Cheap Pops - Wrestling News and Views - May 6, 2015

FTC Statement: Reviewers are frequently provided by the publisher/production company with a copy of the material being reviewed.The opinions published are solely those of the respective reviewers and may not reflect the opinions of or its management.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. (This is a legal requirement, as apparently some sites advertise for Amazon for free. Yes, that's sarcasm.)

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
StumbleUpon icon icon
Reddit icon
e-mail icon

by Chris Delloiacono, Mike Maillaro and Jeff Ritter

This week!

  • RAW IS SAMI!!!

  • Handicapped Heroes

  • Best in Our World: King of the Ring

  • NXT Results

Mike: Welcome to Cheap Pops!  I am too juiced up on Avengers: Age of Ultron hype to even try and come up with “clever” wrestling nicknames this week.  BUT, if we were the Avengers, Jeff would be Hawkeye, Chris would be Black Knight, and I’d probably be D-Man.

Chris:  Interesting choices on our names.  May I ask why Jeff is Hawkeye, you know, a b-lister, I'm a c-lister, and you chose, D-Man.  His name my start with D, but he's on the Z-list, although I was always a fan.

Mike: It’s true. It’s damn true!

Jeff:  I don’t mind Hawkeye, but I love a good D-Lister! Can I be Jack of Hearts? Best. Superhero. Costume. Ever.

Mike: I’ll allow it!

Raw is Sami!!!

Mike: I am typing this on Monday night during Raw:

I just yelled at my computer when WWE NXT posted on Facebook:  "RIGHT NOW ON ‪#‎RAW‬: Former NXT Champion & Montreal's own Sami Zayn - WWE has answered John Cena - WWE Universe's ‪#‎USTitle‬ Open Challenge!" 

And there goes my happiness…Sami seems to have injured his shoulder while he was coming down to the ring.  That is a tough break!  He still had a very good match, but I hope this doesn’t slow down his momentum.  

Chris: What a great match, but I'm desperately hoping the injury is an angle to make him vulnerable in the Kevin Owens rematch.  If he's hurt, I just don't know what to say.  

Mike: Always hard to tell with wrestling, but it definitely seems like it was legit.  He was “selling” the injury before the match, so it would be a real bad angle to try and say “Sami Zayn got hurt taunting before his match with Cena.”  

Handicapped Heroes Documentary

Mike: Kenny Johnson did a great short documentary about the Handicapped Heroes (current Pro Wrestling Syndicate tag champs).  If you don’t know their story, Zach Gowen lost his left leg to cancer, and Gregory Iron was born with Cerebal Palsy and has limited use of his right arm.  Both of these guys are incredible in the ring.  It is so easy to say “they are great despite…” but that is just completely unfair, because they are just that good.

It is great to see someone able to live their dreams, and the Handicapped Heroes are true role models!  Kenny Johnson gives a great “warts and all” look at what the Heroes went through in their careers to get here, even dealing with Zach’s drug and drinking problems.  Kenny Johnson has a few others short documentaries on Youtube with different wrestlers, and if they are as good as this one, they would definitely be worth checking out.

Chris: Mike, we are truly lucky to see the Handicapped Heroes work each month.  You're right about how easy it would be to say, "they are great despite", but once you see them work their talent shines through.  

Even though we've seen them wrestle live, nothing beats a well done documentary.  This is a beautiful piece on two highly inspirational men.  Gregory and Zach's commentary was so heartfelt and honest.  Kenny Johnson really impressed me with his ability to go into such depth in a short time.  I'm going to check out some of those other videos for sure.  

Best in Our World: King of the Ring

Mike: Normally we pick a topic that we can make into an easy list, but this week I am going to try and swap things around.  I want to talk King of the Ring.  It was cool that the WWE seemed to bring it back this week...though I do have some questions about how they did it.

I’ve always thought King of the Ring was one of the coolest things WWE did.  I love wrestling tournaments, especially when there are a lot of guys with storylines going on during the tournament.  NXT has done quite a few of them over the last few years, and I’m always excited about them, even if they are just for a number one contender’s spot.

Chris: NXT has done a fabulous job with these sort of tournaments.  The best part about them has been that they often seem up for grabs.  It's not fun watching a tournament with an obvious outcome.

Mike:  My first exposure to a wrestling tournament was Wrestlemania IV, which to me was the prototype for the King of the Ring.  To be honest, I actually thought the first King of the Ring was the same man who won that WWF Title tournament at Mania IV, Randy Savage...but it turns out he was the third King of the Ring.   Don Muraco was the first winner, Harley Race was the second.  Shows you how terrible my memory is.

Jeff: The first WWF tournament that I can recall was their first PPV, The WWF Wrestling Classic. It’s a little unpolished but it’s fun. I personally love tournaments, and I even have an idea for using the format as the basis of an entirely new wrestling show that places a heavy emphasis on stats and such--you know, like a REAL sport! Rumor has long had it that Vince hates tournaments. Rumor also has it that Vince is out of touch with what the fans want. He’s certainly out of touch with what I want!

Chris: Two things:

The first two King of the Ring Tournaments were held in Foxboro, MA and the next four in Providence, RI. and they weren't televised.  Harley showed up as the King on TV and they referenced the tourney but I never remember seeing them.  It was a real weird time where local shows had some flavor and before house shows just become carbon copies for months on end.  When's the last time WWE did something with meaning at a house show?

My first tourney exposure was the Wrestling Classic in late 1985.  It was a big show and the first attempt by the WWF to do a PPV.  It was branded WrestleVision, and meant to be a regular thing, but it bombed.  The show had some weird moments like Moondog Spot beating Terry Funk by count-out.   Another strange one was Ricky Steamboat defeating Davey Boy Smith by forfeit when DB was "injured".  There was also possibly the last brilliant match by Dynamite Kid as he lost to Randy Savage after a spectacular top-rope superplex.  The final was a count-out win by Junkyard Dog over Macho. Most of the stars didn't do pinfall jobs and the matches were lightning quick, but it was a lot of fun.  The entire thing was of its time, but fantastic for a kid.  The Wrestling Classic is on the Network, and I highly recommend it.

Mike: Those early King of the Ring tournaments were massive 16 men I was a little disappointed that we only got a 8 man tournament this year.  Especially since It had been five years since the last time we got a King of the Ring tournament (Sheamus won that one).  This year, it was all about Bad News Barrett!   I was really hoping Neville would take it, to be honest.  Seems like he is starting to build a following in the WWE, and something like this could be a nice way to jumpstart his career.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Barrett, but the WWE seems to have a history of aborted pushes for Barrett, so I worry that this opportunity will be wasted, and in their typical shortsightedness, the WWE will wait another five years to do a KOTR tournament.

Chris: The fact that it was announced the day it began lent it zero weight.  There were some cool matches but nothing of consequence.  They just made Barrett look like a fool for months, now he's the King.  Whatever!  The booking has been abysmal for months.  I feel like Vinnie Mac doesn't care, so why should I?  The best part of the tournament was Adrian Neville's recent showing.  He beat Barrett at Extreme Rules then made the final.  At least Vince hasn't lost interest in Neville yet.  He's due to start jobbing Wade Barrett out any minute, though.  

Mike: Yeah, I was wondering about that myself.  Why would they do the King of the Ring this way?   If Byron Saxton is doing a podcast talking to Stephanie’s dog Mister Piddles, there would be promos and commercials for weeks leading up to the interview.  

But King of the Ring...which really should be a launching point for careers if done well...gets less than one day of hype, and then the semifinals and finals get tossed on the network before a short show featuring Renee Young (which they had been hyping for like two weeks).  If it was me, I would have done a 16 man tournament.  One or two matches a night featured on the Network.  And then hype up the finals for Payback.

So, who was your favorite King of the Ring?  My first instinct was to pick Stone Cold Steve Austin...just because that moment is so damn legendary.  BUT, I think I have to go with King Booker.  He really pulled that gimmick off to some absurd levels.  All Hail King Bookah!

Honorary mention is Billy Gunn….just because I would have never thought in a million years he would have won the tournament that year.  I love a good surprise.  Shame WWE didn’t do more with him.  Well...until he met Chuck Palumbo years later….

Chris: Oh, Billy and Chuck.  Those were some stories.

As for my favorite King, well it ain't Jim Duggan.  Ho no!  I'd have to go with Harley Race, because, even at advancing age, he was still one of the greatest wrestlers in the world. The whole gimmick could have fallen flat, but the six-time world champ made the crown mean something.  

If I had to go televised, I'd agree with you on Booker.  The man lived the gimmick!

Jeff: My favorite King of the Ring was the Macho King Randy Savage. I thought his crown was more appropriate than the one Harley wore. I also liked when Haku held the crown, as he was vastly underrated and it gave him some time in the spotlight. This year’s KotR was a sad joke. Most of the KotR tourneys had star power. This had all up & coming or about to be future endeavored talent. WWE Creative has no idea what to do with Barrett, so I guess this gives them a crutch of sorts. But seriously, this was like a tournament full of Sparky Pluggs, Kona Crushes and Naked Mideons.

NXT Results - April 29, 2015

- Kevin Owens comes out to start the show.  Lots of heat from this very Pro-Sami crowd.  Owens talks about how close he came to getting rid of Alex Riley until Little Sami Zayn wanted to play hero.  He calls Sami to come out and fight.  

Instead, we get the Badass from Blackpool, NXT GM William Regal.  Lots of “one more match” chants.   Regal says Owens won’t be using NXT to forward his own agenda.  Owens says he doesn’t care what Regal has to say.  He wants Sami Zayn.  

Sami’s music hits. Out comes Sami...I like that even when Sami is trying to look badass, he can’t help but bob his head along with his music.  Regal says this won’t turn into a circus like last week.  Regal makes a match for NXT Takeover on May 20th, Owens vs Zayn for the NXT title.  Owens tries to weasel out of putting title on the line.  Zayn taunts him saying Owens would not have a career without him.  Owens has always lived in Zayn’s shadow.  Owens gets pissed and agrees to a title match.  He calls this the biggest mistake Zayn has ever made.

- Carmela is backstage.  Blake and Murphy try to talk to her. They insult Enzo and Big Cass, so she tells them to get out.  Alexa Bliss approaches and tells her she needs to carry herself with more class.  Carmella slaps her and storms off.  Blake and Murphy check on Alexa.

- Regal is backstage with Sami.  Sami signs contract to face Owens at NXT Takeover.  Alex Riley comes in and demands Regal give him another match against Owens.  Regal says no.  Sami tries to console Alex Riley; Riley tells him off.  Sami decides to give Riley a match with himself.  Riley says that if Sami doesn’t make it to Takeover, Riley gets Owens.

- Enzo and Big Cass ded. Blake and Murphy in a non-title match.

- Becky Lynch talks about wrestling all over the world to get to NXT.

- Bayley is stressing out because she’s unable to find her headbands before her match.  It is revealed that Emma stole them.

-Video package on Baron Corbin.

- Dana Brooke def. Bayley after Emma distracts Bayley (Emma came out to Bayley’s music and wearing her headband and shirt).

- Regal announces that at NXT Takeover there will be a Triple Threat match for the #1 contender spot between Tyler Breeze, Hideo Itami, and Finn Balor.

-Hideo Itami def Adam Rose with Shotgun Kick

- Bayley is looking for Emma backstage.  She vows to get her stuff back.

- Becky Lynch def. Sarah Thompson with a modified armbar

- Rhyno comments on Baron Corbin’s video. He wants to make people feel pain, starting with Corbin.  Rhyno is not just the past, he’s also the present and the future.

- Alex Riley Vs. Sami Zayn.  Kevin Owens comes down during the match and attacks both men.  He hits a powerbomb on Alex Riley on the ring apron.

Mike: I thought it was smart to give Dana Brooke some real competition.  The only way a green wrestler will develop is if you put them in the ring with real talent.  I think that is a huge mistake they have done with Baron Corbin, not giving him any real chance to develop in a real match setting.  The result here was a much better match than Dana Brooke’s match with Blue Pants in her debut.  She still has a long way to go; the NXT’s women’s division is stacked with talent.

Chris: Brooke is definitely green but she's got a look that makes her standout from the rest of the division.  The best thing they can do is let her work with Charlotte, Sasha, Bailey, and Becky.  She should be able to have some good matches, and learn a lot.  If they keep her in squash heaven then she won't develop, as you said, like Corbin, or the Ascension.

Mike: I am thrilled that  they finally seem to be giving Enzo and Big Cass some big wins.  I am kind of hoping they win the tag titles real soon!

Chris: I can't believe how many matches these guys have lost the past couple years.  It's fantastic to see them getting a big push.  I think you're right about the belts coming their way!  

Mike: Becky Lynch looked real good in her match with Sarah Thompson, but it was really just a one-sided squash match.  They probably should not have given that match as much time as they did.  They could have used more time for the main event.

Alex Riley and Sami Zayn squared off real well against each other.  It’s a shame they ended this match with Owens interfering.  I would have liked to see what these guys could do in a longer match.  I am sort of hoping they make the main event of NXT Takeover a triple threat match now.

Chris: The shows have become overloaded lately, and it's taking something away from the key matches.  The main events simply need more time than this one.

Jeff: I agree with everything you’ve said, Mike. Scary, ain’t it? I’ll add a couple of silly thing that stuck with me: Regal says Owens doesn’t get to call the shots yet he gives him exactly what he wanted. He’s not the first GM to do that, and he won’t be the last, but that’s incredibly lazy writing on the WWE’s part. Why not have Regal say, “Hold it! I know you both want a piece of each other, and the NXT Universe wants to see it too. The Chief Executive Officer of the WWE, my former fellow “Blue Blood” Hunter Hearst Helmsley, will not approve of this...but he’s not here tonight, this is the WWE Network, where anything can happen. This is happening right now...and your title is on the line Mr. Owens! Ring the bloody bell!” Then you have Rley interfere to get some heat back, save Sami from another brutal powerbomb while also costing Sami the title on the DQ, and build to your Three Way Match, Mike? Or is that too...Creative? Me, I think it’s pretty simple, and keeping it simple is most often for the better. You’re less likely to write yourself into a corner where the only way out is at the expense of the fans’ ability to suspend their disbelief.

Chris: Cool scenario, Jeff.  The setup for Zayn v. Owens II hasn't been great, but I'm sure the match will--if it happens.  Fingers crossed on that MRI, Sami!  I'd take Jeff's idea over WWE's handling of Riley, any day.  Alex came off as a jobber, since the only match he did well in was with CJ Parker.  He deserves better, but now he's got a legit injury.  Hopefully when he gets back, the powers-that-be have a plan to use him.

Mike: A better plan than the one they currently have for him...that shouldn’t be too hard to find...