RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #19 (JANUARY 8TH 1996) – THE MEGA POWERS VS THE HORSEMEN

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.

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Ric Flair currently reigns as WCW World Heavyweight Champion, winning the title at Starrcade with the assistance of the Four Horsemen. The next night on Nitro, the Horsemen had varying levels of success. Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit lost the former champion Randy Savage and Steven Regal respectively, prompting Brian Pillman to chew them both out for losing. Pillman himself was still stirring things up with the Dungeon of Doom while Ric Flair escaped with the WCW title on the same night following a typical Nitro disqualification victory against Hulk Hogan. Hogan and Savage ran wild on the Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom at the end of the show and then the babyfaces Hogan and Savage challenged Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to a tag team match for the next episode of Nitro.

 

Date: January 8th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Charleston, South Carolina

Rating: 2.8

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

 

My troubles with the WWE Network returned. If you read my WCW Starrcade 1995 review, I had so many problems watching that show because of the WWE Network. They returned this time but it was just the buffering problems. I had buffering problems galore. This was an unpleasant viewing of Nitro with the buffering issues on the Network. It was big for me especially during the Chris Benoit vs Alex Wright match on this show and the main-event tag team match. However, I powered on with this review and now I shall break down the show.

 

Chris Benoit w/Brian Pillman vs Alex Wright

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Man, Alex Wright did not look good in this match. Wright’s usually looked OK in the ring but when he was in there with Chris Benoit, it really gave great insight to the differences in wrestling ability between the two. Wright would usually just look completely out of place a lot of time and it was up to Benoit to save the match.

Benoit, as mentioned earlier, lost his match last week with Regal. With something to prove, Benoit clotheslined Wright before the bell and stomped away and followed up with a snap suplex.

Benoit hit a Northern Lights suplex and then got the attention of the referee as Brian Pillman, at ringside. choked Wright with his shirt.

Eric Bischoff then talks and rants about WCW having more talent in 3 months than the competition has had in the last 2 years. Bischoff really was on a mission here to just go after the WWF, throughout this show. They had this whole deal where they talked about being the top wrestling promotion in America and it was just a concentrated effort to take as many jabs at the WWF as possible. Surely, this had to turn off Nitro fans even at this stage of the Monday Night Wars.

Wright did a baseball slide dropkick. Wright crashed into Benoit with a dive to the outside. This didn’t look pretty at all as Wright just crashed and burned. Bischoff talked about Nitro being the most watched wrestling show on Monday. Now just a heads up… they lost the ratings battle last week and they lost the ratings battle this week too! So I have no idea what he was on about.

Bischoff rants about the WWF charging more for PPVS. Bischoff is so cocky talking about how great WCW is and at this point, the urge was there for me to fastforward about 5 years to the last Nitro episode in 2001 after WCW were bought out by the WWF!

Wright and Benoit just seemed on different pages a lot during this match. Wright did a dive to Pillman. Wright went for a dive on Benoit but Benoit got the knees up.

Benoit tried a dragon suplex but Wright reversed it. A few reversals in fighting for the suplex. turns into European uppercuts from Wright. Benoit eventually hit the deciding suplex with a Dragon Suplex for the win. I liked this finish.

Heenan made a comment where he said “he (Benoit) may be in the dog house, but he’s still a horseman.” I don’t know why, but I loved that line.

Mongo talked about it being a tainted match. In general though, Benoit just kicked his ass and essentially beat him clean in this match so lord knows what Mongo was on about.

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Steven Regal w/Lord Robert Eaton

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This really was a basic wrestling match for a few minutes turned into an excellent wrestling match by the end. It certainly took a while for the announcers to pay attention to the match anyway. They were talking about all kinds of other storylines as this was going on.

I think part of the problem was that it was mostly just grappling and mat-based wrestling from the get-go. They just wrestled, and wrestled, very well but there was nothing more to that. I feel like that’s a stupid statement but there was nothing to me that really stood for a long time during the opening parts of the match. It was very good wrestling but they were mostly just “testing the waters” for the first few minutes and it kinda went longer than it should have.

Bischoff at this point told us to “don’t buy the Royal Fumble.” …ha ha.

Eddie picked things up with some hurricanranas. Eddie tripped up Regal and went for a bridge pin fall attempt. Regal hit a big reverse suplex and then fired away with some heavy hits.

Regal had some great facial expressions during this match of frustration, intensity and snarled as he laid a beating into Guerrero. Regal turned things around. I did like how Eddie would try to get back in the match with some quick moves and tried to fire up but Regal would cut him of with a basic move like a European uppercut. It was simple but effective wrestling and story-telling at this point.

Regal tried a dragon sleeper of some kind. I also liked how Regal didn’t like just go to like a long sleeper hold for the heat. Regal punched the crap out of him for a long time, he did the odd submission and then went back to beating up Eddie.

Eddie punched him back which only fired up Regal more. Regal then got mad. Eddie reversed the uppercut into a backslide pin for the win using Regal’s aggression against him. I loved that finish where Regal’s temper got the better of him. Eddie out-wrestled and out-smarted Regal. This get a big thumbs up from me.

 

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview with Lex Luger and Sting. After all of this time, we’ve finally got tensions running between Sting and Lex Luger. Sting wanted to talk to Luger about triangle match at Starrcade where Luger grabbed his arm to prevent him from winning. Sting asked Luger: “what’s that about” to which Mean Gene stirred things up and said “that’s not the kind of friend I’d wanna have!” I loved Mean Gene providing commentary to what each man said and bouncing of these comments with questions to the other guy. He come off as a legitimate interviewer, taking interest in what these wrestlers were saying and helping with their delivery and giving questions that actually are relevant to the storyline.

Luger said he hurt his knee during the Starrcade match and he wanted Sting to help him up as he reached out to him during the match. It was the mother of all bullshit heel excuses but, to Luger’s credit, it played into the friendship part of this storyline as Luger tried to reach out to Sting who he thought of as a friend even in the heat of battle. Sting said he never thought about being a tag team but he’s up for teaming with Luger. They’re facing the New Bloods at Clash of Champions.

 

They plugged, of all matches, RIC FLAIR VS RANDY SAVAGE FOR THE WORLD TITLE AT WCW SATURDAY NIGHT! This had to be a DQ finish to book a world title match for this show!

 

Sting vs DDP

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I don’t particular know what to make of this match. This match was off in parts and they tried to turn it into a good match but it just didn’t seem to click. Especially after watching Benoit, Eddie and Regal in aciton in the first half of the show.

DDP went to work early on. DDP got Irish Whipped into the ropes and landed in the middle of them like Andrade “Cien” Almas would but Sting simply dropkicked him and did a dive to DDP onto the floor.

Sting fell to the floor as he tried a leapfrog on DDP. DDP was just to tall for him to leapfrog it seems. I don’t think that was planned just for DDP to get the heat. If it was then I don’t think it was a good idea.

So DDP got the heat. DDP hit a swinging neckbreaker. DDP locked on a sleeper hold and constantly tried to have his feet on the ropes. Sting fired up to his feet but DDP slammed him back down. Bischoff, as DDP had the sleeper holder on, decided now was the time to say: “WCW gave the fans what the fans asked for.” Lord knows that all the fans wanted at this point was a sleeper hold on Nitro.

Sting mounted a comeback, hit a Stinger Splash and tried a Scorpion Deahtlock but DDP got the ropes before it was locked in. DDP hit a neckbreaker. Sting tried a small package to which DDP responded to a poke to the eye as soon as they both got to their feet.

Sting landed on his feet from a back drop attempt, locked on the Scorpion Deathlock and Sting got DDP to tap out as the fan went nuts. The fans went nuts for Sting at the finish and he was incredibly over here.

 

Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

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At least Savage and Hogan were colour coordinated for this match both wearing the red and yellow! Ric got tagged in from the get-go. Flair wanted Hogan in the ring so Savage obliged and tagged in the Hulkster.

God Hogan could barely do a hammerlock of all moves in this match. Flair then delivered a HUGE CHOP, a chop so hard that the ref fell out of the camera shot he sold the impact of this so well. The ref just fell backwards! It sounded like a hard hit too… and Hogan just no sells it and runs wild!

He ran wild some more with clotheslines and scoop slams to Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Arn got tagged in. Savage got tagged in and worked on the arm. Savage nailed Arn with a double axe handle to the outside and then a double axe handle in the ring.

Hogan ran around and chased Flair, and ended up pulling down Flair’s trunks from the looks of it. Somehow, this led to Flair getting the heat on Savage. I have no idea how that worked!

Of course Flair goes to the top rope and gets pushed off. Savage does his own Figure Four Leg Lock. Hogan drops Arn and then does his own Figure Four as a fan throws trash into the ring following Hogan’s attempt in the Figure Four! Just the simple thought of Hogan doing the Figure Four seemed to disgust this one fan! Some folks were losing their mind though as Hogan did the Figure Four. Hogan did this move without like even putting his leg over. He just tied up the legs and went down for the Figure Four Leg Lock!

Arn then went to work and hit a DDT, Flair went for a cover but Hogan breaks it up. Flair threw Savage off the top rope. Arn worked on Savage on the outside.

Savage got a sleeper hold locked on Arn but Flair gouged the eyes of Savage to break it up. Savage tried some desperation small packages. Arn went for a DDT but Savage got the top rope to avoid it. Flair accidentally knocked Savage into Hogan for the tag.

Hogan ran wild on Flair. Hogan hits a big double clothesline to heels to the outside. Arn hits a beautiful spinebuster on Hogan, who just gets right back up. Hogan hits the big boot and hits the leg drop. Hogan got the pin but as the Horsemen ran down, the Dungeon of Doom attacked the Horsemen. I thought when I saw the Horsemen that they’d break it up for the DQ but no… we got a clean pin in a NITRO main-event!

The Horsemen brawled with the Dungeon. The Giant attacks Hogan and Savage in the ring. Giant barely got Hogan up for the chokeslam. He slammed Savage too but then Zodiac stops The Giant again, as he did last week, as the show goes off the air.

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I’m assuming The Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom will end up working together down the road anyway but for the time being, I do love the idea of the two heel groups at odds as there’s no honour among thieves. That I liked. A decent show but not as good as last week’s show I don’t think. It’ll be interesting to see how things work out in this period before the nWo hit WCW. It’s very hard to tell how things will turn out. We’ll be back with Episode 20 on the next edition of the WCW series as part of the Armbar Express’ Retro Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

 

Why Cesaro And Kevin Owens’ Feud Has Hurt Both Of Them

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Kevin Owens and Cesaro are truly phenomenal in-ring performers and have had a nice little feud in the last month. They’ve had some great matches with each other, stemming from Kevin Owens’ program with John Cena which saw Cesaro getting some main event spotlight. On paper, that would seem like the perfect way to build up this feud. Cesaro would become next in line to face Kevin after getting involved with the angle involving Cena, and that would elevate HIS position on the roster. Everything should be rainbows and sunshine for these two. Except, it isn’t.

Let me explain the issues with this feud. The first issue I have with this feud was down to something that wasn’t Cesaro or Kevin Owens’ fault. This issue comes before the feud even began. It comes from Battleground, where Kevin Owens TAPPED OUT to John Cena.

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I went on a tirade about this decision on my Battleground review back in July, so I’ll keep this short. If the plan all along was for Owens to go on to face Cesaro, surely WWE could have came up with a storyline which could switch Owens’ target from Cena to Cesaro in such a way that it could have protected Owens. Cesaro and Owens had been messing with each other in their pursuits for John Cena’s US Championship in the weeks before Battleground. Owens has cost Cesaro the title before so it would only be fitting that Cesaro pays Owens back. Paying him back would be costing Owens the match with Cena and getting Cesaro over by having him interfere in the second biggest match of Battleground. However, the Battleground ending with Cena tapping out Owens already damaged Owens’ upcoming feud before it even began.

When Owens debuted on the main roster, he became a star in a matter of weeks. He beat John Cena in his first match. He’s done some incredible things in the ring and on the mic. In a perfect world, Owens would have taken the US Championship at Battleground and his stock as a main event heel would have risen tremendously. Therefore, when Cesaro begins his feud with Owens, the feud means a lot more with the title being on the line. However, considering that Owens beating Cena reportedly “hurt” Cena’s merchandise sales, WWE probably wanted to protect Cena by having him win the feud. FINE! However, the feud ending was done in such a way that Owens seemed to receive no protection and there was no way for him to save face.

Owens could have simply passed out and the next night on RAW, Owens cuts a promo on how “Cena was never able to beat him”. That didn’t happen and Owens didn’t even say anything about his loss. Owens’ promo skills is one of his key attributes and he was not able showcase it by addressing his loss the night before. He could have also began his storyline with Cesaro THAT NIGHT rather than starting it on SmackDown!, a show which is vastly inferior to RAW in terms of viewership. That didn’t happen either. There were so many little things which the WWE could have done to get this feud over quickly and they didn’t do it. If the WWE were truly interested in getting this program off on the right tracks, they wouldn’t have booked it for Summerslam.

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Let me explain why. At Summerslam, Owens vs Cesaro was considering an afterthought by WWE. With so many stars on the show that night as well as the co-main events of Rollins vs Cena and Lesnar vs Undertaker, Cesaro and Owens seemed lost in the shuffle. Therefore, their match went on in the middle of BOTH of those main events basically as a cool-off match before the big main event. This hurt their match as the majority of fans were really just waiting for Undertaker vs Lesnar. Only the hardcorest of hardcore fans would have been hugely pumped for this match (even though “hardcorest” is not a real word). That’s a problem because, to be fair, Cesaro and Owens had a decent match. However, the fans weren’t paying attention nearly enough for it to be a huge hit. These two men were victims of the timing of this show, which basically meant that their match served as a filler match just before the main event.

Therefore, the momentum that Owens had built up with Cena beforehand and the momentum Cesaro had built up with the “Cesaro Section” were effectively meaningless in the end, as all eyes were on Taker vs Lesnar. Building up this match for Summerslam was going to be problematic itself, with the amount of stars and big matches they had been planning. However, a star could have been made with the finish…

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Cesaro has been in WWE since 2012. He’s had a lot of ups and downs. Cesaro’s been so close to breaking into the main event scene. Hell, Cesaro was actually IN the main event of 2014 PPVs like Elimination Chamber and Money In The Bank. He was a part of multi-man matches, but he was still one of the stars of the shows in both those main events. With the Cesaro Section and how well Cesaro was “connecting” with the audience, WWE had a great opportunity to build on that. All they had to do… was have him beat Kevin Owens.

When I wrote my Summerslam predictions, I was undecided on a finish. However, after Summerslam itself, I had a realisation. Kevin Owens would have lost a huge amount of stock by losing in his third PPV in a row. However, Kevin Owens was only just starting on the main roster. In the future, they’ll probably will be other ways in which they could get Kevin over as a big star. However, this was CESARO’S big chance to be elevated to a main eventer. What’s hurt Cesaro in the past is the fact that WWE rarely had Cesaro beat anyone big which hurts him, because he needs to look strong by getting wins once in a while. The Cesaro Section and the support of the WWE Univerise leading to Cesaro pinning Kevin Owens, would be the moment that could make Cesaro a main event star for years to come. This could have kept the momentum up and would help him develop a streak that could possibly lead to a main event title program with Seth Rollins. If Cesaro beat Owens, Cesaro would have been made. It was so crucial for Cesaro to win that much… but he lost.

Kevin Owens had lost a great deal by losing his feud to John Cena. His win over Cesaro did claw back some credibility for Owens. However, what it also did was CRUSH the momentum Cesaro had worked so hard to build. While Kevin Owens has now moved onto a feud with Ryback for the Intercontinental Championship, Cesaro is stuck. He is floating around in that mid-card to upper mid-card sea of irrelevancy, waiting for a break. Look what happened on RAW, when he was basically an extra in the feud between Big Show and The Miz. The WWE didn’t even give Cesaro a win over The Miz in their match on Monday. It was ruled a double count out and the Big Show KO’d Cesaro. What a missed opportunity, just so Kevin Owens could save face.

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If the WWE wanted Kevin Owens to save face, they didn’t need to have him beat Cesaro CLEAN. Why not have Cesaro BEAT Owens first and continue to develop the feud? If Owens was supposed to go after Ryback and the Intercontinental Championship, no problem. Why not throw Cesaro into the mix as well, since he did beat the guy that’s challenging the “Big Guy” for the title? Therefore in a triple threat match at Night of Champions, Owens sneaks away with the Intercontinental Championship by pinning Ryback. What this would do was get Cesaro over as a big star and get Kevin Owens over as a champion. It’s simple. You can elevate both these guys.

Now though, Kevin has just been shot in this feud with Ryback with little promotion. Hell, they had one little backstage confrontation on RAW and that was that. Cesaro is in the middle of nowhere and it’s all because of the lack of planning which has led to both these men being in a worse of position than they should be.

People can go on about what a great program this was between Cesaro and Owens. However, this storyline has done little to help the careers of both of these gentlemen. Kevin MIGHT be able to develop a fantastic run as Intercontinental champion. That’s a big might, because I don’t think WWE will put enough effort into Owens’ feud for it to really stand out. Cesaro, on the other hand, is back to square one with all of his momentum being squash because of one fateful night in Brooklyn. Maybe I’ll be wrong about WWE’s treatment of Cesaro and Owens. Maybe, this will lead to both of them being main-eventers in a few months. However, in order for that to happen, WWE have a lot of work to do to make main-eventers out of these top talents?

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A bit of an announcement as well. I’ve begun writing for an awesome wrestling website called SLTD Wrestling. You can check out their website at http://www.sltdwrestling.com and truly appreciate some of the other writers involved with that site. Down below are links to the two articles I’ve done for them so far as part of the “Armbar Analysis” and I’ll be contributing for them every week. So be sure to follow them on Twitter at @SLTDWrestling as well for updates and follow @ArmbarExpress as well for updates on content from this blog!

Should WWE Forget About Sting vs Undertaker?

The New Day – From No Reaction To Biggest Reaction

SPOILERS: Samoa Joe and Finn Balor Team Up For NXT Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for upcoming NXT episodes. If you do not wish to be spoiled, click away now.
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Coming up on NXT will be the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament. As William Regal stated on NXT TakeOver, the tag team tournament will be leading into the upcoming NXT TakeOver event in October. The tournament is set to begin next week. William Regal announced this week on NXT that Rhino and Baron Corbin would be teaming up in the tournament to take on the Ascension. Neville said he wanted to be in the tournament. However, a very interesting tag team was seen in the NXT tapings for the first round of the tournament.

NXT Champion Finn Balor was seen teaming up with Samoa Joe as part of the tournament. I’m looking forward to seeing how these two work as a tag team and it also gives the tournament some fire power. Two of the top stars in the NXT roster teaming up will make for some incredible television. But according to Dave Meltzer, the purpose for this tag team is even greater than you’d think.

According to a report from NoDQ.com: “According to Dave Meltzer, the reason these two were paired together it to set up a feud between Joe and Balor for the NXT Championship. He speculates that the two won’t be able to co-exist and they will end up turning on each other.”

I do like this idea of the two of them forming as a tag team that doesn’t get along. These two, in NXT storylines, are very proud individuals with two very different styles. Tag teams that don’t get along were to be expected anyway in this tournament. However, Joe and Balor are arguably the two top stars on the show. They are both two intense stars. So it’ll be great to see the tension and anticipation build for the eventual break up of the team.

Whether this’ll lead to Balor and Joe facing each other AT the next TakeOver is still unknown. If that’s the case, then they’d have to get eliminated early on in this tournament. However, NXT might end up feeling that these two would work for the long haul. Remember how well Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle worked well as a tag team during the “SmackDown! Six” storyline. There’s a whole lot of potential here and this could lead into a long-term program between the two which I am all for.

How I Would Book… Rey Mysterio vs AJ Styles

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In an interview earlier on this month, AJ Styles spoke to SLAM magazine and he gave the magazine a nice indictiation as to a possible dream match if he were to wrestle any opponent of his choosing. He said…

“Seriously, some (dream matches) for me are with guys that I may never get the opportunity to wrestle. I’d like to wrestle Rey Mysterio, I think he and I could really tear things up. There are definitely some guys in the Fed (WWE) that I think I could have good matches with, that would also be dream matches for the fans as well. But who knows if that ever comes or not.”

AJ Styles vs Rey Mysterio is defiently probably one of the most talked about dream matches in wrestling history. I certaintly would’ve like to seen these two mix it up. I remember in 2006 when Rey Mysterio was the World Champion at the peak of his career and I just started watching TNA and AJ Styles, I’ve paid some serious cash to see these two at the time compete. The quickness of Rey Mysterio, the athletic abillity of AJ Styles. In my mind, this sort of match would have been the greatest match of all time. However, years later I’ve matured. The likelihood of this actually happening is very low considering Rey’s physical well-being and AJ’s stance on joining the WWE. Rey could himself theoretically join TNA, but I just don’t see it. But if a match between these two was somewhat possible… how would you book it?

I mean these are two characters with very different personalities that how would a feud manifest between these two, particularly in this day and age? I personally have one idea about how to book it. I’m not sure if you’re going to like it, but I would like for you guys to send me ideas about how you would book it and hopefully I can actually do a post on it comparing peoples ideas and we can generate a lot of thoughts together. This is a forum for public debate after all. XD So tweet them @ArmbarExpress, send me an e-mail tomrobinson5199@gmail.com. Whatever , I’d love to start building relationships with you guys. Anyway, here’s how I’d do it.

It starts off on the RAW after Elimination Chamber. I know that’s already happened (and you can read my review about it on this link) but that’s where I’m starting it in this scenario. Assuming that Rey was healthy, Rey Mysterio is in the ring teasing retirement. He’s saying stuff like “I don’t know if I can do this anymore” and “I’ve done all I can and wrestled everyone there is to wrestle” etc. He’s saying that there’s nothing for him in WWE anymore and he’s about to leave but then Evil Ways by Blues Saraceno hits! Again, this is assuming that WWE is allowed to use the theme! They might actually because they used it for a Undertaker/CM Punk promo before! Anyway, AJ makes his way onto the stage. He has the lone wolf gimmick (which I personally love). He enters the ring and does his hand pose. It’s still dark from his entrance when he and Rey have a little staredown. AJ stares at him and then walks towards the Wrestlemania sign and points at it. He goes back to Rey and offers his hand. Rey accepts the handshake and the match is on… but then AJ delivers the STYLES CLASH!

AJ cuts a promo the next week stating that its his time to take what is his at WWE. AJ says the first step into gaining wrestling immortality is by “putting down old yeller” and cutting Rey’s throat for good. AJ delivers an ultimate heat-generator by saying that he’s going to make sure he sends Rey down to where his buddy Eddie is. This pisses of Rey. This brings out the intensity of the feuding and gets people more involved. It’s now more than just a match. It’s a legit feud that has fuel added to the fire. This eventually leads to Wrestlemania XXX, where Rey beats AJ. AJ offers his hand to Rey and says that he’s sorry. The handshake is accepted but Rey leaves the ring saying I’m finally ready to move on…

 

2013 NoDQ.com Awards – My Vote For… Comeback Of The Year

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Keep rollin’,  rollin’, rollin! My name is Tom Robinson and we continue with the NoDQ.com Awards list with Comeback Of The Year. The nominees are….

AJ Styles – The Phenomenal One missed the first couple of months of 2013, having taking a hiatus from TNA after losing a match which barred him from having a TNA World Title match until Bound For Glory. He returned in March, not choosing an allegiance of face or heel and just being a lone wolf in the battle between TNA and the Aces And Eights. AJ qualified for the Bound For Glory series after knocking off Kurt Angle and just made it to the final four of the tournament. AJ won the tournament after defeating Austin Aries in the semi-finals and Magnus in a final – securing a date with TNA World Champion Bully Ray at Bound For Glory.  AJ captured the world title at Bound For Glory. After winning the belt, AJ walked out of TNA and took the belt with him around the world.

Goldust – Goldust returned at the 2013 Royal Rumble in a one-time appearance, but was eliminated by his brother Cody. However, the brothers put their differences aside after Cody was fired from WWE in September. Goldust fought WWE Champion Randy Orton in an attempt to get Cody’s job back, but was unsuccessful. Goldust teamed with brother Cody to face The Shield at Battleground with not only their jobs on the line, but their father Dusty’s job on the line. Fighting for the family cause, the brothers defeated The Shield and would beat them again to capture the WWE Tag Team Titles! This was Goldust’s first title reign in more than 10 years!

Rey Mysterio – Rey Mysterio started off the year competing in the 2013 Royal Rumble, but was eliminated easily by Wade Barrett. Despite fighting hard to keep fit, his injury worries never seemed to stop this year. He missed the vast majority of 2013 with injury and it wasn’t until November when he returned to WWE television, helping the forces of light in the battle against The Wyatts and The Real Americans. But even then, he still seemed to be limping. Despite this, Rey has fought through the pain and the master of the 619 is back to stay from the looks of things!

Rob Van Dam – After leaving TNA following his loss of the X-Division Title, Van Dam found himself to be a free agent again after 3 years with TNA. But it wasn’t long until RVD made his long-awaited return to the WWE at Money In The Bank. And RVD showed no signs of slowing down as he showed he was still able to steal the show having some quality matches with the likes of Chris Jericho and Alberto Del Rio. While he finds himself not with the company right now, he might be set for a return in the near future!

Chris Jerich0 – At the start of the year, Chris Jericho shocked the world as he returned as entrant number 2 in the Royal Rumble. Having not been in action since August, Jericho showed no signs of ring-rust and was able to last 40+ minutes in the Rumble match. Jericho was able to make the final three of the Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber as well. While suffering a undeserved loss to Fandango at Wrestlemania, Jericho got his revenge at Extreme Rules with a mid-air codebreaker for the ballroom dancer. Jericho would leave again at July, but not without giving us some 5 star matches with CM Punk and a stellar match with Rob Van Dam on RAW!

Chris Sabin – In May, Chris Sabin returned to TNA after 24 months of injury rehabilitation. It had been a long road to recovery for Sabin, not to mention that his tag team partner Alex Shelley had left TNA during that period. But Sabin seemed stronger than ever as it took him a month after his return to win the X-Division Champion at Slammiversary. Sabin would cash-in the title for a World Title match with Aces And Eights leader Bully Ray on IMPACT. Defying the odds, Sabin continued the precedent set by Austin Aries the year before by cashing in the title to successfully win the World Title for the first time! While his reign did not last long, Sabin’s hunt for gold didn’t stop as he would go on to capture the X-Division Title again at Bound For Glory. Despite not being X-Division Champion anymore, Sabin has a new-found drive for glory in him and 2013 has been a year Sabin will never forget.

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This is a tricky one because each of the six contenders all have legit claims to the award.

  • AJ had been nowhere near the TNA World Title after he lost it 3 YEARS earlier. And out of nowhere, AJ seemed to be one of the biggest things going in wrestling let alone TNA!
  • Goldust coming back actually seemed like a legit comeback after so many years away from active wrestling. I mean not only that but he helped Cody got over and actually won his first title in 10+ years. Great year for him.
  • Rey Mysterio had been battling injury all year and there were many people (including myself) who had been encouraging Rey to call it quits and retire before he got himself REALLY hurt. But Rey was still persistent. Rey was still fighting for his career and now he’s back ready to prove us wrong.
  • Rob Van Dam’s comeback generated a lot of buzz because it had been like 4 years since he was in a WWE ring.
  • Chris Jericho’s comeback was a shocker and pull-off really well.
  • And Chris Sabin had been battling with injuries for 2 years and he came back and won the TNA World Title.RAW_1069_Photo_274_crop_north

So it is tricky to decide. Probably the hardest one to decide in my opinion. I’m going to go with Rey Mysterio purely because of the fact that Rey was still fighting after all of the injuries and the doubters saying he should retire. He’s still determined to keep his career alive and you have to respect that. I think the return itself was a bit flat, I think the story behind it did sway me. I wasn’t actually gonna pick Rey until I thought about his struggle to comeback and I think that will be everyone’s deciding factors.

Winner: Rey Mysterio