all of the people that the Aces & Eights took out, and said that they had ruined everything. Ray swore to God that he was going to get his hands on Devon. Ray brought Hardy down. Ray basically said that he didn’t feel wrong being the number one contender for the championship, Hardy brushed it off and offered a handshake, but out came Kaz and Daniels. Kazarian said that Thunderlips gave Ray the title shot, and Daniels called Ray “Raymond”, which was just phenomenal. Daniels then said that he out wrestled Hardy like Lou Thesz’s favourite son. Ray interupted, took a sip of the appletini, but then spat it back into the glass and threw it into Daniels’ face. Ray then challenged them to a tag match for later on. Sting was backstage with Magnus. He had a list of names for the Lethal Lockdown in his hands and cut a promo saying why he deserved a title shot.

 

Gail Kim was on commentary for a Knockout’s title match between Velvet Sky and Tara, who was accompanied by Jesse. The match was basically what you would have expected from a Velvet Sky match. She pinned Tara with the pedigree, which means that she will face Gail Kim at Lockdown. Aries was talking on the phone to Bobby Roode who wasn’t there and said that they had a photo shoot. Guerrero and Hernandez came by, Chavo said that he wanted a match with Aries, Aries accepted, but Chavo said that he had a match with Hernandez and walked off. Kenny King was followed backstage, he went to Van Dam’s trailer, and Van Dam challenged him to a title versus X division match for later on.

 

Aries came out for his match with Hernandez. Hernandez is no longer wearing tights, and has switched to trunks. Hernandez was in control, Aries rolled to the floor attempting to walk off, title in hand. The referee went to take the title away and Aries landed a shot with a foreign object that he had in his trunks for the win. Joe Park was shown backstage eating ribs, Sting asked if he knew what a rib was yet, and he said that he did obviously referring to his meal. Morgan came by the office and Sting offered him the option to join TNA versus the Aces & Eights. Morgan refused saying that he would deny any involvement with Hogan.

 

Kenny King and Rob Van Dam made it to the ring for their title versus X Division career match. Van Dam landed a German suplex and collapsed on the bridge, Keneley and Tenay said that it was a great bridge and Taz was obviously not impressed. Van Dam went for a 450 splash, but missed in what was supposed to be the finish, but Van Dam botched his side of the cradle and had his shoulders up. King then landed the spinning fireman’s carry neckbreaker for the win. It’s great that they put the title on King, but it really is too late, as it made no sense to beat him so many times to get to this point. Oh, and they had a terrible match. Sting and Angle had a brief conversation backstage. They showed a picture that Hogan tweeted from his knee surgery. When you have surgery as often as Hogan it is pretty easy to tweet a photo or two.

 

Devon and the Aces & Eights came down to the ring. Devon proclaimed that Sting had been served Hogan’s Kool-aid. He managed to actually get some heat, which is remarkable in and of itself. Out came Sting to reveal his team for Lethal Lockdown. He brought out Joe, James Storm and Magnus. Sting then said it was Showtime, Anderson asked him to get to the point, but Sting kept repeating it until Eric Young ran out as the final member of Team TNA. A pretty mediocre Lethal Lockdown this will be. They aired a video for the new Gut Check contestant Ivelisse Velez. She was actually on Tough Enough if you remember from a couple of years ago, as Sofia Cortez, but she has dyed her hair red and looks pretty different. It still astounds me that the WWE cut her as she was one of the better female workers on the roster. Her story is that she lost contact with her mother while she was training to be a wrestler. The Aces & Eights were shown freaking out backstage, Angle was stalking them and was being pursued by a camera man. The next contestant was Lei’D Tapa, niece of the Barbarian. She also broke down crying saying how proud Barbarian was of her. They really are going hard on the personality profile element of these videos.

 

Velez and Tapa were brought out for their match. It’s wasn’t evident in the video, but Tapa is extremely physically imposing, which made for a really interesting match, as Velez is a good worker by Knockout’s standards. There were a few sloppy spots in the match like Tapa sticking her head out way too early for a DDT, but as a whole they put on a better match than the Knockout’s match from earlier on in the show. Velez submitted Tapa with a guillotine. They obviously told the story of Velez as the underdog overcoming the monster, Tapa, with her submissions. Aries was backstage with Hardy saying that he was pulling for Hardy, because Ray was now the golden child. He said that Hardy was the golden child when he was the champion, and he wanted Hardy to know how it felt. There was an AJ Styles update with members of his family and friends. The segment was really great until they dramatically had Styles walk through a door with a full on beard and drive off on a motor cycle. I would have been fine with it, but not in the middle of an interview segment. There was a recap of the entire Robbie E/T video package.

 

Robbie E was in the ring following the package. He said that he had come to a realization and brought Rob Terry out. E apologized, said that he had crossed the line and risked their friendship. He wanted to tell the world that he was the better “bro” and asked for one more bro-off. Terry accepted and the music hit. E danced, and stepped aside for T, but then came back in the ring and smashed the VIP sign over T’s head. E posed in the ring, but T stood up, with the sign around his neck and E ran off. I assume that this will lead to a match at Lockdown, which I am fine with. Aries was backstage saying that he was rooting for Ray. Ray said that Aries was one of the best wrestlers in the company, but he wouldn’t win the World Title. Aries was then chased off by Ray. There was a video package with Ray and Hardy putting over their match. Angle was shown stepping into what I assume was the club house.

 

Daniels & Kazarian came out for their match with Ray and Hardy. Ray landed a huge backdrop, Daniels and Kazarian danced Gangnam style, but Ray made his comeback and believe it or not did the Gangnam style himself. After the break Hardy and Ray were in control of Daniels and Kazarian. However, Daniels and Kazarian managed to make it back into control. Hardy landed the whisper in the wind and made the tag to Ray who ran wild. Hardy went for the swanton, but was hung up by Kazarian. Ray managed to make his way up and landed an electric chair on Daniels setting up for the swanton for the win. Then in the last minute or so of the show, Angle was shown cleaning house in the club house and brawled with their leader smashing a bottle over his head. Angle removed the mask, and swore asking how that person could have turned on him. However the Aces & Eights attacked Angle from behind to close off the show before you could see who it was. I wonder why they let the camera man live?

 

WWE SmackDown – March 1st 2013.

Chesapeake Energy Arena: Oklahoma City, OK.

Ben Carass.

 

 

Our pre-show briefing this week went over The Shield angle with Sheamus and Orton from Raw then a graphic hyped Randy Orton vs. The Big Show as the main event.

 

Inside the building, Ricardo Rodriguez introduced Alberto Del Rio and the two headed down to the ring; since JBL was away climbing Mount Aconcagua, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler joined Josh Matthews on commentary. Damien Sandow came out to face Del Rio; he cut a promo on Alberto before the match, claiming that Del Rio was just like other Americans because he cannot speak English correctly then he ridiculed Ricardo for wearing an outdated rented tuxedo. After Sandow used his “unwashed masses” line on the crowd, Del Rio replied that Damien needed to wash his mouth, because it smelled like “kaka”

 

Since every top WWE babyface has to act like a complete dork and make infantile jokes, Del Rio is now been given lines that would usually be reserved for Sheamus or Cena. Can’t anyone act like an adult, or is that too edgy for a modern babyface? At least we didn’t get another tired opening segment with the GM showing up and booking a match that even Stan Hansen would see coming.

 

Non-Title Match: Alberto Del Rio (World Champion) w/ Ricardo vs. Damien Sandow

 

Sandow gained the upper hand early with some underhanded tactics; Del Rio got his second rope moonsault in, but Damien went to the eyes and raked his boot laces across Alberto’s face to keep the momentum. Sandow got the heat; nobody in the audience seemed to care. Alberto got a magistral cradle in for a hope spot then was taken down by a clothesline; Del Rio came back to dump Sandow on the apron then Alberto scored with his step-up enziguri.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Sandow had the heat once more; Del Rio fought up from a chinlock to hit a German suplex for the double down. The two traded shots then Alberto started his comeback, however Damien countered the cross armbreaker into a sit-out rear mat slam then avoided another enziguri by landing a summersault neckbreaker for a near fall. Del Rio fought out of the straightjacket neckbreaker and locked in the cross armbreaker for the finish.

 

Alberto Del Rio defeated Damien Sandow via submission, at 12:42.

 

This was an average match; the crowd seemed totally docile while Del Rio was selling, even Ricardo had a hard time getting the people into the match. I’m not sure booking Alberto in competitive matches against guys at Sandow’s level is the best way to get over as the new hero; he needs some steam before the people will get behind him during his promos and heat spots. WrestleMania is typically a “smart” crowd and in New York I imagine it will be more so than usual; Del Rio is on the way to becoming another babyface that will be booed out of MetLife stadium on April 7th

 

Commercial Break.

 

Kane was sitting in the locker room; Daniel Bryan walked in and told his partner that the only reason he got the pin over The Prime Time Players was because Bryan was under the hood. Bryan said Booker T had booked a rematch, only this time the Tag Champs would have to switch their gimmicks from Monday. Kane was fine with wearing the hood, as he would prove he was better than Bryan and wouldn’t have to look at his “ugly goat face”. Bryan yelled “No!” like a maniac.

 

The Miz appeared for a US Championship match; Cole said it would be two out of three falls. Antonio Cesaro emerged to defend his title.

 

Two out of Three Falls Match for the US Championship: The Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro (Champion)

After a fairly even opening exchange, Miz went after the leg with a knee crusher and a dragon screw then tried for a pinfall with a schoolboy. Cesaro countered a clothesline in the corner into a modified Alpamare waterslide for a two count; Miz scored a quick inside cradle, however Cesaro kicked out at two and hit the neutraliser for the three.

Antonio Cesaro won the first fall via pinfall, at 4:04.

 

Commercial Break.

 

When we joined the show again, a graphic showed a score of 1-1; Cole said the fall took place “exclusively” on the WWE app. They then showed Cesaro tapping out to the figure four; apparently, nobody in this company has any idea what “exclusive” actually means. This was an utter failure.

 

The Miz won the second fall via submission

 

Miz shot for a single-leg like he was Matt Hughes, but Cesaro sprawled and landed a gutwrench then got some brief heat with a chinlock. Cesaro slapped Miz across the face and yelled, “you stupid American”; this signalled the start of the comeback. Miz went for his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo, but Cesaro countered and hit his pop-up European uppercut for a near fall. Miz delivered a boot to the knee then followed up with a DDT; the two traded shots and Miz fired up to hit his clothesline in the corner. Cesaro got to the ropes after getting caught in the figure four again; Miz tried for the hold once more, however Cesaro escaped to get the victory with an O’Connor roll and a handful of tights.

 

Antonio Cesaro won the third fall via pinfall, at 13:08.

 

The match was hurt considerably by the second fall taking place during the break; this isn’t even a live show, I didn’t hear about any major botches from the spoilers, so surely this could have been avoided. Regardless, this was ok; the thought of a two out of three falls match involving The Miz would have given me nightmares for weeks, however Cesaro continues to produce good (or at least watchable) matches with Miz. I hate to sound repetitive, however if this feud is heading to Mania then I suspect Miz will be another guy that feels the wrath of the notorious New York market. Maybe I’m putting too much thought into this, but I can see Cena, Sheamus, Del Rio, Ryback and Miz all getting the Rocky Maivia treatment at WrestleMania.

 

Randy Orton was warming up in the locker room; Sheamus entered and offered to watch his back from The Shield during the match with Big Show later. Orton agreed and thanked Sheamus.

 

I guess the Orton turn and the hostility between him and Sheamus has been nixed for the time being now it appears like they will be going against The Shield at Mania.

 

Jim Ross came down to the ring; Cole said JR would conduct an interview with Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter after the break.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Hopefully the final ever Fandango vignette aired; it hyped his debut tonight.

 

JR put over Oklahoma then brought out Swagger and Zeb; Ross talked about how he recruited Swagger while he was still wrestling and playing football for the Sooners. Swagger went for some cheap heat by burring JR’s favourite team then Zeb said they believed JR would treat them fairly unlike The Miz on Raw. Ross brought up Swagger’s “embarrassing” string of losses last year then asked what changed in him during his five months away. Zeb claimed he told Swagger the truth about what was happening in America; JR said he didn’t understand where Colter was coming from. Zeb stated that the WWE was a microcosm for what was going on in the US then accused Del Rio of “sneaking in” to steal the spot that rightfully belonged to Swagger and compared Alberto to illegal immigrants taking jobs away from Americans. Zeb added that they would not stand idly by while the US self destructed and Swagger chimed in with, “we the people”. JR began to ask Swagger about his title shot at WrestleMania, but Zeb interrupted and said the belt would go around the waist of a “natural born citizen” and declared that Swagger was fighting for more than the World title and was fighting for the heart and soul of America. JR fired up and accused Colter of brainwashing Swagger; Zeb claimed Ross was the one who was guilty of trying to brainwash Swagger and claimed to have just shown him the reality of what was going on. JR advised Zeb to use his right to remain silent, however Swagger knocked off Ross’s trademark hat and charged him with being a “sympathiser” not a real American. Swagger backed JR into a corner, but Alberto Del Rio came down to make the save.

 

Del Rio handed Ross his hat back then stated that the intolerant duo were the problem and he was the solution. Alberto called Swagger a “real jackass” and his music began to play to abruptly end this segment. Swagger and Zeb backed off and left the ring.

 

This felt like it went on forever; JR and Zeb were great with their delivery, however the segment failed to draw any real heat. For me at least, the idea of intolerance in 2013 seems pitiful, not enraging; I’m not sure about the fans of WWE, but Zeb and Swagger just come across as harmless, backwards fanatics who believe in an antiquated ideology and pose no real threat to anyone in the contemporary world.

 

Team HellNo showed up and bickered during their entrance.

 

Commercial Break.

 

The Prime Time Players had entered the ring; Bryan placed a hood over Kane’s head. The blindfold had a picture of a goat’s face drawn on the front; Cole laughed in the most insincere manner possible and the referee tied Bryan’s arm behind his back.

 

Non-Title Match: Team HellNo (Tag Champs) vs. The Prime Time Players

 

Titus distracted the blinded Kane with his whistle; Young went on the offensive and went up top, however Kane stumbled into the ropes and crotched D-Young on the top rope. Bryan tagged in to deliver an impressive one armed crucifix, but the PTPs soon took over.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Kane did the old Jake Roberts finger point gimmick from WrestleMania VII to locate Titus and unloaded with some shots; Young came in to take a chokeslam, but Kane could not see his opponent to make the cover. Bryan tagged in, however Kane grabbed the referee and his partner by the throat; Kane released the ref and identified Bryan by pulling on his beard. Titus slid in to hook a schoolboy for the three count.

 

The Prime Time Players defeated Team HellNo via pinfall, at 6:55.

 

Kane removed the hood and was irate upon seeing the goat’s face; Bryan claimed he didn’t do it then offered an embrace to his partner. Kane placed the blindfold over Bryan’s head and drilled him with a right hand.

 

Parody booking (par·o·dy – book·ing): 1) A series of professional wrestling matches which are booked in such a way that accomplishes nothing. 2) Weekly professional wrestling matches, in which wins are traded back and forth by the opponents, thus resulting in everybody involved not getting over and looking like absolute morons. Ex. Team Hell No defeated The Prime Time Players in a stupid gimmick match then on the very next show The Prime Time Players went over Team HellNo in the exact same type of idiotic gimmick match.

 

Matt Striker was with The Big Show; Show said it was WrestleMania season and stated he would make an impact by chokeslamming Randy Orton.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Striker was back and he introduced Fandango; Johnny Curtis was unhappy at how Striker pronounced his name and told the bumbling announcer to, “breathe in the A’s”. Striker asked about his “fighting style”; Fandango replied that he had mastered the ballroom and he would take his grace to the ring so everyone in the WWE could follow his lead. Fandango said he would only make his debut when Striker was able to pronounce his name correctly.

 

Endless months of vignettes just for that? Another fail for this show. When Striker asked about the “fighting style”, all I could imagine was Bruce Buffer announcing, “This man is a ballroom dancer”.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Randy Orton was out for the main event; The Big Show hit the ring to face The Viper.

 

Randy Orton vs. The Big Show

 

Orton started out fast, but Show soon slowed the pace down with some shots and chops; Randy landed a dropkick and Show rolled to the outside.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Show had the heat and was working over the arm; Cole said “notice how Big Show is working over the mid-section off the spear from before the break”. We saw no spear and Show was clearly attacking the left arm. Orton fought up from a top wrist lock, only to take that spinning headlock elbow drop that Show used as a finish about ten years ago. Big Show missed an elbow off the second rope and Orton hit a DDT for a two count; Randy sent Show into the ring post on the outside then hit his hangman’s DDT.

 

The Shield’s music hit and the trio came down through the crowd; Sheamus sprinted down to stand beside Orton. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns entered the ring and began a beatdown on Sheamus and Randy.

 

Randy Orton & The Big Show fought to a no-contest, in 10:26.

 

During the brawl, Reigns got backed into The Big Show and was knocked out by a KO punch from the giant. Ambrose and Rollins looked at each other then decided they wanted no part of Show; they left the ring and helped Reigns out of the arena. Big Show planted Orton with a chokeslam then Sheamus drilled Show with a Brogue kick; Sheamus and Orton shook hands as the show faded to black.

 

The main event was a nothing match; the stuff with The Shield was good, however I was left a little perplexed after watching it. Why have Show chokeslam Orton when the crowd popped huge for his KO punch to Reigns? I guess they have given themselves the option of putting either Ryback or Big Show in a 6 man against The Shield. I suppose Sheamus and Orton could try convincing Show they all need to work together if they are to defeat The Shield if that is the direction they are going. I have no idea what Ryback would do if he is not involved here; I know there were rumours of turning Jericho heel to face him, but that is just asking for a disaster in my opinion.

 

This show was dull to say the least; Del Rio and Swagger continue to produce lacklustre heat for their characters and their angle, the Tag Champions looked like utter goofs, all the matches were mediocre at best and the main event was a complete waste of time until the run-in. I presume the big hooks coming out of this show are: will Big Show turn to team with Orton and Sheamus at Mania and Del Rio thinks Swagger is a “real jackass”. The riveting build to the biggest show of the year continues.

 

Bits and Pieces

 

RAW this coming Monday is scheduled to be ‘Old-School’, which means that they will probably be bringing back a lot of nostalgic acts and the red, white and blue ropes. As for what is going to happen on the show I would assume that Undertaker will show up, and with it being an old-school RAW his return will be quite appropriate.

 

Tickets for WWE’s SmackDown tour to South Africa went on sale this week, and are selling extremely fast, in fact I ordered mine on the day that the tickets went on sale and still couldn’t get front row seats. If you are a reader of this newsletter and live in the country (doubtful), then I recommend that you grab your tickets fast.

 

Vince was apparently freaking out backstage over the piledriver spot during the John Cena/CM Punk match. Punk pulled off a Jerry Lawler esque piledriver, which is legitimately band in the WWE due to safety concerns. In fact the tombstone is also banned, but exceptions are obviously made for the Undertaker. According to the Observer Cena took the blame as he is technically bullet proof.

 

ROH are running their 11th Anniversary show this weekend, headlined by Jay Lethal versus Kevin Steen for the ROH World Title. Other matches also include Michael Elgin vs. Roderick Strong in a 2 out of 3 falls match, and the appearance of New Japan Team Forever Hooligans – it should be a fun show. You can order the show by heading over to ROHwrestling.com.

 

Also, the freeprowrestling.com site, which I write for, has tons of ROH Anniversary matches from years past up on the site for free. Also, keep in mind that everything on the site is completely legitimate and legal, and even if you aren’t interested in the ROH content I would recommend that you check the site out, as it is a great initiative.

 

Due to the fact that the WWE pulled Bruno Sammartino from WrestleCon, where he had prior obligations, they are sending William Regal over to sign autographs and make an appearance on WrestleMania Sunday in his place. WxW are currently running their big 16 Carat Gold tournament in Oberhausen, Germany this weekend. The shows should be available on their site wxw-wrestling.com for order at some point.

 

TNA was up in the ratings this week drawing a.1.49 million viewers, which led to a 0.901 million viewer Bellator lead in, which is the best that they have done since the first show – good news for both promotions. The DDTees site that we linked to on the front page has been updated with new designs and you can check those out at redbubble.com/people/DDTees.

 

Next Week’s Issue

 

Next week we will be covering ROH’s 11th Anniversary show, further build on the Road to WrestleMania, the news, Impact, hopefully a whole slue of some of the recent puro shows that have surfaced, Ben Carass covers SmackDown and NXT as usual plus so much more!

 

Contact

 

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Ben Carass’s Twitter Account: @BenDosCarass

 

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