Monday, June 25, 2012

Ring of Honor: Hard Hits & A Few Misses

Yesterday I decided it was worth the 12 dollars with my ringside membership to watch Ring of Honor’s latest iPPV offering, “Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis”. An iPPV with a title as long as “Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol”, and equally as enjoyable. Who doesn’t love a film with Bobcat, Bubba Smith, and The Guttenburg? The same people who don’t like wrestling shows involving teeth missing, broken tables, and girls in tight outfits. Luckily for me I am a fan of all these things, especially the Guttenburg.
Like Police Academy movies, Ring of Honor had its flaws on Sunday, but it was overshadowed by a slew of successes. I mean who thought it was a good idea to give Bobcat a gun? Probably the same person who came up with idea for the Guardians of Truth, including having them open the show.  Then again who cares about that when Adam Cole is stealing the show!
The iPPV problems Ring of Honor had during Border Wars seem to be a thing of the past. The feed for this show was crystal clear, and had minimal glitches that are not uncommon with normal cable HD. After a few minutes I had forgotten I was watching an iPPV. It was that good of a picture.
ROH kicked things off with the Briscoe Brothers against Truth Martini’s new mystery tag team, The Guardians of Truth. The Guardians are former WWE tag team champions the Headbangers in all black including full masks that make them look like generic versions of the Villanos. I’ve seen the Briscoes wrestle for almost a decade, and this might have been the worst match in their RoH careers. It could have been the loose and sagging ring ropes that threw them off, but I would give more credit to the Guardians.
The former Headbangers seemed to be having a bad day at the office. Their timing was off, and it looked a lot like when old aging stars work young guys at an indie show. A perfect example of this was at the finish when one stood at ring side watching the other about to get demolished by the Briscoe finisher, and did the “it takes me 20 seconds to slide under these ropes & help you” thing. These two are supposed to be athletic killing machines that can’t even slide under a rope. It might just be me, but this match wasn’t my cup of tea.
When I’ve booked shows in the past I have always had one important rule. The main event is the most important match, the opener is the second. The opener sets the tone for the night. It is the pace car that every other match is going to be judged on. This match told me that tonight was going to be sloppy. Luckily that turned out to be wrong, but it did take until Adam Cole got his teeth knocked out two matches later for my spirits to change. This put a damper on a good Homicide & Eddie Edwards contest between the two matches.
Homicide & Eddie Edwards had a good back and forth match. The announcers focused on Eddie’s injured arm, and a part of me wished Homicide did too. The thing is that wouldn’t have been in character for Homicide. He did some stuff with Eddie’s arm, but I wouldn’t call it an all-out assault on his arm.
Homicide has developed this amazing brawler persona, and that means he shouldn’t be taking apart his opponents injured area. He should be tossing everything including the kitchen sink at them, which is exactly what happened to Eddie Edwards. In the end it was too much as Homicide hit the gringo killer, a neck/shoulder based finisher, for the win. Picking up a “W” against Edwards can only mean Homicide has big things in his future, possibly a World title shot.
Holy Shit is all I can say about Adam Cole. There are matches or moments you can point to that make a wrestler in the eyes of the fans. It happened for Eddie Edwards when he wrestled with a broken elbow, and it happened last night for Adam Cole when he had his two teeth knocked out.
The concept of the match between Cole and Kyle O’Reilly was idiotic. The Hybrid styles concept should just be put in a shredder and forgotten quickly. The whole thing stinks of the Bound for Glory series in TNA, which is the stupidest thing in pro wrestling today. There are all these rules and regulations that can lead to fouls, and then on top of that there are different types of fouls. Plus there is a standing ten count, and probably a five minute penalty for roughing. I don’t know, but it wouldn’t have surprised me with all the ins and outs of this match. Anytime you actually need something longer than the Ten Commandments to describe the regulations of your wrestling match then it is overbooked. Just follow some advice from my grandma, Keep It Simple Shithead. My grandma had a dirty pirate mouth.
The match itself was off the charts good. The two traded blows with such violence that at one point a kick knocked out Cole’s teeth. Credit goes to the RoH camera crew for the close up of the teeth on the mat. Both had an amazing showing but it was Cole, who embraced the waterfall of blood spewing from his mouth, that put his stamp on the match. In the end Cole won with a figure four leglock, but that doesn’t matter as he skyrocketed himself into something bigger in RoH. I’m talking Tommy Dreamer taking a caning in ECW bigger.
Fit Finley & Michael Elgin followed with a good technical match. It started out slow, but had to after what had just happened. Fit Finley is one of the best vets on the Indie scene, and he looked to be moving better than both members of the Guardians of Truth combined. The two turned it up in the second half of the match as Elgin picked up the win with his impressive power bomb combo. Elgin is beginning to start his face turn as a feud between he & Roderick Strong has begun to brew.
Ring of Honor had a logic slip up during the match as Fit Finley used a Tombstone pile driver on Elgin for a two count. The main event was built around pile drivers being illegal. Something that was later rectified by the announcers during the main event when they said the ref was fined for not disqualifying Finley. It isn’t major, but little brain farts like this can mar a promotion if they are kept unchecked. Especially when one of the major angles is based around a move being banned, it doesn’t sell the idea well if other wrestlers are doing the banned move.
After intermission Mike Bennett with Bob Evans and Maria came to the ring. If it wasn’t for Maria Kanellis then I don’t think I would ever get excited for a Mike Bennett segment. In fact if from now on the camera just focused on Maria, it would greatly improve the segment all together. Mike Bennett continues to follow the “Being a Heel for Dummies” handbook.
Mike Mondo comes out. He drops a lot of F-bombs. He talks about beating Bennett and after he’ll do the humpty dance with Maria. Now if only that was a real stipulation. The two fight. It kicks off a new feud for ROH TV. It was good for what it was. Plus it got Maria in front of the camera in the best daisy dukes outside of Hazard County.
The television title three way dance was a good change of pace as it really ratcheted up the speed on the card. All three men were great in their roles, but Roderick Strong is heads and shoulders above most in the ring. His dropkick is a thing of beauty. Mia Yim doing a super kick was a cool moment that I hope gets included in more matches.
The end was all circus to further the story line between Ciampa, the embassy, & the house of truth. Then the quick finish between Strong & Lethal caught almost everybody by surprise, which wasn’t a bad thing. It made sense with all the chaos going on. Strong’s finisher is something everyone should see. When it is done right it might be more impressive than the Canadian Destroyer.
The World’s Greatest Tag Team and the All Night Express had a good tag match. The referee played up the WGTT too much as he would warn Haas about being in the ring, but never warned the ANX about it. That and he told Haas he wasn’t the legal man because he never tagged but turned around & counted a school boy when Haas was rolled up seconds later. Stick to your logic, and don’t count the guy you said wasn’t legal.
In the end the ANX won the titles. The place went nuts. It’s good for them, but the attack after looks like things are far from over. It stinks that they couldn’t celebrate more to get over the title change.
The main event was off the charts good. Kevin Steen is probably the best character in the whole company. He has charisma, a unique look, and can wrestle his ass off in any style. Davey Richards is growing into more than just the MMA guy. These two killed each other in a brutal match that featured tables, ladders, chairs, spikes, and some of the nastiest falls I’ve seen in years. This wasn’t a technical match, it was a brawl.
For those that enjoy the old ECW style then this is a match you’ll want to hunt down. It had tons of unique spots including a great moment where Jim Cornette gets manhandled by Steve Corino. Jimmy Jacobs as the lackey of Steen is a great tool for the champ. The two work really well together. I don’t expect Steen to drop the belt anytime soon as he is easily the biggest draw for fans.
His post-match verbal assault on the crowd proved that smart wrestling fans are idiots. He basically opened their mouths and shit down their throats as they cheered every moment of it. Smart wrestling fan really is an oxymoron. His anti-New York rant has me believing that Homicide could be next in line to end the reign of terror known as Kevin Steen, with a possible blow off match at Final Battle in December back in New York City. I don’t know for sure, but the booker in me sees the biggest dollar signs in that.
Overall Ring of Honor delivered on the best “pay per view” of the month. It was easily better than WWE’s No Way Out, and edged out TNA’s slammiversary. If you have a couple dollars, and four hours, then I highly recommend getting the replay. Either that or go watch Police Academy 4 on Netflix because Maria’s daisy dukes might be as good as Lt. Callahan’s white t-shirt.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Must Listen!

Last week I mentioned Colt Cabana's amazing podcast, "The Art of Wrestling". I hope you tuned in and enjoyed his talk with Gabe Sapolsky. This week the show hits it's 100th episode, and the tables got turned as Colt Cabana was the guest. Since he was the guest that meant WWE champion CM Punk added another accolade to his long list of achievements, podcast host. The two have known each other since they laced up boots together at wrestling school, and this hour long journey into Colt's world comes with only one complaint, its too damn short. After an hour you'll be begging for more. 

The two talk about their time in IWA: Mid-South, including the one time Colt turned heel. Cabana gives a look into his charitable side as he discusses his want to become known so he can use it to help people. Also CM Punk brings up how Colt has a few fans of his show in the WWE locker room, including John Cena. Plus a great audio version of "Creative has Nothing for You", Colt's weekly web series on Youtube. Even if you're not a wrestling fan, and just enjoy a good banter between two great storytellers, then download this podcast to your iPod & enjoy. 

You can thank me later. 

Go visit & while you're there buy a T-shirt you cheap bastard. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best

This Sunday Ring of Honor presents Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis on iPPV. The event has become one of the premiere showcases annually for the promotion. This year is headlined by a rematch between Davey Richards, who won the title at this event last year, and ROH anarchist, Kevin Steen. 

Last time RoH was on iPPV the company had less than a stellar experience as feeds across the world failed, and fan complaints piled up. Those that could see the iPPV watched as Kevin Steen turned the company on it's head. He captured the World title that Davey won in New York almost a year ago in what some consider the best match in all of professional wrestling in 2011. Now it's all or nothing for Richards who has agreed to meet Steen in a match tailor made for ROH's resident sadist, an anything goes & all moves are legal match. 

At the same event last year, when Richards & Edwards stole the show, Kevin Steen almost stole their thunder with his big "F-U" to Ring of Honor. It's one year later and RoH officials are stumbling to find a way to stop the Canadian Juggernaut. This Sunday if you have fifteen dollars, enjoy good wrestling, and are willing to trust that RoH has upgraded their iPPV ability, then I highly suggest you order, "Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis". It's one fourth the price of WWE's No Way Out and ten times the satisfaction.

Below is a review of "Best in the World 2011" that I wrote after the event for the Examiner. It should help set the stage for this huge event on Sunday, June 24th in New York City, NY. 

"Best in the World" Delivers On Name

Ring of Honor declared on June 26th in front of the biggest live and online audience in company history that ROH is the best in the world. The nine year old wrestling promotion, that started in a recreation center in Philadelphia, took a step into the national spotlight this weekend with a television deal announcement that will put Ring of Honor in thirty five television markets covering over a fifth of the United States starting 9-24-11. This announcement makes ROH the number three biggest wrestling company in the nation. In New York City, broadcasting from the Hammerstein Ballroom, Ring of Honor displayed what sets them apart from the other two top companies: wrestling.

The internet pay per view experience forces some to hone their inner Macgyver as an HDMI cord from Radio Shack and a set of pink iPod speakers turns a cheap laptop into a wrestling entertainment center. After only a few minutes the slight pixelation and sound issues of streaming a pay per view fades. The production value for the iPPV is really amazing, and can only get better for ROH with the new television deal. Some of the directing and camera work miscues interrupted the flow of the matches. Looking at the ring apron during a big moment warrants a grunt toward the television. These hiccups were far and few between. All of the technical issues with the iPPV became irrelevant when the action started.

Jim Cornette coming out to start the show made sense as nobody sells sizzle like Cornette. His promo was the pace car for the evening that set the table for the rest of the ROH talent. His role on camera throughout the event, and at the press conference, didn't overshadow the locker room. Jim Cornette is like frosting on a cake. It doesn't make the cake, it elevates it.

In the opening contest Ring of Honor presented Colt Cabana, wrestling's version of a whoopee cushion, versus Tomasso Ciampa, the love child of Perry Saturn and John Kronus. Colt Cabana was on fire from the minute he walked through the curtain. Tomasso Ciampa looked stiff at times. He missed sloppily on a few maneuvers, including his finisher which looks devastating if performed correctly. The match keeps Ciampa's win streak alive and that keeps him climbing the ROH ladder. Cabana again delivers, taking a few nasty misplaced knees along the way.

Keeping the shenanigans rolling was former ROH rising star, and the latest escapee from the Universal Studios retirement home, Jay Lethal taking on “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett with Brutal Bob Evans. Lethal makes his return to Ring of Honor with this match against Bennett. Both wrestlers had great chemistry with good exchanges early on that changed things up from the opening contests. Near the end of the match seemed to lull as the finish fell a little flat with Lethal picking up the three count using a Macho Man Randy Savage flying elbow. Lethal looks to be in the best shape of his life and primed to do some damage once 9-24-11 comes. A rematch in the future should be a welcomed addition to any Ring of Honor card.

In a flat out brawl Homicide defeated Rhino with a sunset flip. Each of the first three matches all came across as fresh because each one presented something different. This match provided plunder. The two tossed each other around in and out of the ring. The crowd attacked Rhino all match and he seemed to take it out on Homicide in return, including snapping the notorious 187's back on a ladder after telling hecklers to, “F*** Off”. With Homicide focused on the Embassy this will probably be the first of many battles between the two. The next one might not be for those with weak stomachs.

The moment of the night came next when Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs came out to continue their crusade to become rehabbed men of evil. The match was a back and forth contest between Corino and Michael Elgin, who raised his ROH stock at this event. Elgin's power, mixed with Corino's thumb in a bum, stuck out in the match up. Elgin picks up the win and positions himself to be a major player once television starts 9-24-11. Don't be surprised to see Michael Elgin in the ROH Television title picture. Jim Cornette during the press conference Friday said his name a lot. After the match is when the moment of the night happened.

Steve Corino,who probably has Terry Funk blood, and Jimmy Jacobs, the emo Brian Pillman, begged for their friend Kevin Steen to be let back into Ring of Honor. Steen was given a microphone to plead his case to Jim Cornette. The moment he said, “My name is Kevin Steen and F*** Ring of Honor”, while laying out Jacobs and crippling Corino made Steen the hottest thing going in ROH. Steen being crowd surfed out of the arena by security sent fans into intermission, and their twitter, crowing about the electricity of the moment.

During the intermission there was the promotional video for the event. With such a lengthy break in the action Ring of Honor might want to consider adding some content there. Footage of the press conference from Friday, or unseen matches, could have kept iPPV viewers more entertained than the screen saver for the event. It is something minor, but the intermission does slam the breaks on the event for the home viewer.

Coming out of intermission Spike television star Christopher Daniels put the ROH TV title on the line against fan favorite El Generico. The two had a great match that really interacted with the fans. One annoying Daniels fan in the front row tested the definition of what a lady is, but the two worked around her gutter mouth. Christopher Daniels plays with a crowd maybe better than anyone in Ring of Honor. El Generico beating Daniels with a ruthless brain buster that seems to have sent Daniels packing his bags for the sunshine state. This means Michael Elgin, a house of truth member with Daniels, could be in El Generico's future looking to bring the gold back into the fold. Ring of Honor fans won't mind that.

The four way elimination tag team match for the ROH Tag Team Championship followed but, because of all the expectations, fell short of the hype. The match felt as if it never got into fifth gear. Parts of the match really flowed well and were unique, such as a no hands UFO, but it ended up looking more patch work than masterpiece. Hass and Benjamin retained only to be destroyed by Jay and Mark Briscoe. The brothers want their seventh ROH tag team title reign and look to be going dark side doing it. The two teams should have some matches that would make Mike Tyson flinch.

The main event can't be described. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards rewrote the definition of wrestling with this match. The two told multiple stories and had several matches inside of this 35 minute main event. The two delivered reversals, submissions, headbutt battles, and a double foot stomp that Mario and Luigi would be proud of. The almost out of nowhere finish caught fans off guard who had begun to flirt with the idea that the two would go to a time limit draw. The two closed the iPPV with respect for each other and heartfelt comments from Richards who said, “Hey Grandpa. Hey Grandma. I did it”. Richards did do it. He and Edwards did give Ring of Honor fans the 2011 Match of the year (so far).

If this is the kind of wrestling Ring of Honor puts on television 9-24-11 then they won't be number three in the nation much longer. Those that need more proof then come to Richmond on July 8th at the Richmond Raceway Complex for ROH's tag team lottery event. There might not be a company in the world doing the sport of professional wrestling better than Ring of Honor right now. They don't have the biggest names, or the brightest lights, but they do have the best talent. When it comes to pro wrestling Ring of Honor does it the, “Best in the World”.

Friday, June 22, 2012

TNA's Impact Wrestling: A Mixed Bag Of Nuts

(Courtesy of TNA)

It’s a rough day today at Grass Roots of Wrestling. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Oklahoma City Thunder fan. I have been since they were known as the Seattle Supersonics. Last night the young Thunder got knocked out of the NBA finals by the NBA’s version of the Mega Bucks. It was a great season for the Thunder, and I look forward to seeing what they do with the 28th pick in the NBA Draft. This is the deepest draft in a decade.

I’m hoping All American Draymond Green from Michigan State University, who is a jack of all trades type of player, is available at the end of the first round. For a team not looking to shake up the first 8 players in their rotation, Green would fit well as the 9th man on the bench because of his ability to bring a variety of basketball options to the team including passing, rebounding, and an extremely high basketball IQ. With a team that’s core group of players is around 23 years old collectively, I know the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be a force in the years to come. This isn’t the end, just the beginning.

After the game I settled in to watch TNA’s Impact Wrestling on the DVR. I will have to admit I haven’t watched much TNA over the past year because every time I do I usually end up regretting what I am seeing. I think the frustrating part about TNA is that they have some of the most talented wrestlers in the business, but usually the promotion ends up dropping the ball with the misuse of talent, diluted storylines with too many twists as if the writers are trying to prove they’re smarter than the fans, or they try too hard to be a wrestling show pretending to be a reality show. You’re not the WWE, you’re Total Non-Stop Action. Highlight your athletic roster and stop trying to be another show on VH1.
Last night was another mixed bag of nuts on Impact Wrestling. First off, Austin Aries should be called “The Mint” because he prints money. His look, his mic skills, and his persona are better than almost anything in pro wrestling today. Then add in the fact he is one of the top five wrestlers walking the planet today, and you have a true bona fide star. I loved the opening segment because it helped elevate the X-division, it showed AA isn’t a moron because who turns down a shot at the world title, and it was a good use of Hulk Hogan to help get a star over instead of himself. Robert Roode vs. Austin Aries will probably be the best wrestling match on PPV in July for any company, WWE included.

The decision to make it that every year the X-division champion can trade the title for a world title shot at Destination X is a really good idea. The title already had importance, but now it will have more importance around TNA’s biggest time of the year, Slammiversary. If you are the X-champ after that PPV then you are guaranteed a title shot at the next PPV. It just adds more heat to any title bout. A big thumbs-up to TNA on elevating one of their second tier belts, unlike what the WWE has done with theirs. Who’s the US champ, and does anyone care?
The Bound for Glory series is another over thinker moment in TNA. I didn’t like it last year, and I don’t like it again this year. I guess it is for the stat nerds. If this happens then this can happen, blah blah blah. Why is a submission victory more important that a pinfall? Kurt Angle gets an Ankle Lock & its 10 points. Jeff Hardy nearly cripples RVD with a KO neck snapping twist of fate & its 7 points. It doesn’t make sense.

Also having Robbie E in the series makes no sense at all either. Crimson has lost one match in his TNA career and he is somehow out of it. What about Sting? He was in the Slammiversary main event a couple weeks back & now he can’t get into the Bound for Glory series. Yet Robbie E is out there getting torn apart by Kurt Angle. Also the Pope has been out for a bit, and he returns to a spot in the series. Maybe I missed something, but shouldn’t the guys who have been on TV be in the series, not a Jersey Shore midcarder & a dude straight off the shelf. Plus why do I care about Magnus? He’s an ok talent, but what about Kazarian? AJ & Angle are in the tournament, why not Daniels’ partner?
This Bound for Glory Series is another over thought angle that has too many holes in its logic. The six matches were ok, but nothing to write home about. The ten minute time limit puts restrictions on the talents to tell a story. There is just so much you can do in 6-8 minutes. How is this going to play on PPV, where 15-20 minute matches can do more to flesh out the feuds & characters? Until I see something special from this idea, it will continue to be a failure by TNA & a waste of talent.

Another waste of my time is Dixie Carter. I was lucky enough to marry a beautiful Indian woman. Her Grandma came to America from India years ago. When I hang out with Nani, we watch Indian soap operas on Zee TV. It’s how I am learning to speak Hindi. Anytime Dixie Carter is on my TV it looks like an Indian soap opera. She is over the top emotional for everything. On top of that she somehow sucks three of the best talents (AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Frankie Kazarian) into her web of soap opera suck.
The current storyline is that somehow Dixie & AJ are doing unspeakable deeds behind closed doors as Daniels & Kaz would have us all believe. Yet it isn’t that they are committing adultery, but helping a pregnant addict that they both know somehow. Are you kidding me? I hate when they bring addiction & this type of stuff into wrestling. So for the past few weeks AJ has been protecting the secret of an addict and letting his & Dixie’s names be dragged through the mud, including letting talents call them home wreckers. Now we just need an evil auntie with an oversized bindi, and this would be classic Indian soap opera.

There are too many non-wrestling, non-manager characters on the TNA roster. Hogan is the GM, Dixie is the owner, and Brooke Hogan is the Knockout Commish. Is Nick Hogan going to be the food & beverage manager next?
What does Brooke Hogan bring to the table? Just because Ivanka Trump is on the apprentice doesn’t mean Hulk’s kid has to be in TNA. The group meeting in multiple segments was a waste of time. A title match is on the line and everybody is just chillin’ like it’s a slumber party, catty comments & all. The Knockouts are leaps & bounds better in the ring than the WWE Divas, but their segments behind the scenes are just the pits.

“Let’s pow wow for a bit girls so I can get to know you”, hey Brooke how about you watch the product before you take the job! How does anyone get a job running a division in any business & have no idea about what makes up the division? If Brooke’s work was her boyfriend, it would cheat on her for being this horrible. The capper was having Velvet Sky & Mickie James together backstage as she made her decision, and there wasn’t much of a fight from Sky when Brooke picked James. She just hugs Mickie. I guess that title isn’t that important.
One Segment that is really original is the TNA Gut Check. The idea is great & it lets the audience see some of the amazing talent on the independent circuit. Each time Gut Check comes around I will tune in because I want to see fresh faces, and this is a perfect way to do it without taking away from your established talent. It makes the crowd care about somebody who will probably job out to an established talent.

Taeler Hendrix, this week’s Gut Checker, had a nice piece on her. Giving her a backstory like being a cancer survivor, and showing footage from some of her indie matches, helps develop why the fans should care about her. In the ring she was ok. She didn’t screw anything up, but there wasn’t any moment that popped out that made me want to see her again. Her look doesn’t set her apart from the other knockouts, and the way she took Tara’s finisher didn’t do much to help elevate the established veteran. I would be shocked if Ms. Hendrix survives her Gut Check. Good try, but better luck next time.
Bully Ray is another bright spot for the company. The former Dudley is probably the best heel in the company. On the mic he can get the crowd to riot. In the ring he is so physical. I hope he can get out of this Abyss feud soon, and move on to the title picture, especially if AA wins at Destination X. An undersized champ and a brutish bully, it writes itself. More Bully Ray, More Austin Aries, Less Boobs Hogan; That’s a recipe for success.

Again TNA’s Impact Wrestling was another episode of highs and lows. As one segment would make you want to keep watching, there was equally another segment that made you want to change the channel. The matches didn’t really move the needle as most looked to be more angle driven than anything. Again the 10 minute time limit forces too many matches to have the out of nowhere finish feeling. It is handcuffing TNAs ability to set themselves apart from the WWE, where the 6-8 minute match is their bread & butter.
This show, and the promotion overall, is a big mixed bag of nuts, which probably explains why they drive me crazy. Cut the crap, stop trying to be a full contact soap opera, and start being the action packed promotion you can be. I like the way Hulk Hogan is used. I like a lot of the wrestlers. The Knockouts can wrestle. Just stop trying to be a reality show with situational drama & out of the box concepts that water down the actual product. I don’t care about the backstage meetings & hug fests going on. Make me believe these people want to tear each other apart in & out of the ring. This is Pro Wrestling, not a Boy Scout camping trip. Less weenie roasting, and more action! There are too many lulls for this to be called Non-stop.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Get Well Soon!

Last Thursday on TNA's flagship show, Impact Wrestling, one of the brightest young stars in the business, Chris Sabin, suffered an ACL injury to his left knee during an Ultimate X match. Chris is an extremely gifted athlete who has always had a great mind for the wrestling business. On top of that he is one of nicest people you will ever meet.

In 2003 I had the honor of being his manager in a handful of the Michigan indies before he broke out big in TNA. In the ring Chris stole the show at every event, and brought people to the shows because he was a must see talent. Together we had a lot of fun & the 13 episodes of MMWA rampage that we did will always be a feather in my cap. It's easy to be a cocky manager when the guy your working with is a true blue chip talent.

The worst part about this injury is that it comes only months after he returned from having his right knee ACL torn. Knowing Chris I can say this won't stop him from pushing himself to be the best he can be. This will only give him more fuel to make a bigger impact on his return. It's just the way he is wired.

We worked together in front of small crowds and sell out crowds; Chris Sabin's effort never changed. He has always given 100% to the fans that show up to see him do what he does best. I know he will give the same effort on getting past this temporary setback. I wish him a speedy recovery because when Chris Sabin isn't in a wrestling ring, the fans are the real losers.

I found this wrestling match from MMWA rampage on Youtube of Chris (w/ me) against a long time rival, N8 Mattson. Even in 2003 you can see he was ready to be a big time star. The match is in three parts and goes in order, enjoy!

In the end a ladder got involved. You will ask, "How does that make sense to use a ladder in a title match where you can be disqualified?". It is simple, the promotion wanted a ladder match as the rubber match between Chris & N8 at the next show. It was Chris Sabin who came up with the idea to use the ladder as a launching pad & not a weapon. It would prevent a DQ and lay the seeds for the ladder match at the next event. He has always had a great mind for the business, including bringing logic to a business that traditionally lacks it.

Get well soon Chris Sabin, Pro Wrestling needs you!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

And The Gold Medal Goes To …

(Courtesy of The Bleacher Report)

Yesterday I posted an article on my personal Facebook page about dressage, an Olympic Equestrian sport, asking the question, “Why horse dancing, and not Pro Wrestling”. One of my friends, a highly accomplished Equestrian, responded to my comment as being a dis. I can see how calling dressage something like horse dancing can been seen as a dis, but it wasn’t my intention. What I was trying to point out was something I have championed for years, Pro Wrestling in the Olympics.

In 2004, Lance Storm asked the same question. Others before and after him have made pushes to the Olympic committees to get the sport known as Pro Wrestling in the Olympics. Why you may ask? It’s simple, because Pro Wrestling is a sport.
Pro Wrestling involves physically demanding activity such as current Olympic sports like gymnastics, power lifting, and figure skating. Dressage, which is French for the word “training”, is a sport based around superior horse training by the competitor. Pro Wrestling would fall under all of these. It would focus on the training of the athlete and the ability to combine that training with the physical demands of the sport.

For those that can’t get passed the stigma that, “Pro Wrestling is fake”, I give you this argument. Under the same vein isn’t Figure Skating, Dressage or Gymnastics fake? They have predetermined choreography that the judges know ahead of time. Doesn’t Dressage have heavily choreographed routines between the horse and the rider? That’s where the superior training comes in, just as in Pro Wrestling.  
The physical demand of Pro Wrestling is on par with hockey and soccer with the need for high cardio & the ability to take a hit. Yes, you can learn to fall to reduce injury, but you can’t learn to fall to avoid impact. Just running the ropes for a few minutes has left the highest level of athlete gasping for air. In the end, the routine of a wrestling match maybe choreographed, but the impacts & injuries are as real as any sport in the Olympics. This includes lifting another full grown adult multiple times while running a short marathon in a sixteen foot squared circle and taking a full rugby game of hits in under ten minutes.

Just as with Gymnastics, Figure Skating, & Dressage, the sport of Pro Wrestling in the Olympics would be a judged sport. There are a variety of industry personnel that know what good and bad Pro Wrestling looks like. The talents involved would be judged as a team, much like Gymnastics. The matches, put together with talents that have worked for months, would showcase a compelling, physically challenging display to present to the judges in a multitude of categories.
At its core, behind the flaming tables and flamboyant characters, Pro Wrestling is a sport. It has become a haven for former football players, amateur wrestlers, and other athletes. In a time where the NFL has bounty gate, the NBA has a fixed draft lottery, and baseball has a decade of steroids, Pro Wrestling might be ready to take the next step into legitimate sport by giving out Gold Medals at the Olympics. Who wouldn’t want to see CM Punk and Daniel Bryan standing tall on a podium in 2016 as the national anthem played in the background? Standing tall until the bronze winners from Mexico ambush them, setting up 2020!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monday Night Raw: Back To The Future

(courtesy of the WWE)

The 995th episode of Monday Night Raw was a showcase of how good the WWE used to be. The best parts of the night involved all the people that now reside outside the active roster. Just as Vader’s return last week, the parade of former stars reminded the fans that the best WWE product is the old WWE product. Besides a handful of talent, most of which appeared in one tag match, there is nothing for fans to truly be excited for in the current roster.

RAW started strong with a cheap pop from the crowd when local boy, and WWE hall of famer, Mick Foley made his way to the ring. Mick always gets a good reaction from the crowd because for years the creative staff made sure that he was memorable to the audiences during the famed attitude era. Mick announces he’s the guest General Manager for the week after Johnny Ace was fired at the No Way Out PPV the night before.

Each week there will be a former GM coming to both Raw & Smackdown until the WWE brain trust finds a suitable replacement for Johnny Ace. A mentally handicapped monkey as the replacement would be on par with those standards. That’s when the entertainment ended and logic left the building as Johnny Ace came out to say his goodbye to the fans.
First off, Johnny Ace should come out to let the fans get closure on a storyline that has been on RAW for the better part of a year. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the lack of logic that followed. Johnny Ace was fired last night, but before the PPV he booked a main event of John Cena vs. The Big Show, David Otunga, & himself for RAW. Somehow Mick Foley & the WWE have no power to overturn his decision and tell him to hit the bricks.
Mick Foley is the new GM for the week and he can’t even make his own main event or change the plans of the guy who was fired. In what business does this happen? A guy gets fired for being a horrible boss and the company can’t change any of his plans, WTF? The even bigger head scratcher is that Mick Foley is the GM for the week and he appears briefly while Johnny Ace has multiple segments throughout the show, including his own dressing room. Like I said logic goes out the window.
Luckily the show was pulled out of the pits by a good tag match between four of the bigger talents on the show. World champ Sheamus teamed with WWE champ, and snow angel aficionado, CM Punk to face the team of Daniel Bryan & Kane, who fought each other in a three way dance the night before. The match was good, not great.
Sheamus seemed to be off during the match with miscues and timing issues. The best part of the match came when Daniel Bryan and CM Punk got to exchange a barrage of counters that reminded me of the awesome opening parts of the RVD vs. Jerry Lynn matches from ECW. The crowd really got into the match, and Kane has really been resurrected feuding with both Bryan and Punk. Again I will say a short feud with him and CM Punk as the Bryan/Punk feud is put on the back burner to simmer until Summer Slam could be really good for all talents. What about a title match at the Money in the Bank PPV while Daniel Bryan competes in the MITB ladder match? Not too complicated, and it looks like that maybe the plan.
I say that might be the plan because near the end of the match AJ, the crazy chick, comes strolling out in her Kane outfit, mask and all. Kane follows her as she skips back up the ramp and Daniel Bryan is screwed over by a monster & his hormones. Of course AJ is working with CM Punk to play games with Kane’s heart, which can only lead to mayhem for the two. Daniel Bryan is left holding the bag and that means issues between him and Kane. I smell a #1 contender’s match in their future. Overall a good segment that furthered storylines and kept Sheamus at the forefront of the WWE Universe as the World champ waits to find out who his next feud will be with.
One thing we know is that Sheamus won’t be facing Dolph Ziggler again after he was jobbed out on the PPV the night before. Now Dolph is feuding with his tag partner Jack Swagger over the “services” of Eddie Guerrero’s widow. Their emotions boil over and Vickie puts them in a match because what cougar doesn’t like a good boy toy fight.
The WWE needs to figure out what they are doing with Dolph Ziggler because each week he keeps getting buried by creative. The self-proclaimed show off faced off against Jack Swagger in a bout of the new era job squad. The match was built around a Ziggler injury that seemed to hinting towards a Dolph face turn, but in the end Swagger controlled 99% of the match only to lose in one move to Dolph. Swags not only lost the match but also Vickie Guerrero, who lays a big smacker on Ziggler. Not sure who really was the loser here. I’ll say Ziggs because the crowd wants to cheer for him and now he’s stuck in Vickie’s big shadow as he returns to playing second fiddle to the queen of the cougars.
The second hour of RAW was two good segments, and as Heath Slater said, “A Train Wreck”. It started out with Paul Heyman, another non-regular, coming out to chants of ECW. The exchange between him and HHH was better than the promo HHH cut on PPV last night, and it was free. That’s got to sting. Almost as much as not seeing Ryback on free TV and knowing you paid to watch his RAW match the night before.
Paul Heyman might be the best weasel in the business. Who didn’t get a big smile on their face when thinking about him running the WWE? Oh what a tease that is. When Heyman said he had something for Stephanie, I was hoping it was booking lessons. In the end HHH gets the cheap pop by knocking out Paul Heyman with a right cross, but it looks like Paul won the war as now he’ll own the former WWE champ.
We moved on to the return of Albert Del Rio as he destroyed the US champion Santino. It continued the Santino feud with ADR’s ring announcer from their Tuxedo Match the night before. It’s like previewing the fact that I’ll be water boarded for the next few weeks. It was later topped by the tag team match.
Who are the Prime Time Players, and who cares about Primo & Epico?  The match tried to establish the PTPs as slimy egomaniacs who walked out on their match because they’re #1 contenders already. That works when you’re facing the tag champs in non-title match. It doesn’t work when you’re facing a team nobody thinks much of. If the Prime Time Players are the next contenders for the tag titles, and nobody knows who they are, then maybe racking up a few wins to build their credibility won’t hurt. Having them walk out of a match against two low card talents doesn’t do much to make me believe they have a shot against the champs.
When Cyndi Lauper came out with Wendi Richter I gave a small pop. No matter what you say, Lauper did a lot to get the WWF into the main stream that launched their success today. She had wrestlers in her videos, including the video for the title track for “The Goonies”. In the 80’s that was huge. Whenever she appeared in a WWF ring she looked more like the talent than a guest. Something only a handful of celebs like Andy Kaufman have been able to do.
The Heath Slater part was disjointed and could have been better. The Rowdy Roddy Piper entrance was great but had its hills & valleys. In the end Slater takes a gold record to the skull and the WWF 80’s all-stars celebrate. It looks like after his squash by Vader last week and getting smashed this week that Heath will be the legends jobber leading up to the 1000th episode of RAW. At least we can look forward to some good trips down memory lane over the next few weeks.
To end RAW there was hopefully the last appearance of Johnny Ace with Otunga & the Big Show. Again I will state, WHY? Why is Show even coming out for the match? Why is Otunga kissing the ass of a guy who holds no power? Why is this match the main event, not a tag match with both the World & WWE champs? Why didn’t John Cena just come out to start the show and end this whole storyline? Why am I still watching this as even Rick Martel under a blindfold could see what was coming?
The Big Show walks out and says goodbye to his former boss. It makes some sense. Would have made more sense at 9:10 PM not 10:57 PM. Otunga stays to help Ace against Cena because well, I don’t know. Cena comes out and slaps around Otunga for a bit. I will say David Otunga is still green but, like the Miz years ago, he is really making strides in the ring. He has great charisma and mic skills. He could have a bright future down the road if handled correctly. He also came to his senses when he realized Ace wasn’t hurt.
Johnny Ace gets smashed by Cena, and the crowd gets closure on this horrible storyline. Now John Cena can move on into another feud, possibly with Dolph Ziggler. Johnny Ace can be off the television. I can move on from this whole mess. That is until next week when somehow Ace appears on TV for nine more segments because being fired ain’t what it used to be.
Overall Raw was better than last week, and better than the Pay Per View. It was still a middle of the road show. When they go to three hours starting on July 23rd the WWE better figure out a lot of the bumps, or they are going to fall flat on their faces. It’s not like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk can wrestle all three hours … or could they?
Next week is in Fart Wayne, IN at the memorial coliseum, which is my old stomping ground. It’s the armpit of the Midwest, and possibly the birth place of the term slack jawed yokel. That means the WWE should fit right in with their current intelligence and creativity. Look out for a mullet on a pole match!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Famous Last Words: It Can’t Get Any Worse

Last night I had a big decision, order WWE’s No Way Out PPV or watch the NBA Finals. I went with the option that had better thought out storylines, the NBA Finals. It’s been three games of the Thunder vs. The Heat, and I think the WWE creative staff could take some notes on how to create drama & believable characters. The clueless ref is way better in the NBA than the WWE. After reading Dave Scherer’s Blog on , I know Jim Ross & I made the right choice for our Sunday night entertainment, even if the Thunder didn’t win.

Again I haven’t seen the Pay Per View yet, and I am only going off various reports from fans & wrestling websites, but when everyone says something is a piece of crap then it traditionally is a piece of crap. The CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane three way for the WWE title was the only thing worth watching for the entire three hours. That is one match for fifty dollars, even for the three involved that is asking a lot. Then add in the crap that surrounded a good title match.

First is the burial of Dolph Ziggler. Yes Dolph is one of the best wrestlers on the roster, and would make world champion Sheamus look good, but this wasn’t to build to anything in the future. This was a place holder match until Albert Del Rio gets over his concussion. Putting Dolph into this match hurts his chances of being taken serious as a challenger for Sheamus in the future, say around Survivor Series time. Now Smackdown is hit harder with a legit talent anchored down to the midcard position. Plus Sheamus loses a good opponent to have a lengthy feud with down the line that will help keep his title run fresh.
Didn’t Johnny Ace have a goon to throw at Sheamus if he just needed somebody to lay down for him at the PPV? He did talk down to him in front of the boss on Monday night. I know David Otunga wasn’t really doing anything on Sunday. Not the best storyline to go with, but at least it doesn’t hamstring a legit talent and would have some connections to an ongoing storyline. It also lets the announcers play up the main event for later.
Then there was the tuxedo match, the Ryback squash, & the HHH promo, or as I like to call them, the segments that should have been on RAW. When you pay money to see a PPV you want to see something that doesn’t look like something that you see on free TV. You want a lengthy match between two premiere talents. You want to see a moment that will shock the world. You want to see something that makes you look forward to the rest of the PPV, not your next bathroom visit. These three segments & a subpar Divas match were exactly that, time to go visit the bathroom. Luckily if you’re watching this PPV you’re probably drinking enough booze to get over the feeling of being suckered into paying for this stinking pile that you’ll need to visit the restroom this much.  
Finally there is the main event, which should have been the WWE title match. Instead it’s a cage match between John Cena and the Big Show. The villain in this case should be the Big Show, but Vince McMahon let us all know he’s been a disappointment since 1999. The real villain according to Vince becomes an old fart in Johnny Ace that hasn’t had a good match since Shane Douglas was riding skateboards with him. The old man club sat outside the cage while the two superstars slap each other around in a match that was then distorted more by the carnival that came to help Johnny get the boot.
The paint by numbers writing by creative led to the end everybody saw coming from a mile away. Vince got to say you’re fired, and every fan gets to realize they have wasted the past few months since Wrestlemania. Who needs a build when you can just keep tossing crap against the wall and see what sticks. The only good thing is that Johnny Ace is no longer the main focus on TV … maybe. Remember being fired by Vince on TV means about as much as being fired by your two year old during a hissy fit (See John Cena’s Firing).
Now we’re onto Monday. Tonight is another RAW, and I will be tuning in for the evolution of WWE Title picture. One match on free TV is worth my time, just not my money. I’ll be tuning in because I’m a wrestling fan. I’ll be tuning in out of the sliver of hope that last night was the lowest point for the company & business will begin to pick up. I’ll be tuning in because it can’t get any worse … right?
(Coutresy WWE)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Going Japanese Now!

Still on the road, but finally near a good internet connection. I will say I now know why Motel 6 always leaves the lights on, because nobody would stay here in the dark. Charles Manson thinks I'm nuts for it. Luckily for me when I found some internet I was able to read this cool article on about how Japanese wrestling makes American wrestling look super weak. Thanks to my brother for forwarding that my way. 

I love me some Japanese wrestling. Right now I am really digging Dragon Gate USA and their high octane style of Lucha-Strong Style that mirrors their mentor, Ultimo Dragon. If you get a chance check out their USA based promotion, Dragon Gate USA. It is worth the price of admission. 

In the article it mentions one of the craziest matches in pro wrestling history, the famous fire match. Sabu used to tell me about this match all the time. It is one that literally takes years off your life (along with some skin). Besides maybe Sabu's first barbed wire match with Terry Funk in ECW, this might be the most gruesome match I have ever seen. There is a nice video below that will give you a taste of this monstrosity of match.

I hope you enjoyed that. I know they didn't. Have a happy father's day & don't do that at home. Unless you live in Japan then I guess go for it!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Check This Out!

I am on the road this weekend, but I didn't want to leave anyone without some good wrestling entertainment. Colt Cabana, the clown prince of indy wrestling, has a great podcast called "The Art Of Wrestling". It deals with all the personalities in wrestling from those you may know in the WWE or TNA to some of the great indy talent you should know about. If you haven't checked out Colt's podcast then go to iTunes and catch up on the 99 episodes of this great series. 

This week maybe one of the best in the series. It is with former Ring of Honor booker and current co-owner of Dragon Gate USA & Evolve, Gabe Sapolsky. Gabe started with ECW before the night the line was crossed. He talks about running the Sabu fan club, how tough it is to become a booker in today's industry, and his memories of the famous Philadelphia indy wars. You can listen by clicking on the link below.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

CM Punk To The Rescue

Every story begins somewhere, and this one isn’t CM Punk’s origin. This story is just another testament to why the man who proclaims himself, “The Best in The World”, has always been the best at what he does. I guess it all starts before I even knew who CM Punk was. Fasten your seat belts, and let’s hit 1.21 gigawatts on this way back machine.

My first job in professional wrestling was helping out a small independent wrestling promotion out of Lansing during the turn of the millennium called the, “Pro Wrestling Federation” (PWF). Yeah I know real original. The promotion was owned by a man named Ben Justice, who ran a collectibles store in the area. I would help book shows and work on storylines with Ben. A few months into the promotion Ben was confronted with a choice.

A guy, who was barely trained, would make sure his 50+ biker buddies would show up to shows if he was one of the PWF champions. Since the promotion was struggling to draw, this seemed like the best option to keep it afloat. I was then presented with solving the challenge of putting a belt on this guy to get his ticket sales, but also cover up the fact that he couldn’t wrestle. Luckily I had at least one guy on the roster I could trust, Colt Cabana.

Colt was a student at Western Michigan University at the time, and was a regular on the shows. We had become friends through the few months of working together. I had come up with a scenario that would work for all sides. I was going to “borrow” the free bird rule for tag belts. I was going to hide the fact that this one person couldn’t wrestle with talent I knew could; and that I trusted. That’s when I asked Colt if he knew anyone he trusted that could help pull this off. He assured me he had a friend who would be perfect. The next month I met CM Punk.

To most CM Punk’s first impression is douche bag. He has a chip on his shoulder, a bad attitude on a good day, and he’s honest to the point of insult. I couldn’t have been happier to meet him. He was exactly the guy I needed for the angle because he wouldn’t let himself be part of a crap storyline, even if it was in some night club on Sundays in front of 50 bikers and about twenty other fans. For a few months Cabana & Punk mixed up the tag work, protecting the biker, and protecting the other talents in the ring. The storyline got pretty hot & when the straps went on the three in a six man tag, it blew the roof off the joint. In fact we had the bikers (which had already dwindled to 30), plus now there was about 50-60 real fans in the crowd. CM Punk and Colt Cabana turned the albatross around my neck into the best drawing angle on the show. Those two turned a turd sandwich into prime rib.

After the PWF closed down, I tried to keep track of Punk’s career. I never got to write storylines for him again; which will always be an unmarked line on the career checklist. Believe me I tried every place I was, but either money or schedule got in the way.

We would run into each other sparingly over the next few years. We usually exchanged a few nice words when we saw each other, except for once backstage at a TNA show in Nashville but that’s a different story for a different time. I even appeared on his last IWA:MS show when Punk wrestled Delirious to a 60 minute draw in a comedy match. I’m the fat guy in a suit two sizes too small in the corner of Danny Daniels’ (BABY!) opponent, CK3. Something that, even if CM Punk had never made it out of OVW, would always be one of the crowning moments in my career.

In life you meet a lot of people. Most are unremarkable, and little more than filler. CM Punk was anything but. He was one of those guys when you met him you knew he was only going to be limited by himself. Which if you really knew him meant he had no limits. CM Punk showed me that success is about the man, not the situation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

This Means War

Sabu is one of professional wrestling’s crazy men. He is one of the last few wrestlers who can still cause a crowd of fans to run in fear with a glance, something he learned from his uncle The Original Sheik. His body is covered in scars. He’s tough as nails, performing with multiple injuries. Once he was on the brink of starting a war between Canada and the United States. Not in wrestling, but between the actual countries. I should know I was there when it happened.

I first learned the wrestling business from the Farhat family at the turn of the millennium before the passing of the Original Sheik in early 2003. Under the Farhat’s I learned to bump, cut a promo, and build a persona in the back of the auto repair garage owned by the Sheik’s son Tom Farhat. The ring is still set up surrounded by barely legal posters & classic Sheik photos.

One of the biggest influences on me, and somebody I considered a teacher, was Sabu. He would give me tips and advice on anything I did. When I was doing color commentary for the Farhat TV he would tell me how better to get the talents over. When I was in the ring he would guide me on ring psychology, better ways to get over with crowds, and how to make the littlest things seem big. Even before he would go out for a match, if I was coming back through the curtain, he would pull me aside for a second & teach me something. It was just the way he was.

Sabu lived a few miles from my house, and I would often ride around to shows & events with him. This was always a great time to learn the ins & outs of the business. Traditionally in the car it was me, Sabu, and our friend, Shaffee. One of those times was crossing over to Canada for a show promoted by Scott D’amore.  A show we almost didn’t make.

The three of us met up at the border before crossing to pile into one car. We left my car behind in favor of Sabu’s Cadillac because it was roomy & he already had his gear packed in. The thing is after 9/11, if you’re of Arabic decent & driving, the border searches aren’t exactly random, but mandatory. So as we tried to cross into Canada, we had to pull into customs for a search of the car. Something that is always entertaining when trying to explain why grown men have suitcases full of shiny pants & rail road spikes.

These stops take a few minutes, and during the wait Sabu & Shaffee decided to have a dip to pass the time. The only problem was that Sabu left his spitter in the car. We waited outside the car, and watched the border patrols faces contort as they held up our tights. In a natural reaction to having a mouth full of tobacco, Sabu turned his head & spit. Before the tobacco hit the ground the border patrol was up in arms. The lady slammed the trunk shut & screamed at all three of us.

She told us that spitting on Canadian soil was a declaration of war. That our disrespect for their country was enough to cause a military action against the United States. Yup, Sabu had declared war on Canada on behalf of America. We were then quickly ushered into our car & forced to turn around back from America; told never to return. Yet we still had to make the show.

We made our way back to America and loaded into my car with Sabu tucked into the backseat. I. being white, drove because our chances of crossing would be better. Of course with me at the helm the only trouble we had was dealing with my driving once on the Canadian side. It took us about ten seconds to cross with me behind the wheel, because as I said those random checks ain’t that random.

The three of us made it to the show, and from what I remember it was another good BCW event. On our way back I drove again, and again we had no issues getting back over. The only issue being my driving as Sabu always commented, the only time he feared for his life in the wrestling business is when I was behind the wheel. I don’t even know if our names are on lists in Canada, but for a moment in some canucks fit of rage, Sabu almost started a war. Now that’s EXTREME!!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday Night Raw, a three hour tour

Last night WWE Monday Night RAW, creeping closer to their 1000th episode, put on a preview of what the future of the show will be with a 3 hour show. For those not in the know when RAW turns 1000th the traditionally 2 hour show will extend to 3, and become a pay per view every week. If last night was a sample of what’s to come then this maybe a case of too much of a good thing.

Some would think more time means longer, better wrestling matches for the talents on the WWE roster to display their abilities. Too bad this show isn’t about wrestling anymore. Too bad the man who got the most camera time last night qualified for Social Security a few years back. Vince McMahon danced, fist pumped, and blew nobody’s house down. He made bad jokes, ran down one of the hottest talents in the company by cracking on Daniel Bryan, and called Big Show a disappointment since 1999. Nothing makes me want to buy a PPV more than telling me the dude facing John Cena hasn’t been worth his money since the millennium. Vince owns the company, and can do whatever he wants. Too bad what he wants makes me want to change the channel.

Not to say RAW was a total waste. There was an interesting CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane, & AJ love square. While it was mostly angle driven from the promos to the tag team match, it was still entertaining. Nobody was thinking CM Punk & AJ vs. Daniel Bryan & Kane was going to be a five star classic. The AJ crazy chick persona is really growing on me. She pulls off crazy better than most Divas in the past because it doesn’t look forced. She just seems looney tunes unlike Tara from TNA who always looks like a porn actor trying to deliver scripted lines in her crazy lady role. This whole love square has me debating the question, “Is one match worth the price of a Pay Per View?”.

Last night also highlighted why Dolph Ziggler needs to be let loose on the main event. The constant start-stop of his character has dragged on fans, but his ability to have a good match with a broom has kept him from being sucked into full-time jobber status. The man can wrestle, he can cut a promo, and he can pull the fans into the psychology of his match. Hopefully the misfortune of Albert Del Rio will be the golden goose Dolph Ziggler has deserved. Then again he is about to be fed to Sheamus, who has played a role in the burial of many talents in the past (See Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania). No Way Out may be foreshadowing to Dolph’s role in the WWE midcard.

The HUGE reaction for Vader was a testament to one thing, how bad it has gotten in the WWE. I for one was happy to see the man called Vader as I remember his feud with Sting during the early 90’s in WCW. I also remember how he was never fully elevated in the WWE. He had a few good moments during his WWE run, but I wouldn’t call it the best use of talent. Hell his most memorable WWE match might have been the one on “Boy Meets World”. Yet he got one of the best reactions of the night, better than those who appear on TV each week. It’s good for Vader, and bad for the image of the current WWE product.

In the end two old guys that shouldn’t be in the ring overshadowed the two talents fighting in a cage on PPV. Now the two will be ringside for the match, and that can’t improve things. When RAW goes to three hours in July maybe those two will do what’s best for the show and fire each other, along with whomever green lights the Michael Cole wrestling segments. That’s wishful thinking, and as the WWE has proven in the past, thinking isn’t their strong suit.