Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The week (or two) in wrestling ...

So - if you want to know where I've been the last two weeks, please check my other blog at for the details ... although I'm sure we said we were going on vacation before we left! :)

As such, I have only been following wrestling around the edges the last week or so - whatever the dirtsheets turn up for me etc. So I will do my best to update myself before In This Very Ring goes to air Thursday/Friday night. But meanwhile I wanted to touch on a few tidbits that have come my way.

  • The RAW Main Event Scene: So this sounds semi-disappointing in some regards. I'm a huge Kevin Nash fan but they 'fake' a car accident for him to not be at the arena last week, only to have him show up; they involve not only a non-wrestler, in Johnny Laurinaitis, but a not-even-very-good on air authority figure, and the whole whodunnit in terms of siccing Nash on CM Punk at Summerslam ... I think Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are way too obvious and they're going to play at LEAST H as a straight shooter authority figure for awhile; Johnny Laurinaitis sounds likely, at least as a scapegoat - especially as behind H's back he went this week and signed Nash to a contract. But is he acting alone or at the behest of Vince McMahon? Or Stephanie McMahon? Or both? This is still interesting, although Nash, a longtime favourite of mine, seems to be the weak link. To their credit, WWE realizes this - especially from a wrestling standpoint - as they replaced him in the Night of Champions match with CM Punk this week, with Triple H. Not that that's so exciting either - Punk's on fire and I'd hate to see him sucked into whatever egos or games these vets might play - but H I think is a darn sight better, closer to the current product, and closer to his prime. We'll see where it goes, but I'd rather Punk-Cena continue, with Johnny Ace, Nash, H etc. as side characters in terms of 'who's zoomin' who' - but with the wrestlers themselves as the main players in this ... ahem ... game.
  • Brand Split?: Triple H announced this week that henceforth Raw shows would be 'supershows' featuring members of both rosters. This week's Smackdown, in response to a new UFC season debut, as well as the revving up of football season, is going to air live Tuesday, with a replay in their usual spot of Friday night. This also means a no-punches-pulled supershow featuring both rosters. This is fine for this week as a treat - but going forward, does this speak to the end of the brand split? I wouldn't mind that entirely, as I think having the entire roster working together across the two shows creates a lot more possibilities for feuds ... although seeing all the same names twice a week also leads to a lot of potential for hotshotting. Again as well, with two 'supershows' the same week, there's a lot of potential for pay-per-view-level stories being shared on free television, which while I appreciate it as a fan, is not necessarily wise business on the WWE's part. The trick to their business model is giving fans enough on free TV week to week that they keep tuning in and feel it's worthwhile, while keeping the REAL payoff for the $$$ shows. The odd big match or title change to remind people Raw and SD are worth their time is fine; but I feel there's been months' worth of story told weekly for awhile now; they could easily provide 1-2 reveals a week in the time they've been delivering 4-5, and still have it be worthwhile and exciting television.
  • Matt Hardy Woes: Matt Hardy is coming unravelled at the seams, it seems. After being found mildly injured after wrecking his car in his native NC, Matt was charged with driving while intoxicated; though it was not apparent he'd been drinking, he was clearly under the influence of a mind-altering substance. Not a week later, following a slew of strange posts on Twitter and Youtube (apparently his house is haunted, by the same ghost who caused him to crash his car?), he was hospitalized after falling in his home. Meanwhile, he has been released by TNA. While some have been making fun of this situation, and it is indeed strange, I do wish both Hardys the best, as it is sad to know what they were, and what they should be, and yet to see what they've become at the same time. I very sincerely hope they both get the help they deserve.
  • Ric Flair Article: Lastly, speaking of sad, this article (CLICK HERE to read), The Wrestler in Real Life by Shane Ryan has been making the rounds and gone viral this week. Ric Flair used to be one of the greatest of all time and there are many fans who will still remember him as such; however, it's sad to see, in his 60s, what this legend has become. Flair has threatened to sue the blogger, particularly in relation to his claims Flair suffers from alcoholic cardiomypoathy, but even Flair's representation acknowledges the legal documents used as source material here are legitimate. So unfortunate.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summerslam! ... and some Wellness Policy-related suspensions

So - it was the hottest night of the WWE's summer last night, as LA played host to their 24th annual Summerslam event. While the undercard was passable, there was little to really push it over the top into truly memorable territory until the last few matches - especially starting with their last minute decision, according to Jim Ross's Twitter, to substitute Booker T in for him. Sigh ... I hope the poor fans who paid $15 apiece for WWE's new promotion of commentary headsets, were able to get a refund with that fiasco. But I digress. Let's go with the rundown. And if I get some of the order incorrect, in terms of promos or what have you, my apologies.

Show opener was Alberto del Rio, R Truth and the Miz vs. Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio and John Morrison. I was surprised and disappointed they didn't hype this match beforehand as it had the potential to be great - it WAS good, and a nice way to open the show. Rey Mysterio getting the win was fair given he's in the WWE title picture, and I enjoyed this match, even if it wasn't given the hype it deserved - nor did it QUITE live up to the hype it should have had. Still, these guys are incapable of a bad match.

We then move right along to the Mark Henry-Sheamus match, which was also a Big Man-style clinic. The live crowd was pretty peeved at the countout win, but we predicted on this past week's ITVR that it wouldn't be a clear-cut win by any means and frankly I'm pleasantly surprised it wasn't an out and out double-disqualification/double-countout/no contest. Good showing from both men, who are making the big guy ground-and-pound style interesting again.

Here's where I'll deal with both sort of celebrity/cameo type parts of the show. Cee Lo Green is someone I enjoy very much, but I'm not necessarily sure, much like Kid Rock a couple Wrestlemanias ago, that he enhanced the show much. Still - kudos for a fairly big celebrity get in that sense to the WWE. I also very much enjoyed the Jimmy Hart cameo with R Truth - the Little Jimmy jokes wrote themselves. Ron Artest's cameo at the end was cool, although I didn't entirely get it ... not being a basketball fan?

I also want to comment on some of the other backstage interactions throughout the night here; Stephanie McMahon made a return appearance, interacting distrustfully (though well) with CM Punk, and being seen leaving John Cena's locker room later in the night. She was also seen giving her husband Triple H what appeared to be a good luck kiss just before the main event.

The Divas match between Kelly Kelly and Beth Phoenix was good, and I'll even give surprise at the ending - although I don't entirely mind. As Jason Powell over at pointed out, since Beth Phoenix's eventual title win, and work with the likes of Natalya, and eventually Kharma, is all but given, stretching this out as far as they can until they can get a credible 'good girl' Diva or two in there (she's already beaten Kelly Kelly and Eve, the only two faces left in the division I believe) isn't a bad idea.

Wade Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan was good and my prediction was right - Barrett gets the win, because while neither guy really has a whole lot of room for error here, Daniel Bryan does still have the briefcase with the title shot contract, and so a bit more wiggle room. I suspect this might open up the potential for a feud over said Money in the Bank briefcase, which wouldn't be bad either as both guys could make a claim to being at that glass ceiling, and I think could run with the ball if given to them. And a feud between these two, I don't mind. two very technically savvy, hold-based wrestlers having a feud is very un-WWE - but a nice change that I don't mind now and then, favouring that style a little bit myself.

Christian vs. Randy Orton - Edge's cameo was beautiful (hee hee ...) I enjoyed seeing him, although I also respect the WWE handling him quickly, since his actually being in Christian's corner, or really supporting him in any way, would make him too 'face' too quickly. These two - Christian and Orton - can go, and they did. Orton's title win should be the blowoff to this feud, having won in an anything-goes scenario, although with most credible potential opponents still having some work to do before getting there, I anticipate a bit more mileage out of this bad boy.

So all of the above was good, with some memorable moments (especially Edge's return and a good match between Christian-Orton). But this brings us to the true "WTF?" match of the night. Well - more accurately, match ending. CM Punk and John Cena have an incredible rematch, the crowd electric right from the start, edge-of-their-seats with the duelling chants ("Let's go Cena!"/"Cena sucks!") and everything. CM Punk eventually pulls it out in the stretch, although, after basically playing it straight all night, Triple H didn't heed that John Cena's foot was on the rope during the final three-count (accident? open question ...)

CM Punk didn't have a whole lot of time to savour his victory, however, before being jacknife powerbombed by ... well, who the hell does a jacknife powerbomb, but Kevin Nash? Yes, the big man, Diesel himself! No sooner do the fans register that moment than he exits through the crowd, while Raw Money in the Bank-holder Alberto del Rio enters with a referee. One, two, three, on the weakened CM Punk, and we have our third WWE champion of the night, and some definite 'splainin' to do on Raw this evening! If ever the last 5 minutes saved a show ... and the show didn't even suck! Absolutely dumbstriking.

Also dumbstriking, before I go - two Wellness Policy violation-related suspensions (read: drugs) today from the WWE. First, referee Mike Chioda, I believe the first zebra to be suspended under the policy. Secondly, Tough Enough champ from this season, Andy Leavine, in an auspicious start to an already-rocky WWE career. Sigh ...

Either way, keep tuning in over the next few days as Raw plays out and whatnot. Business, as Jim Ross would say, is about to pick up! See you at the matches.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Click here for this week's ITVR ... and read on

NOTE: This was record on Thurs. and I haven't had the time to upload it until now. So please note the following addenda:

  1. Able to discuss Smackdown without spoiling anything now, congratulations to new Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes, who defeated Ezekiel Jackson for the belt on Friday. Also - allow the speculation to begin about Christian's comment, that, if this match is 'everything goes', he's got 'the best thing going'. What (or who?!) does he have up his sleeve. Not for nothing, it is a known fact that a very, very good friend of Christian's will be signing autographs and gladhanding at the Access event prior to Summerslam tomorrow night ... Ahem ... you think you know him?
  2. Heath Slater, former Nexus and Core member, has been accused by a hotel security guard of assaulting her and trying to force her into his hotel room; not being one of those top guys WWE will protect at all costs, they are already distancing themeslves by commenting on this as a personal matter involving Slater that has nothing to do with the WWE. How long until he receives his walking papers.
  3. One more match has been adde to Smackdown, with Wade Barrett facing Daniel Bryan - my prediction is a somewhat tricky Wade Barrett win, as there are no consequences to this match, but that might provide an opening for him to challenge for the Money in the Bank briefcase. I think ultimately this feud might end up being Bryan's - but Barrett needs a win as he's started working his way back out of the obscurity he'd so unfairly fallen into.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Black Friday

Hey guys - Monday Night Raw is underway and we'll be discussing this go-home edition of the show, as well as Smackdown from this past week and Summerslam this coming weekend (WOW!) later in the week. Meanwhile though I wanted to address in a busy weekend we missed Black Friday - aka, the annual housecleaning WWE often does, the day many mid- and lower-carders answer phonecalls from that Stamford area code at their own risk.

This past Friday saw the ouster of Vladimir Kozlov, David Hart Smith, and Chris Masters - but for once, it was actually the Divas who brought the most intrigue to this release day. Melina Perez was released after longstanding rumours of a lousy attitude, and being a quite-outspoken Tweeter. This is going to make for some awkwardness for her still-employed boyfriend of many years, John Morrison. Hmm ...

Also rumoured to be outgoing, is Gail Kim who has claimed since Friday on her Twitter that she quit the WWE, despite the fact WWE has said nothing about her release, or her having quit. Which speaks to her either being done with the WWE, or trying very hard to make sure that happens.

We of course, as always, join the WWE in wishing the former Superstars and Divas all the best in their future endeavours.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Maryse facing surgery

WWE diva Maryse announced this week she will be needing hernia surgery and will be out of action for awhile, although specific dates or timelines were not provided.

After a rough month - seeking a restraining order against a stalker and now this - we wish Maryse all the best and can't wait to see her back in action. While she might LOOK like an untalented Barbie type, she is actually a fairly bright spot in the Diva's division.

CM Punk Entertains ...

Even when doing the weather!

In something I don't know anyone could have predicted, the super-talented but incredibly-normal looking CM Punk has become one of the best ambassadors for the pro wrestling industry since ... OK. since John Cena in terms of mainstream publicity. While he might not have the larger-than-life personality of a Rock or Hulk Hogan, through simply being talented, outspoken, and cool, he has definitely garnered some attention for himself and, by extension, the WWE.

Enjoy the video below featuring Punk doing an interview, and a weather report, with an Indianapolis, IN morning show.

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