Cubed Circle Newsletter – All Japan Splits With Mutoh
This week we look at All Japan’s split with Mutoh, Chikara intrigue, the Best of the Super Juniors, TNA Slammiversary, RAW is Daniel Bryan, the two lowest RAW ratings of 2013, Ben Carass covers another lacklustre edition of NXT, post-Slammiversary iMPACT, SmackDown with Ben and more! Also, blatant lies and deception as we failed to cover the Best of the Super Juniors shows this week due to delays. I hope you enjoy this week’s newsletter, and have a great week.
– Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor
All Japan Splits With Mutoh
In one of the stories that I felt we definitely glossed over last week was the story of Keiji Mutoh, now former president of All Japan Pro-Wrestling, being forced to step down in that role due to differences with the current owner of the company Nobuo Shiraishi.
There was a story about a month or so ago, with then president of All Japan, Masayuki Uchida, being replaced with Keiji Mutoh who had just sold the company over to Shiraishi and Speed Partners in November of last year. Mutoh didn’t really act in that role, as Shiraishi basically said that he would be acting as president from June 1st forward, which prompted Mutoh to pretty much declare his resignation.
Many a conflict has been caused over Shiraishi, as from the moment that he bought the company from Mutoh he has been extremely flamboyant, and has made many comments that people from within the company, namely All Japan talent and higher-ups, didn’t take too kindly to. He even stated that he didn’t want pro-wrestling to be fixed in All Japan, as it is in New Japan, which made many people upset, as above anything else the Japanese business is still as such that kayfabe is taken more seriously than in the United States.
Shiraishi has also expressed a desire to bring in MMA fighters, and to do hybrid and shoot matches. Keiji Mutoh addressed the current situation with Shiraishi in a recent interview with ‘Weekly Pro-Wrestling’, in which he basically said that Shiraishi wanted to promote MMA, but pro-wrestling, and more specifically All Japan is not MMA. He also criticized the fact that Shiraishi wanted to bring in The Rock (yes, Dwayne Johnson), but Mutoh told him that they didn’t have enough money.
The main problem with Shiraishi, and to a lesser extent at this point, Takaaki Kidani, is that they are businessmen who don’t know the pro-wrestling business very well; and while they came up during the glory days of All Japan and New Japan, they both want to be Eric Bischoff/Vince McMahon esque TV characters, not understanding why it worked then, and why it wouldn’t work in the context of both All Japan and New Japan today.
The large difference between Kidani and Shiraishi at this point seems to be that Kidani is willing to listen to New Japan higher-ups, who know more about the business than he does, whereas that is simply not the case with Shiraishi – and that is going to cause problems for All Japan going forward.
Shiraishi has been very much playing the heel character since he entered the company, maybe not on the same level as say Eric Bischoff or Vince McMahon, but still at the level where the fans don’t like him very much, and where he gets a negative reaction. One of the most bizarre rivalries that he has had during his tenure with All Japan is his either work or shoot hatred for comedy wrestler, KENSO. He has said numerous times that he wants KENSO gone, and a bizarre fight broke out between the two a few months back. I don’t quite know how much of it was a work or how much of it was a shoot at this point, since it took place when most of the fans had already left the building at that point, and they were doing it in front of what was practically an empty building.
Mutoh is attempting to secure enough interest and funding to buy All Japan back from Speed Partners, which actually isn’t as much of a longshot as it sounds, given that Mutoh is historically very good when it comes to finding investment, and All Japan isn’t at a level at this point where it would be worth a lot of money, especially when Speed Partners isn’t exactly high on owning a wrestling promotion at this point.
Mutoh purchasing All Japan once again is certainly a possibility, but what I see as even more likely is Mutoh leaving to either form his own promotion (something that wouldn’t have the impact that you would think given the current state of wrestling in Japan), or he could join another promotion like NOAH or Zero-1. The funny thing is that All Japan obviously faced one of the biggest exoduses in pro-wrestling history when Misawa left with pretty much every single one of their top stars, All Japan then got their revenge with the Burning exodus, obviously on a far far lesser scale, and now All Japan could face another exodus as guys like Kaz Hayashi and Ryota Hama will follow Mutoh wherever he lands up.
It is an interesting story, but given the size at which All Japan operates at this stage, it isn’t really going to have the impact on the Japanese business as you would have expected a decade and a bit ago .
Chikara: It Just Got Crazier
Chikara is one of those promotions that I really enjoy watching, they may not be what I envision pro-wrestling to be some of the time, but their brand of light-hearted storytelling has provided me with much enjoyment over the years. However, it was always one of those things when it came to Chikara shows that I was honestly too busy writing about and watching wrestling, to well…watch wrestling. Of course that was only the case for the past few months, and honestly up until towards the High Noon iPPV I was watching it pretty regularly.
I don’t know if that will be much of an option going forward however, as last Sunday’s ‘Never Compromise’ iPPV delivered quite a lot of drama. Going in there were rumours abound that Chikara was either closing down, or was going through some kind of major change. Chikara denied the rumours on all fronts with Quakenbush even doing a show with Keith Lipinski on the DKP show, basically saying that there was absolutely nothing to the rumours. However, towards the finish of the Icarus/Eddie Kingston Chikara Grand Championship match, the Director of Fun, Wink Vavasseur made it out with the storyline security company, Condor Security, and stopped the match, tore down the set, and even removed fans. This was met with mixed reactions, as some people who were very much into the Chikara product thought that it was great being apart of the show to that degree, while many others were weeping apparently,and one man even body pressed a door cracking it in the process – suffice to say he was handed over to the actual security.
This angle was far darker in tone than pretty much anything that Chikara has ever done, as even with some of the heel stables that they have had in the past, everything that the company has ever put out has always been fun centric – “a love letter to pro-wrestling” as Quackenbush has explained it many times. However, this angle went even beyond that, in that all upcoming Chikara events were taken down, and many of the members of the Chikara roster were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements.
In the meantime it seems like some of the company’s talent are going to be working on the ‘Wrestling Is…’ shows, which Quackenbush has been heavily apart of. Some people have speculated that Quakenbush is simply moving on to the ‘Wrestling Is’ project, but there are quite a few clues that point in a completely different direction.
According to what I have read, many of the recent Chikara angles have gone far beyond face value in that the amount of detail, backstory and preparation has been near in-human in scope to pretty much everything we have seen in the past. To give an example, the websites associated with the kayfabe purchase of the company were created in 2005/2006 – and those are websites for a fictional company buying an indie pro-wrestling company in 2013! This feels to me like a very intricately planned angle, and one that will ultimately lead to something big for the company.
The feature story in the Figure Four Weekly newsletter this week ( a great piece that you should really seek out), made a very good observation in that the Wrestling is Art, Wrestling is Awesome, Wrestling is Cool, Wrestling is Heart and Wrestling is Respect promotions spell out CHIKARA, with the exception of the letter K, which could mean many things.
If it was the final show for the company, it also wouldn’t make much sense to go out with such a dark angle, as with Chikara being such a fun promotion it would have made more sense to have ended on a happy note than a solemn one – unless of course this is an indefinite hiatus. Quackenbush has also placed an auto-responder on his email account in preparation for a flood of emails that he in no doubt received as a consequence for the angle.
I have always thought that Chikara would be perfectly suited as a G-Rated television show, which could air on a number of different stations, and I could be completely out to lunch here, but maybe that’s what this is, and they are building to an uber climax – who knows?
Still, I think that above all else this is not a sad tale for the promotion, but rather the beginnings of something that could be completely unique, something that Chikara has strived for and delivered for years. I could be wrong and this story could be viewed as a very sad one in hindsight. However, while this may be the end of Chikara for the next few months, I highly doubt that it all ends here.
Best of the Super Juniors XX
Unfortunately I did not have a chance to watch the last few nights of the Best of the Super Juniors this week, but hopefully next week will be able to cover the finals together with all the big shows from that tournament. Today/tomorrow depending on when exactly you are reading this, is the final night of the Best of the Super Juniors from Korakuen Hall. The show features Prince Devitt versus Kenny Omega in the one semi-final, in what should be one heck of a match, and Taguchi versus Alex Shelley in the other, which should be another very good match. I fully expect Devitt to meet Taguchi in the finals with Taguchi winning a second year in a row allowing for Devitt to move up to heavyweight, but you never know. The current standings are as follows:
Kenny Omega (10): W=Koslov (05/31), TAKA (06/02), Kendrick (06/03), BUSHI (06/04), KUSHIDA (06/06) L=Jado (05/24), Tiger Mask (05/28), Taguchi (05/30)
Ryusuke Taguchi: (10) W=Kenny Omega (05/30), BUSHI (05/31), KUSHIDA (06/02), TAKA (06/03), Tiger Mask (06/06) L=Koslov (05/24), Kendrick (05/26), Jado (05/28)
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Brian Kendrick: (8) W=Taguchi (05/26), Jado (06/02), BUSHI (05/31), Koslov (06/06)L=KUSHIDA (05/28), TAKA (05/30), Omega (06/03), Tiger Mask (06/04)
Tiger Mask IV: (8) W=BUSHI (05/30), Kenny Omega (05/28), Jado (06/03), Kendrick (06/03) L=TAKA (05/24), Alex Koslov: (05/26), KUSHIDA (05/31), Taguchi 06/06)
KUSHIDA (8): W= Kendrick (05/28), Koslov (05/30), Tiger Mask (05/31), Jado (06/04) L=BUSHI (05/24), TAKA (05/26), Taguchi (06/02), Omega (06/06)
Alex Koslov (8): W=Tiger Mask (06/26), TAKA (05/28), Jado (06/02), BUSHI (06/03) L=KUSHIDA(05/28), Omega (05/31), TAKA (06/04), Kendrick (06/06)
TAKA Michinoku (8): W=Tiger Mask (05/24), KUSHIDA (05/25), Kendrick (05/30), Koslov (06/04) L=BUSHI (05/28), Omega (06/02), Taguchi (06/03), Jado (06/06)
Jado (6): W=Kenny Omega (05/24), Ryusuke Taguchi (05/28), TAKA (06/06) L=BUSHI (05/26), Kendrick (05/31), Koslov (06/02), Tiger Mask (06/03), KUSHIDA (06/04)
BUSHI (6): W=KUSHIDA (05/24), Jado (05/26), TAKA (05/28) L=Tiger Mask (05/30), Taguchi (05/31), Kendrick (06/02), Koslov (06/03), Omega (06/04)
Prince Devitt (16): W=Shelley (05/24), Takahashi (05/26), Trent? (05/28), Ricochet (05/30), Rocky Romero (05/31), Taichi (06/02), Titan (06/04), Liger (06/06)
Alex Shelley (10): W=Romero (05/30), Trent? (05/31), Titan(06/03), Takahashi (06/04), Ricochet (06/06) L=Devitt (05/24), Taichi (05/26), Liger (06/02)
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Ricochet (10): W=Trent?(05/24), Takahashi (05/31), Titan (06/02, Taichi (06/03), Liger (06/04) L=Romero (05/28), Devitt (05/30), Shelley (06/06)
Rocky Romero (8): W=Liger (05/26), Ricochet (05/28), Takahashi (06/03), Trent? (06/04) L=Taichi (05/24), Titan (06/06)
Jushin Thunder Liger (8): W=Takahashi (05/24), Titan (05/30), Shelley (06/02), Trent? (06/03)L=Romero (05/26), Taichi (05/28), Ricochet (06/04), Devitt (06/06)
Taichi (8): W=Romero (05/24), Shelley (05/26), Liger (05/28) Takahashi (05/30) L=Titan (05/31), Devitt (06/02), Ricochet (06/03)
Titan (6): W=Takahashi (05/28), Taichi (05/31), Romero (06/06) L=Trent? (05/26), Liger (05/30), Ricochet (06/02), Shelley (06/03)
Trent? (6): W=Titan (05/26), Takahashi (06/02), Taichi (06/06) L=Ricochet (05/24), Devitt (05/28), Shelley (05/31), Liger (06/03), Romero (06/04)
Hiromu Takahashi (0): W=- L=Liger (05/24), Prince Devitt (05/26), Titan (05/28), Taichi (05/30), Ricochet (05/31)Trent? (06/02), Romero (06/03), Shelley (06/04)
TNA Slammiversary XI June 4th 2013
Agganis Arena, Boston, Massachusetts
You may be asking the standard questions of “did Slammiversary deliver” or “was it worthy of being the penultimate TNA pay-per-view of 2013” going into this show, but you see those questions aren’t too important at this point. What is far more interesting to discuss about this show is how completely off the wall it was, and I am not quite sure if that was a good or a bad thing. From the opening match where Chris Sabin cut himself open with the belt (something that so many people failed to notice shockingly), to Hulk Hogan’s painkiller induced, profanity ladened promo that followed, to bizarre stipulation added to the mainevent and beyond – this was one weird show. On the plus side, it was a pretty fun show to sit through, but then from the other perspective I don’t feel that it was a success given that they only run four live pay-per-views a year at this point. If you have free time it is probably worth a watch simply due to the bizzarity of the entire show, but if you aren’t interested in that, nothing really stood out apart from the awesome Taryn Terrell match – yes, I told you this show was weird.
1. Ultimate X Match for the X Division Championship
Kenny King vs. Chris Sabin vs. Suicide
Suicide and Sabin teamed up for a minute or two before Sabin turned on Suicide and was dropped face first on the apron. They did a lot of the work that you would expect from a regular X Division three-way. They really got the crowd to heat up with a flurry of high impact spots, powerbombs and the like, leading to a triple down. Suicide landed a superplex/DDT spot from the top on Sabin and King. King and Suicide climbed, King went after the mask and Suicide was dropped to the floor. Sabin was then able to climb, drop King and sit up from the the sit-up position for the win. The really ridiculous spot actually came after the match when Sabin dropped down and was clocked over the head with the belt, which busted him open. On his way to the back Sabin was covered in blood. After the match Hogan made it out with his taped up hand due to a radiator accident. Hogan put Sabin over, and said that the crowd would scream as loud for him as they did when he beat Andre. He said that the X Division champion would get a shot at Destination X, which was rather strange given that the PPV no longer exists.
Hogan then made it into the ring and things only got weirder from there. Anderson, Wes and Bischoff made it out before he could say much. Anderson proclaimed that they would steal the show. Hogan was not calling anyone brother tonight, but was rather calling everyone Mr. He put Boston over saying that they weren’t afraid of a ghost or terrorists. He then proceeded to call the Aces & Eights “p****es in leather” and gave them the finger. He called Garrett a “b***h” along with his father, and then said that they were “foaming at the crotch”. Well, I don’t know what was going on with Hogan tonight. Hogan then brought out Magnus and Joe. Hardy was brought out looking very weird, as he had no face paint on apart from the wacky face paint on his eyes, and on his chest of all things. At this point in the show I already felt like I was in the twilight zone.
2. Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy & Magnus vs. Mr. Anderson, Garrett Bischoff & Wes Briscoe
The Aces 7 Eights jumped the babyface team from behind, but soon Joe was brought in and killed Garrett with strikes. Magnus was tagged in on Anderson, but he was brought into the heel corner where he was worn down. The tag was made to Hardy who ran wild. Hardy landed two full twist of fates on Briscoe due to Briscoe failing to take either one properly before going up to the top and being cut off by Garrett. Joe and Magnus were awesome landing double teams in the ring. Wes landed a low blow on Magnus and made the pin, but Hardy shot in with a swanton for the win. Now surely if Hardy was the legal man he wouldn’t have to worry about Magnus getting pinned. The match was fine, Joe was really great tonight, but everything else was pretty average.
A recap was shown of the 2006 Bound for Glory show where Sting won his first TNA world title from Jeff Jarrett. So I guess they are in better standings with Jerrett. Jeremy Borash was backstage with Joe Park who talked about how great Boston was and then how Devon had wronged him before Knux and Devon attacked him from behind and laid him out in the back. The last scene that you saw was Park leaving a bloody handprint on the wall, which played into what we saw later on with Abyss.
3. Jay Bradley vs. Sam Shaw
The stipulation for this match was that whoever won would get a spot in the Bound for Glory series. I know that I have harped on this a lot when it comes to Shaw, but Sam Shaw really does look like every create a wrestler you have ever seen. Bradley worked over Shaw for what was basically the entire match before landing his lariat for the win in a rather strange match. After the match Hemming interviewed Bradley and he said that he would win the entire tournament.
Borash was standing by with Aries & Roode backstage. Roode said that Gunner was no Bobby Roode and they would take the championships from Chavo & Hernandez.
4. TNA TV Title Match
Devon vs. Joe Park
Devon made it out for the TV title match. Park didn’t make it out when his music hit. Devon got on the mic making local sports references for cheap heat, and he then went to the referee. Devon forced the referee to start counting and he reached the ten count.
Devon then got on the mic saying that if Abyss was there he would kick his ass too. Abyss made his way out of course and the bell rang.
5. TNA TV Title Match
Devon vs. Abyss
Abyss ran wild for a while, before Devon grabbed the advantage and went after the knees. Devon missed a splash, Abyss knocked Knux off of the apron, and landed a chokeslam on Devon followed by the black hole slam for the win. Up until the end of the match I had absolutely no idea that this was a TV title match. This match moved in slow motion.
There was a recap of Sting’s 2007 Bound for Glory title win. Dixie Carter made it out for her Hall of Fame announcement. She brought the entire TNA roster out excluding the Aces & Eights thankfully. She announced Kurt Angle as the new inductee and down he came. They then aired a great video putting Angle over. Angle was honestly touched and was bordering on tears. Carter said that Angle proved that they could make it and he was given the mic. Since the whole thing is a shoot he had nothing planned. He thanked God, his children, his wife and the Carter family. He said that people like Styles, Joe, Roode and Storm were just as deserving as him and he also thanked Jeff Jarrett. He thanked the fans and TNA was why he loved wrestling. This was a really great segment, no matter what you want to say about how much the Hall of Fame means it was a very nice moment. They showed Sting’s title win from the 2008 Bound for Glory. Sting was shown arriving in the building, and even without the facepaint he looks good for his age. Borash was backstage with Daniels & Kazarian. He said that they were the reason that the titles meant something, and they were awesome as always.
6. TNA Tag Team Championship Match
Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez vs. Bobby Roode & Austin Aries vs. Christopher Daniels & Kazarian vs. James Storm & Gunner
They did some fun tag work early on with Daniels and Kazarian being the stars of the match. The hot tag was made to Chavo on Daniels and Kazarian to far louder “Eddie” chants than usual. This led to everyone landing their signature moves on everyone else. Daniels ran in with a belt shot on Chavo and Hernandez, which led to an elimination of Bad Influence. Aries then eliminated Chavo with a rollup, and Aries went wild with offense on Roode and Gunner. Gunner made the hot tag to Storm who ran wild on Roode throwing Aries to the floor. Gunner grabbed his torture rack on Roode, but Aries was in to break it up and landed a double dropkick. Aries landed a 450 splash, but gunner kicked out. Roode rushed over to the title belts with the most desperate look on his face possible before he was thrown to the outside and Storm landed the superkick and Gunner the gun rack for the win. It is safe to say that this match surpassed my expectations, the closing portions were really fun and while it wasn’t great, it was good.
Borash was backstage with Brooke Hogan. She talked about how the Knockout’s division had changed for the better, but Borash then asked about how she felt about Ray, but she said that she couldn’t answer the question.
7. Last Women Standing Match
Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell
This was basically built as a number one contender’s match on Impact and unlike the WWE and their build to Cena/Ryback the build to this match did make sense. Mike Tenay cited PWI of all things. Kim grabbed a chair, but was caught with a crossbody, which led to a double down. Kim locked in the figure four around the post that she has used for weeks. Kim missed a spear and went into a chair in the corner, in a really big spot. Kim was dropped out to the floor and Terrell locked in Kim’s same figure four around the post. Terrell took a topé on the entrance ramp, and made it up at ten. Kim then took a trip on the ramp and took a hard back bump on the ramp. Kim went for a piledriver on the ramp, but Terrell busted out a ace crusher off of the ramp and Taryn made it up before the ten count. This was far and away the best Diva’s/Knockout’s match that we have seen in years. Kim is clearly the best female wrestler in either WWE or TNA at this point, and while Terrell is no great worker, she worked so hard in this match, and it paid off from an entertainment perspective. It may sound crazy, but this was the best match of the night
They aired footage of Sting’s July 2012 title win.
8. Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles
Styles came out to new country/blues theme music, now wrestling in his usual tights together with a tank top. Styles worked over the knee of Angle early on. They traded some shots and Angle was able to land a belly to belly suplex. The announcers claimed that Styles had finished many people with the caprada – I cannot recall one single occasion. Angle landed a German suplex from the top, but Styles landed on his feet, and Angle then suplexed Styles into the middle turnbuckle in an outstanding sequence. Taz then claimed that Styles had pulled off the “SBP” the spinning back punch – for some reason this made me laugh. Angle locked in an ankle lock, Styles rolled through, but Styles grabbed it on two more occasions! Angle scissored the legs, but Styles made it out and landed a dropkick onto Angle who was in the tree of woe. Then in a finish that made absolutely no sense Angle grabbed the victory with a rollup. This really did feel like a rushed decision, as Styles was the only babyface (well, he is kind of a tweener) on the roster that felt fresh and ready to face Ray at Bound for Glory, and now they really halted that momentum.
They revealed a fan poll with Sting winning with 64% of the vote. Ray was backstage by himself, and cut a promo. He said that there was one move that wrestlers don’t use and shy away from even in no holds barred matches. He was letting Sting know in advance, he would break his neck with the piledriver. Wait, didn’t Kim attempt the piledriver on Tarrell? I guess she wasn’t aware of the consequences. Bully Ray was awesome here, but the material was questionable at best.
9. No Holds Barred Match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Bully Ray vs. Sting
Sting went straight after Ray with a Stinger Splash in the corner and took him right to the floor whipping Ray with the belt. Sting ran at Ray at full speed, but was killed with a lariat. They said that a piledriver almost ended Taz’ career, when I could have sworn that it was in actual fact a botched backdrop. Sting unloaded with some big chairshots. Brooke Hogan made it out gasping and Sting told Earl to get her out of there – she actually never came back, funnily enough. Sting left Ray and sent Brooke off to the back. This allowed Ray to land a low blow on the ramp. Ray landed some big chairshots to the back followed by a dropkick and the piledriver in the ring for two. Great, so you build the move up over twenty minutes and then have Sting kick out of it. This made no sense. Sting grabbed a table and set up near the corner and landed a powerbomb through the table. However, Sting kicked out again. Ray grabbed a knife, not to stab Sting with, but to remove the ring skirt, then the entire canvas and ring to reveal the boards. Sting missed a Stinger Splash and Ray anded a piledriver on the wood – Sting kicked out again, wow, so much for the piledriver. They then proceeded to take bumps on the non-cushioned ring. Sting landed the deathdrop on the boards, but the Aces & Eights made it out for a beatdown. Sting, the 50+ year old man, then killed Knux, Bischoff and crew single handedly. Devon threw the chain into the ring, but Sting caught it and landed a shot, but this time Devon pulled the referee out of the ring. He too was killed, what a super fellow Sting is. Ray then landed a hammer shot after Sting came off of the top with a dive for the win. The match was fine, but in short the closing sequence was complete overbooked nonsense.
WWE Monday Night RAW June 3rd 2013
XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut
I must say that this week’s edition of Monday Night RAW was my favourite in months. It didn’t make me excited for Ryback versus Cena, but what it did do was get me excited for what lies beyond that, as Daniel Bryan obviously really shined throughout the show together with the Shield. Of course, some of the other segments on the show, namely the Paul Heyman/Jericho segment and a few of the matches were also fun, and as a result I felt far less like I was in a time capsule than month’s past. It seems as though they are going with the Triple H injury angle as their many story right now, and while I am not adversed to the idea, it isn’t something that has me excited at this point, or something that will be getting me excited in the future to be honest. Still, this was a good show, and one of the best that the WWE has put on in months, the Hartford crowd was energetic for most of the segments, and Bryan was once again the star of the show.
Stephanie McMahon made it out to open the show with new theme music. She acted in quite the heelish manner saying that Triple H’s decision wasn’t about the fans, and asked that they stop being so selfish. Vince then made it out to a big pop. He asked that the fans to stop booing Stephanie. They both said that they cared more about Hunter than the fans did, and he wouldn’t wrestle on the show. Vince heeled it up asking, which organs of Triple H the fans wanted. To which a fan yelled “give us the lungs!”. He brought up how the fans chanted “one more time” when Kingston was being laid out. He said that they were beneath Triple H and the Shield made it out, which got a sizeable pop. After the break Vince and Stephanie had left the ring for a six-man tag against Orton, Bryan and Kane. Bryan started off with some fiery offence on Ambrose. Instead of watching this match you could have been watching Sweet T and Brodus watching the match – how enthralling. After they came back from the break Rollins was in control of Kane. The hot tag was made to Orton and he ran wild – the crowd was super hot for this. Ambrose halted Orton and the Shield ended up working over Orton for minutes on end. Orton then dropkicked Rollins out of mid-air. They now have a new gimmick where they have a camera in the corner. The tag was made to Bryan and boy did he run wild. He landed a frankensteiner on Rollins onto Ambrose and then shot out with a topé. Bryan locked in the no lock, but Rollins and Reigns shot in. Kane was knocked down with a spear, but Orton came in with an RKO on Rollins. Orton was thrown into Bryan and Ambrose landed his bulldog for the win in an incredible TV match (****). The story that they seem to be telling is that Bryan is the hottest thing in every match, but in some way is pinned, which makes perfect sense with the weak link gimmick. I just hope that this doesn’t result in a heel turn, because Bryan is way too hot as a babyface as this point.
After the break Bryan was backstage screaming at Orton saying that it was his own fault that they lost. He said that they didn’t respect him, they assured him that was not the case. Bryan said that this was the match that could have earned them his respect. So he was going to have another match, beat someone and earn their respect. Bryan is so incredibly great in this role. Triple H was shown arriving and went straight into Vince’s office. Stephanie called him Paul – wow, a shoot right? He wanted to wrestle, but she didn’t want him to wrestle. He was adamant that he would wrestle, but Vince said that he had to place cerebral back in cerebral assassin. He proclaimed how good Axel was, and Triple H asked who was going to stop him, and Vince handed him some papers saying that he shouldn’t do something that he was going to regret. The Usos came out with face paint and pyro. The match was joined in progress with the Prime Time Players. ‘O Neal took a hard bump in the corner before the hot tag. Moments later Uso came off with a splash for the win – it looks like they are going to be pushing the Usos, as they put them over nicely here, and talked of a tag title match, which I would be fine with. Del Rio and Big E. Langston made it out for their fifth match. During the match there were very loud chants for Ziggler. Del Rio kept going for the armbreaker before rolling Langston up with an armbreaker pin. It looked like they were going to do a finish where Langston’s shoulders actually weren’t down, but they just blew it off. Sheamus made it out for a match with Cody Rhodes, Sandow was on commentary reading JBL’s wife’s book. They had a surprisingly competitive match before Sheamus pinned Rhodes with the brogue kick. Sheamus offered Sandow a handshake on commentary, Sandow refused, but was then slapped. Triple H was leaving and said that he was leaving so he didn’t have to beat up his children’s grandfather. He then asked Stephanie to tell Vince that he would be wrestling next week. This was not the greatest.
A recap was shown of Ryback destroying Kofi. Bryan was walking backstage when Ryback came by, he called him a little puke. Bryan said that he wasn’t scared of Ryback, Ryback challenged him and Bryan accepted. Heyman was backstage with Axel, Vince came by, and said that Axel wouldn’t have a match with Triple H this week or next week. Vince then booked Axel versus Cena in a no DQ match later on, and Vince asked if he should repeat it in Yiddish – because he is Jewish you see? JBL and Cole debated the spelling of kinadle. Fandango made it out for a match with Khali, a rematch from last week. Fandango attempted to flee, Miz made it out, but Barrett clocked him with the bull hammer and Fandango escaped off of the stage and he and Barrett faced off. After the break Barrett and Miz were in the ring for a match. Unlike what you would have expected logically, Miz went straight after Barrett, but was quickly dropped there after. In the middle of the match Fandango made it out complete with entrance allowing for Miz to lock in the figure four off of the distraction for the win. Jerry Lawler was in the ring for a contract signing for the Chris Jericho/CM Punk match. Heyman was out there for Punk obviously. Heyman said that he was there to feed Jericho’s ego, but Jericho said that he didn’t care about any of Heyman’s usual lines, all he cared about was the match at Payback. Heyman signed and then asked if Jericho was prepared for Punk in Chicago. He could do no wrong in that city, and Punk didn’t take to kindly to those who claim to be the best in the world. Jericho now has another tattoo; on the back of his hand. Jericho asked if they could have the match at Summer Slam in LA, or in Madison Square Garden or right there in Harthvard. Heyman said no. Jericho asked where the contract should be filed. Heyman was forced to stand up, and Jericho got Heyman to unbutton his jacket and he stuck the contract down Heyman’s pants. Well, that wasn’t a babyface move.
The Bella Twins and AJ made it out for a tag match against the Funkadactyles and Kaitlyn. AJ dropped off of the apron and avoided the tag allowing for Kaitlyn to land a spear for the win. Bryan was backstage and Kane ran in very upset that Bryan accepted the challenge. Bryan said that he could do it. Kane put Bryan over as a super talent, but Bryan screamed at Kane saying that he didn’t want Kane anywhere near him. Kane yelled and left. There was another Bray Wyatt video package – I am so excited for this! Talking about excitement, Bryan made it out for his match with Ryback. Ryback made his way out on in an ambulance, which has become his gimmick as of late. Bryan went straight after Ryback with kicks to the knee. Ryback quickly gained advantage with some power moves. However, Bryan grabbed the leg of Ryback and landed elbow after elbow – ground and pound style. However, he was dropped out to the floor during the break and when they came back Rybak stomped Bryan’s chest yelling “you weak little man”. Ryback missed an elbow in the corner, which led to Bryan landing a flurry of dropkicks followed by a diving headbutt from three quarters of the way across the ring! Bryan started slapping himself and landed a flurry of kicks to the chest before being caught with a big powerbomb. Bryan locked in the no lock, and the crowd erupted, but Ryback made it to the ropes. Bryan shot out with a topé, but was thrown into the announce table in midair. Ryback grabbed a table and powerbombed Bryan through it. Ryback grabbed another and set it up against the barricade. Cena made it out for the save, but Axel made it out, which led to Ryback leaving before the break.
The match was joined in progress after the break. Cena took Axel out to the floor, which led to the referee counting, which was actually pretty strange, because even though it was only a no DQ match, you would expect there to be no count outs anyway. Axel grabbed a chair and met Cena in the ring. Axel fish hooked Cena and worked him over in the ring. Cena went shoulder first into a chair in the corner, and then out to the floor, which they also did in the Kim/Terrell match at Slammiversary. Axel landed chair shot after chair shot really looking good. He landed a neckbreaker on the chair for two before going for the perfectplex, but Cena grabbed the STF. Heyman then handed Axel a laptop, which he used to break the hold. Cena went for an AA through the table, but Heyman begged for him not to. Cena obliged before going after Heyman and landing a stiff shot on Heyman. Ryback then ran down and speared Cena through the table for the countout, which ended a no DQ match – honestly?
RAW Ratings May 27th 2013
Unfortunately we weren’t able to look at the RAW ratings last week, as due to Memorial Day delays in the TV industry, no segment by segment information had been released at press-time. Thankfully this is not the RAW Christmas episode, in that we did eventually get the ratings, and while they were better than this week’s rating they weren’t the greatest. The show drew a 2.8 rating and 3.94 million viewers, and while I am sure that the NBA competition for the bad rating played an extreme role in the drop-off, the fact of the matter is that last year’s Memorial Day show was going up against far stronger competition (the highest rated non-news/non-sports show in cable history in fact), and it managed to grab a rating only slightly below this one. Up until this week, last week’s show was the lowest rated edition of RAW for the entire year.
The first match of the show, which was Alberto Del Rio versus Big E. Langston lost 215,000 viewers. The backstage segment with Bryan & Kane talking to Bret Hart lost 363.000 viewers. The show continued to drop as the Dean Ambrose/Kofi Kingston match lost a further 67,000 viewers. At 21:00 the Shield match with Daniel Bryan & Kane gained 119,000 viewers to a 2.72 rating. I wouldn’t really blame these segments all too much for the lack in viewership, simply because they were going up against the hottest portion of the NBA game at this point in the show.
The 20:00 to 21:00 hour drew 3.99 million viewers (1.32 rating and 1.674 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, placing it in the fifth spot for the night on cable behind Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta).
In the post-21:00 segment Wade Barrett versus Fandango with Miz as special guest referee gained 73,000 viewers, which at first glance seems strange for that segment of the show, and for the men involved, but given the low that they were coming off of it wasn’t too surprising. The Brodus Clay, Sweet T & Great Khali/3MB match lost 48,000 viewers. The Highlight Reel with Paul Heyman and Chris Jericho then gained 317,000 at 22:00 to a 2.97 rating.
The 21:00 to 22:00 hour drew 3.95 million viewers (a 1.44 rating and 1.817 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, placing it in the second position for the night on cable behind the NBA game, which I would consider a success).
In the post-22:00 segment Natalya & Kaitlyn versus the Bella Twins lost 421,000 viewers. The Sheamus & Randy Orton versus Team Rhodes’ Scholars match then gained 80,000 viewers. Then in what was probably the best drawing segment of the entire show, John Cena versus Curt Axel gained 627,000 viewers to a 3.16 overrun.
The 22:00 to 23:07 hour drew an average of 3.98 million viewers (1.81 million viewers and a 1.43 rating in the 18-49 demo placing it in third place for the night on cable behind the second hour). The demos for last week’s show were as follows: a 2.3 in male teenagers, a 2.2 in males 18-49, a 1.0 in females 18-49 and a 0.9 in female teenagers.
RAW Ratings for June 3rd 2013
This week’s edition of Monday Night RAW did the lowest rating of the year so far – a 2.6 rating and 3.68 million viewers. It wasn’t the worst rated show in years though, as there were a handful of episodes of RAW last year that drew lower numbers (the October 8th show, which went up against a big football game, the October 20th show, which went up against massive competition in the presidential debate and football, and the December 3rd show, which went up against the strongest football game in weeks at the time.) The alarming thing is however, that they were going up against the NBA finals, which drew 11.57 million viewers, but the thing is that they were going up against football last year, which drew a higher amount of viewers, and it came at a time when fewer people were accustomed to three hours. I would consider this a very bad rating, but there hasn’t been a very noticeable pattern as of yet, although we are seeing some very low rated shows at a point where they really should have the ability to hold up. It isn’t even like you can really fault the show either, as it was one of the better shows that they have done in a while. The show did showcase the new pattern of viewership growing throughout the show to an overrun peak, but I don’t know how much of a positive that is when the show drew such a low rating. I can’t help but think that if they moved back to two hours, with the amount of talent that they have now, that they would be able to draw very well.
The show opened low with the Stephanie McMahon/Vince McMahon angle. It opened at a 2.72, which was a very big negative as the NBA game hadn’t even started at that point. The funny thing is that they moved that segment from either next week’s show or the week after due to the fact that they were going up against the NBA game, so to have it open so poorly must have been viewed as a big negative. The first match of the show, which was Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton & Kane up against the Shield gained 1,400 viewers, which doesn’t seem like much. However, the idea behind the match was to keep it going past 20:30, which was the start time for the NBA game, so the fact that they were able to actually gain viewers in that segment was quite impressive. They dropped to a show low of a 2.39 after the Usos/Prime Time players match, which lost 450,000 viewers. Then at 21:00, Alberto Del Rio versus Big E. Langston for the fifth time gained 258,000 viewers to a 2.58 rating.
The 20:00 to 21:00 hour drew 3.62 million viewers (a 1.2 rating in the 18-49 demo placing it in the ninth spot for the night on cable behind Family Guy).
Sheamus versus Cody Rhodes gained 18,000 viewers. Fandango/Great Khali lost 252,000 viewers, which about what you would have expected. The Miz/Wade Barrett title match together with the Jericho/Heyman contract signing gained 338,000 viewers. The second part of the contract signing and the Bellas & AJ versus Kaitlyn & The Funcadactyles match gained 116,000 viewers to a 2.74 rating at 22:00.
The 21:00 to 22:00 hour drew 3.62 million viewers (a 1.2 in the 18-49 demo, placing it in the seventh spot for the night on cable behind another edition of Family Guy).
Bryan & Kane in a backstage segment together with a Bray Wyatt vignette lost 328,000 viewers in the post-22:00 segment, which was unfortunate. Daniel Bryan and Ryback performed really well at 22:00 gaining 463,000 viewers, which is very rarely the case for that timeslot. Finally in the overrun segment John Cena versus Curtis Axel gained 430,000 viewers to a show high of a 3.14 in the overrun.
The 22:00 to around 23:00 hour drew 3.8 million viewers (a 1.3 rating in the 18-49 demo placing it in the fifth slot for the night on cable behind one part of the NBA finals). The demos for the night were as follows: a 1.9 in males 18-49, a 1.8 in male teenagers, a 0.9 in females 18-49 and a 0.8 in female teenagers.
WWE – NXT
June 5th 2013 – Full Sail University, Florida.
Again there was no video recap this week and Jim Ross headed down to the ring. Tom Phillips explained that JR would be presiding over the NXT Championship match contract signing between Big E. Langston and Bo Dallas. JR said he was honoured to be overseeing the deal then introduced Bo, who got his usual mixture of indifference and loathing from the crowd. Big E. showed up, seemingly wearing one of The Rock’s old gaudy “$5000”shirts and both guys took a seat at opposite ends of the table set up in the ring. JR stated that the two would compete next week in a one-fall match “on television” and without saying a word Big E. signed the contract first. Before signing, Bo grabbed the mic; he told Big E. he didn’t appreciate being confronted last week after the battle royal, which in fact did not air on the show. Dallas paused for the “no more Bo” chants then talked about Big E’s success on the main roster since winning the NXT Title and said Langston had done all the things Bo should have been doing. Bo declared he would do anything to hold the strap and said he didn’t just want the belt, but needed it then told the champ it would only take three seconds to change his life. Big E. stated that he was the biggest, baddest man NXT had ever seen then called Bo a “geek” and presumed he lived at home with his mother. Big E. continued to ridicule Bo’s over-the-top 1980’s babyface smile, before he told Dallas it would only take 5 seconds to crush his dreams. As the crowd chanted “five”, Bo signed the contract and insolently handed the document to Big E. on his way out of the ring. JR said the match was now official for next week and wished both “gentlemen” luck.
I’m not a huge fan of contract signings and this one was no exception. Big E. performed much better than Dallas here, who’s line of “I need that title” couldn’t have been more unconvincing if he tried. Big E’s comedy wasn’t that amusing, be he delivered his lines well and I couldn’t help chuckle a little when he called Bo a “geek”. The people were dead set on making Bo the heel, even though he didn’t really do or say anything heelish, which is an odd move. Maybe the turn is coming when he wins the belt, as the finish involves some underhanded tactics from Bo. If they keep him a babyface then they could quite easily ruin all the good they did by putting the belt on Rollins and Big E. in the first place.
Corey Graves was in the back with Renee Young; she asked about the attacks from The Wyatt Family and Graves’s shot at the NXT Tag Titles tonight. Corey said he didn’t fall for the Family’s mind games, because in his head there were no games and the heels had taken the first shot at a one man army. Next, Renee asked if Graves could put his differences with Kassius Ohno aside during the title match. Corey told her that he never liked Ohno, but the NXT Tag Titles were bigger than his dislike for Kassius then said Ohno could stand on the apron and watch while he wins the belts single handily.
Tamina Snuka came out for the first match in the first round of the NXT Diva’s Championship tournament; Phillips and Maddox hyped the new title, which was on their announce table. Paige made her entrance; she received her customary warm reception from the Full Sail faithful.
NXT Diva’s Championship Tournament. First Round Match: Paige vs. Tamina Snuka
Paige tried for a headbutt, however as decades of pro wrestling history have taught us, the islanders have much harder skulls than the puny western workers and Tamina took over after no-selling the blow. Tamina landed a float-over suplex and some Biels then worked a chinlock. Paige fought up only to be shut down and Tamina went back to the heat then got a two count off a bodyslam. Paige showed some fight and escaped from a waistlock, however Tamina hit a superkick then went for the Superfly splash after dragging Paige around the ring by her hair. Paige got her knees up and got the three count with a schoolboy.
Paige defeated Tamina Snuka via pinfall, at 4:19.
This was a snorer. They worked the match with Tamina as the big, strong heel and Paige’s victory came off as a little lucky, which isn’t necessarily the best way to get over the face of the NXT Diva’s division. What were they even protecting Tamina for? It’s not like she is involved in any sort of meaningful programme on the main shows, so a good showing from Paige and a strong win could have done her a lot of good here.
We were back with Renee Young; this time she was joined by Kassius Ohno and asked him what his plan of attack was for the Tag title match. Ohno said he would bring destruction, chaos and mayhem then declared he would charge head first into the “fortress wall” of the Wyatt Family and go for the gold. Renee also asked Kassius if he could coexist with his partner; he told her tonight wasn’t about either of them and instead was about taking the one thing that Bray Wyatt held most dear: the NXT Tag Titles. Ohno finished by stating, “tonight it’s not a match; it’s a war”.
Colin Cassady was in the ring after the break. Mason Ryan and his ever mutable physique came out to destroy the no-hoper. Phillips and Maddox put over Ryan for eliminating everyone from the battle royal last week.
Mason Ryan vs. Colin Cassady
Ryan immediately used his size to take control; Cassady came back with a few shots, however Ryan absorbed the blows and landed a big boot. Ryan continued his uninspiring offence with shoulder blocks in the corner then hit a clothesline and apparently began to fire up, although the crowd was completely disinterested in the big man’s act that has been seen literally a thousand times before. Ryan got the win with his inverted TKO/torture rack neckbreaker thing.
Mason Ryan defeated Colin Cassady via pinfall, at 2:01.
Ryan was as bland as ever here. He received no reaction from the people and these limp squashes he is booked in are becoming more tedious every week. I don’t know how many chances they are going to gives the guy, but I imagine his look has given him significantly more lives than say Harry Smith or Tyler Reks ever had.
Yet again Renee Young appeared in the back. Sami Zayn was her guest and he talked about beating former Tag and US Champions in his debut then called Cesaro a great wrestler, but stated on that night he was the better man. Cesaro walked in ironically applauding Sami’s statement and told him all he got was a cheap win. Sami replied the only thing cheap about that night was Cesaro’s post-match attack from behind. Antonio stated Zayn had “ticked” him off and said if Sami was half the man he thought he was, he would meet him in the ring again. Sami told Cesaro he would accept, however Antonio would have to reveal where he bought his “man purse” from. This caused Cesaro to slap Sami then a brawl broke out between the two; luckily Scott Armstrong and Mike Chioda were only a few feet away and quickly broke up the scuffle.
Cesaro/Zayn continuing is fine by me and it seems like we are in line for a third match between the two after Cesaro goes over in their upcoming encounter. Sami’s came off a little less generic in his promo this week, but I would like to see him develop a character that isn’t based on smiling and flirting with Renee Young.
Alex Riley made a wacky entrance; he did a massive jumping jack on the stage then hugged and rubbed the head of a fat bald guy in the crowd. Hey, at least he tried to show some energy and fire. Conor O’Brian made his usual arrival; Phillips and Maddox tried their best to make us believe the “Raw Superstar” Riley had a chance against O’Brian.
Alex Riley vs. Conor O’Brian
They started with one of the worst side-headlock, drop down, tackle spots you will ever see on WWE programming outside of a Rosa Mendes match. O’Brian no-sold some shots, but Riley managed to take him off his feet with a back elbow then came off the top with a flying clothesline to get a one count. O’Brian came back with a modified hotshot then delivered a flapjack and applied a new submission hold, which Phillips called “the stockade”, to get the tap-out.
Conor O’Brian defeated Alexy Riley via submission, at 2:10.
That was poor to say the least. The opening spot was seriously horrendous. O’Brian is booked too similarly to Mason Ryan; he’s the big guy that is hard to take off his feet and no-sells his opponents offence. The two shouldn’t even be on the same show together, let alone be involved in
two consecutive matches. This was a booking oversight if I ever saw one.
Kassius Ohno hit the ring for the main event and they showed the Family laying him out on the stage 4 weeks ago. Corey Graves was out next and footage of the Family beating down both Graves and Ohno rolled. Bray Wyatt came out rambling about being scared of nothing in the world but himself then sent Harper and Rowan down to defend their titles.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Kassius Ohno & Corey Graves vs. The Wyatt Family (Champions)
Ohno used headlocks and cravats to neutralise the big man Rowan then Graves tagged in to continue with the headlock strategy. Rowan landed one big knee shot to the stomach then Harper came in and dumped Graves on the apron. Graves went for a sunset flip back in, but Harper powered him up, however Graves hooked a roll-up for a two count. Graves nicely countered a hiptoss with an armdrag then Ohno came back in and worked on the arm; Harper dropped Kassius with one right hand as they headed to a break. Back to the action and the Family had the heat on Ohno; Rowan and Harper made some quick tags while landing heavy shots. Ohno caught Harper with a reverse jawbreaker and made the tag; Graves ran wild then tried for the Fullerlock. Harper caused a distraction but was dropped to the floor with a right hand then Rowan dumped Graves on to the arpon. Harper drilled Graves with a big boot, which got a two count and the Family started to get the heat again. Rowan delivered a pump-handle backbreaker then applied an over the shoulder backbreaker. Harper entered and went for a suplex, but Graves countered into an inside cradle to get two then got another near-fall off a crucifix. Graves reversed an attempted powerbomb into a backdrop and made the hot tag. Ohno ran wild with strikes and took care of Rowan with a boot to the face then got a two count on Harper with a senton. Bray Wyatt came down and tried to distract Ohno, however Kassius avoided Harper’s discuss lariat to land what appeared to be a rolling headbutt. Rowan broke up the pin, but Graves sent him over the top with a clothesline; Wyatt drilled Ohno from behind with a cheap shot and Graves took him out with a corkscrew plancha. However Bray’s interference was enough to cause Harper to hit the
discuss lariat to pick up the victory.
The Wyatt Family defeated Kassius Ohno & Corey Graves via pinfall, at 9:02 (TV Time).
Pretty good effort from all four guys here. The faces out maneuvered the larger heels at the start, the Family got some heat, the faces made the hot tag and the Family cut them off to build to another hot tag. The thing about the Wyatt Family is that unlike some big man teams (Skyscrapers, Truth Commision, Test & Albert), I almost never find myself bored during one of their lengthy matches. Perhaps it is down to Harper and Rowan’s excellent portrayal of their characters, or maybe they have just been put in the ring with the right guys when they had to go over 10 minutes. Either way, I hope they are booked the same way when they reach the main roster, but who knows, maybe the two will just be Bray’s back-up for a while and not be involved in any action until they get over.
This was another in a series of poor shows of late for NXT. Sometimes the show can be up there with the best stuff WWE produces, with the exception of Zayn vs. Cesaro, there has been nothing that has been must see for a while. I understand that a developmental territory is always going to have its low moments, the Riley/O’Brian match certainly made that clear, but with as much great talent as they have down there, we shouldn’t have to be subjected to ineffective squashes every week. Now you may be thinking to yourself, “but Big E got over doing squashes” and you would be correct. However, Big.E got over because of his charisma and a gimmick which had not been seen in nearly 30 years with the 5 count; two things Mason Ryan does not, nor is ever likely to have. My advice is to give the show a miss and come back next week for Cesaro vs. Zayn II; oh yeah and Bo Dallas wins the Championship.
TNA iMPACT June 6th 2013
Gwinnett Civic Center, Duluth, Georgia
As a whole I thought that this was a rather productive edition of iMPACT. One of the best attributes of the entire show was obviously the fact that they cut down on the amount of Aces & Eights interference, at least for tonight. There were actually no Aces & Eights run-ins, which certainly helped. There was also a very good six-man tag match on the show featuring Austin Aries, Bobby Roode & Kenny King versus Chris Sabin, James Storm & Gunner. The Bound for Glory series qualifying matches were what they were meant to be, and they served their purpose. Of course the Quinton Jackson stuff was great and all, but the thing is that it is going to take many months, if not longer for him to be ready for TV or PPV, so to start building to the feud now feels really early even if Jackson performed at a good level on the mic and had a superstar aura.
Bully Ray made it out to open the show. He basically said that he had put out all of the rosters main contenders , and therefore deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. He called Carter out, but Hogan came out instead, thankfully not under the influence of painkillers. He called Ray a “son of a B”, which was incredibly lame. They announced that next week would be the BFG series selection show. Hogan got a couple of cheap pops before announcing Hardy/Ray for later on. Hardy made it out and Ray freaked out leaving the ring in protest. Hogan continued by booking, what at the time sounded like a ladder match with a hammer suspended above the ring, but things were pretty vague. Plus, Hogan said that they would be suspending a ladder from the ring, which didn’t make much sense at all. There was a BFG series video package calling it “the most gruelling competition in pro-wrestling history – that it is not. Chavo and Hernandez were backstage, with the announcement that they were basically booked in a BFG series qualifier. Hernandez thanked Chavo for teaching him so much, to which Chavo replied “I didn’t teach you everything”.
Chavo and Hernandez made it out for a Bound for Glory qualifying match. Taz, the heel announcer hell bent on destroying the company, put Carter’s twitter account over, so I am glad they are taking that so seriously. They had a fun big man/little man match before Hernandez pinned Chavo with a rollup. After the match Chavo was kicking the ropes throwing a fit, they then bumped fists, so that could lead to a heel turn down the line. Rampage Jackson was shown walking into the building greeting Simon Diamond, Storm Gunner and others backstage. Devon made it out demanding his TV title back from Abyss. Of course instead of Abyss we got Joe Park. He said that he was doing what he should have done a long time ago, and he took Devon down with a double leg takedown, before landing shoulderblock after shoulderblock. Devon responded with a takedown of his own and threw Park into the ringpost. Devon went for a chairshot, but Abyss’ music hit. There was no Abyss, and Devon said that he would find Abyss. Park had his mouth busted open a little, and got quite mad before they went to the break, setting up the appearance of Abyss later on. After the break Devon and Knux were searching for Abyss.
Robbie E made it out before his Bound for Glory qualifier saying how great he was in the Bound for Glory series last year. His opponent was Samoa Joe. They had a very quick match with Joe landing the muscle buster and grabbing the rear naked choke for the win. A recap was shown on the Velvet Sky/Mickie James segment from last week. James approached Sky backstage, and brought her a scratch card, plugging a scratch card contest that TNA are running. James apologized, and Sky wanted a rematch for this night, but James said that she would be facing someone that Sky had overlooked. She then said that she would be offering Sky a shot when she was ready, although Sky was in fact ready (honestly I don’t know if she will ever be ready, but that’s besides the point). There was a great video package for the Kurt Angle Hall of Fame induction. Rampage was brought out to very generic music with some howells thrown in every now and again. He said that he had to beat the best to be the best, which brought Angle out. Angle cut a promo saying that someday he would have to go through him and he said that it was real, damn real. They shook hands and had had a faceoff in what would have been a great segment if it wasn’t for the fact that Rampage has had approximately zero days of pro-wrestling training, and there is still a very long way to go before he will get to even a functional level – if ever. This would have probably been the angle to do with Mo, even if he isn’t as big of a name because odds are that he is going to work harder and progress quicker than Rampage. There was also the possibility of using Josh Barnett, who would have been the best choice, but he doesn’t have the name value.
Chris Sabin, Gunner & James Storm were shown walking to the ring. Ray and Anderson were backstage where Anderson was going to recommend himself as the VP, but then backed down. Ray asked what Hogan was thinking booking the mainevent. At the end of the segment Ray basically made Anderson the VP by briefly brushing over it. Roode, King & Aries made it out for a six-man tag with Sabin, Storm & Gunner. Believe it or not there were at times loud “we want Gunner!” chants, which was good to hear. Sabin pinned King after a cradle shock after a very good TV match. Devon and Knux were still search for Abyss, as they rushed through the last door that they could find. Brooke Hogan was talking to Terrell backstage putting her over. The whole thing came down to if Terrell was still in love with Bully, just a random question that Terrell asked out of absolute nowhere in a really awkward segment. Taeler Hendrix made it out for a match with Mickie James. For whatever reasons there were really loud “Cena sucks” and then “Yes!” chants, which really wasn’t good for the match or for the aesthetic of the show. James pinned Hendrix after faking a leg injury. There was footage of Abyss’ shadow killing Knux before a terrible brawl between he and Devon broke out, and he laid Devon out and yelled that he was taking the belt “into the abyss” which was a really cheesy line. There was a graphic for the Angle/Styles match next week together with Daniels & Kazarian versus Storm & Gunner.
Ray and Hardy made it out with the hammer suspended above the ring. They started out in a brawl with Hardy grabbing the advantage. However, when they came back from the break Ray was in control. Ray yelled that he didn’t need a hammer saying that his fists were his hammers. Hardy began to climb, Ray went to push him down, but Hardy telegraphed it and sent the ladder into the groin of Ray. Hardy went for the hammer multiple times, but each time was thrown down. Eventually Ray was able to grab the hammer, but Hardy landed his stunner twist of fate sending the hammer flying. Ray fled and Hardy tripped in an incredibly bizarre manner unable to catch up with Ray. They cut to Ray walking through the back screaming for his belt when Hulk Hogan came by about to strike him from behind with a hammer, but Brooke screamed for him not to do it sending the show off of the air with a confrontation between the three.
WWE SmackDown – June 7th 2013.
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY.
Our weekly recap started with the Paul Heyman/Chris Jericho contract signing and the narrator hyped Y2J vs. Curt Axel for the show then they showed the finish of The Shield vs. Team HellNo and Randy Orton. The furtive voiceover told us Bryan, Kane and Orton would all be guests on Miz TV.
Miz strolled down the ramp to kick off the show with another instalment of his infernal talk-show.
Miz said his guests nearly became the first team to defeat The Shield in a six-man; unbelievably nobody involved in the decision making process remembered the decision they made to have
The Shield lose via DQ on Raw. I suppose since that was an elimination match then they are still technically undefeated in traditional six-mans. Randy Orton was out first then Team HellNo joined the Viper in the ring; Miz brought up Bryan getting pinned during the latest six-man with The Shield on Raw. Bryan interrupted him and declared that he had something to say as the crowd began to chant his name. He said he had a lot of time to think since Monday and told Orton he now realised what happened at the end of the match on Raw was an accident then told Kane he was the best partner a guy could ask for and all Bryan did was push him away when he tried to help against the Ryback. Kane asked if this was the end of the “weak link garbage”; Bryan said it wasn’t exactly garbage then Miz chimed in. The host explained that the issue was personal to Bryan, because he single-handedly took out The Shield last week then wanted to know if Bryan felt like he was getting the respect he deserved. Bryan replied, “sometimes”. Miz came back with “and other times people still look at you like a goat-face, vegan troll”. Orton instructed Miz to watch what he said to the “kid” because his “head was messed up”; Bryan took exception to this remark, but Kane stated that he agreed with Randy. Bryan asked why this was and said all he wanted was for people and his partner to respect him. Kane informed Bryan that he did respect him, just like Orton and everyone else in the building, however Randy claimed he would respect Bryan more if he stopped whining about being the weak link. Bryan became agitated, but Kane told his partner to let it go then explained that they all wanted to beat The Shield and they nearly got the job done on Raw. Bryan replied, “yeah, until I got caught, right?” and stated the only reason that happened was because Orton got in his way. Randy said they were right back to where they started; “crazy town”; Miz inquired how Orton felt to be blamed for the loss then Kane asked Randy not to answer and tried to usher Bryan out of the ring. Bryan screamed at Kane to take his hands off him and yelled he was supposed to have his back; Kane bellowed back that he always had his partner’s back, but was sick of not being trusted. Bryan stated that he had no reason to trust Kane, as he left him to fight The Shield alone on numerous occasions and only half-heartedly came to his defence when people called him the weak link. Bryan continued to claim Kane was forced to team with him in the first place and said if Kane had Orton, Cena or anybody else, he would be out of here in an instant. Kane declared that he had had enough then told Randy he was on his own and headed to the back. Miz questioned if we had just seen the break-up of Team HellNo on his show; Bryan stated he knew everybody would blame this on him and began to yell, “No!” Teddy Long appeared and told Bryan he could prove himself by teaming with Orton to take on Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. Orton acted unimpressed with the thought of teaming with Bryan.
This felt like very lengthy, although in reality it was no longer than any other standard multi-person in-ring opening segment. I liked where they were going with Bryan showing humility and offering a quasi-apology, but then they lost me with Bryan freaking out again. The idea of Bryan simply wanting to prove himself by beating as much ass as humanly possible is a great way to build him as a babyface, although his unreasonableness and slightly psychotic disposition seem a little heelish to me. Maybe WWE are keeping their options open with which way to take Bryan, which still seems ridiculous, as there is nobody else with Bryan’s kind of momentum in the company and he is a potential number two babyface in the making. The friction with Orton seems to be leading somewhere and by the end of the show it seems almost certain the two will be going at it sooner or later.
A split screen showed Chris Jericho and Curtis Axel with Paul Heyman on their way out to the arena; Cole hyped the two in action after the break.
Jericho made his entrance then Axel appeared and Heyman cut his ritual pre-match promo. Paul E said Axel had amassed three big victories in the weeks since his debut, one over Triple H and two over John Cena. Axel stated that tonight another former World Champion would find out what it is like to be perfect.
Chris Jericho vs. Curtis Axel w/Paul Heyman
Heyman joined Cole and JBL for the match and spoke of his pleasure at the trouble he had caused the McMahon family; Jericho took over in the ring with a dropkick and some chops. Axel landed a few shots, but was quickly sent over the top with a clothesline then ate a dropkick through the ropes; Jericho grabbed the camera and did his “come on baby” line and sent Curt’s head into the announce table. Axel caught Jericho with a boot as he climbed back through the ropes and hit a hangman’s neckbreaker for a two count. After the break, Jericho missed a lionsault and Axel scored with his running one-arm swinging neckbreaker for another two. Jericho avoided a splash in the corner then came off the top with a crossbody to get a two count of his own; Axel tried for the Perfectplex, but Jericho countered and applied the walls. Axel made it to the ropes and rolled to the apron, only to be sent to the floor with a springboard dropkick. Heyman stood up on the announce table, pointed at his wrist and cried, “it’s clobberin’ time” and CM Punk’s music hit. Axel slid in from behind and hooked a schoolboy to get another suspect victory.
Curtis Axel defeated Chris Jericho via pinfall, at 6:56 (TV Time).
Heyman rejoiced with Axel in the ring at the triumph, while Jericho headed up the ramp and saw the heel’s celebration on the tron. Jericho ran back down and began to pummel Axel from inside his guard then hit him with a codebreaker.
The match was fine, although it did seem like we missed all of the heat during the break and came back to the near-falls. Plus we have seen this finish a few times recently with Fandango’s music distracting whoever was in the ring. I’m not with this Curtis Axel push, I would be if they actually gave him a real push, however giving him phony victories and having him get laid out here seems like a bizarre way to cement a new guy at the top level. At least here he actually got the pin, which was soon made insignificant when he was quickly disposed of. Jericho could have just used this as motivation for his match with Punk then come back to Axel after the PPV for revenge.
Kane ran into Ryback somewhere in the back; Ryback reputed that Kane wanted to put Bryan through a table like he did on Raw. Kane said that Daniel was his partner no matter how annoying he may be then challenged Ryback to see if he could put him through a table like he did to Kofi and Bryan. Ryback uttered his new catchphrase, but Kane told him that he had tombstoned a priest, set a man on fire and buried his brother alive so whatever Ryback’s rules were, they didn’t apply to the Big Red Machine.
A Wyatt Family vignette rolled; back at ringside, JBL said he had never seen anything that alarming and a lot of guys were concerned with the Family’s arrival.
After the Vince/Steph/Triple H stuff from Raw, they hyped Trips vs. Curtis Axel for this Monday then Ricardo Rodriguez introduced Alberto Del Rio. Footage of Alberto vs. Big E. V rolled and since they didn’t want to go for VI, Heath Slater came down with his band of geeks. 3MB jumped Del Rio before the bell, however Alberto quickly fought them off and planted Slater with a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker then slapped on the armbreaker. Slater rolled to the floor; Mahal and McIntyre got back in the ring but Ricardo jumped on Drew’s back and Alberto got rid of Jinder and McIntyre was dumped over the top as well, then Ricardo came off the top with a crossbody onto the two dorks on the floor. Del Rio and his buddy celebrated in the ring, but Dolph Ziggler appeared “via satellite” on the TitanTron. Dolph said it may have seemed like he was crashing Alberto’s party, however he had brought a gift and that was himself. Ziggler stated he has just been informed that he was cleared to wrestle and he would be showing off all over Del Rio’s face on Raw this Monday.
At least they tried something different this week with Alberto. It wasn’t much, but it did involve a brief cameo from Dolph to reheat the conflict between the two, which was good. I always get a kick out of the “via satellite” gimmick. It’s one of those old pro wrestling deals that has been around for years and in 2013 seems a little ridiculous, especially since Ziggler was clearly on a generic WWE set.
Kane showed up for a match that he and Ryback for some reason had the authority to book on their own. An ambulance pulled into the arena and Ryback appeared from within; Cole hyped the 3 stages of hell match at Payback.
Kane vs. Ryback
After a tackle, Ryback missed a legdrop and Kane landed his basement dropkick; Ryback fought out of the corner then delivered an impressive military-press slam and started to get the heat, however the crowd began to chant “we want tables”. Kane scored with a boot to the face then started a comeback and hit a sidewalk slam; he followed up with a DDT and sent Ryback over the top with a clothesline. Ryback managed to send Kane into the barricade then pulled a table out from under the ring. Kane landed some shots then back in the ring, Ryback avoided a clothesline off the top to deliver a spinebuster. Kane countered the meathook clothesline with a chokeslam, although Ryback prevented the three count by grabbing the bottom rope. Kane set up the table and went for another chokeslam; Ryback went to the eyes then executed a scary powerbomb through the table to cause the DQ.
Kane defeated Ryback via disqualification, at 5:40.
The match was wisely kept short and as a result wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The press slam spot was impressive and the finish proved that Ryback can put anyone through a table, which plays into his match with Cena. The “we want tables” chants could become problem for the heel act going forward, however hopefully after the PPV he will stop using the fan-pleasing table spots.
Damien Sandow was in the ring for another week of his new carney goofyness. He said Sheamus had failed at all of the previous intellectual challenges and asked if any man was his intellectual equal. The answer was of course, “no” then Damien made fun of the Nassau county college and claimed all the fans had “checker minds”, but lived in a “chess world”. Sandow claimed to have a “super computer” which was the only thing capable of matching his intelligence and he introduced, “Deep Blue”. Sandow welcomed the computer and the machine replied, “good evening Damien”; Sandow put the computer over for beating the chess world champion in 1997 and the machine thanked his host. Damien interrupted the computer with, “Silence!” then claimed he would defeat Deep Blue and would make the audience sit through the entire thing in silence. The contest got underway; after Sandow’s first move, the computer said “nice move, Damien” and Sandow bellowed, “Of course it was!” Sheamus interrupted and said this was the most impressive challenge yet, because Sandow was only a couple of moves away from beating a super computer at chess. Sheamus stated he had a challenge and bet Damien he could beat his computer in just one move (I’m sure you all guessed where this was going). Sandow reluctantly agreed, but warned Sheamus it was his reputation on the line. Sheamus stalled for a while and Sandow told him to get the thing rolling, this apparently reminded Sheamus how to beat the computer in one move and he destroyed the thing with a Brogue kick. The two squared off and Sandow dropped Sheamus with a right hand, which Cole called a “cheap shot”, despite Damien standing right in front of Sheamus and punching him in the face. Sandow rammed Sheamus into the table the computer was set up on a few times then left the ring after his “you’re welcome” line.
Each week I’ve become slightly more entertained by these skits, which astonishingly seem to be leading to a PPV match, and I think I enjoyed this the most out of the previous two. Sandow playing off the computer’s responses was pretty funny and it’s nice to see him looking strong by laying Sheamus out. Still, this is hardly the greatest build for a match we have to pay to see, but since this is far from a top match I can live with some wackiness. Sheamus better be fired up after this though, if he is joking around and complying with another challenge next week then that would be pretty stupid.
Daniel Bryan was in the locker room; Orton walked in and told him Kane had to go to see the trainer after his match with Ryback. Bryan said he didn’t ask Kane to protect him. Orton asked Bryan to put his personal problems aside so they could defeat The Shield, but Bryan claimed he had no problems and warned Randy to stay out of his way during his mission to take out The Shield. Orton stated that he was not Kane then told Bryan he did not like partners and he didn’t like him.
Another Wyatt Family vignette aired then much to the annoyance of millions, the Miz joined JBL and Cole on commentary. Miz said the Family weren’t these Duck Dynasty friendly guys with beards and called them a “bunch of freaks”. Fandango made his entrance with Summer Rae; Cole announced Miz vs. Fandango vs. Wade Barret for the IC Title at Payback. Zack Ryder appeared for WWE’s customary hometown job-out.
Zack Ryder vs. Fandango w/Summer Rae
Fandango scored with a spinning heel kick and immediately took control. Ryder got both knees up and caught Fandango charging in the corner then hit a dropkick off the second rope. Ryder delivered the broski boot and tried for his leg lariat; Fandango countered into a powerbomb and got the win with a legdrop off the top.
Fandango defeated Zack Ryder via pinfall, at 2:21.
Fandango got on the mic and told everyone how to say his name; Miz stated that he would defeat Barrett and Fandango at Payback.
This was a nothing match and Miz added little on commentary. The only reason I’m interested in the IC Title 3 way is to see if Barrett drops the strap and can escape the putrefaction of holding the most meaningless belt this side of the Diva’s division. They might as well give the thing to Fandango; I mean what does it really matter at this stage anyway?
The Raw rebound needlessly took up a large amount of airtime again then Kaitlyn was in the back with Natalya. She told Nattie that her secret admirer was going to reveal himself on Raw; Nattie asked if that was such a good idea and Kaitlyn took that like her friend was not happy for her, because all women in WWE have to hate each other. Nattie offered some sound advice and said Raw is a live show and the guy could turn out to be a total creep. Kaitlyn informed Nattie that if he was a creep, he would be texting Nattie, not her.
This was absolutely unnecessary; Nattie was simply being a good friend. Maybe they want us to have no sympathy for Kaitlyn when this inevitably blows up in her face on Raw.
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns came through the crowd for the main event. Randy Orton made his entrance then Daniel Bryan brought the people to their feet on his way down to the ring.
Non-Title Match: Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollin & Roman Reigns (Tag Team Champions).
Bryan took it to Rollins with some kicks then refused to tag Orton and began to work on the arm; Rollins ate a dropkick, but forced Bryan back into the heel’s corner and Reigns came in to take over. The Shield made some quick tags and worked over Bryan in their half of the ring then Reigns worked a side-headlock; Bryan fought out to deliver a drop-toehold into the turnbuckle and mad the tag. Orton fired up on Rollins then scored with the hangman’s DDT; Reigns pulled his partner out of the ring to safety. After the break, The Shield had the heat on Orton; Randy fought up from a chinlock to land a belly-to-back, however Rollins came in off the tag and dragged Orton back to the heel’s corner. The tag champs made more frequent tags and kept the heat on. Orton caught Rollins coming in the corner with both boots and sidestepped Reigns, who took the ring post spot then nailed Seth with a clothesline which led to the hot tag. Bryan came off the top with a missile dropkick to both heels then began to unleash a barrage of kicks to Rollins and Reigns. After a Germansuplex, which Rollins took brilliantly, Bryan wiped out the Tag champs with a topé and hit Rollins with a diving headbutt , but Reigns broke up the pin; Orton slid in and hit him with an RKO. Rollins backed Randy into the turnbuckle and Bryan tired for his running dropkick in the corner, however Rollins moved and Bryan nailed Orton. Rollins tried for a schoolboy, but Bryan countered into the “No”lock; Dean Ambrose ran in and broke the hold to cause the DQ.
Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton defeated Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns via disqualification, at 8:57 (TV Time).
Ambrose stomped Bryan then held him for Rollins to get some shots in; Bryan fought out and sent both guys to the floor. Orton slid back in then hit Bryan with an RKO.
The match was decent, Bryan was once again fantastic when he came in off the hot tag. The DQ finishes are starting to stack up in non-six man Shield matches, which is odd considering they were booked so strong prior to them gain their respective titles. I hope this isn’t the start of The Shield beating undercarders and no longer getting victories over top level guys. As for the post-match RKO, most of the crowd seemed to take Orton’s actions as a heel move, however the announcers didn’t enlighten us on how to take Randy attacking Bryan and left us wondering; a good hook to get people to tune into Raw, I suppose. If Bryan and Orton are heading for a singles feud then it will be interesting to see who they turn; if they want to get behind Bryan then he almost certainly has to beat Orton, unless he loses and that finally triggers a heel turn, but as I’ve repeatedly stated, now is the time to run with Bryan as a face. Also with Orton, who is a natural heel anyway, this angle should pretty much book itself after this RKO. Still, everything seems up in the air at the moment, but with only a week until the PPV, things should become a lot clearer on Raw.
This was another fair edition of SmackDown. For the most part the show was entertaining to sit through and there was some decent wrestling, but with only 2 matches signed prior to this episode for Payback, I was expecting a little more. Now we have 3 official matches, one of which is a goofy triple-threat for the IC Title; it’s obvious Sheamus vs. Sandow and Bryan vs. Orton seem to be on the cards, plus we have the chance of Del Rio vs. Ziggler is they feel Dolph is ready for a lengthy PPV outing. Nevertheless, with only a week to go the card for Payback is looking pretty sparse at this moment. WWE must be hoping Cena vs. Ryback in three of the lamest gimmick matches and the return of CM Punk will be enough to get at least 190,000 buys, which is around what the June PPV did last year. Be sure to tune into Raw, if not to see what they actually decide to do with the rest of the Payback card, then to see how Vince took the horrible rating last week and if he tears up all current plans, as he is prone to do under such circumstances.
Bits & Pieces
I only really took note of it right before press time, but Condor Security now have a website complete with booking form. I highly recommend that you take a look, because it is quite something. It is available at http://condorsecurityinc.com/.
As we noted in the iMPACT report former UFC star, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson has signed a deal with Viacom, meaning that if all goes according to plan he will be fighting on Bellator and wrestling in TNA much like King Mo. However, the chances of things working out at an optimum level are slim. Jackson, now 34, is a great talker and was a fan of Memphis wrestling growing up, which helps. The problem is that he is starting late, and with the amount of time that it takes to be good at both MMA and wrestling I can’t see him pulling it off. ‘King Mo’ Lawal is different in that he is younger, and has the drive and determination, whereas the opposite is true for Rampage. It’s unfortunate that they never thought about signing Josh Barnett, as he can perform at a high level at both wrestling and MMA, but of course doesn’t have the name value of Jackson, or what will hopefully be the longevity of Mo. Still their success rate with Barnett would have been far higher than Mo or Jackson.
Todd Keneley, the third man in the TNA announce team of Taz and Mike Tenay, was told that Slammiversary was his last night as an announcer with the company. He originally debuted as part of a WCW like concept where he and Jeremy Borash announced the first half of iMPACT, and Taz and Tenay the second, but that didn’t work out very well. Keneley wasn’t terrible, but he and Taz didn’t gel at all, and things actually got uncomfortable at times as Taz clearly didn’t like him. His style of announcing simply didn’t lend itself well to the product, so from the perspective of the product it is for the better. If Borash wasn’t busy in other roles I would suggest that they bring him in as an announcer, as he is really good, but the logistics simply wouldn’t work out at this point.
In what is a very scary situation at this point, Big Japan deathmatch wrestler Abdullah Kobayashi, has been diagnosed with hepatitis C. Considering the amount of people that the man has bled on he could have infected many people, especially when he isn’t just bleeding on people, but sticking bloody needles through his cheek and taking bumps on nail boards. I know that the style has a relatively decent following, but in 2013 I think it is seriously time to ask if it is still relevant.
Next Week’s Issue
Next week we look at the latest All Japan updates, hopefully the Best of the Super Juniors together with the finals, close to the final build for Extreme Rules, news and more!
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