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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
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WWE Royal Rumble

Today’s topic: the 2014 Royal Rumble, sucked or shone? Lets see what FACE and HEEL thought of the show…

FACE: What an amazing Rumble. Let’s start at the beginning. We had an incredible match between Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt. We saw Brock Lesnar destroy the Big Show. The New Age Outlaws turned back the clock and won the tag team titles 15 years after last holding them. That’s a record. Randy Orton and John Cena tore the house down until a distraction by the Wyatt Family cost Cena the match. That’s all before the Rumble itself. There we saw Roman Reigns break the record for eliminations in a match. We saw surprises galore and we saw a great win by Batista.

HEEL: Are you kidding me? What show did you watch? I’ll concede the Daniel Bryan/Bray Wyatt match was excellent. But Lesnar and Show? It wasn’t a match it was just a beating (watch and judge for yourself). And having the announcers describe it as “borderline criminal?” Beating a man with a chair when it’s not part of a sanctioned match is criminal! That’s not the sort of thing you should talk about. Cena and Orton put on an okay match but the crowd was crapping all over it. Orton didn’t get a decisive win over Cena so he still looks like a weak champion. Don’t get me started on the Old Age Outlaws holding a title. And, as for the Rumble, most of it was a bad joke. Kevin Nash entering? JBL entering as a joke competitor? All the while taking up spots that could have gone to guys like Xavier Woods? Disgraceful. Roman Reigns was impressive, so impressive the fans cheered him over your supposed face winner, Batista. The fans wanted to see Daniel Bryan in that match. The fans wanted Daniel Bryan to win that match. I sincerely hope Bryan wins the Elimination Chamber and faces Batista, or both Batista and Orton, at Wrestlemania or you’re going to find there are a lot less people interested in that show that you’d normally expect.

FACE: It’s okay to have some humor in the Royal Rumble. It breaks things up, it breaks things up. It entertains a portion of the fanbase.

HEEL: A midget in a bull costume does not belong it the Royal Rumble. A retired color commentator does not belong in the Royal Rumble. Especially when the announcer says “the JBL character has never entered the Royal Rumble.” You don’t refer to wrestlers as characters. You say something along the lines of “JBL has never entered the Royal Rumble since adopting that moniker.”

FACE: It’s easy for armchair quarterbacks and fantasy bookers to criticize, but the creative team has a lot of factors to deal with. They have to plan for the future. CM Punk was being built up to face Kane, then HHH. Cody Rhodes and Goldust have lost the tag titles. It makes sense for them to feud with each other. Having Goldust eliminate his brother, even if it’s by accident, builds towards that feud. Roman Reigns is going to be a face when the Shield breaks up. That’s something else WWE built towards.

HEEL: No matter how you try to spin it WWE did not give the fans what they wanted and the reaction showed it. Creative needs to get their heads out of their collective rears and start focusing on the right people.

That’s it for this column of World of Wrestling. The one thing Good Cop and Bad Cop agree on is that we welcome your comments, requests and opinions!

Royal Rumble

I think it is pretty obvious that WWE has screwed the pooch with this year’s Royal Rumble. What’s the main attraction of the Royal Rumble? Anyone can see that it is the Royal Rumble match!

Yet here we sit, a week from the event and I’m not sure they’ve announced even half the people in it. Who have they announced? Dave Batista, a man I’ve never been impressed with, who has finally decided to come back because, apparently, it’s not so easy to become a movie star. And beyond him? Alberto Del Rio, a man who has fallen so low down the card he jobbed to Sin Cara about a month ago. Then you throw in Kofi Kingston, a man who nobody thinks has a shot, yet they muddy the waters by giving him a win over the champion. Who does that help? Is Kingston going to become number one contender? Not with “Captain Ego”, Brock Lesnar in line first even after Superman Cena.  Right now there is not one credible person in the Rumble other than Batista, and if you go into the match knowing who is going to win then what’s the point? Other entries include CM Punk, Rey Mysterio, and Roman Reigns.

What else does the Rumble have? Well, we’ve got John Cena versus Randy Orton in a rematch of one of the most historic matches in fifty years, the unification of the WWE and the World Heavyweight championships. And there is Big Show versus Brock Lesnar. With the launch of the WWE Network just about a month away, WWE needs to be bring their A+ game more than ever. They unified the titles a month early. They’ve paid barely any attention to the Royal Rumble match and they’ve let Brock Lesnar just crown himself the next #1 contender. The Royal Rumble is going to decide one half of the main event at Wrestlemania. There’s only one champion left for the winner to challenge. Turning it into a throwaway match is just like throwing away money.

I was watching NXT about a month ago, if my research is right it was the 200th episode. The NXT Tag Team champions, a title I hold in slightly higher prestige than the TNA Knockouts Tag Titles, known as The Ascension, had issues an open challenge to any tag team in the world. They were answered by The American… Pitbulls? Here are some highlights.

The Wolves

Now any Ring of Honor fan, or fan of indie or Japanese wrestling knows The American Wolves. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards have been as famous as you can get without working for TNA or WWE for years now. Which means, of course, once they come to WWE they must be “repackaged.” I’ve never understood why WWE has come to believe every wrestler they hire needs a new name, a new gimmick and near whitewash of their history. I can understand WWE not wanting to acknowledge TNA. TNA at least passes for a vague shadowy ghost of a spectra of a wisp of a challenge to them. But Ring of Honor?

WWE uses RoH as much as a development territory as they do NXT. Where do you think CM Punk came from? Why was CM Punk the last guy they let keep his name? Punk got over in WWE by being the same guy he got over as in the indies and RoH. Bryan Danielson and Daniel Bryan are all but the same and Bryan became Superstar of the Year as voted by the fans. Even worse the pair became Derek Billington (Richards) and John Cahill (Edwards). WWE changed their names and, of course, came up with what my Irish friend Conor could only describe as “shite names.” However that is not the worst news of this story. WWE let the Wolves go. Rather than signing one of the best teams of the modern day, they let them go to TNA. It’s maddening for me to learn this. What’s even more upsetting is I may have to start watching TNA again just to see them.

WWE Fatal Four Way

Check out Part 1 of Lucian’s WWE Fatal Fourway 2010 Wrestling Report here.

Another surprise is that the Smackdown Fatal Fourway is up next, well before the main event. The video promo makes it obvious Kane is going to interfere in this match. Our competitors are the masked luchador Rey Mysterio Jr, CM Punk who recently had his head shaved but hid it by also wearing a mask, the 485 found, 7’ tall Big Show and the champion, two time All-American American Jack Swagger. We get long entrances, including Rey bumping heads with masked children in the audience to remind management he sells a lot of merchandise. I had heard Rey was in danger of leaving the fed with contract negotiations not going well.

The announcer keep saying these are the worst odds a champion can face. There’s never been a five or six man match for a championship? The match gets underway and, typical of these matches, at any given time one or two competitors are usually down and out to keep the action limited to one place so the audience can easily follow. Rey gets to show off his high flying, Show gets to be a giant, Swagger displays technical skills while Punk is the cunning opportunist. Matt Striker compares CM Punk to Charles Manson and David Koresh, which I’m sure helps the PG rating.

Kane shows up, as expected, wheeling in a casket. It’s CM Punk he goes after and he slams him inside the coffin. Punk’s lackey Luke Gallows saves him then drags him away. Kane follows but we’re down to a three-man match. Back when Kane first unmasked they did this ridiculous make-up job on him to make him look deformed and monstrous. It went over so badly and was mocked so mercilessly that the next week the make-up was gone and they never spoke of it again.

The match doesn’t actually last much longer as Rey hits a 619 on Jack Swagger then drops a dime for the pin. I guess he signed a new contract and this was his reward. But Rey has never pinned Big Show and probably never will. This is a surprise for sure but it doesn’t immediately lead into a new story. Overall a good match though.

Ok, if you are new to this I should explain. WWE launched a fake reality show earlier this year called NXT. 8 rookies were competing for one spot on the roster. But after the season the 8 formed a rogue gang to demand they all get contracts. Their first target was John Cena and they’ve ended up battling the entire RAW roster. One was legit fired as I mentioned earlier but 7 remain. They could have killed Bret Hart and now John Cena is here to tell them off. He expects if NXT shows up for their match then all four of the competitors will stand united. He also says he’s not going out there to lose no matter what the odds are.

The Miz vs. R-Truth is next. The Miz won R-Truth’s United States Championship in a preview Fatal Fourway on Monday Night RAW. This is R-Truth’s rematch. The Miz starts by, aptly, running down R-Truth and his tired entrance rap. Miz is an incredible heel. He can make people hate him. The match itself is absolutely awful. It’s nothing but punching and kicking without even the most basic of wrestling moves for variety. We spend part of the overly long match trying to figure how much money we deserve back for having to sit through this. Long, painful story short, Miz retains.

In an interview Edge plays shrink and discusses how he is the only one with the mental acumen to win the Fatal Fourway tonight.

The six person mixed tag match (women can only fight women, men can only fight men) between the Hart Dynasty and the Ousos feels like a filler match designed to give the audience a chance to catch their breath before the main event. The problem is that’s not necessary after the suckage of the previous match. There’s some good technical wrestling here but Natalya is the most interesting competitor in the match. It’s nice that she gets the win after the Dynasty dedicated the match to the “injured” Bret Hart.

John Cena is the face of WWE. Management has huge faith in him. If he’s not the champion he’s within striking distance of it at any time. But many fans resent him, feeling he is shoved down our throats. So we’re treated to dueling “Let’s go Cena!” and “Cena sucks!” chants. Edge and Shamus are the heels (bad guys) in the match while Randy Orton recently underwent a turn (changing from heel to babyface) without actually changing how he acts very much.

We see about four guys watching on a monitor in what is described as the locker room. I’ve never seen a locker room with curtains covering all the walls. That will become important later. It’s another good match with everyone looking like they could win at some point. But the NXT rookies attack the locker room then head to the ring. The announce team bails since they’ve been attacked before. The seven rookies attack Cena. Edge tries to come to his aid but gets beaten down as well. While the rookies are distracted Shamus decides “Screw solidarity” and pins the beaten down Cena. The ref was awfully brave to hang around but Shamus wins the title and runs with it. The rookies turn their attention back to beating down Cena. Then, when Shamus returns to the ramp to show off his title the rookies give chase and Shamus turns tails and runs. We close on Edge, Cena and Orton all laid out. Never did see what happened to Orton. There’s a long boring period of just Cena trying to crawl around before the show goes off the air.

So, all in all, I thought it was a half decent show. It’s not like this was a major Pay Per View like Wrestlemania or SummerSlam. Yet the title changed hands in all three Fatal Fourway matches so they weren’t afraid to make some changes. The NXT angle was advanced, though not by much, and Cena had a major excuse for losing his title. Only the Miz match was truly awful with the two big Fatal Fourways rising to good. While this is not a good place for a new viewer to start tonight’s episode of RAW (on USA Network in the US and The Score in Canada) might be a good place to start.

WWE Fatal Four Way

By way of introduction I’m known as Lucian (not my real name) and I’m a professional wrestling fan from Toronto, Ontario. I watch all the wrestling I can on TV and sometimes order a Pay Per View. I’ve been a fan for years (since the day of the original Raw/Smackdown brand split to be precise) and play wrestling video games and write wrestling fan fiction for Hollywood the Game. I’m looking to be your regular wrestling columnist for My Hollywood Dream. On Saturday I attended the Ring of Honor internet Pay Per View and last night I watched World Wrestling Entertainment’s Fatal Fourway Pay Per View.

If you wonder why I like wrestling there are a number of reasons. I’m a big fan of long-term continuity. A few weeks ago Rampage Jackson was on Monday Night RAW promoting the new A-Team movie. To make a long story short Rowdy Roddy Piper showed up still nursing a grudge against Mr. T and the original A-Team. Where else but a soap opera or a comic book do characters show up nursing a grudge over two decades old? Unlike a comic book these are real people. They age, they retire, they learn, they come, they go but it’s one big storyline stretching back to the fifties. Unlike soap operas it has impressive displays of stage combat. As a former stage actor I was always a sucker for good stage combat. I also like larger than life characters, classic struggles between good and evil and some comedy mixed in now and then. Plus hot women (and men) means I expect to be a fan for a long time to come.

That does not mean I think the current state of American professional wrestling is particularly strong. WWE is struggling to adapt to its new PG rating while Vince Mcmahon’s wife Linda runs for public office. TNA tries to offer an alternative but they usually look second rate compared to WWE and seem to blow every opportunity that comes their way. Ring of Honor offers a true alternative but not on a major TV network and with their Pay Per Views on the internet. But wrestling can change on a dime. One new personality could change everything. There could be a next Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin about to debut at any minute. You never know…

Which brings us to tonight’s show. Some interesting things have been going on in WWE programming lately and we’re going to see things come to a head tonight. The rookies from season one of new show NXT have invaded the company. The Undertaker was found beaten into a vegetative state (to cover a real life injury) and his brother Kane will stop at nothing to find the culprit. And, perhaps most important of all both the major championships will be defended in Fatal Fourway matches; where the champ has a statistical 75% chance to lose his championship. Add in a few minor matches and it should be a full card. But who knows, a last minute match could always be added.

Our opening promo highlights that we’re seeing two big Fatal Fourways tonight. For the uneducated a Fatal Fourway is a four-person match where everyone competes at the same time and the first person to score a pinfall or force a wrestler to submit wins the match. We’ll also see a women’s Fatal Fourway tonight but that’s not important enough to mention in opening credits. Also, the Smackdown half of the promo heavily features Kane, who is not even in the match, and his quest to find out who put his “brother” The Undertaker in a “vegetative state”.

We begin with an appearance by Mr. McMahon himself. He’s here to let us know Raw General Manager Bret Hart will not be here tonight. He even shows us the footage of the renegade faction of former NXT rookies attempting vehicular homicide on Hart. Recently Daniel Bryan was legit fired for choking someone out with a tie, but apparently using a car as a weapon is just fine for a PG rated show.

Before Vince leaves we bring out Vince’s pet project Drew McIntyre. They shake hands and when Drew reaches the ring he calls out Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long, who he has been abusing for weeks, to watch his title shot from ringside. We finally hear from the announce team as current Intercontinental champion Kofi Kingston arrives to defend his belt. It’s a 3-man announce team tonight of Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler and Matt “The Teacher” Striker.

This is a good choice for opening match. Drew McIntyre isn’t a great wrestler yet but Kofi’s flashy style keeps the match exciting throughout. McIntyre works typical heel style, inflicting early damage on Kofi’s left arm then focusing on it throughout. With so much focus on Teddy Long at ringside it’s no surprise when the ref goes down and McIntyre forces Teddy Long to take his place. But Teddy grows a pair and refuses to count Drew’s pin. But Drew’s other enemy, Matt Hardy, attacks him, despite being suspended. This lets Kofi make the comeback and this time Teddy is happy to count the pin.

A quick backstage segment tells us The Hart Dynasty have a 6-person tag against newcomers the Ousos and Tamita tonight. Neither Tyson Kidd nor David Hart Smith are any great shakes on the microphone yet.

The first Fatal Fourway of the night is the most minor, for the Divas championship. This being WWE it’s more about being hot than being a great wrestler. Gone at the days of the Fabulous Moohla. Our competitors are Maryse (hot French Canadian), Gail Kim (hot Korean Canadian), Alicia Fox (hot African American) and champion Eve Torres (hot Hispanic American). Of them all Alicia Fox is my least favorite and she picks up a win by stealing the pin from Eve, becoming the new Divas championship. It would have been a bad idea to have the champion retain but Fox is not someone I think deserves a title belt.

We get a face-to-face between Rey Mysterio and The Big Show, the good guys in the Smackdown Fatal Fourway, to make it clear they are not going to do each other any favors. Rey looks like a midget compared to Big Show. Show’s fist is almost as big as Rey’s head.

Another surprise match between Chris Jericho and Evan Bourne. Word is WWE Management put Chris Jericho in the doghouse after he signed to do the ABC TV game show Downfall (Tuesday at 9 on ABC) and John Cena recently went to bat for Evan Bourne. So it’s no surprise when the rising youngster picks up the win. But Jericho doesn’t dog it at all and the match is superb. If you need to punish Jericho then losing to a rising star is far smarter than having Big Show crush him as they did on RAW.

To find out the results of the rest of the WWE’s Fatal Fourway event, check out part 2 of Lucian’s Wrestling Report.

Ring of Honor

I caught the iPPV (that means internet only Pay Per View) show live in Toronto last night with a couple of buddies. We didn’t have the best seats but they weren’t horrible, we just had to watch the show through Plexiglas.

Now I’m an outsider to RoH as was one of the two guys with me. We spent a lot of time asking the third guy “Who’s that?” My general impressions follow:

The in-ring action of Ring of Honor is the best I’ve ever seen. Lots of exciting action, high impact moves, intensity and workrate that blows the big two out of the water. But, after a while, that starts to wear on you. Counting pre-show and intermission (during which action broke out) the show was almost 4 hours long. With no investment in the characters or storylines I was burned out by the main event as was my other non-fan friend. The crowd was incredibly hot but the second the bell rang to end the main event they flooded out. The arena was not air conditioned (oddly the snack bar was) and it got hot. Plus it was 11:30 at night.

There is very little in the way of angles or mic work. Cornette did a bit, there was a little set-up before the big El Generico Kevin Steen match but mostly it’s match after match after match. Fact is, I’m a sports entertainment fan. I like some angles. I like a little comedy mixed in. Ring of Honor is very good at what it does but I’m not sure what it does will ever have a wide appeal. Still, it makes a great training ground for young guys to learn how to really wrestle before they get a WWE try-out and get neutered.

Guys I saw:

  • Kevin Steen / El Generico – This was the best built match of the night based on the promotion I saw from RoH. I was a little upset it went on first but that was not the end of things
  • Davey Richards – Good athlete, likely never going to make it big
  • Tyler Black – I could see one of the big two coming calling but I don’t see him as a world champion anywhere else
  • Daniels – Awesome as always he put on a match with Kenny Omega after the intermission that got the crowd right back into it
  • The Briscoes / The Kings of Wrestling – I did not expect a No-DQ match in RoH and this was a good, bloody, hardcore brawl. A fan had brought a hubcap in and damn if the Briscoes didn’t end up using it as a weapon. I miss Fans Bring Weapons matches. The burnout for the main event had a lot to do with how good this match was.
  • Daivari was there, Colt Cabana (the former Scotty Goldman) looking better than he ever did in WWE, Steve Corino and Tyson Dux wrestled, as he does whenever RoH comes to Ontario. I knew him from Total Extreme Wrestling where my fed (Tyson Wrestling Alliance, and yes that’s Mike Tyson) has never been able to steal him from MaxPro.

In the end, I’m not going to run out and buy 50 RoH DVDs. If their TV show was available in my area I would watch it, even if it meant adding a special channel, and if my roommate can make my TV synch up with my desktop I might even watch the next iPPV. Maybe stories become clearer when you watch the TV show. I don’t know. I certainly feel my $20 was well spent and I’m glad I got a last minute call to go.

Posted on June 20th, 2010 by Lucian | Leave a Comment
Filed Under Entertainment