Cheap Pops - Wrestling News and Views - March 25, 2015

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Cheap Pops - March 25, 2015

by Chris Delloiacono, Mike Maillaro and Jeff Ritter

This week!

  • Wrestlemania 31 Predictions
  • Best in Our World - Best “Jobbers”
  • WWE Hall of fame Commentary
  • RIP Hijo del Perro Aguayo

Jeff: It’s Wednesday….do you know where your wrestling fans are? Right here, reading CHEAP POPS! Hello everybody, I’m Giant Panther, alongside Fighter Hayabusa, the master of the Back Brain Kick, and the despicable Amazon, the crown prince of cranial cutlery, we welcome you to another fun-filled and thought-provoking discussion of the world of professional wrestling. This one has it all, from Wrestlemania to the best of the worst of all time, and so much more from Japan to Mexico, America to Parts Unknown, Get ready folks: A WINNER IS YOU!!

Mike: All right, I will admit.  That was a great opening. Oddly enough, there is a wrestler named Starman who works local Pro Wrestling Syndicate shows.  He walks like 8-bit Starman and they play the video game music as his theme song.  Sadly, he doesn’t do the Somersault Kick or the Flying Cross Chop.  I consider that to be a huge loss...

Jeff: I’m stunned--how in the world can you be Starman and not do the only two moves he’s known for? Hell, I can do the Flying Cross Chop! Geez, that makes me want to bill myself as Kin Corn Karn and kick his ass.

I don’t know if it comes through or not, but I was going for that Gorilla Monsoon vibe with the intro. In my head Chris is Hayabusa since he follows the NJPW stuff pretty closely, and I made you the Amazon, because you like Kevin Owens. I probably resemble Kin Corn Karn more than I do Giant Panther, but he looks the part of a former wrestler turned play by play man. King Slender was modeled after Ric Flair, reportedly, but I always picture him in real life as a Lord William Regal type.

Here’s a great page with more about one of my all-time favorite pro-wrestling video games:

Chris: You can cut the electricity with a knife!  

You definitely channeled good old Gorilla.  And thanks for the link about possibly the coolest wrestling game ever.  The article even includes a video of the PWS version of Starman that wrestles in Jersey.  He may not hit those two moves, but everything else about him is a perfect nod to the game!

The SRO signs went out early today.  Sorry, I had to bring out our more Gorilla-ism before we got going.

Wrestlemania 31 Predictions

Mike: It might seem strange that after I spent last week talking about how I wasn’t feeling all that hyped last week about Wrestlemania, I start this week off by making my predictions about Wrestlemania matches.  But it’s still news, so Cheap Pops is going to cover it.  

On with the predictions:

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match - Brock Lesnar (c)  vs Roman Reigns

Mike: I still can’t believe this is the main event for Wrestlemania.  One guy who is barely a presence in the WWE.  And Reigns who just isn’t quite there for me yet. Reigns keeps improving, I will give him that much, but I really worry that he’s going to end up Icarus’ing.  It’s happened to Del Rio, Sheamus, and The Miz.  I would even argue it has happened to Daniel Bryan, but that is just odd booking...he’s still getting huge fan response.  WWE doesn’t seem to understand that you can’t force the crowd to love who you want them to love.

I really think the only way this match can redeem itself is that Reigns wins, and Rollins cashes in.  Rollins seems in a much better position to carry the torch right now. My dream main event for Wrestlemania 32 would be a triple threat between Reigns, Rollins, and Ambrose.  

Jeff: “Icarusing?” I like it! There’s not enough Greek mythological verbs in the world.

Mike: Cheap Pops, educational as well as entertaining!

Chris: There's been all kinds of rumors about Brock resigning with WWE, but I still don't see him walking out with the title.  Brock ending The Streak last year was all about the endgame of building a new star.  It's admirable WWE thought ahead that far.  It's a shame they're putting their eggs in Roman's basket.  Reigns has gotten better but he's not ready to be the featured performer.  I'm not looking forward to the match much at all.  I'm hoping for a cash-in, but I don't see it closing the show. My feeling, when the indicia rolls, Roman Reigns is your new champion.

Jeff: This match has the potential to be one of the worst Wrestlemania main events in history. It also has the potential to be reasonably watchable. But good? Compelling? Impossible to compile in an episode of Botchamania? Highly suspect. I don’t much care about Rollins at this point either, but something has to be done to spice this up. The thing that gets me is Brock has been built up as a beat, and he’s got legitimacy as a real fighter, and Roman’s got nothing. Bad News Barrett was, at least according to kayfabe, a bare-knuckled brawler in the UK. Pitting him against Brock gives you a matchup of guys with a more MMA background, not just “rasslers.” Does anyone else see The Rock getting involved in this somehow? Rock Bottom on Brock, quick pinfall from Reigns? Or does D-Bry somehow work his way into this match as the People’s Chosen One, Vince/Hunter be damned?

Mike: After the People’s Champion got booed at Royal Rumble, I think he will be staying far away from Roman Reigns for the next little while.  Rock didn’t seem to have any idea what to do with that reaction...

You know...we’ve never got a cash in at Wrestlemania, and I hope for it every year.  I am still pissed that Ziggler did it THE NIGHT AFTER WRESTLEMANIA...especially since we were at Wrestlemania that night before. If I am being honest with myself, I know it won’t happen here either...but I choose the lie!

Chris: Bro, I want to live your lie!  It makes for a much better Wrestlemania conclusion.

Mike: least they finally had a face to face confrontation on this week’s Raw...which ended with a tug o war over the WWE Title.  WTF??

Chris’s Prediction: Reigns
Jeff’s Prediction: Brock (even after Rollins cash-in)
Mike’s Prediction: Reigns (with Rollins cash-in)


Sting Vs. Triple H

Chris: Amazing how Triple H has become the new Vince-like punching bag.  He went down to Daniel Bryan last year and it's going to be Sting this year.  This build has been too long and there've been too many stops and starts.  There have been some cool moments--really all of Sting's appearances.  Unfortunately, they've just been dragged out for five months.  I called this one a spectacle last week.  It will be.  Plus, Sting looks in great shape.  I think these two will have a really entertaining match.  I just wish creative had done a better job with the build.

Mike: I am not even sure you can blame creative for this.  Sting seems to have limited dates, so they are working with what they’ve got.  I still  think it’s odd that they have had silent Sting for the most part.  Apparently he did talk after Raw on the Network, but that is just kind of gimmicky to me.  And that’s coming from someone who loves the Network and watches it all the time.

A lot of people talk about Triple H and burying people, but I really think that is just sour internet chatter.  Triple H has always seemed to put over a lot of people.  And I think that as someone who seems to love the history of wrestling, he would rather put over the Legend in what might be his only WWE match.  So I am picking Sting. But it is very possible that Vince’s ego will come into play and he would want Sting to lose...BUT...I can’t see Sting having agreed to this match just to see him have to go out with a loss.

Chris: Triple H really does do what's best for business most of the time.  Giving Sting a huge Wrestlemania moment will be a fun reminder of a what many fans look at as a classic time in wrestling.  Between what he's doing with NXT, his jobs to DB and the Shield last year, and probably doing the honors for Sting, I don't want to hear anymore about Triple H's shovel.  That old complaint, from some, is...get this...buried.

As far as the limited dates, the angle should have started much later than this wouldn't have seemed so stretched out.  On top of that, Stinger only finally talking for a minute on the Network was dumb.  The lack of continuity definitely took away from the build.

Jeff: I haven’t seen any of the hype, and I don’t really care--I would rather Sting face Undertaker, Bray Wyatt or perhaps even Brock than watch Hunter continue to milk time on Wrestlemania at the expense of active talent. I think Hunter can carry old man Sting to a decent match, but I don’t particularly care.  Perhaps instead of numbers they should give Wrestlemanias subtitles. Like Wrestlemania: Apathy, or Wrestlemania: Disinterested.

Chris’s Prediction: Sting
Jeff’s Prediction: Sting
Mike’s Prediction: Sting


Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal - The announced participants are: The Miz, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Fandango, Adam Rose, Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger, Titus O'Neil, Darren Young, Big Show, Kane, Erick Rowan, Damien Mizdow, Sin Cara, Goldust, Heath Slater and Mark Henry.

Mike: Also known as the “We don’t know what to do with most of our roster, so we’ll just do a big battle royal”.   How is Miz not fighting Mizdow?  How is Goldust not fighting Stardust to end that feud properly?

Considering Cesaro won last year and it did nothing for his career (as of this moment, he’s not even on the  card...and he’s one half of the tag champs), I find it hard to care who wins this year.  So, just for fun, I will pick Long Island Iced Z.  He seems to do well in Battle Royals.  Woo Woo Woo, You Know It!

Chris: WWE needs a plan.  This match needs to be used to elevate a performer Vinnie Mac actually has plans for in the coming year.  Obviously that didn't happen to Cesaro last time.  Personally, I think Sheamus makes his return and rips through whoever they throw in here.

Everyone on the actual list is irrelevant or washed up.  A huge win for Sheamus and big push make sense considering all the promos they've been running to hype the Celtic Warrior's return.

Jeff: I’m going to hedge my bets a little with this pick. Who do I think Vince wants to push here? Ryback. Who would I like to see win? Goldust. Who would I like to see it come down to? Goldust and Mizdow. Who do I think will show up out of nowhere and help Goldust win? Stardust. The WWE is following the comic book industry’s lead these days: continuity is detrimental to storytelling therefore should be ignored. Of course, that’s why Marvel and DC have to have world-changing events regularly--to sort out their screwed up continuity. WWE has it a little easier. They just ignore whatever doesn’t suit them. Mizdow would be a decent second choice, but obviously this Andre Cup or whatever it is doesn’t amount to a damn thing, and I think Mizdow could have a secondary title run in his future. Man, wouldn’t a feud between he and Barrett be fun?

Chris’s Prediction: Sheamus
Jeff’s Prediction: Goldust
Mike’s Prediction: Zack Ryder


Ladder Match for WWE Intercontinental Title - Bad News Barrett (c) vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs.Stardust vs. Daniel Bryan

Chris: Up until recently, I thought Dean Ambrose was walking out of 'Mania with the belt.  Although, of late, he's really not getting much tv time, so I'm think Bryan will get the belt.  DB main events a lot of house shows and having him put the belt on the line is a good way to give the match and the belt a small rub.  

Mike: Since WWE was so quick to move Stardust out of his program with his brother, it just seemed like a natural fit to me that he would be winning this match.  I could just be delusional, I’ve said in the past I have nothing but love for Cody Rhodes.

I will make one prediction...THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST MATCH OF THE NIGHT!

Chris: You are so right about this being match of the night.  I enjoy everyone in this match, when Vince isn't, you know, jobbing them out.  Each of these guys has talent, but Vince loses interest in most of them.  With the exception of DB and, to an extent, Ambrose, think about how much losing these gents have done in the past couple years.  It's a shame creative can't always find interesting things for them.  At least they'll have thiis big match and, dare I say, Wrestlemania moment!

About Cody, even if he doesn't win here, I'm hoping this will be a big year leading to a sustained push.

Mike: You ain’t kidding about them jobbing...I’m not even sure how Bad News Barrett is the champ he loses so much.  And by the way, did you notice they have cut everything interesting about the character?  Why is it when someone who could be heelish gets cheers, the WWE freaks the hell out and does everything possible to make sure the fans lose interest.  Instead of taking advantage and just going with it.  This isn’t the 70’s or 80’s.  You don’t need to have clear lines between heels and faces.  We’ve talked about that in our NXT and Lucha Underground comments.  

Like when Cesaro was getting over using the giant swing.  He basically stopped using it like a week after they started selling King of Swing shirts.  There are some serious discrepancies in marketing and creative...

Jeff: To me, the only way to make the Intercontinental Title relevant again is to write something for it that would actually be compelling, and I think that’s an undefeated streak. Now, is it necessarily Barrett who gets that push? I wouldn’t mind it. He’s got the talent. He’s also got a history of injuries. At age 34, if you’re going to give the guy a run you need to do it now. Here’s my thinking on this: Barrett goes on a big win streak. Like Heyman did with Taker, people start getting savvy to the fact that Barrett hasn’t lost in two months...three months...six months...and so on. He may not be squashing dudes like Goldberg, but he doesn’t have to. He just has to win. This gives the IC title a bit more luster than it’s had, because not only do wrestlers want to win it but they also want to end Barrett’s streak.

I’ve said it for years--wrestling needs to embrace numbers. Sports fan love stats. It gives the appearance of validity.If you give an IC title holder a really strong run--at least a full year undefeated, you boost the significance of the IC strap and likely produce a star that’s ready to take the next step. In fact, you can put the IC title holder in a World Title match too, just to show he’s not resting on his laurels. He can lose that match, by someone else getting the fall in a three or four way dance, or heck, he could even lose clean because it won’t affect his title.  His Winning streak may be over, but his defense streak is intact.  There are ways of doing it so that the IC title holder never comes off as weak. Too often, the secondary title holders don’t even seem to get a push much less come out of that level the better for it.

Alternatives to Barrett: In this Intercontinental Title hunt, I would not mind seeing a long reign from Cody Rhodes or Damien Mzdow. Heck, I wouldn’t object to Ziggler either, but he never seems to be in the good graces of the powers that be. The rest either belong in other title pictures or just simply don’t need this one.

Mike: I like that idea a lot, but would rather see it for Cody or Mizdow.  If just because WWE doesn’t seem to ever want to give Barrett a sustained push.  At one point, he was a huge heel with convincing victories over Cena...and then nothing.  

Chris: Seems Barrett gets injured every time he builds momentum.  He's not coming out of this looking good.  I do like the idea of a fighting IC champ.  Perhaps someone ready for a strong push will come out of 'Mania with the strap.  Bryan, or possibly Ambrose, are the only guys I can see holding the belt under Jeff's scenario.  Everyone else will be doing intermittent non-title jobs to Sin Cara or Bo Dallas within a month of winning the ladder match.

Chris’s Prediction: Daniel Bryan
Jeff’s Prediction: Bad News Barrett
Mike’s Prediction: Stardust


WWE US Title Match - Rusev (c)  vs John Cena

Chris: It's hard to pick against Cena on a show like this, but the only logical thing to do is have Rusev win, right?  They've been building him for a year, why have him lose?  I'm pretty sick to death with the whole thing, but the crowds seem to be into rooting against Rusev.  The streak should continue until Summer Slam at the least.

Mike: I really can’t see WWE having both Rusev and Bray Wyatt lose to established vets on the same night, and I see Undertaker as going over.  So Rusev wins this one.  If Rusev loses to John Cena, the WWE is even worse off than I thought they were…

Jeff: If Cena wins, I would deeply appreciate everyone at the venue just walking out, right then and there. People at home cancelling their subscriptions to the Network in droves. Of course, it will never happen, especially where people who spend a ton of money on Wrestlemania tickets are concerned. There is zero reason for John Boy to win this match. None. Zip. Nada. Chewbacca makes more sense than putting Cena over here.

So...yep, John Cena is going to win this match. The WWE Universe collectively dies a little bit more inside. Almost makes you long for the days of the Red Rooster and Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz, doesn’t it?

Chris: Max Moon?

Chris’s Prediction: Rusev
Jeff’s Prediction: John Cena
Mike’s Prediction: Rusev


AJ Lee & Paige Vs The Bella Twins

Mike: It makes me sad that AJ and Paige are in a Wrestlemania match...and I just can’t possibly care.  I will say that the Bellas are getting better...but I still don’t want to see them in the ring.  Replace the Bellas with Natty and Alicia Fox, and then you’d have my attention.  Replace them with Charlotte and Sasha Banks, and you might end up with the match of the night...

Chris: You're right, the Bellas have finally gotten better. Everything else you said is on the money too.  The Divas have been getting more time on TV, but they're still relegated to a nothing match on the supposed show of shows.  This match won't get much time and it's just there.  That's it.

Jeff: “Hello? Domino’s? Yeah, I’d like to order a pizza...Let’s go with a large...hand-tossed...right, let’s do sausage, bacon, jalepeno and, American bacon, not hoser ham...yeah...I’m sorry, how long did you say? Aww man, this stupid match between the Bella Twins and AJ and the chick almost as white as Sheamus will be over by then. Crap, OK, never mind. Thanks.” Sigh. I wonder how long I can take to make a peanut butter sandwich?

Chris: If you have to watch the screen, keep an eye on the crowd for how many people decide to buy some Jujubes.

Chris’s Prediction: AJ & Paige
Jeff’s Prediction: Bailey and Blue Pants (I prefer AJ/Paige over Bellas, I expect the opposite, but in a perfect world the NXT Divas launch their takeover here!)
Mike’s Prediction: Bellas


The Undertaker Vs Bray Wyatt

Mike: This is a strange match for me.  Since Undertaker lost last year, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for him to lose again.  BUT, what does winning do for him?  It would effectively bury Bray Wyatt, who has had to carry this feud solo since Undertaker hasn’t been on TV in over a year.  I do think Taker will end up winning and retiring.  But I also thinking WWE booked themselves into a corner by having Taker lose to Lesnar last year.  This match just isn’t the attraction it could be.

Chris: I agree completely.  I feel like the Undertaker is going to go out with one more big win.  A win that will hurt Wyatt's future and just tick me off.  I have no interest in the Undertaker anymore.  In fact, I was never a huge fan of his work.  Don't get me wrong, legend, I get it.  Still, he never did it for me.  Him coming in after 365 days off tv and beating a star on the rise is the definition of stupidity.  That's why I'm convinced it will happen.

Jeff: Undertaker is twice as old school as anyone in that locker room and he books himself. I think he does the job to Bray Wyatt clean and passes the torch. It’s the way it should be done, and there aren’t too many wrestlers in the industry today that have the sort of appreciation for history and tradition as Mean Mark Callous. He knows it’s time. He’ll come back to a huge ovation, get some good offense in, let Bray beat him once he’s good and gassed, and Bray becomes Taker 2K15. The Ministry is reborn! While the workrate won’t be anything close to “Match of the Year,” the story will likely be the most compelling of the night. Too bad Jim Ross won’t be there to do it properly. Cole will spend the whole time talking about Cena and Rusev.

Chris: Your booking is always rock solid with an eye to the future.  If only Vincent K. McMahon thought that way!  I've said it before, you and Mike both have some fantastic ideas.  Let's hope some form of them make it to the show.

Chris’s Prediction: Undertaker
Jeff’s Prediction: Bray Wyatt
Mike’s Prediction: Undertaker


Randy Orton Vs Seth Rollins

Mike: Rollins gets himself out of this match quickly with a DQ and countout so he can cash in tonight.  

Chris: Seth rarely wins important matches and Orton is just coming back after a long absence.  He's going to get revenge and keep himself relevant.  This will be a good match but I'm so indifferent to it.  I just don't think what they're doing is compelling.

Mike: The problem is that it’s a waste of both guys.  The build up was strange and confused most of the time. It was like they were trying to tease which side Orton was on...but in a way that no one with half a brain could possibly believe it.  I do admire Rollins’ ridiculous overacting.  He’s always been good at selling moves, but apparently he also can sell bad wrestling plots too...

Chris: Seth is fantastic and deserves better stuff than what he's been stuck doing lately.  The whole deal with Orton's return was another botch from creative. Basically, nothing but the ladder match was built well this year.  

Mike: And even that was more goofy than serious.  BUT it worked at least.

Chris: Exactly.  Nothing else has worked for me.  At least those segments have been enjoyable.  Everything else is an endless slog going exactly where it was expected to go.  It took weeks to build matches a four year old knew were coming.

Jeff: Jon Stewart is involved in this angle. If this was WCW, Jon Stewart would walk out with the World Heavyweight Title. It doesn’t make much sense for Orton to lose unless he’s in the doghouse, but it also doesn’t make sense for Orton to beat the guy who may (though I doubt it) walk out with the title tonight. So I’m going to go with this: Orton gets worked over backstage. He wrestles with an injury but he can’t really overcome it. Rollins wins relatively easily. We find out later, or on Raw, or further down the line that it was the Authority (or even Jon Stewart, in a swerve!) and Orton goes on a big revenge tour that takes him up SummerSlam as a face, where he finally gets a shot at the by-then World Champion, Seth Rollins.

Come to think of it, they really should have just put Rollins in the Andre Battle Royale with Cheese, have him duck everybody or hide outside the ring until the end, and then win it. Orton can show up later to hit Sting with an RKO, because he’s the LEGEND KILLER, and this match would be a no-holds barred Ferguson Street Fight between Jon Stewart w/Prime Time Players vs Bill O’Reilly w/R-Truth and Mark Henry.   

Mike: Your booking is actually more entertaining than anything we’re likely to actually get from Mania...

Chris’s Prediction: Orton
Jeff’s Prediction: Rollins
Mike’s Prediction: Orton (via DQ or countout)

Hijo del Perro Aguayo killed in tag team match in Tijuana, Mexico

Mike: Tragic news coming out of Mexico.  During the “Crash” event in Tijuana, Hijo del Perro Aguayo was killed during a tag team match.  Hijo was teamed up with TNA star Manik, and his opponents were Rey Mysterio and Extreme Tiger.  From what was being reported, he got knocked out from a kick and fell against the ring ropes sustaining severe cervical trauma.  Ignore the headline from Wrestling News, he was not killed because of a botched 619.

 Our prayers go out to the families of all four men.  This was a terrible accident, and it always amazes me that this doesn’t happen more often.  That actually is a big part of the reason we decided to cover this story.  Wrestlers are incredible athletes who put their bodies through hell in order to entertain.  The moves they do have the potential to be very dangerous.  In the past week alone, three wrestlers who we have talked about extensively in this column all suffered injuries that are going to put them out for weeks or even months (Jimmy Uso, Kevin Owens, and Alberto El Patron).  

I do wonder if there were any ways to make wrestling safer for the performers?  The WWE seems to have done a better job monitoring for concussions and drug use.  I actually think that wrestlers should get much more time off to recover.  Booker T had once said that as a wrestler you basically are always working hurt, and I have to think that leads to a lot of injuries and accidents.  

Chris: I am always blown away when these accidents happen.  Wrestlers always seem to be working hurt, and they continually take amazing falls and just pop up and keep on going.  Daniel Bryan appeared to land on his head the other night on Smackdown, but he was fine.  If you've watched the match with Hijo del Perro Aguayo, the sequence that caused the injury looked fairly innocuous.  

Innocuous in the sense that it was fairly standard professional wrestling work.  I don't want to recount the moves play-by-play, because I'm pretty haunted by the whole thing.  This tragedy reminds me it's not just top rope moves and flips that are dangerous.  These men or women are always at risk and life can end so rapidly.  We take for granted the stunning bumps these performers take and forget every minute they are in the ring could turn deadly.  

I hate how some of the headlines seem to point a finger at Rey Mysterio.  That's clearly not the case.  Even still, his close proximity must be heartwrenching.  I had a chance to meet Mysterio a few weeks ago with my friend, Rob, and his son, Anthony.  Rey was a wonderful man that doted over Ant.  He seemed like a truly kind and caring man.  I can't imagine what Rey, as well as Konnan, Extreme Tiger, and Manik are going through right now.  

Most importantly, I know Aguayo was a father and my heart goes out to his family.  

Jeff: I regard myself as a member of the media, covering pop culture: from movies and theatre to wrestling and sports. I’m often embarrassed to read what passes for “journalism” these days, especially on the Internet. I can’t believe that a reasonably reputable organization such as CNN would grab up a site like Bleacher Report, often written at a second grade reading level and featuring such hard-hitting topics such as “Why Manny Machado will be the next Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer” (Please, stop embarrassing yourself--Manny Machado will be lucky to play six full, injury free seasons in the bigs. The next Orioles Hall of Famer will either be a long-retired Veterans Committee selection or somebody who isn’t even on the roster yet.).

Pro wrestling--not qualified in most people’s eyes as a real sport--doesn’t even warrant that level of sophisticated journalism the vast majority of the time. It’s not only irresponsible to report that Rey Mysterio Jr. may have killed someone with the 619--which frankly isn’t a terribly impactful move anyway as it’s often oversold like the Rock taking a Stone Cold Stunner--it’s arguably illegal! Rey Mysterio Jr. has always conducted himself with humility and compassion. It’s libelous to insinuate that Rey was directly involved with possible manslaughter. If you watch the videos--which I don’t think is necessary to repost here, go look for them on Youtube if you must see for yourselves--it’s clear that Rey did everything he possibly could to not injury Aguayo--you can easily tell that Rey knew something was wrong before he launched into the 619.

The sad thing is nobody in America would have even heard a word about Aguayo’s unfortunate passing had a former WWE superstar not been in the match. Heck, it could have been Mark Jindrak and it probably wouldn’t have made much of a blip on the radar of most dirt sheets.

Mike: Yeah, it seemed like a lot of “news” sources were quick to jump on the Rey Mysterio angle, I suspect because he was the only name they recognized and they felt it would give them more hits.  Even the link I posted above originally posted it as Aguayo was killed by a 619, which is not what happened at all.  I come from a journalism background, and I hate when you see stuff like that, especially when someone died.  

Chris: It's disgraceful what is considered journalism today.  Fear mongering, finger pointing, and editorializing far too often replace the true journalistic principles of reporting FACT.  Some of the worst reports were from people that didn't want to watch the video but still retold reports of the 619 causing Aguayo's death.  That's the content you get from these wretched cut and paste "journalists" that just want to increase traffic.  

WWE Hall of Fame 2015




  • "Macho Man" Randy Savage
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Rikishi
  • The Bushwhackers
  • Alundra Blayze
  • Larry Zbyszko
  • Tatsumi Fujinami
  • Kevin Nash
  • Warrior Award: Connor "The Crusher" Michalek

Mike: This is a VERY mixed bag for me.  The only one on that list I look at and say “Definitely belongs in the Hall of Fame” is Macho Man.  (I typed that before they added Nash, who I would say is a definite too).  We’ve talked about Macho Man extensively in this column, he’s truly one of the icons of the business.  The only real complaint here is that it took this long, but I would rather it happen now than never.

 Chris: Macho?  Yeah, we talked a whole lot about this.  We are in absolute agreement.  He's a legend and should have been in years ago.

 Jeff: Savage should have been an inaugural class member, in my opinion. He might be the best all-around American wrestler in my lifetime, and that includes Bruno, Bockwinkle, Flair and others. Having Hogan induct him is such a total slap in the face to the Macho Man...AAAARGH!!...there’s just not enough profanities I can use to describe how much I hate this.

Mike: Alundra Blayze probably belongs too.  She was a true pioneer in making women’s wrestling relevant again in the 90’s.  Without Alundra Blayze, I would argue you would never have had Trish Stratus, Lita, AJ, Paige, and the terrific work the NXT divas have done in recent years.  BUT, a part of me will always think she tainted her legacy when she appeared on WCW to throw the WWE Women’s title in the garbage.  I get it that she was booked to do it...and the WWE has done plenty of dirty business over the years, but that will always remain a black mark in the record book to me.

Jeff: I think Medusa Miceli throwing away the WWE Women’s Title was one of the greatest moments in the heyday of WCW! Granted, the heyday of WCW also included Mongo McMichael on commentary, so that’s probably not saying much. Nonetheless, she was the prototype that Trish Stratus was spawned from. She was fit, she was sexy, she could work, and she could entertain at a time when the other women’s matches of note were either crazy-ass Joshi matches from Japan or involved the Fabulous Moolah, even then well past her prime. Medusa, like Savage, should have already been in if the WWE Hall of Fame was a metric of excellence instead of Vince’s private popularity club.

Chris: Madusa/Alundra had some fantastic moments in the AWA long before changing her moniker to Blayze.  She was one of the transition champions where you had a hot woman that could go in the ring.  Her WCW trashcan moment is legendary as well.  I think she's a good choice.  Not a no-brainer but certainly worthy.

Mike: But what about the rest?  Rikishi and Bushwhackers both were plenty entertaining to me over the years, but it is hard for me to think of them as legends.  I know, I know, before they were in the WWE, the Bushwhackers were hardcore legends, but I never saw them outside of the WWE, so it’s hard for me to think of them as anything other than the homeless guys who got eliminated from the Royal Rumble in record time.  Rikishi is even odder to me.  Again, he was very entertaining in his relatively short run in the WWE, but he’s not a name I would think of for the Hall of Fame.  I feel terrible saying that because I am actually a fan, but it’s true.

Chris: Don't feel bad.  You're right.  Rikishi is definitely not HOF material.  He was the definition of a solid midcard hand.  I loved his work in WCW and WCCW as one half of the Samoan Swat Team.  He got involved with the Freebirds feud with the Von Erichs in World Class and did some awesome work in WCW with Paul (Heyman) E. Dangerously managing.  Awesome, but not HOF stuff.

There was his part in the WWE run as the Headshrinkers and his time as the Sultan as well.  Then, of course, we had Rikishi of the big ass.  Good career entertaining the crowd, for sure.  HOF, no way!

The Sheepherders were a damn fine team of butchers.  They had some insane matches with the Fantastics, R'n'R Express, etc.  Their time as the Bushwhackers was best forgotten if you were over the age of ten.  Long career but I just don't think they're a Hall level act.  The only way they may ascend to those heights is if you accentuate their time as the Sheepherders, since they were a big draw in many areas.  The Bushwhackers were just curtain jerkers.

Jeff: My love of the Sheepherders is well known, but they didn’t accomplish anything terribly Hall-worthy. They held a slew of smaller, regional tag titles but never held any World Tag Titles at the NWA, AWA, WCW or WWE level. The Bushwackers comedy run was horrendous for a Sheepherders fan. As pioneers of hardcore, maybe they get in. I don’t really care much for hardcore, so they wouldn’t make the cut on my ballot.

Rikishi? No. Just no. Why? He had what, an Intercontinental title? A couple of tag titles? Need I point out that one of his tag title runs was with the legendary Rico Constantino? How did Rico not make the cut? No, Rikishi might have been a solid tag hand in his lighter days, but he’s not even in the Hall of Very Good.

Mike: I am just ignorant but I’ve never even heard of Tatsumi Fujinami.  And Larry Zbyszko was a little before my time.  I only think of him as a mediocre commentator for WCW.

Chris: Like, oh my god!  I feel my bitchy inner girl ready to burst out of my chest!  

Jeff: I’m too stunned to even reply to that. Go ahead, Chris, while I try to compose can anybody be a wrestling fan and not know who Dragon Fujinami is?!? They have the Internet now...anybody could look him up...good Lord, kids today...

Chris: Larry Legend was an amazing performer on the mic and a damn fine hand in the ring.  His feud with Bruno Sammartino was just before my time, but I saw those matches on old Coliseum videos.  They were such believable grudge matches.  

Larry was also AWA champion two times and had some wars with Sgt. Slaughter as well.  He's basically the AWA to me!  Everything from his martial arts gimmick to his run as a legitimate champion, for a dying promotion was outstanding.  Larry was a main eventer for much of his career and a damn fine announcer too!  I don't know what you're talking about.

Mike: In my defense, when I was growing up, I pretty much only watched WWF and WCW.  I have seen very little AWA.  I have watched quite a bit of the NWA, which is why I love Dusty, Flair, and Funk so much, but most of the AWA guys, unless they were later big in WWE I didn’t see all that much of them.

Chris: I was just being overly harsh.  The AWA was important to me growing up, but it was in its waning days.  I hung around the rotting corpse way longer than most. It was still cool stuff in my formative years.

Mike: I just thought it was because you are so damn old...

Chris: Well, there aren't too many young-ins that would even know what Larry Land was.  At least you remember his announcing career!

Jeff: As the old man of this trio, I can assure you that Larry Zbyszko belongs. Fans from the nWo era of WCW will remember him for his dry sarcasm on WCW programs but even late in his in-ring career Zbyszko was a dynamite worker. In his prime, however, Zbyszko was selling out baseball stadiums in matches against Bruno Sammartino. He had tremendous feuds in the AWA with Sgt. Slaughter, Nick Bockwinkle and even a young Shawn Michaels. He was instrumental in the early development of Michaels and Curt Hennig. He could get a crowd worked up to a lather without even performing a move--he’d often duck out between the ropes or go out to the floor because he was “smarter” than the meatheads he was facing. Every delay tactic would get the crowd more enraged. He teamed with Arn Anderson as “The Enforcers” and was a member of the Dangerous Alliance, arguably the most talented stable in history, and again worked with the up and coming talent in WCW, notably Dustin Rhodes. Now he’s backstage at NXT, imparting his wisdom to the next generation of stars. I wouldn’t doubt that he had some significant input into the Vaudevillains. Larry Zbyszko is unquestionably a Hall of Famer. The only knock against him was his lack of World Title runs, but he wasn’t likely going to get booked over Flair or Bruno or Hogan. He had his greatest success in the AWA in terms of titles, but he made a career out of making the other guys more popular and more credible.

Chris: On a similar note, I haven't watched much of Fujinami's work.  I remember he had some awesome battles with Ric Flair on American PPV.  He also teamed up at 'Mania VIII with Koji Kitao against Demolition.  Of course, what he did in Japan was way more meaningful.  He was one step below guys like Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki.  He's a definite for the Hall, even if I'm pretty ignorant to a good portion of his work.

Jeff: Fujinami belongs in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. He’s a true superstar. I will concede that the WWE Hall of Fame seems a little odd because he had very limited exposure in the United States. In the late 70s he won the WWWF Light Heavyweight Championship from Jose Estrada Sr., aka Super Medico, aka Conquistador I, and took the title back with him to Japan under an agreement with NJPW and the WWWF. The title was almost exclusively Japanese after that, with a brief exception for the Dynamite Kid. The agreement between the two companies ended in 1985 and the title was abandoned in favor of a new IWGP Junior Heavyweight title. He had a memorable win over Ric Flair for the then NWA World Title on a “supershow” NWA/WCW vs NJPW card in Tokyo, but lost the title back to Flair in short order at the next PPV. Other than those occasions, his career was mostly spent in Japan, His major opponents were Riki Chōshū, Big Van Vader and The Great Muta. He’s still active today, even at the Ric Flair-like age of 60. I doubt much of the WWE Universe will understand or appreciate his importance to the industry or his many achievements, but it’s a nice gesture by the WWE. I wish they’d develop an open talent share with New Japan. It wouldn’t hurt to have Fujinami in the WWE as a trainer either, especially if they sign more Japanese talents like Hideo Itami.

Mike: I have no real issue with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I actually like that the WWE recognizes the non-wrestlers who seemed to love the business and helped raise their exposure.  Besides, Arnold was in many of my favorite movies growing up (Total Recall!!) so I’ll always love the guy.

Chris: Putting a guy like Arnold in the hall makes me want to vomit.  He's done nothing of value for the WWE over the years, and it's just to get some media exposure.  The WWE Hall is there to salute great performers in the wrestling business.  Some day Hugh Jackman is gonna go in too, and that's just garbage. Running a quick angle a couple times is nothing to be honored for.

Although his speech was horrible, Mr. T is a celebrity that deserved his induction.  Cyndi Lauper had a massive effect on the biz circa '84/'85, and should get the call some day.  People that showed up on Raw or Smackdown doing throwaway nonsense once or twice?  Give me a break!

Jeff: Whoever thought this was a good idea needs to GET TO THE CHOPPAH! THE WOOD CHOPPAH THAT IS! Who are they going to induct next year, that girl from Season 2 of Heroes who had Taskmaster’s powers of photographic reflexes and picked up some fighting skills by watching Rey Mysterio on SmackDown? Or maybe the cast of Taxi because Jerry Lawler’s arch enemy Andy Kaufman was in the cast? Geez. The need to close the celebrity wing of the Hall down, and do that by inducting the San Diego Chicken. He...or she...will have the best speech of the night.  

Mike: And I do think it was cool of the WWE to induct Connor "The Crusher."  He seemed like a real sweet kid, and you know this will mean the world for his family.

Chris: Lastly, the Warrior Award for Connor "The Crusher" is well deserved for a beautiful little boy that impacted the people in the business and many fans as well. His story is so depressing and heartwarming at the same time.  I lost my cousin Tommy to Leukemia when he was only eight, so Connor's story hits close to home.  

Tommy, like Connor, had some amazing experiences via Make-A-Wish.  His whole family visited England and he got to see the Queen of England, due to their efforts.  Tommy also got to be close friends with many of the Arizona Wranglers football players in the old USFL.  Between him and Connor those are amazing life experiences, but I wish they simply had longer lives.  So sad.  Connor's fight is worth talking about for years to come, so I definitely think he should continue to inspire wrestling fans.  Plus, he reminds me of my cousin.  

Jeff: Instead of tenuous celebrity relevance, the WWE should instead concentrate on fans whose dedication and love for what they do is in and of itself worthy of the highest honor the sport can give. I’m very happy that Connor “The Crusher” could be the one to spearhead such a movement. His battle was sad, but the effect he had on anyone who heard his story was glorious. Your place in the WWE Hall of Fame is well-deserved, Connor! 

Mike: On Monday morning, WWE announced that Kevin Nash would be added to the class of 2015.  Kevin Nash is kind of in a unique position to me.  I think in terms of all time greats, he probably would never enter the conversation for me, but he was definitely among the greatest of his time...which wasn’t saying a lot.  This was after Hogan and Macho Man and before Stone Cold and the Rock.  A lot of more questionable talent was able to make a huge impact in this time.

I really have no problem with Kevin Nash being in the hall.  He had a pretty decent impact in the WWE and of course the NWO was huge for WCW.  The fact someone can survive a gimmick like Oz and come back to be the biggest thing in wrestling at the time has to mean something.   I will say this is sort of tainted (through no fault of Nash’s) by the WWE trying to block the Bullet Club from using the old Too Sweet hand gesture Nash and company made famous.

Chris: He survived being Vinnie Vegas as well!  Nash definitely rose above some bad gimmicks.  I was never a huge fan, but he was a main eventer that had a huge impact on the WWF and WCW.  His time as Diesel ended up disappointing, but he was a major cog in the NWO and ratings heights that will never been seen again.

WWE's bullcrap with Bullet Club are just sour grapes, and ain't it grand NC State had the gesture first.  Maybe Vince should stop trying to trademark things he has no rights to.  Be funny if this backfires and WWE ends up paying NC State for the NWO infringing on their trademark. That would be World Wildlife Fund: Part Deux.

Jeff: I, on the other hand, think Nash's inclusion is just more Kliq crap. Shawn Michaels is often called one of the greatest performers of all time. While he wouldn't cut my personal top 10, I can understand the argument for his inclusion. Triple H has won a boat load of titles, many of them in impressive fashion, so he's a shoe-in. Scott Hall was a good worker before his addictions caught up to him, but I'm not entirely sure he did enough to warrant his Hall of Fame spot last year either. Kevin Nash, who spent Christmas in jail for beating up his son, was lazy as Hell in the ring. His Jacknife Powerbomb has long been dubbed the Lazy Bomb in the dirtsheets. He famously tore his quads just by walking. If you listen to him talk on a pod cast or interview for ten minutes you'll find he's extremely knowledgeable about the sport, but you'll also find him insufferably smug and rather high on his own talents, of which being tall was far and away his biggest asset. To me the only real difference between a jerk like Nash and jerk like Adrian Peterson is that Nash's son is grown and could at least defend himself. Kevin Nash is simply not worthy of the Hall of Fame. And I'll give you a previiew of next year's inductees and tell you Sean Waltman isn't either. 

Best in Our World - “Jobbers”

Chris: The jobbers I selected were all around during the height of my formative years watching wrestling.  Like movies from childhood...jobbing was better through the eyes of youth.

1) Iron Mike Sharpe - Everything about Iron Mike came off like a star, except the wins and losses.  This guy could draw heat, made sure the people in the cheap seats could hear his rantings, and he made his opponents look good.  That's truly what an enhancement talent does!  Oh, and how can you keep Canada's Greatest Athlete off a list of this kind?

2) Rene Goulet - Perhaps Goulet is Canda's second greatest?  Like many enhancement guys, Sharpe and Rene actually had a strong careers before jobbing in the '80s.  Goulet won even less than Sharpe but did everything with a flourish.  He wore a black glove and used the Scorpio Claw Hold as a "finisher."  It gets quotes because it never worked!  Still, how many lower card guys had a finisher?

Goulet went on such a losing streak, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura or Bobby Heenan would talk it up.  Back when the announcers were storytellers instead of shills.  Eventually, Goulet introduced the "French Bagel Twist" as a new finisher.  I think it was an abdominal claw, but I don't quite remember.  The point, this guy almost always lost but there was characterization from him in the ring and by the announcers.  

3) Moondog Spot - Everything from carrying the bone to the ring, gnawing on it while he waited for his opponent, and scratching at his filthy hair made Spottie fun to watch.  I don't know what Spot's hygiene was actually like, but he looked filthy and disgusting in the ring.  He seemed to live his gimmick and got time on TV to show what he had.  Hell, all three people so far had more TV ring time in a month than most modern midcarders.  That's why they are more memorable than so many guys on TV today.

4) Lanny Poffo - Like his more famous brother, Lanny worked both sides of the aisle very well.  Whether he was the high flying pretty boy, Leaping Lanny, or the evil Genius, he was fun to watch.  You knew he wasn't going to win often, but from the poems to the suit of armor, to the mortar board, he was a fully realized character.

5) Don Driggers - The other guys on my list weren't jobbers to the degree of Mr. Driggers.  Each of the other guys won occasional matches, but Driggers competed strictly on the short side of squash matches on WWF Superstars or Wrestling Challenge.  

So, why do I like this guy?  You know when you're a kid and you won't shut up about the things you love?  Well, my dad always was there to share in what I was into.  He had a very silly side too and enjoyed ribbing me.  When I would ask him who his favorite wrestler was, he'd always say Don Driggers.  We even saw Driggers lose to Kamala at a Superstars taping in 1987.  Now tell me, how could you not love some Don Driggers?

Honorable mention: Pete Doherty, Barry Horowitz, CJ Parker, Steve Lombardi, Randy Hogan, SD Jones, Hardy Boyz (remember when they were squash bait?), Ricky Santana, Tim Horner, Jack Foley (same here?), Brad Armstrong, Jim Powers, Paul Roma, Mr. X, Danny Davis, Randy Hogan

Mike: I think it’s important to understand the value of “jobbers” or enhancement talent.  A good jobber not only loses, but always makes their opponents look good in the ring.  I am a little bummed out that one of my personal favorites, Zack Ryder, has basically been enhancement talent for the last few years.  But, out of hope that WWE will stop burying him, I am leaving him off this list.  So who made the cut?

1) Brooklyn Brawler - This guy is the legend.  Oddly enough, a few times, the WWE seemed to be about to give The Brawler a push, but he would soon go back to his losing ways.  He did actually win the last match I saw him in (at a PPV no less) like 2 years or so ago, with a boston crab on Jinder Mahal.  Though Wiki does say that he lost to Ryback on an episode of Superstars.  That’s the Brawler we all know and love!  

barry-horowitz-o.gif2) Barry Horowitz - What I loved about Barry Horowitz is that he totally embraced his gimmick.  He always used to pat himself on the back (because there was no one else who was going to do it for this career jobber).  At one point, he started wearing a vest with a handprint and I actually started to become eager to see him.  Eager to see him get beaten...but eager none the less.

 3) The Kid - Long before he was Syxx or X-Pac, Sean Waltman was known as The Kid or the Lightning Kid.  He seemed to lose every match he appeared in, but I loved his quick moves and how he used to fly around the ring.  At the time, so many WWE guys were just massive beasts, so he stood out.  And then on Saturday morning, I was watching a recap show of Raw, and here’s The Kid hitting a moonsault on Razor Ramon picking up a huge win.  HOLY CRAP!  This morning actually had me screaming at the TV at the time.  So unexpected, and this launched his long successful career.

 4) Danny Davis - I have long been fascinated by the art of  refereeing a wrestling match.  It is one of those things that if you think about it, it doesn’t make a ton of sense.  But they add beautifully the to in-ring work.  So whenever you had a referee involved in storylines, it was an automatic buy from me.  Danny Davis started out (in kayfabe) as a corrupt ref, screwing over faces.  He would eventually go on to putting aside his evil refereeing career to become an evil wrestler...though he basically lost all the time once he became an in ring performer.  I loved his referee-themed ring gear!

 5) CJ Parker - When NXT was trying to give CJ a serious push, he never really worked for me.  He’s fine in the ring, and you can see he totally buys into the character, but something about it just never quite worked for me.  But, in recent months, they have been using CJ Parker more as an enhancement talent, and he’s done a terrific job at it.  He’s not even a total jobber, he has been having fairly decent length matches with his opponents and even gets in some great offense.  Hell, he broke Kevin Owens’ nose, which is more than anyone else has been able to do to him.  

Honorable Mention: Chris had a great list of jobbers, but I want to give special mention to 3MB, especially Heath Slater.  In the year or so they were together, those guys gave it their all to make their opponents look great.  It actually started for me with Heath putting over legends every week.  I actually became a fan of him at that point just because of how entertaining those segments were.  And then you added in Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre, two very underrated hands, and you had comedy gold.  These guys made everyone else look good, and that is the mark of true legendary jobbers.

Chris: Your list is fantastic!  Oddly enough, Danny Davis is actually on my honorable list twice.  He also wrestled as Mr. X.  His distinctive tattoos are the reason he wore the shirt while competing without a mask.  Another odd fact, I went as Davis for Halloween one year.  I wish I had a picture of that outfit!

I never watch Superstars but I did see that Ryback/Brawler match on Hulu when it originally happened.  How couldn't I?  The match took place in Brooklyn and old Steve got an insane reaction.  He lost in an under a minute, but did his best to make Ryback look good.  

Jeff: Many a Sunday morning was spent watching the following folks make guys like Tom Zenk look good. I tip my hat to those who made a life out of losing. These are the Chicago Cubs of Professional Wrestling: I have excluded guys that I felt had some reasonable success, such as Lanny Poffo, if only as an undercard talent. Of course, by that argument one might make a case against my inclusion of my first enhancement talent...

1) Steve Lombardi - No matter what name he wrestled under, and he had a few, Steve Lombardi was one of the best scrubs of all time. Most famously the Brooklyn Brawler, Lombardi was also the original MVP (sorry Montel Vontavious Porter!) Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz and even Doink the Clown for a time. He was a loveable loser who somehow transcended pure jobberdom without really finding any real success, unlike Paul Roma, for example, who had several decent runs as a tag team competitor after his “preliminary” days. I stand by my argument for his inclusion. He was probably more popular than Lanny Poffo, but Poffo was probably more successful from a Wins/Losses perspective.

 2) Iron Mike Sharpe - Man did I love to watch this guy grunt and growl and snarl and get his ass handed to him on a weekly basis. He reminded me of cartoon wrestlers with his classic heel attitude, but as soon as the opening bell sounded he was done. His biggest claim to fame was getting a title shot early in his career against Bob Backlund, when Sharpe was managed by Captain Lou Albano. Despite his abysmal televised record in the US, he picked up some notable victories off the air over the years, against the likes of Chief Jay Strongbow, Hiro Saito, Tony Garea, and Ivan Putski. He also worked in Japan regularly, but you’d probably never guess who his tag team partner frequently was. Hulk Hogan. I kid you not.

3) Barry Horowitz - I love me some Diamond Dallas Page, but I have to give credit where credit is due. The inspiration for the “Self High Five” must surely be Barry Horowitz, the master of self motivation and jobber to the stars. He had some success as a light heavyweight in Global Championship Wrestling, but on the national level he was a mainstay on his back, save for a brief push that began with an improbable victory over Chris Candido. This led to an even more improbable tag team of Barry Horowitz and Hakushi (of all people!) as faces in a brief feud with Chris Candido and Louie Spicolli. Don’t believe me? I wouldn’t either...except for this:

4) Reno Riggins - I think I just like this guy because his name reminded me of “Remo Williams.” Reno was a top jobber to heels like Mr. Perfect in the late 80s and early 90s. he was a little small for the Federation at the time, but he moved well, had a nice dropkick, and we the kind of guy I could envision, in retrospect, somehow reinventing himself in ECW back then, signing a fat deal with WCW and then be relegated to feuding with El Dandy or Frankie Lancaster on WCW Saturday Night.

5) George South - The unofficial official jobber to Ric Flair when The Nature Boy wasn’t booked to defend against the likes of Dusty Rhodes or Harley Race. Just an all-around solid heat magnet who made a good career out of getting beat up. He worked mainly for Jim Crockett promotions, the WWE and WCW and eventually founded Exodus Wrestling Alliance where like-minded born again Christian wrestlers such as Ted DiBiase and Nikita Koloff would make appearances.

Honorable Mention: The Conquistadors, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker & Lt. James Earl Wright, Dusty Wolfe, Barry O (as in Orton--Barry is Cowboy Bob’s brother and thus Randy’s uncle), C.J. Parker, Frankie Lancaster, John Cena (in a perfect world)

NXT RESULTS - March 18, 2015

 Mike: NXT was on the road this week!   This is the first episode of NXT that wasn't filmed in NXT's home at Full Sail University in Orlando.  They were at the Arnold's Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio.  I really hope to get an NXT house show or even taping in Jersey soon!  They certainly teased NXT doing more tours throughout this episode.

- Tyler Breeze def. Kalisto.  Kalisto went for the SDS, but Tyler countered into the Beauty Shot.

- Video promoting Alex Riley vs Kevin Owens

- Alexa Bliss is backstage talking about gunning for Sasha Banks.  Alexa is from Columbus.

- Video segment talking about WWE @ Arnold's Sports Festival, the charity work they did in Columbus, and Triple H being inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame.

- Backstage, Alex Riley is getting prepared for his match. Finn Balor warns him that Kevin Owens is dangerous.

- Video showing WWE and NXT preparing to film tonight's episode.  Some nice backstage moments here.  Definitely teasing that they will be much more touring to come.

- Wesley Blake def. Big Cass with roll up after Carmella is accidentally knocked off the apron causing a distraction.

-Intro video for Dana Brooke.  She's apparently a new NXT wrestler debuting soon.  They seemed to have promoted her heavily at the Arnold's Sports Festival.

- Alexa Bliss def. Sasha Banks via countout.  Sasha bailed out on the match.

- Kevin Owens backstage mocking Alex Riley saying he can't compete on his level.  Next week, it will be Owens vs Balor.  FINALLY!

- Alexa is backstage bragging about beating Sasha.  Sasha interrupts her saying that she didn't get pinned. GM William Regal comes out and makes a title match between the two of them for next week.

- Kevin Owens def. Alex Riley with the pop up power bomb.  Owens tries to attack Alex Riley after the match, but Finn Balor makes the save.  Owens is forced to run.  The awesome crowd starts chanting "Run Owens Run!"

- Show ended with a video promoting Owens Vs Finn Balor for next week.

Mike: I was a little disappointed at this episode.  It often felt like a house show that they happened to video tape.  Alexa Bliss winning via count out over the champ? Big Cass in a singles match? Kalisto in a singles match?  These are just not your normal NXT TV matches.

But my biggest problem with this episode of NXT is the way they basically fed Alex Riley to Kevin Owens.  I agree they should keep Owens looking strong, but you can have a guy win a match without making his opponent look bad.  Alex Riley is a very underrated performer and I was happy to see they seemed determined to give his career some redemption.  But this match seemed like a huge roadblock for that.

I did like seeing Finn and Owens finally face to face.  It sort of felt like that story was sidelined while they gave the focus to Alex Riley, which didn't really benefit either storyline, to me.

One last comment, Kalisto needs to be in singles matches more often,  I have no real issue with Sin Cara/Hunico, but Kalisto seems to have a lot of talent and he doesn't get to show it off all that much as part of a tag team.  That is also true of Sin Cara.  

Chris: You make some fair points, but I'm going to disagree in a couple of spots.  

I thought the wrestling was solid all the way through and the crowd was even hotter than the amazing group in Orlando.  It was a house show plus, since it counted for the TV product.

Kalisto is definitely a strong performer and deserves to have a singles run.  The match with Breeze was high paced and featured another outta-nowhere win for Tyler. 

I had no issue with Blake's match with Cass or Alexa and Sasha.  Each one set up future events.  Neither one was five star material, but they were fun and served their purpose.

The main event is where I will agree with you.  Owens continues to obliterate the competition, but Riley didn't need to get so thoroughly destroyed.  He did have some good moments, but you're right, they weren't enough.  The match was only 7-minutes with intros.  That's just nowhere near fair time for A-Ry.  

Judging by the brawl and video package, we are in for a treat with Balor and Owens next week.  

Jeff: Dana Brooke = HELLOOOOOO NURSE! This could be your next (NXT?) Glamazon. Tyler Breeze, as I say almost every week, it seems, is a terrific talent. Alexa is looking better all the time in the ring. The show was interesting because the stage set-up was just plain weird and the primary camera implacement seemed a bit oddly placed. I’m sure these were all just due to the unusual space they were working in, but it really altered the dynamic of the show. I’m surprised nobody tried to dive from the ring to the stage as it seemed close enough with a little assist from the ropes.

Oh, and Kevin Owens still sucks.

Lucha Underground Results 3-18-15

 - Aerostar def. Drago with springboard splash.  This is the 3rd match of a 5 match series. Whoever wins the series will get a "unique opportunity" from Dario Cueto.

 - Another great video package with Konnan talking about how chess is like war. He tells Prince Puma that the one who wins is the one who believes he can win.

 - Big Ryck def. The Crew in a No-DQ, 3 on 1 elimination match.  Big Ryck defeated Bael with a chokeslam.  He eliminated Cortez Castro with a clothesline with a kendo stick.  Mr Cisco tried to run away, but Sexy Star blocked his way and forced him back into the ring.  Big Ryck finished him with a chokeslam through a chair.

 - New week, there will be a bullrope match for the AAA title between Alberto El Patron and Texano.  And a Boyle Heights Street Fight for the Lucha Underground title between Prince Puma and Cage.

 - Fenix def. Mil Muertes in a Grave Consequences match (coffin match). Fenix managed to double foot stomp Mil into the coffin.  Catrina gave Mil's "magic rock" the lick of death and tossed it into the coffin with him before slamming the top down.

Mike: This was probably the best episode of Lucha Underground yet.  It was just so simple.  Three real good matches all given plenty of time, one great video promo, and some set up for two huge matches next week.

Chris: Simplicity in the writing and complexity in the ring made for an amazing hour of entertainment.  

Mike: It had been a while since we saw Aerostar and Drago.  I liked that this match was very different from their first two matches.  Lots of ground work and submission moves, not just a lot of flying around.  But the match was still high-paced with a lot of back and forth.  I was probably leaning towards Drago more when the match started, but I actively was cheering both men by the end.  Aerostar did a ridiculously cool tightrope walk from one corner to the other to hit a top rope hurricanrana.

Chris: These luchadores exhibit such chemistry.  It's fun to watch when performers can change things up to keep multiple matches entertaining.  I really liked the way Aerostar hit that springboard splash to end it.  He's got his own style and panache with the move.

Mike: The grave consequences match was the most brutal match we've seen so far in Lucha Underground, and that fit the story so well. I also loved the set up with costumed figures doing a little Day of the Dead ceremony.  It is unique touches like that that really make me a fan of Lucha Underground.

Chris: The ceremony to start and finish the match gave the it a very visual bookend.  There are so many creative minds at work behind the scenes.  You have your regular wrestling types, but Robert Rodriguez, Mark Burnett and the other Hollywood folk always find new ways to infuse the show with vibrant originality.

Brutal may actually be short selling this!  Fenix's torn mask, the blood, and the piece of turnbuckle brought this feud to an epic conclusion.  Not to forget, Muertes blocking Fenix's tope with the coffin was ridiculously epic.  The Lucha set was also used to tremendous effect.  Having such a novel location and using it to give the wrestlers room to work outside the squared circle gave this match the added novelty it needed.  

Mike: One thing that did sort of bug me about this episode was that at times it was little too predictable.  I kept waiting for Sexy Star to get involved in the Big Ryck match, and she did.  And the way the announcers kept mentioning Catrina being too close to the action, you knew she was going to get clobbered...which she did. BUT, at least it didn't directly impact the end of the match.  It didn't ruin the show for me, but the announcers could have telegraphed things a little less.

Chris: On that note, fans watching in Spanish probably had a chuckle when Fenix and Mil Muertes brawled on and around the announce table.  The show is infused with occasional close-ups of Vampiro and Hugo Savinovich doing commentary.  These are shot after the fact.  You could clearly see the English language pair of Matt Striker and Vampiro vacating the area during the sequence.  It's happened a few times on earlier episodes.  Each time I find it pretty amusing.  

Jeff: I still haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the Lucha Underground program, but I do think I put together the best introduction for this column yet! So there!

Mike: You did, I will agree with that! Sorry to say, this brings us to the end of another week of Cheap Pops.  As always, I’ve had a lot of fun creating this monstrosity with the old guys.  I am on vacation next week (Disney vacation with the wife and kids), so hopefully nothing exciting know, except for the biggest wrestling show of the year..