Monday, February 28, 2011

WWE RAW 2/28/11

WWE RAW 2/28/11
February 28th, 2011
HSBC Arena, Buffalo, New York
Attendance: 14,000 +/-

We're continuing down the road to Wrestlemania tonight, live from the sold out (or so they claim, though I believe the arena holds another 3-4000 in reality) HSBC Arena in Buffalo. Tonight we'll hear from Triple H about his confrontation with the Undertaker last week, as well as a response from none other than The Rock about Cena's remarks last week on this program. Everybody's excited for the show tonight, so let's jump right into it.

Your hosts are Jerry "The King" Lawler and Josh Matthews

We open with Triple H's music hitting and The Game makes his way to the ring and grabs a mic. Big "Triple H" chant starts up and he tells the fans it's good to see them too. He says he's done everything there is you can do in this business. He says he's outlasted everybody in this business except for one...the Undertaker. Triple H says he and the Undertaker will define an era at Wrestlemania. He says he's going to end the streak, or die trying. Triple H goes to leave the ring when suddenly Sheamus' music hits! He makes his way down to the ring but before he can say a word Triple H attacks him. He easily disposes of Sheamus out to ringside and then gives Sheamus the pedigree right through the announcer's table! Well that's a hell of a way to start the show.

After a quick commercial break we return to see Sheamus being helped out of the ringside area by officials. The lights flicker and the anonymous GM has sent us another e-mail, which The King reads. The e-mail says that tonight Sheamus still has to wrestle, and it's against none other than a returning...Evan Bourne! Nice little pop for Bourne, and we jump right into our first match of the night...

Evan Bourne vs. Sheamus

Bourne immediately attacks with a dropkick as soon as the bell rings and we're off. Bourne is fired up to start, hitting Sheamus with a big spin kick and then coming off the top with the Air Bourne! That's enough to put Sheamus away at 0:35. Wow, so Sheamus just got totally buried in the span of five minutes. I'm not complaining though because this was a GREAT way to put Bourne over for his return and hopefully will lead to a continued push in the near future. ¼*

After the match Michael Cole makes his way to ringside and tells the King he's going to let everyone know what his answer is the the King's challenge coming up next, after a quick commercial break. When we return Cole tells King that if he strikes him, he's fired per the anonymous GM's ruling. He dares the King to hit him. Cole says he never backs down from a fight...but then tells the King that his answer to his Wrestlemania challenge is "No", unless the King accepts two conditions. One, if Cole's trainer can be in his corner, and Two, if Cole can choose a special guest referee for the match. King says he doesn't care if he's got King Kong, Superman, and Saba Simba in his corner (obscure Wrestlecrap references!), he accepts. Cole takes the chance to immediately introduce who's going to train him for Wrestlemania, and that's none other than the All-American American, Jack Swagger! Really? From World champion to a bit part in the Cole/King feud? It's like they just want him to fail. Swagger hits the ring and slaps the ankle lock on Lawler while Cole trash talks him.

When we return from the commercial break we get a promo announcing that Steve Austin will be on Raw next week in Texas. Michael Cole comes to ringside, where the announcer's table has magically been put back together since Sheamus went through it (huh?) and takes King's place at the commentator's table.

Randy Orton's music hits and he makes his way to the ring. He grabs a mic and says that last week CM Punk was right about Orton making the biggest mistake of his career when he punted Punk at Unforgiven two years ago. The mistake he made, of course, is that he should have kicked him harder. Punk and the New Nexus come out to confront Orton but the lights flicker and we've got another e-mail from the anonymous GM. Josh Matthews reads the e-mail, which says that the only way for Orton and Punk to settle things is in a match at Wrestlemania. Over the next coming weeks, Orton is going to face members of the Nexus and if those Nexus members win, they're allowed to accompany Punk to ringside at Wrestlemania, but if they lose they are barred from ringside. This leads us right into our next match, the first in this series...

Randy Orton vs. Michael McGillicutty

Collar and elbow lock-up to start us off. Orton starts laying in shots into the corner and then shoots out, clotheslining McGillicutty. He misses a kneedrop and McGillicutty tries to go to work, only to be clotheslined over the top rope and to the floor. After a quick commercial break we return to see McGillicutty hit a big leg lariat for a two count on Randy. McGillicutty somersaults off the second rope with a snap jawbreaker, which looks pretty nifty and then slaps a chinlock on Orton. Randy counters with a back suplex. Orton hits the snap powerslam and he starts getting into his zone, hitting the over-the-shoulder backbreaker on McGillicutty and then following it with the hesitation DDT from the second-rope. Orton goes into his Viper routine, pounding away on the mat, stalking McGillicutty and then delivering the RKO to finish him off at 4:05 (shown). You know no one is ever going to be able to take the Nexus members seriously if you never, ever put them over guys. Standard Orton squash really, McGillicutty hit a few big moves and then Orton did his usual routine for the finish. *

After the match Orton teases punting McGillicutty but Punk gets on the mic and tells him not to do it, so of course Orton does exactly that and the crowd pops big for it. Punk and the Nexus run to make the save and Orton hops the rail and exits through the crowd.

We get a quick look at the WWE introducing the famous Mistico in Mexico as the newest WWE signing, unveiling his new look and name "Sin Cara". The fact that they've been hyping his signing so much really gives me hope that they're going to actually use Mistico correctly and give him a big push, which I think we'd all love to see.

When we return from the commercial break The Miz and Alex Riley make their way out to the ring. He grabs a mic and says he knows why The Rock is responding to Cena but not The Miz tonight, and that's because the Miz is now the biggest star in the WWE. He says what happened last week in the main event with John Cena is exactly what he wanted, and that John should be worrying about him and not The Rock. This prompts John Cena to make his way out to the ring now and grabs a mic. He has a big goofy envelope entitled "Doctor's Note" and says that Miz has obsessive compulsive disorder. He accuses Miz of having over 200 cats, a 1000 pairs of Dockers, and peeing in milk jugs until finally hiding in his closet and eating toilet paper. That whole series of images is pretty amusing/disturbing. Riley makes a TERRIBLE joke about toilets being referred to as "Johns" and even Michael Cole thinks that was awful. Cena makes a few gay jokes about The Miz and Riley which are mostly juvenile, but he does get in a funny line about them going home at night and relaxing with a nice bottle of Pinot noir and a copy of the Notebook on DVD. Cena makes a challenge to Riley for tonight, saying if he beats him that Miz has to fire Alex. Miz accepts but says if Cena loses, Cena has to say in front of the world that The Miz is awesome. Suddenly the lights flicker and Cole gets up to read the next e-mail from our anonymous GM. "And I quote...", to ensure there's no outside interference tonight, the Cena-Riley match will take place inside of a steel cage! (So that's why that cage is up there). The only way to win tonight is to escape the cage, so no pinfalls or submissions will count tonight.

Diva's Battle Royal
(Featuring Maryse, Alicia Fox, Melina, Natalya, Gail Kim, the Bella Twins, and Tamina)

We return to see the Diva's champion Eve at the commentary table to commentate on this impromptu battle royal, which I believe will determine the next contender for Eve's title. Not that anyone cares or anything. Eve talks away while Alicia Fox and Tamina are quickly eliminated. Melina and Natalya fight on the ring apron and then Maryse knocks them both off. We're down to just Maryse, Gail Kim, and one of the Bella's. Kim tries fighting them both off, hitting a neckbreaker on one of the Bellas. Gail Kim eliminates Maryse and we're down to the final two. Kim eliminates the remaining Bella twin, only for the other Bella twin to sneak into the ring and eliminate Gail Kim, apparently winning through the old switch-a-roo at 2:04. After the match Eve tries to tell the ref what happened and she gets attacked by the Bellas. The usual piss-break divas stuff here and it looks like they're going forward with the Bellas as heels despite never being even the slightest bit over. I've seen worse Battle Royals I guess. ¼*

After a quick commercial break we return and it's time for The Rock's response to John Cena's words from last week, which we quickly recap. We go live now via satellite to The Rock at his home. The Rock is dressed up like rapper Cena and mocks Cena with a little freestyle of his own before throwing off Cena's merchandise. The Rock says he made his electrifying return to Raw and said exactly how he felt about Cena like a man, and John in response raps to him? Rocky acts like this is the biggest insult he's ever received, and he continues to mock Cena's hustle/loyalty/respect shtick. He says he wants to remind the whole world how this started, with Cena publicly insulting the Rock a few years back, accusing him of being a liar about his love for this business, which gets Cena some nice heat. The Rock reminds us that he was born in the WWE, grew up in the WWE, and his blood is the WWE, reminding us about his grandfather and father, both WWE Hall of Famers. This is great here as The Rock is basically calling out every single upset fan and internet smark that's been calling The Rock a traitor for many years, and putting every one of them in their place. The Rock says with his Hollywood career he opened the door for both the WWE and John Cena himself. Suddenly the lights in the arena all go out as The Rock does his "Millions and millions" bit, with the lights turning on each time he and the entire crowd chants "MILLIONS!". The Rock says he's back to take care of business, so John should "enjoy your Fruity Pebbles, you Yabba-Dabba-BITCH!" He finishes up with the usual, saying Cena will smell what The Rock is cooking, and that finishes up the promo. Good stuff, of course we'd prefer him to be there in person, but that was nearly as good. Up next Shawn Michaels will sound off on his thoughts about the Triple H-Undertaker match at Wrestlemania!

After a quick commercial break we return to some pre-recorded comments from Shawn Michaels about the announcement of the Undertaker-Triple H match at Wrestlemania. Shawn says he'd be happy for Triple H if he wins but also a bit mad at the same time because he couldn't beat the man the last two years. Nice little segment there.

Daniel Bryan's music hits and he starts making his way to the ring for a match, but before Bryan get even make his way to the ring The Miz of all people attacks him from behind, slamming him into the barricades and giving him a big boot to the face. This crowd absolutely SUCKS as they are completely dead for all of this and barely even cared about the fucking Rock or HBK's promos. Miz says he did that because this is HIS show, and demands we start the cage match main event.

Cage Match
John Cena vs. Alex Riley

When we return The Miz joins Cole and Matthews at ringside, where Cole surprisingly shows some sympathy for the attack on Bryan moments ago.
Riley immediately tries to scurry up the cage and escape as the bell rings but Cena easily grabs him and starts tossing him around, laying in open palm chops. Snap suplex from Cena. Cena tries to walk out the door but The Miz sprints from the commentary table and blocks the door, slamming it into Cena's head despite promising not to get involved in the match earlier tonight. Miz has Riley grind Cena's face into the steel cage while The Miz takes a picture of it on his phone, which is just fucking awesome. Cole asks him to send him the picture so he can make that his wallpaper. Miz tosses the phone into the ring to Riley who then smashes it into Cena's face. Well that seems kind of stupid Miz, that's your phone bro, you've got countless steel chairs at ringside you could have thrown in instead dude. Riley tries to crawl out the cage door but Cena grabs his feet before he can. Miz tries tugging Riley out the door but Cena hangs on and locks in the STF, which sends Riley tapping immediately, but the only way to win this match is by escaping the cage. Cena tries climbing out but Miz holds him off with a steel chair. Riley has Cena in the electric chair position and just drops him back onto the mat as we take a quick commercial break. When we return Riley hits a flying forearm on Cena. Both men begin fighting on the top rope and Cena gets tossed off. Riley starts climbing and makes it up to the top of the cage, but Cena climbs up and catches up to him on top. Cena drives Riley's head off the top rope to the mat with a huge bulldog, and The Miz is speechless at ringside. Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment, but again, no pinfalls count. Cena suddenly grabs The Miz's phone and then takes a photo of his own of Riley on the mat and then tosses it aside. He heads for the door but The Miz blocks it again. Cena squeezes his arm into the door crack though and is able to over-power The Miz and fall outside to win the match at 9:31 (shown)! The Miz quickly delivers the Skull Crushing Finale to Cena afterwards. This was refreshing after a night of short squash matches, and the spots with the camera phone were really creative and cute. Riley isn't exactly on Cena's level though, so the outcome was never really in doubt. Solid, but not spectacular. **¾

Bottom Line: From a wrestling standpoint, this was a really lackluster show up until the main event. From an angle progression standpoint though, this show lived up to expectations and we saw important developments in most of our big Wrestlemania matches. Very unique main event and some nice angle progression is enough to make up for the lackluster first half of the show, so we'll go with Thumbs in the middle for tonight's Raw.

Score: 5/10

WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #1 (5/11/85)

WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #1
Taped May 10th, 1985 | Aired May 11th, 1985
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
Attendance: 8,300

We're hot off of the heels of the original Wrestlemania here, right in the early stages of Hulkamania. This is the debut of what would go on to become the WWF's main television show for advancing feuds and angles until the early 90s, thanks in large part to it airing nationally on NBC in primetime, unheard of for a wrestling show at the time. Tonight we've got Hogan defending the WWF title against Cowboy Bob Orton. Let's jump right into it, cue that catchy 80s theme music!

Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura

Iron Sheik/Nikolai Volkoff/George Steele vs. Barry Windham/Mike Rotundo/Ricky Steamboat

Sheik and Volkoff had been feuding with the US Express (Windham/Rotundo) for a few months now and recently had beaten them for the tag team titles at Wrestlemania. Windham and Rotundo are using Springsteen's "Born in the USA" for theme music, which is awesome. Steele is still a heel here before they turned him into the lovable maniac instead of just the regular maniac. Windham and Sheik start us off with Windham laying in right hands and then hip-tosing Sheik right into a karate strike from Steamboat. Sheik looks rather spritely out there, even performing a leapfrog. Steamboat tags in and applies a wristlock to the Sheik. The match breaks down and all six men end up brawling until the babyfaces clean house and we take a quick commercial break. When we return Steamboat gives Sheik a powerslam. Missile dropkick off the top from Steamboat and then a flying cross body, but Volkoff breaks the pinfall attempt up at two. Windham and Steamboat hit double dropkicks on Volkoff and Windham gets a quick two count. Steamboat tries a few backslide and cradle pin attempts but Volkoff keeps kicking out. Windham comes back in and George Steele tags in. Steele thinks better of it though and tries to tag out but his partners abandon him and Windham gets a backroll for the 3 count at 6:50 (shown). Really hot crowd for this helped matters and it was fast-paced and to the point while it lasted. Not a bad way to kick off the show. **

After another commercial break we return and it's time for Piper's Pit with special guest Paul Orndorff. Piper and Orton are angry at Orndorff over the loss at Wrestlemania, so this would be Orndorff's big face turn, which went over huge at the time and led alot of people to think Mr. Wonderful was destined for the main event scene. Of course they'd kill his run pretty quickly to turn him heel again for no reason so Hogan could have another person to squash the next summer, so this never led anywhere in the end. Piper blames Orndorff for the loss at Mania and they end up brawling until Mr. T comes to the ring to make the save.

After another quick break we return to have Hulk Hogan sharing a few words with Mean Gene on his way to the ring.

WWF World Title Match
Hulk Hogan (C) vs. Cowboy Bob Orton

Crowd explodes for Hogan here as he's joined by Mr. T in his corner to even the odds against Roddy Piper in Orton's corner. Hogan dominates to start with a few big scoop slams. Hogan starts working on Bob's injured arm, slamming it over the top rope and then into the steel ringpost. Orton hits a cheap shot and then starts laying in closed fists on Hogan on the mat. Orton continues to work away on Hulk as Mr. T and the crowd cheers Hogan on. Hulk of course feeds off fo this and starts the Hulk up routine, hammering away on Orton and then hitting an elbow drop for a two count. Hulk shoots him into the corner and starts teeing off shots in the corner only for Orton to deliver an inverted atomic drop to break it up. Orton tries for the superplex but Hulk comes off the top with an elbow and then drops the leg and goes for the pin, only for Piper to break the pin up and attack Hulk for the DQ at 6:50. Orndorff makes the save for Hulk and T after the match. Standard Hogan formula stuff here, the crowd was hot though.

When we return from commercial Mean Gene is backstage interviewing Cyndi Lauper and Lou Albano, who both appear to be shitfaced. We're lucky enough to see the debut of Cyndi's new music video "Good Enough" now, featuring a slew of WWF wrestlers dressed up as pirates to co-promote The Goonies movie. Truly surreal stuff that gets only better when Roddy Piper and the Iron Sheik show up. Oh the eighties.

After the video the Fabulous Moolah shares a few words with Mean Gene on her way out to the ring for the women's title match next. Cyndi Lauper cuts a promo with Wendi as well, referring to Wrestlemania as "the Wrestling-Mania", just to make sure this segment bombs extra hard. Funny how throughout this entire feud with Moolah, Richter never said anything, Lauper was always too busy yapping on the mic for anyone to start caring about Wendi.

WWF Women's Title Match
Wendi Richter (C) vs. The Fabulous Moolah

Lauper is with Richter still, but she'd be gone pretty soon. This might even be her last appearance in the WWF, but don't quote me on that. Moolah takes the upper hand early, choking Richter over the top rope and then tossing her weakly onto the commentator's table at ringside. Moolah just kicks Richter, not allowing her to get back into the ring. She taunts the crowd and Wendi sneaks up behind her with a dropkick. Richter chokes Moolah in the second rope a bit and then flings her across the ring. Moolah tries a scoop slam and Richter counters into a cradle for the quick pin at 3:14. Wow that was just awful, the whole Cyndi & Wendi show had gotten old by this point. DUD

Junk Yard Dog vs. Pete Doherty

Okay then, I guess we're just going to round out the broadcast with a squash match. JYD's mom is apparently in attendance at ringside. Doherty is apparently the "Duke of Dorchester" and he screams like a scared child while JYD pulls his hair before the match officially starts. Dog slides him back in and does the usual slew of headbutts and then finishes with a powerslam at 1:30. Just a squash to put JYD over on a national broadcast. DUD

We return after a quick break with a "Mother's Day Celebration" party backstage with a bunch of the wrestlers and Cyndi Lauper. Fabulous Moolah tries to crash the party and Cyndi slams a giant cake over her head. OH, THE HILARITY!

After a final break Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura say so long as the fans file out of the building.

Bottom Line: Not the most thrilling national television debut for the company here, but I suppose it got the job done. Hogan gets a nice little token title defense on TV, JYD gets a squash match, and the crowd was hot through-out the whole thing. Wrestling-wise there's nothing here worth your time though, so I'll have to unfortunately go with the Thumbs Down.

Score: 3.5/10

Sunday, February 27, 2011

ROH 9th Anniversary Show iPPV 2/26/11

ROH 9th Anniversary Show iPPV
February 26th, 2011
Chicago Ridge Park District, Chicago Ridge, Illinois
Attendance: 1,500 +/-

Hello again everybody and welcome to ROH's first iPPV broadcast of the year 2011, we are live from Chicago with a huge crowd of around 1500 reportedly. The big stories tonight are Roderick Strong defending the ROH World title against Homicide in a Street Fight grudge match, while the Kings of Wrestling defend the tag team titles against the All Night Express. Also tonight we've got Christopher Daniels versus Eddie Edwards in a 2/3 Falls match for the ROH TV title, and in our main event a dream tag team match between Shelton Benjamin/Charlie Haas and the Briscoe Brothers. Great build to this show and we'll learn a lot about what direction the company will take in 2011 tonight, with this being the first show to truly be 100% the booking work of new booker Delirious (AKA Hunter Johnson). Let's get started.

Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak

Davey Richards vs. Colt Cabana

Colt gets his usual good reaction in Chicago while Davey continues to be one of the most over guys on the roster. Considering how much everyone wanted to see Davey win the World title in 2010, it's puzzling as to why he was booked into an opening match with Colt for a big show like this, so I hope they don't wait too long on pulling the trigger on Davey as champ. Good choice for the opener here with two big faces starting us off. Wristlock from Colt to start but Davey quickly counters with one of his own. Cabana uses some nifty footwork to avoid the stiff kicks of Richards in the early going. Rollup from Colt gets two and Davey tries for the ankle lock, but Cabana evades. Colt chases Davey to the floor and then Davey gets a running start and comes out with the suicide dive on Colt, key word: suicide as that was almost Benoit-like with how fast he launched his body out of the ring into Colt. Back inside the ring Davey tries working a modified LaBelle lock but Colt evades. Davey works a modified armbar for a bit, simply slamming his boot onto Colt's fingers on the mat. Davey slaps on a chinlock briefly and then goes back to the armwork. Back suplex from Davey slams Colt right on his own arm. Richards comes off the top but Cabana gets the feet up, slamming them right into Davey's face. Big right hands from Colt but Davey comes back with stiff kicks. Quebrada from Cabana into a pin attempt, 1-2--NOO! Davey kicks out at two. Davey tries for a frankensteiner off the top but Colt hurls him up onto his shoulders and then just drops him on the turnbuckle. Huge moonsault from Colt! 1-2---NOOO! Davey kicks out again. Missile dropkick to the back of Colt's head and Davey is fired up now. Diving headbutt from halfway across the ring, but only for two. Davey transitions right into the cross-armbar though, but Colt counters with the Billy Goat's Curse! Back-bridge rollup counter from Davey, but Colt breaks it up. Big German suplex from Richards, but again Colt kicks out! Tornado DDT from Richards and he maintains his grip on Colt, giving him a Falcon Arrow and then transitioning right back into the juji gatame armbar again which is enough for Cabana to tap out at 12:12! Great opener here to fire the crowd up with two guys the fans absolutely love. Colt wrestled seriously here, showing off some of that great wrestling he used to be known for. Slap on a hot finish and you've got a perfect opener. ***¼

After the match we get one of the Top 5 Greatest Moments in ROH history, this one being CM Punk's emotional farewell after being signed by the WWE, which is a hell of a moment if you've never seen it. Weird and kinda cool to hear Gabe Sapolsky doing the commentary during that match again.

Four Corner Survival Match
Steve Corino vs. Kyle O'Reilly vs. Mike Bennett vs. Grizzly Redwood

So this is a bit of a thrown-together match. O'Reilly is a guy to keep your eyes on while everyone knows the veteran Corino. Bennett is a newcomer to ROH and has pissed off virtually everyone in his short time in the company so far, while Redwood is just as useless as ever. This is one fall and you have to tag in. Corino and Redwood start us off with a side-headlock. O'Reilly tags in and tags Corino with a few quick kicks, which Corino responds to with open-palm strikes. Powerslam by Corino and Mike Bennett gets the blind tag in. Nice standing dropkick from Bennett who taunts the crowd. O'Reilly boots Bennett off the apron and then sends Redwood into Corino's boot weakly. O'Reilly sprints off the other side of the apron though with a big flying dropkick to Bennett! Redwood follows him out with a tope, and then Corino teases doing a tope which the crowd loves, but Bennett cuts him off with a lariat. Brutal Bob Evans tries to get a cheap shot on Corino on the outside, but Bennett just tosses him into the guardrail instead. Back inside Bennett gets a quick two. Redwood and O'Reilly tag in now and Redwood delivers a big hurricanrana and then a bridging German suplex to O'Reilly for two. O'Reilly hits an awesome trio of butterfly suplexes on Redwood and the crowd pops for him, but Redwood kicks out at two. Bennett tosses O'Reilly off the top and then Corino tags in and starts playing the babyface to Bennett's heel, which is just weird after so many years of Corino being a heel. Big DDT/STO combination on both Redwood and Bennett from Corino. All four men are in the ring now, trading moves. O'Reilly is fired up and tries fighting off all three men, superkicking Bennett into the corner. Bennett hits the Awesome Coolness (side-slam) on Corino for the 3 count at 11:03. Not bad, O'Reilly and Bennett both looked very good and it's clear they're going to be recieving big pushes in the future, so this match helps build to that. **

We get another one of the Top 5 moments in ROH history, this time the main event of the very first ROH show between Christopher Daniels, Bryan Danielson, and Low-Ki. Classic match if you've never seen it.

El Generico vs. Michael Elgin

So I'm not really liking how Generico is starting off 2011. He should be getting a serious singles push, but instead he's facing an unknown like Elgin here tonight. Elgin is built pretty well and reminds me a bit of Adam Bomb with a buzz cut. Big chops exchange to start between both men. Elgin keeps trying to use his power advantage to toss Generico around but to no avail. Truth Martini prevents Generico from giving Elgin a tope outside the ring and gets some nice heat for it. Elgin tosses Generico to the floor and tries for a bodyslam but gets tossed into the steel post instead. Generico applies a wristlock and leaps from the floor to the top of the guardrail, launching off of the steel rail onto Elgin in an attempt for a tornado DDT, but Elgin hangs onto Generico and runs all the way to the other end of the ring, slamming Generico into the guardrail on the other side at full speed! Awesome sequence of moves there. Back inside the ring Generico tries to mount the comeback, avoiding Elgin's power moves and sending him to the floor, where Generico is finally able to hit the big tope con hilo without Truth Martini trying to hold him back. Big cross-body off the top back inside gets Generico a quick two count. Generico hits the swinging DDT off the turnbuckle, but again Elgin kicks out at two. Wrist-clutch suplex gets Elgin a two count of his own. Big fallaway sidewalk slam, but Generico kicks out again as the "Ole" chant starts up. Elgin turns him inside out with a lariat, but Generico still kicks out before the three. Half-nelson suplex from Generico! 1-2--NOO! Elgin kicks out. Truth Martini tries to get involved and the ref takes a small bump. Elgin tries to wake the ref and Generico rolls up Elgin from behind for the pin at 10:28. After the match Roderick Strong hits the ring and beats down Generico with Elgin. Pretty good showcase for Elgin here as he showed impressive power and worked well with Generico's high-flying offense. Pretty decent. **¼

After the match Roderick Strong gets on the mic and says what they just saw was a preview of what he's going to do to Homicide tonight. He gets some decent heat here until Homicide hits the ring and says he's not waiting for later tonight and wants to have their match RIGHT NOW, and Strong obliges, so that leads us right into our World title match...

ROH World Title No Holds Barred Barrio Street Fight Match
Roderick Strong (C) vs. Homicide

The match officially starts with Homicide flying out onto Strong with a tope con hilo as the bell rings frantically! This was a good choice to have this title match go on at the half-way point in the show instead of the main event, as people would rather see this match get a chance to be a surprise in the midcard than be underwhelming as the main event. Strong and Homicide start brawling into the crowd almost immediately, and Truth Martini gets a few cheap shots in with Strong as Dave Prazak and Kevin Kelly plug their Twitter accounts. Homicide misses a chairshot on Strong and they begin fighting in the aisle way. They finally make their way back to the ring where Homicide starts laying in closed fist shots to Strong in the corner, biting a chunk out of his forehead while he's at it. Bulldog face-first into the folding chair from Homicide, who teases taking out the ref with the same chair. They begin fighting outside the ring again, with Homicide dropping Strong throat-first onto the steel barricade. Strong tosses Homicide into the air and slams his back on the edge of the ring apron, notoriously known as the hardest part of the ring. Kind of boring brawling here in the early going. Big Homicide chant starts up as Strong chokes Homicide back in the ring. Martini tosses in a few chairs and Strong sets them up in 3 different corners. Strong goes for the Three Amigoes suplex trio on Homicide and the crowd gives him heat for it. Say what you will about Strong as a world champ, he's taken to the role of main event heel with relish. Overhead belly-to-belly suplex from Homicide. Strong gets thrown into a few of the steel chairs set up in the corners, his head smashing into the steel one after another as the crowd cheers on. Exploder suplex gets Homicide a two count. Strong grabs a table from underneath the ring and tosses it into the ring, as we see Roddy going out of his element into Homicide's world of hardcore wrestling. Strong tries for a Gibson Driver into the table but Homicide counters with a swinging DDT through the table! 1-2---NOOO! Strong kicks out! Homicide tries for the ace crusher off the top but Truth Martini gets involved and suddenly Michael Elgin hits the ring. Homicide disposes of him instantly and then hits the ace crusher off the top! Lariat from Homicide! 1-2---NOOO! Truth Martini saves the title for Strong. Homicide gives Martini an Ace Crusher, but then Strong hits the Sick Kick and then a vertical suplex-backbreaker combo and gets the three count on Homicide to retain at 14:45! Alot of people were worried about this match, but I think they delivered what they set out to here---a hardcore match that let Homicide hit some signature spots and Strong retain the title through outside interference. Pretty basic hardcore stuff, but the crowd was hot and it picked up towards the end. ***

We look at another one of the five greatest moments in ROH history, this time Kevin Steen turning his back on his longtime partner El Generico., followed by the Bryan Danielson-Nigel McGUinness United title unification match from 2006. Both great moments in their own ways.

Sara Del Ray vs. MsChif

There are reports that since Delirious has taken over as booker that he wants to start giving the ladies more exposure, and if they would actually let these two women wrestle 10-15 minutes and work an actual feud, I guarantee it would blow both the WWE and TNA's women's divisions right out of the water. MsChif grabs Sara's arm to start and gives her a backbreaker for a quick cover and a one count. MsChif rolls out of a bridging pin attempt and then hits a standing moonsault for a quick two. A couple of big boots from Del Ray and she tries for a cocky pin attempt with one knee, but MsChif easily kicks out. Del Ray puts MsChif up in the Gory Special now, bending her in unnatural ways. MsChif counters with a Northern Lights suplex for a near fall and both women bridge off the mat. Del Ray powerbombs MsChif and gets a two. Armbreaker by MsChif gets her a two count of her own. Rolling kick into the corner by Del Ray but MsChif gets a rollup for two. Del Ray hits a wrist-clutch slam that she calls the "Del Razor" and that's enough to put MsChif away at 3:58. Oh COME ON man, we couldn't cut a few minutes off of the four corner survival match for this? Del Ray and MsChif could put on a match that could blow everything else on this card out of the water if given 15 minutes to do their thing, but instead every month they barely get 5 minutes and as a result nobody cares about the Women of Honor "division" and no one will until they start giving these ladies some real time. They've proven they can work in SHIMMER, now give them a chance here damnit. Good for the short time we got though.

ROH World Tag Team Title Match
Chris Hero/Claudio Castagnoli (C) vs. Kenny King/Rhett Titus

This has been building up for awhile now as the All Night Express have transitioned from curtain-jerkers to a serious threat to the Kings of Wrestling's tag titles. This is the All Night Express's big shot here, so if they do well you can expect their push to continue. Hero and Titus start us off with Hero controlling the pace, avoiding Rhett's offense and then tagging Castagnoli in. King tags in as well and Claudio applies a wristlock that King quickly counters out of with an armdrag. Atomic drop and he tags Titus back in. King and Titus trade quick tags, hitting double team moves in an attempt to overwhelm the Kings early on. Claudio eats a pair of kicks from the All Night Express and then they clothesline Hero to the floor. King hip tosses his own partner over the top and wipes out Hero and Claudio. King comes off the apron then with a twisting tope and takes out Hero! Titus tries fighting off both of the Kings but then gets hit with a big European uppercut from Claudio. Hero tags in and slaps an armbar on Titus. They trade quick tags and double team Titus, isolating him in their corner. Roaring elbow from Hero gets a two count. Titus gets the hot tag to King and he cleans house, taking out Hero with a big spin kick. Rolling kick attempt from Hero but King just grabs him and gives him a cradle-leg suplex. 1-2--NOO! Hero kicks out. Rolling kick from Hero hits now and Claudio tags in and knees King in the face for a two count. Big lariat gets Claudio another two as the crowd is really behind the Kings here, chanting for every move they deliver. Claudio tries a chokeslam off the top but King hits a kick and Titus gives him a facebuster off the top rope! Royal Flush from King but Claudio kicks out. Brainbuster from Titus to Claudio and King hits the Shooting Star Press off the top! 1-2--NOO! Hero breaks it up! Shane Hagadorn tries throwing the loaded elbow pad into the ring, but King catches it only for Claudio to attempt the UFO on King and give up halfway through in what's either a botch or legit exhaustion from Castagnoli. Hero grabs the loaded elbow pad and hits the roaring elbow on King, letting Claudio collapse on top of King for the 3 count to retain at 15:55. This was a big match for the All Night Express and they showed they could deliver move for move with one of the best tag teams in the world tonight with Hero and Castagnoli. The loaded elbow pad finish got old 6 months ago, but it makes sense again to use it here. Solid exhibition of tag team wrestling and a moral victory for the All Night Express. ***¼

ROH TV Title 2/3 Falls Match
Christopher Daniels (C) vs. Eddie Edwards

Daniels beat Edwards for the belt a few weeks back on HDNet in a great match, and everyone has been clamoring for a rematch ever since. Edwards is coming off of a great trip to Japan where he had a near five star encounter with Kotaro Suzuki. This is a 2 out of 3 falls match, so this should get plenty of time. We have a bit of technical difficulties to start the match as Kelly and Prazak's commentary goes out for the first few minutes of the match, during which Daniels and Edwards work your basic feeling out wristlock process. Commentary is back and Edwards tries an armbar. Edwards drives a few shoulder blocks into Daniels in the corner and then both men trade armdrags and side-headlock takedowns in a great display of counter wrestling. Shining Wizard from Edwards gets a quick two and he tries a chinlock. Edwards hits the face-wash boot into the corner as the ref pleads with him to play fair. Big Saito suplex from Daniels and the crowd starts to come alive. Daniels locks on a triangle choke-like submission hold on Edwards but ends up pinning his shoulders to the mat for a near fall. Russian leg sweep from Daniels. Both men fight to the floor now, exchanging stiff chops at the guardrail. Back inside a snap suplex gets Daniels a two count. Both men jockey for position on the top rope and then Edwards leaps off with a top-rope frankensteiner! Slingshot doublestomp from Edwards on the apron and both men stumble to the outside floor. Edwards climbs to the top rope now and leaps into the front row with a flying forearm to Daniels! Missile dropkick back inside the ring and Edwards nips right back up and hits a superkick-Tiger Suplex combo on Daniels for a two count. Edwards hits a pair of big dropkicks to Daniels while he's tied up in the tree of woe and a big Eddie Edwards chant starts up. Back inside Daniels hits a top rope spinkick for a two count. Burning Hammer (or the "Spicy Drop" from Daniels days as Curry Man) from Daniels! 1-2---NOO! Edwards kicks out! Japanese armdrag sends Daniels upside down into the corner. Both men start trading stiff chops now, but Edwards rolls Daniels into a half Boston crab. Daniels counters into the Koji Clutch! That submission never gets old. They trade half Boston crabs now and then Edwards locks Daniels into a Koji Clutch of his own! Big superkick from Edwards but Daniels rolls him up and wins the first fall at 23:01! No rest period here and Edwards comes back with a flying forearm. Eddie misses a doublestomp attempt on the apron and Daniels gives him a Blue Thunder Driver onto the ring apron! The ring announcer lets us know that there are only 5 minutes remaining in this match with a 30 minute time limit. Edwards rolls back into the ring and eats a big piledriver from Daniels! 1-2---NOO! Edwards kicks out. Edwards counters into the half Boston crab again and Daniels taps out tying us up one fall apiece at 26:48! Ring announcer keeps letting us know when each minute passes as Edwards applies an STF. Top rope frankensteiner from Edwards! Daniels looks hurt there and his head is split wide open after that one. Both men try for a hip-toss and end up both tumbling to the outside floor with Daniels hitting his head nastily on the guardrail during the fall! 30 seconds remain and both men are being counted out of the ring. Edwards rolls back into the ring first but the bell rings as the ref counts to 9 and we have a time-limit draw at one fall apiece at 30:00. Daniels is busted open bad. They really telegraphed the finish with the announcements and the finish was abrupt, but this was excellent stuff before that and Daniels nearly killed himself towards the end there. Better than their HDNet match and about as good a 30 minutes of wrestling as you could ask for. ****¼

After the match Edwards, Kevin Kelly, and several ring officials come out to try and help Christopher Daniels out as Daniels was clearly knocked unconscious at some point here and is extremely groggy and bloody here. Both men get a standing ovation.

Shelton Benjamin/Charlie Haas vs. Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe

This is our new main event after Homicide/Strong went on earlier in the night, and this was really the right call. This is a dream match here and the winner you have to assume will be getting the next shot at the Kings of Wrestling's tag titles. Shelton and Jay start us off with a collar and elbow lock-up. Front chancery from Shelton as both men are really feeling each other out, each man trying for the amateur takedown. Mark tags in now and applies a leg vice grip. Haas tags in and starts working on Mark's arm. Shelton tags back in quickly and we get a dueling chant for both teams as Selton rolls Jay up for a two count. Jay counters a German attempt with a rollup of his own for a two count as well. Huge boot from Shelton gets another two. Haas tags in and the Briscoes trade quick tags, each hitting a fist-drop. Mark slaps a reverse chinlock on Haas for a bit. The Briscoes double-team Haas while Shelton argues with the ref, giving him a back drop onto the steel guardrail outside the ring. Back inside Haas hits a big release German suplex on Mark and he gets the hot tag to Shelton, who goes to work on Mark. Mark comes back with some big right hands and then flips out of a backdrop attempt and tags Jay in. Olympic slam from Haas and all four men are in the ring now. Mark hits a missile dropkick on Shelton and then Haas eats a superkick from Jay. Death Valley Driver from Jay and Mark goes for a Shooting Star Press on Haas, but Shelton leaps straight up to the top turnbuckle in one jump and takes Mark off the top with an overhead belly-to-belly superplex! Big superkick from Shelton nearly takes Mark's head off. Jay grabs Shelton and tosses him into the front row, where Haas follows them and they're brawling in the front row now. Meanwhile in the ring Mark hits a springboard tope con hilo, wiping out all three men in the front row of the crowd! Crowd goes crazy for that spot and it was fun. Back inside the ring the Briscoes hit a leg and elbow drop combo for a two count as Haas just barely breaks it up. Briscoes try for the Doomsday Device but Shelton boots Mark to the outside. Jay Driller attempt blocked by Haas and Shelton comes off the top with a snap neckbreaker, which is enough to score the 3 count at 22:21! Great match here to cap off the show with solid tag wrestling that started off slow and then picked up big time towards the finishing stretch. This sets up Haas and Benjamin to take on the Kings of Wrestling at the next iPPV in April, which was the right choice and should draw very well for the company. ***¾

We go off the air with the Briscoes and Haas & Benjamin shaking hands after the match.

Bottom Line: Another great iPPV from Ring of Honor here and a great way to kick of 2011 and move into the new year. Undercard was a tad bit underwhelming, but Davey and Colt had a good opener. We had some great tag wrestling in the main event and tag title match, as well as a solid World title match and an excellent TV title match. All in all a thoroughly entertaining show and well worth the $15 price tag, Thumbs Up.

Score: 8.5/10

WWF @ MSG 2/15/85 (The War to Settle the Score)

WWF @ Madison Square Garden (The War to Settle the Score)
February 18th, 1985
Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Attendance: 22,000

This is the last stop on the way to the original Wrestlemania, and much like the Brawl to End It All show aired the previous summer, the main event of tonight's show will be aired live on MTV, where it scored a massive 9.1 rating for the Hulk Hogan-Roddy Piper main event. Much like the last event aired on MTV this was an important step in the WWF gaining national exposure and being able to organize the first Wrestlemania and have it be a success. This is the entire card as it was originally broadcast on the MSG Network, so let's get to it.

Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund

Rick McGraw vs. Moondog Spot

McGraw was a guy that probably could have been a decent midcard player for the WWF in the 80s, but unfortunately he would end up dying a few months after this show due to a bad drug problem. Not exactly an opening contest to get you excited for the show though, you know? Basic lock-up to start us off with McGraw trying for a quick cradle unsuccessfully. McGraw tries working an armbar for a bit. Spot tries escaping but just gets locked back into the armbar again after a dropkick. Big slam from McGraw and the crowd briefly comes alive. Spot avoids a sunset flip and then slaps on a chinlock. Spot slams a few knees into his chest and then delivers a shoulder-breaker for a two count. Back to the chinlock now and as you might have guessed this is boring stuff. Backbreaker gets Spot another close two. Spot sends McGraw out to the floor and then slams him into the steel barricade. Spot attacks McGraw as he tries to get back in the ring, but he misses a splash into the corner turnbuckle. Spot's arms get tied up in the ropes and then McGraw gives him a big suplex, but Spot kicks out at 2 after a slow count. Scoop slam but again Spot kicks out. Lazy gutbuster from Spot. He tries to go to the top but McGraw throws him off the top but the bell rings before he can go for the pin and we've gone to the 15 minute time limit draw at 14:32 real-time. Under no circumstance should one of the Moondogs be getting FIFTEEN MINUTES in the opener. *

Jose Luis Rivera vs. Johnny Rodz

Rodz, somehow, is a WWE Hall of Famer despite never accomplishing anything whatsoever in the WWF at any point, ever. Seriously, might as well get started on that Al Snow wing if Rodz can get in. Lockup to start and a waistlock takedown from Rodz. Back to the collar and elbow lock-up we go as Rivera tries working a side headlock. Rodz gets a weak dropkick for a two count and this crowd could not possibly care less about these two guys. Rodz comes off the second rope with an elbow but Rivera kicks out at two again. Rodz misses a flying elbow and Rivera whips him into the corner where Rodz goes for the Flair over-the-turnbuckle spot but instead ends up launching his neck into the top turnbuckle in a painful looking spot. Rivera tries choking Rodz on the top rope for a bit, but Rodz comes back with a reverse crescent kick. Rodz tosses Rivera around the ring a bit, sending him into the turnbuckle. He misses a baseball slide attempt and Rivera slams Rodz face into the turnbuckle back inside the ring. Rivera misses an elbow and then Rodz hits a diving headbutt and pins Rivera at 11:15. Really boring stuff and the crowd couldn't have cared less. ½*

Hillbilly Jim vs. Rene Goulet

God this card just does not get any better as we go on. Jim is still brand new at this point, having just recently debuted and being instantly put over by just associating with Hulk Hogan. Goulet tries for a side headlock to start but Jim counters out and poses for the crowd. Side headlock from Jim now. Jim does a cartwheel and shows off to the crowd while Goulet stalls a bunch now. Goulet tries diving off the second rope with an axe handle but Jim catches him in a big bear hug and Goulet gives up instantly at 7:27. Just a squash match for Hillbilly Jim here, and a bad one at that. DUD

WWF Women's Title Match
Wendi Richter (C) vs. Leilani Kai

The Fabulous Moolah is managing Kai here in a attempt to get revenge on Richter, who beat her for the title last summer. Richter is accompanied by Cyndi Lauper here as we're still hyping up for Wrestlemania, and they get a good reaction from the MSG crowd. Kai attacks Richter before the bell even sounds and we're off. Kai just stands on Richter's fingers in a very silly spot, but Richter comes back with a big slam and a leg drop for a quick one count. Splash gets Richter a two count now. Lazy sunset flip reversal sequence that the ancient referee takes forever to do the near-falls for. Both women trade lazy kicks and then Kai falls to the outside floor. Moolah helps Kai back to the apron but Richter suplexes her back into the ring. Richter applies a weak surfboard on Kai for a bit and then just slams her face into the mat. Richter works an armbar for a bit and then Kai trips her up. Cross-body and a splash from Richter but Moolah starts choking Cyndi Lauper. This distracts Richter long enough for Kai to roll Richter up and win the title at 11:49. Eh, could have been worse, and it sets up the women's title match for Wrestlemania. ¾*

David Sammartino vs. Moondog Rex

You you've got a mediocre card when both Moondogs are wrestling separate singles matches. The Fink lets us know this match has a 20 minute time limit and I shudder at the thought of it actually going that long. Shoving match to start and David tosses Rex with a beal toss. David really looks out of shape here, like a short fat Italian stereotype. Rex applies an unbelievably weak looking bearhug and the crowd has been dead for so long tonight I don't know if anything could wake them up at this point. Back suplex gets Sammartino a two count. Rex slaps on a lazy chinlock now as I do my best to stay awake. Rex slams a few closed fists into David's face and a trickle of blood comes out of Sammartino's nose. Back-body drop and a diving knee get Rex a two count. Sammartino starts making the comeback, hitting wild left and rights on Rex. Sammartino hits a big powerslam and thats enough to get the 3 count on Rex at 12:29. Painfully slow and dull, nearly dud territory. ¼*

Nikolai Volkoff vs. Swede Hanson

And the hits just keep coming. Swede Hanson has a Confederate south gimmick, which you know just would not fly today. Is Volkoff's Russian national anthem singing really that much more offensive than Slave-Driver Swede? Lazy lockup to start and Volkoff gets tossed to the floor. Back inside Swede shrugs off some of Volkoff's offensive attempts and slaps Volkoff around. Volkoff slaps a chinlock on while a USA chant starts up. Hanson tries to work Volkoff's leg a bit but Volkoff just no-sells it. Back body drop from Volkoff and then he tries for what looks like a fallaway slam attempt, but Hanson weighs too much and Volkoff botches the finish, simply collapsing on top of Swede for the 3 count at 5:53. How many bad matches can one card take? Boring to start and a botched finish to boot. DUD

Jimmy Snuka vs. Cowboy Bob Orton

FINALLY something good, thank the lord. Both men are cautious to start, tip-toeing around a collar and elbow lock up. They do a criss-cross sequence and Superfly leapfrogs over Orton twice and then chases him around and back into the ring. Big karate chop gets Snuka a two count and he slaps on a side-headlock. Orton misses an elbow and Snuka gives him a big atomic drop. Orton stalls for a bit. He coaxes Snuka out to the apron and then hammers his elbow into Snuka's throat while he's draped over the apron, which sets Okerlund and Monsoon off about how Orton should have been DQed and fined for it. Nice heat for Orton as he suplexes Snuka back into the ring from the apron. Orton tries for a top rope splash, but Snuka gets the knees up and into Orton's ribcage. Snuka starts making the comeback now, laying in big karate chops and kicks into the corner. Snapmare and then Snuka comes off the second-rope with a fistdrop, teasing the splash. Backbreaker from Snuka and the crowd is fired up, wanting Snuka to go to the top. He goes to the second rope instead and misses a diving headbutt. Should have listened to the fans Jimmy! Orton slams his arm into the steel post and then Snuka blocks a punch and leaps over the top rope and rolls Orton up with the sunset flip for the 3 count at 9:58! Fun match, this was light-years ahead of everything else on this card tonight so far. **¾

Paul Orndorff vs. Tony Atlas

Orndorff is of course booked for the Wrestlemania main event so you have to assume this is just a squash for him. Orndorff gets some nice heat while he stalls to start, reluctant to lock up with Tony Atlas. Finally Atlas grabs Mr. Wonderful and slaps on a side-headlock. Atomic drop and a suplex from Tony. Atlas lifts Orndorff up in the air seemingly for a gorilla press slam, but instead he just lets Paul down in a show of mercy. Why? Orndorff comes back with a rake to the eyes and tries slamming Tony's head into the turnbuckle, but this has no effect on him apparently. They lock-up and Paul gets in some cheap shots while Atlas is tied up in the ropes. Rear chinlock from Orndorff but Atlas fights back and delivers a piledriver to Mr. Wonderful. He tries for another but Orndorff backdrops him. Headbutt gets Tony a two count and while he argues with the ref about the count Orndorff comes up from behind and bridges a waistlock for the quick 3 count at 5:52. Short and spirited little contest, and Orndorff gets some nice heat for the cheap win.

WWF Tag Team Title Match
Barry Windham/Mike Rotundo (C) vs. The Assassin/The Spoiler

Jobber city USA here for the masked Assassin/Spoiler combo. Windham and Rotundo made a very fun team of young babyfaces during their first WWF stint. Rotundo and Assassin start with Rotundo hitting a series of quick dropkicks and then tagging Windham in. Windham immediately hits the bulldog and thats enough to put the Assassin away and retain at 0:39. Good lord that was short, pretty much the definition of a squash match here. DUD

Don Muraco vs. Salvatore Bellomo

Muraco has just returned from an extended absence so this is just yet another squash match on this card. Lockup to start and Bellomo gives the Magnificent one a hip-toss. Chinlock by Muraco. Diving knee from Muraco and then he smashes Bellomo into the corner. Salvatore leaps off the second rope trying for a body press, but Muraco gives him a beautiful spinebuster and then finishes him with the tombstone piledriver at 2:43. Squash city, but that spinebuster was awesome. ½*

WWF World Title Match
Hulk Hogan (C) vs. Roddy Piper

For this match we are now broadcasting LIVE nationwide on MTV in addition to the MSG Network. This match scored a big rating for the WWF (9.1) and helped put even more spotlight and heat on the Wrestlemania main event next month. Piper gets a ton of heat and comes out with a whole Scottish bagpipe corps while Hogan is accompanied to the ring by Cyndi Lauper, Lou Albano, and Mr. T himself. This is before "Real American" so we get the awesome "Eye of the Tiger" theme music instead. Big brawling to start as both men are trading shots on the mat while the crowd is going wild. Body slam from Hogan and an elbow drop but Hogan doesn't go for the cover. Piper hits a big clothesline into the corner on Hulk for a two count. Cowboy Bob Orton is at ringside for Piper and is wearing a sling for his arm that Snuka injured earlier, setting up Orton's use of the armcast over the next year or so shortly after this. Piper starts to take the upper hand, shooting Hogan into the ropes and then jumping on Hulk's back with a sleeper hold. Gorilla and Okerlund start flipping out about how it's clearly a choke-hold by Piper but it doesn't matter because Hulk shakes his finger at Piper and starts to Hulk up, dropping Piper into the turnbuckle head-first. Cowboy Bob Orton tries choking Hogan behind the ref's back, but Hulk slams his arm into the steel post and starts laying in big shots on Piper. They trade eye rakes and then Hogan hits a big clothesline. Paul Orndorff has made his way down to ringside now while Hogan gives Piper an atomic drop. Piper knocks Hogan into the ref who goes limp, and Orndorff comes off the top with a huge knee into Hulk's chest. Piper and Orndorff lay the boots to Hulk while fans start pelting some trash into the ring. They tease teaming up on Cyndi at ringside but Mr. T makes the save. Orton distracts Mr. T and Piper and Orndorff lay the boots to him briefly, only for the Hulkster to freak out and clean house with T. Piper and Orndorff make a run for it with Orton now as what seems like the entire New York City police force hits the ring to separate everyone involved! We never hear a bell ring but the match is "officially" ended at 7:40 with Hogan being given the win by disqualification. This was INTENSE, and came off awesome on TV as a fight you wanted to tune in to see finished at Wrestlemania. The match itself wasn't anything more than your basics, but the heat and booking here was absolutely perfect. **½

After the match Hogan grabs the house mic from the Fink and demands Piper and the rest come back out, but of course they don't. Hulk, Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper, Lou Albano and the rest of the babyfaces all celebrate in the ring afterwards.

Backstage Hogan, Lauper, Mr. T, and Albano all share some words with Mean Gene. Suddenly ANDY WARHOL of all fucking people shows up! What the hell?! Warhol says the rock and wrestling connection is the most exciting thing he's ever seen in a totally monotonous voice. Joe Piscopo from Saturday Night Live shows up now and says how excited he is to have Hulk Hogan's sweat on him after the match. Well that's creepy. Piscopo compares the show to a Bruce Springsteen concert and says he'll be back for Wrestlemania. Billy Squire now shows up and complains to Mean Gene about Mr. Wonderful smashing some guitar earlier in the night, saying it's sacrilege. Not a Pete Townshend fan Billy? Squire compares Hogan to Jesus Christ just as Danny Devito shows up to say some kind words about Captain Lou and Mr. T, solidifying this as quite possibly the most surreal backstage segment in professional wrestling history. This whole thing needs to be seen to be believed, it's that out-there.

Bottom Line: From a wrestling standpoint, avoid the full card at all costs. I don't think I've ever sat through a worse main card in all of my years watching wrestling, even by house show standards. The main event was an extremely important stepping stone for the WWF going into Wrestlemania though and the heat is off the charts, so I'd highly recommend giving that a viewing. Outside of that, a solid Snuka-Muraco encounter and the most bizarre ending to an MSG broadcast ever with the likes of Andy Warhol, Joe Piscopo, and Danny DeVito backstage with Mean Gene, there isn't anything here worth sticking around for though, so it's a pretty easy Thumbs Down despite the historical significance

Score: 3.5/10

Saturday, February 26, 2011

AJPW B-Banquet #284 + #285

AJPW B-Banquet 284 (New Year Shining Series 1/2/11)
January 2nd, 2011
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Attendance: 2,100

So I promised I'd give All Japan a fair shot again in 2011 after disappointing me for the last several years. Tonight we open up the year with the first of a doubleshot weekend of shows at Korakuen, which has been split into two episodes of All Japan's television show, B-Banquet. Big matches tonight include Kaz Hayashi defending the Jr. Heavyweight title against Minoru, along with a 15 Man Battle Royal for our main event. We've got a sellout crowd tonight so let's see what AJPW has in store for us.

Manabu Soya vs. Takumi Soya

These two men are brothers and this is Takumi's debut match for All Japan. Manabu is the older brother and has been wrestling for All Japan for several years after being trained by Osamu Nishimura. Both brothers trade side-headlocks to start us off, jockeying for position on the mat. Takumi tries for a body slam but can't lift the elder brother up. Vertical suplex from Manabu followed by a scoop slam and an elbow smash, but Takumi only stays down for a one count. Manabu gets taken off his feet briefly by a few big elbows, but Takumi can't capitalize. Snap suplex gets Takumi a quick two, but Manabu is able to comeback with a big back suplex. Big lariat and then Manabu makes his younger brother tap out with a Boston crab at 8:19. After the match the two brothers shake hands. Decent opener here, it feels like they may have clipped off 20 seconds or so, but that's no big deal. Takumi looked okay in his debut, but it's too soon to tell if he's got much of a future.

Shuji Kondo/Hiroshi Yamato vs. MAZADA/Super Hate

MAZADA and Super Hate are both members of the VOODOO MURDERS stable, a group of disrespectful rebels who are constantly causing trouble for the resident babyfaces of All Japan, while Kondo and Yamato are two of the better upper-midcarders in the company. It's chaos to start with Super Hate and Kondo battling outside while Yamato and MAZADA fight in the ring. Yamato dropkicks MAZADA and then tags Kondo in. Hate comes in to meet him and gets a big powerslam for his troubles. Big spear gets Yamato barely a one count as MAZADA breaks it up. Yamato flies out after MAZADA with a tope suicida! Meanwhile in the ring Hate hits an elbow drop for a two count on Kondo and starts taunting his opponent. This of course is a big mistake as Kondo is built like a house and he just lariats Hate right out of his boots for the quick pin at 5:40. Pretty short match here and not very serious, but Kondo and Yamato looked good.

AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title Match
Kaz Hayashi (C) vs. Minoru Tanaka

Kaz should be familiar to US wrestling fans for his stint in WCW as a part of the great Jung Dragons team, but he's dominated the junior heavyweight scene in All Japan for quite some time now, having held the title for the last 23 months in one of the longest reigns in company history. Minoru Tanaka previously wrestled primarily for NJPW and TNA before jumping to AJPW. Each man is cautious to start, trying to feel the other man out before both wind up taking quick breathers to recollect themselves outside the ring. Hayashi tries for a monkey flip and ends up tossing Minoru to the outside floor where he gives him a swinging DDT off of the apron! Back inside Kaz tries working a cross-armed choke on Minoru, but Minoru bails again only for Kaz to follow him out with a tope suicida! Hayashi is in control now, laying in mocking kicks to Minoru in the corner, taunting his younger opponent. Minoru tries coming back with a few spin kicks but get's a dragonscrew legwhip for his troubles and then has his head slammed so hard into the second turnbuckle it sounds like his skull hit the ring bell. Minoru counters a slam attempt with a vicious armbar, but Hayashi gets to the ropes quickly for the break. Handspring back spinkick from Hayashi lays Tanaka out. Kaz climbs to the top and takes Minoru down with a frankensteiner, but Minoru counters with a rollup! 1-2--NOO! Hayashi kicks out and comes back with a superkick-spinning headlock elbow drop combo. Hayashi then positions Minoru on the top rope and gives him another spinning headlock elbow drop off the top! 1-2--NOO! Minoru kicks out. Hayashi flips out of one German suplex attempt but gets hit with a second, and then Minoru hits a quick brainbuster for a two count, transitioning right into the juji gatame armbar! Hayashi counters with a cradle, but again Minoru kicks out. He shrugs off a back suplex and they trade huge superkicks before Minoru takes Kaz out with a big bicycle kick! Crowd is chanting for Minoru now, heavily behind the underdog. Hayashi however hits a big Kudo driver, dropping Minoru right on his head! Tanaka won't stay down long though, sending Hayashi flying with a release German suplex. Tanaka tries for a super-fisherman's suplex, but ends up drop-kicking Hayashi in mid-air instead! Now Minoru hits the super-fisherman's suplex off the top! 1-2--NOO! Kaz kicks out! 450 splash from Minoru, but again Hayashi kicks out before the three. Celtic Cross and a gourdbuster from Minoru, but still the champ kicks out at two. Hayashi gets a cradle for two and then tries for a reverse DDT before rolling Minoru up once again for a close two. Twisting neckbreaker and inverted suplex from Hayashi! 1-2--NOO! Minoru kicks out. Hayashi counters another spinkick attempt into a cradle, but he just can't put Tanaka away! He tries a flurry of big kicks but Minoru counters with the juji gatame armbar once again! He's really got it hooked in now and Hayashi had no choice but to tap out at 22:08! We have a NEW champion! The crowd is shocked and delighted and so am I. An absolutely staggering title reign by Hayashi is finally put to an end to kick 2011 off with a bang. Minoru got put over like a million bucks and this was a fast-paced, evenly fought match up that really shakes things up for the junior heavyweight division. ****

That'll do it for the first episode of B-Banquet from this Korakuen show, but the next episode is on directly after this so I'll be reviewing that immediately after this.

Bottom Line:
Well it's one show less than an hour long and we've got an excellent and extremely important main event with Kaz Hayashi finally being ousted as Jr. Heavyweight champion after 23 months by Minoru Tanaka. Considering more than half this show is the excellent main event, it's an incredibly easy Thumbs Up.

Score: 8/10


AJPW B-Banquet 285 (New Year Shining Series 1/2/11)
January 2nd, 2011
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Attendance: 2,100

This is the second half of the same 1/2 Korakuen Hall show from the last episode of B-Banquet, so let's hop right into it. Our main event in this episode is a big 15 man battle royal including the likes of Keiji Muto, Masakatsu Funaki, Minoru Suzuki, and many others.

Suwama/Seiya Sanada/KAI vs. Keiji Muto/Masakatsu Funaki/Minoru Suzuki

This is basically a battle of the old grizzled veterans (Muto/Funaki/Suzuki) taking on the young guns of All Japan (Suwama/Sanada/KAI) so this should be pretty decent. Suzuki and KAI start us off with each man trading a standing wristlock. Muto and Sanada tag in now and Muto slaps on a side-headlock. Sanada counters with one of his own and then Funaki and Suwama tag in. Funaki tries going for an armbar and then a triangle hold but Suwama struggles free. Suzuki and Muto hit the ring now and all three team-members apply a submission on Suwama simultaneously while Sanada inadvertently distracts the ref. Suzuki and Muto trade quick tags in now, all taking turns hitting a few signature moves on Suwama. Funaki tags in but gets an overhead belly-to-belly suplex as soon as he does, allowing Suwama to tag KAI in. KAI hits a huge running enziguri for a quick two count on Funaki. Suwama tags back in and hits an elbow for two. Huge double-chop sends Funaki to the mat and then Suwama gives him another overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Muto and Sanada tag in now and Muto gives him a dragonscrew legwhip, Springboard dropkick attempt by Sanada but Muto dropkicks his leg in mid-air and then locks on a figure four leglock. Sanada counters with an enziguri and gets the tag to Suwama. Running powerslam on Muto gets him a two count. Muto tags Suzuki in now and he hits a Yakuza kick into the corner, followed by a kneestrike for two. Suwama counters with a big belly to belly and then KAI tags in with a springboard ropkick. All three men start ganging up on Suzuki, with KAI hitting an awkward legdrop for a two count. Funaki hits the ring and cleans house now with Suzuki and Muto. Muto accidentally hits Suzuki with an elbow and he and Suzuki share an angry glare. Muto, Suzuki, and Funaki all lock submissions on the middle of the ring, and then Suzuki gives KAI a big cradle piledriver for the pinfall at 16:45. After the match Suzuki and Muto shake hands. Pretty good stuff here, but nothing you need to go out of your way to see. **¾

Masanobu Fuchi/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. BUSHI/NOSAWA Rongai

BUSHI is pretty awesome, NOSAWA...not so much. Fuchi and Kikuchi are longtime respected veterans from the Golden Age 90s, so on paper this wouldn't look like a very even match up. Fuchi and BUSHI start us off with Fuchi hitting a shoulderblock and a body slam. BUSHI dropkicks him to the floor and then slingshots out with a splash, taking out old man Fuchi on the floor. Fuchi gets dropkicked out again, and BUSHI just hits another splash. Woah, deja vu. Fuchi teases just walking out but Kikuchi convinces him to come back to the ring and tag out. Kikuchi looks like he might actually be higher than NOSAWA, but Rongai tags in now so we can see for sure. Lots of goofy facial expressions from Kikuchi and Rongai here. Fuchi tags back in and slams NOSAWA. BUSHI tries coming in but gets slammed as well. Kikuchi and Fuchi trade quick tags back and forth but NOSAWA fights them off and tags BUSHI in. BUSHI misses a missile dropkick and then Kikuchi hits a big bridging german suplex for the pin at 6:38. Just some comedy match filler here. Shame, I'd rather see BUSHI doing something worthwhile. ¾*

Ryoto Hama vs. Yasufumi Nakanoueno

Hama is one of the main guys that was turning me off the All Japan product over the last few years, being an incredibly obese ex-Sumo and utterly terrible professional wrestler who nevertheless keeps getting pushed in the main event, to the point where he was actually the Triple Crown Heavyweight champion for several months in 2010. I'm pretty unfamiliar with Nakanoueno, so let's see how this match-up plays out. Nakanoueno tries taking Hama off his feet with several shoulder-block attempts, but of course, Hama is a fucking cow and he just easily knocks Nakanoueno around with his mammoth fat rolls and then just stands on his chest, crushing his ribcage under his ample weight. Nakanoueno tries to slam Hama but obviously that's not happening and Hama easily slams him instead. He tries for a back suplex now, but again, there's just no way he's going to get Hama off his feet. Hama gives him a choke slam, but Nakanoueno kicks out surprisingly. He tries rolling up the big man, but only for a two count. He tries for another roll-up but Hama just sits on him for a two count and then he finishes Nakanoueno off with an elbow drop at 5:08. After the match Hama raises Nakanoueno's hand in a sign of sportsmanship. Typical Hama squash match, if you've seen one you've seen them all. ½*

15 Man Heavyweight Battle Royal
(Featuring Keiji Muto, Ryoto Hama, Seiya Sanada, Manabu Soya, Minoru Suzuki, Taiyo Kea, Suwama, KENSO, KONO, Akebono, TARU, Osamu Nishimura, Masakatsu Funaki, Yasufumi Nakanoueno, and Takumi Soya)

Not sure about any real point or prize for this battle royal, just a gimmick match for the sake of the gimmick really. Apparently pinfalls count in this battle royal as well as over-the-top rope eliminations. Once everyone makes their way to the ring things start off rather strangely as TARU just climbs over the top rope and leaves the minute the match starts. O...kay? This distracts Akebono long enough for KONO to come up behind him and eliminate him, only for Muto to come up behind KONO and eliminate him next. KENSO tries for a cross-body block on Muto but he just ducks and KENSO goes flying out of the ring, eliminating himself. This is a strange start here as no one is really wrestling, just kind of walking around, waiting for someone to make a move and then eliminating that person. Muto and Suwama start trading blows in the middle of the ring but then Suwama ends up getting rolled up by Taiyo Kea for a pin and then somehow rolls Kea up for a pin on him as well, somehow eliminating both men. could Suwama pin Kea if he had just been eliminated himself? Whatever, moving along. There's still no action at all here with everyone just standing around the ring staring at eachother. Muto and Suzuki decide to team up against Manabu Soya, Sanada, and Hama now, but Suzuki quickly turns on Muto and everyone starts beating the legend/booker down. Big splash from Hama and the help from a few others gets the pinfall on Suzuki now, eliminating him. Everyone starts ganging up on Muto now but Hama decides instead to lariat his co-attackers and unsuccessfully try for a pin on Muto. You know, Funaki, Takumi Soya, Nishimura, and Nakanoueno are all listed as being in this battle royal, but I have no clue where they went off to. I guess they just walked out, eliminating themselves while everyone else was busy playing grab-ass with Muto. Shining Wizard from Muto on Manabu Soya and then a splash from Hama elmiinates Manabu and we're down to just Muto, Hama, and Sanada now. Muto tries to get Hama and Sanada to fight each other and succeeds, but that's a battle Hama quickly wins and he just sits on Sanada to eliminate him. Muto then runs right up and hits the Shining Wizard on Hama for the pin and the win at 13:53. What in the name of God did I just watch? This was the most bizarre battle royal I have EVER witnessed with people just walking out of the ring for no reason, absolutely no action to speak of, and wacky almost comedic eliminations. Check this out if you want to see one of the weirdest battle royals ever. ½*

After the match Muto gets on the mic and says something in Japanese (obviously), which I of course can't understand. He's handed an envelope so maybe he does get a prize for winning that Bizarro World Battle Royal after all. The arena empties out while Muto answers a few questions backstage during the post-match interview, and that'll do it for B-Banquet 285.

Bottom Line: Strange show here mostly, we get a Hama squash, a fairly solid six man tag match, and the weirdest battle royal I've ever seen. I suppose there's something to see in that, but truthfully there's nothing here you really need to see or can't afford to miss. Thumbs Down, slightly.

Score: 4/10

Friday, February 25, 2011

WWE Friday Night Smackdown 2/25/11

WWE Friday Night Smackdown (2/25/11)
February 25th, 2011
ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California
Attendance: ???

We kick the show off with Teddy Long letting us all know that tonight Vickie Guerrero will wrestle for her very job! Hit that "catchy" theme music boys! Oh God Green Day really has turned to shit over the years. Anyways, onto the show.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Josh Matthews, and Booker T

Rey Mysterio vs. Kane

We kick off the show with a battle of two very different sized men in Rey Mysterio and Kane. Cole is whining about Teddy's decision, causing me to use every fiber of my being not to hit the mute button. The bell sounds and we're off with Kane taking the advantage to start, tossing Rey around and dropkicking him for a quick two count. Rey starts fighting back, but ends up being shot into the corner after a hurricanrana attempt and powerslammed for another two count. Kane wraps his legs around Rey in a body scissors, practically crushing Rey's entire small frame. Big backbreaker from Kane, but again Rey kicks out at two. Rey evades another backbreaker attempt, and then Kane hits the floor, avoiding the 619. Rey dropkicks him and then tries for the seated senton off the apron, but Kane moves out of the way and Mysterio lands on his feet, only to eat a huge boot from Kane. We take a quick commercial break and when we return Kane is giving Rey another backbreaker back in the ring, grinding his knee into Rey's back. Quick pin attempt, but Rey kicks out at two again. Kane drives his elbow into Rey's solar plexis and then picks him up, slapping on a bear hug. He slams Rey into the corner but Mysterio comes off the top with the seated senton. 1-2--NOO! Kane kicks out at two. Rey comes off the top again but eats an upper-cut from Kane for a two count. Kane tries for the clothesline off the top but Rey moves. He tries for the chokeslam but Rey dropkicks him and Kane ends up hanging on the second rope in perfect position for Mysterio to hit the 619! Mysterio comes off the top trying another seated senton, but Kane just catches him in mid-air and tries for a powerbomb, only for Rey to counter into a rollup for the 3-count at 7:33 (shown)! Fun opener here for the most part to start the show as Rey and Kane work the big-man/little-man formula really well together and Mysterio gets a big win he needed after losing at the Elimination Chamber PPV. **½

After the match Rey celebrates when suddenly DUSTY RHODES' music hits and The American Dream comes out! What the HELL?! Nice pop for Dusty as Rey, the commentary team, and everyone at home myself included is wondering just what the hell Dusty is doing out here. He and Rey hug in the ring while we take a quick commercial break. When we return Dusty has a mic and says he wants to personally apologize to Rey for his son Cody's actions over the last few weeks. He calls his son out to the ring to apologize and Cody comes out rocking the all-clear face-mask, which just make hims look downright evil. He asks his dad why he's doing this, saying that "everyone is staring at me" like a shy schoolgirl. Dusty tells him that he needs to make this right between he and Rey. Cody reluctantly apologizes and Rey and Dusty shake hands...but Dusty doesn't let go and just smiles at Rey while Cody jumps him from behind! It was a set-up! We know it's a set-up because Booker T is from the hood and lets us know it is. Cody continues the beatdown on Rey, grinding his face into the steel grate on the entrance ramp to great heat. Awesome way to really jump-start the Cody-Rey feud for Wrestlemania, if Cody can deliver come 'Mania time I think we can expect him to be headed for the main event scene very soon.

After a commercial break we return and recap the orchestrated attack on Mysterio we just saw, which Michael Cole loves. Cody steals Rey's mask and he and Dusty hug backstage, celebrating their attack.

Layla vs. Rosa Mendes

And we jump right into our next match now with Michelle McCool doing color commentary. Rosa jumps on Layla with a Lou Thesz press, shocking Michelle. Layla tries for a headscissors but both women end up tumbling out to the floor in a very ugly, possibly botched spot. Rosa sends Layla hard into the barricade and Michelle comes over to help her friend out, attacking Layla for the DQ at 1:24. After the match Layla and McCool argue about Michelle costing her the match. I guess this is setting the seeds for the eventual LayCool split, but is that something the fans really even care enough about to see? ¼*

Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger

We return with Swagger already in the ring. Jeez, from World champion to midcard jobber who doesn't even get his own ring entrance in less than a year, my how Swagger has fallen. Lock-up to start off as Kofi's arm is taped up and is apparently wrestling against doctor's orders here tonight. Big shoulder-block from Swagger gets a quick two. Kofi hits the Boom Drop and then hits a flying forearm into the corner. Booker T puts over Swagger while Kofi gets caught up in the ankle lock and he has no choice but to tap out at 2:47. Nice to see Swagger get a win here, and this puts over Kofi's injury more, giving Del Rio some more heat. Nothing match though. ¾*

Backstage Vickie Guerrero is pounding on Teddy Long's door, demanding he talk to her about her match tonight but no one answers.

After a commercial break we return and get the full video of John Cena's excellent promo that opened Raw earlier in the week in response to The Rock. Raw popped a huge rating this week and you've got to figure Vince and company are offering Rocky everything under the sun to work an actual match with Cena sometime in the future.

After recapping Cena's promo we cut to Vickie Guerrero confronting Chavo Guerrero, trying to get him to help her out tonight but Chavo hasn't forgotten how Vickie has treated him over the last few years and tells her that tonight payback is a bitch.

Wade Barrett vs. Big Show

When we return Tony Chimel is announcing that tonight The Corre is banned from ringside for this match by order of Teddy Long. Big Show takes off his jacket once he's in the ring and then flings it at Michael Cole at ringside much to Booker T and Josh Matthews' delight. The bell rings and we're off with Big Show dominating to start as Matthews humorously tells Cole that "NO ONE LIKES YOU!" Barrett hits a few boots to try and comeback and then hops on Big Show's back, trying for a sleeper. After a quick commercial break we return to see Barrett laying in closed fists on a grounded Big Show. Back on his feet Show tries chopping away at Barrett but Wade dropkicks his knee and hits a DDT, but Show tosses him off at the count of two. Show tosses Barrett over the top and to the floor and then follows him out, laying in big open-palm chops on Barrett. Wade counters out and slams Show's shoulder into the steel post as the referee keeps counting, but Show tosses Barrett aside and slides back in right at the count of 10, winning via countout at 4:00 (shown). After the match The Corre makes the save for Barrett and Big Show chases them all off with a steel chair. This feud just keeps continuing and it's not getting any better. ½*

After a commercial break we return and now we see the full video of the big Undertaker-Triple H double-return and confrontation from Raw this past Monday. I get this is a big deal and all, but this is the second time now that significant time on this show is being eaten up by footage we saw last Monday. A quick hype package plays and the narrarator tells us that the match between Undertaker and Triple H for Wrestlemania has apparently already been announced? Weird, you'd think they'd make a big deal out of that announcement. We cut to commercial with Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero heading towards the ring backstage.

Edge/Kelly Kelly vs. Drew McIntyre/Vickie Guerrero

Odd, as you'd think Dolph would be in this match but I guess he's still technically "fired"? Who knows. Drew actually gets a few cheers as he's introduced, likely due to his explosive performance at the Elimination Chamber that past Sunday, surprising everyone. Kelly and Vickie start us off with the crowd hot behind Kelly of course, who looks amazing as always. She immediately starts laying in big shots on Vickie who scurries away to the corner and tags Drew in, prompting Edge in. McIntyre dropkicks him but can only get a quick one count. McIntyre works an armbar for a bit as the crowd starts to rally behind Edge. Big facebuster from Edge but Drew kicks out at two. Drew tries for the Futureshock DDT, but Edge counters with the Impaler DDT! Edge looks to set up for the spear, but Vickie comes in and begs Edge to have mercy. Before Edge can respond though Kelly comes out of nowhere and takes Vickie out with a spear! Edge hits a spear of his own on Drew, and Vickie is history as he gets the pin at 5:37! Not too bad all things considered here, this hopefully will give the Vickie character some time off to come back with a new angle after 'Mania. Decent enough.

After the match Teddy Long makes his way to ringside, dancing all the way like a total goofball. After a quick commercial break we return to see Vickie in the ring, begging Teddy Long for mercy like a mad woman. Teddy does the famous "You're fired!" line and the crowd and Edge love it. Vickie tries begging the referee and even Booker T to help, but no one will help. Finally she comes to Michael Cole who breaks down like a little girl, telling Vickie how sorry he is and how unfair this is. Vickie even tries begging the damn cameraman for help. She gets on her knees in the ring to beg Edge to help her get her job back, and he helps out by starting up the "Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye!" chant. Suddenly Alberto Del Rio hits the ring and attacks Edge, putting him in the flying armbar as Smackdown heads off the air.

Bottom Line: Pretty good show tonight with a pretty good opener between Rey and Kane and some good angle progression through-out the night. The Cody Rhodes-Rey Mysterio segment was excellent, and we finally saw the conclusion to the months-long Vickie Guerrero/Teddy Long power struggle. There's nothing here that you CAN'T MISS or anything, just a solid two hours of feud and angle progression and mostly acceptable wrestling. We'll go with a very slight Thumbs Up, leaning in the middle.

Score: 5.5/10

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NJPW ISM 1/30/11

NJPW ISM 1/30/11
January 30th, 2011
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Attendance: 2,005

Sellout crowd here in Korakuen for New Japan tonight with this show building us up towards the big 2/20 Sendai show where Hiroshi Tanahashi will make his first title defense of his 5th IWGP Heavyweight title reign. Tonight we decide just who he's going to face as the ex-champion Satoshi Kojima face Togi Makabe in a number one contender's match in tonight's main event. We were also originally supposed to have Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi defend their newly won Jr. tag team titles against TAKA Michinoku and NOSAWA Rongai, but unfortunately TAKA injured his shoulder a weak before this match so his replacement tonight will be Taichi. The opening match was cut from the TV broadcast due to time constraints, but Tomoaki Honma beat Kyosuke Mikami in 5:38. Let's jump right into the rest of the show!

Jushin Liger/Koji Kanemoto/Tiger Mask IV vs. Tomohiro Ishii/Gedo/Jado

Well atleast this six man makes sense storyline wise as TMIV and Ishii have been feuding while Liger and Koji are old rivals of Jado and Gedo. As soon as Liger hits the ring we're off and everyone's brawling immediately before the bell even rings. Ishii has been wearing a mock black version of the Tiger Mask ever since he lost a Mask vs. Hair match to TMIV at Fantasticamania last week, dragging this feud out a bit longer. Ishii immediately tries to rip Tiger's mask off, but as usual fails. Jado tags in briefly to lay a few shots in then tags Gedo in. TMIV is just working the basic babyface-in-peril bit here with all three men trading quick tags and isolating Tiger Mask in their corner. Tiger starts the comeback by tossing IShii off the top and laying stiff kicks into Ishii's back. He tries to rip the fake mask off of Ishii but Gedo comes in and quickly breaks that up. Liger tags in now and he quickly disposes of Jado and Ishii with backbreakers. Ishii comes back with a powerslam and tries unmasking Liger now, but Kanemoto comes in to break it up. Liger fights off both Gedo and Jado and makes the official tag to Kanemoto, who wipes both of them out with a big double dropkick. Koji get's the face wash boot into the corner on Jado and then gives him a Falcon Arrow for a quick two count. Jado rakes the eyes though and tags Ishii back in. TMIV tags back in now and deliers the Tiger Driver for a two count. Brainbuster attempt by Ishii is blocked and Tiger slaps on a sleeper hold as Liger and Kanemoto wipe out both Jado and Gedo with simultaneous slingshot planchas to the floor! Ishii almost takes TMIV's head off with a lariat and nearly rips his mask off completely. TMIV comes back with some stiff kicks but then Jado slides into the ring and rips the mask right off of Tiger Mask's head, which is enough for the ref to disqualify Jado's team at 9:57. Decent opener here that was all about continuing to build the Tiger Mask IV-Tomohiro Ishii feud and did just that solidly before the DQ finish. **½

After the match Ishii runs out with another one of TMIV's masks. He throws on a backup mask and grabs the mic, cutting a promo on Ishii.

Giant Bernard/Karl Anderson/Tama Tonga vs. Manabu Nakanishi/Strong Man/King Fale

This is flat out chaos to start with all six men immediately beginning to brawl as the bell rings. The camera cuts to the front row of the audience and we see that none other than GHC Heavyweight champion Takashi Sugiura from rival promotion NOAH is in attendance! Bernard is scheduled to challenge Sugiura for that title on NOAH's big 3/5 super-show as Sugiura has gone through pretty much everyone in NOAH and is looking for new challenges from outsiders. Nakanishi and Bernard start us off legally in the ring with an exchange of big shoulder-block attempts. Nakanishi gets sent to the floor and Tama Tonga flies out after him with a plancha! Not to be outdone Karl Anderson follows both of them out with a somersault plancha! Bernard then climbs to the top rope to come off but Strong Man takes him down instead. To say Strong Man sucks would be an understatement, as somehow he and Nakaknishi became a popular tag team in 2010 and managed to win tag team of the year in the Tokyo Sports awards despite generally being shit when it came to match time. Imagine Rob Terry from TNA basically, but uglier. Strong Man overpowers Anderson for a bit back in the ring, fighting back from several forearms and delivers a huge fallaway slam. Fale and Tonga tag in now as of course the two "Samoans" have to wrestle eachother. In a great display of athleticism Tonga leaps from the mat directly to the top turnbuckle and delivers a somerault senton to Fale! Anderson tags back in now but he telegraphs a brainbuster and Fale counts with one of his own. Bernard and Nakanishi in now and they trade some meager chops and forearms. Both men try for a choke slam but neither can hit it so Nakanishi hits Bernard with a back drop driver instead. They hit a weak clothesline-chopblock combo on Bernard, but only for a two count. Fale tags in now and gets triple-teamed for a bit as things have broken down now with everyone fighting in and out of the ring regardless of tags. Nakanishi, Strong Man and Fale all put their opponents in simultaneous torture racks in an impressive display of strength. Eventually Fale can't fight them off anymore however and Bernard hits the Bernard Driver for the pin at 12:37. Not a bad match either, Anderson and Tonga both tried to bump around and make it fun but it was really just your average six man match that you could see on any New Japan card. **½

After the match Bernard confronts Takashi Sugiura in the front row and tells him that the GHC Heavyweight title is coming home with him to New Japan, which the crowd supports with a big Bernard chant. He give Sugiura the thumbs down and Sugiura slaps his hand out of his face and exits the building after the match. Great moment there.

Backtage Bernard cuts a promo on Sugiura and NOAH sticking their noses into New Japan's business. Bernard claims to be a sleeping dog that Sugiura has awakened, and he's going to take a chunk out of Sugiura's ass. Afterwards Sugiura gives a brief interview in Japanese, presumably responding to Bernard. Glad to see New Japan so willing to co-promote for NOAH's big show.

Shinsuke Nakamura/Takashi Iizuka/Toru Yano vs. Yuji Nagata/Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Wataru Inoue

Tenzan and Iizuka have been feuding on and off for what seems like forever, but I'm not sure I like Nakamura just getting stuck in this random six mans all the time lately, he deserves better. Iizuka has one of the more entertaining gimmicks in the company, having a personal vendetta against one of the commentators and always slapping him around like a bully before every match. As soon as Tenzan hits the ring we're off as everyone begins fighting outside of the ring and into the crowd. Nakamura starts laying in stiff kicks and knee strikes to Nagata in the crowd while Iizuka choke Tenzan out with an electrical cord! Pure chao to start here as you'd expect with these guys. Yano and Inoue begin fighting inside of the ring briefly until Inoue follows him to the floor with a big plancha and then slams Nakamura into the steel barricade. Inoue suplexes Yano back into the ring and tries the first pin attempt of the match for a two count. Things start breaking down with Yano ripping the turnbuckle pad off while Iizuka slams a chair repeatedly onto Inoue and Nagata. Inoue evades a tiger suplex attempt and manages to tag Tenzan in who starts to clean house, laying big chops into Iizuka and getting the crowd fired right up for it. Nakamura tags in and tries to take Tenzan out with a roundhouse kick, but Tenzan blocks it with a headbutt and tags Nagata in. Nagata is all fired up now and starts laying big kick into Nakamura in the corner. Both men start trading forearms and spinkicks and then Nagata hit a brainbuster for two. Nagata hits the old-school slingshot suplex off the top rope on Nakamura and then slaps on a crossface submission! Yano break it up though. Big inverted scoop powerslam from Nakamura to Nagata! Nagata then gets a huge knee into his chest in the corner and a big powerbomb from Yano. Nakamura finishes Nagata off with the big Boma Ye shining wizard knee-strike at 11:36. This was pure chaos here but it fit well with the style of all six men. This started off hot, cooled down a bit in the middle, but then Nagata and Nakamura brought it all home with a hot finish. I'll take it. ***

After the match Nakamura attacks Nagata again with the Boma Ye kneestrike, infuriating Yuji and possibly setting up a feud down the road. Everyone gives the usual post-match interviews backstage, Nagata in particular is still enraged at Nakamura.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match
Prince Devitt/Ryusuke Taguchi (C) vs. NOSAWA Rongai/Taichi

This was originally supposed to be TAKA Michinoku and NOSAWA Rongai, but unfortunately TAKA hurt his shoulder pretty badly a week before this and had to cancel, leaving them with Taichi a last-minute replacement. NOSAWA is still a big Juggalo, so it's not very difficult to hate him. Oddly enough NOSAWA would end up no-showing the big 2/20 show in a few weeks, deciding instead to drunkenly steal a taxi-cab. No, I am not making that up, he really did that. Rongai is apparently taking a hiatus from wrestling now and clearly he needs to if he's still doing incredibly stupid shit like stealing taxis and driving them around wasted. Anyways, Devitt is a Golden God and everyone else is capable, so I expect him to carry this match to a reasonable amount of fun. Taguchi and Taichi start us off with your basic collar and elbow lock-up. They do a nifty little armdrag, counter exchange sequence and then Taguchi takes Taichi out with an old-school flying headscissors. NOSAWA tags in now and gets a few boos as he taunts Devitt. Taguchi and Devitt give him a dropkick combo for his troubles and then they trade quick tags, each working a wristlock on NOSAWA repeatedly. Taguchi goes for a missile dropkick but NOSAWA dropkicks the top rope out from under him and tag Taichi back in. NOSAWA battles with Devitt on the outside while Taichi locks a camel clutch on Taguchi in the middle of the ring. NOSAWA tag back in and get a quick cover on Taguchi for a two count. He applies a modified octopus stretch on Taguchi and then rolls it into a crossface! Taguchi won't give up though and NOSAWA and Taichi trade quick tag, each working over Taguchi in their corner. Devitt gets the hot tag now and starts cleaning house with big flying dropkicks, sending NOSAWA to the floor. Taichi trip Devitt up though and pulls him outside only for Devitt to give him a pele bicycle kick! Devitt lifts NOSAWA up on his shoulders and Taguchi flies over the top rope as they connect with the Doomsday Device on the floor! Back inside the ring Taguchi and Devitt continue to double team NOSAWA, hitting a front suplex-doublestomp combo that Taichi just barely is able to breakup at two. Spin kick from Devitt and he tries for a suplex, but NOSAWA counters with a DDT! Taichi and Taguchi tag back in and Taichi gets a powerbomb-rollup combo for another close two count. Taguchi hits a trio of brainbusters, never breaking his hold in Guerrero-like fashion but again Taichi kicks out at two. Taichi tries for a superplex but Devitt and NOSAWA end up getting involved and they do the powerbomb/superplex tower of doom spot with all for men. Shining Wizard from NOSAWA! 1-2--NOO! Taguchi kicks out just barely. Taguchi eats a flapjack and a pair of superkicks, but again he kicks out at two. Taichi is frustrated now and hits the Schwein (running over the shoulder belly to back suplex) but Devitt breaks it up. Taguchi comes up behind Taichi then and locks in the Gedo clutch cradle and gets the anti-climactic pin at 16:09 to retain the titles. Bit of a weak finish there to an otherwise better-than-expected match. They had to try and deliver in TAKA's absence and they did just that was a fun and perfectly acceptable juniors tag match. ***¼

After the match the injured TAKA Michinoku hit the ring and apologizes for missing the match. TAKA says in somewhat broken English that he hopes he and Prince Devitt have a good Jr. Heavyweight title match in a few weeks at the 2/20 show. He goes to shake Devitt's hand but of course TAKA being the scoundrel he is, he pokes Devitt in the eye and superkicks him. Hopefully TAKA will be fully healed for their title match as it should be a solid match. Taguchi does a little dance for us afterwards, because he is after all as his tights say, the "Funky Weapon".

Hiroshi Tanahashi/Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito/Yujiro Takahashi

I suppose this is just a way to do something with the IWGP Heavyweight champion Tanahashi while Kojima and Makabe battle it out for the number one contender's spot in the main event. Nothing wrong with that. Tanahashi and Naito start us off with a lock-up as the crowd starts chanting for both men surprisingly. They trade side headlocks and headscissors takedowns, but both men are evenly matched and able to counter each other's every move. Goto and Takahashi both tag in now and counter hiplocks. Goto elbows Naito off the apron to the floor and throws him into the steel guardrail before Takahashi is able to catch up to him as all four men are fighting outside the ring now. Dropkick off the apron from Naito sends Goto into the front row! Back inside Goto tries to fight them both off but ends up getting isolated in Naito and Takahashi's corner. Standing senton gets Naito a two count. They trade forearms and then Goto hits a stiff lariat. Tanahashi gets the lukewarm tag and cleans house on Takahashi now, hitting a flying forearm and scoop slam-somersault senton combo for a two count. He tries for a German but Takahashi counters with a big overhead release belly-to-belly suplex! Tanahashi tries for a dragon sleeper but Takahashi counters with a running powerslam and then follows it up with a big fisherman's brainbuster, but only for two. Goto tags in now and eats a lariat, letting Naito tag in with a big missile dropkick. Swinging neckbreaker from Naito and the crowd just can't help but cheer for him. Top rope frankensteiner gets Naito a two count that Tanahashi breaks up. Naito and Takahashi try the old Hardy Boyz spot into the corner but Goto just catches Naito and suplexes him back into Takahashi! He comes off the top rope with an elbow drop and then hits a bridging German suplex! 1-2--NOO! Naito kicks out. Death Valley Driver-backbreaker combo from Goto but Naito rolls him up with a lariat for two. Everest German suplex from Takahashi takes Tanahashi out as he attempts to hit the ring and Naito finishes Goto off with the Stardust Press moonsault at 13:40. All four men continue to fight after the bell. Just a fun tag match from four of the more exciting and talented members of the roster, nothing ground-breaking or anything just solid and entertaining wrestling. ***

IWGP Heavyweight Title Number One Contendership Match
Satoshi Kojima vs. Togi Makabe

Kojima was a surprising enough signing for New Japan, but when he won and held the IWGP title for several months people were shocked. Tanahashi beat him for the belt back at the big 1/4 Wrestle Kingdom event at the Tokyo Dome. Kojima actually has to earn his title rematch it would appear. Makabe immediately attacks Kojima as soon as he makes his way to the ring and we're off. Both men are brawlers at heart so that's exactly what we see here with both men brawling into the crowd and smashing each other's heads on steel signs mounted in the back of the arena! They make their way to the ring finally and trade shoulder-blocks until Makabe just starts laying in closed fists on Kojima on the mat. Kojima gets thrown into the steel guardral back outside several times but then counters with a DDT to Makabe on the apron. Suddenly Taichi shows up at ringside at hands Kojima a steel chair! He slams it into Makabe a few time and both men barely beat the 20 count outside. Camel clutch from Kojima back inside and they trade stiff chops. Kojima hits an elbow drop of the two, but only for two. Makabe tries making the comeback and tosses him out to the floor. Makabe grabs a chair now and takes out both Taichi and NOSAWA Rongai on the outside, clearly not enjoying their presence at ringisde. Back inside Kojima hits an ace crusher and both men catch their breath. Big Saito suplex from Kojima but he still doesn't go for the cover here, preferring to punish Makabe with another ace crusher off the second rope. 1-2---NOO! Makabe kicks out. Makabe comes back with a full-nelson suplex though, but Kojima kicks out. Death Valley Driver but Makabe misses a follow-up top rope knee drop and Kojima gives him a lariat to the back of the head. Brainbuster from Kojima gets a close two count. Makabe hits a sitout powerbomb, but Kojima kicks out at two himself. Makabe fights off Taichi who tries to interfere again, but is distracted long enough for Kojima to lariat Makabe and get the pin at 15:54. After the match NOSAWA and Taichi beat down on Makabe. This was a solid main event for this show and both men delivered an entertaining contest that with similar brawling styles. I could have done without the repeated interference attempts, but it didn't hurt the match either. ***¼

After the match Hiroshi Tanahashi hits the ring and Kojima makes a run for it. The commentators close out the show for us followed by the traditional backstage post-match interviews with Satoshi Kojima and Togi Makabe.

Bottom Line: A strong show tonight that helped build up to the big 2/20 show in Sendai and helped progress multiple feuds with several well-worked match-ups. There's nothing here that's going to blow you away or anything, but more than enough good to outweigh the bad as their isn't really a bad match on the show. Thumbs Up.

Score: 7/10