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  1. I'm just speculating but my guess is they're waiting on 4 questions - Can we get the Rock? Can we get Brock? Can we get Cena? Can Rollins come back for a match? And maybe a 5th in whether they can get Edge. I'm not sure if Rousey is ever coming back.
  2. I've never seen this full show and based on the reviews of Danielson/Gibson, this isn't even the match of the night, but boy did I like it. From my blog review of the ROH Greatest Rivalries DVD... Jimmy Rave vs. AJ Styles with Mick Foley as the Ringside Enforcer (given this role to neutralize Prince Nana on the outside) is next from September 2005. Rave goes right after his ex-mentor, but AJ comes right back with some fiery offense. There's no referee for this match because it is being fought under the stipulation that a winner can only be declared if they hit their finish - the Styles Clash or Jimmy Rave's version of it (the Rave Clash). Styles goes for the Clash early but Rave crawls out to the outside. I like Styles' intensity - this is the type of no-nonsense tone that fans wanted to see him bring to his feud with Samoa Joe years ago. The commentators note that this was Foley's final night in Ring of Honor, but don't mention that he was probably already gearing up for a return to the WWE in 2006 where he'd add a pair of great matches to his resume against Edge and then, teaming with Edge, against Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer. A mysterious run-in causes a shift in the match and Rave takes over, eliciting a loud "Die Jimmy Die" chant. Rave hits a nice reverse suplex to maintain control but gets momentarily distracted by an un-PG comment from Foley on the house mic. To the outside they go where Rave sends Styles into the barricade repeatedly. They fight up to the entrance and Rave attempts a Rave Clash but Styles counters with a back drop. Back in the ring, Rave crotches Styles on the top rope and looks to be fully in control. Rave looks to try the Clash again, but AJ counters with an eziguiri. Both guys attempt German Suplex and we get a nice sequence that ends with a headscissors takedown and then into yet another stunning sequence of counters and suplexes ending in Rave's Gonorrhea move. Rave grabs a table (which is legal in this match) and slides it into the table with help from Nana. I really like Styles' attention to detail here. Obviously they're building to a table spot, but Styles doesn't just let it happen, trying to prevent Rave from positioning the thing at every turn. Styles and Rave again trade suplex attempts, neither guy giving up anything easy. This match feels and looks tiring, like a genuine fight, each sequence transitioning seamlessly into the next and feeling organic. They end up on the top rope, teasing something big and both men end up crashing through nearby table in a heap. Simple but effective stuff. This is the opposite of "my move/your move" bullshit. Styles goes for a piledriver back in the ring, but Rave escapes and hits a nasty knee strike to the face. He sets up a chair and attempts a brainbuster on it, but AJ counters it and drops him chest-first onto it the chair instead. That's gotta hurt. Styles sets up the table but out comes a gaggle of masked wrestlers! Foley neutralizes them but gets hit from behind by Prince Nana. Rave lands a vicious lariat and is the last man standing. Rave sets AJ up in the corner for a superplex through the table but AJ won't budge and instead turns it into a Styles Clash through the table! Holy Shit! This one is over. And to add a cherry on top, Mick Foley hits the DDT on the steel chair to Prince Nana! Mick Foley goes on to cut a promo praising the company. That was a fantastic match. Top, top shelf. (4.5/5)
  3. Yea, I'm going to second El-P on this. I found her matches with Banks, Becky, Charlotte, Naomi, and the Mania match against Nia Jax to be all quite good. And I totally get the argument that, given the same opportunities, a more experienced, more technically skilled wrestler might have performed the same exact gimmick and gotten it over even more, but its not quite fair to judge the reality (Alexa Bliss) against some hypothetical version of it that they could've done with Emma or Candice LeRae or whatever other wrestler with a similar look/gimmick. Now this shit right here, though, it just seems off by a little. I like her commitment and I do think there was, inititally, some interesting avenues to explore with Bliss and Bray Wyatt...but like most things with Bray, it strikes me that they had half an idea and then ran with it. We're now months into this weird alliance and it has steadily become less interesting. Adding her character into the mix should've meant a raising of the stakes, a new wrinkle to the mystique, or a way for Wyatt to terrorize the company in all new ways - which is what I think they meant to happen but thought they could skip steps along the way and hope that Alexa on a swing would count as character development.
  4. I was kinda surprised not to see any reviews of this match as this seems like the kind of match people would have opinions about. Anyway, I watched it via the Bloodstained Honor DVD (that I somehow got from the Cleveland Public Library, which is its own kind of awesome). I'm guessing that people who were watching ROH regularly might be even higher on this match because of the build-up and knowledge of the characters, their motivations, reputations, etc. Watching this "cold" with only a tiny bit of knowledge of the match, I still really enjoyed it for what it was... This one starts before a bell can even be rung, Cabana going right after Homicide (literally chasing him to the ring from the back). Its a start to a match that one would think had happened hundreds of times before but...well..it was new to me. Good brawling to start, both guys not bothering with restholds and just trying to punish each other any way they can. Cabana gets sent into the post and then barricade and ends up busted open. Homicide shows his nastiness by digging his nail into the cut for a gruesome visual. Homicide then tosses a chair into his face before bashing him with part of the barricade. Cabana gets bashed with a chair again but refuses to quit, leading Homicide to slide into his skull even more with a shaving razor! Homicide then sends him into the barricade propped in the corner and, man, this is a serious ass-whupping. Cabana gets back onto his feet, though, eventually striking with some chest chops before getting poked in the eye. Cabana is really channeling Tommy Dreamer here with this attitude, just refusing to stay down despite Homicide's dominance. After another flurry of hope offense, Homicide lands a tornado DDT and then applies a ridiculous single-leg boston crab with the arm tied up too! That does not look comfortable at all. Homicide goes after the ref as the crowd begins to demand tables. After bashing Cabana with another chair shot, Homicide goes to the top for a splash but Cabana rolls away. Cabana attempts a powerbomb but Homicide escapes so he has to settle for a clothesline and then a choke and a scoop slam. Cabana attempts a moonsault but Homicide rolls away and catches him with a lariat. Homicide applies the camel clutch before getting tossed a coathanger by his right-hand man Julius Smokes. Homicide uses the coat hanger to choke out Cabana, the ref forced to end the match as the crowd boos. Cabana crawls his way to the ropes, though, and demands for the match to continue, telling Mr. 187 that he'll need to kill him to end this. Homicide comes back to the ring and they trade blows but Cabana can't maintain control, cut off by a neckbreaker. Cabana damages Homicide's shoulder and continues his assault on it, fully aware that this is Homicide's weak point. At one point, he even bites the thing! Cabana attempts to use a chair, but Smokes stops him and Homicide regains control. At this point, Homicide, Smokes, and Ricky Reyes (I think?) tie up Cabana in the corner and unload on him, Homicide tossing yet another chair into his face. After Homicide does it again, the referee once again ends the match and the crowd chants "He's Not Dead." Again Cabana demands Homicide return to the ring and finish him off. Cabana gets some offense in and even fights off Smokes for a bit, but eventually falls prey to a ridiculous piledriver through a table that looks like a legit crippling. This match is not going to be every's cup of tea, but I really liked the story and the escalation of violence from beginning to end. All the character work was brilliant. I loved the creative start to the match and the insane lengths Homicide had to go to finally put Cabana out. (4.5/5)
  5. DMJ

    Wrestling Bookers

    My answer has to be a guy who I don't think would ever have any interest in being a real coach/booker/agent but, for my dollar, is the most spot-on guy I've heard talk at length about wrestling: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. You can go back to his podcasts from 4-5 years ago and he sounds like he'd fit in right here on this board. Whether it was asking "What is a Seth Rollins?" (I think it was only in his last run that we finally saw a legit answer to that question) or his regular post-PPV analyses with Wade Keller, his takes were always really good and, more than anything, constructive. Like, he'd criticize a match or say he didn't like something - but give a valid explanation for where it went wrong, what they could've done to fix it, where a guy or gal needed to...pause...for a beat...to get the audience back or bring the match to a higher gear. And unlike Shawn or Triple H, Austin's answer was usually something subtle like a small smirk, a look over the shoulder, a small gesture, not forced histrionics. As much as I've loved Roman Reigns' latest run, for example, I'm not sure I like guys crying in the ring as a high spot. Again, I don't think Austin has any interest whatsoever in having any sort of office job. He's got plenty of money and I don't think he feels there are any unfulfilled tasks or goals in the business. He's just a fan now and clearly a fan that still watches stuff, not just WWE, for enjoyment semi-regularly. But yeah, in some alternate reality where Austin really was paralyzed after SummerSlam 97' and then just became a backstage producer, I'm guessing he'd have been very, very good.
  6. DMJ

    Winning streaks - good or bad?

    This actually came up on reddit, but one (the only?) answer is Mick Foley. I'd consider him a legit main event babyface for a stretch and his most famous matches were all losses - except the time he won the World Championship. But, yeah, mostly lost to Taker, mostly lost to Austin, mostly lost to The Rock, mostly lost to Triple H. Was still probably a top 2-3 babyface in the company at his peak that main evented multiple PPVs. I don't remember him ever getting "hot" and winning a bunch of matches in a row.
  7. I saw Hogan/Flair at MSG in the early 90s, but because I was only 7-8 years old, I don't really remember it. The matches I actually remember well and really enjoying were... - The Hardys vs. Edge & Christian ladder match at No Mercy 99'. I was 15 for that. - Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno for Cleveland All-Pro Wrestling in 04' or 05' (I think)? Not the world's greatest match or anything, but what was cool about it was the atmosphere. Either before the match or after, Rhyno came on the mic and said it was their first time wrestling eachother and called Joe the future of the business or something along those lines. It was a cool moment and, like lots of things that happened around then with Joe/Punk/Bryan/AJ, felt like wrestling fans were on the verge of an "indie revolution" that one could argue didn't actually really come into fruition for another 15-16 years. - Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper at TLC 2014. I haven't rewatched it, but I remember lots of praise for this one when it happened, not sure if it holds up. This was another one where atmosphere was a factor. Ziggler is a Cleveland guy - even if he's billed from Hollywood, Florida, or whatever - so he had the crowd behind him 100% and this was the opening contest of the show, so the audience was very much into it. - Steve Austin defeats Kane to win the WWE Championship on RAW (6/29/98). Not a great match, but man, that building was so red hot for Austin. I was at Quicken Loans/Gund Arena/whatever for Hogan's return in 06' and for the Rock's in 2012 (I'm just guessing on these years) and both guys got standing ovations that just wouldn't end...but, seriously, the most over wrestler I've ever seen has to be Austin in 98'. I feel bad for wrestling fans of today who are too young to have witnessed Austin at his peak. He really was so damn over that you could have the highest rated show on cable just by having him appear and do shtick for 25 out of 120 minutes.
  8. DMJ

    Winning streaks - good or bad?

    "Winning streaks" are generally good. Whether you're a newcomer or a veteran or whatever in between, going on a hot streak is a way the company can get behind you and get the fans behind you too. Goldberg's streak wasn't ended very well, but as was discussed in that thread, that was a booking mistake. A clean DDP victory would've put DDP over huge and been a legit shocker. Kevin Nash was over. The finish to their Starrcade match was seriously overbooked, but, in theory, you could've given Nash either the clean win via Jacknife after Goldberg spears the post (which would've been lame) or just had a single, unexpected distraction. It's been forever since I watched 98' WCW, but what if Hogan had come out instead of Disco, Bigelow, and Hall? What if Hogan comes out and the announcers ask aloud what side is he on, distracts Goldberg, and then we find out he's been in kahoots with Nash? You could still even do the Fingerpoke of Doom the next night if you're deadset on putting the belt back on Hulk. In this scenario, you end Starrcade with Goldberg losing - but the bigger story being about Hogan's return (?) and possible nWo reunion. Tatanka, well...as the OP said, he was mildly popular in 92' and 93', but it was a one-note gimmick put on an average-at-best wrestler. They never went anywhere with it because there really wasn't anywhere to go with it. Do you really wanna see Tatanka any higher up the card than he was? So, to me, having him get squashed by Yoko (though I guess I misremembered and always thought Borga ended the streak), made perfect sense. Yoko got a signature win and you're not really losing anything because Tatanka was not good enough to ever be more than a midcard act. More recently, I think Ryback benefitted from coming in, squashing jobbers and working his way up the card with an undefeated streak. When he did eventually lose to CM Punk (?) - by interference, IIRC - he still felt like a guy that could become a legit World Champion one day. Similarly, I don't know if the Ultimate Warrior's first 6-8 months in the WWE were all wins, but I'm guessing they were. Ditto for the Undertaker (who probably went even longer without a pinfall loss). It all comes down to the booking. The opposite of winning streaks is what we have now (wins/losses don't matter, NXT callups being treated like they're "rookies") - and nobody is getting over. They constantly have to rebuild guys. Remember, last year at this time, many of us were eyerolling about the bland, personality-less former Dolph Ziggler henchman rumored to be winning the Rumble after never being portrayed as a top guy.
  9. DMJ

    WWE TV 04/01 - 10/01 Steph Curry is sensational

    Absolutely. If he is going to squash somebody at Mania, let him do it to somebody who can "afford" the loss like Baron Corbin. I know there are actually people who dig Corbin and while I don't necessarily see much in him, I will say this - he gets the exact right kind of heat and is the right kind of heel that you can see him get speared, eat a flash pin, and still come out the next night and go back to being the cocky, arrogant jerk that fans will accept can give Big E or Drew a run for their money in a TV match. I know Vince would never just willfully "go small," but if there was ever a year to punt and put on a show that would build for the future, this would be it. I mean, does Mania really draw that many new subscribers ever year to warrant further more hail marys that haven't stopped any of the hemorrhaging of viewership? When attendance is capped at a third, if not less, of capacity? I mean, they've got good things going with Roman and Jey. They've got Big E heating up. At the start of 2020, I was adamant about Drew not being able to "be the guy," but when he hasn't been tripped up by poor booking (why again did he drop the title to Orton?), he's turned me around and I see him as a top guy (or what passes for one in 2021). Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles have quietly been putting in some very good work. Sami Zayn. The Hurt Business. Everytime The New Day seem like they've run out of fire, they find a way to stay relevant (like by giving The Street Profits the best match of their career at TLC). Then you've got the Women's Division - Charlotte's back, Banks and Carmella had a great match at TLC, Bianca Belair is ready for a spotlight, the team of Nia and Baszler was delivering. Asuka and Bayley had pretty solid 2020s too. And this is before we mention Keith Lee or Jeff Hardy or Sheamus or Rey Mysterio or Kevin Owens or even the fucking Fiend and Randy Orton. If you can't produce a decent WrestleMania with that roster, you deserve to get dunked on by fans and called incompetent.
  10. From my blog... UnCenSored 98' Review "Bret Hart takes on Curt Hennig next. While this pales in comparison to their matches at SummerSlam 91' and the first King of the Ring PPV, its still worth watching for fans of either guy...I particularly like Rude's consistent involvement and Hart's resiliency and focus - this is Bret doing the Bret of 92'-96' in front of a 1998 crowd that had moved on from that type of storytelling, which makes it an interesting watch, even if it isn't the best bout of the night. Above-average based on their chemistry alone, but certainly a step down in terms of heat from what Bret had done with Austin, Michaels, and Undertaker in the WWE a half-year earlier. (3.5/5)" Souled Out 98' Review "In his in-ring debut for WCW, Bret Hart take on Ric Flair next. Promoted as a dream match but not delivering on the hype, this is a match with a bunch of great ideas but an unfortunately stilted pace. At this point, Flair is at least 4-5 years removed from the end of the his peak and it shows in every labored sequence. Hart, meanwhile, comes into this match off a run in WWE where, like Flair to some degree, his bread-and-butter was his character more than his ring work...The perennial underdog who bested Flair in 92' didn't exist anymore, but, in WCW, Hart was not a full-fledged heel either (as he had been in WWE). It makes for a match that should be wrought with emotion (and the build certainly was) come off as less remarkable, the live crowd not nearly as engrossed in the action as they likely would've been had Hart been more sympathetic or Flair had been booked as a stronger figure in the months before this feud. Now, other writers have taken a different view of the match - including Dave Meltzer (who gave it 3.75 stars in the Observer - but I wasn't taken aback by anything aside from the closing 3-4 minutes (the match goes a lengthy 18). (3/5)" Slamboree 98' Review "... Bret Hart vs. Randy Savage with Roddy Piper as special guest referee. The storyline coming into this match is that, weeks prior, Hart helped secure Hulk Hogan the WCW World Championship on Nitro (joining nWo Hollywood in the process). Much more of a back-and-forth brawl than one might've predicted, Savage's offense has whittled away into jabs at this point, but when Hart does take control, he goes straight for Macho's knee in order to weaken him for the Sharpshooter. Compared to what he'd been doing in WCW previously as a face, seeing him back to working heel is surprisingly good - Hart had mastered the art in 97' ...he's far more engaging than he was as a face against Curt Hennig and Flair. Hart hits a delicious piledriver and than makes a cocky cover before arguing with Hot Rod and the fans for a minute. Workers of today would be wise to watch Hart work as a villain - he does an excellent job of getting across the idea that, at any point, he can win this match, but is too distracted by the fans, by Piper, by his own arrogant attitude that he makes mistakes leading to brief Savage comebacks. Bret locks in the Sharpshooter, but Savage somehow reverses it as Elizabeth shows up. Piper tells her to get out of the ring.... Low blow from Hart and then a ref bump, the match devolving into new levels of overbooking. Hogan shows up and the fix is in, Savage tapping to the Sharpshooter. (3/5)" Looking back at my own reviews, these do seem to contradict what I initially wrote about Bret not having good performances in WCW. If anything, these point to him being the best part of some very overbooked, ill-conceived storylines!
  11. As long as we're bringing up booking, I'm noticing nobody is even bothering to mention Bret's WCW run... I think that's another point to Bryan. He's been able to be a highlight of the WWE for about 10 years despite the show being, as a whole, nearly as bad or equally as bad as WCW was in 98'-99'. Meanwhile, in 98'-99', Bret didn't add much to his resume. When you look at the list of opponents, there are the makings of some good matches in 98' - Flair, Hennig, Savage, Malenko, Finlay, DDP...Is there any match from WCW not against Benoit that has really ever been considered top tier for the Hitman?
  12. I'm probably a bigger Bret fan and am admittedly not super knowledgable about much of Bryan's work on the indies/Japan, but I'm still leaning towards Bryan here. To me, its a tough comparison because of the major differences in era, but I'll give Bryan the edge because of the duration of his career and the heel reinvention in 2018/2019. In other categories, it is really close. Someone mentioned that Bret didn't have the same caliber of opponent that Bryan has had and I'm not sure how true that is. First, I think its fair to say that the base level of talent and skill has gone up since the 80s and 90s. Second, if we're just talking WWE, yes, Bret Hart didn't have the luxury of having extended programs with a Sheamus or CM Punk, but its not like Daniel Bryan didn't also have some really good matches against The Miz, Kane (yeah, I'll say it - their Extreme Rules match was fun), Mark Henry, Bray Wyatt, and even Big Cass. Bryan has had the luxury of working with some of the best ever, but its not like he's had nothing but GOAT opponents. Would Bret have put on amazing matches against Lesnar, Styles, Cena, Reigns, and Kofi? Probably...but that's hypothetical. Plus, I think the idea of Bret having to "carry" so many other "lesser" workers is a bit inflated. Diesel had natural presence and power and carried his end of the match. Ditto for Taker. Bam Bam Bigelow could go. Bulldog had skill, power, and experience. Lawler and Piper knew how to make fans care. Yes, Bret also had plenty of TV matches against absolute stiffs, but what was the expectation there? Maybe a 5-minute match to throw on a random episode of Action Zone? For the most part, when Bret had to put on a great PPV match, his opponent was someone that could either keep up with him physically and technically - Perfect, Owen, Bulldog, Shawn, or Austin - or someone who was a strong enough persona that the juxtaposition of size/style played to Bret's strengths anyway (Diesel, Taker, Bigelow, Lawler). So I just don't buy the narrative that Bret had to make lemonade out of lemons all the time. Off the top of my head, I feel like Bret's worst "big" matches were against Yankem, Razor Ramon, and IRS and, unsurprisingly, these three guys are probably on the Mount Rushmore of Shit Matches. (I love Scott Hall's mic skills and swag, but yeah, not a great resume.)
  13. DMJ

    AEW Dynamite - December 30, 2020

    Just chiming in to say that if you're not done feeling some feels, I implore you to listen to the full Tom Waits album Closing Time (the song used in the Brodie Lee tribute, "Ol' 55" is from there). A stunningly beautiful, sad, and uplifting album that got me through a rough patch in 2004/2005 when I was given a burned copy of it by a friend. I know it is really stupid and petty but I almost feel bad for the WWE people who have to create a tribute video. They obviously have more footage, more pictures, and all, but as far as soundtracks go, AEW nailed it so hard that there is no nailing left to be done. A timeless, classic song from a legendary idiosyncratic musical artist befitting an unforgettable, multi-talented wrestler and, by all accounts, person. Having their video soundtracked by a nu-metal band's version of a "ballad" will almost be insulting in comparison. (For example, Eddie's tribute video was soundtracked by 3 Doors Down because I'm guessing they couldn't find the right Puddle of Mudd or Hoobastank song. Yuck.)
  14. DMJ

    Bruce Mitchell Drama

    I'd have to imagine, as others have pointed out, that Meltzer is well aware of how toxic Bruce is right now and, even if he was a reporter and not a columnist, I'm guessing most of his sources are going to steer clear of him right now too. Plus, what sources would Mitchell have that Meltzer wouldn't? And if Dave wanted to bring in a columnist to share their opinion in longform columns, he could probably find someone as good, with as much knowledge, with as good writing skill on this very forum - and not cost himself any subscribers in the process. If there was once the feeling that no articulate, self-respecting writer would ever cover pro-wrestling, that died at least a decade and a half ago. In fact, to me, the real missing piece is a centralized hub where quality writers can converge to share their longform opinions/columns that isn't a cesspool of Bray Wyatt fanfic and repetitive "They Should Push ____" rants. Basically The Ringer but for wrestling and with the option for fan-submitted content that was vetted/edited. Does anyone know if this was Mitchell's main source of income? Not to say he didn't deserve to be fired because I think he did, but, I'm just curious considering that major newspapers are downsizing and putting lots and lots of reporters/columnists on the unemployment line.
  15. Just saw this again for the first time since it aired. I enjoyed it more than the reviewer above, but wouldn't call it a "must see." What does stand out, though, is just how much effort Jeff Hardy is giving here. He had just come back to the company from an extended "hiatus" as JR calls it and I'm guessing there was some hesitancy in bringing him back considering his long history of "personal demons." Well, this match is why you hire Jeff Hardy back. The audience loves him, he takes ridiculous bumps that pop the crowd and make his opponent look way more impressive and deadly than they really are, and he still comes out like a star in a loss. At this time, Johnny Nitro and Melina were a rising act with potential. They never actually exceeded their initial burst of being interesting, though. After a few months, they were exposed as a one-dimensional couple because neither was particularly great beyond their cosmetic appeal and athleticism (which were undoubtedly off the charts but not enough to make them "The Next Edge & Lita," which was maybe an impossible and dumb role to fill anyway considering Edge and Lita still had plenty of gas in the tank). Nitro would get to show more of his personality when he got paired with The Miz and has since proven that there is some natural likability (I won't say charisma) in there. He's handsome, he's still a crazy good athlete, he can be funny, but his personality is easygoing and chill - not exactly something that, even when you raise it to 11, pops off the screen. I'm re-watching this show because I saw it ranked very highly on a list of best PPVs of the 2000s. In terms of opening matches, I'd say this absolutely got the already-amped crowd even more excited. Maybe a bit long at 17 minutes but, then again, the action is good, there are some believable near falls, and both guys brought their A game. Would it have been better to shave off a couple minutes and give them to Spirit Squad and The Highlanders? I don't think so. 3.5 out of 5.