How I Would Book… Who Ran Over Stone Cold?

SPOILER ALERT from fifteen years ago, but I think it’s a safe bet to assume that nearly every wrestling fan on earth knows that Rikishi ran over Stone Cold with a car. Even if you were not watching wrestling during the attitude era, the WWE have referenced the storyline several times on WWE YouTube videos, the WWE Network and even on episodes of RAW and SmackDown! Many fans and wrestling experts over the years have criticised the WWF’s decision to have Rikishi be behind the attempted murder of the top wrestler in the company. With that said, are there many other solutions that would have been better than Rikishi? Could I have booked the “Who Ran Over Stone Cold” storyline better than WWE? Well, let’s find out!

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Before we dive into the analysis of Rikishi as the culprit, let’s run down the storyline itself from Survivor Series 1999 to Survivor Series 2000.

Stone Cold Steve Austin had been embroiled in a triple threat WWF Championship feud with the champion Triple H and The Rock. A triple threat match was promoted for Survivor Series 1999 and a triple threat match was ended up what we got. Unfortunately, it did not include the Texas Rattlesnake. Triple H provoked Austin during a backstage interview before the match. This led Austin towards the parking lot, where he was ran down by an unidentified assailant.

Austin was sidelined for nearly a year, to take care of actually injuries that he was working with at the time. He returned at Backlash 2000 for a one-off appearance to help The Rock against Triple H and made his full return to the WWF at Unforgiven 2000. He was on a quest to track down the man who had ran him over, even not pressing charges as a means to lure the man out. Austin’s methods of tracking down the attempted killer included interfering in several matches, getting on the bad side of Commissioner Mick Foley. Foley suspended Austin, conducting his own investigation into the crime.

After major suspects like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kurt Angle and The Rock were called out, Foley eventually got to the bottom of the case. Stone Cold Steve Austin was actually ran over… by Rikishi.

Rikishi, who had not appeared on WWF television yet when Austin was ran down, admitted to the crime. He claimed that he did it for The Rock, as the WWF had been keeping down Samoans like himself and The Rock for years. Austin was getting in the way of The Rock’s success, leading to Rikishi doing what he did. This led to Austin getting his revenge on Rikishi, destroying the big man in a No Holds Barred match and then trying to hit RIKISHI with a truck.

The plot thickened for the Austin mystery, as it would later be revealed that Triple H was secretly the one that had orchestrated the hit-and-run and put Rikishi up to do it.

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The biggest problem with the official solution is that it almost seemed like the culprit was too random to be a legitimate suspect. Mick Foley even mentioned it during the reveal that Rikishi wasn’t even in the WWF at the time of the hit-and-run. Therefore, it’s likely to assume that the WWF had no idea who the suspect would end up being when they shot the angle. Rikishi’s initial reasoning  for running down Austin seemed very out-of-place, as it didn’t seem enough of a justification to explain Rikishi going after Austin. Rikishi wanting to help out The Rock could be viable but the whole Samoans being held down story had nothing to do with Austin. Yeah, Austin is one of the most successful wrestlers of all time and is a 100% American. However, it’d still seem odd that Rikishi would resort to murder because of this.

Now obviously, Triple H being thrown in as the mastermind behind of the whole thing did sort of write out this explanation a little. Rikishi still could have theoretically felt how he did about The Rock and the Samoan lineage, but Triple H does give Rikishi more of a valid reason for running down Austin. After all, Triple H was the one that led Austin out into the parking lot and hated his guts. Him getting Rikishi to run down Austin makes a lot more sense than Rikishi doing it for his Samoan lineage.

While Triple H being the mastermind does involve someone that was a big part of the story at the time of the attack, Rikishi played no part in the story at all. Rikishi was a joyful babyface that got over with his dance moves more than his ruthless aggression. There seemed to be no hint of Rikishi possibly having a dark side to him, so him all of a sudden being an attempted murder does seem a bit unfathomable. It’s actually funny when watching back Rikishi’s run ins with Triple H and the McMahon-Helmsley regime in 2000. Rikishi feuded with Triple H, and even faced him for the WWF Championship one time, while secretly having conspired with him to commit attempted murder! Then again, Rikishi running down Austin would explain why Triple H would give Rikishi a title shot in the first place. I guess that was Rikishi’s grand reward.

In a way, Rikishi being the culprit was good for attempting to get over the next big star in WWE. Rikishi did get elevated as a main-event heel but ultimately ended up flopping in that role. Sticking your backside in people’s faces doesn’t exactly come off as an evil thing to do. Considering it’s Rikishi’s rear end though, I guess it kind of is! Rikishi really didn’t work as a badass, monster heel and quickly turned back into a babyface just before the Invasion angle kicked off.

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When coming up with an alternative solution, we need to think of people that not only were relevant to the story but were also strong enough to be able to work as a top heel. As much as someone like Kurt Angle being the culprit would make sense, as he would have been someone that would gain from Austin being out of the picture, he would have no real motivation other than that. It’s not like he would have met Austin at the time, as he made his in-ring debut at Survivor Series 1999 itself. As much as fans would believe this to be a fitting irony-pleasing solution, Angle doesn’t work in this role for me.

Then you’ve got to think about the other big culprits that were highlighted as the two prime suspects by Mick Foley. Triple H would have been too obvious of a culprit, even though he wounded up being written into the official solution anyway. Right after Austin was ran down, Vince McMahon immediately accused Triple H and D-Generation X of committing the crime. Him being the culprit would be rather anti-climatic.

The Rock, on the other hand, became the top babyface when Austin wasn’t around. As outlined by Mick Foley, The Rock (as well as Triple H) had the most to gain from Austin being out of the picture. At the time of Austin’s return, The Rock was the WWF Champion. Being the top babyface, his popularity rose to new heights. With The Rock being suspected so heavily leading into the official solution, him also being the suspect would be another anti-climatic reveal. Another reason for the Brahma Bull not being culprit is that the WWF would be passing up on some serious merch sales with The Rock now being viewed as a villain.

Really, we’re looking for someone that you’d least suspect. Someone that had been shown to be sinister enough to pull off devious acts like this in the past. We’re looking for someone that would do something as a means to fulfil a much grander master plan. Who would fill this role? Why it is someone that did feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1999. It is someone that wasn’t actually there at Survivor Series 1999 and was unaccounted for. It was someone that has a history for making his foes rest in peace. The man that should have been the culprit was… the Undertaker.

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This may be a tough pill to swallow. The Undertaker did only come back as a babyface American Badass in May 2000. It would be somewhat of a letdown to see this new babyface run down our beloved Stone Cold. Then again, considering Undertaker would turn heel just a year later anyway, I think we can work a turn into this angle without hurting the Undertaker.

If you think about it, Undertaker is one of the rare people in the Attitude Era that would actually resort to murder so casually. He’s set his brother on fire repeatedly and even hanged Big Boss Man following their WrestleMania 15 Hell in a Cell match. Heck, he’s even faced Steve Austin in a Buried Alive match. I think it’s safe to say that he’d be willing to run over Austin with a corner.

The biggest issue with this is simple, and it’s actually what Kurt Angle mentioned on an edition of SmackDown! when HE was accused of running over Austin. One of the biggest parts of a murder mystery is motive. What’s the Undertaker’s motive? Why would he turn his attentions to Steve Austin? Well I have a question for you in response… why does the culprit’s motivation have to necessarily be focused at the victim? Obviously, some sort of disdain has to be present in order to consider attempting murder and Taker did feud with Austin that same year. However, what if Undertaker’s motivation was not to solely eliminate AUSTIN from the equation. While taking out Steve Austin was an added bonus, Undertaker’s real end-game was to mess with the man that had forced him to leave the WWF. Undertaker’s real end-game was in fact to remove Mr McMahon from power.

In September 1999, Undertaker “left” the WWF after refusing to take part in a Casket match with Triple H. Mr McMahon threatened to take away Undertaker’s spot in the WWF title match at Unforgiven, leading to the Undertaker walking out of the company. Jim Ross specifically stated when Undertaker made his return at Judgement Day 2000 that he was “going after McMahon” when challenging the Faction. Clearly, some hostility still exists between the two men. After all, McMahon losing power in the WWF in 1999 led to the Undertaker losing the WWF Championship and never gaining an opportunity to get it back. This could have been Undertaker’s ultimate revenge, especially after blindly following Vince’s orders when he was the “higher power” of the Corporate Ministry.

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Picture it like this. Mr McMahon was the first one shown to be outraged after Austin was run over… other than Jim Ross I guess. McMahon lashes out at DX following the incident. Knowing how much McMahon hated Triple H at the time and with Triple H’s title match with two other men coming up later that night, obviously Vince would come to the conclusion that DX was behind it. This is the Undertaker being the puppet-master, pulling McMahon’s strings by taking out one of the competitors in the running to dethrone Triple H as WWF Champion. In response, McMahon inserts the Big Show into the WWF Championship match and Big Show wins the title because of Vince. Just prior to his departure from the WWF, Undertaker had been teaming with the Big Show as part of an unholy alliance. It makes perfect sense that Taker would reward Big Show by manipulating events in order to get the title on the big man.

From behind the scenes, Undertaker is causing dysfunction within the McMahon family. Let’s start of with Stephanie, who turned on her dad and aligned with Triple H at Armageddon. Undertaker was the one that had abducted Stephanie, following the orders of Mr McMahon. Little work needed to be done on Taker’s end, with Mr McMahon having pushed Triple H’s buttons by costing him the championship at Survivor Series. McMahon made things personal with Triple H, so Triple H retaliated. Of course, Triple H hatches a master plan with Stephanie. Stephanie wanted to get revenge at her father for the abduction plan from before so she went with the man that Mr McMahon hated the most. Vince is being torn apart as daddy’s little girl has been taken away from him by the enemy.

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Shane and Linda would also get involved, leading to the WrestleMania 2000 fatal four way match with the McMahons in every corner. McMahon would be emotionally torn by having to compete with three members of his family. Not a lot can be said about the Undertaker during this period as he really can’t do much else to mess with McMahon until he comes back. Why not have McMahon regain control with Triple H and Stephanie? If he’s in charge by the time Undertaker comes back, Undertaker can be there to personally remove him from power again. At Judgement Day, his crusade with McMahon begins. He attacks him and the McMahon-Helmsley regime during the big Triple H/Rock Iron Man match. His main intentions when he comes back is to fight the regime, oust McMahon from power and win the WWF Championship. At King Of The Ring, The Rock wins the WWF Championship instead of him during a big six man tag team match but it’s not too much of a loss as at least the regime didn’t win. Undertaker will get back at The Rock, which I will get to later.

Following King Of The Ring, Vince left to become a “genetic jackhammer” while Mick Foley took over. It would have been better to say that the beatings from Undertaker, Rock etc. would force him to leave but as long as McMahon is gone. Now Undertaker can try to win back some gold. He does this initially by going after the tag team titles with Kane and then feuding with his brother. Not a lot happens for the Undertaker at this point, but he does get involved in the WWF title picture at Unforgiven 2000. How ironic, considering that he was initially barred by Mr McMahon from getting a title shot at Unforgiven last year. Here’s where I would change things up. Instead of Undertaker failing to win the championship, he wins the title in a fatal four way match also involving the champion Rock, Kane and Chris Benoit. On the very same night that Taker wins the title, Austin makes his return to WWF.

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Austin coming back is an unexpected and unwanted situation for the Undertaker. With his title reign only just getting started, Mick Foley and Austin beginning their investigations, and The Rock getting his rematch at No Mercy, how does the Undertaker turn the attention and suspicion away from himself? Why simple. Turn The Rock and Austin against each other. It is suddenly played up by Undertaker and a number of other wrestlers about how The Rock had to most to gain from Austin being ran over. This builds up all the way to No Mercy, where The Rock challenges Undertaker for the WWF Championship. Austin was initially suspended by Mick Foley, but Foley reinstates Austin after getting an anonymous tip that the culprit would reveal himself at the pay-per-view.

Up until the main event, we get no word from the culprit. Nobody comes clean. Ausitn doesn’t hear anything. Then the main-event comes around, with Austin coming down and going crazy. He pulls the referee out of the ring and grabs a chair. He sees and targets Taker, going for a chair shot but accidentally nailing The Rock. Undertaker then hits Austin with a chokeslam. Undertaker takes advantages and retains the title when the referee awakes. Undertaker then picks up a chair and unleashes hell on Austin and The Rock. Undertaker grabs the mic and laughs. He then asks the question of who had the most to gain from Austin being run over. He simply replies by saying “me” and that Austin’s search was over. Undertaker was the one that ran over Austin.

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Austin initially challenges Taker for the title at Survivor Series 2000, with it ending in a no contest after Austin takes out Taker in a similar fashion to Triple H in real life. Undertaker retains the title at Armageddon 2000. Then Mick Foley resigns as Commissioner which changes everything. Undertaker would have mentioned in an explanation that he did what he did to remove Austin and McMahon out of the equation and win the WWF title. Now Vince is back and in charge. Therefore, McMahon is going to make Undertaker pay. Undertaker vs The Rock is booked for Royal Rumble, with Vince’s reasoning being to make amends with The Rock after Vince turned on him at WrestleMania 2000. Sure. Whatever works. Undertaker loses the championship following interference from Stone Cold. Stone Cold wins the Royal Rumble itself, leading to No Way Out. Instead of Triple H, Undertaker is the one that faces and beats Stone Cold in a three stages of hell match.

That effectively is when the storyline ends. However, with Steve Austin and Mr McMahon’s alliance after WrestleMania 17, there is a lot more potential with the dynamic of Undertaker, McMahon and Austin. Imagine Stone Cold Steve Austin working with the boss to take out the man that tried to kill him. You could do the Power Trip angle if you’d like, having Undertaker and Kane battle Austin and Triple H. This could also add a lot to the Invasion angle, especially when it comes to Austin and Taker. You could have Austin and Taker initially not trust each and then eventually bury the hatchet (well bury the hatchet as much as you could, considering Taker tried to kill the man). Alternatively, you could have Austin join the Alliance and led the group against the WWF led by the Undertaker. The possibilities are endless.

Or if you’d prefer for the storyline to finish at WrestleMania 17, simply have Undertaker hold the championship all the way to WrestleMania. Austin wins the Rumble and Undertaker is the WWF Champion. This leads to the ultimate showdown in Texas between Austin and the man that ran him over more than a year ago. In the ultimate act of revenge for Undertaker running him over, Austin makes a deal with the devil himself Vince McMahon. McMahon was manipulated by Undertaker for so long, so Vince helped Austin DEFEAT the Undertaker at WrestleMania. The streak and Undertaker’s title reign is ended by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

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That about wraps up this edition of How I Would Book. I have to admit, this one was rather fun to write. I’d seen many different solutions but after thinking of a number of different options, Undertaker being the mastermind actually fits in with the storyline well. I’d love to hear of any other alternative solutions from fans so feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @TomRobinson5199. Don’t just do it for me. Do it… for The Rock. Thanks for reading everyone.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

 

WWE 2K16 FaM Survival Review

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One of the many great things about WWE games is that it allows gamers the opportunity to get as creative as they want. I’ve personally enjoyed the universe mode side of recent games, creating your own rivalries and having fun with a huge cast of wrestlers. Many gamers enjoy the community creation side of things or simply playing through the WWE 2K showcase modes. In either case, there’s something for everyone. While it provides you with the tools to put together decent content, FaM decided to take its WWE Games content to a new level.

The storyline aspect and the quality of the production has always been something that impresses me. There’s a huge gap between major shows at times, but the end product for each show is well worth the wait. The amount of time and effort spent on the littlest of details must be admired. For Survival, it was FaM’s first crack at a major event with the most recent WWE game – WWE 2K16.

With the new game at their disposal, FaM gave us a new chapter in the ever-intensifying struggle for power in the storyline. Rom Buster would take a team of five into battle with the team of the anonymous general manager. The captain of the winning team would be in charge of the show as the general manager’s identity would finally be revealed. Did FaM deliver with the show and with the reveal of the new authority figure?

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The show opened with the Diamonds Debut match with Elle taking on Eve, who I believe is a member of Betrayal and BlackHeron’s girlfriend. There are two things I want to talk about before I dig into the match itself. One, thank you @RevELLEution for the follow on Twitter! Two, I had no idea that Elle was actually from MIDDLESBROUGH! As a Boro lad myself, that was actually an awesome revelation for me. There’s an FaM member that is living in the same town as me!

The match was actually very good. There was a surprising use of the announce table in the opening match. Elle did the Shane McMahon elbow drop spot through the announce table, which was actually very well sold by the commentators. It then led to a very funny running gag in the show, where the announce table or something would break in every match of the show! They actually had angles with Rom setting up the ring or the announce table, in a clever way to explain how the broken announce tables were suddenly fixed in time for the next match! That was pretty innovative!

I thought the finish was very good and simple. Eve went for the pop-up powerbomb which Elle reversed into the hurricanrana roll-up for the pin. A great match that got things up and running for FaM Survival…

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TubbyEmu wrestled Grim’s Toy Show in a grudge match. This had followed an attack by Tubby to Grim from Cyber FaMday. I was not really as invested in this one as I’m really not someone that is a fan of all the YouTuber vs YouTuber matches on FaM. In a perfect world, I’d much rather keep my CAW league as original as possible with its characters. I understand why they do it in order to get exposure but it’s just not something that really interests me about FaM. With that said, I like the FaM vs YouTuber match later and I did like this match as well…

It was a nice big man match. It started off exciting as Tubby attempted a cheap shot, but Grim reversed which led to a big dive to the outside. There was a nice back-and-forth battle, with a big finish… literally. Grim gave Tubby a superplex which caused the ring to implode much like the legendary Brock Lesnar/Big Show spot from 2003. The OMG moment of having two super heavyweights break the ring has been a feature on the game since WWE 13 I believe. I’m surprised that the clan has not used this spot for a FaM match up until this point! If I’m forgetting a time when they did it, please leave a comment below.

The ending was fitting considering the men involved. The match ended in a no contest. My only complaint about the finish is that with the way it went down, it became apparent that this feud was not over between the two men since there was no winner. This would all but confirm a rematch of some sort for FaM Pandora. The issue with this though is that there’s a lot of time in between FaM mega events. I’d seen this match once and personally, I would prefer that these two did something different if they were to appear at Pandora. Unless the next match is compelling enough for me to want to watch a rematch, I’d not want to wait six months or so for the next show just to see the same match. I complain all the time about getting the same matches on RAW and SmackDown! every week. If I give WWE a hard time, then I have point out similar flaws with FaM. It’s not a major issue for me and a lot of people in the WWE games community probably do want to see the rematch. I personally would just prefer that the two men moved onto different projects as opposed to dragging out this feud for another six months or something.

With that said, it was a fun match. It kept the momentum rolling for Survival which was fine.

Then they showed a video which talked about the upcoming FaM Review Competition. For those of you that are unaware, this competition allows YouTubers to send FaM video reviews or live reactions of FaM shows. You can send FaM these reactions/reviews via YouTube Inbox, Twitter or Facebook. If you go on their YouTube page, they’ll have links to all of those social media accounts. The winner will get an opportunity to have themselves involved in a FaM show as an active wrestler and possibly as a permanent member of the roster.

I had not seen this video before FaM Survival actually happened, so when I watched the video during the show it was for the first time. They ran down the people that had sent video reviews and live reactions. Then, history was made….

…as the Armbar Express made an appearance on one of the biggest events in the WWE Games Community history! They did give this blog a cheeky shout out with this competition video for my review of Cyber FaMday, which is very much appreciated. I got to say that this was a surprise to see the shout out. Even though my review was not a part of the review competition and was never really designed to do so, I am glad that the dudes at FaM were able to give it a read and feature it on the video. It does make my day to get people commentating about these posts and when it is featured on a video which has already got 100,000+ views as of me writing this, it does put me in high spirits.

Thanks again for the shout out FaM and thanks again for the content for me to write about, as well as making my decision of whether to do THIS review that much simpler.

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As mentioned, Rom fixed the ring after what Tubby and Grim did. D.N.A. ordered Rom to put his back into it as Rom was annoyed at having to rebuild the whole thing himself. Some good comedy with the commentators. They did this scene with WWE 2K14 by the way.

Devil cut a pre-match promo, just before his Cyber FaM Championship match with Cameron Bash. He berated Maslingster for not helping him at Cyber FaMday. He revealed that he had used the pink slip he’d won at FaMniversary III, to fire Maslingster.

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Devil faced Cameron Bash for the Cyber FaM Championship, with the stipulation being decided by the fans. They chose for it to be an extreme rules match. Devil tried an attack on the entrance ramp before the match started, but Bash was ready for it. Devil hit Bash in the gut with a chair, which Rom reacted to as if he’d witnessed a murder! Out of all the spots, this was one of the biggest reactions from the play-by-play commentator!

I’m actually going to tie this into Dragon Ball Super, believe it or not. If you don’t want to be spoiled for Dragon Ball Super, I’d advise you read on. In a recent episode of Dragon Ball Super, the villain “Black Goku” was feeling his chest after being punched in the stomach by Goku. A lot of fans theorised that this character was suffering from a heart virus as he was in a body resembling Goku, who had died in a past timeline from a heart virus. Complicated theory, but the point is that these fans were throwing around all of these crazy ideas about why this villain was feeling his stomach after the punch. They were over-thinking this one punch when the answer to why the villain reacted like he did was because he was just PUNCHED IN THE STOMACH. If any person punches you in the gut, you are going to have the wind knocked out of you. When a MMA fighter delivers these punches to the gut of his opponent, he’s trying to take the wind out of this fighter and slow him down. When Devil hit Bash with the chair and Rom made it seem like it was the most painful thing he ever saw, it actually makes sense as a chair driven into your gut would probably be the most painful thing anyone can endure if it digs right into the rib cage!

It was a pretty extreme match. We got another awesome announce table spot. Devil tried a dive to the outside onto Bash, who was next to the announce table. Bash caught him, lifted him up on his shoulders and hit an Attitude Adjustment on Devil through the announce table. Assisted with some cheeky editing, a very well put together spot. Devil got a near-fall after a low blow and a tombstone piledriver. The finish saw Devil going for Old School, with Bash countering into the Bash Bottom for the victory via pin fall. Three matches with three great finishes in a row. FaM really do a great job with the finishes of their matches! Very innovative and well-thought out.

The general manager’s right hand man Darin buzzed in, who berated Devil for not getting the job done. In an ironic twist of fate, Devil was then fired fifteen minutes after firing somebody else.

Seeing two former world title contenders (in Devil’s case, a former world champion) being fired on the same show is very interesting to me. It’s easily possible that this could merely just be an angle that will see them both rehired somehow at Pandora or something, but it is thought-provoking. There’s a lot of new FaM wrestlers on the scene at the moment, so it is possible that Devil and Maslingster may actually be done in FaM for the time being. As FaM demonstrated several times on this show, it’s possible for wrestlers to be brought back after many years. While Devil and Dude may both be gone for now, the chances are that it’s not going to be for good.

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BlackHeron confronted Darin backstage, being unhappy about the general manager firing one of BlackHeron’s Betrayal members in Devil. Darin said that he makes these decisions for a reason and called Devil expendable. He questioned BH’s judgement and basically told BH to fall in line. He said that BH had every reason to fear the general manager as BH apparently did something to the general manager on “that day”, which was referred to during the hype promos for Survival.

Haroon from the Skilled Foundation tried to make a deal with the Don, looking to gain his assistance during the Skilled Foundation’s tag title match against the Resurgence.

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The Skilled Foundation were scheduled to fight the Resurgence for the FaM Tag Team Championship. The tag champions came out but then Mr Siko’s music hit. Bhaccilo did his ring introduction for Mr Siko but it was actually Bhaccilo that appeared on the entrance ramp. As this happened, Mr Siko attacked both members of the Resurgence with a chair. He laid out the Resurgence’s Maxi on the table as the Mafia came out. Big Tony planned to have Tiny Tony jump off the top and put Maxi through the table. However, Tiny Tony revealed that he was actually afraid of heights. Big Tony still demanded that Tiny jump off the top. Tiny jumped and missed the table completely, landing on the apron instead. If someone actually did this spot in real life, it would actually hurt like hell!

Maxi got up and beat up Big Tony in the ring. The Skilled Foundation then jumped Maxi in the ring. One of the Skilled Foundation members put Maxi through a table with a 450 splash. Darin buzzed in and demanded that the match take place anyway. The Skilled Foundation hit the Hart Attack to win the tag team titles.

This was not really intended to be a proper match but it did do a great job in conveying the message about how evil this dictatorship is being. It got the general manager’s team heat for the main event, which is very important to try and get people to root for Rom Buster’s team.

I get that you’d like to get the Mafia and Mr Siko involved in the show somehow, as they are both entertaining acts. However, they could have easily done this entire angle much more smoothly if they had just cut out the Mafia and Mr Siko. In hindsight, the two of them didn’t really add much to the segment as Maxi eventually ended up fighting back anyway. It was funny to see Tiny Tony miss the splash but you could have just done the Skilled Foundation attacking the Resurgence before the match, putting Maxi through a table and then have Darin start the match. I didn’t get why the Mafia and Siko needed to be there, other than for the sole purpose of having them involved.

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Next up was Team FaM vs Team YouTubers in a seven-on-seven elimination match. Representing FaM as their first entrant was the “legendary sheriff” Sledder  while the YouTubers started off with their captain Tom Cushnie. Cushnie was eliminated right away after Sledder hit him with a big boot. Delzinski was next for Team YouTubers. There was a brief back-and-forth between the two men. Delzinski went for a curb stomp, which was somehow countered into a Samoan drop. It was pretty amazing how they were able to pull off that transition. Sledder hit the big boot to eliminate Delzinski. The third entrant for Team YouTuber was ItsMyYard. Two dummies came out instead, mimicking the New Day entrance. The one in light blue was the one scheduled to be in the match but a third dummy appeared at ringside to distract the referee. As this was going on, the real ItsMyYard low blowed Sledder. Assisted with the dummy he originally came out with, ItsMyYard hit a splash onto Sledder to eliminate him. Quite difficult to put all of this into writing! Long story short… many dummies.

“The Kangaroo Killer” Luke Monet came out but he was jumped by a fourth dummy. Monet was thrown into the ring and the real ItsMyYard hit a shining wizard, pinning Monet to eliminate him. Think about this for a minute. In order to eliminate Sledder, one of the dummies distracted the referee so Yard could low blow Sledder. When Monet came out, one of the dummies just attacked him as he was coming down to the ring. The referee saw the attack, so shouldn’t have Yard been disqualified as ONE OF HIS OWN DUMMIES attacked Monet? There was a bit of inconsistency with the rules of the match but the pace of the match was all smooth. Yard cheats and pins Sledder right away. Yard cheats and pins Monet right away. No need to do near falls or anything like that. Simply eliminating the FaM wrestlers right after the injustices from Yard adds to the belief that this all unfair for Team FaM. Simple wrestling psychology!

Rafazo was the third man for Team FaM. He won Cyber FaMday review competition mentioned earlier. He took out one of the dummies right away by diving to the outside and hitting a DDT. The two other dummies apparently ran away as ItsMyYard was on his own with Rafazo. Rafazo hit the Sister Abigail to pin Yard. A great way to debut Rafazo by having him eliminate Yard right away and in an impressive fashion. Up next for Team YouTuber was SmackTalks.

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Rafazo and Smack Talks easily had the best mini-match within this seven-on-seven match. There was some tremendous athletic lucha-libre style wrestling between the two. Rafazo took control early on with arm drags and a dropkick to the outside. SmackTalks hit a red arrow for a near fall. Rafazo caught SmackTalks jumping off the top rope and hit him with the Sister Abigail for a near fall. Rafazo went for a coup de grace but SmackTalks moved out of the way. SmackTalks hit a reverse frankensteiner and a second red arrow to eliminate Rafazo. An exceptional few minutes with Rafazo and SmackTalks. They did a hell of a job in putting Rafazo over and it was all great. This was probably the best sequence in the entire show! Kudos to FaM for that little match-up.

“The Australian Brawler” William Kingdom was up next for Team FaM. They brawled for a little bit when SmackTalks went for a Red Arrow to Kingdom on the outside. Kingdom countered with a cutter on the outside in an insane spot. SmackTalks kicked out which angered Kingdom. Kingdom grabbed a chair from underneath the ring and hit SmackTalks with it, causing a disqualification. He beat up SmackTalks with the chair some more. Kingdom then cut a promo to call out Cyber FaM Champion Cameron Bash and left.

Muffy E was next for Team FaM. Muffy E did push ups in front of SmackTalks, with the announcers playing up how Muffy E couldn’t possibly screw this up for Team FaM after Kingdom’s attack. Somehow, Muffy E doing push ups got a slow motion replay! That was awesome! Muffy E was flexing  and turned his back to SmackTalks. As he was flexing, SmackTalks rolled him up with a crucifix and pinned him.

At this point, it was four vs two in favour of Team YouTubers. The returning Lance Frisco was the 6th entrant for Team FaM. He had been in FaM in 2011 under a different name. Lance and SmackTalks wrestled for a while until Lance pinned him with the Truth Or Consequences that R-Truth uses. 101Gaming was the 5th entrant for Team YouTubers. They traded comebacks until 101Gaming pinned him with the World’s Strongest Slam. Anarchymus was the final entrant for Team FaM and he was on the receiving end of a three-on-one disadvantage.

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101 jumped Anarchymus during his entrance. 101 worked on his arm for a while and even locked on a kimura lock. 101 went for the clothesline but Anarchymus ducked and hit the double under-hook piledriver for the pin fall. Gore was the sixth entrant for Team YouTubers. They battled for a while, which included a spot where an attempted spear through the ropes was evaded by Anarchymus. Gore went for the Gore, which was countered into an Emerald Fusion for the pin fall. Perkins was the last man for Team YouTubers, as it came down to Anarchymus and Perkins from each team. There was a very nice back-and-forth between both men. Anarchymus locked Perkins in the calf crusher when Gore came back out. This distracted Anarchymus, which allowed Perkins to hit the 619. Perkins then hit a springboard 450 splash and a brainbuster onto Anarchymus for the victory. Team YouTubers won.

Having booked Anarchymus the way they did, I truly felt that he should have at least won the match. I thought Anarchymus looked really good and a victory at the end would have really made him out to be a true star for FaM. With that said, Perkins did hit a lot of big moves to eliminate Anarchymus in the end. In that sense, at least FaM did everything they could to protect Anarchymus before they beat him. I’m a little disappointed that the YouTubers won, as I think that FaM should spend more time in putting their own original talent over. With that said, I thought this was a really good elimination match. I thought the match ran smoothly. There was not a lot of instances where I thought things were being dragged on, as they clearly achieved their goal for each elimination. Each mini-match told the story. I thought a few FaM dudes looked really good in this, including Sledder, Rafazo and Anarchymus. I personally thought the FaM vs YouTubers match was better than the main event match, which I’ll get onto later. A big thumbs up from me!

By the way, Gore and Perkins took out Tom Cushnie in the end after Tom tried to take all the glory.

Rom Buster and Ben MacKenzie were talking backstage. MacKenzie told Rom that he had his back. Rom cut a passionate promo about tearing the general manager apart piece by piece. MacKenzie pointed out that this was all deja vu, as Rom cut a similar promo at Survivor Series 2013 when he was battling Betrayal. Rom responded that tonight, he would be fighting for everyone at FaM this time around.

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2TM defended the FaM World Championship against Death’s Angel The match was fine but the finish was kinda complex. Death’s Angel. initially won the match with a catapult super kick. Death’s Angel. made the cover but 2TM got his hand on the rope. They showed a replay of this and Rom, who is supposed to be the babyface and the voice of reason, is trying to look past the replay and proclaiming that it’s done. His justification of two wrongs making a right, from a neutral standpoint, should not justify the title changing hands when 2TM wasn’t actually beaten. 2TM got the ropes so the match should continue.

The ring announcer Luis had declared that the referee informed him that 2TM grabbed the bottom rope. He said that the referee decided to wait for the decision of the FaM general manager. Right after this, Rom then bashes the general manager for being biased towards 2TM!

So the FaM general manager restarts the match and makes it no disqualification. From a babyface standpoint, it’s clear that the FaM general manager is making it no disqualification so Betrayal can make a run in and help 2TM. However, if this were real, the general manager restarting the match is the morally right move to make!  The match kept going and obviously Betrayal made an interference. The Skilled Foundation came out and they hit their finisher. 2TM hits the uranage, which led to the pin fall as he retained the title. A decent match with more Betrayal shenanigans.

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CMPuLs3 defended the FaM Global Championship against Element in a tables match. CMPuLs3 was with TonyPizzaGuy and Element was with Big Red. Big Red immediately did a dive to Tony on the outside, to make sure that he wasn’t a factor. PuLs3 and Element did their match. I did love the trolling spot from CMPuLs3 when Element was on the table and PuLs3 looked to do a dive. Instead, he ran to the turnbuckle and decided to do a shooting star press from there instead! That was pretty clever! He missed with the shooting star press and the match continued. PuLs3 went for the knee of justice, which was countered into a catapult shellshocked. Tony came out as Element was about to jump through the table and beat PuLs3. Big Red came out to take out Tony. The finish was really awesome in my eyes. Pulse got up and was able to hit a Falcon Arrow from the top rope and through the table. I thought that was a pretty great spot! The one thing I really have to give FaM credit for is that they are able to write good finishes to their matches, and this was another beauty. I know I said that earlier, but this was another good one to help my point of view. Element put PuLs3 through the announce table after the match.

BrendenPlayz dropped a bombshell as the general manager allowed him to decide who would wrestle for the Global Championship. He decided that there would be a six man battle royal at FaM’s next mega event Pandora, with the winner facing CMPuLs3 later that night. He backed the general manager and claimed that he saw who the general manager was. He predicted that the general manager’s team was going to win.

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Then it was time for the main event. Team Rom Buster vs Team General Manager for control of FaM. This one was a five-on-five elimination match, structured just like the FaM/YouTuber one.

The first man out for Team General Manager was BlackHeron and the first man out for Team Rom Buster was Nic Virtue. To be honest, I had no idea who this dude was when I first saw him come out. Following the show, with FaM uploading a video about him and having been on his YouTube page, it looks like this fellow was going to fit right in. It was just funny that he’s already been booked to be at least on par, if not superior, to BlackHeron. Maybe he’s the FaM equivalent to AJ Styles, as Rom did talk about Nic being the hottest free agent in the WWE games community or something like that. He did have Light Em Up by Fall Out Boy as his theme song, so he gets a thumbs up for that! Nic looked good in there with BH.

BlackHeron got disqualified for kicking too much arse. I know that if Vinny from the Bryan and Vinny show had seen this disqualification, he probably would have had a fit! I’m not too great a fan of the idea of someone being disqualified because he didn’t break on five. Surely BH should have known what the rules were, unless he did it just to try and screw over the general manager. He did have a stare down with Darin after he was eliminated.

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Technically, BH continuing to attack Nic should lead into the disqualification of the next legal man on his team. If this was a normal Survivor Series match, the ref would have DQ’d the next legal man on BH’s team. I will defend this rule-breaking though as the company is ran by the heels so OF COURSE they are going to give themselves the advantage. Then again, going by this logic, the referee probably shouldn’t have DQ’d BH in the first place!

Here’s where the problems began with this match. So BH got DQ’d and then attacked Nic after he was disqualified. He hits his powerbomb finisher and then Darin was #2 for Team General Manager. Surely, to make it seem as if Rom’s team got screwed, Darin would have either hit a move or just got a pin fall on Nic to eliminate him. Instead, he misses a running knee and the match just continued as normal. What was the point of BH attacking Nic after he was disqualified, if it wasn’t even going to tie into Nic’s elimination? If you were going to have Darin simply beat him, just let him beat him.

Darin smashed Nic’s head into the exposed turnbuckle. There was an awesome spot where Nic’s dive was countered into a belly-to-belly on the outside. So Nic and Darin had a back-and-forth match, even after a beat down where the heel had hit his finisher. Darin hit the running knee and pinned Nic after putting his feet on the rope. Gunnz was #2 for Team Rom Buster.

Gunnz hit the spear right away but Darin kicked out. These two had a regular match from that point on, until Gunnz hit Darin with the spear to the outside. Darin got in the ring just before the ten count and then Gunnz just rolled him up to eliminate him. Again, I don’t understand why Darin couldn’t have just been counted out as opposed to getting back in the ring just to be pinned.

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Roberto was number #3 for Team GM. Gunnz did a dive to the outside and was caught by Roberto, who hit a chokeslam on the outside. Roberto rolls him back into the ring, covers Gunnz and Gunnz kicks out. Once again, couldn’t it have been much simpler to have Roberto simply pin him off of this awesome spot. Is it that difficult to simply put a FINISHER over by having someone BEAT SOMESONE ELSE with their finisher? If someone kicks out every time that it is hit, then it’s not a good finisher! Roberto ended up eliminating Gunnz anyway with a double-handed chokeslam, so you might as well have just finished it with Roberto pinning him off the chokeslam from earlier.

Cameron Bash was entrant #3 for Team Rom Buster. Bash and Roberto had a nice big man back-and-forth. Bash hit the Bash Bottom to eliminate Roberto. A tired Darin then cut a promo backstage, talking about Team GM’s mystery partner. This was not the GM that he was referring to. This was a mystery partner that Team GM had, with the GM also happening to be unknown at this point. He said that this partner believed in the GM’s philosophy and had a bone to pick with Rom Buster. Shockingly, the partner was revealed to be Killswitch!

I was actually psyched about this reveal, as I was expecting Killswitch to either be the general manager or Rom’s mystery partner (as opposed to Nic Virtue). Him being a part of the heel’s team going up against his former tag team partner Rom is a nice little twist.

Roberto jumped Bash and hit a double-handed chokeslam before Killswitch even got in the ring. Killswitch jumped in the ring, made a cover and BASH KICKED OUT. This was where I really started getting annoyed about this match. I get wanting to build suspense by having many kick-outs but come on. It’s not like anyone watching was seriously thinking that Bash was going to eliminate Killswitch and face the GM. Why not just have Killswitch beat him quickly? All of these attacks and shenanigans against the babyfaces were undone by the fact that they still continued the matches as normal by kicking out. Where’s the heat for the heels? When the match goes on as normal, the sense of injustice against the good guys dissipates. Killswitch did pin Bash shortly after the kick out though, so I guess it wasn’t as bad as the incident with Roberto earlier on for example.

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Andy Badwool was entrant #4 for Team Rom Buster. Andy and Killswitch battled. It was a nice exchange with Andy looking like he was going to finish Killswitch when Darin buzzed in. The GM and Darin announced that the rest of the match was going to be no disqualification. Right after this announcement, Killswitch hits Andy in the face with a chair. Killswitch goes for the cover but Andy kicks out. I didn’t have as much of a problem with this near fall as much as I did with the others mentioned earlier. At least Andy’s kick out only led to Killswitch further beating him up with the chair. It’s not like Andy ran wild or anything. Killswitch beat him up and hit the Switchback on the chair, which saw the back of Andy’s head hit the chair. That was actually a cool spot as Killswitch pinned Andy.

Rom Buster was obviously the last member of his team. This did feel like a really big battle between the two former S.E.S. members. Rom hit the Maltese elbow and the Sleeping Pill to beat Killswitch. Then the general manager came out as the final member of his team.

Remember all of my complaints earlier about all the near falls and the almost no-selling of all the finishers. Suffice to say that this final battle between Rom and the General Manager was NOT like any of those mini-matches. This was where things got insanely awesome.

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The General Manager came out with a Darth Vader-like mask on. Both men sized each other up. Rom tried to attack him and the GM started just beating on Rom. I could not believe how one-sided this was. He lifted Rom up by his FACE (or his sunglasses!) and just threw him across the ring! The GM was chilling on the ropes as Rom got to his feet. Rom got up and ran right into a spinebuster from the GM. As pointed out by Rom at commentary, this was Andy’s signature spinebuster. He then hit Rom with the stunner, which is obviously from Rom Buster’s arsenal. He hit BH’s meat-hook clothesline. Rom Buster did a comeback and went for a GTS, which the GM countered into a GTS of his own. Rom fired back with kicks and punches and then hit an X-Ray (which was actually Chris Jericho’s codebreaker), which barely phased the GM. Rom ran at the GM but the GM catapulted him and hit a sleeping pill.

The GM then did a Tongan Death Grip to Rom Buster and hit the End Of Days, simply standing on Rom in order to pin him. This final segment of the match was so perfectly booked. The GM SQUASHED Rom and had him beat in every turn. He had an answer for everything Rom threw at him and this all makes sense, especially considering the reveal of who he was. SPEAKING OF WHICH…

The General Manager grabbed a microphone and called out Andy Badwool. He asked him to come out and tell everyone what happened on “that day” and to tell the truth, threatening to hurt Rom even more. He then unmasked and initially, the camera just cut to the crowd and shots of the GM’s body. As this was going on, Rom at commentary was freaking out while D.N.A. was confused. Rom at commentary then revealed that this man was FaM’s dark secret, the forgotten fourth founder and the original sin.

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Andy ran out and the original sin took him out with a pedigree. Then the camera cut to black and a video started playing and THANK GOD that they showed this video right after the ending. It was explained that this man was called Ranik and that he was Rom Buster’s older brother. He explained that seven years ago, he founded FaM alongside BlackHeron, Gunnz and Andy Badwool. They showed a clip of FaM Episode 0, which revealed that Andy was actually Ranik’s disciple. Ranik revealed that he was the creator of S.E.S. and had taught Andy all he knew, which explained why he was able to dominate Andy and Rom at the end of the show.

On Episode 0, Ranik attacked BlackHeron and talked about everyone at FaM being weak at the time. He explained that the other founders considered him a threat to FaM, and the other three voted to have Ranik removed from history. He accepted their terms as long as Andy took care of his brother Rom. This lead to Rom showing up with Andy at Episode 1 of FaM RAW. Ranik said that everything he saw from that point tore him apart, including when Andy broke his vow about Rom and attacked him. Ranik then made his move, storming into BH’s office at Famniversay III and taking his leadership from him. BH gave his power to Ranik with “no questions asked” as Ranik explained that he respected BH’s business attitude and willingness to follow his orders. Ranik was on good terms with Betrayal, as long as they recognised that Ranik ran FaM.

He said that he was here to take what was rightfully his. He said that he was going to take everything away from everyone at FaM and that nobody could stop him.

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That was that. It was an incredible ending to a great show from FaM. Any fans of hidden lore should have been thrilled with this ending and the reveal of a forgotten fourth member. With the reveal being of the fourth founder of FaM, then perhaps Gunnz and BlackHeron should have had more of a role in this particular match. Andy did come back out to challenge Ranik at the end, but it’s almost like Gunnz and BlackHeron were completely under-utilised in this match. BH did get himself disqualified, which could lead to some kind of confrontation in the future. However, what about Gunnz? Where does he stand in all of this? Perhaps, he may play a bigger role in the future as the “three founders of FaM” being in the match was hyped up quite a bit.

I thought this was a very good show and although it was four and a half hours long, there was a lot of content there to keep me invested throughout. The women’s match was good. TubbyEmu vs Grim’s Toy Show was good. The Cyber FaM title match was good. FaM vs YouTubers was the best match on the night and a really well structured match. The World title match was fine. The Global Title match was good. The main event was good, despite the annoying almost no-sells of every finisher in the match. The reveal and the ending was really worth all of the hype and the build and it brought a great finish and a lot of intrigue going forward. The direction of FaM  from a writing aspect will be very interesting.

 

See also…

Cyber FaMday 2015 Review

TNA Review: Jeff Hardy vs Matt Hardy Final Deletion Match LIVE REACTION

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express, giving you a rare TNA post. This TNA post is actually rather justified in the fact that we’re talking about the match that is on everybody’s lips as of me writing this…

The highly-anticipated Jeff Hardy vs Matt Hardy ‘Final Deletion’ match took place on this week’s edition of Impact Wrestling. The match took place in a backyard arena designed by Matt, which is actually a callback to the start of the Hardy Boyz’ careers. The two of them started out as backyard wrestlers and in a way, they still wrestle with that same mentality. The match could only be won by pin fall or if a submission was “recorded” by the referee! This was for the ownership of the Hardy name.

Let me just state that I thought this match was incredibly entertaining, which is the whole point of professional wrestling as a whole. As a wrestling fan, it can sometimes be really frustrating to watch Monday Night RAW. The reason for this is because a lot of their content is repetitive and a lot of their content is incredibly micro-managed. When I watched TNA this week, I just sat back and relaxed. When I saw RAW’s line-up for the July 4th show, there was nothing there that stood out as must-see television. For TNA, I just knew that this match was going to be nutty and unpredictable. As expected, I was right. The Final Deletion match was nutty and unpredictable. That makes for HUGELY must-see television.

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Only a match like this involving the Hardyz could feature a spot, where Matt is shooting fireworks and Jeff is shielding himself with a trash can lid! It was like a superhero movie, like if Ironman was shooting laser beams at Captain America!

As a technical wrestling match, there was nothing really to it. It wasn’t like they spent the first few minutes chain wrestling or anything. However, they did a tremendous job at telling a story. Both men were having fun as they did all they could to end this blood feud once and for all. There was an amazing amount of suspense to this match as they delivered false finish after false finish. The music, while seemingly cheesy, added to the suspense and the direction of the match. It was a wrestling match that was put together like it was a movie.

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I encourage anyone reading this, whether you’re a wrestling fan or not, to watch this match on YouTube. There are a lot of times, as a wrestling fan, where I’m praying that a family member or a friend doesn’t walk in as I’m watching a goofy segment. With this match with Matt and Jeff, I would encourage those family members and friends to grab some popcorn and watch it with me. These are two kids that let their imagination run wild, with the assistance of a production crew from one of the top wrestling companies in the world!

I had such high expectation for this match that I just felt the need to record my own reaction upon watching it for the first time. The earlier segments of the show, where Matt unleashed his drone holograms, were not recorded but they were pretty incredible stuff. However, down below is the recording of my reaction to the match. I’ve not done a lot of these reactions in the past, so this is rare territory. Please comment with your opinions on the recording of the audio and things like that. Who knows? Maybe this could lead to more live reactions in the future!

Have fun in watching and/or re-watching this unforgettable match between two brothers, which included fireworks, trees, tasers and fire!

Money In The Bank 2016 Review – The Shield’s Main Event Dominance

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Money In The Bank was a pretty important and monumental pay-per-view for WWE. Not only would a new Money In The Bank holder be decided, but we had two of the biggest and most anticipated matches in recent memory. John Cena and AJ Styles finally had their dream match and Roman Reigns finally defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Seth Rollins – the man that was never beaten for the title.

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“The New Day” Big E (c) and Kofi Kingston (c) vs Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs “The Vaudevillains” Simon Gotch and Aiden English vs Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a fatal four way tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship  

This may have been the match that has changed my perception of the idea of a fatal four way tag team match. Despite seeing them too often, at least these tag team matches will give you a lot of action and chaos which could see anyone fight each other. In one fatal four way tag team match, the New Day tried winning the match by having Big E pin Kofi! This tag team match at Money In The Bank made me realise something… this type of match is hard for the viewers to keep up with.

It was hard when trying to keep track of who were the legal men. There were moments that I got confused, as I questioned several times who the “legal men” of the match were. There was a lot of chaos and complication with this match, with a lot of badly screwed up spots. The huge spot that was messed up was when Enzo and Cass hit their finisher. They went for the pin and the referee counted one, two, three and then Luke Gallows broke it up. Yes. Luke Gallows failed to break up the pin in time as the fans all believed that Enzo and Cass won the match. The announcers didn’t mention this as the crowd chanted “that was three” as the match rolled on.

So this match was already a mess by this point and then it got worse. Gallows and Anderson hit the Magic Killer and Anderson made the cover. In an impressive feat of strength, Big E picked up Anderson and was able to get him up from that position into the set-up for the Big Ending. This would have been an awesome finish, if it were not for what happened next. Gallows is leaning on the ropes and watches as his partner is in peril as Big E is about to drop him. Gallows stares at him and does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The reason he does nothing is because supposedly, Big Cass missed his cue for whatever came next. So for a good ten seconds, Gallows stares at Big E as he’s got Gallows’ partner Anderson up for the Big Ending. THIS WAS… EMBARRASSING.

The New Day picked up the win but I just completed hated this match. I thought that the New Day should have won as Anderson and Gallows winning the belt should be in a normal tag team match with the New Day.

 

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Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler

I was so incensed when I heard that this match was happening again at Money In The Bank and I actually have to a respond to a comment I saw on Facebook. Somebody on Facebook made a joke about Corbin and Ziggler fighting forever and some fool replied by mocking the fans who are now “complaining” after getting more feuds with slow burns. He talked about the fans wanting more lengthy storylines and then completely burying programs like this.

Let me explain something to this “fan” who made this comment. Here’s the issue with this theory. The fans do want detailed feuds that go on for months, provided that they are good. That’s all well and good. However, this feud is not good. This feud is not interesting. The WWE has not given us any new reasons for wanting to see these two fight again. The whole feud is based around one man winning a match, an attack from the loser which leads to another match. This is a cycle that is going on for some many feuds in WWE. This mindset does not give fans reasons to want to keep watching these matches. Instead, they zone out unless the match happens to be between wrestlers like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.

I actually remembered back to a feud between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels in 2008. I thought about this as I was writing up my Retro Express piece on Unforgiven 2008, which featured their unsactioned fight. You know what was so great about that feud? Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho and the WWE gave us a reason to want to keep watching these two go at it and their feud lasted from April 2008 to November 2008. That’s a really long period of time but they were able to keep the audience invested into that feud as they gave us something different each month. The feud stared with the question being asked of whether Jericho could trust Shawn. Then it became a blood feud, with Jericho turning on Shawn for lying to him. Then it became a personal feud, as Jericho punched Shawn’s wife at Summerslam. After Shawn destroyed Jericho and after Jericho won the World title at Unforgiven, it became a world title feud. The story of the feud changed each month as the WWE realised that the fans didn’t want to see these two wrestlers do the EXACT same thing each month. They wanted something different.

Ziggler and Corbin don’t give us anything like that. Not to mention that these two already did several blow-off matches, with Corbin beating up Ziggler at Extreme Rules and then Ziggler kicking Corbin in the nuts on RAW. There’s no other reason to keep the feud going, other than to waste the audience’s time. The audience felt that their time was wasted in this match. There were large chants of “boring” and “let’s go Ziggler, Ziggler sucks” among with others. With chants like that, it’s pretty obvious that the fans don’t want to see this match again.

With that said, this was an OK match. I was not blown away by it and it was boring in places but the right man won and HOPEFULLY both men can move onto different things.

 

 

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Becky Lynch and Natalya vs Charlotte and Dana Brooke

This was an OK women’s tag team match. Natalya, Becky and Charlotte are all good workers and Dana was doing fine when in the ring with these three talented wrestlers. The finish saw Dana throw Becky into Natalya, with the babyfaces clashing heads, leading to the heels picking up the win. The aftermath was the really important part.

Natalya is in tears in the ring as Becky tries to console her. Becky lifts her up as the fans start to applaud, which leads to Natalya turning on her friend Becky and attacking her. Natalya did in fact turn heel.

I don’t have a problem with Natalya turning heel and a potential feud between Becky and Natalya. Those two are really good workers and it’ll keep Natalya’s character fresh by having her be a full-blown heel for the first time in a number of years. However, the issue for me is what it took to get there.

Think about this for a moment. Natalya got beat in her last three pay-per-view matches against Charlotte and takes her anger out on Becky. Why did she attack Becky? The obvious explanation is that she was taking out her pent-up frustration but why was Becky the target? After getting beat by the heels, it did no favours for Becky and Natalya to do that angle. After losing to Charlotte and Dana, now these two losers are going to face each other in a feud. Other than personal interest in the careers of Becky and Natalya as well as the potential their matches could have, I have no other reason to see these two girls wrestle. If they had won this tag match and then they did the feud, then at least the two girls would be more interesting to the viewers. If they had the two beat the Women’s champion in a pay-per-view tag team match, fans might start to wonder whether that will lead to a title match for one of these women down the road.

Let’s say that they went with this. Natalya lost her two matches with Charlotte at Payback and Extreme Rules. She is very much disappointed with herself and is going into this match looking to at least get some redemption against her bitter rival Charlotte. So Natalya gets the hot tag and runs wild. She has Charlotte on the verge of tapping when Dana breaks it up. As Natalya is brawling with Dana, Becky makes a blind tag. Becky hits an exploder suplex and gets the pin or makes Charlotte tap out with the “dis-arm-her” finisher. However, Natalya is still annoyed at Becky for stealing this victory from her so she turns on Becky.

Natalya’s claim is that Becky was being selfish in stealing the victory from Natalya, when Becky knew how much a victory over Charlotte meant to her. Becky can lash back by claiming that all she did was try to win the match for her team. Natalya was in trouble with Dana, so Becky made the blind tag to make sure that she could capitalise on a weakened Charlotte. Both these women would have legitimate motivations for a feud and both of these women would be WINNERS after beating the heel tag team at a pay-per-view.

Maybe if the writers would stop going out of there way to elevate Charlotte and think about the rest of the women, maybe you could have an actually dandy women’s division. Instead, we’ve only got one women in the entire division that is even booked as a winner. Really does annoy me.

 

 

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Apollo Crews vs Sheamus

There was a lot of brawling between Apollo and Sheamus. It was very hard to get interested into this match but there was a lot of big hits with Sheamo and Crews. Crews won. The right man won in this match as the newcomer beat the veteran. I’m under the impression that this feud will lead to a rematch at Battleground, which is probably not the best route to take with these two. Keep Apollo fresh by squaring him off with other wrestlers. Him wrestling the same old mid-card talent is not going to do him any favours.

 

 

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John Cena vs AJ Styles

This match actually told a really good story. This was John Cena’s first match since December 2015 and he was up against a very active AJ Styles in this dream match. With Cena showing ring rust, AJ completely wrestled circles around the dude. Cena was constantly outmatched and out-thought by AJ as he had beaten him in every turn. This even led to Cena looking visually tired, which I’ll get onto later. AJ had all the tools to out-do him but he couldn’t put him away. When the referee was down, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson showed up and hit the Magic Killer, giving AJ the victory.

I will say that I will give the announcers credit in the fact that they played up how this was a big dream match that was ruined by the Club. This was exactly what the finish of the match demanded. I know there are a lot of people upset with the finish, believing that AJ should have won cleanly. However, I have no problem with this finish as AJ IS THE HEEL. He is supposed to cheat every once in a while and this match demanded a screwy finish. Anyone that has any clue about who the Bullet Club was should know that the Club were such good heels as they went against Japanese wrestling tradition. Interference and shenanigans were all part of the US adaptation of wrestling, which some will argue hurt wrestling as a whole. If a match like Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi ended with interference from the Bullet Club, that would lead to the Japanese being annoyed that they didn’t get a proper finish because of the dastardly Bullet Club. Gallows and Anderson ruined the match and JBL went on about how much of a disgrace that this finish was. Why do people feel that all the heels should win every match clean? Wouldn’t that defy the logic of what being a heel is all about?

Those were the positives of the match. Let me move onto the negatives. Firstly, Big Match John returned back to his glory days in terms of calling spots really loud in the ring. I wouldn’t have so much of a problem with calling spots in a match, if everything Cena said was not picked up on the referee’s hidden mic. Cena talked A LOT during this match which is not good. I have a feeling that this will decrease over time with the next few matches these two have but it is worrying for a fifteen year veteran to feel the need to call spots this loudly.

My next complaint is actually of the announcers. I did give them credit earlier but here’s the negatives. I mentioned that John Cena could have been suffering from ring rust, which would have explained why Cena looked slow in the ring. Bryan Alvarez from Wrestling Observer came up with a much better explanation, which is probably the best sounding theory. A day or two before Money In The Bank, John Cena traveled to China for that big conference where he was talking fluently in Mandarin. A short time after this trip to China, he is out there wrestling AJ STYLES of all people in a big match and looked slow and not himself. Hopefully you all are figuring out what I’m hinting towards, so I may as well just spill it out… JOHN CENA WAS SUFFERING FROM JET LAG.

These announcers, having mentioned Cena’s trip to China during that match, failed to make the link between Cena looking slow and his trip to China. The announcers didn’t bring it up. Jet lag would have been a great way to explain it so you also protect Cena even more. They could have even claimed that AJ was staying in Las Vegas for a few days before the event, to get used to the humidity. Having been to Las Vegas myself, I can tell you for a fact that the conditions at this desert were certainly hard to get used to. I’m from England and I was going to Las Vegas so OF COURSE I would not feel like myself. John Cena had made the trip from CHINA to LAS VEGAS. Of course he was going to be knackered.

With that said, it was a very well structured match. If only these writers did a better job at explaining a lot of this booking, perhaps my opinion of this match would have dramatically rose.

 

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Dean Ambrose vs Cesaro vs Kevin Owens vs Alberto Del Rio vs Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn in a Money In The Bank ladder match

This was a really good Money In The Bank ladder match. These six have all been able to work well against each other and when you throw them together, you’re going to be in for a treat. My only major criticism, and it’s not really a big one, is the fact that this will not go down as one of the most memorable Money In The Bank matches of all time. There weren’t really a lot of memorable high-risk spots that I’ll remember in a few years time. The spot with Sami Zayn launching Kevin Owens onto the edge of the ladder was probably the closest one you’ll get, and it really was a sick bump for Owens to take. He was leaning on the ladder and the first thing that popped into my mind was a scene in the Simpsons where Homer was punched, landing on a fire hydrant and his back was arched on that hydrant. What Homer said after that punch was “this is more painful than it looks”, which was probably what Kevin Owens was thinking!

Everyone was able to get involved in the spots, including those not usually associated with this kind of match like Alberto Del Rio. We got an awesome spot from Cesaro, where he jumped off the ladder onto the ropes and then uppercutted Kevin Owens. That was one of Cesaro’s greatest uppercuts of all time and Cesaro throws some of the best uppercuts in the world. That basically means that this was one of the best uppercuts in wrestling history.

We had the usual spots of all six man battling on the ladders to reach the briefcase. They then had the ladders set up in a weird way, which allowed all six of them to do battle on the ladders. That spot might actually be one of those moments that people will remember. The end of the match saw Dean knock down Owens and win the briefcase.

I guess the reason why I don’t think that this ladder match will be that memorable is because of what happened at the end of the night being far more memorable. I sort of remembered Kane’s Money In The Bank match in 2010 when he won it, but his cash-in later that night sticks out even more. This was probably the same with Dean.

 

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Rusev (c) vs Titus O’Neil for the United States Championship

There was a great start to this match where Rusev and Titus O’Neil were outside on opposite ends to the ring. These two big bulls locked eyes, ran around the ring and clashed into each other with a massive double clothesline spot. A great big man spot to start the match.

Rusev won with the Accolade. Following the victory, we got an awesome post-match promo from Rusev. Being the absolute best heel he possibly could be, Rusev was out of the ring and stood next to Titus’ kids. He teased them about their father and told them that Titus was a loser. Then he left feeling triumphant.

I’ve got to say that Rusev will be one of the most over wrestlers in this company by the end of the year if the WWE keep going in this direction. The WWE are now well aware how great a talker Rusev is. He is tremendous at being an evil Russian and being a complete dick to his opponents and even THEIR FAMILY! He beats up these foolish mid-carders, reminds us that these mid-carders are failures and then leaves with Lana. Right now, it must be great to be Rusev! Easily my favourite thing going in all of WWE.

 

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Roman Reigns (c) vs Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship

I would not put this in the same realm as the last two pay-per-view main events, featuring Roman Reigns’ battles with AJ Styles. However, this was a good match between the two former Shield members. The match structure was very unique in the sense that Rollins worked the majority of the match as a babyface and Roman worked a lot of the match as a heel. There were even times when Roman mocked Seth, with Seth responding defiantly. Roman and Seth were both great in their roles for this match, which is another reason for why WWE should be pushing for a Roman Reigns heel turn. The dude is a natural big bad guy and Seth has the speed and the moveset of a babyface. Some great stuff here.

Seth was really going all out to try and test his knee, with a number of flips and dangerous moves. They even did a spot where Seth was thinking about doing the same powerbomb that he tried against Kane, which saw him blow his knee out. He hesitated but eventually did it and he seemed to have found his confidence. Not really sure whether it was wise for Seth to go all out in terms of testing out his knee.

There were some cool spots, including Seth countering Roman’s spear with a mid-air pedigree. The more I think about this spot, the more impressed I am by it. Seth was not able to hook the hands of Roman in mid-air, but the fact that he caught Roman’s head with his legs in mid-air and drove Roman head-first into the mat is an incredible feat. In hindsight, this should have been the finish.

Seth eventually hit another pedigree and defeated Roman CLEAN IN THE MIDDLE to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. With the news of Roman’s suspension, it does make a bit more sense about why Seth beat Roman clean here. I wouldn’t have booked a clean finish in this match due to what happened in the post-match, but I’ll dive into that in a bit. Overall, a good match with a surprising finish upon first viewing.

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Once the match was over and Seth Rollins hoisted the championship up high, Dean Ambrose’s music hits. Seth valiantly stood his ground, ready for Dean to fight him. He does not run, he does not hide and he is ready for a fight. Despite this, Dean Ambrose hits him with the briefcase from behind. Dean had an emotionless look on his face as he turned to the referee and gave him the briefcase. Dean then hits the Dirty Deeds and pins Seth Rollins. As soon as he wins, the fans go crazy. Meanwhile, the announcers are playing up the idea that Dean had finally won the big one after years of struggling. What they failed to mention however, is the fact that it was unfair for Seth to win the title fairly only to be cheapshotted and beaten for the title.

This is NOT going to be a popular opinion… but I was not a fan of this cash-in. Don’t get me wrong. The cash-in worked in getting Dean Ambrose over. Seth’s victory worked in keeping Seth looking strong. The idea of all three Shield members holding the WWE title on the same night is pretty cool when you think about it. However, this cash-in flies in the face of the idea of story-telling. For you see, the only one acting like a babyface at Money In The Bank was Seth Rollins… who is SUPPOSED to be a heel.

Seth wrestled the entire match with Roman Reigns as a full-blown babyface and WON the match as a babyface. He beat the man clean in the middle. You know what would have been really great? If you really wanted to make it seem like this was poetic justice when Dean cashed in on Seth, why not have Seth CHEAT to win? Why doesn’t he just act like a heel should and beat Roman either by hitting him with the belt or grabbing his tights? All this finish did was make Roman look bad, which was probably the idea considering Roman’s suspension. However, let’s just pretend for a second that Roman wasn’t suspend. The WWE are still promoting Roman for the main event at Battleground against Seth and Dean. Shouldn’t you do whatever you could to protect Roman before that match? By beating Roman clean, the only wrestlers that have credible claims to be in the WWE Championship match at Battleground is Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.

Seth even said on RAW that Roman had no claim to a rematch as Seth beat him legitimately and cleanly. If Seth cheated to beat Roman, then Dean cashed in, then you can actually lead the audience to believing that Seth had this coming. Dean’s actions seem justified in the fact that Seth screwed over his best friend, so Dean might as well screw over Seth. Seth still has a legitimate claim for a rematch and it’s not like you hurt Seth, and Roman still has a legitimate claim for a rematch and it’s not like you hurt Roman. That way, a triple threat match at Battleground is more justified and all three combatants seem on par with each other.

I made the argument on SLTD Wrestling that it was in the company’s best interest to turn Seth into a babyface at Money In The Bank. You don’t necessarily have to turn Roman or Dean, although one of them turning would probably be best. However, there’s no reason to keep Seth as a heel but have him wrestle as a face. If Seth’s going to wrestle like that, then he should have just came back as a babyface. Now though, the chances of an eventual Rollins babyface turn in the future having the big impact that it should have are just rapidly decreasing. The reason for this is because you’re dragging it out. It’s watered down as Seth is facing the wrath of two babyfaces (one for the next 30 days) who are screwing him out of the title. At the end of the day, you are wasting everyone’s time who are losing investment into Seth’s character. The fans are quickly losing interest in Seth as Dean Ambrose is now the face that runs the place and is the most over man in the company. There’s a chance that a turn at Summerslam might be good, depending on how you execute it. However, I’m just not that confident about the future of Seth if he doesn’t turn soon.

With that said, this cash-in was a successful one with regards to the fan reactions and how over Dean Ambrose is. He’ll be a top champion and the viewership for the RAW after Money In The Bank went up significantly from last week. I can’t argue with the numbers but the storyline aspects of this is just very detrimental. That’s actually part of a bigger issue with the company, which is the lack of definition for the characters of ALL of their talent. The fans can cheer and boo for whoever they want. That’s all fine. The bigger issue is the fact that if you don’t make it clear about the motivations and alignments of all of your talent, the fans aren’t going to care at all.

 

 

Retro Express – Unforgiven 2008

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Coming off their first PG PPV in the “PG era” of WWE, the WWE came up with a new concept for a championship match type. This would be a new match that the WWE, World and ECW titles would all be defended in at Unforgiven, promoting excitement and unpredictability as five men would scramble to try and win the championship. The Championship Scramble saw CM Punk’s World title, Triple H’s WWE title and Mark Henry’s ECW title all in jeopardy. How many titles would change hands? Who would capture the gold? And finally, who would win the unsanctioned showdown between Shawn Michaels and the man that punched his wife at Summerslam? Well, let’s get to it….

 

WWE Unforgiven

Date: September 7th 2008

Brand: RAW, SmackDown! and ECW

City: Cleveland, Ohio

Attendance: 8,700

 

Mark Henry (c) vs Matt Hardy vs The Miz vs Finlay vs Chavo Guerrero in the ECW Championship Scramble match

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Matt Hardy and The Miz were the first two entrants in the match. Both of them got surprisingly big reactions. I know that this pay-per-view took place in Cleveland, where The Miz is from, but it was not like Miz was extremely over at that time. This was when he was with John Morrison and was only just starting to make a name for himself. It’s still nice that he got the big reaction here though.

The first five minutes between Matt and Miz were actually pretty good with not much to report on. There were no falls in the first five minutes with Chavo Guerrero being the third entrant. Chavo immediately pinned Matt with the Frog Splash, to become the interim champion. Chavo was able to pull off a rolling heel kick which was done well. What was not well pulled off was the Miz’s double crossbody on Matt and Chavo, which barely got Chavo. I guess that one could be put on Chavo for not being in the right place but it still came off looking sloppy. Matt ran wild and pinned Chavo with the side effect to become the new champion.

The fourth entrant was Mark Henry with Tony Atlas as his manager. Matt, Miz and Chavo all ganged up on Mark Henry but he pushed them all away. He ran wild and pinned Chavo with the World’s Strongest Slam. He beat everyone up. There was one interesting thing to note as the interim champions tried to retain their titles. Matt Hardy did this earlier in the match but the interim champions wore down the other competitors with long submission holds. Mark got the pin fall on Chavo a minute after he got into the match so we had roughly three or four minutes of Mark Henry putting everyone in bearhugs before Finaly came out. It makes sense for Henry to do that but this completely drained the match of life for a long period of time.

As mentioned, Finlay was the last entrant. He kept hitting Henry with DDTs as he took it to the current champion. Hornswoggle’s distraction led to Finlay hitting Mark with the shillelagh. Finlay and Matt were able to dump Mark over the top rope and out of the equation. Finlay then quickly hit Matt with the Celtic Cross and pinned him to become the interim champion. That’s team work for you everybody!

Matt eventually became the champion again, pinning Miz after hitting the Twist of Fate. Then we got a pretty stupid couple of minutes as we were drawing to a close. Mark Henry is killing nearly everyone in the match with World’s Strongest Slams but Matt broke them up each time. It was the case where Mark hit the finisher, Matt broke it up, Mark moved Matt out of the way and then hit someone else with the finisher. As a fan, I had only one thought in my mind… why don’t you turn around and kill Matt Hardy, so he won’t be able to stop you from pinning these other guys? Mark Henry struck me as someone that was just not learning from his mistakes as Matt kept breaking up the pin! It was just amazing.

There was actually a moment where Mark hit the World’s Strongest Slam on Miz but Miz was up again after like 20-30 seconds! Thanks for the no-sell Miz!

There was a big scramble in the last few seconds of the match with everybody trying to get a pin fall on each other. Matt kept trying to break all of them until the clock expired and Matt was declared the winner. There was a big pop when Matt Hardy won the belt which really lifted the crowd after the last ten minutes of the match really took them out of the scramble. I thought this was an OK Scramble match which did not set too great a precedent for other Scramble matches to follow. It started off exciting and then Mark Henry showed up, which took me right out of the match. Then there was the Matt/Mark incident near the end of the match which made the match seem like a total mess at times. In the end, the crowd was happy so I can’t bash this too much.

Match Rating: **1/4

Jeff Hardy congratulated Matt on his big win and Matt wished Jeff luck in the WWE Championship Scramble match later on.

There was a quick shot of WWE Champion Triple H and World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk warming up backstage. They were the champions going into their respective Championship Scramble matches.

Cody Rhodes (c) and Ted DiBiase Jr (c) vs Shad Gaspard and JTG for the World Tag Team Championship

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The announcers mentioned that Shad was once a bodyguard for “Iron” Mike Tyson. Am I the only person in the world that questions why MIKE TYSON of all people would need a body guard? I watched something recently with him in and he still looked like a pretty mean guy. If I tried to jump Mike Tyson in the street, I highly doubt that he’d need Shad Gaspard watching his back!

This match was a nice little tag team match. Nothing too fancy but it was just your slightly-above-average tag team match which was not really messed up at all. There was a funny incident at the start of the match where JTG was pulled off from Cody by the referee and JTG yelled “What are you doing?” Cody went for the moonsault but JTG moved out of the way. Shad got the hot tag. Cody hit the DDT on Shad while the referee was distracted but Shad would kick out of DiBiase’s pin. JTG and Cody became the legal men in the match. JTG went for the small-package on Cody but Ted rolled it over so Cody had JTG covered. The referee made the pin and the champions retained the titles. The two tag teams got into a brawl. Manu, the son of Afa, made his debut by turning the tide in the favour of the champions. They left and were feeling triumphant.

Match Rating: **1/2

Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho in an unsanctioned match

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Shawn Michaels was shown to be taping up his arm for his big unsanctioned fight with Chris Jericho. They showed an awesome video package to recap the feud between Michaels and Jericho. The biggest thing that I took from this feud was that Jericho was justified in nearly all of his actions during this program. He made the point when he turned on Shawn about how the fans were booing an honest man (Jericho) and cheering a lair (Michaels). He did a tremendous job in making Michaels out to be a villain in nearly every scenario, even when he was supposed to retire at Summerslam 2008. Some of the lines thrown in this angle were awesome.

The WWE were actually just starting out in the “PG era” but there was one “we want blood” sign, which was surprisingly not confiscated by security. It is possible that WWE knew that there might be blood in Jericho/HBK anyway so maybe that’s why it wasn’t taken away. HBK attacked Jericho with punches early on. He took off his belt and smacked Jericho with it. They fought in the crowd. Michaels went for a chair shot on Jericho but he missed. Jericho did a DDT to Michaels on the outside, which looked effective. Jericho pulled out a table and hit Michaels with it. Jericho tried a powerbomb but he ended up launching Michaels into the apron.

Jericho beat up Michaels with a chair. Jericho wedged the chair in the corner. They teased Irish-whipping each other into it. Jericho tried to suplex Michaels through the table on the outside but Shawn got out of it. They then showed Michaels flat-out choking Jericho in the ring with a crazed look in his face. I thought that was a nice touch as it shows just how badly Michaels wanted to hurt Jericho. Shawn went for the Superkick but stopped and then just started punching Jericho in the face! The more I think about it, the more of a good spot this became in my mind. I think it’s changed my opinion because the match itself was a totally different type of match then you were used to from Michaels and Jericho. Therefore, these moments make a lot more sense than if Michaels were to have done it at WrestleMania 19 for example.

Michaels locked on the crossface but Jericho was able to hurdle Michaels face-first into the chair. This obviously added to what happened earlier in the storyline, with Jericho injuring Michaels’ eye. Jericho targeted the eye and with the vision of Michaels impaired a little, Jericho turned it into an amateur boxing match for a while! Jericho did the Irish Whip spot to Michaels, where Shawn did a flip in the corner. It was so great because the flip actually helped Michaels out, as it was done to the same corner where the chair was still wedged in!

Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho but Michaels got the ropes. However, Jericho didn’t have to let go as it was no disqualification. Shawn was able to get under the apron and pull out a fire extinguisher. He sprayed Jericho to get out of the Walls and he hit Jericho with the extinguisher. Michaels took Jericho up the ramp and did a nasty looking suplex on it. It honestly looked like it hurt Shawn more than it hurt Chris!

Lance Cade, who was Chris Jericho’s protege at the time, tried a run in but Michaels cut him off. Cade’s response was to TURN HIM INSIDE OUT with a clothesline! Jericho and Cade targeted Michaels’ taped up arm. Jericho slapped Michaels while Cade helped him. Cade brought in a chair and Jericho smacked Michaels in the arm with it. He planned to break Michaels’ arm by wrapping the chair around it and jumping off the top rope with some move. As he went up, Michaels got out of it and superkicked Cade. Michaels took the chair and hit Jericho with it, causing Jericho to crash into the table. I thought Cade’s involvement was really well done and it led to a great spot with Jericho falling into the table. I thought this was all great.

HBK then unleashed a barrage of one-handed chair shots to Jericho which I thought were great additions to the match. It made Michaels look so great while he was in this state-of-mind. He wanted to beat up Jericho with this chair so much that he decided to do it with one arm! Michaels put Cade and Jericho on the announce table and then hit an elbow drop off the top rope through the table.

HBK then whipped Jericho with the belt. In what was a great moment, HBK then started whipping Jericho in the eye! If you’ll recall, Michaels mentioned in a segment on RAW before this about an eye for an eye and Michaels was legitimately trying to take out Jericho’s. He then laid into Jericho with a number of bare-knuckle blows. Jericho was KO’d and the referee called for the bell. Some of the fans booed and a lot of the fans didn’t get the finish but it was still pulled off really well. In a way, they did contradict themselves with the rules by claiming that it could only end via pin fall or submission beforehand. Then again when thinking about the storyline, the referee probably thought that there was no way that Shawn was going to go for the cover and Jericho couldn’t submit as he was knocked out. When factoring all of those things, the referee calling for the bell does make sense.

HBK still continued to beat up Jericho and he even super-kicked one of the referees. More referees came out to stop Michaels and attend to Jericho. This was all splendid.

The match itself was pretty damn great. I know a lot of people didn’t get how the match was put together. To be honest, I was one of those people when I first watched this. There was parts of the matches which I never really understood until I watched it back recently. It wasn’t a match which everyone got but it was still masterfully put together. It’s unfair to compare this match to other Michaels vs Jericho matches as it was obviously not set out to be like those matches that we saw in the past. However, it was still pretty damn great. The match actually gets better and better the more I think about it. TWO HUGE THUMBS UP FOR THIS!

Match Rating: ****1/4

Legacy were backstage. Cody introduced Manu to Randy Orton and Ted asked if Orton was impressed. Orton said he wasn’t and proceeded to cut an amazing promo on Ted, Cody and Manu. He delivered a great speech about talent and ability, berating them for using tactics that people like Cryme Tyme would use on the street. He was not impressed.

Triple H (c) vs Jeff Hardy vs Shelton Benjamin vs The Brian Kendrick vs MVP in the WWE Championship Scramble match

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This was a championship scramble match mostly revolved around two men – Triple H and Jeff Hardy. At the end of the day, the winner of the match was going to be either one of those two. Therefore, this made everyone else in the match seem irrelevant (except for The Brian Kendrick, which we’ll get onto later). I don’t know if I were to have booked it like this, as the whole point of the match is surely to tease that anyone can win. If you were going to book it as they did, wouldn’t it make for sense for Jeff and Triple H to start off the match? That way, you can get the fans into the match early on and also give Jeff and Triple H experience in wrestling 20 minute title matches with each other, which is important as they would go on to fight each other for the title in the next few pay-per-views.

They went with Jeff Hardy  and Shelton Benjamin as the first and second entrants respectively. It was a decent first five minutes. There was one strange clothesline spot where Shelton went down and it appeared that he thought that they were going to do the double clothesline spot, where they both go down. The third entrant was The Brian Kendrick, who was with Ezekiel Jackson at this time. As he was coming down, Shelton was trying to hit Jeff with a  German Suplex off the apron. Kendrick cut him off. Kendrick was pinned soon after by Jeff Hardy with an alley oop.

This was the part of the show where I thought that the wrestlers themselves really didn’t understand the rules of the match. The Championship Scramble was actually a complicated concept but it was made worse by the fact that the interim-champion Jeff Hardy tried getting a pin fall on Shelton Benjamin. Why would Jeff need to bother getting another pin fall? Why didn’t he do what his brother did earlier on and just wear down his opponents? It wouldn’t have been too big of a deal had it not been for the finish, which we’ll get to later.

Shelton hit the Pay Dirt on Jeff and Kendrick followed it up with “The Kendrick” to pin Jeff Hardy. THE BRIAN KENDRICK became the interim WWE Champion. The Brian Kendrick was really the only one, other than Triple H and Jeff Hardy, that stood out like I mentioned earlier. Kendrick got the pin fall and the entire crowd was stunned as well as the commentators! He then served as the best interim champion in the history of the Championship Scramble! He looked like such a star for the next five minutes or so. MVP was the fourth entrant and ran wild. He went for the dive-by but Kendrick cut him off with one of the most beautiful leg lariats I’ve ever seen. Kendrick then started to do a tremendous job in making himself seem like a legitimate threat in this match. He was the best wrestler in the ring for the time that he was champion and was outclassing everyone! Then Triple H came in as the last entrant…

All of a sudden, things went downhill for Kendrick. Triple H ran wild and pinned Kendrick right away after a Pedigree to become the interim champion. All of a sudden it became the Triple H and Jeff Hardy show, with Kendrick playing the same role as everyone else. Shelton Irish-whipped Triple H into the steel steps. As this was going on, Jeff pinned MVP with the Twist of Fate. There were some boos as this happened, with the some of the crowd seeing where this was going.

In a terrible twenty seconds for Kendrick, Triple H pinned Kendrick again with the Pedigree. Triple H turned around to catch his breath, which apparently meant that Triple H had lost his hearing as well. The reason I say this is because as Triple H was turned around, Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb on Kendrick to a big pop. Jeff then pinned Kendrick to once again become the interim champion. There were only two men that were getting reactions at this point and they were Triple H and Jeff Hardy. If the crowd were going crazy, then Triple H surely should have figured out that Jeff was somehow back in the match and going for something big. Surely that should have forced Triple H to turn around and stop Jeff Hardy from getting the pin, which almost cost him the WWE Championship. But no. Hunter turned around with a shocked look in his face as he was no longer the interim champion.

There was an awesome tower of doom spot with Shelton Benjamin, MVP and The Brian Kendrick. All three men were down. In the closing seconds of this match, Jeff hit Shelton with the Swanton Bomb which was followed by Triple H giving MVP a pedigree. Triple H was going for the cover on MVP with Jeff Hardy stood right in front of him. Did Jeff Hardy try to break up the pin? No. He turned his attentions to Shelton and TRIED TO PIN HIM. Once again, YOU WERE ALREADY THE INTERIM CHAMPION! All Jeff Hardy had to do was make sure that Triple H didn’t pin MVP and he would have won the title right then and there. Instead, he allowed Triple H to get the pin fall and the announcers tried to play it up like Jeff was so close to winning the championship. They were right. He was so close but he failed out of his own stupidity. Jeff Hardy came off looking like the dumbest man alive in this match. He tried to pin other wrestlers while he was already the champion and had no clue of how the match worked in the slightest.

They also tried to go with the angle that Jeff was too hurt to recover and do anything. He was too hurt to break up the pin but he was OK enough to go try a pin on somebody else?

So Triple H got the pin fall at the end, which saw him retain the championship as the last man to get a pin or a submission. Other than the ending, this was a decent Championship Scramble. I would go as far as to call it the best scramble in the show but that is not saying much. It didn’t help the match when everyone involved had at least one moment where they did something stupid or was completely squashed. SmackDown! did not come off looking good following this pay-per-view.

Match Rating: **3/4

Shawn Michaels did an interview with Todd Grisham. Shawn said that he was content with what he had accomplished in his match with Jericho but he did not find closure. He said that if he could, he would deliver the same beating to Jericho every single day of his life. He warned Jericho that the worst is yet to come. For the fans, the best was yet to come as those two would go on to have an incredible match at No Mercy in the following month!

World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk was interviewed by Eve Torres, future Divas Champion. Randy Orton interrupted Punk’s interview. Orton called Punk a fluke champion. They had a back-and-forth until Cody, Ted and Manu all attacked Punk. Kofi Kingston tried to help Punk but he was beaten down too. Orton then ended the beating by punting CM Punk in the head. Orton would tell Legacy that this was impressive. They left.

Michelle McCool (c) vs Maryse for the Divas Championship

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This was not great. Maryse could barely run the ropes in this match. Michelle tried to do a flip arm drag off the top rope but was only just able to land on her feet. They fought on the outside, with Michelle giving Maryse a clothesline off the barricade. The match actually did include a good of bit old ring psychology, with Maryse working on Michelle’s leg. Michelle then worked on Maryse’s leg. The big difference was that Maryse was selling her leg injury while Michelle wasn’t! I then was reduced to uncontrollable laughter after Maryse and Michelle tried a sunset flip. Maryse tried this sunset flip but it ended up with Maryse’s momentum causing Michelle to crush her!

Michelle won with a suplex facebuster for the pin fall. You could tell that the announcers barely cared about this match as about ten seconds after the match, Tazz suddenly just went “ooooh” as if he just realised that the match was over! This was slightly worse then your average women’s match. The only major thing that they messed up was the sunset flip which still brought me a fair amount of entertainment!

Match Rating: *1/4

They then cut to a poll that the WWE were running throughout the night. It was whether the Big Show should have been allowed to be in the WWE Championship Scramble. 77% of the fans said that he should have been in the match. I guarantee that if they ran this poll again in 2016 for whether the Big Show should be in the Elimination Chamber for example, 77% would have voted against having him in!

RAW General Manager Mike Adamle cut a promo. He announced that it looked like CM Punk was not going to be able to make it to the World Title Championship Scramble. He said if CM Punk couldn’t compete, he would find someone else to take his place. He guaranteed that a FIVE MAN championship scramble will take place tonight.

You know what’s funny about Mike Adamle is that I wasn’t really watching wrestling at this time period, so I never watched it during the Age of Adamle. If I was, I totally would have loved him as the general manager of RAW and here’s why. The thing is that I really loved John Laurinaitis, when he was in charge with People Power. I’m a sucker for characters that are so bad that they’re good. Even though he messed up a lot of promos and came out with some unintentionally great moments, there was never a moment where I wanted to turn off the television when Big Johnny came out. Mike Adamle had that same effect where you’re just watching him and you’re waiting for him to come out with a beauty of a line!

He never really messed up anything with this promo but I loved the way that he raised his voice at the end of his promo. Apparently John Cena convinced Adamle that the more you raise your voice, the better your promo will be!

Segment with Vickie Guerrero, Big Show and The Undertaker

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Big Show came out. He was in his singlet. I was about to question why Big Show was coming out in his ring gear when he wasn’t scheduled to compete. As it turns out, he was lobbying himself to compete in the main event and take CM Punk’s place. Then again, Big Show didn’t know that there would be an open spot in the match until Adamle just announced it a minute or so earlier! So again… why was he in his gear?

He started his promo by just saying “Hi” which got some laughs. Big Show offered to be in the main event in Punk’s place as mentioned earlier. He said that at least Mike Adamle wouldn’t have left him out of a scramble match unlike SmackDown! General Manager Vickie Guerrero. This somehow led to Big Show encouraging people to vote in the 2008 elections. I have no idea how he was able to segway into this!

Vickie came out. Vickie told Big Show that she warned him not to cause a disruption or else. She had warned him that he’d either be suspended or fined. He then called him a big, dumb giant and told him to leave. When Big Show refused to leave, Vickie didn’t act on her threat. There were no fines or suspensions. She did not fire him. She basically told him to go away!

By the way, Vickie Guerrero does not fit into the category of “so bad that it’s good.” At this point in her career, she could still barely act. She was god awful with her delivery on this show. At least Big Johnny or Adamle had something to make you want to stay and watch. Vickie was just so bad that it made you think that WWE were actually daring you to turn off the show.

The Undertaker popped up on the titantron as druids made their way down to the ring with a casket. Big Show was just laughing in the ring. Taker said that he promised that he would be coming for Vickie at Unforgiven. He said that the coffin would be her final resting place. He asked her whether she wanted to go voluntarily or by force. Big Show kept her in the ring.

Undertaker got a big pop when he was coming out. Vickie tried to exit via the crowd but Big Show brought her back into the ring. This gave me strange deja vus of Over The Limit 2012, when Big Show brought Big Johnny back in the ring after he tried to escape from the crowd. Anyone that watched that pay-per-view will remember how that went down. As amazing as it is, I got deja vus from a segment that took place in 2012 while watching a pay-per-view from 2008 in 2016!

Taker opened the casket and got in the ring. Undertaker then started taking off his coat and hat. I didn’t realise that Undertaker needed to be in his ring gear in order to take Vickie Guerrero to hell! He grabbed her by the throat and then the Big Show punched Taker in the face. Big Show, did in fact, turn heel on this pay-per-view. It’s just amazing that they did this exact same storyline in 2012 but with Big Johnny replacing Vickie and John Cena replacing the Undertaker. Incredible.

So Big Show beat up the Undertaker in a shockingly agile manner. He then drove Taker into the ring post and threw him into the barricade. He knocked over the casket and then kept punching Taker in the face, knocking him out. Vickie then spit in Undertaker’s face, slapping him for good measure. ALL OF THIS TOOK TWENTY MINUTES OF PAY-PER-VIEW TIME!

Segment Rating: -**

They then recapped a RAW segment with Randy Orton and CM Punk, which led to the attack from earlier.

William Regal tried to convince Mike Adamle to put him in the World Heavyweight Championship Scramble match. Adamle said he’d take his request under advisement.

Batista vs Kane vs JBL vs Rey Mysterio vs Chris Jericho in the World Heavyweight Championship Scramble match

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Batista and JBL started out the match. I was rather shocked and disappointed by the WWE’s decision to have Batitsa and JBL kick off the match. They could have put in Kane or Rey Mysterio, with Mysterio having a history of pulling off good long match performances. However, they decided that it was best for Batista and JBL to work a 20 minute match. Batista looked blown up at around the half-way point.

They also decided to have Batista and JBL start the match by locking on submission holds. Because if there’s one thing I associate Batista and JBL with, it’s submissions! Batista locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock for about a minute. It was much better when these two were just going blow for blow as opposed to just going for submissions. That brought out the best of them. Batista Irish-whipped JBL into the corner. He got into the ring and waited for the third entrant, who turned out to be Kane.

There was a fine back-and-forth between Kane and Batista. They went for finishers on each other but they were countering each other’s stuff. Then there was a nice little sequence between all three men, which saw Kane pin JBL off a chokeslam. The fourth entrant was Rey Mysterio, who brought life into the match for about a few minutes. He and JBL picked up the pace as Mysterio ran wild. Rey went for the 619 on Kane but it was avoided and Kane turned Rey inside out with a clothesline.

Rey and Batista then teamed up to do an elevated splash, with Rey on Batista’s shoulders. They went for it again but Rey turned it into a victory roll pin attempt on Batista. It’s funny that Batista thought nothing of Rey’s betrayal in this match when a year later, he got so mad at Rey for breaking up a pin fall which caused Big Dave to turn heel at Bragging Rights 2009!

JBL then took advantage of the brief squabble that Rey and Batista had. JBL hit a fallaway slam on Rey, which saw him land right on Batista. The fifth entrant was revealed to be Chris Jericho, who came out selling his match from earlier on in the night. Everyone in the ring was shocked as Jericho came out, with Y2J looking wrecked. Batista then speared Rey and Jericho out of their boots.

In a repeat of earlier on, Kane tried to go for the pin even though HE WAS THE CHAMPION. Fortunately, he only did this once. In the last 45 seconds of the match, Batista hit Kane with the spinebuster and pinned him to become the interim champion. Rey then tried a springboard move on Batista but it was countered into a Batista Bomb. This was a sweet reversal actually. As this was happening though, Jericho sneaked back into the ring and pinned Kane. The clock ran out and Chris Jericho won the World Heavyweight Championship!

I’ve got to say that the finish was really well executed. It was not done in such a way that it devalued the title as Jericho had already been beaten up before the match. Jericho was slaughtered by Michaels but still came back out, which put him over. Even if he didn’t do anything in the match, Jericho winning was the whole point of the match at the end of the day. The majority of the match was pretty boring but it did lead to a great finish. It was also not like the WWE Championship Scramble match ending, where Jeff could have done something to break up the pin. Jericho went for the pin as Batista was in mid-move. Batista could not stop what he was doing and go break up the pin. Really well executed finish with a match type which did have its fair share of problems. The finish gets a thumbs up from me!

Match Rating: **1/4

Overall, this was a fine pay-per-view. The Championship Scramble was a complicated concept, as mentioned earlier. Especially with the wrestlers themselves getting somewhat confused by it, it was a very difficult match to get your head around. Despite this, all three matches were different in their layouts and they all provided something different. Matt brought the triumphant new babyface champion, Triple H and Jeff brought the back-and-forth pin falls which lead to an exciting last minute of the match and Jericho brought the shock factor. The best match of the night was Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels BY FAR, but this was not a pay-per-view that delivered a lot of bad matches or anything. With the exception of the women’s match and the god awful Vickie, Big Show and Undertaker segment, this was decent stuff. Thumbs up from me!

WWE 2K17 – John Cena, Sasha Banks and Ultimate Warrior Confirmed For 2K17 Roster

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with WWE 2K17 news. As we’re in the middle of E3 right now, featuring the top names in gaming, it’s only fitting that we talk about some new developments for the WWE 2K17 game. We’ve finally got some news on wrestlers confirmed for the game. Goldberg was announced as the WWE 2K17 pre-order bonus and Bray Wyatt was one of a few wrestlers shown getting scanned for the game. However, we got some announcements by 2K for a few more characters that will be playable in the game.

The three characters that have been confirmed are….

These three wrestlers were confirmed by the painter Rob Schamberger, who was specifically tasked with creating paintings of these three stars for the reveal. Down below is a gallery of the paintings that he produced. If you want to see more of his work, you should follow him on Twitter @robschamberger as he does have paintings on many more superstars that you can snap up on WWE’s auction website.

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These first few reveals are interesting. With the exception of the pre-order character reveals, these first batch of announced wrestlers usually give you an indicator of the theme and the direction of the game itself. For WWE 2K14, they first announced wrestlers like Andre The Giant and Hollywood Hogan for their 30 Years Of WrestleMania mode. For WWE 2K15, they announced Cena, CM Punk, Triple H and Shawn Michaels for the showcase mode featuring their rivalries. I think Steve Austin was announced early too, ahead of his Austin 3:16 showcase mode for WWE 2K16.

It’s very difficult, judging from these three superstars, to predict just what the showcase modes of the game will be revolved around. It’s possible that they could do another character-centred showcase mode, similar to Austin’s deal last year. They could easily do a John Cena showcase mode, which could be fairly simple to do. His feud with CM Punk would almost certainly not make the cut, with Punk’s strained relationship with WWE and 2K as well as Cena and Punk’s previous showcase mode. A lot of Cena’s big feuds have been with wrestlers that WWE still continue to have good relations with, which could make it simple. I even think that his first match with Kurt Angle could be covered and we could even get Kurt Angle in the game, provided that Kurt could strike a deal with 2K. It would have to be approved by Vince McMahon, similar to Goldberg’s inclusion, but they could do it.

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The Ultimate Warrior has already had a showcase mode before, having the “Path of the Warrior” DLC showcase mode in WWE 2K15. That appearing again would be highly unlikely. Having thought about the possibility of a showcase mode involving Cena, it could be possible that Warrior is part of somebody else’s showcase. You could do showcases for wrestlers like Undertaker and Randy Savage, who both probably could be well known enough to carry the main showcase for the game. Another one that popped into my head was Triple H. Starting from his WrestleMania 12 match with the Warrior, it could go on from there.

I personally would not want a showcase mode that is based on the experiences of one wrestler. Steve Austin was fun and very in-depth but I’d much prefer a showcase mode where I could play as many wrestlers as possible. I don’t want to be limited to Steve Austin and a few others.

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John Cena was a guarantee to be included in the game and the Ultimate Warrior has been in a number of games ever since WWE 2K14. The most interesting name announced was Sasha Banks. I know a lot of people were upset with the four horsewomen of NXT not getting in the game last year. With the Divas Revolution being heavily promoted by the time that the game was released, for the likes of Sasha and Charlotte to not get in seemed preposterous. Now though, Sasha’s inclusion will probably mean that the rest of these women will be in too.

I think Sasha will be a very fun character to play as on this game, and it’ll boost up the quality of women’s wrestling on this particular game. What I mean is that now you’ve got the women that actually have unique and innovative movesets that will be fun to play with. There was only ever a few wrestlers like Paige and Natalya that had previously stood out in the past. If Asuka and Nia Jax are able to get into the mix as well, you could be having a lot of fun.

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There are my initial thoughts. What do you all think of these announcements? Hopefully we’ll get more information real soon. Who knows? There may be more wrestlers announced for the game before E3 comes to an end…

Retro Express – Summerslam 2008

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Previously on the Retro Express, I talked about Summerslam 2007. I questioned whether this PPV was able to live up to the high standards that fans expect from the second biggest show of the year. Now it’s time to do it again. At Summerslam 2008, we got two world title matches as well as two major grudge matches from RAW and SmackDown! Batista faced John Cena for the first time ever while Undertaker and Edge settled their year-long feud in a Hell in a Cell battle. Did this show deliver?

 

 

WWE SummerSlam

Date: August 17th 2008

Brand: RAW, SmackDown! and ECW

City: Indianapolis, Indiana

Attendance: 15,900

 

Jeff Hardy vs MVP

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One of the biggest criticisms of WWE commentary of the last five years is that the announcers are portrayed as less intelligent than the audience they are supposed to explain things to. Jim Ross was not like these modern-day announcers. He did his research and was on the ball, especially during this pay-per-view. Small stats like Jeff Hardy’s Summerslam record up until his match with MVP can make it seem like there’s a lot more on the line, even if there isn’t. There was a lot of little things like JR thanking the UK fans for staying up to watch the event. Being aware of the struggles of international audiences and rewarding them with little facts that would make the commentary seem worthwhile.

MVP kicked it off with a bell-to-belly on Jeff into the turnbuckle. We got pretty big “MVP” chants actually. Jeff hit the neckbreaker to try and turn the match around. There was a good counter when MVP countered a wheel kick with a simple kick to the gut. No flashy counter. He kept it as simple as possible by simply kicking the man in the gut. I don’t know why I’m giving this a lot of credit but even the simplest of moves can add to a match.

MVP went for the boot but Jeff countered it into a sleeper drop. Jeff hit the Whisper In The Wind. Jeff went to the top rope but Shelton Benjamin ran out. Jeff jumped on Shelton, which gave MVP the chance to recover in the ring. Jeff went for the Swanton Bomb but MVP moved out off the way and hit the Drive-By for the win. I thought this was fine for an opener. It’s just funny looking back in hindsight, because Jeff would go on to be a major part of the world title scene on SmackDown! for the next year.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

The lovely looking Maria interviewed Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix backstage. They were set to challenge for the Intercontinental and Women’s titles in a tag team match. Early on in the year, Santino and Maria were an on-screen couple. They had broken up since then, with Santino commenting that Maria had let herself go. Maria made fun of Santino’s unibrow, to which Santino claimed that he’d grown it for Beth. Awwww.

 

We then got the first mention of this pay-per-view WWE poll, asking whether Edge and Vickie Guerrero would get a divorce. This was a very hard period for the couple’s marriage. Edge had cheated on Vickie and Vickie’s revenge was to put Edge in Hell in a Cell. Edge went nuts and messed with Vickie on SmackDown! This vote ended up with 78% of the crowd voting that they would.

 

Mickie James (c) and Kofi Kingston (c) vs Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella for the Women’s Championship and Intercontinental Championship

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Let me start off by saying that Mickie James looked absolutely lovely here, as did Beth for that matter. There was a sign in the crowd that said “Santino stole my unibrow,” which I giggled to. Unlike modern-day WWE, the men could actually wrestle the women during inter-gender tag team matches at this point. It wasn’t like nowadays, when a female being tagged in forced the opposing man to tag out.

Kofi got the hot tag and ran wild. Kofi Kingston faked a dive, which saw Santino diving into Beth’s arms. Santino had some great trash talk during this match! Mickie James then ran wild and hit the Mickie-DT on Santino. Beth hit her with the Glam Slam out of nowhere to win the match and win herself the Women’s title and win Santino the Intercontinental title.

This was an OK match but it was really the moment of Beth and Santino both becoming champions that stood out. Beth had effectively fought Santino’s own battles for him and won him the Intercontinental title. The celebrations were great as Beth piggy-backed Santino to the back! Just great post-match celebrations from the heels!

Match Rating: *3/4

 

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We got Shawn Michaels coming out with his wife Rebecca. The storyline going into this segment was that Chris Jericho really messed up Michaels’ eye during their match at The Great American Bash 2008. Shawn came out to address the fans and thanked them for their support. He told the fans that the doctor had recommended that he walked away. He admitted that it was finally time to heed the doctor’s advice and walk away from the WWE. Rebecca’s acting during this was pretty damn great as she was brought to tears in the ring. I actually looked it up and it turns out that Rebecca was actually one of the old WCW Nitro Girls, where she performed as Whisper. With her experience in wrestling, it’s kind of understandable about why Rebecca was so good… other than watching Shawn that is.

A lot of the fans were literally brought to tears. This was how well this was all performed because the fans were legitimately thinking that this was the end for Shawn. There were even “please don’t retire” signs brought to the arena. This was all interrupted by Chris Jericho…

Chris Jericho said that Shawn was leaving because of what Jericho did to him and wanted Shawn to admit it. Jericho refused to leave the ring before he did it. He said that he wanted the last moment of Michaels’ career being to admit that Jericho put him out for good. Michaels said that he would but gave Jericho some advice. Michaels told Jericho to sit his family down and tell them that “daddy would never ever be Shawn Michaels.” Shawn and Rebecca were about to leave when Jericho pulled Michaels’ arm. He went to punch Shawn and inadvertently punched Rebecca.

Michaels was shaken by what just happened. This was one of those moments that showed just how great Shawn was. Shawn was initially filled with rage as the crowd is encouraging him to attack Jericho. After about 30 seconds of pure rage, Michaels couldn’t bring himself to do anything and just went back to consoling his wife. These were all true emotions as a lot of times, when something awful happens to your loved ones, your first instincts is to unleash hell on the culprit. At the same time, you can’t help but do nothing as you are fearing for the safety of your family. This was all incredible stuff.

The fans were all into this, which helped. The funny thing is that it was later revealed that Jericho ACTUALLY punched Rebecca during the segment. He accidentally legitimately punched her and Jericho has talked about how he and Shawn were both mortified after it all happened. They both told a story on Jericho’s podcast about it as they were both backstage with Rebecca. Shawn was walking her back up the entrance ramp and asking if Rebecca was OK, and Rebecca responded by saying that at least her teeth were still in! It gets better as when the three of them were backstage as Rebecca is getting looked at, she turns to Chris and says: “Is that all you got?”

Rebecca being a total trooper about the whole thing made it so much better in hindsight! This segment was so great and it leads to a great match at Unforgiven (which will be the next PPV I review on the Retro Express) and their No Mercy match. These two just knew what to do from that point on. Michaels’ promos were all on point. Jericho’s promos were all on point. Their contract signing on RAW that followed was great. This was all amazing television and thank god that this was eventually elevated to being a title feud, as it was the best thing going in all of WWE at the time.

 

Mark Henry (c) w/Tony Atlas vs Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship

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So right after one of the best PPV talking segments of all time, we got THIS wrestling match – if you even want to call it that. This was technically a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP match as Mark Henry defended the title against Matt Hardy. What happened was that Matt Hardy hits the Twist of Fate on Mark Henry. As Matt is about to win, Tony Atlas pulls Matt out of the ring and throws him into the steel steps which causes a disqualification. This match lasted 26 seconds and ended with a disqualification.

This sort of stuff wasn’t rare with the ECW title, as Kane actually won the title in 8 seconds from Chavo Guerrero earlier on in that year. However, this benefited absolutely nobody. You hurt Mark Henry, who was apparently already beaten in 26 seconds. You hurt Matt Hardy, who was taken out by a semi-retired former wrestler in Tony Atlas. 26 seconds for supposedly the biggest program for ECW. Unbelievable.

So Jeff Hardy made the save and hit a Swanton Bomb on Tony. The Hardyz then double-teamed Mark Henry and hit him with the double suplex on the outside. This actually got a big reaction.

Match Rating: N/A (Didn’t last long enough)

 

CM Punk (c) vs JBL for the World Heavyweight Championship

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Punk kicked off the match with the control. He unloaded with suicide dives and cross bodies. The commentators mentioned that CM Punk had watched Batman five times. I don’t know if they meant the original Batman film from the 1990s or the Dark Knight film that came out shortly before this, but I approve whatever film he watched.

JBL hit a fallaway slam from the top rope in order to take control of the match. JBL was very wobbly on the ropes which could have ended badly. Punk then made the comeback. Punk hit the running knee and bulldog, which JBL went down too early for. Punk went for the GTS but JBL countered it with a simple but effective clothesline. CM Punk’s springboard attempt was countered into a powerslam. CM Punk kicked JBL in the head, which saw them both crash down to the mat and clashed heads. JBL somehow landed on top of Punk, which led to Punk’s head being busted open.

In the end, CM Punk picked up the victory with the GTS. There was a fair amount of miscommunication during this match, including the clash of the heads from earlier on. These two worked at vastly different paces. They tried hard but it was just not to be.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

The Great Khali was warming up backstage, ahead of his big WWE Championship showdown with Triple H.

 

Triple H (c) vs The Great Khali w/Ranjin Singh for the WWE ChampionshipSummerSlam_2008.29

The last time I reviewed a World Championship match that involved the Great Khali, I was critical to put it nicely. At Summerslam 2007, Khali and Batista had a REALLY bad match. This match involving Khali and Triple H was much better than that match. I don’t want that to suggest that Batista is a bad worker or anything. In fact, his match with John Cena would very much dispute that. However, it’s at least good to know that he somewhat improved in the year between world title matches at Summerslam.

There was insightful commentary from Jim Ross and Tazz, as JR was talking about the size difference between Triple H and Khali. He said something along the lines of “7’3 and 6’3 – you do the math.” Tazz’s response to JR’s height analysis was “I don’t like math.” Quite the banter from Tazz and Jim Ross…

The story of the match was that Triple H kept trying to do the Pedigree on Khali, but Khali was simply too big. Khali hit the two-handed chokeslam right off the bat. Khali tried a vice grip on Triple H to “you can’t wrestle” chants. Khali did the big chop. Khali elbowed Triple H in the face and Triple H dropped to the floor Ric Flair style. I don’t want to keep comparing this match to the Batista match mentioned earlier, but Triple H’s selling was much better than Batista’s. HHH’s selling actually did make Khali come as effective with his attack. Khali elbowed him and Hunter went down immediately. Whenever Batista sold something, he would stumble and THEN fall down. Interesting to think about. 

We got more “you can’t wrestle” chants, with Khali responding by putting Triple H in a nerve hold. Triple H fought out of it and hit his signature facebuster, which sent Khali into the ropes. Khali was tangled in the ropes but was still able to backdrop Triple H to the floor. Khali went for the Vice Grip. After Hunter fought out of it, Khali just went back to the grip. Triple H eventually successfully hit the pedigree to a big pop and he got the pin to retain the title. 

Obviously, the two world title matches on card were never meant to mean much. When you’ve got Batista vs John Cena for the first time as well as a Hell in a Cell, there wasn’t gonna be much pressure on these two matches to perform. They were two matches that featured a clash of styles, with the big man fighting the little man. The World title match was better than the WWE title match but  HHH/Khali was not terrible or anything. At least you can say that the match had a story to it, with Triple H trying to hit the pedigree on this big man. After fighting and fighting, Triple H eventually hit it and got a big reaction for it. There were “you can’t wrestle” chants to Khali but this match did a fine build-up to the big finisher spot in the end. They put over the Pedigree and the crowd were into the finish so in that sense, a thumbs up.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

John Cena vs Batista

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Anyone that has ever been a WWE fan will know that WWE are prone to hyperbole and for good reason. The WWE, in theory, have to try and convince you that the next big match coming up is an important match. In a lot of cases, to achieve this goal, they have to go completely over-board with putting the two men involved over. Even if you know that it won’t be the greatest match of all time, they will always claim that these matches will be historical matches. They did a tremendous job in trying to convince the fans that this match between John Cena and Batista would be an all-time classic. I would not go as far as to say that it was one of the best matches of all time but, after it was over, it ended up feeling like a very special match.

There was a mixed reaction for John Cena as usual. Cole and Lawler tried very hard to put this match over. The video package tried to promote the idea that these two were going to explode in their match but yet they started the match by doing a lock-up. This rivalry wasn’t that intense but a pet peeve of mine is when two guys, that supposedly hate each other, begin their big match with a regular lock-up.

Batista tried a Batista Bomb but Cena got out of it, which was followed by a big clothesline. Batista then started to work on the leg on Cena, with chop blocks, shinbreakers and Figure Four Leg Locks. It’s very strange for the big man to focus on the leg of the little man. Cena went for the FU but ended up launching Dave over the top rope. Cena did his comeback while selling his leg. Cena tried the FU again but Batista got out of it and hit a big boot. Batista unloaded with a series of shoulder blocks, followed by a clothesline. Batista hit the spinebuster. Cena got out of a Batista Bomb attempt with a simple leg DDT, following it up with an STFU. Jerry Lawler, with a rare glimpse of insight, noticed that he locked on the STFU in the same part of the ring where he made Triple H tap out at WrestleMania 22.

Batista reversed a FU attempt into a rear-naked choke, somehow giving us a foreshadowing of Batista doing MMA just before he returned to WWE in 2014! Batista hit the spear but Cena kicked out. We got an awesome spot where Cena reversed an Oklahoma Slam into a FU for a near fall. They battled on the top rope, getting the boo/yeah treatment. In a memorable moment, Cena went for the leg drop but Batista countered this into a Batista Bomb. This was the move that left Cena with a herniated disc and sidelined him for a while. Cena certainly looked in a lot of pain after the match.

Amazingly, that wasn’t the finish as Cena kicked out. Batista eventually hit one more Batista Bomb and won. A very good match between these two men. On paper, Batista and Cena really shouldn’t have been expected to have a match this good. However, they really did give it their A game. The catch powerbomb spot was pretty dangerous and led to an injury, which would be my biggest criticism. However, Cena soon came back from this and thank god that the injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

I don’t think the injury should take anything away from the match though and these two performed really well. A BIG THUMBS UP FROM ME! Second best match on the show by far…

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

Undertaker vs Edge in a Hell in a Cell match

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I mentioned that Cena vs Batista was the second best match on the show – this was undisputed best thing on the show. Undertaker and Edge had the final match in their really good feud from 2007 to 2008. They recapped all of this in the video package beforehand.

Undertaker took control at the start. Edge’s stable La Familia was watching backstage. Undertaker got the steel steps and leaned them on the corner, which set him up to do a snake eyes drop to Edge onto the steel steps. Very innovative stuff here. Edge then dropkicked and speared Undertaker into these steel steps. Edge got out two tables and then hit Undertaker with the steel steps. Edge stacked the tables on top of each other and tried to suplex Undertaker into them. Undertaker tried a chokeslam but Edge saved himself with a jawbreaker. Edge used a chair and got out a third table, setting it up in the ring. The stacked tables were still outside of the ring. Edge grounded Undertaker with two chair shots to the face and one to the back, which allowed him time to go get a big ladder.

The next spot was a callback to a segment on SmackDown! a few weeks before this. In the segment, Mick Foley tried to motivate Edge so he could face Undertaker in the Cell. Edge said “I understand” and then kicked Mick Foley’s arse. He ended the beating by jumping off a ladder with a chair into Foley, who was on a table. In a callback to that moment, Edge did the same spot and yelled “I understand” before crashing onto the Undertaker.

Edge tried a conchairto, but Undertaker stopped him by grabbing his throat. The two battled outside of the ring, where Edge speared Undertaker through the cell wall. That was an awesome spot as Undertaker was bleeding from the arm. They fought outside of the cell.

Undertaker took apart the announce table when Edge intervened, hitting Undertaker with the television monitors. I’ve seen the next spot several times but I always loved this. There were three announce tables for this show, for the three separate RAW, SmackDown! and ECW brands. Edge stood on one announce table, ran across to the second announce table and hit Undertaker with a spear, which sent them crashing into the third table. I thought this was a really well executed spot.

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After some brawling, they went back into the cell which got some boos. I guess a lot of fans were expecting Edge and Undertaker to go to the top off the cell after they got out of it. The funny thing is that Edge actually mentioned on Chris Jericho’s podcast that he wanted to end this match with a Tombstone on the top of the cell! What a scary spot that would have been!

Edge hit Undertaker with the ladder in the ring. Edge then hit Undertaker with a camera, which was a callback to when Edge cost Undertaker the world title during a Hell in a Cell match at Survivor Series 2007. Edge tried a spear but ran into a chokeslam. Edge hit the Edgecution for a near fall.

Undertaker tried a Last Ride into the tables on the outside but Edge got out of it and hit a spear. This got a near fall as well. Edge tried the ten punches spot in the corner, which almost never ends well when you’re facing the Undertaker! Undertaker hit the Last Ride. Undertaker tried to do some serious damage with a tombstone onto the steel steps but Edge countered. Edge tried the Undertaker’s Old School but Undertaker countered this with a chokeslam into the tables on the outside.

Then we got a bit of poetic justice, as Undertaker started using all of Edge’s own moves against him. He hit Edge with an awesome looking spear. Undertaker then hit Edge with the camera, which was revenge from earlier. Undertaker then did a conchairto of his own. Edge’s back was all cut open as Undertaker hit the tombstone and won.

Then Undertaker ended the night, when he chokeslammed Edge through the ring and into HELL! We got a weird graphic from this, as Undertaker was setting up the chokeslam from the top of the ladder which supposedly sent Edge to hell.

An absolutely incredible Hell in a Cell match. I think this will probably go down as one of my favourites. These two left it all out there and there was some great booking for this feud-ending match. I loved the callbacks to old angles featuring these two men. Undertaker got his revenge by giving Edge a bit of his own medicine. A lot of nasty spots were taken as these two ended their feud in a big way. Bravo to both men. I loved this match.

Match Rating: ****1/2

 

Overall, I thought the show was fine. If it were not for the Hell in a Cell match and Batista/Cena, I don’t think this PPV would live long in the memories of a lot of fans. There was nothing really special about the undercard, other than the Shawn Michaels segment and Santino and Beth’s double celebration. Other than that, there was not much to it. However, the final two matches of the show really bumped up the show. At the end of the day, it was a forgettable show up until the final two matches which could go down as two of the most memorable matches in Summerslam history.