RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #2 (SEPTEMBER 11TH 1995) – HULK HOGAN VS LEX LUGER FOR THE WCW WORLD TITLE

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Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

 

So WCW Nitro is off to… a start. PastaMania ran wild at the Mall of America. We got cruiserweight action, we’ve got Sting vs Ric Flair and we got a WCW world title match with Hulk Hogan retaining the WCW title against Big Bubba Rogers. During the show, Lex Luger made his WCW debut and made his intentions clear… he’s here to challenge for the WCW title. Both Hogan and Luger shook hands as the Hulk Hogan vs Lex Luger World title clash was signed for the next episode of WCW Nitro.

Well here we are. The destination is Miami, Florida and the eyes of the wrestling world are gazing upon the newest WCW superstar going one-on-one with the Immortal Hulk Hogan with the WCW title on the line.

 

Date: September 11th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Miami, Florida

Rating: 2.4

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

We’ve got our regular crew of Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and, of course, Steve “Mongo” McMichael. Eric and Bobby looking really annoyed at Mongo was an early contender for highlight of the show. They hyped up the main-event as “the match of the century.” That is… quite the claim. Bit of a spoiler alert for the main-event, but I’m 99% certain that this did not go down as the match of the century.

The announcers were determined to put this show over as it was going to be an all-time classic show. Bischoff, with such fire and passion in his lungs, advised us that “you’re gonna see Scott Norton in action.” I don’t wanna bury Scott Norton or anything, but when you’ve got guys like Sting, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger on the card and you’re big selling point is that Scott Norton is here? Maybe I’m just underselling the star power of Scott Norton. I dunno.

They replayed the Hogan/Luger confrontation from last week. They announced that Vader is supposedly AWOL and out of the War Games match with Team Hogan and the Dungeon of Doom.

Bit of background to this as, for those that didn’t know what was going on at the time, you may be curious as to whether this was a storyline or a shoot. Elements of storyline and “shooting” were both involved as Vader was actually no longer with the company at the time.

I believe Vader was fired after the first episode of WCW Nitro aired. He was shown in clips hyping up the War Games match last week but this week, he was described as having gone AWOL. It’s weird because one would assume that if he’s down as AWOL, he could possibly come back on television. It’s weird because he wasn’t coming back so why wouldn’t they simple come out and say he was fired?

At the same time, you guys have go to look at this from WCW’s perspective. If they announced Vader was fired or whatever on TV, in WCW’s minds, the fans may start to tune onto a different wrestling TV show and see if he was on it. Now truthfully, it was a a few months before Vader made the jump to the WWF. He took a de-tour to NJPW first. WCW were so paranoid in the fans turning into RAW. That’s where the idea to spoil RAW was hatched by WCW. With that being said, saying he went AWOL just implies that he’ll back shortly. Maybe, they were planning to bring him back in some capacity down the road so this was kind of a cool-off period. Then Vader jumped ship to WWF. I don’t know.

By the way, 600 words into this review and I’ve not talked about a single match! I apologise but now I can rectify that….

 

Sabu vs Alex Wright

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The DEBUT of Sabu as hyped up last week. As far as putting over Sabu as a star, I can’t say this delivered. It was just your typical Sabu match. Sabu is just doing his own thing and Alex Wright, I guess, tried to give some structure to the match.

Sabu started whipping out springboard spiral leg drops. Sabu jumped off the chair for a splash on the outside, but just went straight into the steel rail. Sabu and Wright were on the outside for the longest time and, I swear, the fact that the referee hadn’t counted to 10 at this point was ridiculous. They were outside of the ring for at least a minute, if not way more!

The crowd popped for a sweet Alex Wright superplex. Wright looked slick with a back flip into a german suplex. The finish came when Sabu hit a sloppy-looking victory roll off the top rope and won. It was possibly a botched finish as Sabu just continued to beat up Wright for no reason, which we’ll get to.

There wasn’t a lot of strong communication between Sabu and Wright. It was so evident that one of the announcers, I think it was Heenan, actually said: “both those guys don’t know where they are.”

So Sabu kept attacking him. He got a table. Sabu jumped off the top and damn near killed himself when putting Wright through the table. Sabu was DQ’d as the referee reversed the decision.

I guess the goal was to show that Sabu was so crazy that the rules meant nothing to him. I personally saw him as a geek as he threw away a victory just to beat up Wright some more.

 

They showed a graphic for the Sting vs Michael Wallstreet match on the show.

 

Mean Gene Okerlund came out and introduced RIC FLAIR. I immediately had a smile on my face! They hyped up Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson for Fall Brawl. Flair proceeded to cut a promo on Arn for being boring and a family man! Flair said that he and Arn ruled the world. He said Arn could walk down any path as he was by Flair’s side.

Then Lex Luger strolled down to the ring. Flair kissed Luger’s ass for a while and put him over like crazy. He promised Hulk Hogan that “the package takes control.” Luger simply came out and said that Flair was too much. Luger left… what was the point of Luger coming out?

I will give WCW this. They were trying to play up the idea that we didn’t know what Luger’s motivations were. Whose side was Luger on? Was he a good guy? Was he a bad guy? I guess him doing a segment with Flair at least teased that he could possibly be a heel.

 

Sting (c) vs VK Wallstreet for the WCW United States Championship

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I knew for certain that this was for the US title this week! That being said, VK Wallstreet was making his debut IN THIS MATCH. How is he already getting a title shot? That ALSO being said, Lex Luger is also getting a WCW title shot in his first WCW match back! I guess this is just how WCW rolls!

During the entrances, Eric Bischoff revealed the RAW results. Bischoff, or any other announcer, revealing RAW results was so fascinating in hindsight. For those of you that may not know, WCW started a habit of revealing the WWF RAW results. RAW had a series of tapings to roll through so, as a means to tell the fans that there’s no need to watch RAW, WCW just told them what happened. Bischoff said: “HBK beat the big man with a superkick.” Turns out the big man was Sid by the way.

Fans loved Sting in this match. Mongo went on a big American Football rant and Heenan simply cut him off by saying “We don’t watch football. We watch wrestling as we’re wrestling fans.” Nice for Heenan to keep Mongo on track. Wallstreet looked exactly like Bo Dallas in his singlet during his match. Like father, like son.

Bischoff called WCW the only game in town. Sting pulled off a lovely vaulting clothesline into the ring. They revealed Flyin Brian vs Johnny B Bad with the winner getting the next US title shot. I actually liked that Flyin Brian’s victory against Jushin Liger last week actually led to him getting a chance at a title shot.

Sting hit the Stinger Splash and a top rope crossbody and won. There really wasn’t anything to this match. Wallstreet didn’t really mess anything up but this was not a memorable match in the slightest. It was just there. It was…. OK.

 

Then they showed graphics for WCW Saturday Night. This sounded like one of the worst shows I could possibly think of. This show would include the debut of DISCO INFERNO, Renegade vs Max Muscle, Big Bubba Rogers vs Dave Sullivan and Flyin Brian vs Alex Wright. What a shit-fest that sounded like.

 

Randy Savage vs Scott Norton

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I thought this was a fine match. Savage’s music was a rock version of Pomp and Circumstance. Norton jumped Savage before the match. Norton and Savage bumped like crazy for each other, doing well to get each other over. Norton got the heat, wrecking Savage with a powerbomb. Norton was awesome working over Savage. He did a believable job in laying on a beating on the Macho Man.

Norton hitting a draping DDT off the ropes. Savage caught a flying Norton off the top with a face slam and then started the comeback. Savage ran wild when Kamala and THE SHARK ran in. They both bumbled down to the ring. Bischoff, or somebody, kept calling Shark “Avalance.” Savage fought them off and then Shark was rocked. Shark fell forward onto a floored Norton and trapped his legs. Poor Scott Norton couldn’t move his legs as the Shark had all of his weight on Norton. Norton was waving his arms as Savage went up to the top rope. Shark was knocked out and Norton lacked the strength to push Shark away. Therefore, he could do nothing as Savage hit that elbow drop for the win. I LOVED that finish!

The Dungeon of Doom stable all argued. Norton was mad at Shark and Kamala. Technically, if Shark fell on Norton, shouldn’t Norton win via DQ? Either way, I thought this match was good.

 

Hulk Hogan (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY… on paper.

In fact, it actually was on paper! Some fan in the crowd actually had a “match of the century” sign. That fan had high expectations!

I’ve heard this theme song before but Luger’s WCW theme song at this time was the coolest aspect of this show! When considering this along with the “The Man Called Sting” and Hogan’s “American Made” themes, WCW had a knack for theme songs!

Hogan and Luger went for a lock-up and I was thinking that this could be easily a contender for the worst lock-up of all time. Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger doing a lock-up together? I’ll go on record to say that this wasn’t the worst lock-up I’ve ever seen but Hogan’s didn’t exactly look like a guy trying to win a lock-up battle. Luger at least appeared to be trying to push Hogan away so I guess it wasn’t THAT bad.

So right after this first lock-up, they did another one. During the second one, LUGER was the one that looked horrendous in the lock-up! From the get-go, it didn’t look like these guys were in sync!

Hogan went all technical on Luger, which is fascinating to think about. Hogan and Luger began a no-sell match. Hogan hit Luger with a suplex, but Luger no-sold it. Luger hit Hogan with a suplex, but Hogan no-sold that.

The announcers really down-played Luger here, which really isn’t what you want to do during a WCW world title match. The announcers advised that Luger was in for the match of his lifetime. Bischoff, at least I think it was Bischoff, said “Luger is just not used to this calibre of competition.” He made Luger out to be a complete non-threat. Bischoff made a comment saying Luger could only just barely get past mid-card in the WWF. Keep in mind by the way that Lex Luger was a former WCW Champion before he even went to the WWF previously!

Luger locked on the Torture Rack. Luger thought he won but the ref told him that Hogan never tapped. After arguing with the ref, Luger went for a cover but Hogan kicked out. Hogan fired back with his typical comeback. Hogan hit the leg drop when the Dungeon of Doom ran in for the DQ. I’m struggling to decide whether I liked this finish or not but we’ll get onto that later.

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Sting and Savage ran down to even the odds for the babyfaces. Kamala tumbled out of the ring. Hogan and Luger started pushing each other. I don’t know why. Mean Gene ran down to do an interview, advising that Vader didn’t qualify to be a “Hulkamaniac.”

Hogan and Savage ran down Luger and accused the Total Package of not being on their side. Sting came to his defence. Sting said that Vader was out of the picture and Luger gave Hogan a run for his money. Keep in mind by the way that Hogan had Luger beat when the Dungeon of Doom ran down!

Sting said Luger should be on the team. Savage disagreed as he thought Luger was a turncoat. Savage questioned why the Dungeon of Doom attacked Hogan and Savage but not Sting, Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart. Jimmy Hart pleaded his case. So this was like a vote between the team. Savage voted against Luger. Sting voted for Luger. It all came down to the Hulkster, because of course it did. Hogan eventually decided to have Luger in the team. Luger agreed as long as Hogan would give him another title shot. This set off Hogan as Luger had ulterior motives. Mongo ended the show by saying: “they better get their collective poo-poo together.”

And that’s how Nitro ended going into Fall Brawl 1995. They better get their collective poo-poo together.

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I liked the end segment with the four babyfaces arguing because all the motives for the four main guys made sense. Sting and Luger had worked together in the past in WCW so Sting trusts Luger to be an ally. Hogan and Savage, as far as I’m aware, had never worked with Luger. Not to mention, Luger was the outsider coming in from the WWF. So they DO NO trust Luger and have no idea where his head is at. Luger, because he’s a competitor, wants to win the WCW title. He has nothing against the Hulkamaniacs but he wants to be champion more than anything. I could understand why there was tension but I could understand everyone’s viewpoint.

With that being said, the finish of the match did both help and hinder the story. Out of context, Luger getting mad that he didn’t get fair title shot here made no sense considering that Hogan had him beat before the Dungeon of Doom ran in. Why should he have another title shot? However, they were playing up the angle of Lex Luger’s loyalties. He’s saying that he wanted a fair title shot but there should be no case for another title shot as Hogan had him beat. So that would make the fans hate Luger as he didn’t deserve another title shot.

Again, out of context, having Luger come in from WWF and then have Hogan all but beat him in his first match in did no favours for Luger.

A lot happened in this episode of Nitro. FOUR matches, including WCW World and US title matches. Build for the War Games match at Fall Brawl with in-fighting from the Hulkamaniacs and the Dungeon of Doom. We got good mic work from Flair. We got an odd match from the debuting Sabu. The attention of the show was focused on the Fall Brawl main-event and that’s good. This episode did what it was supposed to for a go-home show.

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Next week on Nitro, we’ll have a number of “high-profile” matches. We’ve got, believe it or not, Paul Orndorff vs Johnny B Bad. We got the Nasty Boys in action. We’ve got the American Males vs the Blue Bloods. A lot of tag team action.

HOWEVER, there is a Fall Brawl PPV before that show. We’ve got the big War Games main-event with Hogan, Savage, Sting and Luger vs the Dungeon of Doom. I THINK I’ll be watching and reviewing the whole PPV. I initially was just planning to watch the Nitros exclusively. However, I do want to watch the War Games match so I’ll be watching that. There is also Arn Anderson vs Ric Flair among other matches so it’s probably in my best interest to watch the whole thing.

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #3 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express. Fall Brawl, at least the main-event, will be coming up before we get around to Episode #3. We hope you enjoyed the review of Episode #2.

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

 

 

 

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Retro Express: WCW Nitro #1 (September 4th 1995)

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For the first time in over 18 months, Retro Express returns to the Armbar Express! Only this time, the Retro Express is on a mission…

As long as I’ve been a wrestling fan, the biggest wrestling company I’ve ever known was World Wrestling Entertainment. I started watching wrestling in 2003, where WWE dominated the wrestling industry with no major competition at all from the sports entertainment side of things.

But there was a time, before I was a wrestling fan, where WWE did actually have huge competition. In fact, this was competition that almost drove them out of business. This competition… was World Championship Wrestling.

I’ve read Bryan Alvarez’s “The Death Of WCW” book (which, by the way, I would hugely recommend) and had heard all the stories about WCW. The narrative that WCW, a wrestling company powered by one of the richest men in the United States that crumbled as the “revolutionary” WWF Attitude Era rose to prominence. I don’t buy that narrative entirely.

Having re-watched some of the old recent WWF Attitude Era stuff recently (not covered in the Armbar Express yet), I can’t say there was a lot to praise from that era with the exceptions of like Austin vs McMahon as well as the rise of The Rock. WCW, in my opinion, were the ones that screwed WCW. I can’t go with the idea that the WWF were so great and WCW were so terrible. I don’t buy that. Obviously WCW did completely decline in their last few years but it’s not as if WWF was mind-blowingly good.

So then how is it that the WWE is still around, thriving and making hundreds of millions of dollars each year? How is that WCW are gone forever? What was it?

Well I decided to see if I can try and answer my own question. I’m not watching RAW IS WAR and Monday Night Nitro side-by-side but since I have never really watched WCW in a major capacity, I decided to watch every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. That’s right. 300+ episodes starting with an episode including Sting vs Ric Flair and ending with an episode…. including Sting vs Ric Flair.

Let’s get to it with EPISODE ONE….

 

WCW Nitro #1

Date: September 4th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rating: 2.5

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

We started things off with Eric Bischoff and STEVE MCMICHAEL opening the show, welcoming us to WCW Nitro. Seeing Bischoff as a babyface is extremely rare for me, knowing what’s going to happen in about a year’s time in WCW. Steve McMichael was one of the most annoying and worst announcers I’ve ever had to listen to in my life. I have no idea how long this guy will be doing commentary but I’m praying it’s a short term deal before Tony Schiavone is on the scene.

Bobby Heenan interrupts. He sucks up to McMichael after supposedly making some kind of remark about him. Very hard to figure out what he was on about.

 

Jushin Thunder Liger vs ‘Flyin Brian

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I enjoy re-watcing old things and, for the majority of the time, I don’t really have an issue with watching old stuff with modern eyes. I did have an issue with this match. I know how this is a very historic and romanticised match but time has not been kind to this one. I’m sure at the time this blew people away and the fans were going crazy for the match. That being said, this was a very sloppy match!

The match was OK for about the first minute when Liger hit a moonsault which barely connected. He went for a big boot which… barely connected. They attempted a hurricanrana spot and it completely fell apart as they both fell down. The head-scissors by Brian the second time was a vast improvement. There was some ridiculous spot where Liger tried to dump Brian over the rope but Brian ended up going through the middle rope. The crowd broke out into a USA chant because of course they did.

Steve McMichael, I don’t know who he said it to, but he gave either Liger or Brian the following advice: “Give it to him the way he wants it.” At least it’s nice to know McMichael was actually into this match. When he wasn’t invested in the match he made fun of Bobby Heenan with every pun in the book including “Bobby The Stain.” Sick burn.

Liger almost killed Brian with the powerbomb. Liger hit a Frankenstiener on Brian and PLANTED HIMSELF. I shrieked. His head dropped to the floor as he sent Brian across the ring. I’ve concluded that this was way worse than the Bayley/Sasha Frankensteiner from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn a number of years ago. Oddly enough, Jushin Liger WRESTLED AT NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn a number of years ago. How he walked away fine after this is a mystery.

Brian rolled Liger up for the win and a HUGE POP. The crowd loved Flyin’ Brian in the first ever match of WCW Nitro. It wasn’t a terrible match but there was a lot of messy spots that could have ended way worse than it did.

 

They showed WCW US Champion Sting cutting a promo on Ric Flair basically vowing to beat Ric Flair on this episode of Nitro. Straight to the point, short and all you needed.

Then we cut to WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan… and PASTAMANIA was running wild! Now I’ve heard that Hogan did this back in the 90s… I had no idea it was like this. Hogan had a restaurant in Mall of America based in Minneapolis, which was where this particular show was based. First of, just the idea that this Nitro was based in a US Mall shopping centre. People were just doing their shopping and going down these massive escalators and watching these guys wrestle. WWE is not adventurous enough to try this in 2018 and that’s a shame.

So Bischoff interviewed Hogan with these little kids surrounding them, getting autographs with Hogan. Jimmy Hart was also there. Hogan cut this astonishing promo on PastaMania, saying PastaMania was running through his veins. He said that he was slimming trim with pasta! Yes, pasta! He said he was going to beat Big Bubba Rogers to retain the WCW title tonight. The PastaManiacs were going to help him win. Man, could you imagine WWE trying this with like “Roman Noodles” or something in 2018? PastaMania lasted less than a year, for those of you wondering.

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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Before we actually get started, I have no idea if this match was for the WCW United States Championship or not. Pro Wrestling Wikia, who has details of almost ever show for like WWE, WCW, ECW etc., has this down as a US title match, which I though it was. However, The Internet Wrestling Database had this down as a non-title match. Either way, Sting vs Ric Flair is a match that will never get old. It never changes but it never needs to change. Ric Flair is the greatest seller in the history of pro wrestling. Sting going crazy is awesome and he’s one of the best babyfaces of all time.

Before we actually got the match, we had an invasion… LEX LUGER arrived in WCW. The fans were going nuts as Eric Bischoff played it up as if he was invading from the WWF. He said Luger wasn’t supposed to be there. Sting and Flair were confused and Luger was asked to leave, which he eventually did.

Luger debuting here was actually a pretty big deal at the time since, like the night before, he interfered in the main-event of WWF SummerSlam. There was no like internet or anything for the fans to know that Luger was coming. So when he showed up without warning, on Nitro, these fans didn’t know what to think. Are the WWF invading? Is he signed? What’s going on? Later on in the night, it was clearer as to what was going on.

Sting and Flair, after being confused for a solid minute or so, then started to fight. Sting Gorilla Pressed Flair OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. Sting ran wild. Flair turned things around with a poke to the eye. Flair and Sting somehow did the smoothest crossbody to the outside I’ve ever seen. Sting Gorilla Pressed Ric into the ring. Flair going to the top rope and then getting thrown off will never get old to me. ARN ANDERSON then came running down to the ring. It sounded as if Flair and Arn were doing a break-up angle. McMichael theorised that Arn had been down at PastaMania.

Sting made a comeback. Flair sold a clothesline on the apron as if he got shocked with a taser. Sting, like a completely doofus, distracted himself by talking to Arn when Flair did the chop block and put Sting in the Figure Four Leg Lock. This Figure Four  was awesome as Sting fought back, pumped up his chests and was ready to turn the hold around to put the pressure on Flair. Sting fought and fought but before he could turn it over, Flair got the ropes to break the hold.

So then Arn Anderson got in the ring and the bell rang. Having re-winded the show, it appears to me that Flair was DQ’d because he didn’t break on five after getting the ropes.  Arn broke up the Figure Four and he and Flair brawled to the back. Arn got in the ring to get his jacket and that was that. A very lame finish to an otherwise vintage Sting vs Ric Flair match.

 

Then almost immediately, SCOTT NORTON ran down to the ring. When I first was watching this, I had no idea who he was. Part of the problem was that they never mentioned on commentary who this guy was. He confronted Bischoff about a contract. Mongo stepped up to Scott. Randy Savage came down to say he’d fight him. Bischoff said no and then they cut to a Sabu hype promo.

This hype promo hurt my eyes but it couldn’t help but showcase that 90% of Sabu’s moves were just massive botches. This included a spot where Sabu did a moonsault onto a table which didn’t break. I assume this was all WCW Saturday Night footage or something.

Mean Gene Okerlund came down to congratulate the winner of the WCW Harley Davidson Sweepstakes they did. Congrats to Mike Hill from Alabama.

They plugged WCW Saturday Night with Sting and Randy Savage teaming up as well as WCW Fall Brawl.

They then showed ANOTHER video package. I was begging for a match. Michael Wallstreet, otherwise known as IRS, said that WCW is all about money and power. He said the “New Generation” was now the “Few Generation”. This was referencing WWF’s new change in creative direction. He said he was a real player and… Michael Wallstreet was here.

 

Hulk Hogan (c) vs Big Bubba Rogers for the WCW title

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This was every Hulk Hogan vs a big monster match you’ve ever seen. Very slow but when Hogan was attacking, the fans went crazy. PastaMania was running wild. They announced Randy Savage vs Scott Norton for next week. I’ve always thought in history that nobody threw worse punches in a match than Shane McMahon. Big Bubba, otherwise known as Big Boss Man in the WWF, threw some disgusting punches in the corner. This may not have been as bad as Shane but these were right up there. Heenan claimed Big Bubba knew martial arts which can’t have been true after watching these punches. God bless Big Bubba, who is actually not with us anymore, but these punches were that horrible.

Hogan was Irish whipped into a corner and responded with a big boot which missed Big Bubba by about 100 miles. All efforts to cover this up were fruitless including Bischoff claiming that “the heel” connected. In hindsight, that could quite possibly have been an impromptu inside joke attempt by Bischoff. Then again, I could just be overthinking this but it is WCW after all.

The referee grabbed Hogan by the hair as a means to pull him off of Big Bubba. Hogan pulled out the most heelish move in the match as he choked out Big Bubba with a jacket as Jimmy Hart ran distraction. I swear to all the gods, he did this and he’s the biggest babyface in the company. Then Hogan started stomping on his face…. how this man was a beloved babyface is mind-boggling when you see all these on-screen jerk-ass moments from Hogan.

Mongo’s jokes included “Bobby Hernia” among other lame lines. Big Bubba hit the uranage. Hogan made the comeback, hit the Leg Drop and got the pin. The crowd went batshit crazy for the guy after he won. PastaMania was truly running wild. Not particularly a tremendous in-ring match but I didn’t have high expectations going in for Hogan vs Big Bubba. The crowd loved it throughout which I guess makes all the difference so why not. This was a success for PastaMania.

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The geeks from Dungeon of Doom ran in to jump Hogan. Hogan fought them off when Luger came down to aid the Hulkster. Luger came down as Hogan was already beating on the Dungeon of Doom! The heels escaped. Hogan and Luger went face-to-face. Randy Savage and Sting came down to calm them down. Believe it or not, we got some “Luger” chants.

Mean Gene came down to interview them after they both somewhat calmed down. Hogan asked what Luger was doing here. I wish Luger actually went with what Mongo said earlier and explained that he was going to PastaMania. There was just a bunch of wrestlers in his path as he wanted to get an order in! XD

Luger actually said he was here for one thing and that was the WCW title. He confirmed that Hogan was the only world champion in wrestling right now. He said he was here to get it on with the big boys. Hogan said that he was going to be champion forever. Hogan asked Luger to shake his hand to have the match next week for the title. They shook hands. They pushed each other as Savage and Sting held them apart.

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Overall, I actually thought it was an OK show. I don’t know how long the hour-long episodes of WCW Nitro is going to last but I hope it’s like this for a whilte. I really think weekly wrestling shows need to be around an hour. If there’s one thing we can learn from wrestling’s past is that less is more. This was a very basic show to watch as it was not over the course of 3 hours and the structure for the majority of it was simple to follow.

Liger vs Flyin’ Brian didn’t really age well and was very sloppy at times but Sting vs Flair was everything it needed to be for me except the finish. Hogan vs Big Bubba got the crowd popping and the Hogan vs Luger main-event for next week was easily set up.

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That was that. Quick preview of episode #2: If the video packages are anything to go by, Michael Wallstreet and Sabu will both appear on WCW Nitro. We’ve got Randy Savage vs Scott Norton and of course, WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan vs newcomer Lex Luger for the WCW World title.

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #2 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express.

Emma, Darren Young and Summer Rae RELEASED from WWE – Thoughts and Reactions

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Breaking news from today as three long-time main roster superstars have been released from WWE as Emma, Darren Young and Emma have departed from the company.

All three of these talents have been members of the RAW roster ever since the 2016 draft with very limited success for all three of them and long periods of absence in the last few years.

Emma was the first announced by WWE via their social media accounts and website. Emma has recently been a regular feature in WWE programming after several periods away from television for reasons such as injuries and even writing reasons. Emma had rose to fame initially from NXT before being promoted to the main roster to feud with, ironically, Summer Rae. After a few months of not really clicking on a main-roster level, Emma turned heel upon her return to NXT and saw her character develop dramatically. She returned to the main roster but her momentum was cut shot by an injury, leading to the bright idea of her to re-emerge as Emmalina. Due to her being in creative limbo and writers not really figuring out what to do with her, Emma went roughly 17 weeks before Emmalina debuted and literally just led to her being repackaged back to Emma. Emma had recently appearing at the TLC pay-per-view as Asuka’s first main roster opponent before her release.

Darren Young debuted in the first season of NXT before debuting on the main roster as part of the Nexus angle. Darren was exiled from the group after SummerSlam and after months of limited notoriety, partnered up with Titus O’Neil as part of the Prime Time Players. Darren and Titus teamed for a number of years and Darren actually won the tag team titles with Titus at Money In The Bank 2015. Darren’s singles career saw him aligned with Bob Backlund in the hopes of “making Darren Young great again.” Darren’s new repackaging eventually led to him receiving an Intercontinental Championship match at Battleground 2016. Darren was injured shortly after a feud with his old partner Titus, which has now led to his release.

Summer Rae debuted as the ring announcer in the newly rebooted NXT before eventually becoming a single competitor in the competitive women’s division featuring the likes of Emma and Paige. She eventually debuted on the main roster as Fandango’s dance partner, elevated as much as Fandango when his theme song became an international hit. Alongside this, Summer was pretty competitive in NXT and was aligned as a BFF of one Sasha Banks. Summer and Fandango eventually split and after a short stint aligned with Layla, Summer was eventually inserted into the infamous Dolph Ziggler/Lana storyline. Summer sided with Rusev but eventually broke up with him, leading to her siding with the debuting Tyler Breeze. Shortly after, Summer became injured and had yet to even appear on RAW since she was drafted in 2016 prior to her release.

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On the surface, these wrestlers weren’t exactly major players on the main roster in WWE. However, it is rather sad to see people lose jobs especially in a line of work as limited as wrestling is. For Summer and Emma, they both have opportunities outside of wrestling available to them like modelling and acting. I think there’s probably a chance for them to get their foot in the door. For Darren, very difficult to see where he may go from here. I don’t see him as a major player in the independent scene but as a WWE star, there’s probably a lot of decent money for him to make.

For Emma and Summer, I do see two cases of untapped potential with both of these girls. If you’ve ever watched Emma (and Summer to a degree), you can see that this girl was a hugely talented wrestler. She’s had great matches with Paige and Asuka in NXT. She’s probably better than at least 75% of the main roster which may be kind of pushing it. Regardless, she still had a lot of value and it was annoying as a fan of her to not see her at least take part in a major women’s title program. She could have been a great mentor to have for these new up-and-coming women, especially some of the ones from the Mae Young Classic.

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Summer was also a great talent too. I don’t really rate her highly as a worker but again, you don’t need to be the world’s greatest worker to be effective. Just look at Alexa for example. Summer was a great talker and really fit into the roles that she was given and her delivery was pretty good. I always rated Summer and it’s a shame she didn’t get one last run before her release.

I also have to give a lot of credit to Darren Young too, someone who has opened the doors for a lot of sports figures in terms of the LGBT community. Him publicly coming out as gay in 2013 did take a lot of courage and was widely commended among the wrestling community. In that aspect, I must give him a lot of credit.

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I do actually have a bone to pick before I sign off here because I want to address one of the more pathetic responses to the releases of Emma in particular, ironically from someone signed with WWE. The newly signed Lio Rush tweeted this out shortly after the news:

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Obviously, this is a reference to Emma’s match at TLC when she lost to Asuka. However, this guy making this comment only JUST after signing with WWE about these tough circumstances for a long-time WWE employee seemed so audacious to me. Someone that has “paid her dues” like Emma that’s just been told that she’s been cut and Lio, who has only been here for a short time, has the nerve to make light of this bad deal for Emma?

This tweet was actually quickly deleted by Lio, following a number of wrestlers like Bray Wyatt, Peyton Royce, Rosa Mendes and Jack Gallagher burying Lio for these comments. Lio did also apologise for this tweet but he did it in such a way that he apologised that the fans got upset about his comment which doesn’t strike me as a genuine apology or Lio taken responsibility for his comments.

I except Lio to get heat from this because, as the likes of Baron Corbin can vouch for, troublesome tweets can be hurtful for your career. I don’t think he’ll be fired for saying this but I can’t say that this will not make him many friends in developmental and on the main roster. This is trouble when you make light of the situation of the likes of Emma. Emma seems to be well liked within WWE so Lio may have just made things hard for him in the first stages of his WWE career.

Anyway, best of luck to Emma, Summer and Darren in whatever they do next. I wish them all the very best.

NEWS: The Status Of Neville And Nia Jax In WWE

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. We’ve got a bit of news surrounding two top RAW superstars. It had been previously reported that Neville had actually asked for his release from WWE, following not appearing in last week’s Monday Night RAW event. It appears that Neville is not the only one linked with a move out of the door….

Nia Jax, who debuted on Monday Night RAW following the WWE Draft in July 2016, has been reported as having been upset backstage following not appearing on RAW herself in this week’s edition of the show. Nia had been part of an angle between Sasha Banks and Bayley, feuding with the two girls ever since No Mercy. This week, Sasha Banks fought Alicia Fox while Bayley was in a tag team match.

Nia not being there did raise a few questions, with Pro Wrestling Votes (the same guys who had initially spread word on Neville’s situation) tweeting about possibly hearing of Nia’s absence.

Pro Wrestling Sheet released an update to the initial rumours, stating that their sources suggest that Nia has been granted a “leave of absence” although nothing has been confirmed yet about whether Nia was upset backstage at RAW last night. The update is available at this link.

I do want to stress to everyone reading that we’re merely at the rumour stages of the story, and no statement has been released yet from WWE’s side of things or from Nia herself or any members of Nia’s family. If you recall, when the story broke about Neville asking for his release, WWE quickly denied any truth to it. Again, early doors on this story so WWE may not have had the time to respond just yet.

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The internet wrestling community has become extremely quick at jumping to the conclusion that Nia had been frustrated with creative similar to Neville. I find it rather difficult to believe as Nia has been one of the more protected women across RAW, SmackDown! and NXT. Only girls like Alexa Bliss and Charlotte are booked better than her in my eyes and Nia Jax is the biggest female monster that’s been pushed since she was promoted last year.

Neville’s frustrations are understandable knowing how badly 205 Live has been going as well as his inability to advance further in his WWE career. Nia… she’s got plenty of time to get ready enough to become a strong women’s champion. I don’t see how she’s got a case in being frustrated there and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Nia’s leave of absence could mean many things so it’s difficult for us to guess. I do wish Nia the best with whatever the situation is with her, if this turns out to be true. Again, a lot of potential in Nia as a top monster… given time to develop as a worker. I would not want to miss out on a Nia Jax monster title reign.

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As for Neville, his story has been kind of kept under wraps at the moment. As it stands right now, he’s still employed at WWE. For those of you that are unaware, Neville was not on RAW last week for a show where he was supposedly set to challenge Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight title in the main-event. The initial reports that he “walked out” was debunked as Neville wasn’t even there in the first place.

The rumours have been running rampant for him. There’s talk of frustrations with the royalties for being on the pre-show for WrestleMania 33, similar to the reasons why Austin Aries left WWE earlier this year as well. Not to add fuel to the fire in this sense but there were rumours that Enzo was supposed to beat Neville again in that main-event so he may have possibly not wanted to do the job. There’s a lot frustrations supposedly on Neville’s end.

The belief right now is that Neville is currently negotiating the terms of his release. When Ryback asked for his release last year, he was initially at home during the negotiations as well, if I remember correctly. I don’t see Neville on television any time soon although WWE is supposedly hopefully that they can convince him to stay on board. If you’re WWE, you can’t afford to lose Neville right now I’d imagine.

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Their priority is getting that 205 Live show over and doing good numbers, which was the whole reason why Enzo Amore was brought in to bring in interest. Neville was an established WWE star before 205 Live and the longest reigning cruiserweight champion since the title came back in September.

They really don’t have many top cruiserweight babyfaces at the moment which was, again, the whole reason why Kalisto was brought in to feud with Enzo. They don’t have the confidence in those guys getting over enough. They have confidence in Neville so it’s in their best interests to try and keep him on.

We will see what happens in the development of both these stories. I personally hope both individuals make the right choices that benefits them. If Nia feels that a leave of absence is necessary, it’s understandable. If Neville feels that he needs to part ways with WWE, that’s his decision. I personally would love to see them both stay in WWE. Nia does have potential down the road and Neville should be going to SmackDown! Live as a top heel as they’re lacking in that department. Do I feel they’ll do that? No. I think if Neville’s coming back at all, he’ll be in 205 Live.

 

Total Divas Season One Review – The Main Cast

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Total Divas debuted in 2013 on E!, capitalising on a more realistic age for WWE in terms of social relevance and mainstream media. This was their take on reality television, featuring the top divas from WWE. Your favourites divas from the Bellas to Natalya had their personal lives brought to our television screens.

There were a fair amount of wrestling fans (including wrestlers like Dolph Ziggler) who were against the reality show with the show focusing a lot more on the entertainment than the sports in sports entertainment. It was soap opera storylines that never seemed to sit right with hardcore wrestling fans.

For female viewers however, it was completely new territory. Coming after the Kardashians on E!, they could seize an opportunity to attract casual viewers on E! to their main WWE product. Whether it worked is still up for debate, considering RAW ratings are at their all-time lowest. And no, I’m not blaming Total Divas for the reasons RAW ratings have went down!

I’m just saying that the chances of many E! viewers suddenly becoming interested in RAW and SmackDown! after watching this are extremely unlikely when looking at the numbers.

With that being said, the show is still on the air as of 2017 and even a Total Bellas spin-off has been premiered. So it seems E! are happy with the ratings of this show!

Reality shows aren’t really something I’d ever watch and I’d been hugely disappointed by the reality shows I’ve seen before this. However, could this female-tailored reality show about the women of wrestling turn me around?

I’ve finished watching the full first season of this show and will provide a follow-up in-depth review of the season after this article. In the mean time, I wanted to produce a blog post basically looking at the characters of the show.

There were seven divas cast as the leads for this series – Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Natalya, Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie and JoJo. One by one, we will break down each female’s involvement on the show, their likeability factor and whether they are actually good television characters for this show. SPOILERS for season 1 of Total Divas are to be expected…

Nikki Bella

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The “star” of the show as well as the then-boyfriend to John Cena. Most of Nikki’s storylines revolve around John Cena as well as certain episodes where she fights with Brie and, to an extent, Eva Marie. Nikki is the centre of the majority of episodes, with the Bella hoping to take things with John to the next level. It’s very easy for me to see how a character like this would be interesting to a female viewer, with typical soap-opera storylines about love and marriage. Everyone has a storyline like this on the show but Nikki’s relationship with John is the biggest.

I, as a man, personally do not connect with Nikki’s storyline. It comes off as an extreme negative with Nikki’s almost dead-pan delivery of subjects that your average dude is not going to be interested in. Visually, she comes off appealing to men which I guess is a fine way to garner some interest from that audience. The issue overall with Nikki is the superficial nature of her character that makes her seem just like any other E! reality show lead like Kim Kardashian. I could see why an E! viewer may find that attractive but from a narrative standpoint, it puts her in a tough writer’s block with her character. Are we just going to keep to doing the same storyline with her and Cena going into the 2018 episodes where Cena actually proposes?

 

Brie Bella 

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I personally really like Brie Bella. Maybe it’s down to Daniel Bryan’s affect on her or how bad Nikki looks in comparison but this is the type of girl that, if I met in real life, I could see myself having a positive conversation with her. Brie is one of the more mature women on the show, even in her “Brie Mode” state. In one particular episode, she has a heart-to-heart with Natalya when they’re all drinking in Vegas and Brie comes off extremely composed.

In the rare times that she comes off unlikable, it mostly feels extremely forced like with Natalya (which I’ll get to later) and therefore, doesn’t strike me as real. I’d like to think that Brie on this show is exactly like Brie would be in real life. Maybe that’s me giving the show the benefit of the doubt but whatever… as long as I have characters that I can find likeable!

 

Natalya

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I mentioned that some of the unlikablity factors on this show feels extremely forced upon. Natalya is the biggest victim of this. Natalya never struck me as an unlikable person whenever I’ve seen her on RAW, SmackDown! or in any other setting, prior to watching this show. Watching this show however, Natalya strikes me as having more “bitchy” storylines than anyone else.

She constantly complains about other women taking her spot on television, not getting enough attention for her husband TJ Wilson (Tyson Kidd) and the work of other women in general. She comes off as irrational in a lot of cases, like when she sees TJ working with Eva Marie and then decides to feel up Fandango to get TJ jealous. TJ and Eva act all professional just training while Natalya overreacts.

Again, it’s hard to believe that Natalya is actually this awful in real life which is an issue. In this show, Natalya is the “veteran” out of everyone and you’d think would be the voice of wisdom to the younger talent. Instead, she outright complains about them. We hardly get to she her in an advisory role which would make for better storylines, particularly for the newbies.

 

Trinity (Naomi) 

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Naomi doesn’t particular strike me as interesting character but at least she comes off somewhat as a fun character. Naomi basically buckles down and works hard, trying to work her way onto television the old fashion way. She is a witness to her partner’s shenanigans on the road while in a relationship with Jonathan Fatu (Jimmy Uso).

Naomi’s specific storylines however are pretty hard to enjoy especially when it’s regarding her relationship with Jon. Naomi has to put up with a demanding boyfriend in Jon, who himself is irrational in a lot of different scenarios. He’s upset that Naomi is not wearing her engagement ring, upset when Naomi allows her dad to stay with them for a little bit and upset that Naomi is set to be in a romantic angle on television. Naomi having to put up with this nonsense rubs off badly on her storylines as you mostly want her in a background role more than having her own storylines with Jon. I guess her stuff with Cameron is somewhat tolerable but there’s not too many storylines of the Funkadactyls actually working together.

 

Ariane (Cameron)

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The Cameron character on Total Divas is a very much welcome part of season one of Total Divas. Why’s that? Well Cameron is the only character on the show who actually strikes me as unique. In professional wrestling itself, you need a wide variety of characters that make people stand out and be recognised. On television, this is even more important. All the other girls are almost interchangeable and similar in terms of their storylines which really kills interest in them.

While Cameron does have similar storylines, her mannerisms on the show are a one-on-a-kind. It’s a person that you’d never believe would actually exist in the real world and that’s what reality television shows should be about. Her casual drops of catchphrases like “thebomb.com” and “girl bye” as well as the outlandish ideas she has for the likes of her boyfriend Vinny just makes her “must-see” TV. She’s so crazy that it’s a change in pace from everyone else and she’s one of those people that you look at and would honestly want to hang out with for a day to see the world from their eyes. She’s tremendous!

 

Eva Marie

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The most hated woman on this show for many viewers but NOT as unlikable as you’d think. In fact, there’s actually not a lot wrong that Eva does. Her most “unlikable” traits are just being stupid… that’s it. I don’t know if Eva is actually like this in real life and I’d like to think that she isn’t but her unlikeness comes from just the plain ignorance and laziness she portrays on this show.

Things like pretending to be an experienced dancer so she can be on television and not being able to pronounce future WWE World Champion Jinder Mahal’s name (she, in fact, called him “Ginger Mahal”) doesn’t strike me as things I want to see but I guess, as a rookie, Eva needs to do these things from a narrative standpoint. A “learn from your mistakes” character if you will. Other than that, she actually doesn’t do anything wrong to other people. She does brag a lot about several opportunities but it mostly leads to characters like JoJo getting all jealous and it’s really not Eva’s fault that they get jealous of it. If you consider being an idiot the same as being unlikable, then Eva probably wouldn’t sit well. Otherwise, not TOO much wrong with Eva at this point.

 

JoJo Offerman

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JoJo was clearly a character they gave up on in the middle of the season or possibly early on during the production of the series. JoJo wasn’t particular an interesting character and her particular storyline is mostly an extension’s of Eva’s. They’re both the rookies so either JoJo is watching Eva during these shenanigans or she becomes jealous of Eva’s success. JoJo’s deadpan reactions to Eva’s success with the likes of Maxim does not make JoJo come off well. In fact, she comes off WORSE than Eva in a lot of these episodes.

JoJo seems like a girl that treats these issues by stropping around like a teenager (which she technically is during this season… she was 19) and not being mature enough around the adults. JoJo is essentially every young girl that wanted to hang out with her older sister’s friends but was told she wasn’t old enough. Even during the Vegas episode, she clearly just seemed more of a burden to Eva in particular while being unable to drink. With all this in mind, it’s pretty clear why she would be dropped from the main cast in the next season.

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Overall, the casting of women for the show is somewhat disappointing. There’s nothing particularly wrong with these women but there’s not lot of interest for the actual character’s unless you’re REALLY into the Nikki Bella storyline with John Cena for example. If you are, more power to you. These girls don’t really stand out as fun and interesting, giving you hardly any interest in them in the sense that you’re not going to bend over backwards to find out what happens to them next. Cameron is the only character so unique and out-of-this-world that gives you that feeling.

The show’s attempt to make the girls bicker constantly about petty things don’t really strike me as massive selling points for the show, which makes one refuse to rally behind a character like Natalya as she complains about the work of the other women. The Bellas seem the most INTO the show in terms of their “performances” but Nikki’s constant troubles over John Cena and Brie being witness to this isn’t a particular healthy relationship from a narrative storyline. Why should I care about Brie if the show is just to be centred around her sister? Brie’s engagement to Daniel Bryan was suddenly into an arc in the season finale where Nikki wants Cena to marry her.

Then there’s the newbies, who are a little hit and miss in a lot of ways. Eva, I guess, is the closest to Cameron in terms of having a unique character… not a likeable one, but still unique. JoJo, on the other hand, became more of a burden on the show in terms of scrambling to put together storylines for her. This, of course, leads to her removal from the show all together. Nice try JoJo, but it didn’t seem to work.

If you’re watching this show, I guess it’s mostly not for the individual character’s themselves. The writers’ biggest issue is making each of these women stand out in their own right. Each of them have similar storylines with their men, their work in the ring and with each other as spats spill out between the girls. I guess each of them provide at least something to meet all three of those things but it’s gonna take a lot more for me to personal be invested into the storylines of them individually.

Stay tuned to the Armbar Express as a I give you the full review of season one of Total Divas.

Retro Express – Bad Blood 2003

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Once upon a time, WWE used to be pretty big on building up interesting storylines for their wrestlers. From the opening act to the main-eventers, everyone involved in the show had a reason for being there. On Bad Blood, as amazing as it is, everyone on this show had a reason for being there. Everyone from Theodore Long at ringside for the opening match to Mick Foley as the special referee in the main-event. As simple as this show was put together, did the storyline work pay off with RAW’s first brand-exclusive US pay-per-view of 2003?

 

WWE Bad Blood 2003

Date: June 15th 2003

Brand: RAW

City: Houston, Texas

Attendance: 10,000

 

The Dudley Boyz vs Christopher Nowinski and Rodney Mack w/Teddy Long

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As mentioned earlier, this was a heavy storyline time for WWE. Every little program on Monday Night RAW in 2003 did its best to tell a storyline, including this simple tag team match with the Dudleyz facing Rodney Mack and Christopher Nowinski. Teaming up the Harvard graduate Nowinski with the new up-and-comer Rodney Mack, combined with the black supremacy advocate Teddy Long as their manager, was a bizarre combination to say the least. However, at least they got something. Not that I’d want to do an angle like this or anything, as I wouldn’t, but at least it gave the audience a reason to take notice once they got on television.

They did a backstage segment on Heat where Teddy Long pestered D-Von Dudley, questioning why his brother Bubba always told D-Von the get the tables. At least there was more to this match than just throwing two tag teams together. Giving D-Von an angle going into this match at least gets fans interested in him. Rodney Mack was also undefeated going into this event.

Mack and D-Von began angry lock-up before the match even began. We got early “we want tables” chant. Mack had a seriously hard time selling for the Dudleyz. The Dudleyz started off well and Bubba was a great babyface but then the distraction came from Teddy. Teddy was on the apron distracting Bubba and Bubba began waiting for Mack to jump him. He waits and waits and waits until Mack came in to throw a horrible clothesline.

We got a “Harvard sucks” chant directed at Nowinski. Mack hit a pretty decent spinebuster. Bubba got the hot tag, which included the big man hitting a top rope crossbody onto Nowinski! Keep in mind, this was not the slimmest guy in the world! A big man flying like that is very much a joy to see!

Nowinski, who was wearing a metal face protector worth $30,000 according to Jim Ross, tried to use it to no avail. Mack went for the “Black Out” submission but it was countered. The Dudleyz hit the “Wassup” while Teddy was yelling on the apron. Bubba told D-Von to the table but Teddy got in his way, tying into the segment from earlier. Mack attacked D-Von from behind while Nowinski hit Bubba with the metal mask and pinned him.

This was a slightly-below average tag team match with Mack being rather sloppy while the Dudleyz tried their best to get a good match out of him. Nowinski seemed to just be there. In terms of promoting new talent, the right team won. In terms of who the better workers were however, the wrong team won.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler talked about the Redneck Triathlon scheduled between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff. The Redneck Triathlon would consist of three rounds, with the first round being a burping contest and the second round being a “pie-eating” contest. Jerry was excited for the pie-eating contest. Now, I remembered the beginning and the end of this Redneck Triathlon. The pie-eating contest was what I couldn’t remember and it did strike me as odd regarding Jerry’s comment about the pie-eating contest. In hindsight, I should have known what that pie-ating contest was ACTUALLY about. More on that later.

We began with the burping contest, with JR claiming to have once won a burping contest in the eight grade. Both gladiators were stood with Terri Runnels doing the introductions while Stone Cold drank beer. Terri went over the rules as Stone Cold did starfish jumps, which is the perfect way to prepare for a burping contest. There would be three rounds of burps, with the loudest combined burps winning the contest. Bischoff went first and delivered a weak burp. This was probably the only legitimate burp in the whole thing. Then it was Austin’s turn. Some may have been upset that the majority of the burps were all sound effects pipped in by the production group and it that it was not a legitimate burping contest. However, this burp was delivered so well that you just couldn’t not laugh at it. Jim Ross’ and Jerry Lawler’s laugh after Austin “unleashed” this burp was great! This was exceptional delivery by production and by Stone Cold’s expressions.

Austin demanded another beer as Eric did his second burp. It was a decent attempt by Eric but Terri was disgusted.  Austin had a pretty weak second burp, which the Texas crowd loved. Eric was also disgusted by this and then delivered his third burp, which was slightly above average. Austin got the last laugh as he unloaded with a long final burp, with the later part of it sounding like a toilet was being flushed!

Austin won and then delivered a post-contest promo, congratulating Eric on being a good competitor and himself for winning such a competition. His UFC-like promo was actually pretty funny! Eric told Austin to see a doctor and that was that. Austin was 1-0 up in the Redneck Triathlon.

Moments like this really made me love the Austin and Bischoff co-general manager deal, with Eric almost coming off as likeable as he was involved in these funny angles with Austin. The crowd loved this burping contest as did I.

 

Test vs Scott Steiner for the managerial services of Stacy Keibler

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A lot of you reading this might not believe your eyes but Scott Steiner is probably one of my favourite wrestlers of all time. This guy was just one-of-a-kind in terms of his in-ring style, his promos and just the character as a whole. I ALWAYS paid attention whenever this guy was around.

In WWE around this time though, he hadn’t had the greatest of starts since his return at Survivor Series 2002. His program with Triple H, including a truly devastatingly bad World title match at Royal Rumble 2003, had seen Steiner’s stock drop significantly. Now he’d been put with Test and Stacy Keibler, as the two vied for the affection of the lovely Stacy.

This match was by FAR not one of the greatest technically gifted matches I’ve ever seen. I can’t even consider this a good match as far as the in-ring side of things is concerned. As far as the entertainment however, this match was in a league of its own and mostly because of Steiner.

One of the other highlights of this match was Stacy Keibler, who looked amazing on this particular show. Stacy tried to get in the ring but her “ex” Test yanked her off the apron to berate her. As amazing as it sounds, the spot that followed was one of the highlights of the entire pay-per-view and it was the mother of all botches! Scott got onto the apron as he had to save this love interest, who was in peril at the hands of the bad guy. This was Mario saving Princess Peach from Bowser. Mario would jump in and save the day. Scott Steiner ALSO decided to jump in and save the day! He leaped off the apron but didn’t have his balance right, so he slipped and plummeted down. He landed on the floor but at least he had the instinct to put his hands up for the double axe handle that had obviously been the original spot. He drops down, hits Test in the knee and Test slips as if he slipped turning around in the shower. This was one of the all-time great botches in the history of wrestling and it was actually a lot more entertaining than if he had just successfully pulled off this double axe handle!

So Scott Steiner beat up Test and when they got into the ring to start the match, Test begged off Steiner. Now, there have been many babyfaces that have fallen for this obvious trap set by the heels to lure him into trouble. These spots make the heroes seem like such fools. Scott Steiner was not like that as instead of backing off, Steiner said “Nah. Fuck You!” and beat up Test some more! Not that I’d encourage wrestlers to swear as they’re on the rampage but I laughed so hard at this. I’m just amazed that my DVD didn’t censor this moment as Steiner unloaded with swearing throughout this match. Steiner wasn’t having any of Test’s shenanigans.

Steiner did some press-ups and began yelling at the referee. Test used Stacy as a human shield to gain the advantage. Test then threw Steiner into the steps. I know a lot of people had mixed opinions about Test as a performer, who sadly passed away in 2007. All I’ll say is that he was effective in making people hate him! That’s a key part to be a good villain, having an unlikeabillity factor that even “great” in-ring work can’t get around. The douche level of Test’s character was high as he mocked Steiner and yelled “wait until tonight” at Stacy as he blew her a kiss. The fans chanted “you suck” as Test got the heat. Test did a sleeper hold as the fans rallied behind Steiner with “lets go Steiner” chants. Jim Ross had a very nice line about Stacy when he said that her heart was as beautiful as her face. He was… damn on point.

Steiner damn near killed Test when Test came off the top rope and Steiner caught him by the waist, and dropped him over his shoulder which I think was meant to be a belly-to-belly suplex. I like Steiner but Test must have been fearing for his well-being when Steiner caught him by the waist! Jim Ross called this a Northern Light suplex turned into a slam. Steiner ran wild. Test bounced off the rope and it appear that he was going up to take a back drop but he leaped up, and Steiner caught him in a powerbomb position. Steiner simply threw him over his shoulder and continued to run wild. This was NOT the best night for Steiner in terms of his in-ring wrestling.

Steiner kicked out of a Full Nelson Slam. Test missed a big boot but Scott hit a sloppy reverse DDT. This got a near fall and Steiner’s reaction was to simply yell “HUH?” at the top of his lungs! That was very funny. Steiner hit a pumphandle slam for a near fall. Test undid the turnbuckle when Stacy popped up on the apron. Test grabbed Stacy and said some very non-PG and not nice things about Stacy, calling her names. Stacy slapped him and Steiner almost bumped into Stacy. Test hit a big boot out of nowhere which I honestly thought was the finish! Steiner kicked out. Test grabbed the chair and pushed Stacy away with it. Test went to hit Steiner with the chair and instead hit the ropes, bouncing the chair back to hit his own head. Steiner hit the flatliner and won the managerial services of Stacy. Stacy was happy and leaped onto Steiner in celebration. Stacy got off Steiner and then began selling her backside, implying that Test’s chair push was a lot more mighty than we realised.

This was an entertaining match to watch but not by any means a good one! We had some very noticeable botches from Steiner but the heat was there for this match. Test was a good heel. The match picked up with the finish and the bully Test was in the end overcome as the two babyfaces stood up against him. Even Stacy was being brave as Test eventually let his cockiness get the best out of him and paid for it. This was fine, simple story-telling.

Match Rating: **

 

Bischoff and Stone Cold talked backstage. Stone Cold described burping as being an “art form” in Texas, which was a great line. Eric vowed to win the pie-eating contest. Eric said he did some research and invited Austin to meet some ladies, that were set to take part in the pie-eating. By taking part, I don’t mean actually eating real bakery. Apparently, THEY were the pie. In case you were wondering, this show was NOT PG in the slightest.

Eric wanted first dibs on eating the “pie” and Austin allowed this, as long as he decided what pie Eric was going to eat first. I can’t have been the only one that could see where this was going, and I’d never seen this pie-eating contest before.

 

Christian (c) vs Booker T for the Intercontinental Championship

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Picture this in your head. RAW had just recently reinstated the Intercontinental Championship that they inexplicably retired at No Mercy 2002. Christian won the title in a battle royal. Christian made his first defense of the title in a promising match between himself and Booker T, who happened to be from Houston, Texas where the Bad Blood pay-per-view was being held. You had all the potential in the world to make these two actual top stars on the red brand. The fans were going nuts for Booker T in one of the most heated moments in the entire show. This could have been something really special. Not like in the level of Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat from WrestleMania III but a memorable match that’ll be remembered through the ages. Well, spoiler alert, but that didn’t happen.

On a show which included MANY non-wrestling segments featuring Stone Cold and Bischoff, Booker and Christian got SEVEN MINUTES of wrestling which resulted in an incredibly rushed match between these two great workers. Lawler did have a great back-handed compliment when he claimed that “there’s a lot of suckas in Houston.” Jerry Lawler in 2003 had some of the best crack in all of WWE in 2003! With that said, Lawler was pretty bad for the large majority for this match on commentary which we’ll get to. Jim Ross claimed that Christian leaving as the champion would be a miracle, which I think probably did Christian more harm than good.

The match started off very well, as these two worked well together. Christian sold one particular back drop from Booker very well as he was thrown HIGH into the air. Lawler was hardly paying attention to any of this as he constantly made jokes about Booker’s previously convictions. Booker T was once a criminal and Lawler mentioned this ALL THE TIME while on commentary during this time. It’s not like if Jim Ross mentioned it and praised Booker for overcoming it. No, Lawler made joke after joke during this match. Did NOT make Booker come off well either.

Christian tried winning by putting his feet on the ropes. JR completely ignored Christian hitting Booker with the Book End, in Booker’s hometown. Booker hit an axe kick on the ropes. Booker hit a top rope dropkick and followed it up with a spinaroonie. Booker went for the Scissors Kick but Christian ran away and took the title with him. I was initially pretty upset at this as this would have been a match that ended in a count out in the challenger’s hometown. Then the referee Jack Doan got a microphone and told Christian that if he didn’t get back in the ring, he’d forfeit the title. This announcement got a big reaction but when I think about it, how did Jack Doan have the right to make this call that Christian would lose the title if he walked out? He’s not like an on-screen authority figure or anything.

So WWE teased the count out finish but the referee put a stop to that. The fans got excited at the thought of seeing a clear winner in this match. Instead, Christian runs into the ring and runs right back out. Booker chases him around the ring and they get back into the “squared circle” of WWE. Christian then grabbed the belt and hit Booker in the face, causing a disqualification.

The fans were irate with this finish, chanting “bullshit” and these chants were pretty much justified. They teased a count-out finish only for it to end in seven minutes via disqualification. THIS was a let down.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

We had an advertisement for Jim Ross’ cook book, which I’ve got to get a hold of one of these days! Kevin Nash was taping up his wrists as he was set to challenge Triple H for the World title in a Hell In A Cell match.

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Jerry Lawler was in the ring for the pie-eating contest. He brought out Eric and commended him for his selection of “pie” for this event. Austin came out to a BIG POP in Texas. Austin reminded Eric that he would select Eric’s pie as agreed to earlier. Austin talked about Eric being into “mature women” which further solidified that I knew what was coming. Austin questioned Eric’s ability to please a woman with Eric insisting that he would be fine. Austin called Bischoff “Eric Jerk-Off” which the crowd popped for. Austin complimented Eric’s choice of women but Austin said that Eric would not be having any of their “pie” as he brought his choice for Eric. It was revealed to be Mae Young, who was accompanied by  Fabulous Moolah. Eric had a disgusted face which almost looked like he was about to sneeze. Austin just smiled with an awesome grin on his face.

Jerry protested this decision as he claimed it was supposed to be a pie-eating contest and not “cheesecake” that would be eaten. Disgusting, Jerry. Mae stuck her tongue out and Eric insisted that Mae put her tongue back in her mouth and called her a nasty old hag. Pretty mean words from Easy E. Eric refused to eat the pie but Austin called him a chicken. Mae tried to grope Eric but he told her to get her hand off his ass. Austin called Eric a piss-ant and demanded that Lawler declare him the winner. Eric cut him off and decided to go through with it. As shocking as it was, the fans started chanting “eat the pie” to which Eric responded by kissing her. Eric thought this was enough but Austin told him that this was a pie-eating contest. Mae low-blowed Eric and she was instructed to make Eric eat the pie. Mae gave Eric the stinkface while wearing a thong. Jim Ross called this as if he’d just watched Mankind being thrown off the Hell in a Cell. Austin was laughing, with Eric being furious and demanding that Austin goes next. Austin gave Mae Young the stunner, with Mae selling this possibly even worse than when Vince McMahon sold the first stunner that Austin gave him in 1997. Austin forfeited this contest and demanded beer. It was 1-1 in the redneck triathlon.

The times certainly have changed in the “tastes” of wrestling fans! This was a NUTTY angle but I guess nothing else could be expected considering that this was an angle involving Mae Young who, god bless her soul, was willing to do ANYTHING to entertain the fans. She probably loved doing this kind of stuff and the fans seemed to love it to a degree, especially when they chanted “eat the pie” at her. Mae was an entertainer to say the least!

As for the rest of it, it’s funny how Eric won the contest but Austin still seemed like the real winner of that contest in the end. Eric won but Austin still found a way to outsmart Eric Bischoff. The fans loved it and I guess that’s all that matters.

 

We got a vignette for Gail Kim, who would be debuting soon. As a matter of fact, she actually won the Women’s Championship in her debut a few weeks later. I hope I do get to review more of Gail Kim’s matches in the near future of this Retro Express as she was a great female worker.

Jonathan Coachman interviewed La Resistance, who were Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier at this time. They were challenging Kane and Rob Van Dam for the World Tag Team Championship next. Sylvain said that this was a big night and that he hated Texas. They buried then-US President George W Bush, which got a lot of boos in Texas. They dedicated the match to then-French President Jacques Chirac. This is actually amazing when you think about the political situation for the likes of US and the UK in 2016. It was amazing that the countrymen of the US and the French actually liked the people that ran their country at the time. Meanwhile, the US currently have a president-elect that they apparently don’t want in the White House anymore. It’s amazing.

 

Kane (c) and Rob Van Dam (c) vs “La Resistance” Sylvain Grainer and Rene Dupree for the World Tag Team Championship

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As far as putting the new heel tag team over, this was NOT the way to do it. La Resistance came out and Jim Ross called them jackasses, which was actually pretty funny. La Resistance got some serious heat. There were some seriously angry fans in the front row. Funnily enough, they showed the graphic for the old World Tag Team title design from the Attitude Era but the champions came out with the new belts that had been around since 2002! As I watched this DVD, I was rather annoyed at WWE for editing out the original theme songs that RVD and Kane came out too. Kane actually had been coming out to “Slow Chemical” from Finger Eleven at that time, which is one of my favourite wrestling theme songs of all time, so seeing that not make the DVD very much upset me.

RVD and Kane beat up La Resistance, with the storyline going in being that the champions were not on the same page. RVD did a great springbroad crossbody as he took over early. La Resistance turned the tide for a bit by planting RVD with a DDT. Kane got the hot tag and ran SERIOUSLY wild on the two french men. I mean Kane was DESTROYING these men all on his own as his partner had been beaten up by these two. Kane was having to contend with the heels on his own while RVD simply WATCHED from the apron. He eventually got the tag while Kane was still getting the better of these two heels. He’s doing fine on his own and then RVD got in. As Kane is battling these men on the outside, RVD goes for a dive and hits Kane accidentally when there was no need for him to go for the dive at all. RVD was attacked and hit the Double Flapjack for the pin as La Resistance won the World Tag Team titles.

The booking of this match caused steam to come from my ears. The whole angle was that Kane and RVD were having issues but here in this match, Kane was completely doing fine on his own while RVD cost them the match by getting involved when Kane was coping fine. The fact was Kane could have beaten these men by himself and he would have retained the title. How could La Resistance possibly have been taking seriously at this point? I guess La Resistance are remembered nowadays so I guess they became somewhat of a memorable tag team. However, this match was pretty lame and pretty perplexing.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Goldberg vs Chris Jericho

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A common trope of mine is immediately looking up Dave Meltzer’s rating for the match I just saw during a Retro Express. Mine and Meltzer’s ratings are usually right in-line but for this match, I noticed that he gave this match three and a half stars out of a max total of five. Maybe it’s a mistake to watch old matches with modern eyes but I have NO IDEA what type of match he was watching. In case you were wondering what made me un-optimistic about the actual Goldberg/Brock Lesnar match for Survivor Series this year, THIS was the match.

I know these two had heat with each other around this time but even so, the wrestlers with the biggest heat with each other can usually put together some really good matches. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had some sublime matches back in the day. This Goldberg/Jericho match was NOT sublime.

Goldberg went for a lock-up and it was one of those lock-ups from a women’s match, that sees both wrestlers tumble out of the ring. Goldberg hit a World’s Strongest Slam as the fans chanted Y2J. Goldberg dominated early on, even gorilla pressing Jericho onto the ropes. Goldberg went for a spear through the wall but Jericho moved out of the way as Goldberg drove himself through the barricade. This actually played into the storyline going in, which Jericho claimed that he’d win the match by making Goldberg angry and sloppy. This was actually pretty good story-telling.

Jericho tried to get at Goldberg but referee Charles Robinson stopped him. I’m not sure why he did this as it wasn’t like the doctors came out to check on Goldberg. Jericho drove Goldberg into the ringpost. Goldberg was bleeding and his arm had been hurt from the spear, which Jericho took advantage of. Goldberg was working with one arm, actually selling the injury. Now, Goldberg rarely had to take the heat in many of his WCW matches. The idea was that Goldberg would destroy the opponent, hit his finishers and beat him early. In WWE however, he was not booked in this manner. He had to sell for Jericho so he tried to work with one arm. While he did this, his ring-work with one arm was pretty bad. If in doubt, DON’T HAVE GOLDBERG SELL.

Jericho locked on a Fujiwara Armbar. Jericho was caught off the top with a high knee. The fans started booing. Goldberg was not able to pull off working with one arm, struggling with an one armed hip toss. “Goldberg sucks” chants began to roar from the crowd. Jericho hit a dropkick and Goldberg waffled to the ground. We got more boos. Jericho hit the lionsault on the face of Goldberg for a near fall. Jericho went for a Lionsault and Goldberg was supposed to catch him but it went ALL WRONG. Goldberg hit the spear and we got even LOUDER “Goldberg sucks” chants. Goldberg went for the jackhammer but Jericho caught Charles Robinson in the eyes and hit a low-blow on Goldberg. This got a lot of cheers and big Y2J chants. Keep in mind that Goldberg was supposed to be the face and Jericho was supposed to be the heel!

Jericho tried the Walls of Jericho but Goldberg powered out, hit the spear and jackhammer, and won the match. And to put a cherry on top, Goldberg slid outside of the ring and got in the face of a fan that booed him throughout the match. A wonderful way to put over Goldberg as a babyface.

To be fair, Goldberg did actually get cheers when he won the match and Jericho tried ALL that he could but even he could not get a good match out of this man. Jericho’s on my list of greatest workers of all time as he had a reputation, in my mind, of being able to have a good match with everyone he wrestled. I remember him having a good match with Ryback at Money In The Bank 2013 for crying out loud! Ryback was mocked as being a “copy” of Goldberg, yet Goldberg couldn’t even have a good match with Jericho. This will be hard to hear for a lot of fans but Goldberg had a HORRIBLE night here.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

They showed a pig pen and Lawler questioned whether Jim Ross had brought his relatives along to the show. Terri was with Austin and Eric again. They spun the wheel for the third round and it landed on “sing-off” which Austin was upset about. Austin asked Terri if she thought that Steve was any good. She said no. Eric vowed to beat Austin in front of these rednecks.

 

Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair

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This was probably tied with the main-event as far as the best match for the show, with these two legends going out. Despite that, I was still a little bit let down. This was certainly not at the level of their WrestleMania 24 match but I did expect something special and I really didn’t get it to be honest.

Shawn got a HUGE reaction from the Texas crowd. The two legends messed with each other with taunts but that came to an end when Shawn slapped Ric and mocked him. There was some nice mat wrestling between the two. There was a very old school feel to this match. Shawn slapped Ric and Ric came close to doing the Flair Flop but was able to keep himself up with one foot! Michaels dove onto Ric. Remember when Steiner was able to see through Test’s attempts at begging him off? Well Ric tried to beg Shawn off in this match… and it worked. I can at least accept the possibility of Shawn being conflicted as he was wrestling his idol that he respected, and not to mention that Ric is older and more experienced than Shawn so FINE.

HBK and Flair chopped the hell out of each other. Flair did the chop block. Flair worked on the legs and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock, that Shawn was able to get the ropes for to break it up. Flair shoved referee Earl Hebner but Earl shoved back. The second time on this show where a referee stepped over his boundaries when calling a match, three if you count Charles Robinson holding off Jericho when he shouldn’t have. Ric got cocky and Shawn made him pay with an enziguri. Flair went up to the top and of course, Shawn threw him off the top turnbuckle.

There was a great exchange when Shawn went for the Super Kick but Flair countered it into the figure four leg lock. Shawn countered this into a small package and then locked on his own figure four. This was some solid professional wrestling right here. Flair poked HBK and they traded roll-ups. HBK hit a superplex and it looked like Shawn struggled to get Flair up for this superplex. HBK got a table and set it up. Flair teased suplexing Shawn through the table but Shawn got out and ended up laying Flair onto this table.

NOW, I personally was taken out of the match a little when they brought out the table. Firstly, it’s supposed to be a regular singles match. Since when are TABLES allowed in a normal match? Yes, Shawn didn’t HIT Flair with this table but he still tried to “cheat” by using a weapon to his advantage. That, to me, should be DQ but Earl let this happen. Secondly, I was very much into the regular singles match and the old-school wrestling behind all of this. Instead, when Shawn introduced the table, it just seemed so out of place to me. I just don’t think this was the time for a spot like this.

Shawn super-kicked the interfering Randy Orton and then jumped off the top and onto Ric, going through the table. Flair bled from the back. Flair was able to take the ref out by low-blowing Earl and Shawn at the same time. HBK fired back and dropped the elbow. Shawn superkicked Flair, Orton hit Shawn with the chair and RIC FLAIR PINNED SHAWN MICHAELS.

Maybe I’m in the small minority here but the table spot just completely took me out of this match. It was a great match up until that point but to me, it just negated the point of the match which was just to see who was better. Instead, Orton and the table got involved and it just became another shenanigan-filled match on RAW. I wanted a clear-cut winner and instead I got this. I think a few fans that were in that building felt a little cheated out of this finish. It was nice to see Flair get the victory over Shawn though.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

The time had come for the sing off. Eric came out to literally NO REACTION as we’d seen him more than anyone on this show, so the fans were kind of uncaring when he came out. Eric said he’d sing his own theme song but he instead lip-synced his own theme song which I thoroughly enjoyed, as did he based on the way he “sung” this! Austin cut in and called him out on his lip-sync. They went back-and-forth on this like they were kids arguing about the smallest things. Austin told Eric that he sucked and ordered him to do it again. Eric sung badly and Austin called him pathetic. Austin suggested they re-spin the wheel and it came up with “Pig Pen Fun” which involved the pig pen from earlier on. Austin said that whoever threw their opponent into the pig pen would be the winner. Austin deputised the crowd to stop Eric from leaving. Someone threw Eric back in from the crowd.

Austin beat up Eric, stomped a mudhole and hit a Stone Cold Stunner. Eric actually sold this pretty well, with his selling of it probably being around 5000% better than Mae Young selling it earlier on in the night. Austin took Eric to the stage and threw him off it, with Eric landing in the safest way possible. Austin was declared the winner by Lilian Garcia as he drank some beer. Jim Ross had an awesome line in which he claimed that “those pigs may need counselling being so close to Eric Bischoff!” That was a serious contender for line of the night. Austin celebrated for about 30 hours but the fans didn’t seem to mind.

The fans loved all this and to be fair, I enjoyed a lot of the moments from this Redneck Triathlon. However, this went on way too long for me to care at the end. The burping contest was good and Austin had some brilliant banter but in the end, it was way too long. The ending made me feel as if this were a house show, which I don’t think was the purpose. This did not feel like it should have been on pay-per-view and it does rather upset me at how long this went, considering that Booker and Christian only went seven minutes.

 

Triple H (c) vs Kevin Nash in a Hell in a Cell match for the World Heavyweight Championship with Mick Foley as the special guest referee

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I have to say something about the video package they did for this match. They had the video package where they recapped the rivalry and did an amazing job at selling you on the idea that this type of match was important, rare and dangerous. The music, which was Headstrong by Trapt, fit right in as HHH, Foley and Nash beat the hell out of each other during a RAW segment and it was wonderful stuff. The video packages back in the “ruthless aggression era” used to be quality stuff.

I actually went through a phase with a mate of mine where he used to rave at me everyday about this song, and actually serenaded me with it everyday! And you know what… I had no problem with this. If you’ve never heard of Headstrong by Trapt, PLEASE go and listen to it. It’s fantastic stuff.

The special referee Mick Foley actually got the biggest reaction out of everyone, which should tell you how much the fans cared about Triple H and Kevin Nash. Triple H tried to poke the bear that is Mick Foley but Nash clobbered him. Nash smashed HHH’s with elbows. Nash slowly beat up HHH by driving him into the ringpost and the cell wall, as well as the corner of the cell. The fans cared little for Nash at this point. Nash threw HHH into the steel steps. Nash tried throwing the steps at HHH but thank got that Hunter ran out of the way as that would have been bad news.

In a pretty creative spot, Nash went for a Jackknife Powerbomb but Triple H used the cell itself to get out of it. HHH got out a toolbox and smashed Nash in the knee and the head with a hammer. Foley took the hammer from Triple H and pushed him down. Foley challenged HHH but HHH backed off. HHH grated Nash’s head with the cell wall. After a struggle, HHH wedged a screwdriver into Nash’s head. Foley yelled at Triple H. Triple H grabbed a bat wrapped in barbed wire and hit Nash in the gut. Nash fired back with punches and smashed Hunter in the head with the bat which got a big reaction. HHH was busted open. Nash wedged the bat into the turnbuckle and did a snake eyes onto it for a near fall.  There was a “big lazy” sign in the front row.

HHH smashed a wooden create over Nash. Triple H grabbed a sledgehammer but Foley tried to wrestle it away which got some boos. It made sense why, as it seemed for all the world at this point that Foley was screwing HHH in a no disqualification match. HHH attacked Foley which got some cheers. Nash did the drop toe hold spot onto the steel steps which felt slowly done. This got a near fall. Triple H hit Nash and Foley with a chair. Foley was bleeding as he whipped out Mr Socko. He locked on the Mandible Claw, with Triple H responding by kicking Foley below the belt. Nash accidentally hit Foley and HHH with the steel steps somehow. Nash went for the cover but Foley was out.

Nash tried to revive Foley. Foley was on the apron when HHH knocked Nash into Foley, who bounce back first into the cell wall. A very risky spot if you ask me. HHH went for the pedigree but Nash catapulted HHH into the barbed wire bat still stuck in the top turnbuckle. Nash hit the jackknife, Foley made the count but HHH kicked out. This was actually a GREAT near fall. I think a lot of people in that crowd thought that was the finish.

Triple H crawled for the sledgehammer and instead of pushing away the sledgehammer that he can see or grabbing it himself, Nash simply grabs Triple H by the hair. HHH made him pay with a sledgehammer shot to the head. HHH hit the pedigree and that was that.

The first part of this match was very much boring. Nash beating him up forever got no heat it seems but it picked up a little in the second half. The thing that was weird to me was that Nash and Foley both tried to screw Triple H, and Triple H is supposed to be the heel. In the end, the right man won. Judging on the crowd reactions, a Nash title run would not have gotten a great amount of interest from the RAW audience.

I thought this was a good match considering it’s a long match involving Kevin Nash and I personally thought this was the best match on the show.

Match Rating: ***1/3

 

This was definitely a memorable pay-per-view to say the least. Every match seemed to stand out to me, for many different reasons. I felt that the booking for a lot of these matches were really flat, although the main-event ended up being much better than I thought it was going to be. There were a lot of disappointing matches that struggled for time due to the Redneck Triathlon which took up way too much time. The Texas crowd loved this one for whatever the reason was but I can’t say that I’m too keen to watch it again.

SPOILERS: WWE RAW 07/11/16 Results – RAW Survivor Series Teams Announced

WARNING: The following post contains spoilers for the November 7th edition of Monday Night RAW, held in Glasgow.

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The show opened with Stephanie McMahon coming out to reveal the fifth member of Team RAW. The team so far had been United States Champion Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho and Universal Champion Kevin Owens. These all came out for a segment (Roman got a lot of boos) when Stephanie revealed that the fifth man was Seth Rollins.

Now, Seth does add to the match quality of Survivor Series and he is a big star added as part of this “big” match. However, please keep in mind that this match probably isn’t going to be the main event. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg will likely be closing the show, meaning this match can be your experiment match. SmackDown! threw in Baron Corbin as part of their team to try and get him over as a top guy, as did RAW with Braun Strowman. So why not continue the pattern by having a rising star like Sami Zayn come into the team while Seth feuds with a heel like Rusev? Seth vs. Rusev is different and you’d be building up more people in the long run. Why does Seth Rollins need to be in this match?

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Also, from a storyline perspective, why is Stephanie going with Seth Rollins to be apart of this big match for brand supremacy? Owens, Strowman and Reigns are all winners, which is why Stephanie picked them. Jericho came as a package deal for Owens, which explains him being in the match. SETH ROLLINS has lost in every major match he’s been in on pay-per-view since Dean Ambrose cashed in on him at Money In The Bank. He lost in the triple threat match at Battleground, he lost against Finn Balor at SummerSlam, he’s lost twice against Owens at Clash of Champions and Hell in a Cell. Not to mention, he’s lost a number of high-profile matches on RAW as well. WHO could possibly take Seth seriously as a top guy on RAW and a threat to Team SmackDown!?

Not to mention, this is the guy that is supposedly going to fight Triple H at WrestleMania. If they continue to go down this road with him, Seth’s got hardly any chance of getting over to the level that he should be going into one of the biggest matches for the big show.

What followed on from this announcement was another announcement that in the main event, THESE FIVE MEN that are representing Team RAW would all face EACH OTHER in the fatal five way main event on RAW.

THESE FIVE MEN, who are supposed to team together for Team RAW, are beating the hell out of each other in the main event of the show in a match with nothing on the line. It’s not like this was a Universal Title match, which actually would have been an interesting stipulation for this match. They’re all just fighting each other for no reason, which actually risks Stephanie’s chances of winning as one of these men could get injured. THIS was a stupid idea.

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Rich Swann and Sin Cara defeated Cruiserweight Champion Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar. Noam apparently got a huge reaction from the crowd, leading to ICW chants from this crowd on an episode of RAW. I’d be VERY shocked if they didn’t edit this out. I do also find it funny that Sin Cara was on the winning team on the same day that news broke out about Sin Cara reportedly in a actual fight with Chris Jericho. It’s funny because when Bo Dallas got arrested in the airport incident from a few months ago, they also put him on the next RAW and had him squash a guy. It’s funny how that works.

They announced Sami Zayn vs. Rusev with the winner facing Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship at Survivor Series. So to recap, RAW gave Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson dozens of tag team title shots at the New Day for no reason, Roman Reigns was given United States title shots for no reason, Seth gets a thousand title shots despite losing all time BUT FOR THE SMACKDOWN! MID-CARD TITLE, they get the idea of having two men actually FIGHT for the right to EARN a title shot and try to build up Ziggler’s opponent properly? RAW is better at hyping up SmackDown! title matches than their own title matches! They also showed a video package for Brock vs Goldberg at Survivor Series.

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The New Day did a Scottish comedy segment featuring bagpipes. For the RAW vs SmackDown! TAG TEAM SURVIVOR SERIES match, Team RAW was confirmed to be the New Day, Enzo Amore and Big Cass, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Golden Truth and Cesaro and Sheamus. A pretty solid collection of tag teams. It’s amazing to me that Golden Truth is considered among the top five RAW tag teams at the moment, and yet the Shining Stars, who actually win their fair share of matches on RAW, are nowhere to be seen. They put in Gallows and Anderson as well as Enzo and Cass, despite the fact that all these tag teams are doing are trading wins back and forth. Taking away all of that logic, this was actually a pretty good team even though I’m not a fan of the concept of a ten on ten elimination Survivor Series match.

FOLLOWING this match was a match between tag team match team-mates with THE NEW DAY facing LUKE GALLOWS AND KARL ANDERSON. I don’t even.. WHO COULD POSSIBLY CARE ABOUT THIS MATCH? We saw this match over and over and over and over and over again during the summer and going into September. WHY ARE WE WATCHING THEM AGAIN? WHY are the tag teams, that are supposed to be getting along, fighting each other? Not to mention that they had Gallows and Anderson BEAT The New Day in this match, meaning that the most dominant tag team on RAW were beaten by the team that were beaten by Enzo and Cass LAST WEEK. If this insanely baffling tag team booking is tearing apart your mind, there’s more to come.

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THE SHINING STARS, who were NOT on Team RAW for Survivor Series, beat the Golden Truth. If you’ll recall, GOLDEN TRUTH ARE ON THE SURVIVOR SERIES TEAM. Why aren’t they winning this match, if the aim is to convince the fans that this will be a good tag team for Team RAW? Are the Shinning Stars going to replace them? I hope so, so at least there’s SOME sense to this booking.

I’ve been told that it doesn’t matter who wins or who loses, which is an irritating analogy. If I’m going into this big RAW vs SmackDown! pay-per-view and wanting to know which brand is better, I would expect these brands to pitch their best stars for the biggest matches. I don’t want to see losers put into important matches. I want teams to get along for the Survivor Series elimination matches and I DON’T WANT TO SEE TAG TEAM DYSFUNCTION STORYLINES THIS OFTEN. WE’VE GOT THE SAME STORYLINE GOING ON RIGHT NOW WITH CESARO AND SHEAMUS? WHY ARE WE SEEING IT AGAIN?

Man, this is… infuriating.

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We had the women’s segment, with Charlotte leading Team RAW. They were bringing these girls out, with Charlotte on the mic. They introduced Nia Jax, Bayley and ALICIA FOX as well. Alicia Fox somehow made this Team RAW team. I’m STUNNED. Bayley comes out and this crowd loves Bayley. Charlotte is trying to cut this promo and the fans for a solid few minutes are singing  “I WANNA KNOW IF YOU’LL BE MY GIRL” to Bayley. Charlotte tries to get on with the promo but she is completely derailed by these fans and Bayley is just laughing along with Alicia Fox. I don’t think Charlotte was expecting this as when she kept trying to get this promo on track, the fans steam-rolled her every time and she had no idea what to do. There was a video of this on Twitter, that’s how I know about this. They introduce Sasha Banks as the fifth member for this team.

THEN, we had Bayley, Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox vs Charlotte, Nia Jax and Dana Brooke. WHY CAN’T THESE TEAMS GET ALONG? Why are they all fighting each other? Why did Stephanie BOOK THIS if she wanted her team to win? Bayley pinned Charlotte AGAIN, which probably means that its Bayley vs Charlotte at Roadblock for the title. If nothing else, it’s someone different in the women’s division. I am still angry at Sasha Banks not being the champion but at least its not Sasha vs Charlotte once again. I’ve seen enough of that for a while. Bayley’s somebody new so… fine.

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Sami Zayn BEAT Rusev and will be going on to fight Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental title at Survivor Series. I would not beat Rusev again like this, especially against Sami who is NOT a strong superstar at the moment in terms of his booking. HOWEVER, I would prefer Sami Zayn than seeing the return of the worst rivalry in 2015 with Rusev fighting Dolph Ziggler. Sami vs Dolph actually sounds like it will be a killer match, which is why I’m ALMOST all for it. I’d still wouldn’t beat Rusev like this, especially if there’s a big opponent for him going into Roadblock.

Kevin Owens won the fatal five way after Roman hit him with the Superman Punch, which saw Owens land on Jericho and pin him.

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Maybe it is unfair to review this RAW by simply going off the spoilers. Actually, this isn’t really a review of the show. I’m reviewing the direction of the booking of the show and the build towards Survivor Series. I’m sure the fatal five way was awesome and I’m sure Sami Zayn vs Rusev was awesome. HOWEVER, the idea that they’re promoting this pay-per-view by having each brand’s teams fight one another is incredibly ridiculous. AT LEAST when they did this for Survivor Series 2005, the teams were united all in the name of their brands. ALL THESE TEAMS are not united. They are tearing each other apart in regular matches BOOKED by the authority figure, who apparently wants to win this match so bad.

THIS SURVIVOR SERIES BUILD… SUCKS. WHERE’S GOLDBERG AND BROCK LESNAR? That, at least, will be a build-up and a match to look forward to…

…at least this crowd actually had fun tonight it seems.