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WWE Hall of Fame

On January 9th, World Wrestling Entertainment (or WWE, formerly WWF) held the Royal Rumble. This 30-man battle royal determined who will wrestle in the main event at Wrestlemania in just seven weeks. Wrestlemania is WWE’s Christmas, New Year’s and birthday all rolled into one. It’s the biggest event of the year and a spectacle it’s hard to describe unless you see it for yourself.

The night before Wrestlemania, WWE holds its annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Every year, WWE inducts roughly seven or eight new entrants. This may seem like a lot, but they usually have two big names, a tag team, a female, a less popular person from an ethnic minority, a manager, a behind the scenes worker and someone going into the celebrity wing. The celebrity wing is how the likes of Drew Carey, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the current President of the United States end up in the Hall.

WWE just announced the first inductee into the class of 2017. It’s Kurt Angle. For those of you who don’t know, Kurt Angle is the only bona fide Olympic Gold Medalist to ever compete in the WWE. Now, there are plenty of good reasons why Kurt Angle should go into the Hall of Fame; but there are reasons I’m surprised he is. His WWE career was impressive; he racked up a lot of accolades and he’s one of the most entertaining performers I’ve seen. On the other hand, he’s had some legal issues. They include, DUIs, reckless driving, and accusations of stalking an ex-girlfriend that required a legal agreement for the two not to interact. Not the most heinous of crimes, and forgivable.

What I find it harder to believe they forgave, is what he’s been doing for the past ten years. Angle received early release from his WWE contract, claiming he needed time off to heal. He promptly went to work for WWE’s competitors, TNA, and worked there the next ten years. He’s already in the TNA Hall of Fame and will be the first person to be inducted into both Hall of Fames. WWE has not always been so kind to perceived slights.

80s star“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka died recently at age 73. WWE aired numerous tributes to the wrestling legend. The thing is, he had recently been charged with third degree murder. He never stood trial because he was judged unfit just 12 days before his death. WWE flirted with bad publicity in celebrating the man’s life. Luckily for them, the media did not pick up on the story.

Some things are unforgivable. On June 25, 2007 wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife, and his 7-year old son were found dead in his home. Learning the news, WWE called off its live show and aired a tribute show to Benoit. Sometime during that show word began to come out that the incident was being investigated as a murder suicide. WWE was left airing the show. When WWE aired its next scheduled show, Vince McMahon (who at the time was supposed to be dead in storyline) gave a heartfelt apology and vowed Benoit’s name would not be mentioned again. He meant it. WWE began systematically erasing Benoit from their history. Old shows were chopped up to remove him. Needless to say, his merchandise never appeared again. Recently, however, with the advent of WWE’s own network and the need for streamed content, WWE has begun showing old Benoit footage with a disclaimer. Benoit will never go in the Hall of Fame.

Speaking for myself, I’m satisfied with that. Chris Benoit was one of my favorite wrestlers at the time of his death. I was hit pretty hard. But it seemed unfair to wipe him off the map. Especially when medical experts have speculated that post-concussion syndrome brought about by Benoit’s wrestling career (in WWE, World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling) could have caused his actions. Benoit himself claimed he had lost track of the number of concussions he had suffered. I’ve heard at least one wrestler (Montel Vontavious Porter, aka MVP) claim Benoit had shown strange symptoms, like losing track of where he was while in the ring. Wrestling may have been what caused this tragedy and, to their credit, WWE have gone to great lengths to reduce the risk of concussion in their matches and non-match segments (aka angles) since. I still own a Chris Benoit shirt. I would never wear it, but I can’t bring myself to throw it away. I try to hold on to the good memories, even with the dark cloud over them. Perhaps WWE is trying to do the same thing.

Posted on February 16th, 2017 by Lucian | Leave a Comment
Filed Under Entertainment

Can I stretch TNA into a column of its own? We’ll see. The opening promo is all about Jeff Hardy but it’s Ric Flair who opens the show. Ric is the new special guest referee for Matt Morgan’s title shot against Jeff Hardy. Flair calls out Morgan, who answers. Flair, who has never lacked for balls, wants Morgan in a match. Morgan says wrestling Flair was number one on his bucket list anyway so he’s happy. Later they add a stipulation, if Morgan wins he can pick a referee. Lose and not only does he lose his title shot he never gets another shot at Hardy again.

We get a weird mixed tag next. The Motorcity Machineguns join Jay Lethal and Velvet Sky to take on Generation Me, Robbie E and Cookie. This is a fast paced and athletic match. During it we learn Lethal gets a rematch against Robbie E at the next PPV. It takes spray to the eye and a handful of tights for the heels to pick up a win. At least TNA is letting some young guys win matches. The guns demand a rematch with Gen Me alone on Reaction. Reaction?

Jeff Jarrett is afraid of Kurt Angle despite planning to show off his MMA skills. And abusing interviewer Jeremy Borash is a cheap way to get heat. Jarrett seems to be playing the heel well again but does he really deserve this spot any more? If he wasn’t the founder would he still have a job? Jarrett has six MMA students out for an exhibition tonight. The crowd is chanting “You Sold Out” so they’re buying what Jeff is selling. Jeff displaying moves in slow motion then hurting students is pretty boring. Shout out to Ken Shamrock though. “Boring” chants take over as this goes on but it’s the kind of boring that makes you want someone to interrupt the heel rather than wanting to change the channel. It’s Samoa Joe who interrupts Jarrett makes Joe go through two of his students to get a Submission Match with Double J. Jarrett just throws students at Joe then runs away. This wasn’t terrible but Joe beating up a student is not a decent enough pay off. The six jobbers added nothing.

Raven has to beat Jeff Hardy or he gets fired. EV 2.0 is a shell of what it is was and maybe Raven should go so this storyline can die out. Sure, Tommy Dreamer can find a place on the roster and they try to give some rub to Brian Kendrick through his association with them but really, the stable has been running on fumes for a while now. Hogan comes out to mockingly say good-bye to Raven but he does nail some of his catchphrases nicely. Let’s take a moment to recall that Raven was in TNA long before EV 2.0. Raven was once the premiere babyface in the company and he’s a former TNA Champion. I don’t know why he’s leaving now but I wouldn’t blame him one bit if he’s finally hanging up the boots. It’s just a pity his good-bye match, if it turns out to really be that, was little more than a squash by Jeff Hardy. With Mick Foley off promoting his book EV 2.0 is now reduced to Stevie Richards, Tommy Dreamer and Brian Kendrick. They give Raven a good send off.

Dreamer sticks around to call out Rhyno. So why did Rhyno turn on them? Well, he too was here long before EV 2.0 and they came along and stole his spotlight. But, more important, none of them lifted a finger when his contract expired. Eric Bischoff cared about him. Dreamer calls him a sellout and a quitter and this leads to violence. Rhino easily deal with Dreamer so Van Dam can come out. But a Gore actually leaves Rhino on top. Does anyone still care about Rhino?

Do we even expect Shannon Moore to last long in a Casket Match against Abyss? He actually puts up a fight but I never even consider that he might win. The Pope magically appears in the casket and attacks before it ends and, somehow, we get a disqualification in a Casket Match. Angelina Love and Mickie James have a #1 contender’s match. It’s more competitive than just about any WWE Diva’s match.

How did a beached whale get in the Impact Zone? Oh no, it’s Brother Ray. Ray is taking credit for the 3D and I guess WWE let some trademarks drop because he actually calls it the Dudley Death Drop. Apparently Chris Sabin was the first man to ever kick out of a 3D and Ray blames Devon. But do we have to revive the old “I’m Shawn Michaels you’re Marty Jannetty” shtick? The crowd wants Devon but don’t get him. Brother Ray walks off tall tonight.

If you haven’t figured out by now that you need to DVR Reactions to see the end of Impact you need serious help. If you are still using a VCR, I pity you. They must have taped this show after the amusement park closed because the crowd is actually behind the new wrestlers not just mindlessly chanting for any old familiar face they see, regardless of if they’re a face or a heel. Ric Flair is a legend, but watching this match I had to wonder if he was any better today than Sergeant Slaughter was on RAW? There’s a really long ref bump that lets Flair cheat a bit then a Fortune run in to beat down Morgan. Doug Williams stays on the outside looking in. Then he starts his turn on Fortune as well. Williams gives Morgan time to recover and once he cleans house he hits a Carbon Footprint just in time for the ref to recover and Morgan will name the referee for his title shot. Look, Ric Flair is my favorite wrestler of all time but he didn’t look good here. Ric already had the best retirement a man can hope for and it’s really feeling like joining TNA is just tarnishing his legacy.

Reaction isn’t a bad show. It has a lot of solid interviews. But all it does is add depth to what we already know. It’s never new information. Now, tonight, we have an actual match on the show. But it’s an empty arena match and I’ve never been fond of those. The crowd matters to the feel of a match. Sometimes it helps; sometimes it hurts (see Goldberg vs. Lesnar – although that was so bad it was good on a bizarre social experiment level) but I want it there. The camera work on the match is also really crappy since this isn’t supposed to be heavily produced television. With no crowd, and little commentary, you can hear everything these guys say. There’s also no ref. It’s just a really long back and forth brawl The trash talk is very good but it’s too long for what it is.

Apparently, to see the end of Reaction you have to tape the show after it too. There was supposed to be more interviews with Raven and Hardy. If you stayed up until after midnight and watched them please leave a comment.

I gave TNA a lot of time tonight and I’m not sure it deserved it. This wasn’t a bad episode but the more recent ones have been better.

Wrestling Recap, The Undertaker

It feels like WWE has been having a lot of Pay Per Views lately. Smackdown is the last stop before Bragging Rights so let’s see what they can do to push one of their less popular shows. We open with the 7 members of both teams (minus R-Truth who still can’t get into Canada) in the ring and Teddy Long letting them book their own matches. Miz put himself, Jackson and Sheamus on one side which Show counters with himself Kofi and Rey. Edge challenges CM Punk, Morrison wants Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger goes after Santino. Tyler Recks keeps his mouth shut. Oh and Kane takes on Randy Orton as we already heard.

The six-man tag starts right away. Matt Stryker shows he is, or at least was, a comic book fan by referring to this as Secret Wars. Despite putting more powerhouses on the RAW side it’s Smackdown who picks up the win when Mysterio hits a Splash off Big Show’s shoulders. So Smackdown looks strong again, pointing to RAW winning on Sunday. Swagger takes on Santino but, for some reason, Hornswoggle takes issue with Swagger’s Soaring Eagle. Most of this is a joke and Swagger picks up yet another win for Smackdown. Stryker: “Santino is going to need Cobra and Destroy to get out of this one.”

Now that Cody Rhodes is one half of the tag team champions maybe he should stop having solo vignettes. Del Rio and Morrison put on an okay match, but Del Rio wins for Smackdown, again. We’re also only at the halfway point when the Edge/Punk match gets underway. It is a bit odd to have two guys who were just traded for each other defending their new brands. Did Cole just say Evan Bourne is injured and out for four months? My cable goes out just as Miz and Alex Reilly attack Edge, causing a DQ, one-by-one the rest of the team come out to hit a move or two then get taken out and wait for the next guy. The cycle ends with Punk coming back to GTS Mysterio then eat a Spear from Edge. I know Smackdown is on a new network but do we have to push them this hard?

We get more annoying Diva crap as LayCool dresses as The Hart Foundation. They face Natalya and Kelly Kelly in a tag match. We learn that Layla will be the one to wrestle on Sunday which is annoying when Natalya makes Layla submit because it pretty much ensures that LayCool is retaining Sunday.

Kane and Rady Orton put on a better match than I was expecting out of them. Both look strong but Kane loses the match when the lights go out and Taker’s music plays. The show ends with the return of a classic bit as Undertaker comes up through the ring and drags a screaming Kane down and out of sight.

Over on TNA the heels are running the show. No Hogan and no more Dixie Carter means Bischoff is running the show. He puts Ken Anderson, who has one arm in a sling, against Kazarian in an Ultimate X match. If he can survive he’s the number one contender. Bischoff plants seeds of doubt in RVD’s mind that more of his friends will turn on him before putting him in a tag match with Sabu against Beer Money.

The Pope is a face now and he gets AJ Styles in Street Fight. Bischoff plays fair and bans Fortune from ringside. It’s a title match and a fine, roughhouse match; until Abyss, not technically a member of Fortune, runs in and destroys The Pope. Did this elevate The Pope? Maybe a little, but not much. Later, Pope is mad Samoa Joe didn’t come to his aid. Still later, Jeff Jarrett and the two “security guards who are actually rookie wrestlers” take Joe out.

In diva crap, Miss Tessbacher needs to become a wrestler now and WWE’s Katie Lea Burchill is here, but they’re calling her Winter and I get a weird “mad Ophelia from Hamlet” vibe off her. Mickie James beats Sarital then Tara attacks her post-match. Oh and that Jersey Shore rip off I want to see gone gets to beat Amazing Red. Team 3D wants one last title match, after which they will retire. I hope they manage to put on a good final match. I hope they put over the Guns then I hope they stay retired.

The RDV/Sabu v. Beer Money match doesn’t last long before Sabu brings a chair in the ring and accidentally throws it in RVD’s face. 1) He hit RVD 2) Had he hit his target they would have been disqualified anyway. RVD goes after Sabu and EV 2.0 has to pull them apart. Anderson gets a Fortune beat down before the match. They drag him to the ring, not technically interfering because the match has not started yet. Kazarian almost wins before Anderson recovers. Anderson wrestles the match one-handed and still manages to keep it entertaining. Then they make a big mistake. Anderson brings out a ladder. Now I watched the very first Ultimate X match, which Kazarian won 7 years ago, and there was one rule: No ladders. Now they forget all about that? There is no point whatsoever in an Ultimate X match if ladders can be used. Real fans care about the details. Now, perhaps he would have been disqualified had he succeeded, we’ll never know. Fortune runs in and destroys Anderson before he can get the X and Matt Morgan just puts Kazarian on his shoulders and he claims the win that way. Anderson gets a steel pipe and chases off Fortune, only to be ambushed by Jeff Hardy with a steel chair. If you like a little blood in your wrestling then TNA trumps WWE hands down.

The finish is Flair and Bischoff heading off to go clubbing together, but Kurt Angle, pipe in one hand, the other in a sling, trashes their limo. This was actually a pretty good show. Yes, there was a lot of crap I’d prefer not to see, but unlike last week it seemed to all come together. Could the common denominator in TNA booking good shows be leaving Hogan off camera?

Bragging Rights is sponsored by Smackdown vs RAW 2011. Would it be cynical to think this is the only reason they have this particular event? I happen to think WWE simply has too many Pay Per Views, with 3 in a six week span build up is going to suffer. Did we need Hell in the Cell? Wouldn’t it have been better to have two more weeks to build to Bragging Rights? I won’t be seeing the show so I don’t know how much it matters to me. I’m not agonizing over the fact that I’ll miss it.

WWE SmackdownI like Green Day so Smackdown’s new opening makes me happy. We have an Undertaker stunt double standing on the outside of the Rose Garden in Portland. Smackdown has stolen RAW’s idea of having qualifiers for the Bragging Rights team and the first match is Rey Mysterio versus one half of the tag team champions, Cody Rhodes. You figure the tag champs will want to defend at Bragging Rights and Mysterio should go over anyway. It’s a better match than most of the qualifiers on RAW, despite the predictable ending.

Kaval talks his way into a match with Big Show where, if he lasts five minutes, he can earn a spot on the Bragging Rights team. Apparently we get yet another Kane/Undertake match at Bragging Rights, but they’re actually going to do a Buried Alive match in the PG era. Jack Swagger versus MVP for the third spot is at least hard to predict. More comic antics from the Soaring Eagle, but Swagger gets the anklelock on and MVP taps almost immediately.

Next Alberto Del Rio gets his shot and with Chris Masters as his opponent you know he’s going to qualify easily. It doesn’t help that the announce team, which has Cole again and Big Show sitting in as well, barely mention Masters. The match at Bragging Rights is not elimination, it’s one fall to the finish. Edge also gets a shot at the team and, again, you know he’s going to win even before Dolph Ziggler is announced as his opponent. Kaval actually does last five minutes against Big Show so the team is coming together as well as RAW.  Tyler Reks, a new guy I don’t even remember, comes to challenge Kaval for his spot. Kaval is game, but in rough shape after facing Show and Reks quickly beats him.

Drew McIntyre finally shows up for the last qualifying match and Kofi Kingston is his opponent. Smackdown has had to squeeze in all the same qualifiers RAW had to, but because it’s not padded out with Nexus storyline even this very short match seems better than RAW’s matches. Kingtson gets a clean win. It’s just a pity all these matches have gone the predictable way.

The blowoff of the show is more Kane versus Undertaker promos.  Kane is cutting some nice promos lately, but if you don’t look forward to the match they are going to have to blow it off, what does it matter? Taker doesn’t speak but comes out on top of the fisticuffs for a change then creates magic explosions and the urn gets dropped. There’s no rhyme nor reason to who comes out of these exchanges.

Wrestling Recap

Okay, so over at TNA “They” turned out to be Bischoff, Hogan, and the Jeffs, Hardy and Jarrett. So Bischoff has already trotted out his second good idea ever, turning Hogan heel. I’m so glad I didn’t pay to see that.  Eric also swapped contracts last week and Dixie turned control of the company over to Hogan and Bischoff. They are out to yak at first. He’s Hollywood Hogan again, just in case you weren’t already blindly aware of the derivativeness. And, now that TNA is totally dominated by heels, it’s Fortune who interrupts them… But they end up hugging. The claim is being made Kurt Angle is gone from TNA. Sting and Kevin Nash turn face for a bit of balance, but here’s the problem, this is the culmination of months of story building. It should be a huge deal, but I’m already bored. It doesn’t help that we’re a third of the way into the show and we haven’t had a match!

The knockouts get the first action of the night as Madison Rain demands a rematch with new champion Tara. Madison expects Tara to just lay down and she does. So it wasn’t a match after all. This ticks off Mickie James. There’s someone from Jersey Shore here tonight, but that’s best ignored.

Kurt is supposed to retire, but he’s not sure he should after getting screwed. That draws Jeff Jarrett. Their back and forth is pretty good, but it’s still not a match. With security’s help Jarrett gets Kurt handcuffed then slams his head into the stage. This actually draws the ire of Tazz who backs them off. Kurt’s neck is supposed to have been injured yet again so they’re playing up how Kurt could be really hurt. Samoa Joe’s mad at Jarrett too. Now more than halfway through we get a real match as Abyss takes on Joe. Even this match is ridiculously short as Abyss hits Joe with the ring bell for a disqualification. RVD has to chase Abyss off after the match. RVD wants Jeff Hardy, but Bishoff decides he has to face Mr. Anderson tonight for the shot.

The Pope has to face Fortune since he’s been friendly with Nash and Sting. Another joke of a match which leaves the main event as the only real match of the night. Those of you with DVRs had better have learned by now you need to record Reaction to see the end of this show, but even this match ends in a Jeff Hardy run in and inconclusively. TNA is trying so hard to be something special and it’s not working.

An odd week. Lots of matches, but only a few of them are actually good. RAW has the more compelling storylines, but worse wrestling, while Smackdown has action but the Kane/Taker feud is interminable.  NXT is just annoying and TNA can’t do anything right. There never seems to be a week where everybody is firing on all cylinders. It would be nice if it ever happened.

Wrestling Recap, The Undertaker

Smackdown is still on Syfy. Tonight Rey Mysterio Jr returns to the ring for revenge against Albert Del Rio. Edge is already in the new opening. I didn’t see CM Punk though so maybe he was the one traded to RAW. Teddy Long is here to officially introduce Edge. Edge is friendly with Long so I guess the face turn is in full effect. Oh lord, Michael Cole is here. Cue Jack Swagger to interrupt, accompanied by the Swagger Soaring Eagle! Funny bit. We go straight into a match. The eagle gets Speared off the apron which is always entertaining. This is a good match with Edge picking up the win in a solid piece of booking.

Cody Rhodes is teaching us to brush our teeth now? Yep, this is making me hate him. Layla wrestles Kelly Kelly. Natalya is with Kelly at ringside. Whatever happened to Tiffany? Oh… wait… I don’t care. Layla needs help to win which is a problem since she’s never going to get over on her own until this group splits up. And it’s still too soon for that.

The Big Show just jogged to the ring. His conditioning sure has improved. I wonder if he quit smoking. Show has a movie to plug. Show is team captain for Smackdown at Bragging Rights. And he names Hornswoggle as team mascot. Glee. And, because this is going so well, here come the Dudebusters to audition. Show, like the WWE Universe, doesn’t know who they are. It sucks. Show Chokeslams both of them.

Can’t we have the tag champs enter together? And why are the champs coming out first again? Do I harp on that too much? Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes face Kaval and Kofi Kingston. On a bad day I outweigh Kaval. The champs get the win, which make sense, but leaves Kaval still without a win since debuting on Smackdown.

Paul Bearer is as good on the microphone as he has always been. Pity Kane and Taker aren’t as good in the ring as they always were. Kane cuts another serviceable promo, but what’s with the weird organ music stings? I am not pleased we have to endure more Kane/Undertaker matches. Especially since this will probably go all the way to Survivor Series.

Time for Dolph Ziggler versus MVP for the Intercontinental Championship. WWE brass seem to take this show a lot more seriously now that it is on SyFy compared to when it was on MyNetwork TV. Or are we just in the honeymoon phase? There seems to be trouble between Vickie Guererro and Dolph over NXT storylines. Vickie walks away so we actually see if Dolph can win on his own. Except Katlyn from NXT shows up and interferes to give Dolph the win. Ziggle is getting better, except the Zig Zag seems to look worse every time he hits it. Maybe it needs to be replaced.

The three men announce team of Striker, Grisham and Cole is actually less annoying than Striker, Cole and Lawler. And Josh Matthews is here too, interviewing Alberto Del Rio. The Essence of Excellence is not a bad moniker. Mysterio dominates early on. It’s actually a bit much. Rey may be passed his prime, but the pair put on a fine match here. When Del Rio’s ring announcer tries to interfere he and Del Rio collide which sets up the 619, then a Flying Splash for the victory. I’m a little surprised he got the win here, but it wasn’t entirely conclusive so the feud will probably continue.

TNA was live this week. Abyss abducts Dixie Carter and only Eric Bischoff comes to her aid. This actually looks like it’s enough to get Abyss fired. It certainly seems like Abyss was trying to get fired. Like, Office Space trying. RVD threatens to walk if he doesn’t get his match to settle things with Abyss. So win, lose or draw Abyss is fired on the 11th.

The Hogan bad idea has been abandoned. He is not going to be able to wrestle at Bound for Glory. Oh look, Mickie James is here. She’ll be guest referee for the fourway at Bound for Glory. Oh crap, Team 3D is coming back.

Ric Flair faces Mick Foley in a Falls Count Anywhere Match. Less than a minute in and Foley is opened up. About another minute and there goes Flair. TNA wrestling with blood because we’re not aiming for 12 year olds. That said they are blanking out the profanity from the crowd. Flair can still deliver a garbage match and these two give it their all so I’m quite pleased with the results. In the end they both go through a table but Foley pulls himself up with the ropes while Flair almost gets up, then does a patented Flair Flop into thumbtacks. That means Flair has to kiss Foley’s ass. We get a Fortune attack to prevent that. I think I’m glad. EV 2.0 make the save and we see no brawl. Smart to tease a bit rather than give too much away before Sunday.

We finish with what essentially amounts to a Royal Rumble with forty-five second entrance intervals. We’re up to 19 guys in before there is an elimination, but #19 is Abyss. He throws about seven guys out before everyone piles on him. They break his momentum, but for no good reason, don’t eliminate him and go back to fighting amongst themselves. It comes down to Abyss, Anderson and Angle until, long after the last competitor entered, RVD decides to show up. RVD takes out Abyss and himself at the same time. That leaves Angle to eliminate Anderson and win $100,000. So is Angle winning the championship Sunday or is he going to surprise us all and return to WWE? I won’t be watching to find out.

A good week in wrestling, as far as I’m concerned, with Smackdown having the best in-ring action. I hope those of you buying Bound for Glory enjoy it. I look forward to reading someone else’s recap. Happy Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving to those in North America. It’s my birthday as I type this so I’m off to visit family. But I should be caught up by NXT next week and you’ll see the next column as usual.

Wrestling Recaps

Smackdown arrives on SyFy with a brand new opening theme and sequence. It’s actually a big improvement. The big show kicks off with Dolph Ziggler defending his title against MVP. Not exactly big name superstars to open with. Let’s hope the match is solid… It’s not. It is all a set-up for Nexus, minus Wade Barrett, to attack. Ziggler takes the initial attack leaving MVP alone in the ring. They do the surround and attack move, then beat MVP down for Gabriel’s 450 Splash. Big Show finally shows up. I know he was slow, but he was no help to MVP. And even a giant falls to a four on one assault. You know what that means, it’s time for John Cena. Maybe if people stopped coming out one at a time they’d have a better chance. Nexus is busy beating down Cena when Big Show returns with a steel chair and drives them off. Barrett is on TitanTron. He’s just here to recap the stipulations of the match on Sunday. Apparently, he’s a friend of the network head so he gets to pick matches. Nexus vs. Big Show five-on-one and John Cena versus Kane. And here I thought they might be putting the early focus on actual wrestling.

Oh great, Michael Cole is here. We have an Undertaker/CM Punk match tonight. We get an 8-Diva tag match. There’s a few decent moves, but Hornswoggle shows up to mess with LayCool so it’s hard to take the match seriously. WWE is actually plugging Mick Foley’s new book despite Foley being with TNA now. We’re in Oklahoma so Jack Swagger gets to celebrate homecoming. He’s got a guy in an Eagle mascot costume with him. I wonder if that is an enemy in disguise. He’s upset he didn’t get a parade. So, he’s moved to Texas. Instead of the eagle betraying Swagger, Edge shows up. Edge is on a campaign against stupidity in wrestling. He’s Don Quixote now? Edge decks the eagle and Swagger runs off. That leaves Edge to Spear the eagle. Is he supposed to be a face here or what?

Sick of Nexus? Tough. They are lumberjacks for Cena’s match later tonight. Their match with Show is quick. Since four of them beat down Show earlier why would he have a chance against five? As is, once they get Show off his feet, each Nexus member locks a hold on one limb, except Barrett who puts a choke hold on Show’s neck. Show passes out quickly and gets two post match 450 splashes.

Undertaker is looking more Old School in costuming as Paul Bearer and the urn join him for his match with CM Punk. It’s the best match of the night so far, but that’s not saying much. Undertaker wins, of course, with a Tombstone Piledriver. Next up is Alberto Del Rio, still as awesome as ever. He promises Rey Mysterio and his personal ring announcer brings out a Chihuahua in a mask. Cute dog. It even has a brace on one paw. Then it’s time for the real Rey to return. Rey tries to 619 Del Rio, but the ring announcer gets involved again. That let’s Del Rio escape. Rey takes his frustrations out on poor Ricardo. That’s twice now that non-wrestlers have taken beatings. Remember, don’t try this at home.

Randy Orton is here tonight too. He faces his old pupil, Cody Rhodes. The match has barely started when Orton lands his RKO finisher, only to be attacked by Sheamus. The beating lasts longer than the match and we have yet to have one good match all night. Even the main event isn’t given much time and it also ends inconclusively when the lumberjacks attack and Undertaker appears to attack Kane. The final focus is on the brawl through the stands between the two “brothers”. Taker comes out on top, with the urn motivating him. Will that give him the title Sunday? I think so.

TNA again has a problem with split focus. Sure, they’re pushing Bound for Glory, but now they have a big live show three days before it and they’re trying to push that just as hard. So, at that show, we’re going to see Ric Flair versus Mick Foley in a Last Man Standing Match. It’s WCW all over again. Giving away money matches for free. Their promo is awesome, but it’s nothing new. These two already had their long running feud out in WWE. Just like ECW had a revival already in WWE. TNA always striving for new things to copy.

Tonight Kurt Angle faces Abyss in a Steel Cage. The Pope, Kevin Nash and Sting continue to complain about WCW. So, at Bound for Glory, Jeff Jarrett, Samoa Joe and Hulk Hogan will face Sting, Nash and Dinero. Hulk Hogan, who is recovering from back surgery, which they have admitted on camera, is supposed to step in the ring in ten days?! Do they really think anyone is going to pay to see that? Tommy Dreamer actually scores a pinfall as he and Rhino beat Beer Money. Jay Lethal and Amazing Red traded the X Division title back and forth at some house shows; but other than mentioning it and a few still shots neither one is actually on the show. Has the X title been reduced to Xplosion fodder?

Generation Me beat Ink Inc, but the Tag champs get Chris Sabin’s stolen title back from the #1 contenders. We tease more troubles in the top ranks, as an off-screen, unheard phone call from Hogan shows he’s behind Angle while Eric Bischoff likes Ken Anderson. Where the heck is Jeff Hardy tonight? Is he selling the Abyss beating? Kurt bleeds a bucket in the main event and carries Abyss to a decent match for a change. We carry on to Reaction yet again as Kurt teases a Moonsault off the top of the cage, but doesn’t deliver. That’s probably for the best. Abyss takes Angle out but the ref goes down in the process. Ken Anderson comes to Kurt’s rescue. Abyss takes him down too, rips the cage door clean off and goes for Janice. Kurt recovers and manages to take it (her?) from him. The ref never recovers, we don’t get a winner and we just go off the air with Kurt standing there holding Janice. Lousy ending people. You have to watch a lot of Reaction to see that Kurt refuses to shake Ken Anderson’s hand after the show.

Also on for next week is a Battle Royal including every man on the Bound For Glory card. That’s twenty-five men. And the prize? $100,000. Nice to see inflation hasn’t driven wrestling prizes up too high in the face of the global economic downturn. By now, next week’s show looks almost as interesting as the PPV and I don’t have to pay for it. So what inspires me to spend money on the second show when I’ve already had my weekly fill with the free one?

So what’s the verdict for the week? Nothing terrible happened, but I feel like nothing great happened either. TNA had the better wrestling while WWE did a better job building to their PPV. So a mixed bag of a week. Will Hell in a Cell be worth paying for? I haven’t decided yet.

Wrestling Recap

Smackdown is the go home show before Night of Champions. Will it convince anyone to buy the show? We open with the Peep Show, one of at least two talk show segments on Smackdown. The guest is Albert Del Rio who arrives in an expensive car, introduced by his personal ring announcer. This guy’s mannerisms are brilliant. It’s hard to believe he spent most of his career as a babyface and wearing a mask. Christian thinks Del Rio is a flash in the pan. Christian challenges Del Rios to a match or a fight or anything else at Night of Champions. Del Rio will think about it. So Christian slaps him. That changes his answer to no.

The Hart Dynasty face Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre. Tyson Kidd is looking like a million bucks lately. The heels get an upset win that’s basically clean. We learn that the tag belts will be defended at Night of Champions, we just don’t know against who. There’s a really good (and long for TV) Jack Swagger versus Kofi Kingston match. It’s nice to see Swagger looking strong, but Kingston picks up the win via Trouble in Paradise as he’s the one with a match this Sunday.

Rosa Mendes and Kelly Kelly lose to LaCool. Then there’s a funny segment with them and Kaval. Michelle pulls the old pull names out of a hat bit so she can face Melina. Of course, all the names are Michelle. Kaval is so amusing with these two.

Christian faces CM Punk in the main event match and Del Rio joins commentary. Christian is game and puts up a long fight. Del Rios distracts Christian by claiming he’s reconsidering allowing Punk to hit Go To Sleep. Then Del Rio says his answer is still no. Big Show hits the ring and Punk tries to hold him off, but falls to the knock out punch. CM Punk will win Sunday.

Kane and Taker talk for the go home. It seems redundant to say Kane is over the top, but he’s really going all out tonight. Taker tries to appear when the lights go down, but Kane ends up behind him with the title belt. A beatdown ensues. I do sincerely hope these guys put on a great show Sunday, but I’m not optimistic and I’m not going to see it. I have something more important to do at 8:00 Sunday night than watch Night of Champions. If I were motivated to watch the show I could stay up late and watch the 11:30 pm replay, but I’d prefer a good night’s sleep. This simply isn’t a PPV worth losing sleep over. Kane even steals Taker’s moves to beat him down with.

This week’s TNA was actually pretty decent. At the PPV, Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle drew while Ken Anderson beat The Pope. So Eric Bischoff announces a Three-way Dance at Bound For Glory. Dixie Carter overrules him and books a Hardy/Angel rematch with no time limit tonight. It was one hell of a match, but it ended in a double pin. So Bischoff went back to a three-way. Hey, I’m glad I saw that match, but it’s booking in circles again.

Tommy Dreamer tried to call a truce with Fortune, singing the praises of each and every one of them, often with shoot comments, but they beat him down. The other EV 2.0 guys were gone, but Brian Kendrick tried to make the save. Emphasize tried. After Fortune gets tired of the beat down Brian Kendrick issues an open challenge to any member of Fortune. Matt Morgan accepted, in street clothes. He dominates the match, but actually gets rolled up at the end. So Kendrick is getting a push.

Also getting a push: Jay Lethal, who won the X Division Championship. It’s not much of a title anymore, but it’s something at least. That’s the highpoints. Maybe extra time off helped them deliver a better show, I don’t know. I do know this is one of their best shows in a long time. All done with no Hogan. Coincidence?

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