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  1. At the time this felt like one of those rare instances where WWE actually presented a dream match. These two had been kept apart from the time they both ascended to the top of Raw & Smackdown during the build to Mania 21 which made for a truly fresh match. Even with Taker/Edge in a Cell, this still seemed like the real draw at the show. They didn't disappoint, working an oddly compact match in under 14 minutes that's a virtual sprint compared with some main event matches today. They work a basic power match with lariats, powerbombs and slams for Batista while Cena is constantly looking for the FU. A neat wrinkle along the way is Batista borrowing a page from Flair's book as he clips the knee, goes to a kneebreaker and then actually breaks out the Figure-Four. What I loved here is how simple this was. Basic transitions borrowed from the Horsemen like a kick to the gut. Yeah, we had finishers teased throughout but they weren't spammed. They maintained a solid pace as there were no real rest spots or killing clock for anyone to regain their wind, but at the same time they let everything sink in. Every shot and offensive maneuver was allowed to breathe so that its impact registered. One legit false finish at the end on the powerbomb where Batista caught Cena coming off the top for his legdrop that absolute absolutely popped the crowd, and made the finish that followed thereafter all the more satisfying. Still amazing that this was a 100% clean job, although Cena didn't look at all the worse for wear coming out of a match that felt like stage 1 in a prolonged feud. Perhaps Cena's injury had something to do with that but they wouldn't return to it until 2010 when Batista was a true heel. Great, simple match with no real waste. ****
  2. So this is the era of the bastardization of the gimmick. A yearly PPV. The "right to fight the champ at Mania", which also weakened the Rumble. Two matches a card. And this one has the major sin or all : it's boring. Taker & Batista to start which is odd since they are the two biggest star. It's not very good, really. Not a huge fan of MMA Taker and the more I see of him the less I think of him. Things actually pick up when Mabel gets in. They say that Matt Striker is his "handler", which is not racist at all. Man, pro-wrestling needs a fat as fuck giant tomorrow. Plus he can do shit and it actually gets better thanks to him. Sadly he gets eliminated. Well, that will end up being the most fun part of the match to me. Great Khali. Gaawwwd. This guy is bad. Freakish, but really. More than two minutes are two much. Well, he's gone too. Finlay gets in and the match goes nowhere. Finlay is overrated BTW. He's a super solid worker. Kinda like Bob Holly, ya know. Can't get over either. I really begin to fall asleep watching this. MVP. Great gimmick. Taker fucks him up before he can get out, which is as much of a storyline you'll get. More boring acting until MVP gets thrown off a cell. Really, who thought any of these guys except Taker or Batista could win ? Man, Hornswoggle got into the chamber to pass the stupid baton to Finlay. That's what this match needs, silly shit. Finlay out soon. Takes a hideous bump on the steel, which Cole calls 'concrete'. Yeah, the announcing has sunk too at this point. So it's Taker vs Batista working the ending sequence of a Mania self-conscious epic, with finisher kick outs and reversals. How much can I blame Taker for this way of working BTW ? It's just not very good, although the final reversal using the ropes does look cool. Well. Best sequence was thanks to Big Daddy V. Best worker... well, no one shined, really. Boring match from start to finish. I'd call it the worst EC match because although the ECW one was terrible overall, it had its fun moments and crazy bumps. This was Taker vs Batista working a boring, plodding match while bodies served as distraction. Bastardization, like I said.
  3. (Disclaimer: These reviews written in March 2014.) Getting ready for NOLA, so here are three matches I've never watched before. Unforgiven 2002 WWE Title Match Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker This won't get a special star rating for me, but that didn't matter. The story both told was very good. Rare is it to see Taker get manhandled. On the other hand, Lesnar had been established as a legitimate bad-ass, wiping through everyone, so it meant something for Taker to manhandle him in return. The fuck finish shouldn't have been on a $35-40 PPV event, but I understood the story here. Undertaker in a September PPV main event that has a fuck finish, leading to a HIAC main event for the October PPV. Sounds familiar. No Mercy 2002 WWE Title - Hell in a Cell Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker With this match taking place in Little Rock, I wonder how many in the SEC region will have been blessed to see both this and the upcoming WrestleMania XXX match in NOLA live. Going into this, Lesnar had broken Taker's hand with a propane tank, so the Dead Man was permitted to wear the cast, which played as both a gift and a curse for him. Taker, furious over Lesnar and Paul Heyman prying into his personal life, of course used the cast to dominate the former National Wrestling Champion early. Lesnar took a fucking beating in this one. However, he was able to return this beating tenfold, working on Taker's broken hand. It's a very, very, very rare sight to see Undertaker be put in a position in which he has to deliver hope spots, but he was fantastic here in doing so. He really had the crowd behind him, while the WWE Champion did a great job in making sure Taker was sympathetic. But Taker wouldn't go down without a fight, showing primal instinct and fighting off Lesnar to prevent the cast from being torn off. Lesnar eventually was successful in removing it, going right to work on the bare hand of the Phenom, which felt odd to see since Taker wears gloves in every match. I also loved Taker grabbing Heyman by the tie through a hole in the Cell, bouncing him on the grating steel until the former ECW owner bled. That showed what Heyman was willing to sacrifice to make sure his meal ticket Lesnar could get time to recuperate and gain an advantage. And speaking of blood, holy shit there was a fuckton in this match. Not only was there a moment in which Taker was down on his knees to gasp for breath, his crimson face pouring buckets of blood on the mat (I'm sure Jay Briscoe had to have gotten that idea for his ROH cage match against Samoa Joe from this), but as the match came to its conclusion, his blood was just dripping everywhere, including different parts of Lesnar's body. It was like Undertaker's head/face was a broken faucet. Absolutely fucking disgusting, and yet beautiful to watch unfold. What a finish too, with Taker about to hit a Tombstone, but likely dazed from the all the punishment and blood loss, losing balance to Lesnar, the WWE Champion then hoisting the WWE icon on his shoulders and dropping him for an F5 to bring this classic to an end. A phenomenal Hell in a Cell match that defines the genre, just drenching with storytelling and psychology. We're in for a treat at the Superdome. ****1/4 SmackDown! - October 4, 2003 Brock Lesnar & John Cena vs. Undertaker & Kurt Angle This was a good TV main event, nothing all that special, which was just fine. The majority of the match was Lesnar being a bitch, while he and Cena took turns on Angle. Taker was great when he got the hot tag, a house of fire going back-and-forth on the heels. The most memorable spot of the match by far was when Taker gave Lesnar a big boot to knock him out of the ring. Unfortunately, Lesnar fell like he was diving into a swimming pool, appearing to hit the floor headfirst. No wonder the dude got away from WWE so quickly. ***1/4
  4. Grimmas


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  5. C.S.

    The Warlord

    Since someone mentioned The Warlord in the Zeamen thread, here goes... Influence: Was Batista's favorite wrestler. Batista is a former World Champion. The Warlord indirectly influenced a future WrestleMania main eventer. If we were talking about Bruno Sammartino, Terry Funk, or some other "favorite," everyone would be praising them for being influential. So, why not Warlord? He deserves his piece of the pie too! Character: Memorable physical specimen. Cool as hell ring gear. Rocked that paint on his face like few others before him. Sweet ass action figure. Underrated Speaker: No one rates him in this dept., so he's underrated. Seriously though, while he was not great, he was no worse than any other "musclehead" of the era. Powers of Pain: One of the best tag teams ever. Best tag team name, I mean. Wrestled in WCW in 1996: Did you know this? I did not know this. But it's true! According to Wikipedia: "After leaving the WWF for the independent circuit, [The Warlord] wrestled two matches in World Championship Wrestling in 1996, one of which was a tag team match where he and [The Barbarian] reunited as the masked Super Assassins." Pizza Hut: This chain's incalculable damage to professional wrestling was thought to be confined to the nitwitted former exec Jim Herd. Unfortunately, its reach of evil extends to The Warlord as well. Again, from Wiki: "The Warlord was forced to retire from wrestling due to suffering neck injuries in a car accident involving a Pizza Hut delivery van in 1996." In all seriousness, that's a tough break and it sucks. I always wondered why we never saw him during the Monday Night War era, and now I know why. I'm kinda bummed. But this story, thankfully, has a happy ending... Chikara in 2012: The hell? But it happened, and I must see the footage! Wiki: "In August 2012, Chikara announced that the Warlord would be making his debut for the promotion in the following month's 2012 King of Trios tournament, where he will reunite with the Barbarian and Meng as the 'Faces of Pain'." That sounds pretty badass!!!