RETRO EXPRESS: WCW FALL BRAWL 1995 (September 17th 1995)

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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WCW Fall Brawl 1995. Technically, this is not an episode of WCW Nitro. However, the last two episodes have built up to this PPV and I was sort of interested in watching it. So, we will be taking a quick detour from Nitro Avenue right into PPV boulevard. We’ve been watching some of the build towards the big War Games between the Hulkamaniacs and the Dungeon of Doom. Vader went AWOL and Hogan had to turn to the debuting Lex Luger for help, despite fears from Randy Savage that Luger cannot be trusted. After reassurances from Sting, Hogan offered Luger a spot in the team. Luger agreed but only if Hogan granted him a fair title shot down the road. Tensions were running high within the Hulkamaniacs as they had to work together to stop Taskmaster’s fearsome foursome of Meng, Shark, Zodiac and Kamala.

We’re at Asheville, North Carolina. Two title matches, a long-awaited match between best friends Ric Flair and Arn Anderson as well as the War Games main-event of the Hulkamaniacs vs the Dungeon of Doom. This is Fall Brawl.

 

 

Date: September 17th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Asheville, North Carolina

Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan

 

We kicked things off with a tremendous old-school intro video with a great voice-over. The guy revealed that Ric Flair and Arn Anderson would “engage in hand-to-hand combat.” I loved that line. It built up the fact that Ric and Arn were going into BATTLE with each other here at Fall Brawl. The announcer would reveal that the wrestlers of WCW will fight in the “ultimate fighting arena.” I guess he knew ahead of time that Tank Abbott would be on his way to WCW!

So the announcers for the show were Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan. I guess it is an improvement on Bobby having to do commentary with Eric Bischoff and Steve “Mongo” McMichael since there’s less people to deal with. Tony actually wasn’t that bad on the show so I guess the commentary was an improvement

 

Flyin’ Brian vs Johnny B. Badd in a United States Championship Eliminator match

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I want to just establish from the get-go that it was determined that this match would have a 20 minute time limit. That is an important factor into the match as well as the finish. Keep that in the back of your mind as I break down the match.

The announcers explained that the winner would be the mandatory title contender for WCW US champion Sting.

This match was actually a pretty damn great match. It was the sort of match I would expect to go on last, considering the length of the match. I’ll delve more into that later.

It was also the sort of match you’d expect to go on last as MICHAEL BUFFER did the ring introductions. For those of you unaware, WCW had Buffer hired to sometimes do ring introductions for them. He was mostly used for world title matches which was why him doing the ring introductions for Flyin’ Brian vs Johnny B Badd seemed very weird to me.

His ring-introductions for this opening match of Fall Brawl 1995 including Michael claiming Johnny was a BAAAAAAAAAAAD man. I swear that’s what he said in his typical Buffer tone of voice!

Brian and Johnny came out. Johnny did everything in his power to get himself cheered louder and louder which actually worked while Brian just stood there. This crowd was hot for some WCW rasslin’. Brian looked exactly like Dolph Ziggler in the black tights and even had his hair all out like Ziggler used to have it.

The match kicked off with some good old fashioned chain-wrestling. I, for some reason, loved Johnny’s arm-drags as he pulled over Brian using both his arms to send Brian crashing into the mat. This started off as a fine little bout with Brian starting to show signs of frustration. Both dudes were babyfaces, as far as I’m aware. At least Brian was when he was up against Jushin Liger back in episode #1 of Nitro.

Brian began displaying heel tactics which added tension to this otherwise sound grappling match. Eventually, Brian tried walking out of the match as he was struggling to get past Badd. One fan at ringside was very upset at him for this and wanted him back in the ring! I love the passion in these fans back in the 90s. That fan wanted a finish and told Brian to get back in that ring!

Brian got back in and tried a handshake but Johnny was not buying this at all. I like a smart babyface who will not easily fall of the heel’s shenanigans. With that being said, Brian and Johnny all of a sudden arguing about a handshake came a bit too late in the match for my liking. They’re in the middle of this battle and all of a sudden, now is the time to argue about handshakes?

Brian was great at bumping like crazy for Badd but then all of a sudden, a rest hold was applied as it appears they were setting up for the finish. In a great spot, they stared trading leapfrogs and then they both anticipate that a leapfrog is needed to evade their opponent. Both guys jump in the air and they CRASH into each other in a spectacular manner.

Tony informs us that Buffer has just stated that there are 9 minutes left to go in the match. Bobby simply responds by stating he doesn’t listen to Buffer! Johnny hits a suplex on Brian to the outside and then performs a dive to the outside. Brian catches Badd in mid-air with a beautiful dropkick. I mean this was so beautiful. Brian gained some serious air-time as he caught Badd right in the chin.

Badd and Brian both whipped out some hard-hitting moves for near-falls. Badd hit a sit-out powerbomb. Brian hit a tombstone piledriver. With a minute to go on the clock, Badd hit a facebuster and a super kick that Tony called the “fruity booty” but Brian got his foot on the rope following the cover.

As Badd argues with the referee Nick Patrick about the foot on the rope, Flyin’ Brian came flying in with a springboard clothesline for one last near-fall before the clock hit zero. We got a time limit draw… at least that’s what we thought.

Nick Patrick whispers something to Buffer, who declares that Patrick has commanded this will go into sudden death. Now I was about to go into a big rant about Patrick seemingly having power to restart the match but Tony explains that the WCW board of directors have decreed that there must be a winner. Firstly, why is that important bit of detail being left out until AFTER the time limit expires? Secondly, if there must be a winner then why was there a time limit to begin with? If there needs to be a winner, just don’t put a time limit in place. Just say, whoever wins by pinfall or submission wins and gets the title shot. Easy.

The issue here was, while the action was very good, I was in my mind preparing for the match to last 20 minutes. The last 10 minutes of the original match saw me mentally preparing for the finish. When we didn’t get it and it went into overtime, I was just kinda gearing up for a finish so we can move onto the next match. This overtime last 9 minutes.

After a while, it just kind of jumped the shark. I was just thinking take it home. The action was great. We saw a weirdly put-together but satisfying double dropkick spot where Brian tried a dropkick from the top rope. They each exchanged sleeperholds, they went for sunset flips and they went for hurricanranas and frakensteiners to no avail.

Badd went for a springboard move called the “BAD MOOD” but Brian got the knees up. The finish saw a repeat of the crash-into-each other spot from earlier but the spot took more out of Brian this time as Badd rolled over and scored the pin. This finish actually made a lot of sense as Badd was the bigger man and Brian had more weight crashing into him.

I thought this was a damn great opener but I think the finish would have been more dramatic if there had not been a 20 minute time limit to begin with. You can’t sustain the drama for 10 minutes before the time limit expires and then expect the same drama for the next 9 minutes overtime or so as they just hit move after move.

It was an excellent match though. Probably the best match we’ve seen since the WCW reviews started. I gave it about four stars in my head. I went to check what Dave Meltzer gave the match and he also went four stars as well. This match has definitely aged well.

Match Rating: ****

 

Before we go any further, they briefly cut to Tony and Bobby to have their post-match reactions and there’s ring crew shown in the back actually sweeping the ring with a broom. I don’t know how I’ve never seen that in my 15 years or so as a wrestling fan. Someone just outright sweeping the ring! Bobby yelled at a kid as Tony was going on about Ric and Arn by the way. Heenan’s feathers may have been a little ruffled tonight.

 

We cut to Mean Gene interviewing Ric Flair. In terms of flat-out hyping up a match, I don’t think there’s ever been a better promo in wrestling history than Ric Flair. If you weren’t excited about Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson going in, you were after hearing this promo.

Flair mentions something about how he and Arn were the symbols of excellence. He talked about how they saw them all come and go. Flair says that they’ve lived together, bled together and cried together, bonding as they became what life’s all about. Flair turns his attention to the match saying that he and Arn will walk down that isle and Arn was about to face greatness. Mean Gene asks Flair if he hates Arn. Flair explains that he loves him but there’s only one king of the hill and it’s only going to be the Nature Boy. THIS WAS MONEY.

 

Cobra vs Craig Pittman

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Let’s all just remember that the opening match of the show went 29 MINUTES as they dive into the next match. Cobra came down and Pittman was supposed to come out but some guy comes out instead. It was hard to believe this at first but the commentators explain that this one of Pittman’s soldiers. Cobra tells the guy to get lost and as he’s doing this, Pittman abseils down in a scene straight outta Mission Impossible.

The fans cheer as Pittman, who is the heel by the way, sneaks up on Cobra. Pittman does a commando crawl under the ropes in both rings. Pittman picks his spot, chokes out Cobra as the match starts. Pittman did a diving foot stop from the apron to the outside which misses by several trenches. Cobra goes for a dive but Pittman moves out of the way. Pittman locks on the code red armbar for the victory.

This whole match lasted 1 minute and 20 seconds. It was a waste of time. Cobra came off as a complete geek and this accomplished nothing.

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

What happened next was NOT a waste of time. It was one of the all-time great segments in wrestling history. I decided I soon as I saw it. We are backstage with Paul Orndorff. He was going crazy at himself as he was upset he wasn’t wonderful anymore. He was at the end of his ropes. He kicked over a towel and was going nuts. Then out comes his saviour…. Gary Spivey.

As far as I’m aware, Gary was a famous psychic and he was big at around this time.  I assume that’s why WCW wanted to bring him in. Anyway, Spivey knocks on the door and lets himself in. Paul Orndorff is astounded to see Gary as he yells “GARY SPIVEY?” and then follows up with… “from the Psychic Companion Network?” I died. Paul Orndorff tried to make “Gary Spivey from the Psychic Companion Network” sound natural. He failed but I loved it. At this moment, Paul was so happy to see Gary Spivey.

Paul yells “what are you doing here?” Gary explains that he knew something wasn’t right as he’s a psychic and got visions of it. Not that I’m gonna question the legitimacy of psychics or anything but the idea that Gary was sent visions of “Mr Wonderful” kicking a towel over and going crazy of all things is the funniest thing to me. Paul explains that he was the greatest wrestler in the world at one time and that he had so many belts he lost count. Gary says he sees great things in Mr Wonderful as he is Mr Wonderful. Paul tries to debate with Gary but Gary just re-assures Paul that he is Mr Wonderful. They go to the mirror and Paul starts to believe in himself. Paul declares that he looks better than he’s ever looked before. He gains his confidence back. He is truly Mr Wonderful again.

I command anyone who has never seen this segment with Mr Wonderful and Gary Spivey to go on the WWE Network, put on Fall Brawl and watch it. I re-wound it and watched it over and over. This was a psychic using his powers for the greater good to make Mr Wonderful believe in himself again. This was awesome.

Bobby Heenan raves about how great Gary Spivey was in helping Mr Wonderful.

 

The Renegade (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs DDP w/Diamond Doll and Max Muscle for the WCW World TV Championship

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This was way more fun than I was expecting. This match was THE RENEGADE vs DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE. This wasn’t like a technically great match but it was a very fun one to say the least where if you don’t take it too seriously, it really doesn’t come off so bad.

Bobby claimed that DDP was worth $13 million which was rather shocking to me. If he invested that wisely, he could have been challenging the WWF and WCW! Make it a triple threat Monday Night Wars! DDP was such a great heel in the sense that, even with the beautiful Diamond Doll by his side, DDP would force her to hold the ropes open for him to enter the ring. Diamond Doll (a.ka. DDP’s wife Kimberly Page) looked lovely here.

The ULTIMATE Ultimate Warrior parody Renegade ran down to the ring and proved to be no Ultimate Warrior, as DDP just jumped him to start off the match. In one of the great all-time oversells, Renegade headbutts DDP one time and then DDP flops out of the ring, walked into a ring post and fell into the crowd. It was awesome.

In a rather dangerous spot when you think about it, Renegade had a headlock locked in and spun DDP around with Page’s legs dangling in mid-air. We had an all-time great sloppy evasion spot where Renegade went for a crossbody but DDP dodged which led to Renegade smacking into the ropes!

During the match, DDP instructed Diamond Doll to hold up a 10 sign. Right here was when Tye Dillinger got the same idea. So DDP gives the order and Diamond Doll shrugs and disappointingly says “not again” and holds up the sign. I loved that. Diamond Doll was so great as just the disappointed valet just following orders. Renegade made the comeback and ran wild. Renegade hit a shockingly bad big boot which hit DDP’s chest rather than his face.

We had a very well executed spot of Renegade going for a hip toss but DDP countering it into a DDT. Renegade knocks DDP into Max Muscle and hits a powerslam on DDP. He has the match in the bag but then he spots Max Muscle, who he decides to take out Muscle with a dive off the top rope. As Renegade got into the ring, Muscle grabbed his leg. DDP took advantage to hit a Diamond Cutter for the pin to win the WCW World Television title.

This was more fun than it had any right to be. The crowd was very much into this and this was pretty much very beneficial to DDP’s rise towards being a top guy in WCW. Bobby’s explanation that Renegade got his foot hooked into Max Muscle’s hands was something I very much enjoyed. Bobby also explained that to be rich, we must watch what poor people do and don’t do it. Perhaps WCW should have thought about that later on in the Monday Night Wars but that’s a story for another time.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

Buckhouse Buck (c) and Dick Slater (c) w/Col. Robert Parker vs “Harlem Heat” Booker T and Stevie Ray w/Sister Sherri for the WCW Tag Team Titles

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This was a 17 minute match and it felt longer than the opening match with Johnny B Badd and Flyin’ Brian. This was possibly the worst tag team match I’ve ever seen in my life as a wrestling fan. There was Booker T running on 25% and a whole lot of nothing from Buck, Dick and Stevie Ray.

I have no idea who the good guys and the bad guys were supposed to be in this match. The storyline was that Parker and Sherri had lust in their eyes for each other but these tag teams were just afterthoughts in the whole thing. Both teams were getting booed so it was hard to work out if anyone was a babyface.

Stevie Ray was absolutely horrible during this match. He had some awful brawling with Dick. Stevie no-sold an atomic drop. I initially thought Harlem Heat were the heels because they got the heat on Buck but then Buck and Dick were whipping out heel tactics like hitting Booker with cheap shots.

The fans barely cared as it was impossible to build heat with two heel tag teams… at least I think they were both heel tag teams. There was no-one to cheer except Booker, who was the only being in the ring displaying life but also the same guy that was selling for Buck and Dick during the match.

Booker finally powers out of a camel clutch and instead of going for the hot tag to Stevie, Booker goes for a corner dropkick and lands right on his neck which led to Buck and Dick getting the heat again. Stevie FINALLY makes the hot tag with Buck and Dick completely out of place during this sequence. Stevie would be hitting a move on Dick and Buck would just be standing there waiting for his spot.

In the middle of all of this, Sherri and Parker flirt in the second ring. They start to snog to a surprisingly big pop. As they’re making out, the Nasty Boys run down and hit Dick with the boot. Harlem Heat get the pin to finally end the match and win the tag titles.

Meanwhile, Sherri and Parker are still slobbering all over each other. The fans are going nuts. Buck goes nuts on Parker as they just lost the tag titles. Harlem Heat are going nuts on Sherri for some reason, even though they just won the tag titles. In a post-match interview with Mean Gene, Parker re-assures that Buck and Dick are gonna get the tag titles back. During all of this, Parker said that he felt like he was 20 years old!

So we had to sit through a horrible 17 minute tag team match and the conclusion was that Parker and Sherri are now a thing and the tag titles are secondary to the romance angle for Parker and Sherri. The romance angle worked with this crowd but the tag titles not mattering to Harlem Heat as their manager was snogging Parker is just annoying to me. You’re the tag champs. You wanted the gold suckas and now you’ve got them! ENJOY THOSE BELTS.

Match Rating: -**

 

Mean Gene interviews Arn Anderson. They showed the hype video for Ric vs Arn which was next. They cut back to Arn and Arn says that everybody has a family member that messes up. Arn said he was a nervous wreck as he had to wrestle a man he loved more than god himself. Arn says he’s gotta answer to himself and says a man must live up to his word. Arn said he’s gonna give his word to Flair that he was going to give it his all and Flair would respect him. Solid promo. The better promos are the ones that the fans can connect to which give them personal interest in the story.

 

Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson

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We were in Carolina. This resulted in the fans going CRAZY for Ric Flair. One fan had a sign that said “if God was a wrestler, his name would be Ric Flair” – factually correct.

I did like that they tried to make it seem like it was a special match as the American Males, Big Bubba Rogers, Flyin’ Brian, Col. Parker, Eddie Guerrero and Alex Wright were all at ringside. These wrestlers did not want to miss this match so they got front row seats. They actually constantly show the wrestlers during the match which was rather frustrating as I wanted to see Ric and Arn in the ring but at least there was some kind of pay-off.

Arn whipped out the power from the get-go and then just sent Flair to the floor with a good-old slap across the face. There is no man in the history of professional wrestling that sells a slap better than Ric Flair.

Arn hits a second slap and Flair teeters on one leg for a second or two and then just thunders to the ground. Simple things like Ric trying to act all cocky and confident when in a hammerlock as he told the referee “no” as if to say that he had this all under control was great to see. It was sublime because Flair would act all confident and Arn would wrench the arm a bit more and Flair would all of a sudden just go ARRRRRRRRRRGHHH as he’s in so much pain! This was so great.

There was complicated spot where Arn went to the top rope and Flair tried to cut him off. Arn knocks Flair down but then Arn just climbs down off the top rope to then just lock in a sleeper hold! Quite the ploy to lock on a sleeper hold on Ric Flair!

Ric tries to beg Arn off and Arn, who knows Ric better than anyone else, does not buy this for a second and then proceeds to kick his ass! Flair sent Arn to the floor and hit a double axe handle from the top rope to Arn on the floor. Arn makes the comeback and back-body drops Flair onto the floor which is a bump Flair has probably taken more times than anyone else in the history of wrestling. Flair responds with a suplex on the floor.

Flair getting shoved off the top rope to the  mat will never get old. There was an awesome spot where Arn went for something off the top rope but Flair LEAPED up in the air to catch him with a flying clothesline! Flair locks on the Figure Four Leg Lock but Arn turns it over to an insane reaction from the crowd.

Flair actually Irish-whipped Arn but Arn’s legs gave out because of the Figure Four and he just fell to the ground. At this point, Flyin’ Brian flies onto the apron. Flair and Brian punch each other and this leads to Brian kicking Flair in the back of the head and Arn hits the DDT for the pin.

This was a great match although Brian’s interference just seemed to come out of nowhere. Brian had an angle at the start of the show where it appeared he was about to turn heel on Johnny B Badd. Here he is helping Arn, who I THINK is the babyface. At least Flair was the heel against Sting a few weeks ago. So who knows where this is all going.

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

Taskmaster cut a strange heel promo where he proceeded to attack a Hulk Hogan action figure with a shovel, stating that the Dungeon of Doom would bury the Hulkamaniacs. Welcome the wrestling in the 1990s.

They showed a Dungeon of Doom video package and a clip of The Giant destroying Hogan’s motorcycle with a monster truck. During the video package, I believe the announcer said that Zodiac had “inner-strength like no other man” which is an amazingly ironic quote considering the finish of the main-event.

We got one of the greatest moments on the entire show. Mean Gene is with Hulkamaniacs of Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger. Hogan goes CRAZY putting over his team mates. The team all goes crazy, just making you believe that they’re having the time of their lives going all goofy. Savage said there was no dissension between the group as he, Stinger and Luger had straightened out all of the differences. Savage was the one that was against Luger being a part of the team which is important as we discuss the War Games match.

Sting said that he is tired of talking as he wants to go to war INSTANTLY! Luger said War Games is on and they were as together as together can be! Hogan said he knew Luger was American Made just by looking at his eyes! I love that Hogan can just look at Luger and know he’s American! He didn’t need a birth certificate as he just KNEW his buddy stood for all that is America. Hogan said he feels sorry for anyone that gets in their way as they made it down to the ring as they were ready for a fight. THIS WAS MONEY AND FUN! THUMBS UP!

 

“Hulkamaniacs” Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger vs “Dungeon Of Doom” Zodiac, Shark, Meng and Kamala w/Taskmater in a War Games match. If the Hulkamaniacs won, Hulk Hogan would get Taskmaster in the ring

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You know what was so great about this period in wrestling? Things will spiral out of control when the nWo are like a few years in but wrestling at this time was, for the most part, simple. The War Games is such a simple concept that you can’t mess up. Mean Gene explained the rules. One guy from each team starts the match and wrestles for five minutes. For every 2 minutes, another wrestler jumps in until all eight men were in the double cage and then the match cannot stop until someone submits or surrenders. EASY.

Wrestling, especially WWE nowadays, has just become so over-thought and over-booked that it’s hard for fans to get invested in. I can’t figure out with 50% of the roster nowadays about whether they should be a good guy or a bad guy. It’s clear in WCW 1995 who is a good guy or a bad guy in this War Games match (Luger obviously was ambiguous as part of a storyline) and the match was very easy to follow.

The bad guys had the man advantage so Shark and Sting would start and then a Dungeon Of Doom member would help beat down one of our heroes. A babyface would come in to make the save but then the heels run in. So on until everybody is in the ring and then we can find out who the better team really is. It’s easy to follow and it’s classic story-telling. I love it.

As I mentioned, Sting and Shark started off the match for each team. When I saw Shark march into the cage, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Out of the four guys you could have picked for the Dungeon of Doom, the BIGGEST GUY in their team is the one who will be forced to wrestle the entire match? I was astonished.

The highlight of the first five minutes was that Sting hits a dive over the top rope from one ring to the other ring to take out Shark. A few minutes later, SHARK tries the same dive but is unable to clear the ropes to get to the other side. Shark lands right on top of the ropes. The ropes don’t buckle even with all of the weight from Shark. He lands right on top of the ropes. I laughed and laughed for a long time as Shark’s gut is just hanging down from above. Sting then just proceeds to kick Shark’s ass as he’s stuck on the ropes. The Shark jumped the shark with dives over the top rope!

Sting locks on the Scorpion Deathlock when the Zodiac enters the fray. Sting uses the top of the cage like monkey bars to pull himself up and kick Zodiac away. The heels beat up Sting when Savage enters the match. The place goes crazy as Savage is just moving, scratching and clawing at the heels to get something going as they’ve got a level playing field for two minutes. Savage knows to make these two minutes count. I loved the scrappy fighting from the Macho Man. He knew how important this was.

The heels stop the momentum of Savage as Meng grabbed Savage’s leg from underneath the cage and traps him for a beating. Kamala jumps in as this happens to Savage. The three heels in the cage, Zodiac, Shark and Kamala, get a 3 on 2 advantage. They clubber our heroes until Luger comes in as the third guy for the Hulkamaniacs.

Luger goes crazy for a second and then everybody just starts brawling and fighting as they all claw at each other. Then we get a big spot as Luger inadvertently hits Savage as he was going for Zodiac. Savage goes after Luger as he thinks Luger is working with the heels. Savage and Luger are fighting as Sting tries to break it up. The Hulkamaniacs were running wild on EACH OTHER at the wrong place and MOST DEFINITELY the wrong time. As this is going on, MENG enters the fray.

The dissension has boiled over to War Games as the four heels are united in beating down the divided heroes. To make the save was the “Hulkster” himself HULK HOGAN. The fans go haywire as Hogan throws powder into everybody’s eyes. It’s a war and Hogan is pulling out all of the stops to stop the Dungeon of Doom.

Hogan does this great spot with Zodiac where they’re trapped in the middle of the two cages. Hogan  punches Zodiac, Zodiac falls into the ropes and bounces back into another Hogan punch. This kept going and going and I loved it.

After a while, Hogan locked on the camel clutch, tapped out Zodiac and won for the Hulkamaniacs! Zodiac, with the inner-strength like no other man, submitted to Hogan! The match was brilliant as a concept but these were not particular great workers we were dealing with. The heels were just big monsters that weren’t that impressive but they didn’t need to be to tell the story of the match. This was fine.

Match Rating: *1/4

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Taskmaster tries to get out of the ring but they are forcing him into the cage. Sting gets Taskmaster into the cage. Hogan bounces Taskmaster around the cage and kicks his ass. Hogan hits the big boot when THE GIANT appears.

I believe this was his first appearance in a WCW ring but he had the biggest bush of hair on his head that I’ve ever seen him have in his entire wrestling career. The Giant throws the referee out of the way and enters the cage to get at Hogan. The fans are crying out to Hogan to look out but the Hulkster gets a beating from The Giant. The Giant then BREAKS HULK HOGAN’S NECK! FALL BRAWL 1995 ENDED with THE GIANT KILLING HULK HOGAN!

I CRIED with laughter. I cried. This was the most amazing finale to a PPV I’ve ever seen. Never has a PPV ended with one heel debuting and murdering the top babyface in the company. He straight up MURDERED him and meanwhile heel Bobby Heenan is loving this as he ends the PPV with: “The Immortal Hulk hogan is…. HA HA HA HA!”

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I loved this PPV. With the exception of the Cobra/Pittman and tag title match, this was a thumbs up show. Arn/Ric was good, Badd/Brian was an excellent opener, Renegade/DDP was fun and the main-event was a whole lot of fun with a deadly conclusion as the newest big monster in WCW has taken out the WCW World Champion.

I will say that I have no idea what to expect going forward. I obviously know what happens when Hogan and Giant meets for the title but like I have no idea of the direction of the company until the nWo arrives in like 9 months or so. I look forward to seeing where this is all going.

NEXT UP… back to WCW Nitro reviews with EPISODE #3 and the fall-out to Fall Brawl.

 

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.

2015 Armbar Express Awards

 

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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. It’s where we reflect on everything that went right or wrong in the world of professional wrestling during the year. We reward excellence and we condemn ignorance. We decide once and for all which stars are worthy as it is time for the 2015 Armbar Express… AWARDS!

So we’ve made our list, we checked it twice. It’s time to see which wrestling personalities raked in the rewards for a solid year and which wrestlers get the short end of the stick. Let’s kick things off with…

 

TV Show Of The Year

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This is a new one for us in the awards. We celebrate just which wrestling promotion put on the best TV show of the year and our nominations are…

  • Monday Night RAW (WWE) – As it much as it can drive a man insane, I’ll give credit to the writers for being able to write and dish out a three hour wrestling show every week. A lot of RAWs have been well below par but there’s been a few hidden gems that almost makes up for that.
  • NXT (WWE) – The developmental territory goes from strength to strength as NXT has really had the world talking with some incredible talent on display. We’ve had some great matches, some great storylines and great special events to make all the episodes seem worth it.
  • Lucha Underground (Lucha Underground) – Lucha Underground is an incredible alternative from WWE which has really made a name for itself. Every episode is unmissable as it delivered with its first season in 2015. Considering the success of season one, season two in 2016 can be a huge success.

The winner… is Lucha Underground.

More than any other wrestling show from any other promotion, Lucha Underground knows what type of product they are putting on every week. It is a television show which is really what a lot of promotions fail to remember. It might upset a lot of NXT fans for it to lose out to Lucha Underground, but NXT is a show you could miss and it wouldn’t hugely effect your knowledge of events. Lucha Underground has made it’s a product a show you have to see every week. Every little detail is vital as you are gearing up for a huge episode with major implications. The segments and non-wrestling parts of the show are put together very well with more time given to wrestling to really tell the story for them. It’s the perfect balance which creates a incredible product at the end. If you’re not watching Lucha Underground, you’re missing out on an unique opportunity.

 

Feud/Rivalry Of The Year

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Storytelling is a huge aspect of wrestling and more intense rivalries are, the better. Our nominations are…

  • Kevin Owens vs John Cena – This feud made for compelling television on RAW which made it a huge incentive for people to watch the flagship show. Kevin Owens debuted in an emphatic way, attacking John Cena on RAW and then cleanly beating him at Elimination Chamber. Cena levelled things up at Money In The Bank until Cena settled the score with Owens at Battleground. While the ending with Cena winning the feud still winds me up to this day, you can’t deny that there were some great moments that accompanied this feud and really make it stand out.
  • Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker – Fifteen months after the events of Wrestlemania XXX, the Dead Man finally got around to getting his revenge on the man that conquered the streak. After costing him the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground, Undertaker began an incredible intense and powerful feud with Brock Lesnar which was really must-see television. Most notable during this feud was the post-Battleground brawl between Undertaker and Brock Lesnar which was arguably one of the greatest moments of RAW all year. Along with getting the Undertaker booed for the first time in a decade, this feud provided a whole new dynamic which really developed the characters of both men and it was not like this was a traditional face vs heel rivalry. These just two men that wanted to murder each other! The matches at Summerslam and Hell in a Cell also hugely surpassed my expectations too!
  • Fenix vs Mil Muetrues – This was one of the rare times where a romance angle was actually done right and it shockingly happened at a promotion that is not as heavy on “sports entertainment” than WWE. It made stars out of Fenix and Mil with great matches including their Grave Consequences match which we’ll get to later. Catrina’s role in the storyline was also well played.
  • Sasha Banks vs Bayley – There’s been a number of great NXT programs this year but Bayley and Sasha Banks gave us a rivalry which was truly phenomenal. This was story-telling at it’s simplest and finest and Sasha was the perfect foil for Bayley, as the hugger hoped to finally win the NXT Women’s Championship. Two great matches at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and Respect showed why NXT’s women were leagues ahead of WWE’s divas.

The winner… is Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker.

To me, the intensity of Brock vs Taker was what really made it stand out. I appreciate the clear face-heel dynamic of Bayley and Sasha, I liked the way the romance angle with Fenix and Mil was presented and I loved the matches between Owens and Cena. However, what separated Brock and Taker from the rest was their ability to be unique. There’s no face and no heel. There’s just two badasses just beating the crap out of each other which gave the whole thing such a great atmosphere and what really made Brock Lesnar must-see television this year!

 

Tag Team Of The Year

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There’s been a number of teams that have really impressed this year and let’s celebrate these tremendous tag teams as the nominations are…

  • The New Day – What can be said about the New Day other than they took the ball and they ran so far with it that it’s incredible to think that they were getting booed at the start of the year. Now, they are just the most entertaining tag team in wrestling today and they’ve got a lot of diversity between the three of them in terms of movesets which works tremendously in the tag team scenario.
  • Lucha Dragons – This team has been very fun to watch in the ring and have been a welcome addition to the main roster. Sin Cara’s obviously been on the main roster before but Kalisto is a newcomer that has really shined in the time that he’s given. Hopeful we can see these two with a tag title run.
  • Jason Jordan and Chad Gable – A true stand out team in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, these two just worked so well together as a tag team. The weakness of one man was filled by the other as they put on some incredible matches against the likes of Baron Corbin and Rhyno. Many NXT fans were disappointed that the duo never won the tournament but 2016 may end up being their year.
  • Cesaro and Tyson Kidd – I was originally going to leave this team out of this award considering they were only together for around six months until Tyson Kidd went down with an injury. However, the duo put together some great matches as a duo with the two styles just complimented each other beautifully. Fact.

The winner is… the New Day!

Kofi, Big E and Xaiver have done tremendous work as a trio and it might be unfair to give them award considering they’re more of a stable then a tag team. However, you can’t deny that they’ve given the tag team division a boost as a whole and they are finally getting the results that the three of them deserve.

 

PPV Of The Year

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The WWE Network might have actually been worth subscribing to this year with a number of top quality PPVs to acknowledge. The nominations are…

  • Wrestlemania 31 – In what is usually a given in terms of top PPVs of the year, Wrestlemania 31 sure didn’t disappoint. Rarely has a Wrestlemania been as well timed as this year’s event. With the exception of the Rock/Rousey/HHH/Stephanie angle (which I thought went too long) all the matches/segments were given enough time to truly stand out in it’s own right. While it was not like Wrestlemania 28 where all the time went to the three big matches and it was not like any of the matches from this card were match of the year candidates, it featured some darn great matches nevertheless. From Sting vs Triple H to Brock Lesnar taking Roman Reigns to Suplex City, there was little wrong with this year’s edition of Wrestlemania.
  • Summerslam – August 22nd, August 23rd and August 24th made for a great three days for WWE and the feature presentation was the four hour long Summerslam. The top matches including a great WWE World title match with Seth Rollins defending against John Cena as well as the long-awaited rematch between Undertaker and Brock Lesnar which really surpassed my expectations.
  • Hell in a Cell – I have to give Hell in a Cell a thumbs up for a number of reasons. Both Hell in a Cell matches delivered in their own right, (which is of course a big part of the PPV itself) and there were a number of surprises including the return of Alberto Del Rio.
  • Night of Champions – This was another good PPV for WWE in the autumn of 2015, with Seth Rollins being the focal point and main reason for it’s success! Seth Rollins put on two great matches in a row with John Cena and Sting, proving that he indeed was the man in WWE around this time. There were other great aspects of the show as well including the returning of Chris Jericho which made for a worthwhile event.

The winner is… Wrestlemania 31.

This was another solid Wrestlemania for WWE as whoever was responsible for the timing of the show was right on the money. That event will legitimately go down as one of the best Wrestlemanias the company have ever produced.

 

Worst Match Of The Year

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Not all awards are for the greater good. This award celebrates the worst matches put together in 2015. The nominations are…

  • Sheamus vs Ryback vs Dolph Ziggler vs Mark Henry vs R-Truth vs King Barrett in an Elimination Chamber match for the Intercontinental Championhship (WWE) – Maybe WWE should have given Elimination Chamber a rest this year because this chamber match really wasn’t up to par. As soon as Mark Henry’s chamber pod was broken, the match seemed to completely fall apart to such agree that it was amazing how all of these men (EACH with at least ten years experience wrestling in the “biggest” wrestling promotion in the world) couldn’t put this match back on track. When Sheamus’ chamber pod got stuck, all of these men stood around not knowing what to do as Ziggler was calling spots for everyone. It was not a great return for the Elimination Chamber.
  • 2015 Royal Rumble Match (WWE) – WWE’s streak of failing Royal Rumble matches continued with this atrocity which ended up with Roman Reigns standing tall. It’s not even the fact that Roman won it. It’s the fact that the match itself was put together in such a miserable fashion that it’s no wonder that Roman was booed out of the building. Those fans weren’t booing Roman Reigns. They were booing Roman Reigns having to conquer two twenty year veterans that had no business being on par with the current crop of young talent as WWE struggle to develop new stars.
  • Los Villanos vs Los Psycho Circus at TripleMania XXIII (AAA) – When I heard that Dave Meltzer had given this match from TripleMania minus five stars, I figured I had to go watch it. I had heard that TripleMania was bad and the bits I had watched of it weren’t all impressive. However, this match was something special. This was supposed to be Villano III’s retirement match and imagine having a retirement match that was this much of a train wreck. This was hardly Ric Flair retiring against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24. This is one to watch but for the wrong reasons!
  • Paige and Emma vs The Bella Twins on RAW: February 23rd 2015 (WWE) – This was an utterly atrocious use of these women on WWE’s flagship show, to give them a grand total of 30 seconds of in-ring action. What happened was Emma and Brie started the match, Paige was shouting at Nikki when Brie took her off the apron, Emma looked outside to check on Paige and then Brie hit Emma with the X-Factor and won. This was a complete and utter disgrace considering these talented women were given 30 seconds during a 3 HOUR SHOW of RAW. The neglect to these divas by WWE was simply revolting which ended up creating the “Divas Revolution” which we’ll get onto later. It’s one thing when you try something and it fails. It’s a slap in the face when you don’t even try to make the women look credible.
  • Kurt Angle vs Eric Young in a No Disqualification match at Bound For Glory 2015 (TNA) – This match was probably the highlight of my TNA Bound For Glory PPV review as two men that are usually great workers were put in this illogical no disqualification match. The biggest highlight to this match was, despite Eric Young piledriving Kurt Angle, the referee waving off the match, KURT ANGLE even telling Eric it’s over, the match still went on for another ten minutes or so as Kurt was selling a broken neck. You really should read my Bound For Glory review (at this link) to get the full detail of my problems with this match. I’ll just say this… thumbs down.

The winner (or in this case, the loser) is…. the Elimination Chamber match.

Now keep in mind when we give out these awards for Best or Worst match of the year, it’s not strictly down to the in-ring side of things. If that was the case, then the Villanos/Psycho Circus match would probably win hands down. We’re looking at so many more aspects of the match that made it worthy of a nomination. Angle/Young was bad because of the illogical storytelling going on. The Royal Rumble match was a disaster mostly because of the crowd reactions and the finish. Emma and Paige vs the Bella Twins was on the list because of how disrespectful it was to women’s wrestling and the Villanos/Psycho Circus was in for a number of reasons. The reason for the Elimination Chamber being the winner was down to one thing. In AAA and TNA, the expectations and standards aren’t as high as WWE’s. Considering the physical well-being of both the Villanos and the Psycho Circus and considering that TNA’s booking was just vintage TNA, you can sort of expect that. For WWE, you expect top quality action. It’d be wrong to punish the divas for WWE’s decision to give them 30 seconds. For the Elimination Chamber and the Royal Rumble, there’s no excuse. At least the first half of the Royal Rumble was actually not that bad with some cool surprise entrants and stuff, so it has at least got a few redeeming qualities to it. The Elimination Chamber was just a bad match that fell apart because of the chamber pod spots and then going on for way too long. Their improvisation made them all look like fools and it was just a retched return of the elimination chamber. Congratulations you six for being apart of the worst match of the year.

 

Turn Of The Year

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There’s been a number of effective turns which have either been executed well or has lead to even greater things just by doing it. The nominations are…

  • The New Day: Heel (WWE) – It’s amazing to think that the WWE Creative team had the New Day be good guys for five months before realising that they needed to be heels. Responding to the “New Day Sucks” chant, the men finally embraced the hate and it’s the greatest decision the WWE have made throughout the entire year. The New Day have excelled as heels and it’ll be hard to see how they can top it in 2016.
  • Undertaker: Heel? (WWE) – In hindsight, it probably wasn’t a full-on heel turn from the Dead Man. However, to explore the idea of the Lord of Darkness legitimately turning to the dark side was intriguing enough when Undertaker cost Brock Lesnar the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground. Undertaker acting as a heel is very unique and I still believe that him spending the last few years of his career as a heel is what’s best for business before he rides off into the sunset.
  • Paige: Heel (WWE) – The initial turn for Paige was executed very well coming off a rather bleak program between Charlotte and Nikki Bella. Paige cut a scathing promo slating all of the divas, Charlotte and even Charlotte’s dad Ric Flair. What’s followed for Paige since then has been very flawed but the initial turn was pulled off very well.
  • Cesaro: Face (WWE) – Cesaro was already a face before this point but a true babyface moment for him this year was his program with John Cena and Kevin Owens for the United States Championship. Cesaro is a very excitable face wrestler which gives this turn a thumbs up. However, him going up against Cena in the main event of RAW was a moment which I thought was legitimately going to make him a new main event star for WWE to get behind. They showed respect to each other and the fans really did accept that Cesaro should be a main event star. Cena endorsing Cesaro among other things made this feel like a special RAW moment for Cesaro.

The winner is… the New Day!

This is the New Day’s second award and I was honestly going to give this to the Undertaker, despite that heel turn being more of a tweener turn then anything. However, the New Day’s turn was probably the most needed in the entire year and the group shined as the villains. Well done to the New Day!

 

Worst Storyline Of The Year

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This was not a great year for the writers of professional wrestling this year (with the exception of Lucha Underground). The nominations are….

  • The Rusev/Ziggler/Lana saga (WWE) – I’ll give this storyline credit in the fact that my analysis of this storyline is still one of my most viewed blog posts of the year! From the get-go, you knew this storyline couldn’t work. Trying to twist real-life relationships into a romance wrestling storyline really never works as well as it’s expected to and a lot of the time, it just came off as a really cheap soap opera rip-off. Ziggler and Lana couldn’t be accepted as a legitimate couple and Rusev ended up being the biggest loser out of everyone involved. Think about that. The man that WWE had pushed so hard in 2014 and up until Wrestlemania 31 suffered the most during this storyline. I would seriously give my article on this storyline a read at this link to get the full scoop of why this was such a failure.
  • The Divas Revolution (WWE) – I feel that the last six months in the divas roster has been nothing short of a failure with the exception of NXT. It’s very hard to believe that the same company that have put on some of the great women’s matches of all time put this storyline together in the same year. WWE’s attempts at replicating the success of the NXT women really did give women’s wrestling a bad name this year, as these women were unfortunately subjected to the terrible booking by the powers-that-be of WWE. Charlotte, Paige and the rest of the women really do need gold medals for the stuff they’ve had to put up with this year.
  • James Storm “kills” Mickie James (TNA) – Wrestlers being “killed” in storylines aren’t exactly new. Undertaker used to die every other year in WWE while Lucha Underground has ran a number of murder angles in the course of its first season. However, none where as painful to watch as Storm nudging Mickie James onto a train track. As part of a storyline where Storm tried to form a wedge between Magnus and Mickie (a real life engaged couple), the culmination of months of manipulation by Storm was TNA taking a page out of House Of Cards’ books and “killing” off Mickie James in such an anti-climactic manner (except the House of Cards scene was actually a lot more shocking than this one). It’s very hard to pull off a death storyline (unless you’re Lucha Underground) in the social media generation, but TNA’s attempt was just absurd especially when their official website referred to James Storm’s actions as “borderline criminal.” Honest to god, did not make that last part up.
  • The Battle Of The Crown (WWE) – This was hardly the “War of the five Kings” from Game of Thrones. This was WWE making a pure mockery of the value of the King of the Ring tournament. A tournament which has elevated the likes of Steve Austin, Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar to stardom. With this storyline, Barrett’s win was treated as a joke as R-Truth also decided to be a king. As I’ve discussed in the past, Barrett has been subjected to some serious woeful booking by WWE in his career but this really takes the cake.

The winner is… The Rusev/Lana/Ziggler storyline.

There’s no doubt in my mind. As infuriating as the Divas Revolution is, as stupid as the James Storm angle was and as much of a joke as the King storyline was made, this romance angle was by far the worst storyline of the year. This takes it by a HUGE MILE. There’s never been a bigger failure of a romance angle than the Rusev, Lana and Ziggler angle. What started with Lana getting some of the best reactions in the entire company and Rusev being a top heel monster, turned into both of them being degraded to such a degree that I find it very hard to believe that either person can be elevated back to the level that they were before they were struck with this horrible storyline.

 

Match of the Year

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Here’s one of the big ones. There’s been a great deal of tremendous matches over the year and these five have been among the elite. The nominations are…

    • John Cena vs Kevin Owens at Elimination Chamber 2015 – It’s very hard to separate all three of the Cena/Owens matches this year as all stand out in their own way. The Money In The Bank match and the Battleground rubber match were both well put together. However, Elimination Chamber only just takes it just for the pure shock of Owens beating Cena so convincingly.
    • Bayley vs Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver: Respect – It’s very hard to separate this match and one other match I’ve seen in the past over which was the greatest womens match I’ve ever seen. I feel given the background to it and the expectation, I feel this surely has to take it. These women were able to put on an incredible performance for 30 minutes, with great in-ring story-telling as Bayley had to prove that her win at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn was no joke.
    • Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2015 – This was filled with pure intensity and drama from bell to bell as it even began with Brock Lesnar attacking Undertaker during his entrance. It was a brawl like no one had ever seen before as the Beast and the Dead Man slugged it out. Many complained about the finish but I really didn’t mind it as it was a necessary evil for the third match to happen.
    • Mil Muetrues vs Fenix in a Grave Consequences match on Lucha Underground – This rivalry, as mentioned earlier, was a very powerful one. This match in particular was the ultimate David vs Goliath match as the underdog was beaten to a pulp. This match is a must see for those not familiar with Lucha Underground!
    • Brock Lesnar (c) vs Seth Rollins vs John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble – There’s little reason needed for why this match is a nominee. Other than being the only redeeming quality of the Royal Rumble PPV that saved it from being a complete disaster, this was the perfect mix for a triple threat match. You had John Cena (who had really improved in terms of match quality this year), Seth Rollins (who has the speed and generally all-around skill) and Brock Lesnar (who ranks high in pretty much every department you can think off!). It just made for a great triple threat which made all of them look incredible.

The winner is… Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar.

I feel kind of bad having all the match of the year candidates being related to the feud of the year candidates. However, those were the big instances where the matches made the rivalry. Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar was no exception as the two put together an incredible match at Summerslam.

 

Female of the Year

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This has been a year for ups and downs for womens wrestling in WWE, but lets give credit to these women as the nominations for female of the year are…

  • Paige – The winner of last year’s award is back into the mix as Paige has had a number of great moments, even with some of the questionable decisions by the powers-that-be. She’s been a little over-exposed and over-used in the divas title picture but the lovely Englishman has given us a lot of top performances.
  • Sasha Banks – It wouldn’t be a legitimate award without at least throwing the Boss into the fray. She had a great run as NXT Womens Champion in the start of the year and she’s been a delight to see whenever she appears on the main roster. That and having one of the best matches of the year surely makes the Boss a contender.
  • Bayley – The hugger is surprisingly the only one out of the four NXT horse-women that wasn’t called up to the main roster, which is probably for the better when you consider just how well she’s performed on NXT.
  • Nikki Bella – The #1 ranked women on the PWI Womens Top 50, Nikki is also in the running for this award as her improving in-ring skill and having to lead the womens roster as champion is something you have to give her credit for.

The winner is… Sasha Banks.

I feel all the others have valid reasons for winning but Sasha has been on top of her game for all of 2015. Congratulations to the Boss!

 

Promo of the Year

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Last year, we saw some tremendous promos cut by the likes of Dean Ambrose, Paul Heyman and Bray Wyatt. Our nominations for this year’s award are…

  • Paige’s PaigeBomb On The Night After Night Of Champions (September 21st 2015) – One of the brightest moments in the Divas Revolution was Paige cut a scathing promo on all the divas which addressed the problems present with the storyline. She buried Charlotte, Becky Lynch and all the other divas as she took credit for the whole Divas Revolution. This could have been the catalyst for a true divas revolution had WWE not squandered this opportunity.
  • Paul Heyman On The Night After Wrestlemania 31 (March 30th 2015) – Last year’s winner Paul Heyman is again featured prominently this year as his angry promo following Wrestlemania was delivered tremendously. Never has a rematch clause ever been invoked in such a manner!
  • Stephanie McMahon On John Cena Missing Out Wrestlemania 31 (March 2nd 2015) – I’m a huge fan of Stephanie McMahon and this promo was a prime example of why. Stephanie’s cut a lot of passionate promos during the year but this one involving Cena was one that really caught my attention. It’s one of those reassurances to the WWE Universe that Cena does not define WWE and is not as dominant as people realise. Stephanie is one of the few people that could have gotten this point across as she did.
  • Paul Heyman On The Future Of Brock Lesnar (March 9th 2015) – Surprisingly, two of these promos come within two weeks of each other! Not going to lie, the road to Wrestlemania can bring about some beauties. Paul Heyman discussing what Brock Lesnar’s plans are after Brock’s falling out with Vince McMahon was so intense that it almost seemed that Brock was actually legitimately holding the company up over the WWE World title. It was as intense as Paul could have made it as he discussed the potential of Brock becoming WWE World and UFC Champion and “smacking around Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao” in a heated promo which really aided the promotion of Lesnar’s match with Roman Reigns tremendously.

The winner is… Paul Heyman with his angry promo on the night after Wrestlemania!

Paul is a true master of the microphone and it was evident with this promo. A deserving two-time winner of this award and there was few that could touch him this year. I always thought this promo grabbed my attention more than the one earlier on in the month, but both were amazing nevertheless. Congratulations Paul!

 

Wrestler Of The Year

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THIS IS IT. This is the big one as we determine who was the best wrestler all year long. The nominations are….

  • Seth Rollins – Last year’s winner has gone from strength to strength, having mostly reigned as WWE World Heavyweight Champion and the locker room leader. He put on great performance after great performance and was really transformed into a true main event star which is exactly what WWE are lacking in. His injury was a huge blow but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Rollins had an incredible year under him that he should really be proud of.
  • John Cena – Big Match John really upped his game in terms of his in-ring skills. John’s had match after match with the US Championship Open Challenge to demonstrate his abilities and help a fellow challenger along the way. Cena’s had great matches with the likes of Rollins, Kevin Owens, Cesaro and Dean Ambrose to make this a top year for the franchise player of WWE.
  • Kevin Owens – Despite being HUGELY under-utilised in the majority of the second half of 2015, Owens shined when given the proper mic and wrestling time. He started of the year by smashing Sami Zayn and moved onto his tremendous trilogy with John Cena. He reigned as Intercontinental Champion and in a time of need in terms of top heel stars, Kevin Owens needs to be one to push in 2016.
  • Cesaro – Cesaro gets a spot because HE FREAKING DESERVES IT. Despite not being in a lot of major programs during the year, Cesaro shined whenever he was given the ball. Even when he was under-utilised, he still did his best to make sure he had one of the best matches of the night and to prove just how great he was.
  • Brock Lesnar – Some of you may question my decision to put in a man that rarely wrestles but when he does, it’s must-see television. Brock had some of the best matches of the whole year and can captivate the audience in one way or another.

The winner is… Seth Rollins.

Congrats to Seth Rollins for winning this award for a second year in a row. While John Cena was really on top of his game this year, Seth takes this by a huge mile. He worked his ass off and his performances against some of the top names in the business shows that he belongs in the main event scene for years to come. Seth is the closest WWE’s come to creating a new legitimate star in professional wrestling.

@armbarexpress

That will wrap it up for the award. There were a few more awards that I wanted to dish out in this post and I will do a follow-up piece some time in January to reveal some of the bonus awards including the likes of “Hidden Gem of the Year.”  Thank you all so much for making this an incredible year for the Armbar Express. Thanks to the world of wrestling for giving me the motivation to write about the good and bad of wrestling this year. Cheers!

 

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: TNA 2010 – UPDATE #1

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here once again to bring you our very first TNA EWR update, where we basically tell you were things are going in our Extreme Warfare Revenge universe and what to expect in the future.

As you will have noticed, the TNA series has returned and in full force. We returned with Bound For Glory and we’ve seen a number of posts since. We did BFG, an Impact special “Joker’s Wild”, Turning Point and Final Resolution. That’s a lot to take in so what we’re going to do is drop the links to all the parts down below…

Part 1 – Destination X

Part 2 – Lockdown

Part 3 – Sacrifice

Part 4 – Slammiversary

Part 5 – Victory Road

Part 6 – Hard Justice

Part 7 – No Surrender

Part 8 – Bound For Glory

Part 9 – Joker’s Wild Special

Part 10 – Turning Point

Part 11 – Final Resolution

Any posts you’ve missed or if you just want to go back and get yourself clued up on what’s happened in this series, there are all the links you need.

For those of you that are new to the series, TNA has changed quite a bit. Allow me to give you a bit more detail on the current storylines I’ve got running as we’ve wrapped up 2010 and are now going into 2011!

 

Plot

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AJ Styles was TNA World Heavyweight Champion at the start of the series and he went through a lot of competition including the likes of Kurt Angle. He did drop the belt to Jeff Hardy but quickly won it back. After retaining at Bound For Glory, he was met with a new challenger… AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA!

That joke will never get old in my mind!

Seriously, Cena did win the TNA World title from Styles and goes into 2011 strong as our top guy.

Currently running the ship is Interim General Manager Kurt Angle. Hulk Hogan had been running things since the start of the game (as well as Bischoff until Bischoff retired in the game). However, Hogan was mysteriously taken out leaving Kurt Angle to be named as the head honcho of TNA for now. The heel Sting had questioned Hogan’s intentions in the past but what will the Stinger make of Kurt Angle being in charge? What impact will Sting and Angle have on TNA in 2011?

There’s been plenty of stables on the scene as well including the likes of Reckless Ambition headed by L.A. Par-K and the British Invasion. A new stable has just emerged called “Global Supremacy” (led by Desmond Wolfe) but the most prominent group has been Extreme Coalition. Raven and Rhino have been tearing up the TNA Tag Team division as champions but will there be more additions to the group?

There’s been a number of new signings over the year. Along with John Cena has been Rey Mysterio that’s been able to mix it up with the bright X-Division stars like Jay Lethal, Christopher Daniels and the Motor City Machine Guns.

There’s also a number of developmental stars waiting for their chance to shine and also stars like El Generico, Kevin Steen and Claudio Castagnoli hoping to break out as top talents in the company.

It’s an exciting future for this game and we’ve just actually become the top promotion in the company in terms of public image (which determines where the company’s are in terms of size). We’re still behind the WWE in PPV buys though so that’ll be something we’re hoping to surpass them in.

 

Schedule

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Our last post was Final Resolution and we’ve actually done two PPVs since then which just need writing up. Both Genesis and Against All Odds have been done and graded by the game and we’re hoping to have Genesis up on the blog soon. I’m hoping to have at least one new post up by next Friday so stay tuned for that.

For the time being, I’m going to stick with just doing the TNA series. The WCW series is obviously the more developed one that has really helped the blog out but I’ve noticed that the TNA series has actually been effective in its own right. We decided that we might as well give it the chance to shine. Also, I wanted to have a break from the WCW series and it’s good to try something else! Don’t worry though WCW fans. We will be coming back to it… eventually!

 

Knockouts Division

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I know the Knockouts division hasn’t really been a big deal in the series but we do have a bit of announcement regarding its status. Our champion ODB recently jumped ship to the WWE meaning that the title has been vacated. We had a look at the roster and judging by how much we’ve not used a lot of the women, we’ve put the division on halt for a bit. The title has been suspended and we’re probably not going to crown a new champion until later on in the year when a few of the developmental female stars join the main roster. Trust me, we’ll come back stronger than ever with the TNA knockouts!

However, we do have a number of other signings that have joined us in recent months. The likes of Konnan and Primo Colon have joined the Reckless Ambition stable and the Hart Dynasty has also joined us. I mentioned DH Smith was signed to the company at Final Resolution but Tyson Kidd has also came on board. I’m hoping to do a lot with them.

There’s been a few signings but other than Cena and Mysterio, no major ones that will be a big part of the PPVs. I’ve signed independent stars like Joey Ryan but he’s not really been over enough to be featured on the main shows. Also, AAA snapped up Ryan on a written contract from under my nose just recently! -.-

I can reveal though that TWO new big signings will be revealed soon so stay tuned for that. I’ll actually give you two clues for each of the new signings.

  1. The first new signing has been a huge star in Mexico and has actually had a rare five star rated match from Dave Meltzer at Wrestling Observer.
  2. The second signing is former multi-time world champion for WWE AND has appeared in the last ten Wrestlemania events.

So there you go. There are your clues. They’ll both be revealed in due time.

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That’ll wrap things up for this update. Again, be sure to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for news on when Genesis and Against All Odds are up!

 

 

 

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: TNA 2010 PART 11 – FINAL RESOLUTION

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Previously on TNA EWR…

We crowned a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion in John Cena, who defeated AJ Styles to win the championship on the first time of asking. At Final Resolution, AJ will get his rematch for the title in a steel cage match.

TNA’s newest signing Rey Mysterio was revealed at Turning Point, as he signed Hulk Hogan’s contract. Alex Shelley from the Motor City Machine Guns was the first to call out Mysterio as he and Chris Sabin jumped the luchador on Impact. It was announced that Rey’s first match in the promotion would be with Shelley at Final Resolution. Could Shelley make a name for himself by knocking off Mysterio?

On the Impact before Final Resolution, General Manager Hulk Hogan was mysteriously attacked in the back by an unknown assailant. TNA Owner Jeff Jarrett was scheduled to appear at Final Resolution to give a statement about the attack and what it means for TNA.

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Pre-show – Interview with Samoa Joe

Samoa Joe is on the pre-show. He cuts a promo about beating Matt Morgan and moving forward with his career. He feels now is the right time for him to reclaim the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. He decides to challenge whoever wins the main event to a title match for Genesis. Joe vowed to win the title and didn’t matter if it was AJ Styles or John Cena. He would be the next TNA World Champion.

 

Match 1 – Bobby Roode, James Storm and Kaz def. “Global Supremacy” Desmond Wolfe, TAKA Michinoku and David Hart Smith

Beer Money and Kaz vs the newest stable in TNA called the Global Supremacy. After I hired David Hart Smith, I decided to give Desmond Wolfe another group to run which would include himself, TAKA, David Hart Smith and Claudio Castagnoli who I’ve wanted to push for a while. Desmond’s continued to target Beer Money so Storm and Roode brought in Kaz to even the odds. The good guys won. I’d hate to have Global Supremacy lose their first PPV match as a group but they dominated the Impact shows very emphatically as of late so I had to give the good guys something.

 

Match 2 – Matt Morgan def. Hernandez

Morgan vs Hernandez. 86% is an all rating for these two. Hernandez is still really over so I decided to put him with Morgan. Morgan got the win clean and then El Mesias from Reckless Ambition attacked Morgan helped out his fellow stable member Hernandez. Not bad for this feud so far.
Angle 1 – Chris Sabin attacks Jeff Jarrett

Jeff Jarrett cut a promo about being the founder of TNA. Jarrett talks about the issues between Sting and Hogan and addresses the attack on Hogan. He calls it gutless and vowed to bring the assailant to justice. He initially stated that his prime suspect was Sting but has not been able to track him down. He declared that a new interim general manager would take over on Impact. He gave those in the back a chance to reveal themselves if any of them were the attacker(s) but out came Chris Sabin. Sabin denied attack Hogan but came out to address Jeff. Chris said he’s been with TNA almost since it began and talks about being inspired by Jeff to work hard to achieve dreams. However, he now believes that Jeff’s message of hard work is BS as Sabin was the best worker last year and has been left off the card for the final PPV of 2010. He asks Jeff Jarrett for a match at the first PPV of 2011, Genesis, but Jeff refuses. Sabin attacks Jarrett and performs a conchairto to leave the man hurt.

 
Match 3 – Jeff Hardy and Brother Devon def. Abyss and Bobby Lashley in a hardcore tag team match

At Turning Point, Abyss won Lashley’s TNA Global Title obviously causing dissension between the two. However, they decided to put their differences aside to finish off Jeff Hardy and Brother Devon. However, an opponent miscommunication caused Hardy and Devon to pick up the win. Abyss and Lashley argued afterwards. 85% which is fine I guess.

 

Match 4 – Mr Anderson def. Christopher Daniels

These two have been arguing about who is more worthy of a TNA World title shot as of late. They decided to settle it with a match at Final Resolution which Anderson won by cheating. With an overall rating of 89%, this was the start to a very solid ending to the show. Happy with this and I do want to keep it going into Genesis.

 

Match 5 – Jay Lethal and Kurt Angle def. “Deadly Sin” Raven and Rhino in a non-title match. If Jay Lethal and Kurt Angle lost, Jay Lethal would leave TNA.

Raven and Rhino have been mocking Jay Lethal for not being able to beat them for the Tag Titles. Angle came to Lethal’s aid as Lethal stated that it’s not about winning the tag titles, it’s about him proving that he was one of the best in the business. Lethal challenged Deadly Sin to one more tag team match at Final Resolution. Deadly Sin agreed as long as Lethal was the one that put something on the line this time. If Lethal’s team lost, Lethal would be forced to leave TNA for good. Lethal agreed and Lethal actually got the pin as he and Angle won. This is a big win for him as he had been losing quite a bit in the last few months. I felt he had to win this and Lethal is exceptionally over now. With the 95% rating, I think this went really well!

 

Match 6 – Rey Mysterio def. Alex Shelley

96% rating! Love it! Alex Shelley getting over big time with this feud and the in-ring work was exceptional. This is only the beginning of things with Mysterio and Shelley.

 

Match 7 – John Cena (c) def. AJ Styles in a steel cage match to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship

Cena stands tall as champion with this 89% rating. Cena was the most over and I want to continue his reign as champion. Cena was attacked after the match by Samoa Joe setting up our next TNA World title feud between Cena and Joe. I’m actually looking forward to this one as Cena vs Joe was a match I always thought would be cool if it ever happened. They’ve got similar power styles with Joe obviously being more of a high-flyer. I feel there’s a lot of potential with this one.

 

So that was Final Resolution. I hope you all enjoyed it. Next up is Genesis, which has already been done. I will reveal one important detail going into that event about the angle with Hulk Hogan taking out.

For the moment, Hogan’s duties as GM will be handled by Kurt Angle. Kurt Angle has just become a non-wrestler in my game so I’ve decided to make him an Authority figure as well. I think the control of the company angle has a lot of potential considering the people involved. We’ve got Hulk Hogan and Kurt Angle as the bosses for the people and we’ve got Sting, who is wanting to get Hogan from out of power because of what he’s done to WCW in the past. There’s all the ingredients for a fine little storyline.

 

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: TNA 2010 PART 10 – TURNING POINT

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Previously on TNA EWR….

We held a Joker’s Wild competition to determine the number one contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, held by AJ Styles. In the end, John Cena overcame the odds to win the whole thing becoming the challenger to AJ’s belt. Can TNA’s newest star win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship right off the bat?

Can Kurt Angle finally close the book on his feud with Mr Anderson by beating him in a submission match? Anderson vowed to make Kurt Angle tap out to his own hold but can he deliver on his promise?

Bobby Lashley is also defending the TNA Global Championship in a fatal four way with team mate Abyss, Jeff Hardy and Brother Devon. Can Lashley keep the gold firmly in his grasps?

To put the cherry on top of the whole deal, Sting has made a deal with General Manager Hulk Hogan. If Cena doesn’t win, Hogan’s vowed to step down from his position.

A lot of scores and a few championships will be decided at Turning Point…

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Pre-Show – Rey Mysterio Debuts As Hulk Hogan’s Newest Signing

Another tremendous signing for TNA as Rey Mysterio comes on board. People are really going to start thinking that I messed with the system somehow but trust me, I DIDN’T! On this game, Rey was also released like Cena was. I’m starting to think the game is corrupted somehow because they’ve gotten rid of a lot of wrestlers in recent months of the game! Either they’re losing a lot of money in the game or the game is screwy. The first one is actually possible as they’ve been losing public image a lot as we’re catching up to them. However, Rey is actually a really great signing for us. He can have some tremendous matches with the X-Division Stars and really elevate our star power. Excited about this.

 

Match 1 – Christopher Daniels and Jerry Lynn def. “Motor City Machine Guns” Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley with TAKA Michinoku as the special guest referee

This was the best match on the entire show in terms of ratings but this was not a great PPV for ratings! I think a lot of the matches were harshly judged but I’m happy with this one. TAKA is the X-Division Champion and was put in by Hulk Hogan to get a closer look at the competition. Daniels took a sip of his Martini and went to spit it at Sabin but actually got TAKA. TAKA got it in his eyes as Daniels then hit the Angel’s Wings. TAKA is temporarily blinded and performs the fast count on Sabin, believing that he screwed Daniels. When he repairs his vision, he realises he actually screwed over the Motor City Machine Guns! The Guns get pissed and attack TAKA.

 

Match 2 – Kaz def. Hernandez in a falls count anywhere match

Oh boy, did this not work. Other than getting Hernandez really over, this feud accomplished nothing worthwhile. Kaz was in the TNA World title contention a few months ago and even despite winning this feud, has lost a fair amount of overness. Apparently he made Hernandez look like a star, because Super Mex was the only one that got overness from this feud. The 68% really did bomb the show and really didn’t do a great job. Sorry Kaz. I guess it’s not quite the time for you…

 

Match 3 – Samoa Joe def. Matt Morgan in a steel cage match

Surprised at how badly this match plummeted considering it got a rating in the high 80s at Bound For Glory. I really needed to give Joe the win as Morgan had dominated this feud. Morgan still locked strong coming off it so a success, despite the rating for their final match.

 

Match 4 – “Beer Money Inc.” Bobby Roode and James Storm def. Desmond Wolfe and Monty Brown in a hardcore tag team match

This was better than Joe vs Morgan but that’s not saying much considering that it was only one percent better and this match involved Beer Money! Monty Brown was revealed as Bobby Roode’s attacker from Joker’s Wild and Desmond Wolfe decided to team with him to take on Beer Money at Turning Point. He neglected his own stable the British Invasion to go with Monty Brown and there’s a good reason for that.

I fired the unhappy Doug Williams and Brutus Magnus following the PPV, which really just ended the stable. Anyway, Desmond’s going to have a new group to lead following this and I can’t wait to unveil it to you at Final Resolution!

 

Match 5 – “Deadly Sin” Raven (c) and Rhino (c) def. Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett in a tables match to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship

Again, this probably would have been better if it were not for a real Negative Nancy reviewing my show! Everyone’s at 100% overness except Jeff coming off of this so it did a great job. Jay and Jeff as the tag team champions just doesn’t seem right so Deadly Sin retain. I do have a big match for Lethal at the next PPV so stay tuned.

 

Match 6 – Abyss def. Bobby Lashley (c), Jeff Hardy and Brother Devon in a fatal four way match to win the TNA Global Championship

The TNA Global title has been on Lashley for a few months but I never really had a storyline to work it into so I decided to throw it into one with his tag team partner Abyss. Abyss picked up the win after pinning Devon and becoming the champion, of course causing dissension within the team. I think this has the ingredients for something special. However, this rating does not really help things…

 

Match 7 – Kurt Angle def. Mr Anderson in a submission match

Kurt got the win in a submission match, making Anderson tap out in the Ankle lock. This finally wraps up the feud. I have a nice feud lined up for Anderson next month and Kurt’s got a big match too so I’m looking forward to giving these two new content to work with.

 

Match 8 – John Cena def. AJ Styles (c) to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. If Hulk Hogan loses, he will quit as TNA’s General Manager.

I feel that this one will not be welcomed so well by the internet however it had to be done. Cena is probably the biggest signing I’ll ever get for TNA in this game so I want to set up him up accordingly. I probably should have had Cena chase for the title for a bit but I was impatient. John Cena is John Cena and if you have someone like him on your roster with his popularity, you make him the top guy as soon as possible. Cena is not going to be my champion forever but he does need a run with the belt and I figured why not sooner rather than later…

 

So that was Turning Point. Hopefully this will not be a turning point for the worst and we can turn things around with the ratings! I think we just caught the reviewer on a really bad mood as the TV ratings have been exceptional most of the time. We’ll see you all at Final Resolution!

Wrestling Flashback – The Aces And Eights

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“When you ride with Aces and Eights, you never walk alone!”

Many groups have came and gone in TNA but none of them were as consistently utilised and pushed for than the group of motorcyclists known as the Aces And Eights.

The group first made their way to TNA when they attacked Sting on Impact following his match with Bobby Roode at Slammiversary 2012. This was their way of asserting themselves in TNA by taking out the biggest dog in the yard and putting the rest of TNA on notice.

These attacks would continue on TNA talent as the TNA World Champion Austin Aries and General Manager Hulk Hogan were also targeted in these attacks. The big question was who was behind the attacks from these thugs and the first suspect that was mentioned was James Storm. The Aces and Eights started a pattern of attacking every member of the TNA locker room with one notable exception. Storm denied his involvement with the group and the group basically confirmed Storm’s innocence by attacking him on Impact.

Aries’ arm was attacked by the group and Aries wanted revenge. After taking an Aces and Eights member hostage (Yeah, this actually happened) Aries and Hogan tortured the poor fella for answers about who was running the deal. A deal was eventually made with TNA and Aces And Eights agreeing to a fight at No Surrender between Austin Aries and the “Arm Breaker” of Aces and Eights. Aries won the fight but the group made their mark that night by taking out Jeff Hardy. This led to Hogan locking out the Aces and Eights to prevent these attacks once and for all.

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However, this didn’t stop the group of bikers. They captured Joseph Park and eventually Hogan and Sting too, bringing them to their clubhouse. The leader of the group then began negotiations with Hogan and Sting for Joseph Park. The leader proposed a two on two match at Bound For Glory with two Aces and Eights members going up against Sting and a partner of his choosing. If the Aces and Eights won, they earned access to the Impact Zone. If they lost, they’d be gone for good. After the match, Park would be let go. Hogan agreed to the stipulation and the match was set.

What’s funny about this segment is that the leader’s voice was messed with by an audio mixer to prevent his identity from being revealed to the viewers. However, someone on YouTube actually messed with the audio of the segment to work out who was actually playing the leader in that segment. In this audio clip, it appeared that Eric Bischoff was actually playing the leader in this segment. However, a segment just a few months later would “reveal” Devon as the one that was taking to Hogan and Sting. It’s funny. Were TNA considering revealing Bischoff as the leader? I believe he was still signed to the company at the plan and it would have made sense because Hulk Hogan and Sting were the reasons why Bischoff was away from TNA in the storyline. I guess we’ll never know.

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Bully Ray volunteered himself to be Sting’s partner at Bound for Glory but Hogan was very sceptical. He didn’t trust Bully but Sting was all for Bully taking part. Hogan agreed to have Bully team with Sting, telling him that he was fighting for TNA. The tag team match saw Park break free and fight the Aces and Eights alongside Bully and Sting. Another member of the group put Bully through a table, giving the group the important win. An angry Hogan helped Sting and Bully take down and unmask the member that took out Bully. However, it was quite the shocker. The man was revealed to be Bully’s long time former tag team partner Devon.

It was a genuine shocker as Devon “revealed” on Twitter that he had left the company and he even vacated the TNA Television title. To see Devon was quite a stunner but it was a interesting plot twist considering Bully’s involvement in the fight against the group.

With full access, the group fought with the Impact roster more frequently and more members would soon be unmasked. D.O.C. (a.k.a. Luke Gallows) was the second man unmasked from Aces and Eights and took out Sting with a hammer to save his position within the club. Knux (a.k.a. Knux) was also revealed when Sting returned following the attack from D.O.C. Mr Anderson was also recruited to the club after they pointed out TNA’s negligence towards Anderson when the group took him out. Tazz was revealed as a member of the group during Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan’s wedding. Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff, two men that had been mentored by Kurt Angle, were also revealed to be associated with the group when they took out Kurt in a steel cage. The vice president of the Aces and Eights was revealed to be D-Lo Brown after he kicked Kurt Angle in the nuts. This left one member of the Aces and Eights still unmasked and one question left unanswered… just who was the leader? At Lockdown 2013, we got an answer.

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During Bully Ray’s TNA World title match against the champion Jeff Hardy, Aces and Eights found their way into the steel cage. Devon was armed with a hammer which he simply tossed to Bully. When Jeff’s back was turned, Bully smacked Jeff in the head with it. Bully pinned Jeff to become the TNA World Heavyweight Champion and he revealed himself as the president of Aces and Eights.

This was the culmination of a nine-month plan by Bully to become the TNA World Champion and it was actually one of the rare instances where TNA followed through with their long term planning. The reveals of each member was clearly well thought of by the writers with the big end game being Bully Ray winning the TNA World title. They had a plan and they stuck with it. A lot of the Aces and Eights stuff leading up to Lockdown was hard to deal with, I must admit. However, there weren’t a lot of plot holes with the story. Bully Ray addressed a lot of the plot holes fans might have pointed out over the course of the storyline in a great segment on Impact a few weeks later, when Bully revealed the whole plan.

One of the biggest plot holes I can remember up until Lockdown was Kurt unmasking the vice president in a backstage segment (in a camera angle where the viewers couldn’t see who Kurt unmasked) and not saying a word about it until the next week when he did his segment with D-Lo. Right, because Kurt just kept this important information to himself for a week? It could have possibly been covered up with Kurt giving D-Lo a chance to reveal himself but this was never mentioned by any of the commentators.

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The Aces and Eights were riding high with Bully being the TNA World champion, Devon being the TV champion again and the rest of the group working their way through the roster. Bully ended up retaining against Jeff in a Full Metal Mayhem match and a No Holds Barred match with Sting, with the latter never getting another TNA title shot if he lost. D-Lo was also kicked out of the group during this time for losing a I Quit match to Kurt and a number of other botches which cost the group as well.

There was more dissension within the group as D.O.C. and Mr Anderson argued over who should replace D-Lo as the Vice President. This led to an all Aces and Eights battle royal which saw D.O.C. refuse to go over the top rope and let Mr Anderson win. Anderson was also elected Vice President but the storyline was never really followed up on, as D.O.C. was eventually released from the company.

Bully feuded with Chris Sabin, who had cashed in his X-Division title for a shot at the TNA World title. Sabin beat Bully for the TNA World title at Destination X but would drop the belt back to Bully in a cage match due to interference from the newest member of the group… Tito Ortiz.

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Yes, the MMA legend Tito Ortiz became a member of the group as part of TNA’s working relationship with Bellator MMA. It was really a cheap version of Mike Tyson joining DX which really put a sour taste in a lot of TNA fans’ mouths. Miss Tessmacher also became a member of the group as Bully’s new squeeze. These two new additions to the group was questioned by Anderson, but Bully just told Anderson off for doing so. In order to cause further dissension in the group, Hulk Hogan claimed that one of the members of Aces and Eights would get the title shot. Anderson was revealed as the number one contender and effectively left the group by costing Bully a match with Sting. However, Anderson was unable to capture the gold and Bully rolled onto Bound For Glory and a title defence against AJ Styles.

In case you were wondering, the whole Tito Ortiz/Aces and Eights deal came to close in just a few weeks when Bellator told TNA that they didn’t want MMA fighters appearing in TNA segments any more. Wes was also kicked out of the group by Bully Ray for losing a match and Devon was exiled from TNA after getting pinned in a five on five tag team match against the Main Event Mafia. It seemed that with a lot of the members leaving, the group was going to be finished real soon.

After Bully lost the title, Anderson returned for revenge on Bully for taking him out. Anderson also tried to cause further dissension from within the group but the group stayed united. In the end, Anderson beat Bully on November 21st 2013 to officially put an end to the group and this storyline.

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Overall, the Aces and Eights storyline was not a bad storyline. It was at least a storyline that the TNA writers stuck with and some of the long term planning paid off after Bully Ray was revealed as the president of the club. It seemed that it all the months of planning and swerves eventually came together. Like a lot of past stables in wrestling history, the biggest issue was the last few months for the group. It just seemed that there wasn’t any particular long term plans for the finish of the program, which really hurt it in the end. The suggestion that this was one of the worst stables in wrestling history is just absurd. There were far worse stables like the Corre and the New Blood that were treat far worse than these group of bikers. In the end it made Bully Ray a main event star, featured as much of the TNA roster as possible and did put TNA on the right track in terms of its storylines after the whole deal with Immortal. Here’s to you Aces and Eights. May you ride your mopeds to the shores of Valhalla…