Cheap Pops - Wrestling News & Views: March 11, 2015

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Cheap Pops - March 11, 2015

by Chris Delloiacono, Mike Maillaro and Jeff Ritter

This week!

  • Jon Stewart Vs Seth Rollins

  • Best Tag Teams All Time

  • Defending Kevin Owens

  • NJPW: New Japan Cup - Round 1 & 2

Mike: You can call me Vanilla Kid.  Here are my partners, The Ivory Destroyer and Johnny Ecru.  We call ourselves White Power.

Hmmm….maybe we need to go back to the drawing board on that one…

Jeff: I’ll say! I’d rather call ourselves The Three Amigos than...whatever that was!

Mike: Viva la raza!  Welcome to Cheap Pops!  Sorry for the lack of images this week, I was having some computer trouble as I edited this for posting.

Bill DeMott fired as head trainer for NXT

Mike: After a very public revelation by some of the students who passed through NXT, the WWE decided to part ways will head trainer Bill DeMott.  Bill DeMott was accused of being physically abusive to the students, including kicking a student who had a broken leg and using racial and sexual slurs against the students.  These allegations have popped up a few times in the past, but it seems like the WWE has finally decided enough is enough.

What made this story particularly interesting to me was that many wrestlers (including Jericho and Tommy Dreamer) spoke out supporting Bill DeMott saying that his asshole training methods were pretty much necessary to create good wrestlers.

Hulk Hogan has talked about that when he started wrestling his first trainer intentionally broke his leg and sent him packing to see if he had the balls to come back.  The more I hear about the wrestling business, the dirtier I feel...

So, who will be replacing Bill DeMott?  Jason Albert/Matt Bloom/Lord Tensai has taken over as interim head trainer.  Dustin Runnels/Goldust is heavily rumored as a front runner for the position as well.   Other guys who do some training work for NXT include Billy Gunn, Billy Kidman, and Norman Smiley.  Also, there is a rumor that Rhyno and The Brian Kendrick might be taking on training roles too.

Chris: Judging by the allegations, Bill Demott was a man out of time.  The type of demeaning activities he supposedly engaged in and the racist rants have no place in a publicly traded company.  Hell, they don't have a place in the 21st century.  Now, they are only allegations, but they are certainly coming from a lot of different people.  They are basically all former employees, so sour grapes is a possibility.  Although, Chris Jericho did delete his tweet in defense of Demott.  Bottom line, wrestling isn't for wimps, but, if true, Demott seemingly enjoyed demeaning others way beyond necessary.

Jeff: WHAT A BUNCH OF MAMBY PAMBY BULL$#!%! DROP AND GIVE ME @) NUMBNUTS! GOD@$!%IT PRIVATE PYLE! I DIDN’T KNOW THEY COULD STACK $#!% THAT HIGH! MOVE IT, MAGGOTS!, yeah, I actually have no problem with the erstwhile Hugh Morrus.Millennials are, by and large, (spell it with me now) S-A-W-F-T...SAWFT! Somebody has to put some steel into their soft, coddled spines. Why not ol’ blood and guts himself, General Hugh G. Rection? And why not send in his trusty aide de camp G.I. Bro to help train too?

Best in Our World: Favorite Tag Teams of All Time

Chris: The tag team division of WWE is an absolute disaster at the current moment.  Sure, there are some good teams, but there never seems to be more than a half-dozen squads at any moment.  Not the way to build a heated division.  It wasn't easy to make a list of current favorites teams.  Thankfully I watch NJPW, ROH, and NXT, so I was able to make a varied list of favorites.  

That was a couple of weeks ago.  Now, well, picking my favorite teams of all time is hard in a whole different way.  There's just so many stupendous teams that I've adored in my wrestling life.  Here's my attempt to quantify the best of the best.

1. The Midnight Express - I started following the team in the NWA, so I missed the real early days.  Even still, I enjoyed the team when it was Dennis Condery and Bobby Eaton as they feuded with the Road Warriors and the Rock 'n' Roll Express.  Jim Cornette as the manager and Big Bubba Rogers as the bodyguard, just dynamite.  When Stan Lane replaced Condrey, the Midnights became even better.  I was thrilled to death when they beat Tully and Arn to win the World Tag Team titles.  Remember the Veg-O-Matic?  Now that's a double team maneuver!

2. The New Age Outlaws - These guys can't wrestle like most of the other teams on my list, but they were, and still are, so much fun.  As soon as their music hits I mark out.  You always knew what you'd get when they stepped through the ropes, mainly, fun.  Each had some cool moments on their own, but as a team, they are unforgettable.

3. Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson - You can call them the Brain Busters, half of the Four Horsemen, or as good as there ever was.  Me, I just call them Tully & Arn.  Their run in the NWA as tag champs was brilliant.  They seemed unbeatable.  As a fan back then, their jump to the WWF was the strangest one until Ric Flair showed up.  It's sad that Vince McMahon loused it up so Tully & Arn never really got together again after the Busters departed.  They were only a regular team for a few years, yet they are one of the greatest.

4. The Fabulous Freebirds - These guys created havoc wherever they were.  I don't think there was a team capable of inducing vitriol from the crowd anywhere as well as these guys.  Their feud with the Von Erichs in WCCW may have been the hottest in history!  How about the AWA conflict with the Road Warriors!  Remember Super Clash when they wore the Confederate flag makeup?  That's all work the original three of Hayes, Gordy, and Roberts did.  They even stayed credible with Jimmy "Jam" Garvin teaming with Hayes (and sometimes Gordy) in the NWA.  

5. The Dream Team - So many teams could have made my top 5, but I went quirky with my final choice.  When I really got into wrestling Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine were the tag champs.  I loved everything about these guys. They cut cool promos, were fun in the ring, and seemed unbeatable.  Their matches with the Britsh Bulldogs were utter classics, and hold up to this day.  You know what else, I've got a soft spot for their manager "Luscious" Johnny Valiant.  I met him outside MSG and he was a riot.  It was the perfect crew.  Beefcake was on his way up the card, Valentine was moving down, and Johnny could talk.

Honorable Mentions:  Road Warriors, Midnight Rockers, Badd Company, Hart Foundation, Demolition, Koloffs and/or Krusher Kruschev, Steiner Brothers, reDRagon, Von Erichs, Dynamic Duo (Gino Hernandez & Chris Adams), Young Bucks, Funks, Rock 'n' Sock Connection, Foley & Funk, British Bulldogs, Dudley Boyz, Hardy Boyz, Christian & Edge, Acolytes

Mike: Now this is MUCH easier than naming five current tag teams I love.  I’ve always been a fan of tag team wrestling.  Sure, it can get a little teammate gets isolated...gets his butt kick...desperately needs to make a tag...but when you have the right chemistry, all that doesn’t matter.  

I also think that the best tag teams are two guys who compliment each other perfect.  I am not saying that all the best tag teams couldn’t quite make it as singles wrestlers, but more often than not, my favorites are the teams that really made each other better.

One thing I really hate is when two top name wrestlers are basically tossed together as a tag team.  I think it’s a waste of everyone’s talent.  Which is kind of odd for me to say because I found JeriShow to be damn entertaining and they even made my honorable mention list.  

1. New Age Outlaws - OH YOU DIDN’T KNOW!!  To me, The New Age Outlaws are everything I was talking about above.  Two guys that never seemed to click as singles wrestlers, but when you put them together, it was pure magic.  Like Chris, I still totally mark out when I hear their theme song.  

2. The Dudleyz - I actually didn’t really love the Dudleys in ECW, but I thought when they hit the WWE, everything came together so well.  They were able to take that raw chaos they could create and channel it into great storytelling.  The Dudleyz looked like two guys who could seriously put a hurting on you.

3. The Hart Foundation - The Harts were actually my first favorite tag team.  I had no idea that Bret would be a breakout star someday, but I always thought these guys were damn cool.  It definitely helped that they had such a presence as Jimmy Hart with them when I started watching wrestling.  It really helped set them apart from anyone else out there.

4. Edge and Christian - I still get so excited when Edge and Christian team up.  You can tell these two guys were always having such a great time.   That energy really came through for me as a fan, and always made me want to see more of them.  

5. APA - I have to admit, I kept going back and forth about who would get the last spot.  It was either the APA or Harlem Heat...but in the end, I decided that even though I love Booker T, APA had a much bigger impact on me..  They were entertaining in and out of the ring, and had some hilarious moments.  And at the same time, they just looked like pure brute force inside the ring.  One thing that amuses me is that Ron Simmons had a huge career before the APA...and then Bradshaw had a huge career after the APA.  

Wow, my list ended up way more Attitude Era than I would have expected it to.  Especially since I loved tag team wrestling as a kid...

Honorable Mentions: Miz and Morrison, O'Haire and Jindrak, The British Bulldogs, Harlem Heat, The Killer Bees, Hardyz, Brainbusters, The Rockers, Strike Force, Impact Players, 3-Count, Fabulous Freebirds, Usos, JeriShow.

Chris: Your list was mostly Attitude and mine was almost all about the '80s.  Great teams!  Great teams.  Something in such short supply nowadays.

Mike: Yeah, I was damn surprised.  Like I said, I really loved tag team wrestling growing up in the 80’s, but when I started to think about all time favorites, they just didn’t make the cut.  Even Demolition...who I realized I mostly just loved for their theme song.  

Chris: Demolition were a good solid tag team, but that theme...amazing.  Here comes the Ax, and here comes the Smasher.  The Demolition, walking disaster.  Pain and destruction are coming to the ring!

Jeff: I would be thrilled if WWE one day decided to try a completely different sort of brand separation and gave each show just one belt each. RAW could be the heavyweights, Smackdown could be the middle/cruiserweight guys, Superstars could be the Diva divsion and Main Event could be the tag team show. If that were the case, Main Event would join NXT on my watchlist.I have always been a tag team guy. There’s something special about a good tag team--whether it be the team-branded costumes (LoD’s paint and pads), a tandem finisher (Tully and Arn’s Spike Piledriver), or just different yet complementary styles (The Hart Foundation). As an added bonus for the promotion, it’s the perfect way to get some up and coming talent some exposure without displaying their weaknesses as much (see Roman Reigns). You can also extend the shelf life of aging veterans (The Colossal Connection). Here’s my top 5…

1. The Steiner Brothers: Does this really need an explanation? Before the big, bad booty daddy was hollering if we heard him, or whatever, Scott Steiner was at one time arguably the most innovative wrestler in America. Agile for his size, he was the proto-luchador for those who never saw Mil Mascaras or any other luchador until Rey Mysterio and Konnan hit the American scene. His brother Rick, The Dog-Faced Gremlin, was a legit powerhouse, and dispenser of one of the best scoop powerslams in history. In their prime, they were nigh-unstoppable.  

2. The Sheepherders (not the $#@% Bushwhackers!): Oy mates--there was a time before Cousins Luke and Butch started licking each other and setting records for Royal Rumble futility when these two crazy ass Kiwis would draw blood by the gallon. They were hardcore before there was a term for it. Small in stature but long on violence, these guys were like watching serial killers at work in their early days. Vince neutered them and turned them into clowns.

3. Cho-Ten (Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan): Words won’t do them justice. Go Google them and enjoy the artistry of two of the finest workers in the last 30 years anywhere being awesome together. Arguably the best tag team in NJPW history. Chono looked like he was a member of the Yakuza and Tenzan, well, he was just bad ass! Anybody with a two-toned mullet kinda has to be, right? Tenzan is currently the holder of the NWA Heavyweight Championship, for whatever that’s worth these days.

4. Los Guerreros del Infierno (Rey Bucanero and Ultimo Guerrero): When I first subscribed to DirecTV years ago I started watching as much CMLL as I could, because AAA was just as bad as TNA is now. Los Guerreros del Infierno was a dynamic pairing, with both men showing off some aerial skill and Guerrero having reasonably good power to compliment Rey’s more tactical approach. The best match I ever saw on Univision, and if you’re lucky you can find it on YouTube somewhere, was a title bout against Negro Casas (don’t freak out, Ferguson, that means something entirely different in Spanish) and El Hijo del Santo, a very good team in their own right. The final fall will make you leave your seat, because I was pretty sure that they killed Casas with a nearly fatal botched Avalanche Powerbomb. The production team rewinds and replays the spot over and over afterwards, running the tape by hand, it seems, showing just how close that dude came from being a quadriplegic. I don’t love them because of this though--they really are just as entertaining as it gets in lucha.  

5. The Miracle Violence Connection (“Dr. Death” Steve Williams and Terry “Bam-Bam” Gordy): The bookend of my list, opposite the Steiners. Dr. Death and Terry Gordy would just demolish people. Williams was systematic about it. Like an Arn Anderson type of guy, he’d pick a body part, often the back, and got to town on it, softening his victim up for the dreaded Oklahoma Stampede or the Doctor Bomb. Terry Gordy was cut from the same rugged boot leather as Stan “The Lariat” Hansen and later John Bradshaw Layfield. It wasn’t usually pretty, but it was always pretty violent. These guys once hit Scott Steiner so stiffly that it popped his pectoral muscle. Miracle Violence indeed!

Honorable Mentions: The World’s Greatest Tag Team, Demolition, Doom, The Orient Express, The Fantastics, Nick Bockwinkle & Ray “The Crippler” Stevens, The Jumping Bomb Angels, Strikeforce, Dino Bravo and Earthquake, Money Inc. and The Motor City Machine Guns.

Found it! The quality isn’t the best, but believe me, you’ll know when you see that crazy finish:

Mike: I can’t believe I left the Steiners off my list.  I used to love those guys.  But Scott Steiner has really destroyed his own legacy over the years.

Chris: I put the Steiners on my honorables, but what Scott became turned my stomach. At one point he was my favorite wrestler.  He was the champion of my wrestling figure federation and had a raucous feud with Ric Flair!  Back then, I wanted him to go solo and rule wrestling.  Now, I wish he'd never stopped tagging with the Dog Faced Gremlin.

My biggest ordeal was leaving the Dudleyz, Christian & Edge, and the Hardyz out of my top 5.  I couldn't choose between them, and I refused to do a tie.  All told, their TLC matches are among my favorites...ever.  To be honest, they aren't really tag matches, though.

Mike: True enough.  Those matches are true works of art, though!  Actually, the Hardy Vs Edge and Christian “Rivals” video on the WWE Network is good and worth checking out.

The Hardyz just barely missed the cut for me, and I’m sure my sister is going to hate me for that.  She’s a huge fan.  

Chris: You nailed it!  I read her my list and she said, "About time," when I got to them towards the end of the honorables

The Ballad of Kevin Owens

Mike: Man, I go away for a week only to come back and find Kevin Owens bashing in this very column.  All right, Jeff.  I’m willing to hear you out...what’s wrong with Kevin Owens?

Jeff: What isn’t, Mike? I’m supposed to buy him as a hell because he’s doing whatever heelish things he does to support his family? Who in wrestling isn’t supporting someone? That’s weak sauce for heel motivation. His promos aren’t terribly exciting. He sounds and looks rather disinterested in having to do them. He tosses Alex Riley over an announce table for a perceived slight--so what? He didn’t put him through the table! That’s what a strong heel would have done. I bet Bill Demott was standing at the Gorilla position backstage cussing like he had Tourette’s. His title win over Sami Zayn was likewise S-A-W-F-T... SAWFT! (That’s never gonna get old for me.) Who ever heard of anyone winning the belt because a referee stopped the match? Pinfall or submission, not referee’s discretion! Them’s the rules--wrestling ain’t got many, but that’s one that’s been standard for as long as I can remember.   

For as much as NXT gets right, They’ve completely botched Owens. Hotshotting him into the title picture on the same night he debuts was foolish. They didn’t establish his character to any real degree. They told us he had a history with Zayn--so what? Show us! Work your way up the card like everybody else does. Prince Devitt is doing it that way. Mother-loving KENTA is doing it that way. No, he just stands there looking Indy as Hell in his mock “I made my tee shirt design out of duct tape” t-shirt whining like about his family like Luke Skywalker whining about going into Tosche Station (spelling per the Star Wars Wiki) to pick up some power converters, being spoon fed a title push like another lazy ass Millennial while still trying to use his family to get over. It’s so incredibly weak. I don’t give a damn what this flabby punk does now. I’d rather see Mojo Rawley getting a push than ol’ KO, and I mean that! Kevin Owens is Balls Mahoney 2K15 without the charisma. And if he’s not down with that, I got two words for him...palm strike. Maybe CJ Parker busted more than this sad sack’s nose at R Evolution. I’m dying to see him feud with Prince Pretty though! Tyler Breeze would kick the crap out of this Uggo every night!

Sorry you asked, Mike?

Mike: Never!  I’m always up for a good argument!  Pretty much all my close friendships started that way...hell, my wife kicked me the first time we met.

So the issue is more, “I don’t like Kevin Owens is being booked” not “I don’t like Kevin Owens.”  I can see that a little better.  I still don’t agree with it though.

Before he even showed up in the ring, NXT gave Owens a great video package that hinted at what he would be doing.  I actually like that they acknowledge he had a career before NXT.  Too often, wrestlers just seem to appear.  WWE doesn’t even bother acknowledging that they wrestled in FCW.  A lot of NXT’s fans are indy fans, so things like that just feel an insult to the viewer’s intelligence.

And it’s not like the NXT title is THAT big a prize.  We’re not talking about the NWA title or the WWE title.  Giving a hot new hand the title on their way up the ladder makes sense to me.  It’s not like there is a NXT TV title they can feud for (though there probably should be).  And Finn Balor is now the number one contender, so it’s clear they want him in the main event picture too.  

I also think it’s strange that one of the things that bothers you about Owens is that they actually gave him some motivation as a heel.  As opposed to most heel wrestlers who are just evil for the sake of being evil.  I love the family angle.  He almost comes off as a supervillain to a certain extent.  “I do bad shit...but I can give myself a pretty flimsy reason for doing so.”

I do agree with you that he should not have won the title on ref stoppage.  But again, that is a booking issue.  What really impressed me about Owens in that match was that the crowd was really getting into him.  About halfway through the match it changed from “Ole, Ole” to “Kill, Owens Kill!”  He knows how to work the crowd without cheap pandering.  One of the many reasons I think Owens deserves the spot he’s in.

Chris: Kevin Owens (Steen) is more the understated heel than the crazy over the top madman.  Don't get me wrong, he's had his ranting moments in ROH, but overall he's more cerebral.  Kinda like HHH at his best.  Methodical destruction!

The best villains in storytelling are the believable ones that do what they feel is right.  Has there ever been a WWE villain that's just doing it for his family?  Really, how much more villainous can you get than turning on your friend for a better spot on the card!  The whole point of bypassing the roster has actually made you hate him, Jeff!  Perhaps the booking worked out better than you think?  He fast tracked himself because he, kayfabe, did whatever it took.  

That's Owens to a tee.  He can out think you and then downright obliterate you in the ring as well.  Think about how much better Kenta has gotten as he's become comfortable as Hideo Itami.  Owens has only wrestled a half dozen matches on NXT TV.  He's going to keep getting better.  We haven't even gotten Zayn rematch yet.  That one will not end with a referee stoppage!  I'm anxious to see where it's all going.  NXT rarely lets me down.

Jeff: Looks like we’re going to have to agree to disagree. The only part of your comments are really agree with is that it is indeed nice of the WWE to acknowledge the indy history of a newcomer for once. But the WWE is always more polished looking if not in actual ring skills, and this guy just looks like he got done wrestling in front of 40 people who between them have maybe a dozen full sets of teeth at a National Guard armory somewhere...and one of them who looks like a lot like the Sea Hag from “Popeye” made that shirt. One move, huff and stare. Another move, huff and stare. He’s not exciting to me in the least. I think I might call him “Fat X-Pac” for now on. Thing is, Sean Waltman was actually capable of having an entertaining match now and then. I think it also speaks to where the talent pool is today overall. At the height of the Monday Night Wars, this guy is The Wall, or somebody in Raven’s Flock ranked below Scotty Riggs and Lodi. See what you made me do? A damn Lodi reference! Whatcha think about that, Ron Simmons? “DAMN!” I know, right? Being a family man doesn’t make you a villain, it makes you vanilla. They’re spelled pretty similarly though, I can understand the confusion.

I suspect we’ll see the return of El Generico at some point...not Sami Zayn, but the actual masked hombre. Mind games, you know? Who knows, maybe he’ll bring Curry Man with him.  

Mike: Generico is off in Mexico raising orphans last I heard...

Chris:  Ole, ole...ole, ole!

Jon Stewart: Great Celebrity Guest or the Greatest Celebrity Guest

Jeff: Seth rollins is going to fight a Green Lantern?!? Wow, I thought they mothballed superhero gimmicks when Hurricane Helms got hurt.  Oh wait...that Jon Stewart. I love the Daily Show, but I hate celebrity/wrestler feuds. Didn’t anyone learn anything after that Jay Leno in WCW garbage? You Jersey Boys talk among yourselves like Linda Richmond would say. I’m going to go find a snack...much like I would when a celebrity wrestling bout comes up on a PPV. Pizza time!

Mike: I have been a Daily Show fan for a while now.  I haven’t missed an episode of Daily Show (or Colbert) in like 8 years.  Jon Stewart is a wrestling fan, and he often drops quick references to wrestling throughout The Daily Show.  

A few weeks ago, Seth Rollins seemed to make an offhand comment on Raw about being able to do anything, including taking over The Daily Show now that Jon Stewart was retiring.  Jon Stewart was on vacation at the time, but still took the time to respond, calling Seth Rollins out.

The two have gone back and forth since, with jabs on Twitter, Raw, and The Daily Show.  This culminated with Seth Rollins showing up on The Daily Show to invite Jon Stewart to come to Raw and face him in the ring.

Jon Stewart accepted, and the end result was by far my favorite segment of WWE TV in a very long time:

You can tell when a celebrity guest is actually a fan of the product and not just doing this for a cheap rub.  Hugh Jackman was awesome during his appearances, and Jon Stewart might have been even better.  He was funny, he actually addressed storylines, and you can tell he was having a lot of fun with it.

Never going to happen, but now that he’s retiring from The Daily Show, I would love to see Jon Stewart do more work with the WWE.  

Chris: Most celebrity appearances on WWE are definite fast forwarding material.  This was an entertaining segment and the lead up was quite good too.  Stewart definitely understands wrestling and how to talk in a ring.  I agree that this ranks up there with Hugh Jackman's appearances as one of the very rare watchable celeb moments.

That said, what's WWE doing with Seth Rollins?  Yes, it's good he's getting some mainstream crossover, but he always looks like a fool.  There's also this horrible feud with Randy Orton.  It's been on the back burner so long, and now that Orton is finally back, it's still stuck in the mud.  It was nice to see Rollins get a pin on Reigns, but he looked like a punk doing it.  One of the few times he looked strong in months was the triple threat at the Rumble.  He took it to Brock Lesnar, and now he's getting hit in the balls by Jon Stewart.  Are we ever going to see a badass Seth Rollins?

Mike: WWE seems to have a weird obsession with holding down the MITB winner.  Rollins has been doing killer work as a heel in recent months, but I agree that he is booked very weak.  I actually think Orton and Rollins could have a great feud, but it needs to be booked to make both men look credible.   I think J+J Security is hilarious...but it’s kind of sad that your top heel needs help from those two clowns.  They seem like they should be working with Adam Rose or Santino, not your top heel.

I really think the reason they have toned down Seth Rollins at this point is because they don’t want him to overshadow the “bigger” matches at Wrestlemania.  Sting vs HHH, Brock Vs Reigns, Bray vs Undertaker.  Even the IC title match has gotten a lot more credibility.  I really don’t like that...but I have a huge Seth Rollins bias.  I’ve loved the guy since the first time I saw him in NXT.  And he’s shown he can take the ball and run with it.  To me, that should be rewarded not ignored.

Chris: In storylines they always say Seth is the future of WWE, but the booking doesn't seem to play that out.  On the other hand, Vince is known for jobbing his heels out before they get a title run.  It's been pretty common practice over the years, whether you're Rick Rude, Jack Swagger or anyone in between.  I'm hoping the weak booking is going to lead to a big run sooner than later.  You're right, they've got to get Seth away from J&J. Like you were saying, he needs to look credible, so they've really got to let him get a win against Randy Orton at Wrestlemania.  I think it's more likely he loses to Orton at 'Mania but cashes in on Reigns, maybe on Raw the next night.  Unfortunately, then you've got a weak champ.  Of course, that's better than Brock "Mr. All Days Off" Lesnar.

I guess we strayed a bit from Jon Stewart, but that was fun.

Mike: I think this is from a house show from this weekend.  It might be the greatest gif I’ve ever seen.  Rusev just looks so happy...


Chris:  At the same time, props to Seth, who really knows how to draw heat these days.  

New Japan Cup Results (3/5/15)


Round 1


Yujiro Takahashi pinned Yoshi-Hashi

Togi Makabe beat Tomoaki Honma

Hirooki Goto pinned Yuji Nagata

Katsuyori Shibata defeated Satoshi Kojima

Kota Ibushi defeated Doc Gallows

Tetsuya Naito beat Karl Anderson

Toru Yano rolled up Hiroshi Tanahashi after a handful of hair

Bad Luck Fale pinned Kazuchika Okada

Chris: Round One Thoughts: My predictions were going along smoothly for the most part, then Toru Yano upset Tanahashi in a couple of minutes.  That's what's great about NJPW, I'm always surprised.  I ended up 4-4 for the round, but damn happy with the show.  Now that Okada & Tanahashi are out, it leaves open some interesting possibilities for roads less traveled.  

There wasn't a bad match on the show but there were three standouts.  

Makabe & Honma showed off Strong Style by beating the tar out of each other.  Is there a better underdog than Honma?  He seemed on the verge...yet it didn't happen.  Great storytelling.

Goto & Nagata was my favorite match, and I just wasn't expecting it.  This was youth vs. experience told with tremendous flow, fantastic near falls, and a finish that made sense--Put the younger guy over.  

Naito & Anderson did some spectacular things as well.  Like the previous two matches, these guys aren't top of the card but they put on a spectacle.  Anderson showed utter brutality and Naito hit some neat high flying moves.  Excellent stuff.

Round Two Results (3/8/15)

Togi Makabe pinned Yujiro Takahashi

Kota Ibushi defeated Toru Yano

Tetsuya Naito pinned Bad Luck Fale

Hirooki Goto beat Katsuyori Shibata

Non-Tournament Matches

Yoshi-Hashi pinned Jay White

Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask, Manabu Nakanishi and Satoshi Kojima beat Kushida, Jushin Liger, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Captain New Japan and Tomoaki Honma

Yohei Komatsu and Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Yuji Nagata and Sho Tanaka

Chaos (Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazushi Sakuraba, and Tomohiro Ishii) over Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows and Cody Hall)

Chris: Another solid set of Cup matches.  The final bout had some excellent passion.  Goto and Shibata were recently tag champs and their friendship seemed to disintegrate as they pummeled each other.  I was surprised Goto won, but he really impressed me this week with two great matches.

I was a little surprised Naito won, but I think they're setting up for Fale & Okada at Invasion Attack.  I thought Shibata or Ibushi were going to be the eventual winner, so at least one of them is still in it.

The non- tournament matches may have been the better part of the show, if you can believe it.  A few brief observations:

Cody Hall is very rough in the ring, but he's got amazing athleticism, nice size, and a good look.  If he keeps improving he may go further in the biz than his dad.

Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask gave us a nice tease for their upcoming match.  Both guys are towards their career ends, but their upcoming bout will be fun.

Speaking of partnerships falling apart and tremendous passion.  Tenzan and Kojima are melting down as they prepare to fight for the NWA title.  The pier 6 they had after the match has me interested.

Finally, showcasing Tanaka and Komatsu with stars like Tanahashi and Nagata was brilliant.  These two finally got to do something other than wrestle the opening match. What a blast!  WWE should take note of how to elevate the youngsters.

Round 3 Predictions:

Me, I'm not so good at this for NJPW, which I love!  Here goes:

Togi Makabe vs. Hirooki Goto

Prediction: Makabe

Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito

Prediction: Ibushi

Final Prediction:

Ibushi over Makabe


A lot of people think Makabe is going to win and challenge Ishii for the NEVER title he was forced to relinquish due to illness.  I hope that's not the way they go.  AJ Styles has nobody to challenge him as of now, and wouldn't a match with Ibushi be a stunner?  Is it going to happen?  We shall see!

Lucha Underground Results (3/4/15)

-Alberto El Patron is backstage in Dario Cueto’s office.  Tonight is his first Lucha Underground match.  He wants Texano.  Dario tries to convince him to fight a jobber, but El Patron insists it has to be Texano.  Dario wants time to promote a match of this magnitude.  El Patron is getting pissed.  Finally Dario gives him the match.

- Mil Muertes pinned Fenix after hitting the Flatliner.  After match, Mil orders Katrina into the ring.  She refuses.  He grabs her by the neck.  Fenix picks up the black rock that came from the same rubble as Mil.  He clobbers Mil with it, and then follows up with Trouble in Paradise (Love you, Kofi).  Katrina gives Mil the lick of death.  Then she makes out with Fenix again.

- Awesome video package with Konnan saying his revenge is coming.

- Ivelisse is in Dario’s office demanding she is number one contender.  Dario says next week she has a rematch with Angelico.  Son of Havoc will be the guest referee to prevent him from interfering again...there is a flaw in that logic…

- Prince Puma is working out backstage.  El Patron shows up and tells him he needs to man up and let out his aggression on Cage.  If Puma manages to survive Cage and keep the title, El Patron will be coming for it.

- Big Ryck beat Sexy Star.  Winner of this match gets a shot at the Crew.  After the match, the Crew rushed to ring to attack Big Ryck from behind.  Sexy Star tries to help, but she gets taken out of the fight.  The Crew try to take Big Ryck’s other eye, but he fights them off.

- Nice video package about Alberto El Patron.  Very similar to his promo from a few weeks ago.

- Texano defeated Alberto el Patron by DQ.   Texano kept sneaking shots in on El Patron with the bullrope when the ref wasn’t looking.  Patron ends up going to town on Texano with the bullrope, getting his disqualified and giving him a big beat down after the match.

- Back in Dario’s office, King Cuerno is dressed up as a cowboy (WTF?).  Dario tells him he has a cage match with Johnny Mundo next week.

Chris: This was an excellent show!  Only three matches but each one had the necessary time for what they were trying to accomplish.  

Let's start with the opener.  The whole Fenix/Mil Muertes feud has been fun so far.  Muertes comes off as a legit scary monster of a heel.  Catrina did a good job interjecting her beautiful self into the action once again.  Is there a more gorgeous but creepy woman working in wrestling?  Her crawling and licking shtick never gets old.  The match featured some nice high spots and fun action.  How about that backstabber Muertes hit by pulling Fenix from the top rope?  Muertes getting the win but Fenix leaving with Catrina means we should see more down the road.  Yes please!

Mike: I loved how Fenix started this match with a hurricarana off the steps leading down to the ring.  It just looked awesome and really set the pace for the rest of the match.  You know, the whole “black rock” thing should be so gimmicky, but I think it works so well.  I can’t help but think of Undertaker’s urn from back in the day.  Lucha Underground doesn’t quite take itself seriously, and I think that allows for fun things like this to really work.

I also thought the video packages in this episode were awesome.  Lucha Underground’s video packages are so damn cinematic.  I love that. Konnan’s video in the rain really made me think he’s going to be playing a major role in Lucha Underground moving forward.  And Alberto El Patron’s video package was a great way to keep viewers understanding what his character is all about.  I did think it was odd that he seemed to kill a dude at the end of his package, but that is what you get to do when you are ALBERTO EL PATRON!

Chris: Sí!  Sí!  Sí!  I'm so thrilled to see Alberto on TV regularly.  His starpower and charisma were exploding from the screen when he demanded to face Texano tonight.  He did it again when he walked in on Prince Puma training.  He's an absolute star.  To think, we may soon have Rey Mysterio bouncing around in Boyle Heights.  I don't want to lose the stars we've come to love, but Alberto & Rey are elite performers who boost credibility for the brand.

Mike: So far, I think they’ve done a great job with that balance so far.  It would be so easy to give a huge spotlight on Johnny Mundo all the time, but they have been careful to make sure they give a lot of time to potential new stars too.  Granted, none of their stars are quite on the level of Rey Mysterio.  Alberto El Patron and Rey Rey really could be the game changers that Lucha Underground needs to really break through.  I hope so.  I love the show and want it to succeed.

Chris: I agree.  Whatever it takes for them to be successful.  I want a full touring company with lots of merchandise and at least two hours of TV a week.

Mike: I would just be happy if their champ remembered to bring pictures along when he attends a show to do a signing...

Chris: That was the strangest exchange I've ever had with a wrestler.  I don't think we've told this story before, but Ricochet (who wrestles in Lucha Underground as Prince Puma) appeared in Rahway recently but he didn't have anything to get autographed.  Nothing!  Not a damn thing.  He told me, "I'm in the process of getting 8x10s made."  All I could think is, you're Ricochet and Prince Puma!  How hard is it to get some photos printed!  You'd probably sell a freaking boatload, you know, if you had some!

On another note, we get man vs. woman every week now, but Big Ryck vs. Sexy Star was a different take.  I like how Ryck was about to choke slam Star, but just put her on the mat gently and held her down for the pin.  Of course, the Crew got involved and a donnybrook was had.  Not bad, but not also not the best the show had to offer.

Onto the main event!  Mikey, what did you think of Texano and Alberto El Patron?  

Mike: While I hate DQ finishes, I thought the match itself was terrific.  It was a definite change in styles for what you usually get in Lucha Underground, but it really worked well.  El Patron was definitely on his game.  I hadn’t seen Texano much before Lucha Underground, but he seems to be a talented guy. I also think it was a great way to give both men some attention, and hopefully it will bring some of AAA’s audience in to check out Lucha Underground.  This feud should build into something amazing.

One thing that did bug me.  El Patron’s trunks said ADR on them, and his boots said AR.  He hasn’t wrestled as Alberto Del Rio in like 7 months now.  Time to get some new ring gear, dude!

This show had a hot match to start and finish, and a lot of storylines were moved forward.  You really can’t ask for a lot more than that.  

One last thing.  They need to find a better angle than “guy comes into Dario’s office.”  It happened three times in this episode alone.  Yes, I think it does help move the stories forward, and I love Dario...basically Vince McMahon in a spanish soap opera.  But by the time King Cuerno showed up there in the end of the episode, I was saying enough! And what was with that cowboy outfit he was rocking?

I am really looking forward to that cage match next week.  Johnny Mundo said it was one of the best matches he ever had, so I’ve been waiting for that one for a while now!

Chris: The office is overused, but be thankful it's not an in-ring 20 minute promo to start each show.  

The main event had a tremendous fire, and I'll forgive them the DQ, since we should be getting a lot more.  I admit that  two weeks in a row with a non-finish isn't cool.  Let's hope that's not going to become S.O.P.

And next week, Yeah!  

Mike: I think the one problem Lucha Underground has at the moment is that the only exposure the promotion has is one hour long show a week.  They aren’t building towards events like NXT or PPV’s like WWE. That makes that kind of messy finishes stand out more to me.  At the moment, it’s hard to tell if something is just an ugly finish to save the reputation of both men, or an ugly finish to make you come back for the rematch next week.  

Each episode is really important to building the brand.  I actually think they should look at doing 90 minute events every few months where you can have big blow out matches to end the feuds.  

Chris: Agreed.  They need something more than a weekly program.  I heard AAA is looking at Lucha as their entry into the U.S. market.  They had a big press conference this week announcing Mysterio was officially signed.  There was a photo op with Rey, Alberto, and Myzteziz (the original Sin Cara) heralding their huge stars.  It's not going to help much with the English speaking market, but they are also trying to move the Spanish language show from UniMas (where I watch) to the bigger Univision.  Hopefully that type of exposure can get us more lengthy programming!


Mike: When I woke up Monday morning, I saw this story over at Lords of Pain (my favorite wrestling news site):

Alberto El Patron (Alberto Del Rio) is currently suffering from a torn quad after wrestling a match this past Wednesday night in Mexico. Patron did work Friday night's Northeast Wrestling event in Waterbury, CT but was limited in the ring.

At the Northeast Wrestling event on Friday night, Patron was scheduled to face Matt Hardy but the match was changed to Patron and Hardy vs. The Young Bucks due to the injury. They shot an angle earlier where The Young Bucks attacked Patron and injured his ankle until Matt Hardy made the save and proposed the tag match, which Hardy and Patron won.

Patron worked the tag match with his thigh wrapped up and looked to be legitimately injured. Hardy wrestled just about the whole match by himself. Del Rio also did a pre-show meet & greet appearance.

Hopefully it’s not too severe and it won’t keep him out of action too long.  El Patron seemed to have started carving out a nice niche for himself in ROH, AAA, and Lucha Underground, and I hate to see that momentum slowed down.  Get well soon, Alberto!

The Big Event 8 - Flushing, NY (3/7/15)

Chris: If meeting pro wrestlers is your idea of a good time, then I've got just the place for you, The Big Event.  Held near Laguardia Airport this is a stacked comic con style event almost exclusively featuring wrestling talent.  It only cost $10 to enter the show then it was up to you who you wanted to meet.  Most of the talent charged between $15-$25 for an autograph or photo opportunity.  The only issue, way too many folks I'd love to meet, and nowhere near the money to see them all.

I started out chatting with the Young Bucks and AJ Styles.  They were all very approachable and extremely personable.  Matt Jackson noticed my Shinsuke Nakamura shirt, which was very cool.  My buddy Rob, his son Anthony, and I all got into a picture with the Bullet Club members.  We had met AJ at a PWS show in Rahway a few months ago, and he was hoping to be back soon.  He even told the Bucks they should do a show there.  I'm all for a Super Kick Party in my neck of the woods!

Having a chance to really converse is the best part of events like this.  I had a lengthy conversation with Bob Holly, who is one of my all time favorite wrestlers.  Among other topics, we talked about his excellent book and his pinfall victory over Kane.  Remember that?  He told me, "It was epic."  Another guy that was downright nice was Lanny Poffo. Not only did we talk about his brother Randy Savage and his speech for Macho's Hall of Fame induction, but he asked what I did for a living--incidentally, I'm a third-grade teacher.  Then Poffo asked me about my kids and how I liked teaching. These were genuine moments of interaction more than just signing a picture.

A few quick notes.  I also met Dusty Rhodes and Samoa Joe.  Each man was very gracious but our interactions were much faster.  Still, amazingly cool to meet two of my favorites from totally different generations.  I also tagged along with Rob as his son met Rey Mysterio, Jr.  Rey was wonderful with Anthony who was utterly star struck.  

All told, I easily might have been induced to spend my next paycheck at the show.  I could have met people like the Godfather, the Dudleyz, Magnum TA, Austin Aries, Ric Flair, Teddy Long, Road Warrior Animal, and Jerry Lawler.  I'll leave those folks for a future time and place.