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It’s time for a new year of wrestling. With CM Punk aligned with Nexus we have a refreshed storyline. But isn’t it time to start talking about the Royal Rumble? But, for those not in the know, John Cena picked up an injury in a house show match against Wade Barrett. Cole is claiming he won’t be here tonight and WWE has kept a lid on just how serious it really is. Still, The Miz faces John Morrison tonight so this show has potential.

And we are opening with the championship match, which is Falls Count Anywhere. Lawler is also not here, selling the assault by The Miz. The announce team is Cole and Josh Matthews. Why is The Miz coming out first? So he can jump Morrison on the entrance ramp. Usually they won’t ring the bell until the competitors are in the ring but I guess they make exceptions in Falls Count Anywhere matches. Reilly is involved from moment one. Morrison takes an early leap off the giant W on the entrance ramp. Morrison takes Reilly out of the equation early on then battles Miz around ringside. Miz’s big strategy is getting out of the way when Morrison tries a move on table. That may not be enough to win but the Skull Crushing Finale that follows does end it. Good match for TV and Miz looks stronger than ever.

Melina is a full blown heel now as she teams with Alicia Fox and Maryse to face Natalya, Eve and Brie Bella. They only have one Bella so they can pull the switch early on. It has no affect on the outcome as Eve later pins Melina. That doesn’t make Melina look good as the #1 contender. We’ve reached the point where Tamena is accompanying Santino and Koslov to the ring, even when they are facing the Usos. I guess this fires them up as the Usos actually upset the tag champs. But the champs fight off the post-match assault with the help of Santino and Tamena again hitting the Double Cobra.

Tough Enough is coming back. Does this mean NXT will finally die?

CM Punk is out and still focused on Cena. Where’s that going to go? Now we bring out Wade Barrett to see how these two will butt heads. The fight for control of Nexus is on. The actual members of Nexus don’t get to make a decision before E-GM pipes up to name the participants in tonight’s Three-way Steel Cage match to determine who faces The Miz at Royal Rumble. Sheamus is in, Orton is in and either CM Punk or Barrett. Punk will give up the spot. If Barrett wins Punk accepts him as leader of Nexus and will work for him, Barrett loses and he’s out of Nexus. I can’t shake the feeling they are making the mistake they made when they turned Orton face for the second time. Evolution threw him out and suddenly we were supposed to like him. CM Punk usurping Barrett will not make Barrett likable.

Alberto Del Rio is on RAW? I should enjoy, not question. Alberto’s promos are well delivered but they are starting to all sound the same. R-Truth is the designated interrupter tonight. R-Truth wants to send Del Rio back to Smackdown but he ends up tapping out to the Cross Armbreaker. Truth was more flashy in TNA, probably due to safety issues, so I have never been that excited by him in WWE. At least this was designed to promote the cross-branded Royal Rumble.

CM Punk wishes Barrett luck. Randy Orton feels he was too nice last year. Cole announces that Cena may be back next week. I have no idea what that means in Vince’s crazy wacked out and delusional world. The Triple Threat is being fought under “chicken rules” where the only way to win is to escape the cage. The booking here is too basic. Too much of the match revolves around two guys getting preoccupied with each other, or go down, and the third trying to escape. Then one or both of the other two hurry and stop him.

Just when Barrett is about to escape the cage CM Punk shows up and climbs the cage to help him. But instead of actually helping, Punk rips off Barrett’s Nexus armband and kicks him in the face, knocking him from the top of the cage. Orton RKOs Sheamus and just walks out the door. You’d think more people would use the door in cage matches. So the only face in the match becomes #1 contender to the heel champion. That’s pretty predictable. And am I supposed to feel sorry for Wade Barrett? I don’t. Everything hinges on the status of Cena. If he’s fine then things progress as usual. If he’s hurt… well we’ll call it a hot mess and leave it at that.

Posted on January 5th, 2011 by Lucian | Comments Off on Wrestling Recap: WWE Raw Week Ending 1/8/11
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Here’s some quick thoughts on last week’s TNA.

Concussion mania is on in the Impact Zone as Mick Foley is here to complain about another one. What is the payoff for this going to be? A guy with a concussion wrestles and is okay?

Amazing Red, the white Funaki?

A Fatal Fourway with all heels?

The women’s backstage brawls are getting nastier than the men’s. And I’m not keen on someone just taking the place of an injured competitor when it’s a tournament. Regardless Angelina Love and Winter are now the Knockout Tag Team champs.

I could watch AJ Styles versus Douglas Williams several more times.

I’m not a big fan of tag titles being on the line in 8-man tag matches. It makes the extra four competitors with no shot at the title seem out of place. But if it gets the Motor City Machine Guns in the main event, and winning to boot, then it’s not all bad.

On to this week’s show.

We open with Mick Foley. He immediately calls out Ken Anderson. Same old same old, concussions bad. Matt Morgan interrupts to remind Ken once the bell sounds at Genesis it’s on. Ken is willing to fight right now. It’s Jeff Hardy’s turn to interrupt. He thinks these guys are ready to fight so he’s selected two partners for them so they can battle each other in a tag match.

Robert Roode and Chris Sabin square off in singles action. These guys prove why tag teams still matter when they can put on a good singles match to build a tag feud. Roode picks up a clean win this time out. Orlando Jordan and Eric Young’s New Year’s party features lame bisexuality jokes and an appearance by Shark Boy.

RVD’s mystery opponent is Robbie E. Not a good sign for him. Robbie E can’t be an X-Division contender forever, he’s not ready for the TV title and there’s no good tag partner for him on the roster. He hasn’t caught fire so what’s left for him? Losing to RVD tonight for one. Van Dam will have yet another mystery opponent for Genesis. Survive that and he gets his chance for revenge on Hardy.

Lets see how Velvet Sky and Sarita can do in a Strap Match. It’s a very long strap. I forgot these matches are won by touching all four corners. It’s not too long, somewhat violent, but the ending is pretty typical. Velvet drags Sarita behind her as she touches the corners but Sarita touches them too. When they get to the last one Sarita flips Velvet and wins the match. Angelina makes the save but Velvet is not happy with her or anything else. Angelina tracks down Sarita to bully the bully. Sarita turns the tables and Winter makes the save.

When Jeff Jarrett challenges Amazing Red’s baby brother I’m expecting Angle or Joe to come out. Instead it’s a big guy, a debuting wrestler I guess. Jeff finds himself in genuine trouble and his ring crew have to come to his aid. Even a guitar attempt is stopped by Red himself. Jarrett ends up walking off, being “held back” by his guys. So shouldn’t he get counted out and forfeit the prize money?

Now that Rob Terry is in Fortune he gets to tag with AJ Styles. Magnus and Douglas Williams are teaming up once again so the announcers actually remember The British Invasion. Terry is the least talented here to say the least, but it’s not a bad match and AJ gets the win by using William’s finisher, Rolling Chaos, on Magnus. Feuds involving stealing the other guy’s move are rare these days, but there’s also a title and AJ’s place in Fortune on the line, which makes me wonder if they are overcomplicating things.

Madison Rain is starting to act like Vickie Guererro in her promos. She gets to dress up and do an elaborate entrance for the holiday but it doesn’t stop Mickie Jame from coming out to smack her around.

That brings us to the main event, with Foley on commentary. Ken Anderson has “Bully” Ray as his partner, Morgan draws Devon. The match gets ignored as Bischoff orders Gunnar and Murphy to remove him and they end up knocking him out with a nightstick. We finally focus on the ring as not only does Anderson not get along with his heel partner but he’s overselling every blow to the head. I’m sure Anderson is fine but this storyline still makes me uncomfortable. Everything they’re saying about concussions is very true and Anderson did have one. So why is it okay for them to play off this? Reaction looks back at what was, we must admit, an eventful year for TNA. But with every opportunity TNA has had all year why aren’t they doing a lot better than they are?

Posted on January 1st, 2011 by Lucian | Comments Off on Wrestling Recap: A Look at the Past 2 TNA Shows!
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How lame is my life that I’m home watching Smackdown on New Year’s Eve? Pretty lame. But at least I’m not dating Vickie Guererro. Here she is with Dolph. Vickie is complaining Cena got physical with her when they were in a match. Vickie complains of vertigo. It’s up to Kofi Kingston to try to save us. He points out Vickie had no trouble climbing a ladder at TLC. That draws Jack Swagger to complain as well. Both men want a rematch and when Dolph begs off it turns violent. Kofi clears the ring but Teddy Long is out to book the threeway for tonight. At least after he invites everyone to his New Year’s party.

Our upcoming main event pairs Kane and Alberto Del Rio to face Edge and Rey Mysterio.

It’s Big Show. Let’s see if he’s doing any more than comedic antics to plug a DVD. Well, he’s in a match. That’s something. He appears to be in a full blown feud with Cody Rhodes now. Cody barely gets in any offense during the brief match before he simply walks away. Our first look at Teddy’s party features Drew McIntyre resolving to turn over a new leaf and a “drunken” Chavo who turns out to be drinking non-alcoholic beverages after all. McIntyre is out to wrestle next. Will this be a real match? He’s facing Trent Barretta, who is lucky to still be employed. It’s not much of a match and, just when Barretta is getting in a little offense, McIntrye dodges a suicide dive and Barretta knocks himself out. We get to see Chavo and the Soaring Eagle hug just to confuse things. The four divas we care about get in an argument and Teddy books them in another tag match tonight.

Wait, the tag main event is coming now? What is going to end the show? The Triple Threat? This is a fine little match but there’s really nothing new to note. Del Rio eats a 619 and Spear to give the babyfaces a win at year’s end. But Long is quick to announce Del Rio and Mysterio will tangle next week two out of three falls. While Kane gets a shot at title in a Last Man Standing Match.

The women’s tag match is another example of fine wrestling that isn’t anything special. It’s another case where the faces pick up a win. All four of these women can play to their strengths and Beth’s Glam Slam on McCool looks great too. We get a fun food fight to end Teddy’s party.

At 20 minutes before the end of the show we launch the Triple Threat. It’s another good match that fails to be truly exciting. Vickie keeps Kofi from winning but placing Swagger’s foot on the ropes when Kofi has him pinned. That lets Ziggler sneak in and retain his title yet again. But just how long can they keep the belt on Ziggler and is it really helping him at this point?

On paper this was a great show. There was a lot of solid wrestling action but, in the end, it felt like treading water. It was full of rematches and rehashes of TLC matches and did nothing to push things forward heading for the Royal Rumble. It may just be a problem of there being too much time between two Pay Per Views and that has left us spinning our wheels for now. We should move forward in the new year although the threat of a John Cena injury may shake things up.

As I write this it’s just past 11:30 p.m. on December 31. This has not been the best year for me. So I hope for a better year ahead, not just for wrestling fans, but for all of us.

Posted on December 31st, 2010 by Lucian | Comments Off on Wrestling Recap: WWE Smackdown Week Ending 1/1/11
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I’m neither wild nor young anymore yet I still watch NXT. R-Truth is back to asking “wassap?” and people aren’t Crunk anymore. Dolph is perfect. And Dolph is going to face Johnny Curtis. It’s an okay match but that has more to do with Ziggler’s improving ability to carry a match than it has to do with Cutis’s skill. Curtis does hit one big, but an unspectacular aerial move, which misses to set up Ziggler’s win. Derrick Bateman faces Conor O’Brien. Kofi Kingston fills in for Daniel Bryan. The rat man comes up with the win after an unimpressive match.

The first challenge is the Power of the Punch with 2 points to the winner and a chance to earn 3 if they can beat Alex Reilly’s record. Derrick Bateman starts but Johnny Curtis immediately beats him. Byron Saxton doesn’t beat Bateman let alone Curtis. Connor O’Brien makes a cheese joke before failing miserably. Novak gets the coaching to take off his blazer. A mediocre punch. Brodus Clay is last and yet gets a poor score. This punch machine sucks. So Curtis gets 2 points and Reilly’s record is safe.

Byron Saxton gets a shot at Ted Dibiase and with Dibiase in a “hitting rock bottom” storyline Saxton could pick up the win here. After a short match where Dibiase is in control Brodus hits Saxton outside the ring. The problem is it’s right in front of the referee so Saxton gets the win by DQ. Dibiase has Maryse slap Brodus a few times as punishment. Is rookie/pro dissention even novel on this show any more?

This brings us to the NXT Talent show. Derrick Bateman is reading a Haiku. It’s a cheap New York plug and the crowd still doesn’t get behind him. Johnny Curtis flag dances. He actually knows what he is doing and he gets some love from the crowd. Byron Saxton reads a fairy tale. It’s awful and goes on forever. The crowd totally turns on him and the buzzer hits to. Connor O’ Brien tells jokes. Terrible, terrible jokes. Jacob Novak models. Josh has taken over Michael Cole’s place of running down the show when it is stupid. Brodus claims he can make anyone look cool so they send out Michael Cole. He’s as annoying as ever and does Clay no favors by pretending to be his friend. Johnny Curtis is the only one who didn’t look idiotic and incompetent so he manages to win. Only one more immunity point but he is well in the lead. Brodus breaks his ribbon and it turns into a brawl. Brodus totally dominates so he can have some hope of getting votes.

The competitions were stupid this week. We had Josh Matthews channeling Michael Cole then, to make matters worse, we had Michael Cole. The wrestling was not great so this show sank back to the poor level we’ve come to expect. Johnny Curtis looks like the golden boy of this season but we’ll get a better picture after we get some rankings, assuming we get them at all.

It occurs to me that I’d much rather see NXT dropped and WWE produce an adult wrestling show and to keep it completely separate. No cross-promotion. Don’t even brand it WWE. Do 2-hour specials instead of PPVs. Air later in the evening and don’t be afraid to be TV-14. Use new guys and a few vets and try to do what ECW should have been. It couldn’t be worse than this.

Posted on December 30th, 2010 by Lucian | Leave a Comment (1)
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CM Punk has regained a lot of credibility very fast. The Straight Edge Society is now an obvious failure yet here Punk is, in a feud with John Cena going into the Royal Rumble.

Santino Marella is not served by fluke wins in uber short matches.

I like how John Morrison is able to manipulate the Miz into putting the stipulation and time of his title shot as the prize if he can beat Alex Reilly. If he loses he forfeits the contendership so you know that’s not going to happen. When Morrison does win he chooses to challenge for the title next week in a Falls Count Anywhere Match.

Tyson Kidd is not off to a great start to his new singles career when he has to lose to Mark Henry.

The crowds have been hotter lately. Miz gets the “What?” treatment and handles it like a pro. He also faces Jerry “The King” Lawler. What’s fun is that Morrison ambushes Miz when the ref isn’t looking and Lawler gets a countout victory!

When did Melina turn heel? Just from one slap last week? What a weak turn.

Look it’s Zach Ryder! But we don’t get to hear his theme song. Boo! He faces Daniel Bryan and loses, of course, so no theme there either. The anonymous RAW General Manager pipes up via mouthpiece Michael Cole. But Miz attacks Lawler and beats him senseless before Cole can finish. I have heard they might actually have Lawler face The Miz at the Royal Rumble.

The final RAW of 2010 ends with a great main event between Orton and King Sheamus. Orton once again proves he can hit the RKO at any time, using it to counter a Slingshot Shoulder Block. Orton was my vote for Superstar of the Year and he rules the roost in the last match of the year. But that’s not the end of the show.

Instead of letting Punk call him out, Cena comes out first and once again calls Punk out. But instead of Punk we get a Barrett-less Nexus. Otunga says Nexus are under new management and offers Cena a truce. Cena really dresses down Otunga well. So we end the year treading water with Nexus beating down John Cena. Though Slater actually hit a wrestling move. Nexus leave Cena laid out and drop an armband behind. Does this do anything to rebuild Nexus? Not really.

Especially since the show is not over and here comes CM Punk. A weak looking GTS on Cena impresses no one and Nexus has their thunder completely stolen. Punk grabs a chair but stops mid-swing. Oh wait, he’s putting on the Nexus armband! CM Punk has taken over Nexus!

Well, that was a swerve, I’ll give them that. But Punk just failed as a stable leader. Why try it again? I can see splitting Barrett off from Nexus but at this point they just became Right to Censor 2.0 (it’s an old reference, look it up) and I can’t see that going well. It would have been much smarter for the Barrett-less Nexus to move to Smackdown where they would learn more and be relatively over compared to that roster.

Posted on December 29th, 2010 by Lucian | Comments Off on Wrestling Recap: WWE Raw Week Ending 1/1/11
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Hi loyal readers! I’m back from a long visit with my parents and catching up on wrestling. So you’re not going to get my usual level of detail until I’m caught up.

Brief Smackdown thoughts:

  • If Smackdown wasn’t my favorite show to begin with, a Green Day theme would take it over the top.
  • Orton and Miz’s match was fine and the ending works perfectly for The Miz’s gimmick.
  • It’s good Edge is the champ, but they should have had the rematch tonight and sent Kane lumbering back to the midcard where he, sadly, belongs these days.
  • Drew MacIntyre utterly squashes Kaval. Kaval was released after this match. Nice way to show the guy the door. Only Drew McIntyre may be a lost cause at this point and pairing him with Kelly Kelly is like sewing a dead albatross to his ass.
  • The Kingston/Mysterio vs. Swagger/Del Rio match must have been Vince’s Christmas gift to fans of actual wrestling.
  • Sadly, the main event is John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guererro. Ziggler and Cena give it their all but the post-match attack by CM Punk totally steals the spotlight.

So there’s WWE’s X-mas present to us all. Not bad, but losing Kaval so soon makes NXT even less important than it was. RAW next, then TNA.

Posted on December 29th, 2010 by Lucian | Comments Off on Wrestling Recap: Xmas Wrestling
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No I did not see the PPV. I may have a chance later, but I read the spoilers and there were no surprises on the RAW side of things. So RAW starts with the Miz gloating over still being champion. He is interrupted by Alex Reilly playing Ghost of Christmas Past. No sign of Cole. Lawler and CM Punk are unaccompanied on the announce desk. Cole shows up, sadly, as Ghost of Christmas Present. Miz remains unrepentant. Christmas Future is a still image of the Miz-Girl on the Tron with overlaid moving lips, ala Conan O’Brien. John Morrison gets to provide the interruption. Morrison’s title shot will be “sometime soon”, so probably not being saved for Royal Rumble. Morrison goes after Miz and Reilly but Sheamus arrives to take Morrison down. Anonymous GM books a six-man tag between Miz, Reilly and Sheamus versus Morrison, Lawler and Orton. Orton ambushes the Miz to punctuate the segment.

Cole is back on commentary and Natalya has joined the gang to make it an even 4. A Triple Threat is on to determine a #1 contender to the Diva’s Championship. Eve, Alicia and Melina. No great talents here. Some good spots in the match and Melina wins, which is the lesser of three evils. Natalya tries to make nice with her challenger but gets bitch slapped for her efforts.

Nexus is not supposed to be here tonight. Daniel “Why am I stuck with the Bella Twins” Bryan faces William “I’m not retired yet” Regal. This is an excellent match. The student surpasses the master as Bryan makes Regal tap, really quickly, to the LaBell lock. He gets a kiss from both Bellas as a reward and doesn’t seem to know how to deal with it. There’s some random crap with Tamina and Maryse getting in an argument while standing on Santino’s back. And Mark Henry’s joy at no Nexus is curtailed by Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guererro being in da house.

We have a mixed tag with Santino joining with Tamina to face Ted Dibiase and Maryse. Santino’s constant attempts to use the Cobra make this comical and take away from a nice Superfly Splash by Tamina that gets her the win.

We’re at the midpoint of the show. Time to bring out John Cena. Cena wastes a lot of time being cutesy. They break with their own tradition and show some actual footage from last night’s PPV. It’s the scene where Cena brings down an avalanche of chairs on Wade Barrett. Barrett is safely under a palate so it’s not that big a deal. Hopefully he plugged his ears. Cena plans to be in the Royal Rumble. That’s when Vickie Guererro and Dolph Ziggler interrupt. But the hot Houston crowd will not let Vickie speak. Cena plays along but it gets a little silly after three minutes. Vickie wants an apology from Lawler for fat jokes. Which just leads to Cena and the King trading even more crappy fat jokes about a woman who barely looks fat any more. E-GM books Cena to face Ziggler – right now!

A surprisingly pro-Cena crowd cheers him on as he takes on the Intercontinental Champion. It’s a decent match for TV. Dolph taps to the STF, but Vickie has the ref distracted. That lets Ziggler recover and actually hit a Zig Zag, but that’s not enough for the pin. Cena’s Attitude Adjustment is enough to hold down the kid. Then CM Punk hits Cena with a chair and storms off. Is he recovered now? Sheamus and Lawler play duelling kings. Dolph wants Cena on Smackdown tomorrow, but Vickie inserts herself to make it a handicap match… Because I really want to see Vickie wrestle when she seems so unwilling to take a bump.

Miz now carries his title in a briefcase, which Reilly carries, so he’s not still lugging the old Money in the Bank briefcase around but still has a handy weapon to interfere with. We went from a two man announce team with no Cole at the start of the night to just Cole for the main event. Talk about a reversal of fortunes. Oh no, Josh Matthews just joined Cole. So we’re reuniting the announce team of NXT Season 3? Brilliant.

It’s a long match and Morrison gets beat on by the heels for most of it. Orton gets in against The Miz. It breaks down and Lawler winds up legal, but Orton sneaks in and lands The Miz with an RKO and Lawler gets a pin on the WWE Champion. Celebrations are cut off by the E-GM plugging Smackdown. He adds an Orton v. Miz match for the show. Now we Canadians don’t get to see the show early so I won’t be recapping it until next week if at all.

Tonight’s RAW didn’t advance many storylines. With the Royal Rumble not until late January we’re going to need some filler before the drive to that show can begin in earnest. Hence John Morrison and Melina getting title shots. I expect both those shots to be resolved before the Rumble itself. What does the Rumble have in store? Who knows?

After RAW I saw the PPV. It was pretty decent and exciting given how safe WWE tries to work these days. The opening ladder match was a great start. John Morrison continued to break out as a future star. Edge cemented a place in the Hall of Fame if he can just stay on Vince’s good side, or by then Hunter and Steph’s. The Miz continued as the second coming of the Honky Tonk Man with his cheap tactics. The Smackdown main event benefited from adding Rey Rey and Del Rio. The women’s table match was okay. If I had been footing the bill for the replay I might have thought differently but I had a good time overall.

That brings us to NXT, the next show to air in Canada. We get the wheelbarrow challenge again tonight. This time the Soaring Eagle gets to be the passenger. The second competition is trivia. But the trivia is actually really intelligently designed this week. Striker gives a category (former WWE champions, 2010 PPVs) and the rookies have to name something that fits. When they screw up they are gone. No stupid air horns vastly improves this. Derrick Bateman wins both challenges for a total of 3 immunity points. Even the wrestling is pretty good this week. The vignettes between rookie and pro are entertaining. Add in the decent announce team of Todd Grisham and Josh Matthews and this shows is better than its been since season one. I guess the show really only became a joke because WWE treats Women’s Wrestling as a joke.

Loyal readers I am off for the holidays and will have no wrestling access until the 28th. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover all the shows I miss when I get back but don’t worry, the column will continue before the New Year! For those who have something to celebrate these days (what with Hanukkah being well over) I wish you happy holidays!

Posted on December 23rd, 2010 by Lucian | Comments Off on Wrestling Recap: Raw & NXT Week Ending 12/25/10
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