Cubed Circle Newsletter – WrestleMania Special Part I
And so it begins, WrestleMania is here and insanity is about to commence. The great matches, moments and hours of editing reports – these three things are indeed at hand. It is for that reason that the 77th issue of this newsletter is being published on April 6th 2013 rather than on Sunday. In that way you, the loyal reader of this newsletter, will have more time to get through it without it becoming irreverent by the time you have finished with all of the shows. This week we cover the final build on the Road to WrestleMania, Punk and the ashes of Paul Bearer, the Charlie Haas situation, a final look at WrestleMania weekend, the RAW ratings and a fine edition of Impact, plus Ben Carass covers NXT and recaps a SmackDown recap show believe it or not. With all of that out of the way, I hope you enjoy this week’s newsletter and have a great time over WrestleMania weekend!
– Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor
WrestleMania is Upon Us
This weekend is of course the biggest and most profitable time for pro-wrestling of the year – WrestleMania, and with it all of the additional shows and attractions. In fact, the entire WrestleMania weekend spectacle has morphed into such a colossal beast that there are fans traveling to New York for the other shows without even attending WrestleMania.
WrestleMania itself is of course in the New York market this year, and despite the less than mediocre build to many of the top matches, chances are that this will be the most profitable wrestling event in the now over 100 year history of the business. It is actually quite astonishing to think about that in an era perceived to be far colder than many that came before it WWE are pulling off these huge Mania Stadium shows. However, in many ways it is not based completely on the current direction and build, as the arena was very close to selling out even before they got under way with the Cena/Rock build.
In terms of gate it is already the largest gate in pro-wrestling history, with a crowd spilling into the 70,000s and the most expensive tickets in the history of the business it was a given that the attendance would be a success for quite some time. One could argue that the Rock/Cena mainevent isn’t the only major drawing card here, and that seems to be the correct assumption, as unless they put on a build so vile that it throws fans off of the product completely, chances are that a couple of big matches and the WrestleMania name would draw a very high number. Throw in the fact that there are three big matches on this show, and you have to split the credit.
The fact that Mania is set to draw such a large number may actually tarnish its legacy in the eyes of some people, because with the all but guaranteed success of the show, the build was lackluster to say the least. Making matters worse was that there was an unprecedented major creative reshuffle on the Road to WrestleMania, with head writer Eric Pankowski, being let go a few weeks ago.
It’s really unfortunate that the simple road wasn’t taken in the whole situation, in the sense that they could have easily done a simple Punk/Undertaker build with Punk basically saying that he no longer has the title, but if he ended the streak he could be granted some semblance of redemption – no fourway, no urn and very little Paul Bearer.
Regardless of what you want to say about the build to Mania or the show itself, the actual WrestleMania weekend is looking to be an extremely fun time, with literally more wrestling than anyone could possibly deal with. So with that being said, and the preview already out of the way (in last week’s issue), it is time to sit back and enjoy the ride, or the the case of many people, Ben and myself included, it is time to sit back and work.
Charlie Haas Off of Mania Weekend Show
In what was the first major reported backstage incident in ROH history, Charlie Haas blew up backstage at the March 30th TV tapings in Asheville North Carolina. According to what has been reported in the Wrestling Observer, Figure Four and numerous other newsletters, Haas had an altercation with the smallest member of the ROH roster Grizzly Redwood. Redwood was reportedly very upset about Haas denying him offense in their March 3rd match, and so confronted Haas about it.
What landed up happening was that Haas became mad and slapped Redwood with enough force to have apparently drawn at least some amount of blood. ROH booker, Hunter Johnston (Delirious) apparently retaliated by becoming far more aggressive than usual, and calling Haas out. This led to an altercation between Kevin Kelly and Johnston, and Haas. Haas was scheduled to face Jeff Neal next, but Kelly and other backstage personnel were completely against it.
Ultimately, what landed up happening, was that Haas went out to face Neal, And instead of the story not working out in Neal’s favor, he actually landed up getting the win over Haas with a cradle, which was not the planned finish of the match. After the match Haas cut a promo saying that he would not be wrestling Benjamin on Mania weekend and he proceeded to say negative things about Johnston and Kelly (a long time friend). He closed off by saying that he would exchange tights for scrubs.
Suffice to say, there will be no Benjamin/Haas match on Mania weekend, a shame because it will probably one of Benjamin’s last matches with the company, and if it was Haas’ last match you would think he would have wanted to go out with a match against Benjamin.
This is a surprising story, simply because you would think that a man such as Haas, who has been in the business for so long, would have been a professional and retired on good terms with ROH. Since Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team debuted in ROH, they have garnered a reputation for being the members of the ROH lockeroom who weren’t team players.
As of press time there doesn’t seem to be a replacement match announced by ROH for the Supercard of Honor show.
Kobashi Retirement Set
The retirement show of arguably one of the greatest wrestlers to ever live, Kenta Kobashi, set for May 11th at Budokan Hall, now has a mainevent. Sticking with convention, the mainevent match of “Final Burning at Budokan”, will be an eight-man tag match featuring Kobashi and other big stars from that generation. Kobashi will team up with Mutoh, Akiyama and Sasaki to take on the newer generation of Go Shiozaki, KENTA, Maybach Taniguchi and Yoshinari Kanemaru. I don’t expect a classic match by any means, and it will probably be more of a feel good match, in the same vein as the All Together shows from last year and the year prior, and that is completely fine with me.
WWE Monday Night Raw April 1st 2013
Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
We mentioned last week that if the build to WrestleMania 29 was not to be remembered in a negative light, then the WWE would have to pull something special off on the April Fool’s edition of Monday Night RAW, suffice to say that was not what happened. The show wasn’t bad, and it probably would have been good by B-show pay-per-view standards, but not for the biggest pay-per-view of the year, let alone possibly the biggest money making event in the history of the business. They built well to a lot of the matches on the card, the tag title match angle was particularly well done, but it felt as though there was no Mania level heat or sense of grandeur to any of the main angles. In addition, they left the sleazy Punk/Undertaker bit as the final image of RAW TV before Mania, which after all the build throughout the show, was simply an anti-climax. There are points where you should probably do what is expected of you, a great recent example was TNA’s execution of the Aces & Eights angle and Bully Ray heel turn. Rock and Cena last year was a great money making example; and while the Triple H/Brock Lesnar angle has been able to do that to a certain extent, by doing the unexpected with the Rock and Undertaker angles the Undertaker angles in particular, they have underwhelmed. On top of that I don’t want to say that I was offended with the go-home segment, because the fact of the matter is that this is pro-wrestling, and there has been far worse in the past; however, I must say that the angle came off like the most needy, trashy, attention-seeking, and down right exploitative thing that they have done in the last couple of years. It just came off like they were begging for attention, and simply had to drop down to the lowest common denominator so that they could leave people gasping thinking “wow, I can’t believe they (the WWE) just did that”, and while that may have been the reaction, how is that going to help anyone?
JBL joined the announce team this week. Cena made it out to open the show. He said that he stood in a house divided between “Cenacrats” and “Rockpublicans”; no one, not even Cole laughed at this. Cena put the Rock over and pretty much said that the juvenile jokes were over and done with. He said that Rock was the great one, but the great one would fall, and did his”your time is up…” line, to Cena sucks chants. He said that he had to play second fiddle to the Rock, but he would lose in his first defense of his new title (what happened to CM Punk?). He wanted to hold the new title as a symbol that he was better than the Rock. The crowd were chanting “boring” at this point. He said that people would be shocked at Mania and did his “Champ is here!” line. This would have been a fine promo for a few weeks out, but it really was nothing close to go-home material. In addition having Cena snicker at the crowd once again simply didn’t work. They then had Lawler send out a live tOut predicting that Cena would beat Rock. Sheamus, Orton and Big Show made it out for a match with 3MB in the next segment. They had the same 3MB match that you normally see with 3MB getting a very short amount of heat before the babyfaces hit their big moves with an RKO on Slater, Brogue Kick on McIntyre and KO punch on Mahal from Big Show for the win. Out came the Shield as they have been doing in just about every one or these segments; however, this time around they stayed in the crowd and all three men cut promos. Rollins once again got the majority of the speaking role, but all three men performed really well as they normally do.
Swagger and Coulter were shown on the streets of Washington D.C. Swagger said that his country was suffocating, and he was going to break the spirit of everyone who looked to kill the American Dream. He then did his “We the People” gimmick. Del Rio was backstage with Striker; it was more of the same with Del Rio coming off incredibly insincere, and phony. He also mentioned that Coulter had challenged him for later on in the night. Bryan made his way out to the ring for a match with Dolf Ziggler. As always Kane, Langston and AJ were at ringside. They had a really good TV match, as you would expect. They traded big move after big move with Bryan even grabbing a sleeper; the finish built to Mania well with AJ distracting Kane for Langston. Bryan went after Langston, which allowed Ziggler to get a rollup. Langston laid Bryan out, Kane went for the chokeslam, but Langston dramatically powered out and delivered a body check on Kane. Ziggler and Langston then stood over Hell No with the Tag Titles; by far the best thing that they have done for the angle and the tag team championship in a very long time – my favourite segment on the show. They then aired a graphic that stated “Tonight Undertaker Eviscerates CM Punk”; a bit of a weird title to give an upcoming segment. Shawn Michaels made it out. He had just said that he had many doubts and questions about the Lesnar/HHH match, which led to Hunter making his way down to the ring. Michaels said that Undertaker had respect for Michaels, and that meant that their situations weren’t similar. Lesnar had no respect for Triple H, and Michaels didn’t care as much about “his job” as Triple H. That is why he told him that he better kick Lesnar’s “ass” and he would be in Triple H’s corner to see it happen. Michaels was going to do the “suck it” gimmick, but Lesnar along with Heyman made it out to interrupt. Heyman said that all Triple H would become is disappointed. He would, disappoint the fans, his family and his wife, who he disappoints anyway (which got one of the biggest pops of the night). He wouldn’t be able to walk away like Michaels, but rather he would be forced to crawl. He would be forced to commit professional suicide, which was the end for the go-home segment for the Triple H/Brock Lesnar program, which they actually capped off pretty well. Barrett made it out for a match with Zack Ryder with Miz on commentary. Miz quickly corrected himself after calling his pre-show match with Barrett “the most must see match in WWE history”;he quickly transitioned to “the most must see pre-show match in WWE history”. Ryder surprisingly landed the Brozki boot, Miz yelled some slightly embarrassing threats, before Barrett landed the elbow for the win.
Brad Maddox came by to talk to Vickie, but Santino came in saying that Vince was there to confront both of them, but then wished them April Fool’s, and for the second time in a month the word “kaka” was used on WWE TV. Marella made it out for a match with a mystery opponent; turns out it was mark Henry. Marella threw some martial arts kicks as unlikely as that sounds, of course he was killed seconds later with the World’s Strongest Slam. Ryback made it out, Henry got on the mic saying that they had a no contact clause – no one wanted to get their hands on Ryback more than he did, but they had to wait until Sunday, and he smiled. Ryback proceeded to use Marella as a weapon as he did not touch Henry, the funniest part was that each time he used Marella as a weapon he would apologize and pat him on the shoulder. Swagger was giving Del Rio a prep talk backstage, Lawler said that it would be Coulter’s first match ever – false! Striker was backstage with Punk and the urn. Punk asked if he gave a damn if he disrespected Paul Bearer. He simply wanted to get inside the head of Undertaker – Undertaker was more concerned with Bearer’s streak of waking up every morning; classy. Punk said that he would do what ever it takes to beat Undertaker. There was a graphic proclaiming that WrestleMania could be watched in 108 countries live around the world, none of those 108 countries being my own. Del Rio called for Ricardo stay in the back, he walked away, but made it back out soon after to the dismay of Del Rio. Swagger stalked Ricardo on the floor. Ricardo prepared to swing a crutch, Coulter grabbed it out of his hands, which served as the distraction for Swagger to attack Ricardo and Coulter to land a shot with the crutch on Del Rio, They broke the crutch in half, which led to a two on one crutch beatdown. This was the best that they could have done with the angle I suppose.
Rock made it down to the ring. On his way down there was a lady with a sign reading “Rock, Kiss Me”, and at least from the camera angle it looked like he obliged. That Sunday was about the “Will of the People”. He basically said that he would be the president if it was the will of the People. He went on and on, until he did his “finally…” shtick. He said that it wasn’t about passing the torch, because the Rock had the millions…and Cena couldn’t beat Rock. He then did a hearty “if you smell…” with the return of The People’s Eyebrow. Rock was probably the better of the two, with the crowd not hating it (and actually loving it) definitely helping a lot. It wasn’t a “biggest match ever” sized promo, but it was at he level that you have expected.
Jericho made his way out for a match with Antonio Cesaro. JBL proceeded to call Fandango a combination between “Randy Couture and Fred Astaire”. Jericho executed a frankensteiner, before Fandango made his way out with the stage completely set up. So I guess everyone was just supposed to ignore the giant, shiny, golden ramp being set up on stage, After the break Cesaro had the advantage with a headlock, all the while Fandango proceeded to score each move with dance cards. Cesaro did a yodel, what I suppose is his new gimmick, something that does not bode we’ll for the future. Fandango made his way closer and closer to the ring, all the while scoring Jericho’s offense lower and lower as he made his comeback. Jericho finally caught Fandango with a kick through the ropes with scorecards flying everywhere. He then grabbed the walls of Jericho for the win – so even with the distraction Cesaro couldn’t win a match. Fandango ran in in immediately with ground and pound to “you can’t wrestle” chants. Fandango proceeded to scream in Jericho’s face after delivering a leg drop and landed another – it looked like he may have hurt himself a bit following the second leg drop as he was favoring the one hip. He did his name pronunciation gimmick, which the fans were at least chanting along with; one good sign for this gimmick? They showed some tweets from Stephanie and Trish Stratus – basically with Stephanie agreeing to induct Stratus. They showed some sorry tOuts.
The Funkadactyls made it out with Tensai and Clay for a match with the Bella’s who were accompanied by the Rhodes’ Scholars. JBL said that Clay and Tensai looked like “large redneck tomatoes”. While Naomi is a good athlete, this match went way too long especially for its place on he show. Bella pinned Cameron after reversing a cross body.
Undertaker made it out for the final segment of the show, and the segment that they had been hyping the most by far during the night. He said that Punk would pay the ultimate price. He said that his streak may end, but Punk wouldn’t live to talk about it. Just then the druids came out with fire and everything. They just stood there for three minutes or so until Heyman made it out dressed as Paul Bearer with the urn. Undertaker went after the druids, but Punk was one or them knocking Undertaker down onto the mat and beating him down with the urn. Punk yelled into Undertaker’s ear “I did this to you”. The crowd exchanged chants, Punk then opened up the urn pouring what I guess was suppose to be ashes all over Undertaker. Punk then posed with the urn and rubbed ashes all over himself to close the show of.
RAW Ratings for April 1st 2013
The go-home show for WrestleMania 29, the April 1st edition of Monday Night RAW, must have been a show that was expected to do a great number going in, after all you had the Rock, Triple H, Undertaker and most importantly Brock Lesnar on the same show together, and it is for that reason that WWE will probably find the number that the show actually did quite disappointing. The show drew a 3.1 rating and average of 4.31 million viewers, which means that it was still over the regular three-hour average, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a disappointment. The show was first for the night on cable going up against minimal competition.
The John Cena interview segment to start off the show opened at a 3.1, which is a decent number, but the opening has done far better in the past. The Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show versus 3MB math lost 95,000 viewers, which is about average for that spot in the show coming after the opening. Daniel Bryan versus Dolf Ziggler lost a further 43,000 viewers. Then in a very strong segment, the Triple H, Brock Lesnar, Heyman and Michaels segment gained 585,000 viewers, which is very strong for the 21:00 growth spot – it did a 3.42 rating.
The 20:00 to 21:00 hour drew 4.031 million viewers (1,754,000 viewers and a 1.39 rating in the 18-49 demo – 5th for the night).
There was a big post-21:00 drop-off following the great gain in the previous segment with Barrett versus Ryder losing 458,000 viewers. Mark Henry squashing Marella, the post match segment with Ryback and the CM Punk promo gained 14,000 viewers. Alberto Del Rio versus Zeb Coulter gained 108,000 viewers, which I would consider strong. Then in the 22:00 segment the Rock promo gained 275,000 viewers to a 3.22 rating, a good rating for that segment.
The 21:00 to 22:00 segment drew 4.483 million viewers (2,033,000 viewers and a 1.61 rating in the 18-49 demo – 1st for the night). It is interesting to note that there was a much larger fluctuation in the 18-49 demo than usual, as the demo normally remains relatively constant throughout the show.
In the post-22:00 segment Chris Jericho versus Antonio Cesaro with the Fandango post match lost 168,000 viewers, which is perfectly acceptable for that spot in the show. A cluster of video packages lost 212,000 viewers. The Cameron and Naomi/Bella Twins tag match actually gained 288,000 viewers, which is surprising considering how long the segment went. Finally the final segment with Undertaker cutting a promo, Punk pouring ashes on him and everything leading up to that gained 599,000 viewers to a 3.58 overrun. It would be easy to say that this angle didn’t go overboard based on how it performed, but you have to remember that it was placed at the end of the show, and therefore we couldn’t really observe if there was actually a drop-off or not, especially considering that Punk only split the ashes right at the end.
The 22:00 to 23:05 hour drew 4.402 million viewers (1,991,000 viewers and a 1.57 rating in the 18-49 demo – second for the night on cable.) The show did a 2.5 in males 18-49, a 2.5 in male teenagers, a 1.1 in females 18-49 and a 1.1 in female teenagers. The show may have done a disappointing number, but ultimately the number isn’t going to tell you how many pay-per-view buys you are going to do, as last year’s go-home show only did slightly above this, and look what happened there.
April 3rd 2013 – Full Sail University, Florida.
A video recapped Connor O’Brian’s victory over Bo Dallas and Corey Graves in the number one contenders three-way a month or so ago then O’Brian vs. Big E. for the NXT title was hyped as the main event.
Brad Maddox and Kassius Ohno joined Tony Dawson at the announce booth; Maddox claimed Team Brickie had decided to “do some scouting” on NXT and Ohno said he would have a lot to say about William Regal as the show progressed. Bo Dallas came out first for the tag team opener; he seemed to get a more positive reaction from this month’s set of fans at Full Sail. Adrian Neville appeared as Bo’s partner; Dawson revealed Oliver Grey would be out for at least 6 months with an injury.
Grey blew his knee out at an NXT spot show back on February 17th and was laid out by The Wyatt Family at the February 21st tapings. Strangely, they shot an angle on the following episode where Grey ran in with Bo Dallas to help Neville fight off The Family, which seemed to set up a six-man. This poses the question: why didn’t they just claim The Family had injured Grey when they dragged his limp body out onto the stage, instead of setting up a match that we are unlikely to see for so long?
The Wyatt Family showed up to take on the babyfaces and Bray did his usual pre-match sermon; he talked about snakes eating mice and how Neville was “playing with fire”. This would have been a perfect time for the heels to take responsibility for injuring Grey.
Bo Dallas & Adrian Neville (NXT Tag Champion) vs. The Wyatt Family w/ Bray Wyatt
The heels took it to Bo early with their strength and brawling style for some immediate false heat; Neville came in and fired up on Harper, but was dropped off the apron with a forearm then ate a big boot to start the heat. After the break, The Family worked over Neville in their half of the ring; Neville fought up from a chinlock, but was cut off by a back elbow from Harper. Neville sold for the big guys for a considerable amount of time as the heel team made frequent tags then Neville finally caught Harper with a boot in the corner; Harper tried for a big boot of his own, but got hung up on the top rope and Neville made the hot tag. Bo ran wild on Harper then hit his tornado bulldog; Rowan came in to break up the pin, however Bo quickly dumped him over the top then drilled Bray Wyatt with a right hand as he jumped on the apron. For the finish, Neville wiped out Wyatt and Rowan with a twisting plancha and Bo took Harper over with his belly-to-belly to get the pin.
Bo Dallas & Adrian Neville defeated The Wyatt Family via pinfall, at 8:28.
This was a solid opener; all the guys worked hard and the match was structured well. You have got to be careful when doing the false heat not to go too long with it, so the people aren’t burnt out by the time the real heat starts and in this match the heat went a long time. However, Neville did a fantastic job at selling and got the people into the match so when the hot tag came they popped big. They have got to do some sort of angle to get the belts off Grey and Neville; nothing was set up at the March tapings, so we will have to wait until the next block in May to see if they do anything. I can’t help but think they missed a golden opportunity to use The Wyatt Family as the reason behind Grey’s injury.
A backstage promo from Connor O’Brian aired; he said he would take the NXT Title then stated: “I am the Ascension and I will rise”. O’Brian’s entrance music and spooky blue lighting was used throughout the video.
At the announce desk, Dawson hyped WrestleMania then they showed Cena’s lengthy promo from Raw and left in the “boring” chants from the D.C crowd. To follow, they aired The Rock’s promo before going back to Ohno, Maddox and Dawson at the table. William Regal stormed in and nearly took out Dawson in trying to get at Ohno; Regal pounded away on his “protégé” as the crowd chanted his name. Ohno was left lying on the floor and Regal displayed some wonderful facial expressions before walking away.
What a great little angle this is turning into; Regal looked like a madman when he rushed Ohno and I was highly amused to see Dawson stuck in the middle of the fray. Next week is the big singles match between Ohno & Regal, which I am super excited for and even though Regal gets the win, I can’t imagine this feud not continuing as logic determines Ohno will come out on top of this programme in the end.
Maddox and Dawson put over the brawl some more after the break then Summer Rae hit the ring; Audrey Marie made her entrance to team with Summer. Sasha Banks appeared then Paige legitimately brought the crowd to their feet during her arrival.
Paige & Sasha Banks vs. Summer Rae & Audrey Marie
In somewhat of a stupid babyface move, Paige repeatedly went after Summer who was on the apron and as a result ended up taking some offence from Audrey. Sasha tagged in to land her lucha armdrag and a headscissors, but was shut down by a short-arm clothesline. The heels got the heat on Sasha and made some quick tags, until Sasha hooked an O’Connor roll for a quick two count then made the hot tag. Paige stared down Summer, who fled the ring and ran to the back; Audrey came in to take the lightening spiral for the three count.
Paige & Sasha Banks defeated Summer Rae & Audrey Marie via pinfall, at 3:48.
This was fine until the finish, which was ungodly stupid; even Tony Dawson noticed the idiocy when Summer ran away and Audrey just entered to continue the match. “Was there a tag?” questioned the blundering announcer. No Tony, there was not. Surely it wouldn’t have been too hard for Summer to tag Audrey on her way out.
A graphic hyped Regal vs. Ohno for next week then Connor O’Brian came down for the main event; Big E. made his typical babyface entrance and chanted “five” on his way down to defend the strap.
NXT Championship Match: Big E. Langston (Champion) vs. Connor O’Brian
Big E. sent O’Brian through the ropes with a shoulder block then after a break landed a big clothesline. O’Brian rolled to the apron and hung Big E. up over the top rope then hit a full-nelson slam to start the heat. O’Brian got a two count off a shoulder block from the second rope then worked the dreaded nerve-hold; Big E. fought up, but was shut down by some strikes. Big E. powered up from another nerve-hold then did his best Hogan impression by no-selling some right hands and started his comeback with a pair of clotheslines. O’Brian scored with a boot to the face for a near fall that the live crowd seemed to buy into then tried to finish of Big E. with his own move; Big E. escaped to land a body check and followed up with his inverted front powerslam for the three count.
Big E. Langston defeated Connor O’Brian via pinfall, at 6:04.
Big E. played to the fans, before planting O’Brian with another front powerslam and counted to five himself. Langston posed with his belt as the show went off the air.
The main event was not great, but it wasn’t as hideous as I imagined. Some fans appeared to think O’Brian was going to win when he hit the big boot towards the end, so that was good. Don’t get me wrong, Big E. is a good champion, but I can’t see the logic in him holding onto the title when he has been on the main roster for months now. It’s not like he even really benefits from being on NXT and working with guys like O’Brian; he needs to be in there with experienced workers and it would help a lot if he learned how to work more than one style of match. Since he is a heel on the main shows, he is going to have to change his routine up a little when he becomes a regular worker.
This was an average episode; the opener was good and the Regal/Ohno deal was executed perfectly, however from that point on the show went downhill. Next week’s show will be appointment viewing for me with the Regal vs. Ohno match and it will be interesting to see if they hint at the feud continuing, plus we get another appearance by The Shield. On an unrelated topic, the show two weeks away, which is billed as a “Clash of Champions”, sees Wade Barrett defending the IC title against Bo Dallas. Now I’m not saying they have given away the finish to Miz/Barrett on the Mania pre-show, because with 3 other matches taped for NXT on the 17th they could always leave out Wade vs. Bo. I just find it intriguing and it adds a little more to think about when Miz and Barrett step in the ring on Sunday.
TNA Impact April 4th 2013
Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, Arkansas
This was another solid edition of Impact, it may not have been as hot as the live show, but it built very well to the Corpus Christi show next week, which at this point is almost being treated as a pay-per-view, as they have actually done a better job of promoting that show than they ever did promoting their B-shows. I didn’t like the Joey Ryan segment, but other than that and the fact that there was no follow up to the Brown firing, just about everything served its purpose well, and hopefully that shows next week with the Corpus Christi rating, but then again it is incredibly difficult to get that needle to move for TNA shows.
The Aces & Eights, of D-lo Brown, Anderson, Devon, Briscoe and DOC, made there way out to kick off the taped portion of the Arkansas show. Anderson offered Styles a jacket, Devon said that he had a contact that would redefine Ray and Brooke’s relationship, and finally Brown said he had recieved a letter from ‘TNA World Headquarters’ (there is such a place?) – it was a letter notifying him of his his release. He wanted someone from the back to tell him to his face why he had been released. This led to Angle coming out; he must be one of the members of the TNA World Headquarters, right? Angle told Brown how he felt by delivering a double leg take down, which obviously led to an Aces & Eights/TNA brawl to set up a ten-man tag later on. Joey Ryan and Brooke were backstage doing some lewd comedy, Ryan asked if he could be the Knockout’s referee, and Brooke agreed – this man is the ‘King of Sleeze’ why would you put him in an authoritative position in the women’s division? Velvet Sky and Taryn Terrell made it out for a tag match against Gail Kim and Tara. The gimmick was that Ryan would not do his job, because he was distracted by the four women in the ring. This ultimately led to Kim filtering with him, which led to him missing a Terrell pin and doing a fast count on a rollup from Kim on Terrel for the win. After the match Kim dumped Ryan, he turned to Sky and Terrel, but Terrel simply responded with a big low-blow. The idea for this segment didn’t make much sense to begin with, and even if it did this segment had no right going as long as it did.
Borash (in a suit) was in the ring with Austin Aries (in a suit), Bobby Roode (in a suit), Chavo Guerrero (in a suit)and Hernandez (without a shirt on and in tights). Aries and Roode said that they weren’t World Tag Team champions, but a team of world champions. They bickered back and forth. Aries and Roode added the stipulation that the winner would get a fruit basket, green M&Ms and the opponents’ purse. Hernandez and Chavo made stipulations of their own, but the viewer wasn’t given the stipulation until the contract was signed and it was announced as a two out of three falls match and if Hernandez and Chavo lost they would never team again. Adam Pierce was shown in a Gut Check video, and they put him over as a 17 year veteran and star. They showed a promo that he had cut earlier on – and it was awesome. There is no way that they cannot put ‘Scrap Iron’ Adam Pierce through, and move him straight up to the main roster. Next was Magno, they had him cut almost the entire interview in Spanish, the problem was that there was a Bellator graphic over the subtitles for a good ten seconds. They had what was most likely the best Gut Check match thus far with Adam Pierce pinning Magno with a roll-up with his hand on the rope. Both men could make good editions to the company.
Styles was walking backstage and was approached by Anderson, DOC and Knox. They gave Styles the jacket in his hands and told him to think about joining – once again Styles didn’t say a word. There was a recap of the Styles/Ray/Hogan situation. Hogan was walking backstage and said that Sting was not there; then he said that he would call out a warrior that was in a gray area next. Park approached Kurt Angle backstage, Angle gave him advice saying that if he sees an opportunity he should take it. Hogan made his way down to the ring and he said that his gut told him to call out AJ Styles. Styles made it out with an Aces & Eights jacket. Hogan said that he understood that Styles was under pressure, but he suddenly turned into a new person Hogan told him that TNA was his home. Hogan said that they needed the new “Dangerous” AJ Styles on their team, the crowd chanted for Styles, and Styles uttered the words “you want me to help you?”. Storm made his way out. He said that he had traveled the same road as Styles, he got extremely fired up saying that TNA was the house that they built. He wanted to Styles to “clock out” before he got “knocked out”, but Styles walked off. After the break they showed a clip of Hogan backstage saying that he wanted an answer from Styles next week – so they are really building up the Corpus Christi show like pay-per-view.
There was an X-Division qualifying three-way with the wacky new rules between Sonjay Dutt, Mason Andrews and Petey Williams. I hate these rules. They had a an X-Division three-way, a well performed X-Division three-way, but an X-Division three-way nonetheless. Williams won with the Canadian Destroyer, which got a big pop. Ray was backstage with the Aces & Eights in the club house drinking beer. They wanted to take the souls of the TNA lockeroom, Devon asked if Ray was ready to meet-up with Brooke, and he said that he missed his wife in a sarcastic manner. There was a really good video package for the title match next week. Devon, DOC, Knox, Briscoe & Bischoff made it out for a match with Angle, Joe, Magnus, Park & Young. It was in fact a ten-man tag, pretty much exactly what you would have expected, besides the fact that they built to a Park hot tag, which isn’t what you probably would have expected. Devon missed his headbutt on Park, Park went for the splash, but Briscoe and Garrett ran in for the distraction with DOC landing a low-blow for the win. Hogan was talking to Brooke backstage attempting to protect her from Ray. She said that she would walk out with security. There was a video recap of the entire angle.
Ray made it out with the TNA world title. He called it the biggest World Heavyweight Championship rematch in wrestling history – hyperbole everybody! He called Brooke out and out she came with security. He was sarcastic asking why she didn’t have her ring on. He said that he should have had the security, because Brooke was the one that acted violent at Lockdown. Brooke, just like everybody at home thought there were divorce papers in the envelope. Ray said that he didn’t want a divorce, there was a front row ticket to Corpus Christi for Ray’s title defense. Brooke slapped Ray after he said that she had let herself go. Ray got into Brooke’s face asking if she was going to hit him again, but Hardy made his way out for the save, which wasn’t completely necessary in kayfabe since there were guards there. They closed off with a brawl between the two.
WWE SmackDown – April 5th 2013.
Over the years, watching WWE from outside the United States has had its good and not so good moments; here are just some of the ups and downs I have experienced here in the UK. Up until around 2004 every single PPV aired free of charge (ignoring a subscription to a sports channel package): Good. However, as a young child I remember asking my dad to wake up at 12am to press record on the VCR then when the PPVs were pushed back an hour, I was (arguably) old enough to stay up and watch a show from 1am – 4am on a Sunday night. Although during my high school years, for one Monday a month I was unable to learn anything in such a sleep deprived state: This was not so good. Again in 2004, Raw started to air live: Good and with the invention of DVR, this became very good. For the previous 10 years, the show would be shown on a 4-5 day tape delay and every so often would be heavily edited (especially during the attitude era): Not so good. Furthermore, while TNT was still in existence in the UK back in the 90’s, for whatever reason, WCW Nitro also aired on a similar tape delay to Raw and more often than not, would air directly against Raw on a Friday night: This was not good at all. Even today there are ups and downs, for instance, Main Event and Saturday Morning Slam are not broadcast and can only be viewed online: Not so good. But still in 2013, we get at least two PPVs free of charge on Satellite TV: Very Good.
The point of this is that us international viewers, each in our own location, has a different viewing experience than WWE’s domestic market (after so many years, I can’t imagine sitting down to watch WrestleMania at 4pm like West Coast US viewers). So with this week’s SmackDown, we have another one of those instances where the international audience has a slightly altered relationship with the product than the domestic US. At the Monday Night Raw show in Washington D.C, they taped two matches and a little angle for the US version of SmackDown; the results are as follows:
Handicap Match: Ryback defeated Epico & Primo w/Rosa Mendes
The finish saw Ryback hit a double spear then deliver his move to both guys, before pinning both of them.
Team Rhodes Scholars and The Bellas came out and parodied Tons of Funk; after making fun of the fatties and their women, The Bellas said “You’re welcome”, which brought out Clay, Tensai and the Funkadactyls. A brawl broke out and the babyfaces cleared the ring of the heels.
Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter defeated Kofi Kingston
Swagger countered a crossbody then went for the doctor bomb; Kofi escaped and hit the SOS for a near fall. Zeb distracted Kofi and Swagger scored with a chopblock then locked in the Patriot Lock for the tap out.
For anyone that cares, the rest of (or all of the show, depending on your location) was “SmackDown presents: The Road to WrestleMania” and was presented by Matt Striker and Renee Young. They hyped all the matches, but spent the most time on Rock/Cena, Triple H/Lesnar, Undertaker/Punk and The Shield vs. Show, Sheamus & Orton. To break the monotony of watching Matt Striker for two hours, (edited) matches from previous WrestleMania events rolled between the hype for this year’s show. Cena vs. Batista for the WWE title from WM XXVI, Undertaker vs. Edge for the World title at WMXXIV, Orton vs. Triple H for the WWE title from WMXXV and Rock vs. Hogan at WMXVIII all were aired during the show. There was also a brief video recapping The Shield path of destruction since their debut.
That’s it for the report this week, as I don’t have much to say about this show. Now I’m going to lie down before WrestleCon.
Bits & Pieces
According to an interview with Michael Moody, the son of William Moody (Paul Bearer/Percy Pringle III) the family was consulted on the Mania direction, but according to Moody the angle didn’t play out in the way that was explained to him. They don’t necessarily seem anti the angle, but he did say that he “[didn’t] know what to say”.
I wanted to make a small correction on a typo made in the Reid Flair story last week, Flair did not team with Mutoh to face Fujiwara, but rather he teamed up to face a team featuring Fujinami, who Flair thinks highly of.
If there was any doubt about the All Japan/New Japan angle being a work, there really should be no confusion at this point, as Kidani has hired bodyguards for The Invasion Attack show this weekend in preparation for Shiraishi and his claimed attack on the promotion.
Next Week’s Issue
Next week we should be back with one of he biggest issues off the year as we cover all of the happenings from Mania and WrestleMania weekend, including WrestleMania itself, ROH Supercard of Honor, New Japan Invasion Attack, Shimmer, DGUSA Mercury Rising, DGUSA Open the Ultimate Gate, All Japan’s March 17th show from Sumo Hall, RAW, the ratings, news coming out of Mania and Ben Carass doesn’t only cover NXT and SmackDown, but also looks at EVOLVE and CZW. All of the above and tons more coming next week!
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