RETRO EXPRESS: WCW STARRCADE 1995 (DECEMBER 27TH 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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Starrcade 1995 is here. The World Cup of Wrestling… well at least the 1995 version of it. Not TNA’s version of the World Cup of Wrestling. Not WWE’s version of the World Cup of Wrestling from last year. Nope… WCW’s take it on it. By World Cup, they mean the USA’s WCW taking on Japan’s NJPW in a best of seven series. 7 of WCW’s best taking on 7 of NJPW’s best. Who will walk away with the honors?

Along with this, we had a triangle match between Sting, Lex Luger and Ric Flair. Whoever won this booked themselves an immediate title match against the Macho Man Randy Savage for the WCW title. Would one of the worst world title reigns of all time continue or would either Luger, Sting or Flair take the title from the Macho Man?

 

Date: December 27th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Nashville, Tennessee

Attendance: 8,200

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan

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Before I get into this mega review, as these PPVs always seems to be with the WCW series, I have to mention some difficulties I had watching this PPV. This was the first show I watched since they switched the format of the WWE Network. If you’re subscribed to the Network and have watched anything in the last few weeks, you’ll understand.

It now has a format very similar to Netflix where if you scroll down, at least on a PS4 console, it just has list after list of categories and stuff. When I scrolled down, not once was able to find Starrcade 1995 or anything from my watchlist of content. I had podcasts saved I wanted to watch, I had some NWA matches I wanted to watch. I even have Total Divas saved on there but that’s an entirely different story for another time…

Anyway, I couldn’t find my watchlist including the Starrcade 1995 which I’d saved. So, I had to go find it. On a positive, they did group all of the WCW stuff together now. It used to be where you’d have to find the PPVs under PPVs and all of the Nitros under Vault or whatever that section was called. Now, if you look for WCW, it’s all there. PPV, Thunders, Nitro… even the WWE’s Monday Night Wars series they did. It’s all there.

I find it. I sit down and I get ready to watch the show. Then I have another problem, which is actually not WWE’s, WCW’s or any wrestling promotion’s fault. My remote starts playing up. I try to turn up the volume and, for some reason, it turns off my TV. I have no idea what happened to it but when I tried to turn up the volume, the TV turned off with Starrcade still running. I could turn it down no problems but I could not turn it up.

I find away around it and eventually, I got settled. Then I get all the way to the Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono match. I had to stop to go get a protein bar or whatever it was I went to get. I had to get something. I come back and the match has already started playing on my PS4. So I try to re-wind it and, if you have the WWE Network, you know where I’m going with this….

I try to re-wind and I could only re-wind back 10 seconds at a time. You could rewind back 10 seconds, you could fast-forward 10 seconds… no less. Even if you missed like one spot in particular, you’d have to rewatch the last 10 seconds just so you can see a small detail. Unbelievably annoying this was. Also, if you rewind 10 seconds and then when you want to go back a little bit further because you realise that’s not enough time to rewind, the Network crashes. It completely crashed twice during the Luger/Chono match to the point where I had to turn off my PS4 off and start over.

Another positive I guess is that points and highlights of the show are easier to get to it when skipping forward but you still have to rewatch the whole segment or match from the beginning. I saw Luger flexing at the start of that match like 3 times during one watch of this Starrcade.

I’m hoping the Network changes things back because this is gonna make watching Nitros awkward for the foreseeable future.

 

Chris Benoit vs Jushin Thunder Liger in Match #1 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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This wasn’t particular;y one of the better Benoit matches I’ve started this series but this was by no means a bad match. It was pretty solid… minus a horrible finish which I think hurt the match. I think the fundamental flaw of this match is a fundamental flaw of many wrestling matches nowadays. It was all about the moves.

The best thing about great Benoit matches was that there was always a purpose for 70% of what he did in the ring to either progress the story or to do something which would make sense in the structure of an actual wrestling match. This match didn’t really embody this that strongly. It was just a bunch of moves, executed really well, that were put together until someone ran in which led to the finish.

I mean it started off well. Benoit won the test of strength. Liger got to his feet and did a hurricanrana and a Liger kick. Benoit, the heel, did a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to thunderous cheers. It was a common theme on the his show was that there was purely blind loyalty to the US on this show. This was to the point where even the heels Lex Luger and Benoit got thunderous babyface reactions for one night.

Liger did a great belly-to-belly suplex and followed it up with a fake out back flip. Benoit did a snap suplex and a back suplex. Benoit actually whipped out a Liontamer of all submissions!

Benoit did a crisp German suplex with a bridge to big cheers for Nashville! Liger did a bow and arrow submission to Benoit and then locked on the dragon sleeper for extra twerk.  Liger then went to work with a camel clutch.

Benoit reversed this camel clutch into an electric chair. Liger countered a back suplex into a crossbody. Benoit’s tombstone attempt reversed into a Liger tombstone slam. Benoit went up for the superplex and the crowd ERUPTED after Benoit hit this… it was astonishing how much these fans popped for this move!

Benoit missed a diving headbutt which was followed up with Liger hitting a sit-out powerbomb. Liger did a brainbuster. Benoit did one german suplex and then Benoit hit a second and he SLAMMED Liger into the mat. This was a hard hit. Benoit hit a powerbomb. Benoit went up for a diving headbutt when the Taskmaster ran down with fellow Dungeon of Doom member Jimmy Hart holding him back. Benoit was distracted and Liger did a somewhat hurricanrana roll up for the win.

Bit of a silly finish to an otherwise solid opening match.

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Match Rating: *** (Feels a bit of a low rating but there wasn’t much of a story to the match for it to be higher. The moves were done crisply well and well executed but it was just a bunch of moves and the Taskmaster interference ruined it for me.)

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview with Eddie Guerrero. Eddie said Taskmaster had no business being in the match against Benoit. Eddie said it was an honour to represent WCW and he was just happy to be here. He talks about his opponent Shinjiro Otani. Eddie says Otani is a tremendous athlete but Eddie had to be on top of his game. Eddie said he hit the gym and he said he’d give it his best. Mean Gene said he saw Eddie do push-ups and getting read for the match to which Eddie smiled! This was a great promo.

 

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Koji Kanemoto vs Alex Wright in Match #2 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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They confirmed Hulk Hogan would be wrestling on Nitro which basically confirmed that Hogan was only to serve a one week suspension for going crazy with attacking officials, wrestlers and referees with chairs in the past month or so. It was like storylines emulating life with these weak punishments for WCW wrestlers. If we stick around to around the 2000s of WCW, you’ll see just how bad at punishing these wrestlers this company will get.

I liked this next match. It was Alex Wright vs Koji Kanemoto for Match #2. It was the fast, quick pace of Wright against the fast, quick but controlled pace of Kanemoto. I don’t know whether Koji was a face or a heel in NJPW at the time but here on this show, in US soil, he played the role well as the evil foreigner going as far as roaring at one fan!

Wright started off with dropkick headscissors to which Kanemoto responded by unloading chops and kicks to the leg, and then followed it up with a big wheel kick. Kanemoto gets Wright laying on the top rope, slapped him on the belly multiple times and did a dropkick to the gut! A creative little spot that I liked! Unlike anything you’d normally see in a match.

Kanemoto did a dive. I will say it bothered me when Wright ran right to the hard cam to catch Koji and just stood there as he dove on him. He didn’t even try to hide that he was waiting for Koji to catch him. Kanemoto did a tiger suplex but Wright’s feet was on the rope. Kanemoto did a moonsault but didn’t go for the cover. Wright leapfrogged Kanemoto in the corner and did a big german suplex for a near fall.

They battled for a while until Kanemoto dropped Wright face first on the top turnbuckle and followed it up with a bridge pin for the win. The right man won considering Kanemoto was the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Wright beating him here would have just made NJPW looked very weak.

WCW 0 – 2 NJPW

Match Rating: ***

 

Mean Gene did an interview with Sonny Onoo, who was the spokesman for Team NJPW. Mean Gene plugged the WCW Hotline. Sonny said it should be 5-0 right now to NJPW. Sonny vowed to buy WCW and Iowa. Mean Gene said WCW is not up for sale but advised that Iowa is a whole different story! Sonny said everything is for sale to which Mean Gene replied: “well you Japanese would know that!” Sonny messed with Mean Gene and Mean Gene got confused.

 

Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono in Match #3 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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As I mentioned, it was here when I had the WWE Network issues with it crashing. It crashed at least twice if I recall correctly. To be fair, I wasn’t missing much with regards to this match. Really, I only needed to wait until near the end of the match. We got a legendary commentary moment which I will get too in a little a bit. I actually mentioned this in one of the WCW PPV reviews I did. I can’t remember which one but I at least knew what was coming!

The one thing I wanted to say, before we even get to that, was that Luger was such a heel in the last few months and now in Starrcade, the fans WENT NUTS for him coming out to deal with the Japanese! He was so beloved and over during this match, at least in this match anyway. Bobby Heenan even brought this up that he’s only being cheered because he’s going up against New Japan… the HEEL is the voice of right here!

Luger gorilla pressed Chono,  flexed and the fans went BONKERS for Team America. Chono did a big boot to send Luger crashing to the outside. Chono did a suplex. The fans chanted USA. Chono did a sleeper and dropped him with the reverse DDT. Chono locked on the STF. Bobby got all flustered with confusion with his WCW/NJPW Support. Then we got… the moment.

Mashario Chono throws this kick, and then Tony Schiavonie, WCW Professional Wrestling Commentator, refers to this kick as the Mafia Kick. In a match between the USA’s WCW and Japan’s NJPW, he calls this move the “Mafia Kick.” The responses from fellow commentators on this night, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes, were GLORIOUS.

Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan buried him so hard. Before I watched this series, I’d seen this clip of Dusty and Bobby burying Tony before on YouTube over and over again. Here, I watched it again as part of the series and I died with laughter.

Dusty starts off by going “where do you get all of this?” to which Tony replies that this is his job. Dusty says that he kicked him right in the middle of the mush and re-iterates it has nothing to do with the Mafia. Dusty Rhodes goes: “Hell watcha talking about?” I laughed, I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. I was reduced to tears, I was laughing so hard.

Then Bobby takes over as Dusty starts laughing at Tony. He yells, at the top of his lungs, “TONY HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD!” Again, I laughed, I laughed and I laughed. Chono comes off the top and Luger hits him with the elbow and Dusty calls this saying that he hit him with the “Sicilian Elbow!” Bobby brings up a Yugoslavian Neckbreaker and he again goes… “HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD SCHIAVONIE!” He goes… “HE KICKED HIS BOSNIAN BUTT… HOW YA LIKE THAT?” My faces is red, tears are running down my face at this point! Then Luger locked on the Torture Rack for the win and to a HUGE POP by the fans. Fans went CRAZY for Luger. I was still in tears after Dusty’s promo on Tony Schiavonie.

This put Tony in his place for the way he would literally just make up names for the basic moves of the wrestlers. Remember when Johnny B Badd did a dive and he’d call it the Badd Mood? Tony came up with all of these crap names and Dusty and Bobby rightful destroyed him for it. These are professional wrestlers and Tony not calling the moves properly exposed the business and disrespects the wrestler that apply their craft in the ring. I’m paraphrasing Joey Styles’ shoot promo from 2006 but he’s right. This Chono just threw and kick and he had to call it something wacky. HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD SCHIAVONIE!

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Match Rating: *1/4

 

Sting did an interview with Mean Gene. Mean Gene reminds us that Sting lost the US title to Kensuke Sasaki, his NJPW opponent for tonight. I did mention this during the World War III review I believe. Sting cut a promo on Sonny Onoo. He talks about the triangle match. Sting talks about how Luger said he’s gonna do what’s he’s gonna do but Sting is gonna do what he’s gonna do. Sting gets all excited and Mean Gene goes YEAH. Great promo I wrote but your usual Sting promo at its very core.

 

WCW Television Champion Johnny B Badd w/Kimberley vs Masa Saito w/Sonny Onoo in Match #4 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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This was kind of a mess of a match here. Sonny Onoo cut a promo and said Kimberley should be at home cooking and that’s what is wrong with this company. Kimberley got the mic retorting with “this ain’t no Japanese bathhouse.” She says: “If this sport is just for men, then what are you doing here?”

Saito did a STO and locked on a choke from the ground position. Saito murdered Badd with some chops to the chest. Badd would slap him back but Saito battered and battered Badd in relation with chops. They sounded so hard and this was just brilliant to me.

Things kinda fell off a cliff here. Sonny choked Badd with the Japanese flag. Sonny grabbed the hair. Badd got back into a match and did a sunset flip. Badd fired back. Badd got his hands Sonny Onoo and then Saito dumped Badd over the top rope for the DQ. Badd then did the “Badd Mood” flip to the outside thing and missed by 100 yards. An absolute nothing match with one noteable spot where Masa beat the crap out of Johnny B Badd.

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Match Rating: *1/4

NOTES: Masa Saito actually passed away July 2018. R.I.P. Masa Saito as I’m not sure if we’ll see another WCW match with him during this series so I’ll say it now.

 

Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart did an interview with Mean Gene. Luger talked about Kevin Sullivan aka The Taskmaster. He says Sullivan has a short fuse. Luger said all the top names in WCW are all after the top title. Luger said Savage is a pathetic one arm champion. He would have torn his arm out of its socket at World War III if it wasn’t for Sting. Luger says he’s going into the match by himself. Jimmy told Lex to bring home the gold and Mean Gene responded saying he has a book of clichés if he needs it! Great banter from Mean Gene! He had some great lines during this show!

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Shinjiro Otani in Match #5 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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I LOVED this match. Eddie Guerrero matches in WCW as of late have been so great. He had a great match with Johnny B Badd if I recall correctly, he had good matches with Benoit, he had a great match with Flair two weeks ago and here’s another one. Him and Otani. This was a great wrestling match and my personal favourite match of the night.

Otani took control of the arm from the get-go and raked at the face of Guerrero. Guerrero stood on Otani’s face, retribution for Otani going for the eyes. They grappled on the mat. Eddie turned things around with a hurricanrana. Eddie did a slingshot senton into the ring.

Eddie locked on the Boston Crab and followed it up with big powerbombs and brainbusters. Otani hit a nice springboard dropkick into the ring and then a springboard crossbody to the outside. Otani hit a German suplex and Eddie hit a frankensteiner for a near fall.

Eddie hit a big gory powerbomb for a near fall. Otani did a springboard dropkick to the back of the head of Guerrero. This was very much back and forth stuff.

Otani tried a dragon suplex. Eddie reversed it into a hurricanarana roll-up. A few roll-ups later, Otani picked up the win with a cradle of his own.

I probably wouldn’t have beaten Eddie here but he only barely just lot and it wasn’t like Eddie was buried here. Otani was just the better man.

A great match.

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Match Rating: ****

 

Mean Gene did ANOTHER INTERVIEW, this time with WCW Champion Randy Savage. God bless Mean Gene but he was all over this show. Savage cuts off Mean Gene. Savage said he liked being the underdog and Savage says he’s coming to get Tensan tonight. Mean Gene says he was off the phone with a suspended Hogan and Savage interrupts with “WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO SAY?” Hogan apparently asked for Savage’s mindset. Savage said he’s gonna even the score for WCW. He said: “Sting, be there for the USA.” Savage was wrestling Hiroyoshi Tenzan while Sting was wrestling Kensuke Sasaki.

 

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Savage vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan (or as the name plate called him Tensan) in Match #6 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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Another absolute nothing match. I understand Savage was injured here but at the same time, why did he work two matches on this show? You couldn’t get someone else to come in and beat Tensan in this match if Savage was working with an injury?

Tensan worked on Savage. Savage tries to fire back but Savage’s punches are no-sold by Tensan. Tensan clocked Savage with a big wheel kick. Tensan delivered a Samoan Spike to the floored Savage. Tensan did a samoan drop and a headbutt for a near fall.

Tensan missed a moonsault. After a suplex struggle, Savage only manages to lift Tensan into the ropes. Savage hit the elbow drop for the win to level things up for WCW.

Not a strong review from myself but this wasn’t a strong match to talk about. This was just another nothing match as things just kinda fell off a cliff for this PPV from this point. It really did just peak with Eddie and Otani.

WCW 3-3 NJPW

Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair. Flair says tonight, we’re talking about the world title. Flair says Sting and Luger need to know to be the man, you have to beat the man. Flair talks about being rested as he was literally losing his breath cutting this promo! Flair said he’d win the title. This was a fine promo.

 

Sting vs WCW United States Champion Kensuke Sasaki in a non-title match in Match #7 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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Your typical Sting match which, again, isn’t a knock on Sting but there wasn’t anything really exceptional about it. Looking at the result, it really did no favours for Sasuke as the US Champion if you look at the finish.

Sting brought the US flag to the ring. Sting hit an early Stinger Splash but this was followed by the bulldog from Sasaki. Sasaki unleashed two clotheslines, he tried a third but Sting ducked and did a dropkick.

Sasaki worked on Sting and even locked Sting in his own Scorpion Death Lock. Sting huffed, and puffed and pushed Sasuki up in the air and out of the hold. That I liked.

Sting fired back and then locked on his Scorpion Death lock but Sasaki tried to fight to the ropes but Sting pulled him back into the middle of the ring but Sasaki eventually submitted and WCW won the World Cup.

Again, Sasaki wasn’t buried TOO badly but this was also the man that also just lost clean outright to Sting when Sting had another match (possibly two) to worry about on the same night. It wasn’t like Sasaki lost to Sting at his best which is the best way I can put it.

WCW 4-3 NJPW

Match Rating: **3/4

 

Team WCW celebrated and Luger did come out. Sting and Luger hoisted up the trophy together. They showed a great promo hyping up the triangle match with Luger, Sting and Flair.

 

Sting vs Lex Luger vs Ric Flair in a triangle match to determine the number one contender for the WCW Championship

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For a match featuring Sting and Ric Flair, this was such a chore of a match to sit through. You all know how much I’ve raved about Sting vs Ric Flair matches. They would never not be good. It’s the same formula but they always found a way to work with whatever crowd they were in front of. They threw Lex Luger into this triangle match and it was easily one of the dullest long matches I’ve seen in a long time. It wasn’t technically a bad match and it wasn’t as offensive as that tag team title match from Fall Brawl but it dragged, and dragged and dragged. We got stalling, and stalling and stalling and it did this match… no favours.

The rules were two men would start in the ring and one man would be on the outside and could tag in and out. Whoever got the first pinfall or submission won. So no, it wasn’t a “traditional” triple threat or three way dance you’d see nowadays. In this match, two guys would be in the ring as one man stood outside.

I don’t think there was ever a storyline reason for why Ric never wrestled in the WCW VS NJPW thing but Savage, Sting and Luger did. I’m not surely if they’ll actually explain it but the announcers made it clear that Ric was the one with the advantage supposedly in this match! Let’s all remember that.

Dusty made a Jack Daniels joke regarding Bobby’s drinking issues. Back to my point from Episode #17 about Flair’s selling everything, Sting literally just grabbed Ric’s hand here and wrenched it and Ric went AAAAAA! It was brilliant to see Flair in such pain a minute into wrestling a man that’d already wrestled earlier on in the show.

So Sting and Flair wrestled. Tony talked about Sting’s heart in fighting two men at Halloween Havoc by himself, not remembering that Flair did the same thing two weeks before that Halloween Havoc show. Flair locked on a hammerlock and forced Sting to the ground. Flair chopped and went back to the hammerlock. Sting fired back and launched Flair with hip tosses and gorilla presses.

Sting did the punches in the corner and even bit Ric Flair. Sting  and Flair brawled on the outside. Sting no-sols being slammed into the barricade. Sting missed a dropkick as Flair grabbed the top turnbuckle. Flair went to work on Sting and kept trying to tempt Luger into the ring. Sting went for a cover but Luger tried to break it up. Flair bumped Sting into Luger and Luger made a blind tag, flexing right at Flair.

So to recap, this match started with typical Sting and Flair spots. Every spot they’ve ever done in a WCW ring. Then Luger hits the ring and Luger and Flair had to just wrestle, and stall, and wrestle and stall.

Luger brought Flair into the ring, literally CARRIED HIM into the ring after he tried to escape. As much as it was basically Flair 101 for Flair to beg off the babyfaces, he did it way too much during this match. Like over and over again. Flair Flair Flopped after the punches in the corner. Then Flair takes control of Luger. Keep in mind, Flair had just been wrestling with just Sting and now, Flair worked on Luger and Flair had essentially dominated Sting and Luger for the majority of the match up until this point… and he’s the most heel of the bunch. Sting did get a bit of offense in when he was in the ring but mostly this match was Flair getting the heat on both men.

Flair hit Luger in the knees with a chair. Flair locked on the Figure Four and Luger turned it over. Luger and Flair struggled for a suplex but Luger won and suplexed Flair into the ring. Flair is punching away at Luger and Tony said, when Flair is just punching away at Luger, “Luger is starting to mount a comeback.” Tony was so bad calling this PPV.

Flair tagged in Sting trying to stir things up between Sting and Luger. Sting and Luger are now just standing around for about 2 minutes, felt like 30 minutes. Then they LOCK UP… we had to be like 15 minutes into this match. The fans start to boo and get restless. Sting and Luger have a clean break following a lock up and the fans boo more. Luger finally starts punching away at Sting. Sting fires back. Sting no-sold an atomic drop and hits a clothesline.

Luger smashed Sting with the clothesline. Luger kicked out of the top rope crossbody by Sting. Sting tried a Vader splash but Luger got the knees up. Sting try to lock on the Scorpion Death Lock but Luger got the rope. When Luger was floored, Luger actually low blowed Sting and then Luger worked on this nut shot and did an atomic drop! Tremendous groin-based offense!

Sting fired back and did a bulldog. Sting hit a Stinger Splash. Luger locked on a Torture Rack and the ref went down as Flair chopped blocked Luger. Both Sting and Luger were sent outside.

Flair wakes up the ref and the ref counts out Luger and Sting while Luger grabs Sting’s arm to keep him outside of the ring. Therefore, that meant Ric Flair wins.

They made me sit there through a 28 minute match with Sting, Luger and Flair, a 28 minute boring-ass match between these three and Flair wins… with a count-out.  So after Ric Flair wrestles the majority of a 28 minute match, he wins and Savage is sent in to do battle with him. An injured Randy Savage vs an exhausted Ric Flair for your Starrcade main-event.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) vs Ric Flair w/Jimmy Hart for the WCW World Championship

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Flair has about 5 minutes for a breather and then Savage comes out for the main-event. Savage starts working on Flair when MR WONDERFUL “PAUL ORNDORFF”, in a neck brace, appeared with his hands on his hips.

Savage missed a double axe handle to the outside as Doug Dillinger told Orndorff to head to the back. In hindsight, what was the point in Orndorff coming out? It’s not like he showed up in the post-match angle.

Flair worked on the arm. Flair chopped away at Savage. Flair, immediately after a 28 minute match, gets the heat and beats up Randy Savage who last wrestled more than an hour ago on this show. What a geek of a WCW Champion Randy Savage was here.

While Ric made it to the ring, Jimmy took a cheap shot kick at the gut of Savage. Ric did a hammerlock to Savage and dropped knees on the arm. Flair grabbed the wounded arm and just stretched it over his own shoulder. Savage fires back but runs into a sleeper hold. Savage does a backdrop

Jimmy threw the megaphone to Flair but Savage fought him, took the megaphone and used it on Flair which busted him up big time. Savage hit the elbow when the Four Horsemen ran down.

Benoit and Pillman ran down as Jimmy got the referee. Arn Anderson ran down and clocked Savage with the brass knuckles. Flair covers Savage to win the world title for the 12th time in his career as the fans go nuts.

The Horsemen have a big party in the ring. Pillman waffled Savage with the belt. and that’s how the show ends.

Match Rating: ¾*

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My initial reaction to this is, obviously, this pretty much solidifies Savage’s claim for one of the worst world title reigns of all time. All of Savage’s matches ended in a DQ and in the match where he loses the title, he gets his ass-kicked by an exhausted Ric Flair and gets beat. Was there shenanigans? Yes. But at the end of all of this, after Savage won what Buffer called the greatest battle royal in history last month, Savage drops the title to Flair and came off as a complete geek of a champion.

However, I will say this about the post-match celebration. Ric Flair sold this like it meant something and when you’re win your twelfth title reign and you still have to sell how much it means to you, that tells you how great Flair was. It still felt like a big deal when Flair won the title here and he sold it as if it was a big deal. The Horsemen were so happy, Pillman was going nuts and it showed legitimate passion that you don’t get from wrestlers nowadays. In a lot of ways, that was a success.

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That was Starrcade. That was an easier PPV review to do than I figured it would be. To be fair, a lot of the matches on this show were nothing matches. The big sell for the show was WCW vs NJPW but really the show-stealing matches were like Eddie vs Otani and Benoit vs Liger. Every other match was just in the area of slightly above average to an absolute nothing match and there was a lot of nothing matches where my reviews were just really short. Not a lot to say.

Going into 1995, the world title picture does have a bit of intrigue to it. Flair has the World title and Hogan apparently has a World title shot awaiting him after Starrcade. I’m pretty sure the match is happening on Nitro but this little period before the nWo arrive will be somewhat interesting to see how the world title picture shapes up before the big arrival of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the WCW Starrcade 1995 review. We are now heading into 1996 which will be an eventful year for WCW and see a major shift in the wrestling landscape.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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Retro Express – Unforgiven 2008

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

 

WWE Unforgiven

Date: September 7th 2008

Brand: RAW, SmackDown! and ECW

City: Cleveland, Ohio

Attendance: 8,700

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/4

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/2

Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho in an unsanctioned match

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ****1/4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **3/4

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

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

Michelle McCool (c) vs Maryse for the Divas Championship

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

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

Match Rating: *1/4

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

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

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

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

Segment with Vickie Guerrero, Big Show and The Undertaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Segment Rating: -**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/4

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

How I Would Book… Dean Ambrose Winning The WWE Championship

NOTE: The following “How I Would Book” was suggested by one of the Armbar Express’ Twitter followers @Karriem15! Just remember, you can tweet your ideas for a future “How I Would Book” post to @ArmbarExpress on Twitter! I’m all ears!

There’s a million ways to have a superstar win a championship. There’s only a few ways to create a legitimate champion. You can give a man gold but he’s still just a man with gold unless you give him credibility and the tools to solidify him as a top champion. If Dean Ambrose ever becomes champion, he is no exception. He must be built to look like a true champion before he even wins the championship in the first place. Here’s how I would book Dean Ambrose… winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

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Out of all the three members of the Shield, Dean is the only one to have yet been seriously pushed to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Seth Rollins has already won the WWE World title and Roman Reigns was booked to win it originally at Wrestlemania 31. However, Dean has not really had the opportunities Seth and Roman have to be the top man in the WWE. Yeah, Dean’s had main event feuds for the title but there wasn’t really a time where it seemed like Dean was ever going to win the title.

With this edition of How I Would Book, it’s a fun way to explore the potential of building up Dean to become a legitimate title contender and win the title itself. When he feuded with Seth Rollins for the title in May and June, he was really just thrown into the title picture and had been coming off feuds with mid-card talent like Luke Harper and Bad News Barrett. There wasn’t enough time allowed for Dean to build himself up for a high-profile feud like this. With this scenario, we’re hoping to make sure Dean is ready to become champion before he even wins it.

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The start of this scenario will actually feature elements from our last edition of How I Would Book. On that edition, we had Roman Reigns turn heel on John Cena and go on a rampage until he came across Dean Ambrose. I would keep that in for this edition, with the minor detail of Roman turning on Dean himself. That particular scenario was designed to plant the seeds for Roman vs Cena. Obviously, that’s not our aim with this scenario.

So Roman has turned on Dean and is now tearing through the roster. What happens next?

This might seem like a bit of cheating but I’m going knick another idea from that particular How I Would Book in order to start the feud between Dean and Roman with Survivor Series. The match between them which happened in that scenario will go down exactly the same in this scenario. Roman Reigns beats the living daylights out of Dean and the ref awards the match to Roman via KO. Down below are the details to that match:

“Dean Ambrose then confronts Roman about his new attitude. He doesn’t mind Roman getting a little crazy and just wants Roman to get take out all of the anger built inside against Dean at Survivor Series. Roman accepts and punches Dean in the mouth. Dean laughs about it and mouths that “this will be fun, my brother.” The two have their match at Survivor Series. It’s a nice little match which eventually spills onto the entrance ramp. The ref stops his count briefly just to tell Reigns and Ambrose to get back into the ring. Eventually, Roman spears Dean through the stage screen leaving Dean out. Roman rolls into the ring, grabs the mic and yells “Is that what you wanted Dean?” The doctors are trying to help Dean but he suddenly struggles down to the ring. Roman batters Dean in the ring and hits the spear but Dean kicks out. He hits another spear but Dean kicks out. This infuriates Roman to the point where he is just punching Ambrose over and over like he did with Cena. Eventually, the ref calls for the bell and awards the match to Roman via knock out. It features shades of the Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens match in February which ended in similar fashion. However, it does work well for Roman’s character as he is shown to be a legitimate badass.”

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This is where we finally break away from that last scenario and can get a bit creative. Dean got KO’d by Roman Reigns but is far from done with him. Dean would come out on RAW and would tease Roman for not being able to properly beat him. He couldn’t make Dean tap out or pin him because he doesn’t have the edge that Dean does that makes him willing to put everything on the line. Roman might have been able to knock him down at Survivor Series but he won’t be able to pin Dean’s shoulders down for a three count or make him submit. Dean challenges Roman to a TLC match where the match can only be won by pinfall or submission. Roman accepts and tells Dean that at TLC, he wasn’t just going to knock him down. Roman does a gun sign with his hand towards Dean and says “I’m going to put you down.”

Things are now coming to a boiling point between Dean and Roman. Roman is beating the crap out of Dean but Dean is putting up a much better fight. He is throwing everything and the kitchen sink at Roman but Roman is kicking. Roman does a lot of hard-hitting moves himself but Dean kicks out. It eventually comes down to a spot where Dean and Roman are up on a ladder with a table at the bottom. Roman initially knocks Dean with a head butt on top of the ladder. Roman takes a breather and smiles but Dean pulls himself up on the ropes and climbs back up. Roman does it again but Dean gets back up. Dean goes back and simply says “Is that all you’ve got?” Dean then delivers head butts of his own and Roman and Dean are just going blow for blow until eventually, both men fall off the ladder and through the table. Roman gets up first and Dean slaps him in the face. Roman laughs and then goes to the rope for a spear. However, Dean gets up and counters into Dirty Deeds and gets the pin on Roman Reigns. Dean gets up and celebrates but Roman suddenly hits the spear in the middle of the celebration and both men are laid out. Both men are helped to the back as Dean gets the crucial win here at TLC.

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Dean cuts a promo next night on RAW talking about how he was able to beat Roman the night before. Dean says with no pain, there’s no gain and Dean is hoping to gain a whole lot of both real soon. Dean announces his intentions on winning the Royal Rumble and he doesn’t care how much pain he’s gonna go through at the event. At the end of the day, it will be him pointing to that Wrestlemania sign as he will fulfil his destiny and win the WWE World title. The Authority come out and laughs at Dean for thinking that one win over Roman Reigns makes him believe that he can win the rumble. Dean’s going to find out that only the elite stars of WWE have ever won this match and they had to go through hell in order to do it. If Dean thinks that he can just walk into this match and win just because he won one match win Roman Reigns, he can think again. They tell Dean that if he wants to enter the Rumble, he’ll have to earn it. Starting that night on RAW, Dean will be wrestling every week. If Dean loses just a single match, he will be out of the Royal Rumble.

This challenge for Dean starts that night. His first opponent, is Heath Slater. Dean’s a bit confused but he wrestles him and picks up the win. His next opponent, is Bo Dallas. Again, Dean wins his match and is rather confused. The next week, his opponent is Brad Maddox. Now the announcers and Dean are starting to think that something’s up. No disrespect to Heath, Bo or Brad but they’re not exactly the top stars of WWE. After winning the match, Dean confronts the Authority backstage for giving him such weak opponents. Dean believes that the Authority is mocking him with these opponents and tells them to start giving him some real competition. On the week before the Royal Rumble, Triple H tells Dean that he will get the competition he desires so much. He tells Dean that he will be in a FOUR MAN gauntlet that week and he must win to keep his Rumble spot.

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The first man right off the bat is Kevin Owens, who is hopefully still the Intercontinental Champion at this point. It’s a hard hitting match for Dean but Kevin eventually gets himself disqualified and beats Dean over and over with a chair. Dean’s second opponent is Sheamus, who is hopefully still Mr Money In The Bank. It’s another hard hitting match for Dean but again, he wins via disqualification after WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins attacks him. Sheamus and Seth argue and Seth tells Sheamus that he’s Dean’s next opponent and that he was going to finish him off. Sheamus brogue kicks Seth and is about to cash in Money in the Bank but Dean hits Dirty Deeds to stop him. Triple H then brings out another man to replace Seth as Dean’s third opponent. That man turns out to be Alberto Del Rio, who is hopefully still the US Cahmpion. Del Rio is picking Dean apart but Dean is hanging in there. The match goes on for a while until Dean ducks the enziguiri and hits Dirty Deeds to beat Del Rio. Del Rio batters Ambrose in retaliation and hits the super kick, leaving Dean down and out. The fourth opponent turns out to be Roman Reigns. Roman simply hits the spear on Dean but Dean kicks out. Roman hits another spear but Dean again kicks out. Roman goes for another but hits the referee. When the ref is down, someone like John Cena comes down to help Dean and hits their finisher to give Dean a chance. When the ref wakes up, Dean side steps another spear to hit Dirty Deeds and get the win. Dean takes out the man that helped him to make him aware that it was everyone for themselves at the Royal Rumble.

The reason that someone runs in to help Dean is simple. It’s one thing to make someone look strong. It’s another thing to make them look completely over-powered. If Dean beat Roman by himself after the three other matches, then that would be a bit silly.  

A bit of information before we get to the Royal Rumble match, Seth would drop the WWE World title to Lesnar at the event itself. Dean comes in early for the Royal Rumble. He doesn’t come in as the #1 entrant or anything like that, but he comes out in the first half of the match. Something like #14 would be OK. Dean makes it to the final four. It’s Dean, Roman, John Cena and Bray Wyatt. Cena is able to eliminate Roman but Cena is eliminated by Bray Wyatt. Bray would have come in at #30 so he is as fresh as a daisy. The rest of the Wyatt Family come down to the ring to watch Bray eliminate Dean. Bray first goes for Sister Abigail but Dean hits Dirty Deeds. The Wyatt Family suddenly gets up on the apron and Dean tells them to bring it on. The Wyats are about to get in the ring but we hear that oh so familiar gong. Undertaker appears and takes down the Wyatt Family one by one. This would continue on from the events of Hell in a Cell, where the Wyatts attacked Taker after his Hell in a Cell match. Taker and Braun Strowman battle to the back. Bray throws himself at Dean when the Lunatic Fringe turns around. Bray goes for the elimination but Dean counters it to eliminate Bray for the win. Dean has won the Royal Rumble.

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The reason I went with Brock for being Dean’s Wrestlemania opponent is because he’s the perfect final challenge for Dean before winning the title. After all his been put through so far, Brock would be his last huge mountain to climb and conquer. In order to conquer the WWE, he must conquer the conqueror. I would have Dean defend his title shot against someone like Roman Reigns at Fastlane first mind you. In order to become a legitimate contender, he must beat other legitimate contenders. OK, he has beaten Roman Reigns before at TLC. However, Roman Reigns was also Brock’s opponent at Wrestlemania 31 and came very close to beating him. It needs to be made clear that Dean is every bit as better as one of Brock’s toughest opponents. If he beats him again, then he can look like a legitimate threat to Brock. The match at Wrestlemania 32 between Dean and Brock is also made no disqualification as it does play to the finish off the match.

Finally, Dean defeats Brock in the main event of Wrestlemania 32 to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Keep in mind, it is Brock Lesnar. It should take a lot for Dean to put him away. I would have a cool spot like Dean spearing Brock through an announce table in order to bring Brock closer to Dean’s level. If Brock dominates the start with Suplex City and then Dean puts him through the announce table, the two are pretty much even. In the end, three Dirty Deeds are hit by Dean but Brock shockingly… KICKS OUT! The fans are gob-smacked as is Dean. Dean becomes unhinged in the ring and grabs a chair from the outside. He unleashes a fury of chair shots onto Brock’s back, goes for the cover but Brock kicks out. He gets another chair and performs a number of conchairto shots to Brock, goes for the cover but Brock kicks out. It then takes one final Dirty Deeds on the chair to put Brock away and Dean is the champion. The fans are shocked by what’s just happened. This is not strictly a heel turn from Dean but I’d call it the start of a more deranged and psychotic side to Dean. 

Dean, up until this point, has been crazy but in a funny way. Now it’s crazy but a more serious and scary way. He needs to be an agent of chaos as champion which causes the rest of the locker room to shake in their boots. Dean has done everything he could to try and become the champion but was still unable to beat Brock after three Dirty Deeds. At that point, Dean takes a more extreme approach. If Dean is to truly become WWE World Champion, there has to be a sense of fear and seriousness introduced to his character in order to make him a star as WWE World Champion.

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I’d like to thank @Karriem15 for his suggestion on Twitter to do this How I Would Book. Have any of your own suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply follow me and tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

TNA Bound For Glory 2015 Review – Prologue

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I’m going to tell everybody a story which begins all the way in 2006. In 2006, I was a wrestling fan that had started watching WWE programming just a few years earlier. However, this was a year in which I was really starting to lose interest in WWE. There were a lot of failed storylines and projects that was slowly sucking the enjoyment from watching RAW, SmackDown! and ECW. RAW was particular dominated by John Cena and the reunited DX, SmackDown! was ruled by King Booker, the “Animal” Batista and the underdog champion Rey Mysterio, and ECW was ruled by the Big Show. It was a very testing time to being a WWE fan. Have no fear though. On the Wrestling Channel in the UK, they were starting to show episodes of a wrestling show called TNA IMPACT.

I was interested, because it featured former WWE stars and even WCW legend Sting. I also noticed these new talents that were so exiting to watch that it was baffling why they weren’t signed with someone like WWE. This was the show I needed to regain my passion for wrestling. TNA was a hit. It was unique, it featured six sided rings and unbelievable talent. For me, this was a nice alternative from the “sports entertainment” of WWE.

TNA spread like wild-fire, even resulting in “TNA” being chanted during episodes of RAW. In a weird case of deja vu from the 1995 King Of The Ring, where ECW chants were bellowed out in Philadelphia, the fans were more interested in chanting the name of a “rival” wrestling company than the actual product in front of them. They might have good reason to do it. After all they chanted this during a miserable, and I mean MISERABLE, “Donald Trump” vs “Rosie O’Donnell” match.

What’s funny about this incident is that TNA and ECW are VERY similar in a lot of other aspects too. They were both innovative companies that brought a unique style of wrestling to the US. However, they both also had their issues that prevented them from reaching their full potential. ECW’s problem was a lack of funds which resulted in talent being stolen from WWF and WCW, which led to the company’s bankruptcy in 2001. The issues for TNA were more than just money…

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While I loved the company when I first started watching it and then for years after, this company was running itself into the ground. TNA initially had a simple but effective product which was really taking off like a rocket. While they signed high-profile wrestlers like Kurt Angle from time to time, the main attraction which really made it different from the WWE was the X-Division. They were the stars. Hell, they were the main-event in a few instances. However, TNA soon seemed to completely neglect what brought them to the dance to make room for… “sports entertainment.”

They had great wrestlers but the powers-that-be of TNA ultimately decided that the only way to beat WWE… was to BE WWE. It was not about being an alternative WRESTLING company. It was about purely booking from an “entertainment” standpoint. Therefore, a lot of product was heavily reliant on angles in order to advance the stories. It was a product heavily reliant on swerves which really didn’t need to be there. The use of storylines in wrestling is fine, as that’s one of the most important aspects of the wrestling business. It’s about telling a story, whether you do it in the ring or in an angle. However, the use of storylines OVER wrestling is what really damaged the product.

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It wasn’t just the decisions of creative that really dented the company. Many decisions by those actually RUNNING the company were very questionable. It’s almost that the company never realised the importance of the younger stars and put all their faith in the likes of Jeff Hardy in order to bring in the ratings. True, it wouldn’t hurt to have a bit of star power in their ranks. However, a BIT would do just fine. In 2010, with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff coming in, so did dozens of new wrestlers. When I say new, I mean old. Old former WWE, WCW or ECW stars that are now part of the NEW vision of TNA!

Trust me, I’m not knocking those stars that came in. They’re stars for a reason but a lot of these stars served zero purpose in the future of TNA. What sort of contribution were the Nasty Boys supposed to bring to TNA’s future? What was the point in bringing Orlando Jordan to TNA? Why were all the ECW originals hired, other than to set up a ECW reunion show? Just… why?

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Of course, the old dudes were not why I was still watching TNA in 2012 and 2013. During those times, the shows were actually great to watch. In the early days of this blog, TNA reviews were a common feature. The storylines improved following the implosion of Immortal but a new sense of attention to younger stars was finally introduced. Finally, stars like Bobby Roode and James Storm were able to properly develop. Those two produced quite possibly the greatest feud in TNA history. Austin Aries became a star and even became TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Bully Ray had been in wrestling for decades but at least he became a singles star in his own right. They weren’t just dependent on the older main event stars to advance the shows.

The point is, the potential was ALWAYS there for TNA to succeed. We’ll get onto the financial troubles later on but from a creative standpoint, the potential was there. They had all the means to create stars easily that didn’t need to break the bank. However, they didn’t. Not only didn’t they make the stars that they could have, they also broke the bank while they were at it. Which leads me to their financial troubles…

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As mentioned earlier, TNA have splashed a fair amount of cash during their existence. As mentioned earlier, they hired a ton of wrestlers in 2010 believing that the driving force of TNA would be the stars… from TEN YEARS AGO! However, Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff’s plans with these stars was always going to fail. Not only were the stars just going to hold back the younger talent, TNA didn’t have the sufficient financial structure that could allow Bischoff, Hogan and Dixie Carter to just pluck these guys like plucking apples from a tree. According to Vince Russo he frequently warned Eric and Hogan that this was not like the days of WCW, where they could easily sign whoever they wanted. TNA’s financial structure was clearly not as great as they believed it to be.

We compared TNA to ECW, but at least Paul Heyman knew that ECW was not a great position to snap up the true stars of wrestling. He had to develop them, because there was not way that he could snap up the likes of Sting, Steve Austin and The Rock from WCW and the WWF. He was as realistic as possible, because he did not have seemingly unlimited funds like WCW. You know what’s funny, is that TNA was similar to WCW in its mindset with money. They didn’t think money would be an issue but really… it was.

There’s also the foolish decisions made by TNA which they believed would turn the product. We’re not talking about the expensive contracts. We’re talking about decisions like deciding to move TNA to Monday nights and go head-to-head with RAW. They decided to start a “Monday Night War” when they were never in a million years going to beat RAW in the ratings. It’d be like if Malta ever declared war on Germany. They would also never force Vince McMahon to change up his writing in order to beat TNA. The gap was just too big for Vince to care.

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Ultimately, TNA’s failures backstage has lead to the company’s own demise. Quite honestly, this saddens me a lot. Even though I’ve not really watched the product in a few years, I still have a strong connection and appreciation for a lot of things TNA has brought to wrestling. The X-Division, at its prime, was sublime. The likes of Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, James Storm, Samoa Joe and others have provided great match after great match. We even got one of the greatest segments of all time, with Jay Lethal confronting Ric Flair in a woo-off! I’ll have so many fond memories of TNA, which is why it is sad that I might have just watched it’s final ever PPV.

So… did TNA go out with a bang or a whimper? Join me for the TRUE review of TNA Bound For Glory, and whether there were any glorious moments to be had during TNA’s possibly final hurrah!

How I Would Book… Christian’s World Title Run In 2011

Many champions have came and went that never really got their chance to shine as the king of the mountain. Whether it’s down to being struck by injuries or just poor booking by WWE, there’s always a little something that prevents these champions from reaching their full potential. Sometimes, it’s just lack of faith that prevents a champion from making his mark. For Christian, WWE’s faith in him lasted all of about two days when he won the World Heavyweight Championship in 2011. Christian really got the wrong end of the deal in his main event push. If we were going to put the title on Christian back in 2011, how would we have booked him?

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Like a number of past How I Would Book pieces, this one was inspired by the attempts of Adam’s WhatCulture in his How WWE Should Have Booked video about Christian.

Christian’s “one more match” storyline (which is what it was dubbed as in the WWE 2K15 showcase mode) was not exactly a bad storyline. All of the matches between Randy Orton and Christian were usually great. However, the issue a lot of people have had with it was how weak Christian looked through out. He couldn’t gain a single legitimate victory over Randy Orton and many fans were irate when Christian’s initial title win at Extreme Rules was ended two days later (the title win was recorded two days after Extreme Rules and aired on the Friday).

Let’s run down the storyline to see where the faults were with this storyline…

After Wrestlemania 27, World Heavyweight Champion Edge retired and vacated the championship. Edge had been scheduled to defend the title at Extreme Rules in a ladder match against Alberto Del Rio. Since Edge was out, Teddy Long booked a 20 man battle royal to find someone to fight Del Rio. The winner of the battle royal turned out to be Edge’s best friend Christian. At Extreme Rules, Christian managed to win the World title for the first time in his life. This truly was a great moment for Christian and Edge, as they celebrated in the ring. However, Christian’s world came crashing down on him… just two days later.

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SmackDown!’s newest draftee Randy Orton interrupted Christian’s title celebration on SmackDown! SmackDown! GM Teddy Long announced that Christian would defend his newly-won championship against Randy Orton… that night. In what was a shocking turn of events, Orton beat Christian to win the championship. Christian was heartbroken.

Christian then became desperate to prove that he could beat Randy Orton. Their rematch took place at Over The Limit, with Randy Orton winning. Christian turned heel and was given one more match. In the match, Randy Orton won. Christian’s foot was under the bottom rope, so Christian was given one more match at Money In The Bank. If Randy Orton got disqualified or if there was a bad referee call, Christian would win the title. Finally, Christian did win the title… by disqualification. Randy Orton went berserk at Money In The Bank and destroyed Christian post-match. One final match took place at Summerslam, with COO Triple H making it No Holds Barred. In this feud-ending match, Randy Orton regained the World title once more.

Fans of Christian would have been incensed over how he was treated in this program. He lost the title so quickly after winning it in an emotional match at Extreme Rules. He was never truly able to beat Randy Orton and look strong. When he came out of this feud, he was booked to be completely dominated by Sheamus afterwards. There was a huge opportunity to make Christian a true main-eventer. At the time, the SmackDown! roster was very short-stacked in terms of having main-event talent. There was no one, other than Orton, that could have lead the brand and Christian could have been made a true star with this storyline. Let’s see how we could have improved it.

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The first thing to change up about this storyline is the portrayal of Christian as a heel. The transformation of Christian from face to heel was actually well executed by WWE and Christian was great in this role. However, the issue is that Christian had been the victim all along. He was forced to defend the World Title a whole TWO DAYS after winning it in a hard-hitting ladder match. If anything, this was unfair on Christian and he should have had time to rest.

After he wins at Extreme Rules, I’d have Christian go on to hold the World Heavyweight Championship…. for two days.

HOLD ON!

PITCHFORKS DOWN everyone! Trust me. There’s a purpose to this!

Christian still loses the World Heavyweight Championship like he did in real life. The big thing that changes is that WWE highlights just how unfair this is to Christian. What I means is, Teddy Long needs to act more like a compete pick.

Teddy Long interrupts Christian telling him that he needs to prove himself as a true fighting champion. Teddy Long guilts Christian into defending the title, even though that Christian admits he’s not 100%. Christian says he’ll do it no matter who he faces. Teddy announces that his opponent is Randy Orton.

Randy Orton approaches Teddy backstage just before the match, claiming that he doesn’t have a problem in winning the title tonight. However, he did not want Christian to have any excuses for losing the title. He proposes that the match happens at Over The Limit but Teddy Long denies him. Teddy says that this is Orton’s chance to be the face of SmackDown!

The match happens and Christian is rocked by the hits to the head by Orton. This match still plays out like it did in real life but Orton focuses a lot more on the head of Christian. In similar fashion to how Dolph Ziggler lost the title to Del Rio in 2013, Orton targets the head. Orton throws up the X sign which is usually given whenever someone is actually injured. Teddy Long comes out and tells him to finish the match. Teddy guilts Orton by saying “You walk out on this and you walk out on the people.” Orton eventually caves in, RKOs Christian but Christian kicks out. Teddy orders Orton to punt Christian. Orton tells Christian to stay down but Christian slaps him. Orton ends up getting mad, giving him one last RKO and finally punting him to win the championship.

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At least with this finish, Christian is portrayed as an actual villain. Plus, it doesn’t make Christian look entirely weak because of the way he was booked in the finish. Christian kicked out of everything before being punted in the head. So Randy Orton is champion and Teddy Long… is a heel.

With Triple H taking over the company in July anyway, it doesn’t hurt to have Teddy Long be the heel for this storyline. Teddy should want do what he thinks is right for SmackDown! What he thinks is right is for Randy Orton to be the champion. That’s his motivation throughout but Orton doesn’t exactly want to sell out either.

Anyway, a rematch is scheduled for Over The Limit. Christian initially wins the match by hitting the spear to pin Randy Orton. Teddy Long comes out and tells Christian that the Spear finishing move was exclusively used by Edge on SmackDown! for years. Teddy decrees that Christian is banned from ever using it again and tells Christian to get the job done his own way. The match continues. Randy catches Christian in mid-air with the RKO. Randy goes for the pin but Christian’s foot was on the rope. The ref does the pin anyway as Orton retains the title. The video replay reveals that the referee DID in fact see Christian’s foot on the rope, but simply continued the pin anyway. Christian would be irate, spears Randy and then goes after Teddy Long and the referee.

Now, I know the banned spear thing is a bit of a phony decision. However, it’s alright to have those types of BS decisions sometimes as it makes Teddy seem like a total prick. It also emphasizes how much Christian has been screwed in this storyline.

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Teddy Long then makes a #1 contendership match on SmackDown! with Mark Henry, Sheamus and Christian, like they did in real life. It ends pretty much the same way too. Randy Orton distracts Christian which leads to Sheamus picking up the win. Now the tension is really building between Orton and Christian. By the way, the #1 contendership match was for a World title match at Capitol Punishment. In a tag team match with Orton and Christian vs Henry and Sheamus, miscommunication causes the heels to win. This eventually leads into a fight between Orton and Christian. Teddy makes Orton vs Christian for the next SmackDown! If Christian wins, he’s added to the World title match. Christian wins cleanly and it’s Orton vs Sheamus vs Christian at the PPV.

During the triple threat match, Christian pins Sheamus off the Unprettier to seemingly win the championship. Sheamus’ foot is under the bottom rope this time. Then in comes Mr Buzzkill, Theodore Long…

Teddy says that what happened last month at Over The Limit will not be repeated. He restarts the match which leads to Randy RKO’ing both men to retain the title. Now Teddy Long is really just taking the Mickey. I mean this is three times that Christian has been screwed out of the title. Christian goes on an angry tirade on SmackDown! about Randy Orton being Teddy Long’s hand-picked champion and that enough is enough. Christian challenges Orton for one more match at Money In The Bank. Teddy Long decrees that if Christian doesn’t win the match, he will never challenge for the World title again. Christian and Randy have heated words leading into the PPV. In the match, Orton is unable to put Christian away. He hits two RKOs but Christian kicks out at both. Randy then hits the mid-air RKO that he hit at Over The Limit but Christian shockingly kicks out. Orton gets angry, pushes aside the referee and kicks Christian in the nuts. The referee calls for the DQ. Randy Orton goes crazy just like he did in real life (because it was pretty awesome when he actually did that) and Christian wins the match via DQ. The rules stated that if Christian lost the match, he’d never have a tittle shot. Therefore, Christian is safe. Since he never won the title though, Christian is again upset.

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Teddy Long is getting annoyed that Christian is still clamouring for a title shot. He’s had three opportunities in the last three PPVs and says Christian needs to go to the back in the line. Christian eventually beats up Teddy and says that he wants one more match at Summerslam. Teddy Long then finally agrees, but Christian has to earn his one more match. Since Rey Mysterio had to beat three men in a tournament on RAW to become the WWE Champion, Christian must beat three men in a gauntlet on SmackDown! The first man he must beat is Cody Rhodes and he succeeds. The second man he must beat is Wade Barrett and he succeeds. The third man is Kane. However, Christian defies the odds and beats Kane to get one last match. At the end of this gauntlet, Teddy drops a bombshell. His match with Randy Orton is NO HOLDS BARRED. If Christian loses, he leaves SmackDown!

They have this last match and finally, Christian wins the World Heavyweight Championship. It’s a really touching moment. Edge comes out like he did in real life. Instead of calling him a bitch, he hugs him. Randy Orton shakes his hand. Teddy Long comes out and complains. Edge punches Teddy Long into Christian who spears him. A bit of irony in that because of what happened at Over The Limit. A really great ending to Christian’s title pursuit.

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And that’s pretty much the gist of it. OK, I must admit that the title of the blog post was a bit deceiving. I call it “Christian’s World Title Run In 2011” when Christian doesn’t really have the title and only wins it in the final match of the storyline. However, the struggle of Christian needed to be showed as a means to get Christian truly over as a star. If he came off as a whiny heel, then it’s not going to do him any favours. However, if he comes off as a fighting challenger, the fans will rally behind him. Randy Orton also doesn’t really need to turn heel in order to do the storyline, meaning that Orton can still be one of the top faces of SmackDown! like WWE was wanting him to be. This can then lead to Christian defending the title against Mark Henry, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan etc. There was a lot of money to be made by having Captain Charisma run the show…

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

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: WCW 1998 – SEASON ONE RECAP

Previously on WCW EWR….

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There’s been a war waged between the two Co-Presidents of WCW, Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff. WCW President Flair began running the show after Eric Bischoff abruptly left WCW (in the game, he was sent to rehab). However, Ric Flair would cause a huge problem between himself and other members in the locker-room. He would influence World Title matches and attack a number of wrestlers on the roster. With that, Bischoff was reinstated into power. He became Co-President of WCW and worked with Ric, but still had the majority power in the partnership. This meant he can pretty much veto any of Flair’s decision. Tensions between the two caused for one final match for 100% control to be contested at WCW Fall Brawl 2000. It would be WCW Champion Booker T, Chris Jericho, Hollywood Hogan and Sting representing Flair going up against Bret Hart, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Curt Henning representing Bischoff. This would be an elimination match. Randy Savage returned to the company going after the Team Bischoff members. However, Bischoff’s crew would win after a botched attack by Savage onto Jericho. With that, Flair was ousted from power and Eric Bischoff became permanent WCW President with 100% control of the company.

However, the wars in WCW will never truly be done with. Particularly with the Exiles stable running around. The group, headed by Raven, have proven to be a force to be reckoned with in WCW. Raven himself has been turned into a main eventer, becoming a two-time WCW Champion in the process. At our last PPV Fall Brawl, he recently won another championship…

The WCW United States Championship has been one of the most fiercely craved championship in the company, with some of WCW’s finest battling over the belt. When Rowdy Roddy Piper won the championship, he renamed the championship to the WCW European Championship. However, a match on Nitro would result in the title being vacated. A new championship was created at Superbrawl in it’s place called the WCW International Championship, and was won by Rob Van Dam. RVD was champion for months until Raven won the title from him at Fall Brawl. With such a prestigious title in his hands, Raven has gained back power and influence in the company for the Exiles.

The WCW Television Championship is currently held by AJ Styles, whose had some amazing matches for the title with the likes of Eddie Guerrero and Steven Regal. No doubt AJ is looking to shine in WCW. The WCW Tag Team titles are currently held by the “Diamond Enforcers” DDP and Arn Anderson, having beaten Steven Regal and Roddy Piper to win them. The Crusierweight Championship is currently held by Silvio Maldini. He’s a game-generated character that has shot up through the ranks in developmental and made instant impact by beating WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio to win the title.

The Asian Invasion stable is no longer led by Keiji Mutoh due to his loss at Fall Brawl, the Steiner System is currently headed by Scott Steiner and features rising star Jamie Noble in their ranks. Rowdy Piper and Steven Regal had a British stable alongside Fit Finlay but now it’s just them two as a tag team. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero are currently “Paul Heyman Guys” and the nWo is no longer a thing in WCW. This came after the likes of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall both left the company and Hogan turned face. And I think that’s pretty much the jist of the main storylines currently in WCW.

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To be honest, it’s not really much of a recap of the season but hopefully it does help bring everybody up to speed. Whether its those new to the blog or those coming back, I want to help you guys understand the storylines going forth. In our last PPV at “Fall Brawl“, we ended with a pretty big storyline development so it’s a crucial part of what comes next.

Do check out our latest EWR update for more details of what you can expect to see in the future.

How I Would Book… Eddie Guerrero’s Road To Wrestlemania 22 [Part 1]

On November 13th 2005, Eddie Guerrero sadly passed away. It was tragic to see Eddie taken away from us. Particularly for me, as Eddie was probably my favorite wrestler when I first started watching wrestling. But what I’d like to explore is how Eddie Guerrero would, or maybe should, have been booked if he would have been still alive. More specifically, what would be the road to Wrestlemania 22 be like for Eddie Guerrero?

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Now, there are already TWO different ideas about what would have happened to Eddie Guerrero if he had not died when he did. The first idea actually came from Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie famously stated that in the upcoming edition of SmackDown!, Eddie was supposed to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Batista developing the storyline between those two which had started around September 2005. I believe it was actually promoted for that edition of SmackDown! that it would be a triple threat between Eddie, Batista and Randy Orton for the belt and according to Stephanie, Eddie was supposed to win the belt that night.

However, Court Bauer argued that Eddie winning the championship was never the plan for Latino Heat at the time. Court suggested:

“We had talked about a fascinating idea. I’m not the biggest Bruce Prichard fan but to his credit, I believe it was Bruce Prichard who pitched putting Eddie Guerrero at WrestleMania against Shawn Michaels …  Being the heartthrob in Mexico, and a mercurial figure south of the border, and the American version being HBK. They had never really worked before, and you would’ve had such a great dynamic between the two with heel Eddie vs. Shawn. That’d be your ‘tear the house down,’ high quality match at WrestleMania 22 in Chicago.”

“Vince (McMahon) was like, ‘God damn that’s really appealing. We could parallel their careers. What kind of footage do we have of Eddie outside of WCW? We could do some impressive packages.'”

Either way, it’s a win-win scenario for the WWE universe. If you believe what either Stephanie or Court said, the future was bright for Eddie Guerrero.

With this mini-series, we’re going to look into both of these potential storylines and see how we would have booked them. Now there’s always the chance that Eddie could have won the championship, lost it and still do his storyline with Shawn Michaels. But we’ll talk about that scenario later on. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before going into these potential storylines, let’s take a look at where Eddie Guerrero was with regards to the WWE storylines around that time…

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At Wrestlemania 21, Eddie Guerrero lost to Rey Mysterio. Eddie’s “jinx” in matches against Rey Mysterio was still in tact and Eddie was getting frustrated. Tensions between the two begin to rise, particularly after they lost the WWE Tag Team titles to MNM. After “burying the hatchet” the two invoked their rematch clause for the tag titles. However, Eddie didn’t lay a finger to help Rey as MNM beat Rey down. Rey eventually slapped Eddie stating “You don’t want to talk? Maybe, you’ll fight”. During a street fight between Rey and Chavo Guerrero, MNM did a run-in. Eddie eventually made the save for Mysterio, but then turned on his tag team partner.

Rey and Eddie finally began their feud which began with Eddie getting himself disqualified against Rey at Judgement Day. Eddie then began holding a “secret” over Rey’s head, mentally messing with Rey and his son Dominic. Eddie promised to keep his mouth shut if Rey beat him at The Great American Bash. Rey got the win, but Eddie was not a man of his word. Eddie went on to reveal that Rey was not Dominic’s son, and that it was Eddie that was Dominic’s “papi”. The feud eventually led to Rey beating Eddie in a ladder match at Summerslam to win custody of Dominic. Eddie finally ended the feud after beating Rey in a steel cage match on SmackDown!

Following his feud with Rey, Eddie was named number one contender to Batista’s World Heavyweight Championship for No Mercy. Eddie claimed to be “new and improved” and that all he wanted to be was Batista’s friend. Batista was suspicious but befriended Guerrero. After teaming up together in a few tag team matches, it seemed that the two had formed some form of respect. During their title match at No Mercy, Eddie had the opportunity to use the chair against Batista to help him win the title. However, Eddie changed his mind which led to him losing the match.

Now it seemed that Eddie and Batista was now truly friends with Batista respecting Eddie’s decision not cheat his way to the title. It even led to Batista and Eddie riding a low-rider together to the ring on SmackDown! Batista and Eddie also secured spots in SmackDown!’s Survivor Series match against Raw. However, Eddie was still hungry for another title shot. Eventually, a triple threat match for the World title was made for SmackDown featuring Eddie, Batista and Randy Orton. Before that though, Eddie would come out to his old theme song one last time and truly be himself one last time in a match with Mr Kennedy. After that episode of SmackDown!, Eddie passed away.

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Now what’s really sad is that after Eddie’s death, looking back, is that it’s pretty unclear what was going to happen with the Eddie Guerrero vs Batista storyline. Eddie was white-hot at the time and the fans truly took to Eddie as a good-guy again. Was Eddie really going to turn on Batista for good? Was Eddie in-fact supposed to win the title on that next edition of SmackDown!? Could Batista maybe have turned on Eddie after seeing the fans rally behind Guerrero?

The possibilities really were endless from this point. But for this first scenario, let’s go with the idea that Eddie was supposed to win the championship the next week on SmackDown! How would we book him from then on?

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Now it really does depend on HOW Eddie would have won the championship. He could either win it cleanly or turn heel once more and win it some sneaky way. Here’s how I’m imagining it…

I think Eddie WOULD have turned heel once more to win the title. As it would have made sense for Eddie to win the belt cleanly and have him be a good guy once again, it seemed more likely that Vince was going to have Eddie turn heel once more rather than someone like Batista turning heel to bounce off face Guerrero. However, I do think Eddie winning the title THAT particular night causes a bit of an issue for me. Leading into the SmackDown! vs RAW Survivor Series match (which both Eddie and Batista were to be a part of) a World Title change leading into this huge multi-brand storyline would seem to be a bit weird to me. It would make more sense to have Eddie’s title win and his turn on Batista to be built up a bit more first. Having the win take place on SmackDown! isn’t as financially appealing then possibly having it done at SmackDown! PPV Armageddon? If I were to have Eddie win the title any day, it would be then.

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So how do we build to that title change. Firstly, you have to build to the SmackDown! vs RAW match. On SmackDown!’s side, we would build up the tensions between Eddie and recent rival Rey Mysterio. Remember, Rey Mysterio was also part of that team at Survivor Series. So surely tension or mistrust between the two would start to take place. It would eventually lead to something like, on the SmackDown! before Survivor Seriesm, Eddie saving Rey and the two of them shaking hands. Now to Survivor Series.

Eddie would screw over Batista and help Team RAW win. Eddie would again be heel and he would be the top heel on SmackDown! Why’s that? Because he’s just screwed over Batista in SmackDown!’s crucial bragging rights match against RAW. All the SmackDown! locker room would despise him. Batista would want revenge. Somehow, Eddie would get another shot at the title at Armageddon which he would win. Eddie’s feud with Batista would wrap up at the Royal Rumble, with Eddie retaining the title somehow in like a Last Man Standing match or something.

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I personally believe that Triple H on RAW should have won the 2006 Royal Rumble. I believe the timing was right for the King Of Kings to go back on his throne and I was kinda annoyed when he didn’t win the rumble. However, for this storyline, let’s just give a SmackDown! superstar the win!

I wouldn’t have Mysterio win the match. Nothing against Mysterio, but Mysterio and Eddie would have wrestled enough at this point. They were feuding for the majority of 2005. So I’d have Eddie go one on one… with the Undertaker. I feel of everyone in the roster, Undertaker was the only other wrestler on SmackDown! that would have been ready enough to challenge Eddie for the World Title. Batista and Rey had both had feuds with Eddie, I’m not sure about guys like Chris Benoit and Bobby Lashley at that moment. I think Undertaker would be the most ideal choice. Also, a feud between those two would have definitely been great to see.

It would be promoted as “Title vs Streak” and Eddie would have promised to end the streak, but Taker would go over and win the belt. And that would wrap-up Wrestlemania 22 as the main event.

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And that’s about it for this particular scenario. I truly believe that if WWE would have had Eddie win the World Title around that time, Eddie should have went all the way to Mania as the champion. And who better to end the title reign of Guerrero at Wrestlemania than the Undertaker? Plus with the styles of Undertaker and the heel Eddie Guerrero, you would be getting an incredible storyline with a high quality main event.

Read part two at this link where we discuss another potential storyline for Eddie Guerrero and how we would get to Eddie Guerrero vs Shawn Michaels…