WrestleMania 36 Day 1 Recap and Grades

Mania Night 1
Decent intro package, cut to Gronkowski who looks like he should be bumming gas to get to a frat house. Mojo Rawley comes out and somehow looks even more idiotic. They tell us that the women’s tag title match is first.

Asuka & Kairi Sane vs Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss
Asuka has to be the most racist character in WWE today. The women are trying hard but without a crowd, this just stinks of death. Nikki gets beat up and makes a “hot” tag with no crowd. Alexa has colored laces on the back of her boots, pink and blue. They exactly match the color pattern of Asuka’s hair. Isn’t that special? Cross is clapping her hands in the air, trying to excite the “crowd.” She must have suffered a concussion of some form in the match and doesn’t know where she is, that’s the only logical explanation for what she did. Nikki partially pulls off her over-vest thing, shades of Brandi Chastain, I suppose. The referee has a horrible spray tan. Kabuki’s hit Nikki with something like a reverse Doomsday Device, Michael Cole calls is the same. Nikki kicks out. Alexa tags in, hits her Twisted Bliss finisher to win the match. 3 stars.

Baron Corbin vs Elias
Elias hits Corbin with the guitar before the match. Elias takes command, then the Prince of the Possum People takes control. Nothing about this match makes me care at all. Corbin kicks out of some stuff, Elias kicks out. This has been going forever it seems. Corbin tries to pin Elias with his feet on the ropes, Ref catches him. Elias rolls him up and holds the tights for the win. I guess we’re supposed to care that Elias won since he was thrown off the stage last week. I heard angels singing in my house because the suffering was finally over. 1 star

Becky Lynch vs Shayna Baszler
Becky drives the big rig to the arena again. Can they rip off Steve Austin’s pickup truck any worse? Baszler out to the ring first, she’s posing on the stage like there’s a crowd present. Becky poses with the belt while smoke goes off. Match starts off with some awkward slap fight. Becky in charge early on. Becky gets caught going for a kick and takes a knee to the teeth. Shayna picks up Becky in a modified powerbomb position and swings Becky into the announce desk twice. Shayna locks in a “Kirabuta Clutch” that looks strikingly like a Sleeper, which Becky reverses into a pinfall to win. So Becky keeps the belt and Shayna Baszler is killed dead as a dog that plays in cars rather than being made into a superstar…a real superstar, not a “WWE Superstar®.” 2 stars

Daniel Bryan vs Sami Zayn
Bryan comes out with Drew Gulak, Mojo and Gronk doing yes chants like teenage marks in a basement. Sami doing old school heel stuff stalling for time in the corner; this would work great with a crowd. Nakamura and Cesaro try to interfere, Gulak clears them out into the “crowd.” These guys should have been allowed to work a clean match, they’re both stellar, incredible wrestlers. It didn’t need the gaga. Sami wins after Bryan comes off the top and takes a kick to the face. They tried hard… 3 stars

Triple Threat Tag Team Title Match
Kofi Kingston vs John Morrison vs Jimmy Uso. I thought this was a tag match? So, the tag titles are being defended in a triple threat singles match? Well, that’s interesting. Match starts off with a choreographed routine. Three ladders in the ring. My stream cut out a few minutes in, I’m sure I didn’t miss anything. These guys are all really good, but really, and singles match for the tag belts? JBL says this match is a classic…he must be suffering from some form of impairment. Uso on top of a ladder, pitched over the top to the floor, surely there must have been a pad. All three on top of the ladder, Jimmy takes the big harness thing down, but they fight, somehow Morrison falls off the ladder with belts in hand, but then drops them before he hits the ground. Somehow, that meant Morrison won. 0 stars (reserved for matches that should have never happened, but did anyway)

Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins
Owens went for piledriver, took a back body drop on the ring apron; saw that coming 5 miles away. Nothing about this match makes me care. Rollins kicks out of the Owens powerbomb. Then hits Owens with the time keepers bell to get DQ….oops, spoke too soon. Owens wants the match restarted with no DQ. Rollins attacks Owens with the ring steps. Chair shot to Owens back…then one to the front, that looked like it hurt for real. Owens jumps off the WrestleMania sign onto Rollins who’s on the announce table. Owens gets him into the ring, hits a Stunner for the win. Last few minutes after the restart were pretty good. 3 stars.

Mojo and Gronk on camera again…R Truth comes in. To think I thought this couldn’t get any worse. Gronk tries to pin Truth, Mojo pulls him off, and gets the pin. Just what the world needed, a 24/7 title change on WrestleMania.

Braun Strowman vs Goldberg
Goldberg does his entrance from the locker room with cameras….without a crowd. Referee Charles Robinson should get a good payoff for not a lot of work. Start off circling each other. Strowman jawing with him. Goldberg hits three spears, Strowman kicks out. Goldberg hits fourth spear, goes for Jackhammer, Strowman reverse into three powerslams. Taunts Goldberg a bit, hits a fourth powerslam, Braun wins in about 2 minutes. That was a surprise, actually. 1 star.

AJ Styles vs Undertaker
Night 1 Main Event. AJ shows up in a hearse laying in a coffin. Undertaker shows up on a motorcycle with Metallica playing; I think it’s Metallica. They’re fighting in a sound stage graveyard, or maybe it’s real, I can’t tell. Interesting video production. This isn’t a wrestling match, it’s a movie fight being filmed in takes. AJ throws dirt in Taker’s face and a low blow. Taker throws AJ in the grave. Gallows and Anderson show up, they have druids hidden in a shed. Undertaker beats them like movie stooges. Taker beats Gallows and Anderson with a shovel handle. Styles has remarkably gotten out of the grave and hits Taker with something that’s supposed to look like concrete. Taker speared through a fence. Theatrical and staged. Really hope this isn’t the end for Taker. AJ breaks a shovel across Taker’s back. Undertaker has mythically appeared behind Styles, I guess he tunneled out of the grave real quick with the shovel end. They’re going up onto the roof of a barn. Throws Anderson off, tombstones Gallows on the barn roof. Styles chokeslammed off the barn roof. Kicked into the grave, grave filled. No rating, this was not a wrestling match.

Overall Show: 3 stars, probably good as can be expected. The wrestlers worked hard, but the lack of crowd killed a lot of stuff.

WWE Royal Rumble 2020

Here we are, back for the first WWE PPV of the new year and, depending on how one counts, the new decade. Off we go with the review

Match 1: Sheamus vs Shorty G. I hate the name, why not just Chad Gable? That’s stupid and ruins him. The blue light, I have to believe coming in from outdoors is terrible and also kills the match. Guys did good work and Sheamus got a win in his first match back since April 2019. 2.5 stars, just solidly in the middle.

Match 2: Andrade vs Humberto Carrillo. Really good match, but also pretty long. Guys did a lot of good stuff. Andrade gets the win. 3 stars

Match 3: Roman Reigns vs Baron Corbin. After this match, I’m taking away his King title. Match starts off with Roman running outside the ring and attacking Corbin’s jobronis. Roman attacks one and turns his back 180 degrees on Baron. So immediately we know Roman is stupid or drunk or something, because no intelligent person would do that. If they ever got in the ring, I don’t remember it. They wrestled through the crowd, out to the various language commentary tables. Corbin goes through two tables. They wrestle over to the primary AV position where the crew is so afraid of these two maniacs fighting, they just continue mixing the audio and video as though no one is present. One of the AV guys could be seen smiling in the background. Roode and Ziggler come out and jump Roman. Uso Brothers out to even the odds. Fighting all around the floor. One of the Usos came off the AV booth to the floor, at least it didn’t look as fake as some dives do because he missed his brother by a little bit. Then Roman comes from nowhere with two Superman punches. Now we get the finest part of the match…a portable toilet sitting by the AV booth. Roman stuffs Corbin in one….that just happens to have two wheeled carts affixed to the bottom. He wheels this around…literally no portable toilet has ever had wheels on it and the others in the row didn’t…eventually Roman tips the toilet over. The crowd chants the obvious. Corbin climbs out completely clean. So we have Corbin in a fake staged toilet with nothing in it. Jesus wept. Eventually they end up on top of a dugout where Baron hits Roman with two of the weakest chairshots I’ve seen since 1997 WCW. Roman mercifully ends the match, pinning Corbin after a spear on top of the dugout. 21 minutes and 20 seconds of life was wasted with this match and it’s obviously phony toilet spot. .001 stars, slightly better than Bray Wyatt’s red light matches.

Match 4: Women’s Royal Rumble. Alexa Bliss and Bianca Belair start the match. They’re great workers and can carry the match. Molly Holly is next, good crowd pop. Lana comes down and cuts a promo all the way to the ring, good stuff. Mercedes Martinez gets a good reaction, hopefully she’ll be treated like a star. Spoke too soon, she’s dumped after about 3 minutes in the ring. Nikki Cross and Mandy Rose trade obviously whiffed kicks on each other in the corner waiting on another wrestler to come down. Mandy gets dumped and saved by Otis, which would have been a better spot 12 years ago before Kofi killed that well with the special ways to stay in. Mia Yim in at #12, thus far all the women have been treated as stars. Nikki Cross eliminated by Belair who was in the process of airplane spinning Alexa Bliss…Nikki was on the ring apron for at least 30 seconds after Alexa distracted Belair with no one else around. She made no effort to get back in the ring, perhaps she should undergo a concussion protocol because temporary lack of mental capacity is the only explanation for this. Tamina Snuka into the ring, does a stare down with Belair, so we have a superstar like Belair staring off with an undercard wrestler like Tamina…at least Belair dumps her quick. Chelsea Greens gets a superstar entrance and lasts about 3 seconds in the ring; what a waste. After the 16th entrant, only Bliss and Belair are left in the ring. Bliss is eliminated with an interesting tug of war spot with Belair’s hair. Belair is being made to look like a beast. Charlotte Flair out next. Charlotte takes longer to get to the ring than the Undertaker. If Charlotte doesn’t do at least two Flair Flops in honor of Naitch winning the championship 28 years ago, I’ll be sad. Next out comes one half of the Funkadactyls. Double kip up from Charlotte and the Funker. Double suplex on Belair. Beth Phoenix out next. Toni Storm comes out and looks like she’s trying to beat out a house fire with her bare hands, just going after everyone. Disadvantages of HD and big TV screens…Toni can be clearly seen calling spots with Charlotte. Kelly Kelly out next…nothing she does looks unsafe or anything, but it’s certainly a clear difference in how women wrestlers are trained now compared to 2008 or so when Kelly started. Sarah Logan gets a star entrance, business is about to pick up. Oh, sorry, too soon, she’s dumped in about 45 seconds. Nattie Neidhart out next, Nattie and Beth do a double power bomb out of the corner on Charlotte…they hold Charlotte up for a huge length of time to the point where I say “god almighty, just drop her.” Charlotte almost eliminated by 3 women…probably would have been were it not for Nattie obviously holding onto her legs when she’s supposed to be trying to eliminate her. Naomi with another Kofi spot. Blah. Shotzi Blackheart out. Talk about coming far in a short period, in November she was working a show with about 450 people in a church gym in Brooklyn, now she’s in front of 45,000 at the Royal Rumble. OH DEAR GOD. This match was so good….Santino Morella is out at #29. A man, dressed in drag, stares off with Beth Phoenix and Nattie, before hitting himself with a sock puppet and throwing himself over the top rope. I have nothing against people who dress in drag, that’s fine. Cool. An obviously heterosexual male dressing in drag to make a mockery of what’s supposed to be simulated combat is an embarrassment. So Shayna Baszler comes in at 30….she’s a superstar. She could be bigger than Rousey and Lynch if handled right. Legitimate main event star. She comes in and wrecks house. But only after Santino has come out and ruined the whole thing just by consuming oxygen in the same building as these real wrestlers. Baszler looks like a star. Charlotte last eliminated Baszler to get the win. I really want to rate this match lower than the opening match just for the Santino garbage…but I won’t punish the women for some stupid Vince McMahon nonsense. That crap really made me want to crawl through my TV and jump the ring like the guys back in the 70s, getting beat up and arrested would have been worth it in this case. 4 stars, just about as good as a Rumble match can be, with the Santino segment scrubbed from existence.

Match 5: Bayley vs Lacey Evans. Bayley wins after what felt like an eternity after countering Lacey’s top rope move and grabbing tights. Fair match, nothing special. Feel bad for the women having to come out after the Rumble match which I’m sure left many fans both exhausted and irate. 2.5 stars, solidly average.

Match 6: Daniel Bryan vs The Fiend. It’s a strap match. This was a difficult gimmick to pull off 25-30 years ago. Daniel Bryan looks really good with the short beard and short hair, like his old American Dragon gimmick. Well, hallelujah, the red lights aren’t on. Bray whips Bryan like he’s a jockey beating a horse. Very methodical match to start. Bryan hits the running knee, Bray kicks out. I believe that makes Bray the first person so kick out, perhaps that’s OK since we can say Bryan wasn’t able to get his whole starting distance. Bryan kicks Bray in the groin 5 or 6 times then hits a DDT on the announce table. I feel like the table was supposed to break. The match picks up a bunch after the table DDT spot. Bray hits Bryan with an aerial Sister Abigail that Bryan kicks out of. Bryan counters a Mandible Claw into an incredible arm bar over the top rope. Then counters the Claw again into a Lebell lock with the strap through Brays mouth. Bryan hits another running knee, kick out. Bray does some mandible claw into a choke slam into a pin combination for the win. Hard to judge…the early part was very plodding. Business picked up after the DDT on the table. Wish there would have been less false finishes. Bryans running knee kicked out of twice, not good. Very anticlimactic finish. 4.5 stars.

Bryan sells all the way to the locker room, great job. We find out that the next WWE PPV event is whatever day in February from Saudi Arabia, solidly reminding us that Vince only cares about money.

Match 7: Asuka vs Becky Lynch. Decent match. Sad that the women’s championship matches have been stuck in the death spots after great matches. They did a terribly overplayed spot where it looks like Becky was knocked out, ref about to end the match, Becky calls it off. We have MMA now folks…the refs don’t continue matches just because the competitor says they can continue. If a person is incapacitated enough for the ref to consider ending it, is the person really sound minded enough to determine if the match continues? Anyway…Asuka goes for the mist, Becky avoids, locks in the arm bar. Becky FTW. 3 stars, bit above average.

Now, it’s 10pm. We’ve been watching this event for 5 hours already. They give us a 3+ minute Street Profits segment. Because we have time to waste.

Match 8: Men’s Rumble. We’re told that Rusev and Lashley are out because they got into a “brawl” in the back. Wonderful. Brock Lesnar out first. Elias out next, he wastes more of our time by singing. Because it’s not 10:08 and obviously this match can’t start prior to 10:10pm, or something. Elias eliminated quickly, Erick Rowan out. Might have potential. My son just said, after he heard Brock’s voice last week “Who talks on the microphone for Mr. Five Year Old Person?” Brock has the voice of a five year old. Rowan out. Not sure what we’re in for here. Bobby Roode next, he lasts 41 seconds once he gets in the ring. Lesnar is burying the entire roster. John Morrison next. Ohio Valley Wrestling being represented well here. Morrison lasts 10 seconds. I’m bored. Kofi Kingston in next, does he last longer than his Smackdown match? Yes he does, mostly because Brock stopped fighting. Rey Misterio in next wearing a Batman gimmick. 3 men in the ring now, Lesnar still burying everyone, but also not really attacking anyone. Why not attack? About to have a 4th man in the ring. Big E comes out and takes charge. 3 on 1 against Brock. They screw around and get too flashy when Brock is beaten down. Rey and E out in short order. Kofi takes an F5 over the top. Cesaro in next, out in about 30 seconds. Shelton Benjamin next, Minnesota Stretching Crew back together. Let’s see how this goes… Shelton hugs Brock then turns his back on him. Of course Brock eliminates Shelton. Perhaps Shelton is on something that the Wellness Policy can’t test for because he was obviously delusional in the match. Nakamura out next, might have made it 30 seconds. I was going to comment about this being two IWGP Heavyweight Champions in the ring, didn’t have time before Nakamura was eliminated. MVP out, he hasn’t been in WWE in years, this should last long. 28 seconds long. Keith Lee from NXT next. Really hope he lasts long. This has the crowd up and awake. Lee knocks Brock off his feet and the crowd goes crazy. Double clothesline to the next entrant. Braun Strowman. There’s a lot of man meat in the ring now. Strowman goes outside the ring to do a bad shoulder tackle. Strowman and Keith Lee stare at each other like idiots and Brock eliminates them both. Ricochet next, lasts until Drew McIntyre comes out. Drew is massive. He doesn’t look it, but he’s massive. Several inches taller than Lesnar. Lesnar eliminated after a nut shot from Ricochet and a Claymore kick from Drew. Crowd goes crazy. Brock buries half the roster. Ricochet out quick. Lesnar still outside the ring, see where this goes. Miz in and out after 40 seconds or so. AJ Styles out next, crowd picked up. Ziggler next, crowd dead again. Karl Anderson out to no reaction. Edge out next, returning for the first time since 2011. Crowd crazy. Edge is visibly crying as he’s walking down the aisle. Edge spears everyone. Baron Corbin on the way out, the graphic artist and the sound guy are not in sync because Corbin’s graphic came up 5+ seconds before the music hit. Matt Riddle out, he lasts about 30 seconds. Next out is Luke Gallows. Edge is visibly blown up already after about 4 minutes. Gallows looks like Ax from Demolition. Randy Orton next, eliminates both OC guys. Roman Reigns next, crowd goes mild. Kevins Owens out to little reaction. Aleister Black next. Not much cooking. Samoa Joe next. Number 30 is Seth Rollins coming with AOP and Buddy Murphy. Crowd dead. No shock, they’ve been there for 6 hours. The jobronis are destroying everyone. Black went for a kick and Murphy interfered. Owens hits Seth with a stunner, throws him out, and Seth is caught by AOP. Owens, Joe, and Black brawl with AOP and Murphy at ringside. They all fight to the back. Seth, Roman, Orton, Edge, and Drew still in. Seth tries to make a deal with Roman, I can’t see this working. Rated RKO working together, Seth takes a Claymore, gets dumped. Rated RKO trying to work together. Double RKO on Drew. Orton tries to double cross Edge and hit a RKO, Edge says they’ll work together, then throws Randy over. Roman goes for spear, misses. Edge hits spear on Roman, crowd goes wild. Edge and Roman right on apron, Edge eliminated. Drew hits the Claymore on Roman and dumps him over the top. Drew McIntyre wins. Corey Graves tells us that the crowd is giving a standing ovation…well, the crowd was standing, but only because they’d been there for over 6 hours and jumped up to go home. Another match that’s hard to judge. First half with Brock was pretty blah. Second half picked up. Nothing stupid or foolish. Nothing phony. Good stuff. 4 stars.

Total event grade. 3 stars. The Rumble matches were good, I’m deducting Santino from the overall. The two women’s championship matches were decent but put in really bad spots on the card. Maybe they’d have been better off doing the women’s championship matches on the preshow. Not because they “deserve” to not be on the main card, but that the two matches that were on the preshow are certainly better bathroom break filler matches compared to two women’s championship matches that should shine. The Roman match was terrible, but I’d kinda forgotten about it by the end.

Is the Word Trust Misused or Misunderstood in Wrestling?

If I wanted the title to be extraordinarily long, I would have titled it ‘Title Reigns and Length Have Nothing to do with a Promotion’s Trust in a Wrestler’.

To preface this piece a little bit, this stems from conversations about Sasha Banks and how WWE doesn’t trust her, because she’s never had a long title run (or a successful title defense). To me this is a completely hollow narrative when referring to if a promotion trusts a wrestler or not.

Trust for a wrestling promoter far exceeds title runs, or “being on top”, however you choose to view it.

Roddy Piper never once won a world title in a major promotion. Ricky Steamboat won the NWA WHC ONCE! In Undertaker’s 30 year career, he has 7 total in WWF/WWE. Kane won the WHC/WWE Championship twice in his career. I could keep going with a Mount Rushmore of talent that didn’t need the title to be considered “trusted” by the promotion.

Every commercial I see on FOX has Sasha in it, or in the clicky pen commercial ONLY has Sasha closing it. To me that’s trusting your performer. Some people might have a different view of what trust means, but to me WWE and all included within the company, trust Sasha. Including her fellow performers.

As I was typing (on a phone no less) this turned more into a Sasha thing than I meant. The too long; didn’t read version is:

Championships and length of have zero to do with how a promotion/booker views you as an asset to the overall benefit of the company.

I loathe the “belt is just a prop” saying , but some need it, some don’t. There’s a roster full of people that don’t need the “top prize”.

This will be a two part series because this only covers about half of what I wanted to cover with the broad word of trust when it comes to wrestling, wrestlers and promotions.

Authors note: I also published this on CagesideSeats.

WWE TLC 2019 Recap

Well, here we are again with a WWE recap. TLC had very little build, coming only 3 weeks after the Survivor Series PPV. On the preshow, they said that the only place to watch TLC is on the network. Are they not releasing the events on traditional PPV anymore? I always watch on Network anyway, so I haven’t actually looked into buying a PPV in close to 6 years now, but I did think they were still offering them on PPV. Anyway. On to the matches

1. Humberto Carillo defeats Andrade via pinfall. I didn’t see the whole match due to some TV problems on my end. I saw broken parts and the finish. What I saw looked really good. But I won’t give it a grade since I didn’t see all of it.

2. New Day defeats The Revival in a ladder match. Really good match all around. They didn’t try to do too much, which is always a possibility in these type matches (we’ll get to that in a bit). The one spot where they broke the ladder looked really bad and they went right back to it. Then Dawson got dropped on the ladder, which I suspect wasn’t supposed to happen. Really good stuff here. 4 stars

3. Aleister Black defeats Buddy Murphy via pinfall. Another solid match. My live rating for this match wasn’t great, but I checked it out again quickly, and it’s impressive. I like how Black’s finish is protected and he hit the finish quickly. Probably the most traditional match on the card. 4 stars

4. Viking Raiders and TBD went to a double countout. TBD in this case was the OC, Gallows and Anderson. Karl Anderson, I learned recently, was originally billed as part of the Anderson Family, you know the one…Ole and Gene and Arn. Explaining that is probably more highlight than this match provided. There were 4 people at ringside eating fried chicken and sides from KFC, and a giant KFC tablecloth. Or course someone (Anderson) was put through the table. Terrible match. 1.5 stars

5. King Corbin defeated Roman Reigns via pinfall. Let’s see, it took 6 throne carriers, The Revival, Dolph Ziggler, and Corbin to beat Roman. Last time I recall seeing something like that was the 1994 Royal Rumble with The Undertaker. This match needed an undertaker. 1 star

6. Bray Wyatt defeats The Miz via pinfall. What are they trying to do with Wyatt? He’s obviously popular with the crowd. But his matches have been terrible. Nothing to make anyone really care. At least the red lights weren’t on with this one. But why did Bray were the sweater? I don’t get it. The match was mercifully the shortest match on the show. 1 star.

7. Bobby Lashley defeats Rusev in a tables match. The highlight of the match was the first table completely no-selling and not breaking when Lashley tried to suplex Rusev through it. At least Lashley was sensible enough to pick him up and throw him straight through the other one. This match went 13 minutes and felt like 13 days. Rusev, who I guess is the babyface, failed to win, so does that mean we have to keep seeing more of this? I hope not. If I wanted to see two men fight over a manipulative woman (as she’s portrayed on TV, I’m sure she’s a fine person in real life) I’d just go back home and see my old buddy Jeffro down at the Willis Mobile Home Park. We could sit on his porch and have a beverage, reminisce about the old times and watch the spectacle. At least those guys fighting would be real. 0 stars

8. Kabuki Warriors defeated Becky Lynch and Charlotte in a TLC match. The second TLC match on the card…but the first one ended in a pinfall, which says a lot about this whole PPV. This was probably the match of the night, but they tried to do too much. Charlotte might have been legitimately injured after taking a powerbomb from the top rope to the floor through a table; I’ll wait on the report about that. Becky was tied to a ladder. They all did huge more after huge move after huge move. The only thing that held the match together was the huge star power of Becky and Charlotte and the great charisma from the Kabuki women. Asuka didn’t use the mist and that was about the only thing that wasn’t used. They used shinais, a fire extinguisher, a commentators chair, and just about everything else around ringside. It was a good match, but they just did too much and not enough of it was with the intention of getting up the ladder to get the belts. That said, it was a good match and a fitting end to WWE PPVs for 2019, though it could have been a little better with Becky winning since she’s the most over person in the whole company right now. 4 stars.

And so ends the last PPV of the decade. Three matches were great and 4 matches really sucked. I’m tempted to say this is the worst PPV of the decade but as I’m typing this, I remember that John Laurinitis was in the main event of a show back in 2012, so maybe it wasn’t. Surely it’s the worst for 2019. Not a great end to the year for big shows. Overall grade: C-

Support Independent Wrestling

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I attended a wrestling show from my local promotion, International Combat Sports. ICS 12 “Black Friday Bedlam” featured local talent as well as former ECW World Champion’s Justin Credible, and Mikey Whipwreck, as well as former ECW TV and Tag Team champion, Pit bull #1 Gary Wolf.

I’m not going critique any matches, but I will say that I was impressed by our local wrestlers. They put on some incredible matches that actually told stories. I honestly expected a night of overused dives/spots, but was pleasantly proven wrong. Even the one death match told a story, and it didn’t involve the ECW wrestlers.

These guys busted their butts to put on a great show, and didn’t disappoint. I’ll admit, I didn’t know the storylines that led up to the matches, but I knew who were the baby faces and who were heels. It was pretty refreshing knowing who was who and it made it fun. The crowd, was bigger than I expected, and cheered or booed accordingly to the wrestlers actions.

After the show was over and a new ICS Champion crowned, I couldn’t help but smile at the fact at how much fun my buddy and I had for a cheap price. I know there’s plenty of wrestling on TV that you can watch every week, but if the opportunity arises, take the chance and go to your local independent show. You may just have a little fun, see some entertaining matches, and possibly meet some legends, all for a great price. I know I did.

As The Wrestling World Turns

As a small preface to my first Wrestling4All article, I thought I’d give some of my own background. I’ve written articles for many sites (including my own), host and guest on many wrestling podcasts. We’ll get into my self-indulgence at another time.

This is about wrestling turns and moreso the current trend of turns in wrestling. Wrestlers turning (from heel to face or vice versa) is a tale as old as wrestling itself. There’s wrestlers that never turned, one way or the other. Hello, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. There’s more, but he’s a prime example.

In recent years, it seems turns happen for the sake of the turn. Usually for a crowd reaction, that to be honest, most times doesn’t resonate. Big Show, Natalya, the Bella Twins (never knowing) among many others.

A turn is supposed to be meaningful. Leave you, as a spectator aghast. Hogan being the Third Man for New World Order, Gedo turning his back on Okada, Rollins Chairshot to Dean. And so on.

As a Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox fan, mark, if you will. I wanted them to hold off a little more before the turn, or had done it at a different time, even if it was still during the Takeover show itself.

How the turn happened here made sense. It wasn’t just for the sake of “We have turn someone heel, somewhere”. Which has been happening a lot in all of wrestling in the past few years.

Final thoughts. No, I didn’t want Dakota to turn here, but I thought it worked very well.

WWE Survivor Series 2019

Some good, some really bad stuff. On to the matches

Match 1 Tag Team Battle Royal.

Good as can be expected. Won by Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler. Decent action, nothing special. 2.5 stars

Match 2 Lio Rush vs Kalisto vs Akira Tozawa.

Good action all around. They didn’t try to do too much, pretty solid overall. Lio Rush retains. 3 stars

Match 3 New Day vs Viking Raiders vs Undisputed Era.

Great tag team match, for a 3-way with 6 guys anyway. They worked to each others strengths. Did some good stuff. I don’t remember it degenerating into some nonsense with all 6 guys in the ring. Some spots to the outside, not too many. Decent match, certainly worth watching again. Viking Raiders win. 4 stars

And so ends the “pre-show” and on we go to the real show.

Match 4 Women’s 5x5x5 elimination match.

Terrible. By the time it ended, I just didn’t care one way or another. About 2 minutes into the match, we see every woman come into the ring one after another and everyone hits finishing moves, rolling to the outside. Then two of the NXT women are “hurt” and they have to go to the back, retired from the match. At one point, one of the Raw women got pinned within arm’s reach of Charlotte who was on her team. Charlotte offered no assistance, so obviously there is no team work here. A bunch more of everyone flying and running all over the place with very little purpose to the whole affair. One of the NXT women ended up in a submission from Nattie and Sasha, neither of her two teammates offered assistance even though they were plainly in view and standing on the apron. There was nothing logical about this match. Rhea Ripley, with the returning two from the lockerroom, won for NXT. No rating

Match 5 Roderick Strong vs AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura.

After the previous match, this match has to be better. It was. Roddy won after AJ hit the elbow off the top rope onto Shinsuke and then Roddy throws AJ out of the ring. Good match, for AJ vs Roddy or AJ vs Shinsuke or Roddy vs Shinsuke would probably all have been better. 3.5 stars

Match 6 Adam Cole vs Pete Dunne.

Really athletic, but not really memorable. If you like a lot of moves, check it out. Cole retains. 4 stars

Match 7 Fiend vs Daniel Bryan.

The red lights were on. That automatically destroys anything they could possibly do. Fortunately it was shorter than the last match with red lights. Whatever, with the red lights it wouldn’t have mattered if they recreated one of the Flair vs Steamboat trilogy. No rating

Match 8 Men’s 5x5x5 elimination match.

As with most elimination matches, it just buries every other match they do. Guys take flat back pins for moves that they’d kick out from normally. Match not given enough time to really play out. Finish was meh. Roman didn’t need to win, Gable or Ali would have benefited from it more. NXT looked strong. Maybe a little better than the women’s match but still just a bunch of people flying all over the place with little to no purpose. No rating

Match 9 Brock vs Rey Mysterio.

Brock wins in a squash. Rey got no offense, except when he walked the dog on Brock with the pipe. Rey’s son Dominic came to ringside, Rey hit Brock with a low blow, Dominic hit Brock with a low blow. Dom hit Brock with a chair, double 619, two frog splashes, barely a 2 count on Brock. Brock hits Rey with a single F5, match over. I think it took me longer to type this than the match lasted. 0 stars

Match 10 Bayley vs Shayna Baszler vs Becky Lynch.

Surprised they went with the women in the main event. I’d figured it would be Brock or the 5x5x5. Becky whiffed a kick outside the ring. Bayley is good as a weasel heel. Standard problem with 3 way matches, one person ends up laying around while the other two fight. Becky hit a double move, I believe a DDT on Baszler and a Scorpion Death Drop on Bayley. Crowd is dead, go figure, the show has been going since 5pm and it’s now 10:15. Baszler gets Bayley in a Samoan drop position, and walks closer to the corner so Becky can come off the top rope; nice cooperation. Baszler is stellar, better than Lynch and Bayley by far; could be a Ronda Rousey level star in WWE. Becky immobilized outside the ring, Shayna taps out Bayley. Match of the night. 4.5 stars.

Lynch gets up after the match and does a leg drop on Baszler on the announce table after the match.

The women’s 5xx5x5 match is one of the worst matches I’ve seen on a major PPV and it wasn’t even the worst match of the night. The red lights for Bray Wyatt are terrible and make the match completely unwatchable. I’m surprised they didn’t set something up with the two sets of Horsewomen. Surely they have to do that, right? They have all 8 under contract.

Not sure how to rate the show overall. The main event was one of the best women’s matches I’ve ever seen.

Overall grade….C

Thrown Into the Fire

Greetings to All.

I write this post with a sadness in my heart. The more I think about the incident regarding Jim Cornette and his “joke” on this week’s episode of Powerrr, and after reading what Cornette had to say in his podcast, I can’t help but feel like the NWA is handling this situation in a somewhat deceitful manner. This is so disappointing for me because Powerrr had made me fall in love with professional wrestling. That feels tainted now.

As Jim Cornette was the one who uttered the controversial remark, he drew the initial focus of people’s displeasure. This was not a live event though. If it had been, then Cornette would be 100% responsible. This is a show that was taped almost two months ago. The NWA bears a large amount of the responsibility for the incident. Right from the start, the NWA framed the issue around Cornette. Let’s look at NWA Vice President David Lagana’s first tweet in response to the line causing offense.

Notice how Lagana immediately puts the incident on Cornette by saying “one of our talents made comments”. Again, this is a pre-taped show. According to Cornette, the line was heard by a variety of people through Cornette’s headset. The episode then was edited by Lagana himself who left the line in. Why wasn’t this tweet phrased along the lines of “We allowed an episode to air containing an offensive line.” Jim is playing a character on a show. Even if he’s choosing his lines, he’s still doing so trying to fit a character. It was on the NWA to catch the line and realize it could be problematic. They did not.

Then came Jim Cornette’s resignation. At this point, Cornette had not even had the opportunity to give his side of things. He did not even get to announce his own resignation. The NWA did that for him.

Everything about this announcement made it seem like this was a situation where an employee was given an opportunity to bow out gracefully or be publicly fired. Depicting it that way also shifts people’s attention to Cornette and his responsibility and away from the NWA. In many of the conversations I’ve seen regarding the resignation, people have said that Cornette was fired. That isn’t the case though. Cornette quit. He quit precisely because the NWA was not going to take any accountability for what took place.

Once outrage broke out over the line, NWA was going to have to do damage control. It seems the route they chose to go was to sacrifice Cornette to save their image. This may be a shrewd business move, but that doesn’t change the bitter taste left in my mouth by all of this. The NWA should have taken more responsibility for this and worked with Cornette to handle public reaction. Instead they lost a great announcer and someone who many fans felt was the only link between the old NWA and its current iteration. A sad situation all around and one that I do not know if the NWA will ever answer for.

Until We Meet Again,
Bryan Anthony

Rein Him In or Cut Him Loose

***Update: This post was made prior to the announcement that Jim Cornette has resigned from the NWA***

Greetings to All!

Oh Jim Cornette.

Yesterday, almost immediately after airing, episode 7 of NWA Powerrr was removed from the NWA’s YouTube and Facebook pages. NWA Vice President David Lagana tweeted out this explanation.

It doesn’t take much guesswork to figure out which talent was behind the offensive comments.

Jim Cornette has never been one to be careful about if his words offend anyone. It’s a big part of his wrestling persona. He’s already caused some controversy recently with remarks that were interpreted to be a joke about suicide. I, personally, was bothered by a comment he made about hanging a picture of Thunder Rosa in prisons to scare sex offenders. This time around it was a comment that many perceived as racist that has created a swift backlash.

I won’t reprint the comment here, you can see it elsewhere if you haven’t read it by now. It certainly was a risky joke and when I heard it, I knew that it was going to ruffle some feathers. That was a bit of an understatement on my part.

I had heard people state that they would not watch Powerrr with their kids because of some of the things Cornette says but now it looks like he might be driving away adult viewers too. This is a problem for a company that’s trying to raise itself up from obscurity.

The reason this is NWA’s problem and not Jim Cornette’s is because Powerrr is not live TV. This was an edited taped episode. That means that NWA reviewed this episode and allowed it to go to air without anyone saying “We need to edit this line out”. It’s been questioned by some if NWA were aware that this would offend people and went ahead anyway in order to generate a buzz. There’s the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad press. I suppose there’s some truth to that, but if that’s the case then it’s a risky move.

The fact of the matter is that if you want to appeal to the widest possible audience, you have to take into account the culture of society. There was a time in our society where if you were too progressive, you would alienate large amounts of your audience. When Ellen came out as a lesbian on her sitcom, there was a huge drop in viewership which ended up leading to the show’s cancellation. Outrage culture is really nothing new, it’s just the things that people get outraged about have changed.

In 2019, a company should really know better than to let a line like this make it to air. If the NWA is trying to only appeal to a niche audience, that’s one thing, but I don’t think that’s the case here. Jim Cornette is never going to stop saying controversial things. It’s who he is. The NWA needs to figure out who they want to be. It’s 2019, not 1986, they can’t be old school about everything. If they want to continue to grow their brand and reach a wide audience then they’re going to need to rein in Cornette’s extreme tendencies, or they need to cut him loose.

Until We Meet Again,
Bryan Anthony

Our Community. Our Voice. Our Passion.

Greetings to All!

To begin this entry, let me take you back two years to the beginning of my career as a teacher. The week before school started, there was an orientation for all teachers that were new to the school. That school year, my school had a lot of turnover so there were approximately twenty teachers new to the school. At the beginning of school years, teachers like to do ice breaker activities with classes as a way to get to know students and get them to know each other. Well, they make us teachers participate in ice breaker activities all the time. In this orientation, they did one ice breaker where we were all seated in a circle with a person in the middle, and one less chair than people. The person in the middle makes the statement “My name is… and I like…” and then whoever else likes what you like has to stand up and then everyone has to rush to a seat and whoever is left standing is the new person in the middle. So it was my turn in the middle and I say “My name is Bryan and I like professional wrestling.” Out of around twenty people in this circle, not a single soul stood. I was alone.

After I was thoroughly embarrassed and the ice breaker activity was over, one of the other new teachers came over to me. He says to me “Sorry, man. I watch wrestling too.” He didn’t want to admit to it in front of a bunch of new people though. When no one stood up, he felt too embarrassed to be the only one who would stand up. I gave him some grief for leaving me hanging there, but really, I understood. I think anyone who has been a professional wrestling fan for a while has some sort of similar feelings.

I’ll get back to that. In our last entry, James W Law III reflected on the toxic fandom that we can see sometimes among wrestling fans. In response to that article, some people brought up that the toxic behavior among fans was not quite new. It was mentioned that it changed from fans stabbing each other at shows back in the territory days to fans calling each other names on social media. I’m not going to get into whether or not fans are worse today or not, but the discussion did get me thinking. It got me thinking about the role social media plays in professional wrestling and professional wrestling fans.

When we think of the effect social media on professional wrestling, like with many other aspects of our lives, we think of the negative effects it has. As you’re reading this, you might be thinking of a particular incident where you’ve shared your opinion of Facebook or Twitter only to have a bunch of people tell you how stupid you are or call you names. This toxic fandom is certainly a problem but I would challenge the notion that social media has been more negative than positive for professional wrestling.

The first and foremost reason I believe social media has been a positive force is that, as I was telling my student Joshua earlier (sorry, made a promise to name drop him in my blog), social media has given fans a voice like never before. Before social media, wrestling fans really only had one way to affect change in the industry, either voicing disapproval at live events or not tuning in to the show on TV. Sure, this had an effect every now and then; the example that comes to my mind is the fans not getting behind the white meat babyface Rocky Maivia which led to us getting one of the most entertaining characters to ever step into a ring, The Rock.

However, outside of those few things, fans mostly just had to take what was given to them. Especially since, as a portion of the population we’re fairly small and spread out so there was no way to assemble for change. Social media changed all of that. Suddenly fans were able to connect with each other, share their feelings and ideas. Fans realized they were not alone with their complaints. They formed communities online. They made their displeasure known and it didn’t take long before the decision makers started to listen.

While WWE eventually incorporated the YES Movement into storyline, it began on the internet with hardcore fans wanting equal opportunities for everyone based on their talent, not just their connections. The fans spoke and WWE listened. This led to WWE paying more attention to the wrestlers that fans liked outside of WWE. We went from an era of mostly homegrown WWE talent to getting fan favorites from lesser known promotions being showcased on the international stage. It was a monumental shift. It wasn’t the last that social media would bring about.

With one simple hashtag in 2015, fans were able to take women’s wrestling from an afterthought to the main event. It cannot be understated how big of a deal the #GiveDivasAChance hashtag was for the wrestling world. Great women’s wrestling had of course been showcased elsewhere for years, but it was mostly unknown. That all changed as more people began to see that women could perform just as well as the men. Gone were the days of women’s wrestling being associated with models who were more apt to compete in a swimsuit competition than a professional wrestling match. We, as fans, did that with our voice.

The state of wrestling in 2019 is a direct result of social media. AEW exists because there were enough people who voiced their desire for an alternative on the mainstream level. I believe NWA Powerrr would probably not exist if it weren’t for Billy Corgan taking notice of the market for a show catered to old school fans expressing their distaste for the modern style. Without social media, Puro fans… well you all don’t have much too complain about, this post isn’t for you. The point is there are more options to watch now than ever before because we as fans got online and asked for them. That is the power of social media.

For my other reason for believing in the positive effect of social media, let’s go back to the story we started off with. I really did understand why the other teacher didn’t want to admit to being a wrestling fan. Any adult professional wrestling fan I’m sure can relate to the “you know it’s fake” response when admitting to being a fan. Wrestling fans are few and far between. The only places we really congregate in person at are live events and conventions. It can be lonely being a wrestling fan. Social media, however, brings wrestling fans together.

Without social media, I would not have been able to create the Wrestling 4 All Facebook group and connect with some really great fans from around the world. That also means I wouldn’t have started this blog as a place for those same fans to write about their reflections on this art form that we all love so much. Through what is sometimes disdainfully referred to as the Internet Wrestling Community, I have met some truly wonderful people and developed some good friendships.

I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve interacted with people who have created lifelong bonds with fans they met over the internet who they then went on to meet in real life. People have connected and found love through their interactions discussing wrestling on social media. That is a real powerful force. Yes, it can be negative at times, but how can we let that diminish what social media has brought to wrestling fans? The ability to come together, no matter where we are in the world, and share our love for this whacky thing we call professional wrestling is to me the most amazing thing that could have happened for wrestlings fans.

Let’s try to appreciate it, okay?

Until we meet again,
Bryan Anthony