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Found 26 results

  1. A match that smoked everything else that happened during that event. Great psychology with the back, the selling was top notch and Charlotte took some brutal bumps along the way. The botched spot was ugly but ironically setup the rest of the match nicely. The Eddie-Rey dynamic was really good with Banks using her wits and speed while Charlotte used her size and strength. ***1/2
  2. Pretty solid spotfest and all of them are pretty good in the ring. Charlotte still has a little awkwardness but nothing that won't go away in time. I just think she's so naturally talented that it's easy to overlook how a lot of her stuff looks a little unseasoned. Another throwaway match, but a good showcase of the women in NXT.
  3. Charlotte vs Natayla - NXT Takeover 5/29/14 Vacant NXT Women's Championship I can understand why this match is being pointed to as what the women's division can be if probably promoted, why it is being lauded as the greatest women's match in WWE canon and a turning point for women being taken seriously under WWE umberella. This is not just a match that is being trumpeted by WWE.com as a means to canonize (thanks Charles) this as a great/historic match; it finished #20 in Voices of Wrestling poll for 2014. WWE took the women seriously and in turn so did the pundits. I think that is the strength of this match more than anything than they did in the ring. This is the first women's match since Trish/Mickie/Lita that felt like it had a big fight feel. You had the Nature Boy going crazy at ringside cheering on his daughter and the stoic Hitman coaching up his niece. The announcers treated the match seriously and the crowd was fully invested in the outcome. I was at the Royal Rumble during what I thought was a really good Bellas vs Nattie/Paige tag match where you could hear a pin drop and no one gave one fuck about the match. The crowd is crucial in developing that atmosphere they wanted for this match. Honestly, this match felt like an exhibition to me. I think the cool story for a while was Nattie's submission ability against Charlotte's length. Yes, Nattie could grab the holds, but Charlotte was too damn long for Nattie to be able to hold her in those holds. Still, the match lacked quality transitions. I am a huge fan of chain wrestling that gets chippy and we get that with some nice slaps and then Charlotte smoking her with a spinning back chop. RIC FLAIR IS HYPED! He is all over the fallen Nattie, Wooing in her face after he she had that audacity earlier in the match. Then Nattie is just running the ropes and taking control. This is my next problem with the match. Women need to accentuate their positives and hide their weaknesses like any other wrestler. So just because men run the ropes, does not mean you should. Nattie with her little legs looks ridiculous when she is trying to run the ropes and Charlotte has to wait for her. This is something I noticed about the Charlotte/Banks match is that Charlotte is so athletic that she is showing up her fellow women. She can run the ropes and do convoluted sequences and look badass. Making Banks do those sequences or making Nattie try to keep up by running the ropes exposes both competitors. I like the figure-4 headlock a lot and Nattie trying to escape only to have Charlotte roll through showed how Charlotte's natural length thwarted Nattie. Then you get bullshit like Charlotte hitting a dropkick only for Nattie to hit a butterfly suplex. I liked the Charlotte Flair Flip into Nattie blasting her off the apron with a forearm. Nattie should focus on strikes, submissions and throws and forget about running. Charlotte whips her off the apron in a nasty bump. Then Charlotte misses the moonsault and Flair losing his shit. Flair should be her full-time manager, he adds a lot to this match. Nattie applies the Sharpshooter, but Charlotte reverses into the Figure-4. This was the worst figure-4 sequence I have ever seen and actively detracted from the match for me. Charlotte applied it and just because Nattie rolled through onto her back does not mean she is applying pressure. From there, they just start no-selling it and look confused. Then they trash talk and it is like somebody needs to start selling because this looks ridiculous. I am surprised they did not have Nattie properly reverse the pressure because that is actually a Sharpshooter (is just a standing reverse figure-4) and it would have been a counter that got a big pop. Anyways, Charlotte hits Bow Down to the Queen a way better name than Natural Selection to win the match. I feel like Paige/Emma had way more intensity and Charlotte/Banks had more interesting character work. Both of those matches felt like struggles. This match just felt like they were showcasing what women's wrestling could be rather than looking to win a match. ***1/2
  4. This was very good for what it was and it is really easy to see why so many people loved it. Personally-I'm just kind of done with this style of wrestling. I really don't have much use for matches where workrate is its own sake. I can still love a spotfest and think it's a great match but I'm not going to be vowed with flashy matches just because they have flash and even for matches which I think have problems with structure selling etc. I would easily take something like Mascara Dorada vs Mephisto from 2/19 over this. Once the initial novelty of them doing all these cool spots wore off they kind of just continued to do more of them and even at just 16 minutes it felt like it went too long to me. Finish was a great example of that, them re-using a spot that they'd already done with Charlote. I'm sure their marketing team has named Charlotte "a natural" but her acting could use some work. Rough around the edges with plenty of blown spots, and to their credit they weren't thrown off by them and kept on going which prevented them from hurting the match that much but it's still not something that really fits a clean WWE exhibition of athleticism. ***1/4
  5. Coffey

    WWE Clash of Champions

    I'm making this thread because, on paper, I actually think this looks like it could be a pretty good show. In addition, I'm also actually watching the Pay-Per-View tonight because I don't have to work & have not watched a lot of wrestling lately. I think the last show I watched was AEW All Out. So I have an itch that needs to be scratched. I also, miraculously, talked my girlfriend into watching with me. She's not watched a show with me since Asuka was still in NXT (she loved Asuka, so her not being used on the main roster is a big deal to her viewing interest). Despite the fact that Seth Rollins is wrestling twice on the show - meanwhile talent like Rusev can't even make a show - is a bit disheartening, but I'm still optimistic. Let's see if this thread can be more active & lively tonight! THE CARD: Universal Champion Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks WWE Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan (No Disqualification Match) SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville SmackDown Tag Team Champions Big E & Xavier Woods vs. The Revival Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The Miz United States Champion AJ Styles vs. Cedric Alexander WWE Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak vs. Humberto Carrillo vs. Lince Dorado ===== ***** ===== I think that Nakamura/Miz will probably disappoint my expectations, as that's how I've felt about Shinsuke's entire WWE run. Styles/Alexander should be good. New Day/Revival will probably be pretty good. Both women's title matches could be good. The Cruiserweight match will probably end up being on the preshow but it could be decent. I do like Gulak. I think Rose/Deville have both improved lately, especially Sonya, but I don't expect anything from that match. I don't care about either Seth matches, especially the tag match which somehow managed to put four of the most boring motherfuckers on the entire goddamn roster into one match. Good lord. Still don't know why WWE ever signed Bobby Roode or re-signed Dolph Ziggler. Two Seth matches on one card is brutal, but it is what it is. I've liked what they've been doing with Rowan lately but I don't think that match will be anything. Just Rowan doing some no DQ stuff with chair/steps & then losing clean to a Spear most likely. The Kofi/Orton match is the biggest question mark to me. I don't know what to expect from that one. This Kofi reign has been boring & forgettable & I'm ready for it to be over. On the other hand, Randy Orton is boring & forgettable & the last thing he needs is another title run. The feud doesn't make sense of why it's even happening. They need to get the belt off of Kofi but they need to start making new guys, especially if they're going to try to hit FOX running when Smackdown moves over there. If they just try to go back to same old shit, Roman, Charlotte, etc. I don't think people are going to care. ...where's Brock?
  6. Eddie Guerrero died of a heart attack 11 years ago aged 38. As I started watching this match I sat there and wondered. Wondered what they planned for this occassion. As I give these matches a chance time and time again and conclude I get way more out of Emma and Nia Jax roughing someone up for three minutes, I wonder whether THIS time is the one they got it. Think back to the good match(es) they had in NXT. Think about how the longer build for this match could mean there was more planning for it. Maybe a better structure. More practice. No clumsiness. Maybe the big spots can look dangerous without verging into "she's gonna break her neck soon too". And so the match started with Charlotte taking Sasha out with a cheapshot. This was great. Came totally out of nowhere, took me out of my seat. Perfect way to start the match off. Them stopping the cell while it was moving down because Sasha would've been crushed underneath it otherwise? Perfect. And so the match starts, and they immediately go into quasi-brawling, and I'm not really sure what some of the strikes they're throwing are supposed to be, but that's really no different from any WWE crowd brawling ever, even the AJ-Reigns match from Extreme Rules had some of that, whatever. The table spot happens. Not good. The "babyface fights of a stretcher" spot almost never looks good. You have Sasha being put in a neckbrace and then she fights off and has twenty more minutes to wrestle. There's just no way that's going to work. Charlotte does some solid heeling inbetween, gettin on your nerves with some repetitiveness. The stretcher spot only works when you have a heel like Finlay fake it or when Trauma 1 sells it like he actually can't move his neck. But, whatever, some questionable psychology, I sat through Rollins-Owens, my skin is thicker than that. Then the match starts again, and, well, I'm not really sure what to make of it. Charlotte attacked Sasha's back time and time again, Sasha didn't really sell it any differently than she sells anything ever. I mean I'm not a fan of Sasha looking like she's about to cry in *every match* but, if that's what she does, and you're telling the narrative of how she's seriously injured, she needs to sell even more. The only signs of her selling her back happen near the end of the match when she collapses on a Powerbomb attempt. But we'll get to that later. The Powerbomb spot was also stupid because, just in the two HIAC matches earlier, there were what feels like 15 tables broken. And in the case of Rollins/Owens the Powerbomb looked even more dangerous than the one in Sasha/Charlotte. It didn't feel like big enough of a spot to warrant that angle. Is a Powerbomb through a table not being a big enough spot for that angle a problem in the current WWE style? I don't really have an answer right now, but it's how things are and that's how it needs to be addressed. Nothing encapsulated this match as much as the fans booing the spot where they didn't properly break the table. YOU HAVE TO BREAK THE TABLE! Why? Because the fans care about the idea of the table than they do about the performers or the match. There's no doubt the work was gritty and violent-but it felt like white noise to me. I just grew numb to it. If they're not smart enough to milk Sasha's finishers in a meaningful way (I really like the spot where a wrestler escapes the way Charlotte did here, it's particularly great in Last Man Standing matches-but it was a transitional spot and it got zero reaction, which isn't how you should use such a big move obviously). Another moment that really resonated with me was when Charlotte put Sasha into the Figure 8 and, it just wasn't a beliavable finish. Why? Because there was a table ready to be broken near her. You can't end the match before you break the table. We know that. I actually did like the finish-it was the first time Sasha really sold the back and Charlotte repeteadly throwing Sasha into the table before putting her away was a cool visual. Put it comes as no surprise many people didn't like it-they've been conditioned you need to finish such a big match with so much violence in a bigger way. And also break the table. Cause that's what really matters. Lastly-I'm not really sure how they wanted me to react. I mean-I KNOW that they wanted me to think Sasha-great babyface hero queen and Charlotte-evil person booooooooo, and they used some basic psychology in the match with the injury angle and all that, but beyond that they didn't really bother. Am I supposed to be amazed at the violent spectacle like I'm watching Ikeda-Ishikawa? That's not how it was presented. Am I supposed to get behind Sasha like shes' Kikuchi? Why is she getting so much offence in then? And why won't she sell the back? Or is that in 2016 a lot of wrestlers simply don't know how to work and their idea of a great match is "I'm gonna do a Meteora of the cell it's gonna look so cool" but they've also been brainwashed with an idea of psychology in the performance center (heels do this, faces do that) yet when they're asked to connect those two the end result is failure. That's what this was. And that the faux-historic first women's PPV main event happened on a lesser show with the decision made last minute shows just how important women are to WWE. Best you can hope for is that they go back to the midcard with a respectful presentation like they've in NXT. I hope the opening line of this post isn't how Sasha Banks is going to be talked about when wrestlers of future generations talk about how much she inspired them. I don't know how to rate this. My instinctive reaction is to call it average-but my reaction to it wasn't average. I don't usually respond to **1/2 matches with this much text. It will have to sink in.
  7. Loved the beginning with Nia establishing dominance, she looked like a monster just beating up Charlotte, Bayley & Sasha. Loved it. Loved the Horsewomen realizing they need to team up to take her out - that was real great, and the whole beatdown of Nia was tremendous. After she was eliminated, the match fell off a bit, but it still remained good & as a result we got a very good, borderline great match. ***3/4
  8. I don't think sloppiness is inherently bad but with the kind of workrate matches they're attempting to have they are a clear obstacle that I don't see going away any time soon unless they start doing crazy AJW dojo excersises which I don't see happening on road life. Sttill there was a lot of good stuff in here that gives me hope a month of reversal could be enough for these two to come up with something really good. Sasha's straight jacket looked great and using a pin to set up the Banks Statement was something you'd expect from Dick Togo and not a random Raw match. I really love how they follow through on their bumps, it made Sasha's Baseball Slide and Meteora from the apron look absolutely amazing. They also did a good job of using kicks as transitions, so anyone making a case for Emma's inclusion into a hall of fame based on influence take notice. Sasha's facial expressions while Charlotte stretched her were the most cringe worthy thing I've seen in a long time. It's frustrating how in the same match there are times they come off as doing something amazing and revolutionary and at other times it looks more like a 2008 Diva match. Sasha's Suicide Dive was insane-but also something worth criticising for its recklessness a lot more than a 70 year old man headbutting a ringpost. I have nothing against emotional performances in pro wrestling but Sasha faux-crying after not getting a pin isn't exactly reminiding me of Hokuto, Ohtani and Santo. Charlotte's Suplex-twisting Neckbreaker move also looks incredibly stupid. The Moonsault is a thing of beauty tho. Finishing stretch was fun and it was surprising to see them actually go through with a clean finish instead of opting for a DQ and delaying the title change once again. **3/4
  9. This actually reminded me of the Bayley/Sasha classic from Brooklyn when it comes to the structure of the match. Charlotte's work on top was superb, really vicious work over Bayley's neck, and Bayley was excellent (as usual) as the fiery babyface. Fantastic match, if we get a better TV match this year, we're in for a treat. ****1/4 EDIT: goddamn botched the title. Meant to put RAW, not Royal Rumble lol.
  10. This was better then the more hyped WrestleMania three-way. The main reason being that their was a solid story being worked throughout rather than the constant chaining of spots that was the Mania match. Charlotte is in full on beast mode here. This was the most physical that I've ever seen her work as she just manhandling both Sasha and Bayley. Bayley took the brunt of the attacks from both Charlotte and Sasha to the point were I bought the finish of Charlotte just finishing her off with a kick after she pinballed off of Sasha. The Horsewomen continue their run of having very good, if not great, multiwoman matches. ****
  11. Bad match. Natalya doesn't know how to work and even though I often criticize Charlotte for her subpar acting Natalya's here makes her look like Choshu. She was abysmal. I liked Charlotte's Suplex onto the ropes, her trying to counter the Sharpshooter by climging the ropes, her back elbow/big boot combo and her chops look good, but all in all this was just a heatless mess. They just went through a bunch of submissions no one cared about or bought as potential finishes and didn't do anything to build to them or make them seem like important once they were applied. *1/2
  12. A battle of shtick so terrible it makes me long for 2016 Chris Jericho. At least his scarf is funny. It's still kind of shocking at times to see women's matches in WWE have good looking stuff, it would probably be less shocking if they weren't surrounded by a lot of sloppy work and eye-rolling set-ups. Forgettable but inoffensive.
  13. Seems like Natalya and Charlotte alternate between opening their matches between chain wrestling that looks either solid or sloppy, it looked ok here. Charlotte escaping the waistlock by using the ropes and then quickly cutting off Natalya with a big boot was a smart and efficient spot. Emma's character work on the apron was ofen more interesting than what Charlotte was doing inside the ring. Man-Emma viciously slammed Natalya's face right on the apron like LA Park did Dr.Wagner Jr. in their TxT match. And then she hit her with a bunch of good looking punches. She's really grown into a great worker. Ok, I really liked the "Charlotte pulls Emma out of the ring while Becky is beating on her and then Becky goes after Charlotte only to get hit from behind by Emma" sequences. Have to wonder if this is a reaction to me critizing agents for phoning it in. Emma is just so vicious in everything she does and I could see myself turning into a Charlotte supporter if her big boots and head kicks become like a third of their offence like they kind of were here, another really neat spot was when Emma was stretching Becky and as soon as the ref pulled Emma back Charlotte kicked Becky in the face. Holy shit Charlotte randomly Forearms Becky off the apron! I'm all in on this match. And then as the ref turns his attention to all that jazz Emma cheapshots Becky! Natalya makes the hot tag-and has some good ideas, she does an awesome like......back suplex/atomic drop hybrid followed up with her cool stomp on the back but her execution is also often lacking. Natalya gets Charlotte in the Sharpshooter but she tags out to Emma while in the hold and Emma cuts Natalya off with a great clubbing blow! Man this match ruled. I need to think up a name for this kind of spotfest. It wasn't that they just went through a bunch of moves, rather they had a lot of ideas and sequences and clearly spent a decent amount of time putting it together. Much like the American Alpha/Revival match in that regard. Sneaky good. ***1/2
  14. Man-some of the early wrestling and rope running here was reminiscent ot the days of Kelly Kelly and other "glorious" WWE superstars. Natalya does work quite sloppy. Charlotte's Big Boot looks great. Her Knee Drops were so bad you can't blame Kevin Dunn for focusing on literally anything else. I liked this more once the limbwork started. I like the idea of Charlotte slapping people around but there seems to be a disconnect between the idea of her character and her willingness/ability to commit to it. And for all the shit she gets I would easily rank her above Natalya at this point. Good grief was the finisher kick-out spot heatless. Natalya's early Shaprshooter teases were cool. I wanted to like this but between the awful acting and the general slopiness it didn't really do much for me. Finish amused me. IDK two star-ish. A classic compared to Jericho/Ambrose from the same show though.
  15. How many matches have these two had in the last few months? Another ok but completely forgettable match that took a backseat to the guest commentary. As much as I like the back stomp Natalya does some of her stuff looked pretty bad/sloppy here. Have to wonder what ever made anyone think she was this great worker outside of the Bret connection and that one tables match with her and Beth Phoenix vs. LayCool. I'm sure that made the Jimmy Redman 100 best matches ever list, it might be the best "divas" match ever. It's nice to see Charlotte at least try to act like a heel by using the ropes and begging off when Natalya went to Powerbomb her but she does seem more like she's playing a wrestler than a natural at it and the set up to the aforementioned Powerbomb was pretty contrived.
  16. Not much to comment on here, ok match, everything they did looked pretty good which is a huge improvement from what we were getting on Raw just a few months ago. Becky's Capture Suplex looks badass and I thought the Flair interference was handled well.
  17. Remember when these two had that match at NXT that people have four stars to? I didn't really like that. But I really liked the three minute match they had on Raw like a week after that. I liked the early chain wrestling bit though they should probably counter the waistlock with back elbows instead of hip attacks since they're already doing all these jazz to take the women's division seriously. Natalya's Leglock was hilarious.Why is she working a shooter gimmick? I kind of love the spot where Natalya steps on her opponent's back and her setting it up by slamming Charlotte's face on the mat was cool too. Charlotte's Knee Drop looks much closer to Triple H's than Sayama's. Charlotte slapping Natalya around was cool, her kicking out of her own pin was not. For weird Battlarts tribute matches I'm not sure this was better than Kobra Moon-Ivelisse but it was fine, a solid bout.
  18. The Road to WrestleMania XXX: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33558-the-road-to-wrestlemania-xxx-the-good-shit/ The Road to WrestleMania 31: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33559-the-road-to-wrestlemania-31-the-good-shit/ NXT at WrestleMania 31 Axxess – March 26, 2015 These matches aired on the April 8, 2015 broadcast Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale Qualifier Tournament Semifinal Neville vs. Hideo Itami Staredown triggers a “THIS IS AWESOME~!” chant, and it should for this is a dream match. Eight years ago, this could be manipulated into being ROH vs. PWG. Five years ago, NOAH vs. DG. Easily the best match of the tournament as this would be the only chance for these two to collide while in NXT based on plans in the very near future. While this of course didn’t reach greatness, they showed that such a match of that magnitude is capable in the future. Everything about this match was just so professional, from the mat wrestling (including a battle to gain leverage on hammerlock trades), Neville refusing to be the answer to the Go to Sleep trivia question, and Neville’s cut-offs when Itami took over in the middle and in the closing sequences. In particular, my favorite spot was a teased running corner dropkick from Itami, only to eat a perfectly timed superkick from Neville for a hot nearfall. Of course, the tease became reality since these two are so polished and experienced. This should’ve been the tournament final, and as someone who finds fan conventions totally useless, advertising a match like this ahead of time in the future would make me consider attending the session. ***1/2 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale Qualifier Tournament Semifinal Finn Balor vs. Tyler Breeze Couldn’t come close to breaking ***, let alone the semifinal that this followed. This was paced as a fine TV or house show style match, nothing memorable whatsoever, but just enough for Balor to get his shit in and pop the crowd and lead to the rematch with Itami in the final. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale Qualifier Tournament Final Finn Balor vs. Hideo Itami Nothing close to their first dream match in NXT’s prior tournament several weeks earlier and for understandable reasons, as both men are in their third matches of the evening, plus have matches booked the next night at San Jose State University. There really are no complaints to make here, as the match was good but nothing special, which is exactly where it needed to land to leave the crowd happy. Itami pulls off the major upset though, which shouldn’t have been with so much Japanese media in town due to Tatsumi Fujinami’s HOF induction. *** Crazy food for thought: I never, ever prior to 2014 would’ve thought I’d see KENTA on the same WrestleMania card as Sting. WrestleMania 31 Tag Titles Match Cesaro & Tyson Kidd vs. The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. Big E & Kofi Kingston The SF native Usos are of course decked in 49ers colors, and it’s an obvious shame that Jey had the busted shoulder and could only come out to soak in the moment without getting to do anything physical whatsoever. Gut-wrenching, as them winning the straps in a standard tag from the champs to open the PPV broadcast would’ve been something special. The champs and hometown boys are of course the most over, while the New Day are still like a wet fart, looking hopeless to ever catch on. Now as for this match, I hated it on broadcast viewing. Sure it was a fun spotfest live, but the broadcast version exposed this as nothing more than a TNA “go out there and do a video game” match. That’s probably not a coincidence with Rudy Charles as the assigned referee, and this was the first WWE match I think I’ve ever seen in which a referee failed to keep track of who was legal. The match wasn’t THAT crazy to justify such sloppy officiating. Others will love this more than me, but I have no use for this in ROH, PWG, or TNA, let alone WWE, especially on the industry’s grandest card of the entire year. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale Decent battle royale that didn’t quite live up to the original’s finishing stretch. The segments to mention were of course Show eliminating Itami like a complete, utter jabroni, thus making his appearance useless, as him getting to the final four would’ve done quite a bit to build the NXT brand. Cesaro got his moment to shine by scoop-slamming Kane out of the ring, only for Show to get his win back over him from the prior year. Then of course Damien Sandow (Mizdow) got fed up with the Miz’s bullshit, eliminating him to have a fun final with Show. Show won for what would be obvious reasons at the conclusion of the event, although I sensed live during this match, and now believe even more so with the narrative forced by the commentary when Show won, that Sandow should’ve gone over here. The reason isn’t even about Sandow being the hot hand at the time, although that plays a part (Miz could destroy the trophy leading to their singles match at the next PPV, and maybe it actually would’ve caught on as a singles program for a few months.) Instead, I believe with how limited Show has been in terms of being the slightest bit of an interesting character in 2015, having him choke in this match for a second straight year could’ve made for a compelling undercard narrative going into WrestleMania 32 – would the third time be the charm for Show? Show him preparing for what he feels is his rightful prize in training videos, cutting promos/interviews explaining what it’d mean to him due to the Andre comparisons, etc. Then he is an actual force in that match at AT&T Stadium, perhaps the last highlight of a long and successful career, even though it never reached quite the level of Andre’s. IC Title – Ladder Match Wade Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. R-Truth vs. Daniel Bryan Fun gimmick match to open the PPV portion although it’s becoming increasingly difficult to have a memorable ladder match. There were stunts in this match, although nothing was timed and delivered to be on par with the memorable spots of prior ladder matches such as the Shawn Michaels splash, Edge leaping spear, etc. Having three of the most organically popular babyfaces (Ambrose, Ziggler, D-Bry) thrown in a match with four geeks obviously didn’t help either. If any moments were standout, they’d have to be the dumbest one and the finish. Ambrose got pushed off by Harper and fell off of a ladder in the ring, onto a ladder platform outside the ring. Now with this being the biggest show of the year, this is the time to do a stupid stunt like that, but I’d have reservations had I been in his shoes, as this spot on the card was clearly beneath him and the other two legitimate stars shoehorned into this match. Those other two provided the other standout moment as Ziggler and D-Bry exchanged headbutts on the ladder, with D-Bry of course winning thanks to experience against Nigel McGuinness, and claiming the IC Title. Quite the lazy way to pacify those upset with D-Bry’s booking since returning a few months earlier, but if anyone could make that belt mean something again, he’s the very best choice. ***1/2 Since WWE was adamant about having a ladder match on this show, here was one of the million ideas I had in fantasy booking: Seth Rollins is forced (thanks to Sting somehow getting leverage on the Authority) into putting the Money in the Bank briefcase on the line against the five guys (minus Roman Reigns) he and his buddies had violated the most since his betrayal of the Shield. That would be Ambrose, Ziggler, D-Bry, Ryback, and Randy Orton. That provides a loaded ladder match, that also manages to put two of the company favorites and the three fanbase favorites as mentioned all in a marquee match for the event, as well as providing quite the compelling story for a match since Rollins would see everything he had gained potentially blow up in his face. Now speaking of the two company favorites I was referring to… Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton Rollins is of course accompanied by J&J Security. My favorite match of the night in person, and maybe still even with something else later on objectively edging this out quite a bit. What I love so much about this match is that it not only overcame the shitty booking since Orton’s return several weeks earlier, but this felt the most like a sporting competition compared to everything else on the card. Sure, J&J Security got involved a little bit and were quickly dispatched by Orton, but that was as minimal as possible. This looked like a match in which both men went to the film room and put in their proper time studying one another. There were great counters and blocks all over this match, plus excellent teases. Whether it was Rollins dodging an early Ace Crusher attempt, or blocking a powerslam only to eat one seconds later, this was a purist’s dream for me. In person, this was an excellent match, but on broadcast with polished production, this held up many months later, and the finish of Rollins going for the SR curb stomp, only for his momentum to backfire and see himself lifted to helplessly fall into a perfectly timed Ace Crusher, is gonna be played in highlight reels and talked about for years to come, no matter how uncomfortable WWE is about the stomp. This lived up to my expectations after the classic they had months earlier in Buffalo. **** Dream Match and Sting’s WWE Debut Match Sting vs. Triple H It sure seemed strange to have two of the most promoted matches taking place so early on the card, but I’ll explain why it was actually quite brilliant in my overall assessment of this event at the end of this review. Charles Robinson is the assigned referee, and I shudder to think had it been someone else not familiar with Sting. This may not have been as much fun live if it wasn’t for him. Unlike HHH’s prior WrestleMania match, I’m not going to provide the detailed move by move analysis. This match wasn’t about putting on a technical masterpiece to pay off an angle several months in the making. Instead, this was about providing a dream match for lapsed fans that yearn for the business to feel like the days of the Monday Night War. Now with that said, the first thing I’m going to address is the storyline going into this match. This was a blood feud based on vigilantism vs. corruption and oppression, so this match based on that storyline shouldn’t have relied on the retro faction warfare smoke and mirrors it got. This match certainly needed to have its smoke and mirrors, as NEITHER man looked to be in the best shape from an appearance or conditioning standpoint, but structured more like a brawl. While color was also obviously being saved for later on the card, I believe it was absolutely essential to have here both for the storyline and hide the shortcomings of both performers, and that it wouldn’t take away from the color in another match later. The decision to have the original New World Order and D-Generation X, while providing for a fun, unforgettable segment, was extremely out of place for the storyline developed between Sting and HHH. Don’t get me wrong – it was something to see the two hottest factions of the Monday Night War finally collide, and I never thought the day would come in which SHAWN MICHAELS GIVES STING THE SUPERKICK. That was definitely a surreal moment. I’m going to analyze that decision and its effect on this match even more. I had been critical that Sting’s perspective shouldn’t have been so limited going into this show, and that it should’ve been hammered down the audience’s throat that the Authority reminded him of the nWo being such a destructive cancer and leading cause in WCW’s death (his mission would be to save WWE from a similar fate.) While that dynamic was mentioned in one great video, it was so brief while the Authority hogged so much mic and screen time that even a detailed viewer like me practically blinked and missed it at the time. So DX comes to help out HHH, and then the nWo comes out minutes later. Some may question that based on Sting’s history with the nWo. Why would they come out to help? The reasons are layered – it’s an opportunity for Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash to appear on the biggest show of the year, so of course they’ll take it. Also, let’s remember (as much as none of you want to) that when the nWo splintered into separate factions, Sting joined the Wolfpac version. Also while in TNA, Sting has shown he no longer held a grudge against any of those three, teaming with and aiding them on multiple occasions. WWE would never mention these details of course, but they exist. In addition, the original nWo are all backstage at Levi’s Stadium, see someone they went to war with and against getting manhandled by D-Generation X. Why wouldn’t they wanna come help out someone they respect, while also feeling a sense of competitive pride dating back to the Monday Night War to prove who the alpha faction of that time truly is? With that part of the analysis out of the way, I move on to this. The way this match was structured, including DX and nWo involvement/brawling, baseball bats, sledgehammers, and HBK attacking Sting to benefit HHH, this didn’t belong in 2015 at all, not even thinking about the vigilante vs. authority angle. This entire segment should’ve taken place at WrestleMania X8 or WrestleMania XIX, with it leading to the Sting vs. Shawn Michaels dream match at the following year’s WrestleMania. The timing would have been far more appropriate with the War wounds far fresher, it’d lead to a hot match nobody could’ve even thought would become reality, and it’s a shame that couldn’t happen as WWE’s insistence on pussy-footing around with established WCW talent rubbed Sting the wrong way after WCW’s death. With all of this said – this was a hell of a spectacle, even with Sting and HHH appearing to both get gassed or out of sync at points. And I’ve no problem with the handshake afterwards – HHH was the one that offered it, both men having earned each other’s respect and moving on despite what lead to their dream showdown. I’d have had Sting win of course for the obvious reasons, but this definitely contributed to me getting my money’s worth live. For the next half hour or so, the show is all filler. A mini concert. A meaningless divas match pitting the Bella Twins against Paige & AJ Lee (I’m sure Divas champ Nikki tapping clean to Lee’s Octopus hold will lead to something, I just know it will), and then the HOF recognition segment. While many hate filler and I’d usually argue against this as I strongly prefer cards to be structured in order of match importance, it worked for me here for two reasons, one which I’ll list here. This half hour or so of pure filler gave me time to walk around Levi’s Stadium while still in daylight and take in the surrounding Santa Clara beauty. HIGHLY suggested for everyone to do the same when at this venue. US Title Match Rusev vs. John Cena By far the hottest, most sensible angle coming into this show, it’s just a shame that this didn’t quite live up to its buildup or even their first match several weeks earlier. This was of course a good match, but it’s not a compliment when stating the best moment was Rusev’s tank entrance (the night’s best gimmick entrance by far), no matter how spectacular that particular piece of production was. Before I explain why this didn’t quite live up to the hype, especially for this being Rusev’s year-in-the-making first loss, the match had its bright spots. Everything was clean and crisp, nothing sloppy like Sting vs. HHH, and I appreciated Cena’s overall no-nonsense demeanor throughout the match. That sold his perception of Rusev as a threat and also his patriotic anger. Rusev also got his fair moments of dominance and had to really work to lock in the Camel Clutch, but of course it finally wouldn’t work out for him. As for why I found this disappointing, which my star rating won’t reflect, is mostly because this didn’t have a super-hot finishing competitive stretch of epic proportions as it deserved. For Rusev’s historic loss, a year in the making, on the year’s grandest stage, more effort should’ve been placed in showing just how difficult that task would’ve been for Cena, similar to how opponents of the Seahawks have felt for the past four years. A distraction sports-entertainment finish thanks to Lana, while obviously leading to a breakup between her and Rusev that those behind the scenes would want, didn’t add to the primary story. Rusev wouldn’t have been hurt by losing without the sports-entertainment booking; but his stock certainly hurt by being down for the count after just one Death Valley Driver, rather than a series of nail-biting nearfalls that would’ve had us all in attendance jumping up and down with emotion. Like the IC Title with D-Bry earlier in the evening, if the plan is for the US Title to have its prestige raised after a solid Rusev reign, Cena certainly is the best pick possible. ***1/4 In the next segment, the Authority gloat over the supposed attendance record and that they drew the box office, rubbing in HHH’s victory over Sting. To be clear, that wasn’t disrespect from HHH towards Sting, but towards the audience for relying on Sting to get the job done and thinking he could take the Authority down and serve them the same humble pie as the Shield and D-Bry did in 2014. Speaking of pie, out came the Rock, predictably so after the Authority threw in a “millions” remark, What followed is one of the greatest segments I’ve ever experienced live and has been discussed to death in what looked to be leading to a huge crossover match the next year at AT&T Stadium. Rock got the cheap pop talking about his very early days in the Bay Area and got slapped by Stephanie McMahon, then convinced Ronda Rousey to come into the ring and help him knock the Authority down a peg. Not quite on par for me personally with the Championship Ascension Ceremony in Seattle, but definitely an all-time WrestleMania moment that blew Rock, Hogan, and Steve Austin’s segment a year earlier out of the water. Bray Wyatt vs. Undertaker Live, this match looked like a sloppy mess to me. That’s explainable as Wyatt reportedly rolled his ankle earlier in the day during warmups or walk-throughs, and he’s not elite enough to overcome that. On broadcast, this match was still nothing special and arguably felt like a waste of time, but Taker still looked a bit lethargic and broken down, albeit still significantly healthier than a year earlier when he was concussed. Of course, Taker gets the win to show he’s still got it, and leaving Wyatt, one of the most pushed acts on the roster without any clear storyline direction. Whatever, the crowd popped for it. WWE Title Match Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns Now of course, was this the right main event? I still say no, even with how shockingly great this turned out to be, as the “right main event” I’m referring to has the potential on paper to be a true all-time classic for the industry should it ever actually occur. Now with that said, I went into Levi’s Stadium, despite how disappointing the Reigns push was, hoping these two would give me my money’s worth and prove everybody wrong that was concerned about the predicted lack of chemistry these two would have. And I’m happy to say that I was totally wrong in that regard. Start to finish, this entire presentation was top-notch art. In a match perfectly structured for each other’s strengths, they went out and smashed it for the top prize in the industry. From Lesnar getting the early domination segment (in a manner far more captivating than Kane or Big Show struggled to reach against Reigns in the months leading up to this), to Reigns smiling to show he could absorb the pain that the Beast Incarnate unleashed upon him, to Lesnar juicing after being slammed head-first into a ring post to transition to Reigns shining, I could not have asked for a better match from these two. It wasn’t just the structure of this match, or even the off-the-charts, unforgettable finish that made this a special match between two bad-ass heavyweights. The crowd provided an AMAZING big fight atmosphere that translated exceptionally well to the broadcast, and I can say that live it was a pleasure to be a part of. Lesnar was the hottest babyface on the roster, and Reigns through no fault of his own was the biggest heel to a significant portion of those in the Bay Area that weekend. Now as for the finish, nobody could’ve really seen it coming after the booking of the prior several weeks and Lesnar signing a contract extension just days earlier. But to see Seth Rollins, the former Tyler Black, sprint to the ring once Reigns had knocked down Lesnar (but still struggling himself to take advantage thanks to the former UFC World Heavyweight Champion’s brutality), and successfully cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase, was a rewarding live experience I’ll remember forever, reminding me of why I remain a fan of such an often-disappointing niche industry after 18 years. He had worked his ass off to achieve the Shawn Michaels spot I foresaw for him a year earlier, and it was the right call to make to give the company a chance to (hopefully) re-evaluate the path for Reigns to reach his inevitable coronation. Plus, Reigns seeing a bit of humility doesn’t hurt him, and Lesnar is still protected since he didn’t do the job. This also adds a layer to the choice Rollins made to sell out and destroy the Shield, in what I hope one day will pay off in that particular threeway dream match so many of us yearn for. ****1/2 Coming out of this show, many who attended it, including Dave Meltzer himself, said this may have been the greatest WrestleMania of all-time. That was a bit hyperbolic, but as someone who has attended every WrestleMania since the 25th edition at the now-named NRG Stadium, this is right behind WrestleMania XXVI in Phoenix as the best one I’ve attended as an overall event and experience. I had mentioned earlier that this show used an unusual but very satisfying format. With many months to have slept on it, it was actually BRILLIANT to split the card into pretty much two halves, with the first half closing with the Sting vs. HHH co-main event prior to going on what was in reality a halftime/intermission show before getting to Rusev vs. Cena to kick off the second half. This allowed those in attendance to get snacks and use the restroom without missing anything important, and for me personally I used the time to admire the geographic and new money beauty surrounding Levi’s Stadium. This was a WrestleMania with two great matches, one of them a MOTYC, plus THREE absolutely unforgettable WrestleMania moments, including a historic first-ever MITB cash-in on the grandest stage (poetically a decade after the concept’s birth), Sting’s first ever WWE match, and what appeared to hopefully be signs of the company re-evaluating some of its storytelling mentalities, both with the one that seems destined to be its next face, as well as two midcard titles that were now placed on true champions. This review isn't quite done yet though. I must throw in my two cents regarding two special documentaries highlighting the WrestleMania 31 journeys of Hideo Itami and Roman Reigns, the former airing on NXT's April 8, 2015 broadcast, the other being a WWE 24 episode. As has been said over and over again, I don't care how much time and money these types of pieces cost, they should be happening more frequently. How anyone could watch these documentaries and not feel some kind of connection to Itami and Reigns, who obviously came from VERY different backgrounds and would both leave Levi's Stadium empty-handed in storyline, would be truly baffling. Not only do these documentaries do a great job of highlighting its particular superstars, but the engulfing experience that is WrestleMania weekend and why everyone should enjoy it first-hand at least once.
  19. NXT Women's Champion Charlotte vs Sasha Banks -NXT Takeover REvolution 12/11/14 It was love at first sight for me and The Boss. I could just tell from her mannerisms that she would be a Sleeze Favorite, then she called Charlotte, "generically basic" and I knew she could do no wrong. However, this Lady (She ain't ratchet!) from Titletown, USA (Home of Winners such as the New England Patriots, John Cena, and Myself, the First Ever Winner of the First Ever Pro Wrestling Trivia Internet Podcast, Brainbuster), is no slouch in the ring and most importantly is not afraid to heel it up. Whether it was getting into Charlotte's face like who ya think ya are or taunting Charlotte with Woos making me laugh like heidy heidy ha, Sasha Banks was wrestling this match like a Flair. Hell, she even had the Flair transition of using the outside and corner to your advantage. Ric Flair is perhaps the greatest corner wrestler of the time. It was in the ropes that Flair was at his most dangerous because that is a break in the steady-sate action of wrestling and he was used these transients to get one-up on his opponents. Here, we see Sasha bait Charlotte to the outside, yank hair from the corner (never turned you back on an opponent, Charlotte, love how Sasha made her pay for the lapse in focus), or the the drop toehold in the corner. The announcers were on point noting these elements of Sasha's game plans, kudos. What they missed and this where Bobby Heenan really would have shined is that Sasha Banks was not just taunting Charlotte by using the chop and the figure-4 headlock, she taught Charlotte those moves! That was one of the cruxes of the video package. Heenan would have been right on top of that and BANG! We would have gotten the will you stop from Gorilla. One last thing, I dug from Banks early on, when Charlotte looked to regain the advantage, we saw Sasha tackle her into the corner and deliver double knees in the corner. it showed a desperation and violence mixed together. It was a wrestler that knew their grasp was tenuous at best. I liked Charlotte using her natural strength to overcome Sasha. Charlotte is an interesting case. I don't if she would be better suited as a heel or face. I liked her as a heel in the Bayley match a lot, but I feel like her natural gifts and moveset would make her a babyface. I think starting off as a heel and maturing into the face is always the safest route, but I could see her going either way. Towards the match got all move trade-y and athletic and stuff. I have seen it all folks, a strike exchange in a WWE-sponsored women's match. That damn fucking sequence is going to follow me to my grave. I thought I was safe, but they went and pulled it out. Admittedly, I liked Charlotte shortening the ring up on the tackle to end the exchange. Charlotte's moonsault into a somersault senton was very, very impressive. There were a couple other spots, but I was disappointed they abandoned a great narrative to hit MOVEZ~! Certain people would say that would be the most Flair thing to do. That being said it does play into the fact that in an athletic match Charlotte would smoke Sasha so once Charlotte could set her pace and implement her gameplan it was over for The Boss, but constant move trading took away from any sort of hot crescendo. Anyways, first half of this match Sasha Banks wrestled this match Like A Boss and the best pure heel performance in a WWE ring since Stephanie McMahon at Summerslam. The second half is not bad, but it is forgettable, but the story hook is eschewed for moves. ***1/2
  20. The Road to WrestleMania XXX: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33558-the-road-to-wrestlemania-xxx-the-good-shit/ WrestleMania XXX HUGE kudos to the production crew. Fantastic stage setting and appropriate lighting for a venue that is generally an eyesore for those watching on TV. Tag Titles - Elimination Match The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. Real Americans vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel Fun match with all kinds of crowd-popping spots, including El Torito getting his shit in. Cesaro was of course the star of the match, continuing his momentum that had been ongoing since CM Punk's abrupt vanishing from WWE. Every time he got on offense, the crowd became hotter. Any time someone cut him off or got offense on him, extremely audible jeers. What matters most obviously is that Cesaro lost the final fall to the Usos, which live at the time seemed puzzling since he was clearly ascending to a substantial position on the roster, while Jack Swagger was an established mid-carder after multiple attempts at various pushes. But the Real Americans had come into this match with tension, an angle I had failed to mention as I reviewed the journey to this event. Swagger therefore shit on Cesaro much to Zeb Coulter's dismay for the loss, then placed the ankle lock on the former King of Wrestling. After Coulter convinced Swagger to stop and shake hands to apologize, Cesaro finally gave into the crowd's demand, delivering the anticipated giant swing to the former NCAA All-American as the audience popped huge. This had been building for several weeks and was perfectly timed and positioned on the card, as this was part of the free pre-show as a final way to entice anyone on the fence about ordering. *** The Three Icons of the WrestleMania Era The actual PPV portion of the event kicks off with the greatest, most charismatic talking segment in WrestleMania history, as host Hulk Hogan comes out to fire the crowd up and twice mistakenly refers to the evening's venue as the Silverdome, then catches himself when the crowd gives him a hard time over it. Minutes into this, his promo is interrupted by Steve Austin, and they have a staredown, making all long-time and lapsed fans sad we never got that dream match. Austin cuts his own great promo to fire up the crowd, giving Hogan a hard time for the Silverdome flub. He also puts Hogan over huge, showing a side that had significantly mellowed out since his big-leaguing of the fellow HOFer a dozen years earlier. But we're not done here, as the Rock interrupted to further electrify the crowd. Rock went through his routine that always works because he knows what the fuck he's doing when he grabs a microphone. He then says we have two icons in the ring that truly paved the way for two of the biggest babyfaces for tonight's event. Before John Cena was telling kids to live and die by hustle, loyalty, and respect, there was Hogan telling the previous generation's kids to take their vitamins and say their prayers. Before Daniel Bryan faced his oppression at the hands of corrupt power figures, there was Austin raising hell every week on Vince McMahon and company. They close out the segment putting each other over, each doing their promo-closing routine one at a time. This is a segment I will never forget experiencing live, one truly deserving of being placed on the grandest stage. WWE Title Shot Match Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan The PPV matches kick off with the primary match of the evening, obviously to make sure the winner would have time to rest for his earned spot in the main event. Stephanie McMahon introduces her husband, who has an awesomely OTT entrance, sitting on a throne and dressing like Shao Khan, just completely saying through this sequence that he thumbed his nose at his scheduled opponent for the evening. In contrast, D-Bry came out with the long hippy hair, bushy beard, and just regular gear, truly setting the story for anyone not familiar with the events that led to this dream match. D-Bry's left shoulder is heavily taped due to the damage inflicted upon it the past couple months. Before the opening bell, the Authority have an intimate kiss, completely rubbing it in that they're happy and successful, then HHH looks at the former WWE Champion ever so smugly. The Game offers a handshake, which D-Bry obviously rejects by kicking the hand and trying to get this matchup over early with a schoolboy pin. D-Bry goes on a fury, but HHH takes a quick powder to ensure no momentum is built. HHH looks to cut off D-Bry's superior technical wrestling and striking, but D-Bry cuts him off to regain momentum, making HHH's cut off merely a hope spot and then gets a headlock takedown. He easily gets out of HHH's head-scissors as fans of the indy scene during the 2000s had the pleasure of seeing him do on a nightly basis. HHH during a headlock gets D-Bry in a corner and goes after the left arm, but D-Bry doesn't allow that to go on long at all, unleashing more furious kicks to the crowd's delight. But HHH catches the left leg and drops it STO style, showing off why he has such a cerebral reputation. However, even that doesn't really go anywhere for the time being, as D-Bry prevents HHH from dragging him into a corner for more limb work. He charges at the first-ballot HOFer multiple times, including doing a front flip off the top rope which looked to be a bad landing for someone with a well-documented injury history. As D-Bry continues owning HHH, Steph attempts to verbally troll him, knowing damn well her husband is getting his ass kicked so far. HHH crotches D-Bry as he goes for another top-rope move, finally gaining some significant heat over the former multi-promotional champion. He follows that up with a charge to knock D-Bry down to the floor in front of the commentary tables. He attempts a Pedigree on one of those tables, but D-Bry blocks it and fights back, only for HHH to grab the severely pained left arm and slam it onto the table! At this point the commentary team, which has often been justifiably criticized, did a phenomenal job in selling HHH's craftiness. JBL in particular really put over the brilliant bluffing HHH pulled on D-Bry, going after the left leg early to make it seem like he wouldn't target the left arm. This was critical in showing that while the stakes were incredibly high and the emotions going into this even higher, this was also a matchup of two of the most gifted in-ring psychologists in the history of the business. HHH of course became merciless on D-Bry's left arm, slamming it down with various moves and locking submissions aplenty, including a modified London Dungeon. But even THAT is short, as it looks like D-Bry is about to regain momentum when he throws off HHH to the outside and goes for a tope suicida, only to get cut off by the Game before flying through the ropes. HHH gives him a Hammerlock Backdrop Suplex on the apron, and D-Bry's audible screams of pain are sensational just like his classic against Randy Orton in Dallas a few months earlier. Stephanie chimes in with "you mess with the bull, you get the horns," then kisses her gloating husband. Awesome. D-Bry of course follows up his sensational screams of pain with sensational selling outside the ring, struggling to get up and break the ten count. In yet another highlight of the match, one that shows what an excellent student of the game HHH is, D-Bry finds himself in one of his own established finishers, that being the Crossface Chickenwing. Fantastic poetry while also causing further pain to the damaged left arm and shoulder. As D-Bry is losing consciousness, the crowd rallies behind him, hoping to not see him pass out. HHH then further shows off his experience and studying habits, locking on the Crippler Crossface, reminding all technical wrestling fans of an even sexier dream match we sadly never got to witness. D-Bry reaches the ropes, only for seconds later to get that left arm slammed down with an arm twist on the mat. The Game goes to work with punches in the corner, and D-Bry attempts to fight back to no avail as the audience is trying to give him adrenaline. They exchange more punches, with a crowd reaction reminding me of Rock vs. Hogan and Austin Aries vs. CM Punk, and this time D-Bry is able to regain the heat with a running forearm straight to the face. That though is also short-lived, with us bearing witness to yet another display of brilliance from HHH. When D-Bry goes for his turnbuckle backflip spot, HHH stays in the center of the ring, not allowing D-Bry to get behind him. I can't recall any of D-Bry's most reputable opponents on the indies ever scouting this out, nor any of his prior opponents in WWE either. That moment of brilliance doesn't get much though, as D-Bry blocks a German Suplex and unleashes a couple of his own. HHH blocks a third and goes for the Crossface Chickenwing, but D-Bry intelligently sees it coming this time and blocks it, only to get dumped on his head and shoulders via a release Butterfly Suplex. Hey, if you're gonna do head drops and other risky shit, THIS is the show to do it on. D-Bry blocks a Superplex attempt to the crowd's delight, landing a Sunset Flip Powerbomb for a great crowd pop and slowing down the Game's momentum. HHH goes to recover in a corner, so D-Bry goes for this routine three running heel kicks, but the third, much like Cena, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, and Nigel McGuinness had done in the past, countered that with a beautiful lariat. When they both get up, HHH goes for another Pedigree, but D-Bry blocks that and goes for a jackknife pin for two, then follows that up with a kick to the head. At this point the crowd is starting to get incredibly excited, sensing that their chosen face of the company was gonna finally humble the Authority. But a diving headbutt is blocked with a knee to the face, and HHH then locks on the Crippler Crossface again. It should be obvious at this point that this match was a partial tribute to a man that had a significant impact on both men's careers, one by working with him, the other being inspired and heavily influenced by him. This second Crippler Crossface was a sight to behold, as HHH made sure to block D-Bry's eyesight during a portion of the submission. D-Bry rolls back but HHH keeps it locked on, remembering the same thing had happened to him a decade earlier and learning from it should he ever be in the opposite position. D-Bry rolls back again though and goes for a pin attempt false finish, then gets the Lebell Lock on, a moment we had been waiting to see for many, many months! As a receipt, D-Bry makes sure to block HHH's vision, and Stephanie has to audibly coach HHH to make him aware of how close he is to the ropes. With HHH on the outside getting nursed by Steph, D-Bry hits two tope suicidas, then follows that up with a missile shotgun dropkick in the ring. He kips up to another great crowd pop, and then sucks up whatever pain he's feeling to land furious kicks to the chest and a final kick to the head as the crowd pops yet again. More than 20 minutes into this classic, both men are exhausted and the crowd expresses their happiness watching this unfold. D-Bry goes for the Busaiku knee, but this is the Cerebral Assassin he's facing. In a match in which HHH likely brought forth the most brilliant game plan of his career, there was no greater display of his scouting techniques than taking D-Bry's momentum and turning it into a spinebuster that certainly had Arn Anderson popping backstage. HHH goes for the Pedigree and the thrid attempt's the charm, but that's nothing more than a phenomenal false finish as the crowd is going apeshit. D-Bry pulls out the small package, but that's another false finish unlike his ROH days. HHH shows his frustration, almost getting DQ'ed for not breaking his punches in the corner. He then goes for another Pedigree, but D-Bry flips him overhead and keeps the butterfly position for another great false finish pin. HHH rolls D-Bry over with the arms still butterflied, but D-Bry dead-weights him, so HHH knees D-Bry in the face a few times for good measure and to display his frustration. Another Pedigree attempt though is countered as D-Bry gets out of it and lands a roundhouse kick, but a second roundhouse kick is ducked. HHH looks to go for an Atomic Drop or backdrop suplex, but D-Bry flips back to land on his feet, then finishes off the Game finally with a Busaiku knee!!! Steph's facial expression is priceless, the facade she and her husband running for months becoming exposed on the grandest stage. The crowd is of course ecstatic and D-Bry is exhausted as he celebrates. Steph walks over to slap him, leaving him to be attacked from behind by HHH. The Game slams the damaged left shoulder on the ring post, then smacks it with a steel chair, completely embarrassed as the Authority try to mask it with smugness and their underhanded corruption. D-Bry goes into the main event with the odds only stacked against him even more. For many years, the thought of Triple H vs. Bryan Danielson had always intrigued me, dating back to the latter's days on the indy scene as he showed why he was clearly the best in-ring wrestler this side of the Pacific. I had always imagined they would have at least very good chemistry, as both are master storytellers and HHH has proven to be more than capable of working a great technical wrestling match when the time calls for it. And when the fantastic SummerSlam 2013 ended, I was excited to know this match would be taking place on this night. That this match almost didn't happen despite the lack of an emotionally satisfying conclusion as 2013 ended, only for a series of game-changing events to take place in order for it to do so, makes me feel like it was truly fate that this dream match was destined to take place at such an important landmark event. But did this match live up to the expectations I had? To be brutally honest - it shattered them. Due to the storyline, I went into the Superdome expecting this to be more of a sports-entertainment style that favored HHH's routine. That element was obviously utilized to its fullest potential, but these men also managed to add in the sizzling technical wrestling that I always saw them pulling off together should they ever face off. In addition, the commentary for this match deserves an ovation of its own, as JBL, Michael Cole, & Jerry Lawler did a great job in putting over the emotions, work, and story being told in the ring. Stephanie was a delightful wrinkle as well, adding further heat with her presence, trolling, and mannerisms as she rooted for the love of her life. This was a jaw-dropping roller-coaster that more than lived up to its storyline as well as its position as the most pushed match going into this show. This was a back-and-forth nailbiter with amazing counters, outstanding submission wrestling, and incredible storytelling. I also loved this significantly more than The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber 2014. The only nitpick complaint that keeps this from being a flawless masterpiece is that they had to hold back just a teeny bit for obvious reasons. But make no mistake: I look forward to the eventual rematch at some point, as I know they have a perfect match in them; and this is a work of art, easily in the top three matches I've ever seen live, right behind the pieces of perfection pitting D-Bry against Roderick Strong at Vendetta and HHH against Undertaker inside the Cell at Sunlife Stadium. ****3/4 The Shield vs. Kane & New Age Outlaws An almost complete obliteration to showcase the Shield. It's a shame we look to never get a classic Shield match at WrestleMania, but at least they were booked to be pure bad-asses with all three stars getting their shit in on the old geezers before putting them down in a matter of minutes. We got a wacky backstage segment with a bunch of legends, ending with Ron Simmons doing his "Damn" routine. First Ever Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale Clusterfuck at first as these matches usually are due to too many bodies in the ring, but it improved as it they thinned out the complete, utter jabronis. An early highlight was Fandango teasing an elimination and then the crowd Fandango-ing in appreciation as he gyrated on the apron. Another major highlight was Kofi Kingston looking to be eliminated, but it turns out both of his feet landed on the steel steps. Phenomenal spot. The match got significantly better once it got to the stars of substance such as Big Show, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, Rey Mysterio, and Alberto Del Rio. The crowd appreciated seeing another giant swing from Cesaro as he unleashed it on Kingston, only to get pissed off when Show chokeslammed him. They popped for Ziggler's offense, but he was still in his burial stage so he got immediately eliminated by Del Rio as soon as his heat segment started. Del Rio put a cross armbreaker on Sheamus, but was lifted up while the submission was still locked in. Sheamus attempted to break the hold over the ropes so that Del Rio would drop and be eliminated, but Del Rio held on and it became a mutual elimination, leaving Show and Cesaro as the final two. The crowd became antsy at this point, as this was definitely an interesting matchup, the respected veteran giant against an ascending mid-carder. Cesaro breaks a chokeslam and tries to clothesline Show over the ropes. Cesaro goes for a top rope move but Show just slaps his chest. Cesaro manages to slide off of Show's shoulder before getting dumped, then gives the giant a European Uppercut. Cesaro then follows that up with a scoop slam to eliminate Big Show and win the trophy as the crowd popped in approval! Not a match that'll get a special rating, but a special moment that brilliantly offset Cesaro's loss earlier in the evening. Oh what WWE had on their hands with this guy... John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt This one turns out to not hold up. The video package was phenomenal stuff, reminding me that other than Cena channeling Hogan from October 1998, this was a truly excellent program to elevate a fresh talent and give a potential wrinkle to Cena's character. The use of Eminem's "Legacy" certainly didn't hurt either. But the match itself, it really just never picked up. The story was a fine idea on paper, that Wyatt would try to be Heath Ledger's Joker, a tortured soul that left Cena opportunities to display that he would finally be corrupted. And like the Joker, Wyatt would utilize Cena's ethics against him to gain an advantage when he felt like it, as well as making sure that Luke Harper & Erick Rowan intervened behind the ref's back. I appreciate that the goal was for Wyatt to be an unpredictable heel. With that said, Wyatt showed once again that he fails to be emotionally engaging when he has the heat, as he does nothing to fire the crowd up, to make them hate him and wanna see the babyface make a comeback. That is the ultimate failure of this highly anticipated showdown. Once Wyatt figures out how to engage the audience, perhaps he won't feel so overpushed at the expense of others who do a significantly better job of connecting with the paying customers. I don't even care at this point that Cena won the match. Sure, Wyatt, much like Cesaro, was an ascending star, and even had the bragging rights of pinning Roman Reigns twice as well as the only clean singles victory over D-Bry in the past year. But as I just detailed, would the Wyatt character have any additional value had he won this match when the guy portraying the gimmick has such obvious holes in his game still? Howard Finkle introduces the 2014 WWE HOF class to the audience. Little did we know that we were seeing the last of a man that is a staple in WrestleMania lore. Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker Like the match prior, fantastic video package with Paul Heyman putting over the significance of what Lesnar was aiming to do just so strongly. This match was even sadder to watch almost a year later. Not even just because of the match itself, which was handicapped by Taker getting a concussion when he was thrown into a barricade (that's how it appeared to this viewer at least), but also WWE's failure to truly maximize the historic result of this match. But the aftermath is a topic I'll be detailing later on in this reviewing project. I understand many people being upset about a part-timer being the one to break The Streak, even though someone rational like me could see the benefit of it. I was only upset that such an iconic moment took place in such a tedious, plodding match. Not only was Taker clearly woozy, but the story of the match itself, which was pushed only even more by the commentary, was "wow, Taker is old." Not exactly a captivating narrative. Those who say that Lesnar is an overrated performer will certainly be using this match as a primary example to back up their argument. But just because he couldn't carry a concussed, broken down 49 year old heavyweight doesn't mean he wasn't "deserving" of this moment, nor does it mean he's terrible at what WWE pays him millions to do a few times per year. Only a select few in the world could've gotten anything resembling a fun match in these circumstances, and it's not a slight on Lesnar that he's not one of those few. I really can't be bothered to give this the same kind of detailed treatment as HHH vs. D-Bry. One moment, no matter how iconic and historic, doesn't justify that for me. But this match was opposite of that, as I can't imagine any nails being bitten by the fellow 70,000+ fellow fans that were in attendance unless it was done out of habit or boredom. The crowd reaction was certainly something, but would've been much hotter had this match not been such a chore to sit through. Lesnar and Heyman are booed out of the building before they leave the stage, although I'm not sure if that's good or bad heat. Taker gets a well-deserved standing ovation for the legacy he built as he walks the aisle for what many wondered at the time would be his final ringside walk ever. I for one am glad he's gonna try to make sure he goes out with a better match that this one, as this was a sad sight to watch, much like Peyton Manning's injury-riddled performance when his former Colts eliminated his Broncos in decisive fashion. WrestleMania 31 - March 29, 2015 in the Bay Area~! AJ Lee wins a match against a bunch of other divas to keep the Divas Title in the obvious death spot of the night. The crowd doesn't give a shit as they had the air sucked out of them by what they just witnessed minutes earlier. The only note I'll make is we got a preview of obviously the most enthralling program of the year when Brie Bella and Nikki Bella went at it. WWE Title Match - No DQ, No Countout Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan Crowd finally recovers in this one for D-Bry, although they never truly recovered from having the air sucked out of them. The Authority come out to try to spoil it all for D-Bry, attacking him and bringing back the supposedly fired ref Scott Armstrong, who is clearly taking orders from them and revealing he had been in cahoots with HHH at Night of Champions 2013. D-Bry takes them all out and gets them to fuck off so he can focus on regaining the prize that he had continuously been getting screwed out of for months. The match itself wasn't super special, as it was about the moment. Unlike Taker vs. Lesnar though, this was still incredibly fun with a great story. Orton & Batista went after the injured D-Bry early to take him out, both to prey on him for being weakened, and also knowing he was on a white-hot roll that had been ongoing for almost a year. They took him out with a powerbomb neckbreaker combo on the commentary tables at ringside, with Orton taking a bad bump and hurting himself in doing so. Before that spot, Orton and Batista had a good fight as D-Bry was knocked out, with Batista getting backdropped on steel steps when attempting a powerbomb. With Batista down, Orton saw D-Bry regaining consciousness, so Orton attacked him to keep him down before the big double-team spot I detailed in the prior paragraph. Amazing that Batista could still go after that steel steps bump. The crowd though didn't care for obvious reasons when the heels went at it, so when D-Bry finally came back into the action, they truly woke up with excitement. Nothing would keep him down, not even doctors trying to take him away from ringside on a stretcher. They had a nice finishing sequence for the last few minutes, with Orton being knocked out of the ring. In the meantime, D-Bry got Batista in the Lebell Lock, leaving the Rumble winner with no choice but to tap out. I'd have liked a couple false finishes with that before the tapout, but I'll take it. For anyone not to see this finish coming, that's a clear indication of their lack of instinct as this was telegraphed at the end of Elimination Chamber 2014. This match was very fun with everyone working hard, ending with a moment on par with the Seahawks winning Super Bowl XLVIII for me. For fans of independent wrestling during the 2000s decade, the only more rewarding moment that could've taken place on this night would've been Punk vs. D-Bry in the main event, unifying the titles. Seeing Bryan Danielson holding both title belts to close out a landmark WrestleMania inside such a historic venue was rewarding, vindicating, and a defining reason on why I love pro wrestling despite all of its bullshit and disappointment. ***1/2 Greatest WrestleMania ever as some wondered when leaving the Superdome? Sorry - this doesn't measure up to WrestleMania X-Seven and WrestleMania XIX. Overall, it's not quite as great as I had remembered that night. But this is one to watch and remember, with a legacy that nobody could've seen coming as the show closed that night. The booking was newsworthy, some of it phenomenal, some of it head-scratching (and even maddening for those irrational) at the time, almost entirely across the board. We got a talking segment involving the Mt. Rushmore of the past quarter century, one that will never be topped. We got a tag team split we had been aching to see, complete with the ascending star getting the nod in a match paying tribute to a HOF giant. In addition, we got the Shield being displayed as unfuckable bad-asses, a critical piece of storytelling in the wake of them almost breaking up, setting the stage for a shocking, game-changing moment to come. Most importantly, we got two stars standing head-and-shoulders above everyone else for what they accomplished. Daniel Bryan, after months of oppression, and years of connecting with every audience he ever performed in front of, reached what will certainly be his career defining moment, even if he defeats the other shining star of this night at another WrestleMania. He won two main event matches to gain the top prize in the business, one of them an all-time classic in company history that more than lived up to its hype. For him personally, it doesn't get any better than the entire family being present for a moment like that, a dynamic he'll sadly never to get experience again. The other star as I just alluded to was of course Brock Lesnar, shattering a mythical element and looking to have possibly ended the Undertaker's career in addition to The Streak. It's a moment that will obviously always stand the test of time, and even though the match was lousy for understandable reasons, that moment itself makes the match must-see at least once for all fans of pro wrestling. It is this decade's version of Mick Foley being thrown off the top of the Cell. There's also an element of sadness to this show, as not only would Danielson lose a family member present at ringside shortly afterwards, as well as his well-known fan Connor the Crusher, but this would be the farewell weekend of the Ultimate Warrior. As would be said later in the week, it seemed to be fate that his final moments would be burying the hatchet and becoming more involved in celebrating his role in the legacy of WWE. These tragedies only further put forth an additional value on the show that cannot ever be properly measured in words; they remind us on such a night of pageantry and anticipation of what truly matters most, that life, love, and family are precious and not to be taken for granted. With that said, this was a hell of a way to kick off The Road to WrestleMania 31: The Good Shit, and we're gonna keep on rolling with a night of celebration in the Big Easy on the next post.
  21. While these two worked together a lot around this time, this match is the best one that they've had together. They work it as a big show match rather than a typical house show one so you get some learned spot along with some different counters. It's really amazing how much better Charlotte is when she has a clear character and is comfortable with her moveset. Sasha's performance isn't too far off of her other big match performances. ****
  22. I loved the performances from Sasha, Charlotte and Bayley in this. Sasha ducking Charlotte early and using the Lynch distraction to clothesline her on the apron was great heel work. As were the little taunts thrown Charlotte's way. Charlotte played the badass face perfectly. Bayley starting off as the fiery avenger and morphing into the FIP was great as well. Becky was fine but overshadowed by the other three by a long way. If this match had about five to ten more minutes and was the blowoff to a tag feud it would have been a MOTYC, but it was a buildup match for Sasha vs Charlotte. So the Bayley FIP turns into a quick Sasha rollup to get the one-up on Charlotte instead of a big Bayley comeback that sets up a Charlotte hot tag (the crowd would have gone for this hook, line and sinker with a few more cutoffs.) Regardless, really good stuff and worth seeing if you like tag wrestling and great heel work.
  23. Superstar Sleeze

    [1999-05-03-WCW-Nitro] DDP vs Ric Flair

    WCW World Heavyweight Champion Diamond Dallas Page vs Ric Flair - WCW Nitro 5/3/99 The April WCW renaissance is over. Poor Ric Flair not even DDP could seemingly get a good match out of him at this point. The Charlotte crowd wanted to cheer Flair throughout this match, but he just did not give it to him. It was a weird match on paper as heel vs heel with a heel ref. Flair just could not muster any real babyface offense until the end of the match. It was filled with his usual bumping around and DDP looked fine with great fire behind his moves, but Flair just did not seem to have much in the tank. He can still move around just fine, but there was no flow to this match at all. DDP using tape to choke Flair and the figure-4 got some heat. Flair finally started battling back with some real hard chops and a double axehandle, but then Savage and Gorgeous George show up. It is Gorgeous George that goes after Flair so his natural reaction is to cop a feel. DDP hits him with some knuckledusters. Flair/Savage goes nowhere and neither does the Page/Savage partnership. What a mess!
  24. Shake Them Ropes December 23, 2014 Episode 57 http://traffic.libsyn.com/shakethemropes/str12232014.mp3 Download This week’s “Merry Christmas!” episode of Shake Them Ropes begins with some much needed NXT talk! We’ll recap this week’s TV, featuring Becky Lynch, Kevin Owens, Baron Corbin and more. We’ll talk where Finn Bálor and Hideo Itami are headed as we move into 2015, and whether or not The Ascension has what it takes to make an impact in WWE. We’ll get into Dean Ambrose finally getting a big win on a show no one watched, and whether we buy into the Dolph Ziggler push even after a fortunate Smackdown. As we continue our recaps of all 100 Must See Matches on WWE Network according to WWE.com, we’ll talk Hogan vs Andre from WrestleMania 3. Everyone has seen the final few moments a million times, but what was the rest of the match like? We discuss on a packed edition of Shake Them Ropes. 00:00-02:00: No Kwanzaa Talk 02:00-16:30: NXT TV & Talent 16:30-19:10: Roman Reigns Makes a Decree 19:10-38:00: Curtis Axel & NXT Tag Teams 38:00-40:15: Dean Ambrose’s Big Win 40:15-43:30: Dolph Ziggler’s Win Streak 43:30-58:00: #95 – Hogan vs Andre Subscribe Free iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/shake-them-ropes-pro-wrestling/id888620707?mt=2 A member of Voices of Wrestling!