Sunday, May 27, 2007

WWE Judgment Day 2007

The 2nd effort in our new line of newly remodled Tri-branded ppv's. The set looked completely normal except for a big silhoutte ornament hanging in the background of the arena, serving no purpose, functionally or visually for any reason. Onto the show…

1) Ric Flair v. Carlito- 5

As far as build up, you could see this match happening months ago, just like Operation Iraq blowing up in Bush's face, except this match had a payoff. Flair was taking some particularly ugly bumps, landing multiple times awkwardly on his surely deformed hip bone. He did unleash some of the most unforgiving chops I've seen in a long time and the crowd roared in approval. Flair won clean with a Figure Four and the crowd screamed like Ozzie Smith just walked in the building. Even Flair's sagging flesh seemed to stiffen up for a night and this was a highly enjoyable, but certainly technically limited opener.

2) Vince, Shane & Umaga v. Lashley- 1

It's always fun to see billionaire brats thrown around like they are fecal matter by a monkey and we saw Shane get just that treatment. Vince stood outside, with his newly regrown greasy hair matted against his roided out skull. Lashley won with a spear and a powerslam, officially making his move list completely basic and ripped off. The crowd was also into this match, all 90 seconds of it, and making a fool out of me when I said people with no personality will not get over. Lashley is as charismatic as a board with a nail sticking out of it and he continues to expose his lack of character and the business with each mundane promo and predictable match he executes.

3) CM Punk v. Elijah Burke- 5

Punk was wrapped up tighter than King Tut in a whorehouse and as my friend pointed out, "looked like he was wearing a corset." This match was riddled with intensity but on the other side of the seesaw was several major botched moves. The match got a lot of time, maybe in the upwards of 15 to 17 minutes and could have been better fine tued to shave off a few. There were some really stiff kicks during it and Elijah socked Punk in the face at one point with a right cross. A close up of Punks' face revealed he would probably take a healthy dump in Eljiah's travel bag later that night as payback. A Go to Sleep finish looked bad, as Burke held his hand up over his face like he was on a date with R. Kelly and Punk goes over.

4) Randy Orton v. Shawn Michaels- 0

It's my party and I can cry if I want to! Yeah, well, can you do us a favor and fucking wrestle! What a piece of bacon wrapped slop this match was. Playing up on HBK's head trauma (how much does he play this role?) he could barely move, walking to the ring as if he spent a night out with Robert Downey Jr. Orton didn't do a damn thing either. Shawn's wife came out to up the cheesy drama factor while everyone was really hoping she was wearing a boobie shirt.

5) The Hardys v. Lance Cade/ Trevor Murdoch- 8

I reviewed a Matt Hardy v. Shane Helms match last year, and gave it an 8 for the same reasons I give this one an 8: it was a classic wrestling tag match, a dying breed in today's wrestling world. These two teams didn't work slow and pushed the pace and kept the whole match undeniably stiff! Ron Jeremy would be jealous of the stiff ness in this match, which was capped off by a Matt Hardy elbow to the top of Lance Cade's head that would have made any UFC fighter cringe in pain. Cade and Murdoch stepped up their game, they were cutting off corners and using effective double teams and the Hardys' had the experience and psych to keep the fans involved. There were counters, sick bumps (Hardy missing a swanton to the outside!), and all around 'I hate you, you tought mother fucker! Intensity' that kicked this up a big notch. Originally I was going to give this a 7, but on a show that could have given us so much more, these guys stuck up their middle finger and stole the show, without a doubt. Plus they shook hands after the match- that's class.

6) Edge v. Batista- 3

Oh, Dave, you finally did it- you finally hurt yourself on one of your own finishers! In a moment that made my table laugh hysterically, Batista stumbled into the steel stairs after a whip in and tried to slow down so as not to hit them hard, and stutter stepped and crashed into them even harder than he meant to. What a dufus( yes, I relegated to using a elementary school burn on Dave, because it seemed so fitting) One word sums up this match: Lazy. Neither man really did anything at all, if you watched closely. Edge never bumped big for Dave and Dave's short run of seemingly inspired work against Taker came to a head jarring, neck snapping, electrons merging, windstorm raging, viagra inducing, screeching halt in this match. How curiously insipid it was (that was Coen Brothers)

7) Chris Benoit v. MVP (2 out of 3 Falls)- 4

This 3rd match in their series felt very much like Return of the Jedi, the 3rd film in the Star Wars Series, and no that doesn't mean I was making out during the whole middle of it, like I did when the films were re-released in 97, nor does it mean small furry creatures invaded it, which would later get their own mediocre animated treatment. What I mean by that comparison is it felt very okay, while the other 2 matches felt important. This was supposed to be MVP's moment to shine and the first fall went well, short, but well. I took a glance at my cell phone and saw the show had a good 45 minutes left, so I was expecting a war, and what we got was some poorly concevied finish where Benoit's legs (being worked over the whole match) were tripped up and used to pin him. Not very compelling.

8) John Cena v. The Great Khali- 2

This match was exactly what I thought it would be, so I can't really grade it very high, and it was short, so that also detracts from it and it contained the 7 foot bowel movement, the Great Khali. The people in the sports bar we were watching the show in were going crazy for Cena, his biggest fan being a woman tipping the scales at a least 300 pounds, with trailer park trash dyed bloned hair and a shirt that said Baby Rocks! (if anyone knows what that means, slap yourself.) Cena's win looked quite unplausable, as Khali was barely bent at all in the move, and I was not expecting him to tap because it looked like he was barely in pain, maybe slightly uncomfortable but he's so big I know the move couldn't have done any damage to his massive body. Oh yeah it's not real, wrestling's fake, but aren't we supposed to suspend belief watching? Seeing Khali Tap to the STFU was as believable as thinking Michael Jackson never piddled a youngster, even though they had been spending the night at his secluded and highly guarded mansion for years.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jessie's Top 10 Favorite Heels

This list isn’t about who has made the most money by sacrificing themselves to some heroic good guy wrestler and sold out arenas worldwide; it’s not a list of main eventers who switched back and forth from face to heel because it’s the only creative thing they can do; and it’s not featuring anyone who uses a sledgehammer, that’s for damn sure. There will be no evil CEO’s, no nWo-ites, no degenerates, no extremists, and no Jarrett’s.

This is only a list of my favorites heels in wrestling.

10) Sgt. Slaughter WWF 1990-1991

Atttttention! Man, I really hated Sarge back in his day. But, if you really look at the situation, I mean, he was an American hero, people all over the world looked up to this man; he was on G.I. Joe, for God’s sake. There is a whole generation of guys I grew up with that have never watched wrestling that know who Sgt. Slaughter is because he was on G.I. Joe. So, George Bush Sr. sends troops into Iraq and Iran to help in their dispute with Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm. So, McMahon, as much as I hate him, created the ultimate heel: an American patriot turned Iraqi turncoat. That’s genius. I mean, I’m as patriotic as the next person and in no way am an Iraqi sympathizer (in fact, I’m really hoping that Saddam Hussein is found guilty because a mass murderer like him needs to be hung!), but to plant something that everyone in America despises smack dab in the middle of the country and have him win the World Title, then make Hulkster his personal bitch, you know that’s money. But, it took a special kind of performer to do this. You see, WWE tried to play on our insecurities and foreign hatred with Hassan a few years ago. While controversial, he didn’t have the in ring skills, or the larger than life character needed to make that a main even level role. But, Sarge was used to big matches. Hell, he’d carried numerous promotions on his back and made tons of money. I really used to despise Slaughter and hated his wrestling, but now, as an older and more mature fan, I see that he is a hell of a worker. Plus, his interviews were hilarious! He ran down numerous guys with colorful names, like “the Ultimate slime” and the “Immortal Puke.” Looking back, I have to give him credit for being willing to do that role because he could have been killed at any possible moment. That’s some serious stuff. So, I salute you, Sgt. Slaughter for being a most ruthless heel (and speaking of ruthless, could you please stop putting us through that horrible Diva Boot Camp skit? It’s Fran Drescher bad TV! And that’s an order!)

9) Ric Flair NWA 1985-87, WWF 1991-93

Whooo! Yeah, I’m going to steal all the greatest wrestlers’ catch phrases (although I’m not quite sure what Gorgeous George’s was: do you like anal?) But, I digress. Ric Flair could be pretty much put on any list that has anything good to do with wrestling (and probably on worst heart attacks in the ring.) And I’m sure there are many people out there who would rank him higher than this on the all time great heels list, but this is my list and I’m happy enough giving him a spot. In the 80’s, Flair was the ultimate playboy and the reason I loved him as a heel so much is because no one could ever pin him cleanly. Watching his matches used to be the most frustrating thing in my youth, despite searching high and low for the hole to get to FraggleLand and having horrible allergies, well, okay Flair never losing is on the top three most frustrating things of my list, but he does rank high. But, one of my other favorite Flair feuds was with Randy Savage. I actually had the magazine that had the doctored Flair-Liz photos with Flair’s body in place of Savage’s. That was like the coolest issue to own and I looked over it again and again, trying to find any evidence of Savage residue (meaty fingers, outlandish wardrobe, stray wild hair, anything.)

8) Roddy Piper WWF 1985

There’s not too many wrestling fans out there that doesn’t love and respect the Rowdy Scot, but there was a time when he was the nastiest scoundrel that was on TV. (Sorry, Dr. Claw.) But, not only was Piper a great heel, he was damn funny! The Piper’s Pit was bred out of Piper’s ability to create magic, with no scripts, or writers, or anything pre-made. He is so quick on his toes, which is what made that show so great and fun to watch. Piper doing the Halloween skit where he was handing out gold painted bricks to trick or treaters is a classic moment that doesn’t get much recognition. There is also a famous skit where Orton is getting his arm checked out by a doctor and all Piper is doing in the background is saying “Quack!” over and over again. It’s damn funny. If they would give him some leeway on TV now when they use him, I think he could create some great moments again, but I don’t see that happening. Piper’s wrestling style is nearly as funny as his jokes, but that’s not what he’ll be remembered for. (I had to do it; I had to crack on his sub par wrestling; I knew I would.)

7) The Shiek Detroit 1950’s & 60’s

The first time I heard of the Shiek was from my mom. I was a big wrestling fan as a kid, so my mom showed me these scrapbooks she had made (she did that with everything) of wrestling matches she used to go see down at the Gardens with my Papa, her dad. There were stories, match advertisements, results, interviews to local papers and radios and even some old magazines. There were so many interesting characters I read about: Cry Baby Cannon, Mark Lewin, but the two I read about the most were Bobo Brazil and The Shiek. I read article after article about how the Shiek threw a fireball at an opponent, or tried to bite the guy in the head, but the ref held him back, so he stabbed him with a pencil! All these fantastic stories and there was only one guy who ever matched him in brutality and that was Bobo. From my understanding, he could never pin The Shiek, but none of his matches ended cleanly anyways. But, I was marveled at this sickening, grotesque man who brutalized his opponents with anything that had a sharp point on it. I watched wrestling every week and I never saw anyone like that before and it absolutely captivated me.

6) Terry Funk NWA 1989

After Ric Flair won back the World Title from Ricky Steamboat, they shook hands in the middle of the ring, putting an end to a long running, and possibly wrestling’s most technical and finest in-ring feud. Then, former NWA champ Terry Funk, who hadn’t been seen in wrestling for a number of years, due to retiring (probably his 5th at that time) came in to congratulate Flair, but ended up pile driving him through the ringside table. It was and still is one of the most famous table spots of all time and started a feud that lasted most of the year. Funk was a crazy old pile of cow dung that seemed to have enough fight left in him to have one last great run and he did it with the best in the world, at that time, Ric Flair. They had some downright nasty, brutal fights (and I call them fights because they damn sure weren’t wrestling matches) and they never got tired of punching and kicking and clawing each other. Funk at the time, mercilessly beat jobbers and midcarders, calling them “Flair” while he was doing it and literally seemed like a crazy old middle aged coot, which he most certainly was. He joined forces with renowned manager sleaze Gary Hart, as well as the Great Muta and “Dirty” Dick Slater and formed the J-Tex Corporation, which made life hell for newly found allies Flair and Sting. Their Thunderdome match was as funny as it was bizarre and stiff and still lives in infamy today (partly because of Dick the Bruiser looking like a Popeye on crack.) In my eyes, it was Funk’s swan song and was tarnished by his ECW days and being a panty hose wearing, chainsaw wielding idiot on USA every Monday night.

5) The Fabulous Freebirds World Class Wrestling 1985-86

“Badstreet, the whole US of A!” I keep using that cheap, stalling tactic when you don’t have anything to say, but alas, I do. Michael PS Hayes. Terry Gordy. Buddy Roberts. When I was a kid, on ESPN, every week day at 4 o’clock, the Texas based World Class Wrestling show would come on and I would be glued. The promotion was created and ran by Fritz Von Erich, and his four sons, were the stars: David, Kerry, Kevin, and Chris. And of course, I worshipped them. Kerry was bred to be the major player of the brothers, but I always had an affinity for Kevin. Maybe it was the barefoot thing. Well, anyways, no one could ever keep the Von Erich boys down (except the pistols and drugs they used to kill themselves) but besides that except the Freebirds. They were all about the rock n’ roll lifestyle and they hated what the Von Erich’s’ stood for, which was classic wrestling and playing by the rules. So, they decided to smash their father, Fritz, with a steel cage door on a fateful Christmas night. And so began this huge rivalry that sold out arenas and stadiums all throughout the Lone Star state. And as much as I despised them when I was a kid, I look back on it and realize how classic and legendary that feud was and how well those guys clicked together as a team.

4) Arn Anderson NWA/WWF/ WCW his whole career

I put Arn on this list for his whole body of work as a heel. He was never flamboyant or outrageous. He never wore a sequined robe or played a silly gimmick. He simply was “The Enforcer.” His no-nonsense style, his superb technical skills, his knowledge of the ring and how to keep an opponent weakened, and his superior psychology are the factors that put him on this list. He was subtle in all of his actions, therefore you always felt like they meant more. Every time I watched Anderson dissect an opponent, I felt like he’s just toying with them. He always had a sinister confidence in everything and it came out when he would cut interviews (some of the best in the business.) The Arn Anderson character would probably not ever get over today, but thankfully, now that he is an established veteran in this sport, his dedication and loyalty to the craft of professional wrestling can never be overlooked or tarnished. Arn is a true legend and everything that most heels aren’t: real. His cold, dead stare was probably one of the scariest sights to see when an opponent looked across the ring at him.

3) Jake “The Snake” Roberts WWF 1991-92

Jake Roberts; there are so many things you can say about him. He had a horrible childhood, a rough personal life his whole career. He had demons and he battled a nasty drug addiction and always will for the rest of his life. But, you can never dismiss the man’s performance. Whether he used these inner demons to help put this character over when he went heel in 91, I don’t know, but there may have never been a more sinister heel wrestler ever conceived. Jake was a face for many years in WWF, but he was always on the edge, balancing between good and evil. The guy carried a deadly snake with him for god’s sake! His first act was during Randy Savage and Elizabeth’s wedding reception. He sent them a gift in a giant box and when they opened it, a massive cobra popped out! That’s devious! He tortured the couple, psychologically, for months and even had his snake bite Savage on the arm on TV! It goes down as probably one of the most shocking memories of watching wrestling for me when I was a kid. The guy was sick. His catch phrase at the time was “Trust me.” He would give an evil half grin when he said it and it just disturbed the hell out of me. Jake could give kid nightmares if he wanted to. He was that good and deep of a performer. When you watched him in that time, you would think he had ice water in his veins he was so cold. A truly chilling man.

2) Chris Jericho WCW 1997-98

This may seem like an outlandish pick, but it is completely justified. We’ve all heard stories about how chaotic WCW was at the time, and for the most part, that was part of its problems. But, I always saw Jericho as someone who had slipped through the cracks and done his own thing. The heel turn started by Jericho throwing temper tantrums at ringside, throwing objects, slapping the ring announcer, your usual stuff. But, when given the ball, he turned the wrestler Chris Jericho into a star and I always thought that no one knew what he was doing because Bischoff and the other higher ups were too concerned with Hogan, NWO and other main eventers. Jericho began wearing strange hairstyles, he wore Juventud’s mask, he started calling the program “Monday Night Jericho”, he did certain moves in the ring, and he did everything he could to annoy as many people as possible. And it worked. His best feud at the time was with Dean Malenko. He made fun of the fact that Malenko never talks by calling him boring or “Stinko Malenko.” Dean Malenko was known as the man of 1,000 holds, so Jericho dubbed himself the man of 1,004 holds… and he proceeded to list them off on the air of Nitro, even cutting back from a commercial break for him to finish. When he lost the Cruiserweight title in controversial fashion, the famous skit “Jericho Goes to Washington” was born, a take off of famous film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” where he proceeded to run off every rule, regulation, or loophole he could find. He pulled a guy out of the ring crew; an overweight, toothless, bald man named Ralphus and made him his valet. He would hold up signs that said “Jericho Rules” and celebrate, and then he would rip them out and laugh at the fan. He had thousands, maybe millions of Jerichoaholics world wide, but his most famous stunt was the one that finally got him in trouble. At the time, Bill Goldberg was the hottest star WCW had and they were protecting him at all costs. Well, Jericho wanted a rub, so he started making fun of Goldberg and challenging him. He even beat up a midget version of him and told everyone he broke the streak. WCW then seemed to monitor Jericho’s actions, but that year or so where he was out of control was some of the most original and funniest stuff ever put into a wrestling character to this date. In late ’99, Jericho joined the WWF where he got in a famous verbal war with the Rock. His first feud was with Ken Shamrock and he continued his strange yet amusing ways when he knocked Shamrock out in a parking lot and embarrassed him by putting him in a Walls of Jericho while the Fink( his new Ralphus) took Polaroid’s and put women’s clothes on him. This miscreant behavior was stopped quite soon after his arrival when he was forced into a feud with Chyna, who pretty much killed all of his heat.

1) Bobby “The Brain” Heenan WWF 1985-90

A manager? That’s your No. 1 pick? Yes, and proudly so. Heenan was a wrestler at one time, and will take a HELLACIOUS bump, but he didn’t have the physique to present himself or the physical prowess to work a wrestler’s schedule. The Brain is, quite possibly, the funniest man in the business, past or present, and his announcing is probably the most entertaining I’ve ever heard. But, as a heel manager, Heenan excelled every time out. He only managed the best; he only attacked and feuded with the best; and when his men didn’t measure up, he got rid of them. Red Rooster was booted and berated by Heenan, Andre was slapped in the face by Heenan, and Mr. Perfect was also criticized on public TV (of course, he got back at Brain by pouring water on his head.) He had a passion for hating Hulk Hogan and when he managed Andre the Giant, he was at his most cruel and calculating. He threw wave after wave of men and plans at Hogan, including joining with Dibiase to get the twin referee brother of Earl Hebner to screw Hogan out of the title for his charge. Heenan had managed someone to every title the WWF had at the time, Rude and Henning to the IC, Brainbusters and the Colossal Connection to Tag Team Titles, and Andre and Ric Flair to the World. One of Heenan’s greatest performances came later in his career with the last man he managed in WWF, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. It was during Wrestlemania 8. He broadcasted the match and was an emotional wreck during the match. After it, Flair, Henning and Heenan cut a magnificent promo, then Heenan took back to the announce booth and remained frazzled, putting Flair over and shouting heel comments throughout the rest of the show. The guy is one of a kind and my favorite heel in wrestling.

Honorable Mentions:
Andre the Giant (1987 heel turn-WWF- ripped Hogan’s cross off his chest)
Owen Hart (1994- King of Harts- WWF-turned on his brother)
Kaientai DX (1996-97- Michinoku Pro- precursor to DX)
Vader (1992- WCW- Monster run as merciless killer)
Harley Race (1980-83- NWA- No Nonsense bruiser- World Champion- his leisure suits were the best)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

WWE Backlash 2007

The days of the giant swinging hooks are no more

1) Hardys v. Cade/ Murdoch- 5

Matt Hardy is the no. 1 puncher in the business, bar none! A fun tag match that had two different styles of teams; very old school in approach. Jeff hit a crazy plancha outside onto Mutt and Jeff; Cade has some intensity that you can't teach or faux market into a character with creepy back hair and saliva dripping from his mouth. Murdoch attempting a Canadian Destroyer looked like a horny dog trying to mount a camel. Things were getting sloppy at the end, but Hardys finish big and get a deserving pop. I'm not going to let this match sucker me in as to thinking WWE's tag division is back because you can only get your heart broken so much; ex. Janet Jackson's 'The Velvet Rope' - oh how far the mighty had fallen.

2) Melina v. Mickie James- 4
What happened to Mickie's mini skirts? They almost always guaranteed a between the legs shot of her panties; now that the inner McMahon in me is gone, a decent match, with some unique counters. While I give credit for the split sequence, it's nothing that your local Beaver girl can't do at a sleazy strip club, it's when they add in those clubbing forearms that icings the cake for that. Out of nowhere finish kind of hurt the score.

3) Chris Benoit v. MVP- 6
As good as this was, I have some complaints: Benoit nor MVP sat down on their leglocks in this match- and Benoit's Germans- he's by god one of the best in the world, but sometimes he really lets that WWE seep into his blood- nonetheless, he has molded and cultivated this feud into the essence of wrestling- guys in stretched tights fighting each other to get a 3 count; MVP putting up his knees on the swan dive (that pinned him at Mania) told more story than the last 3 Michael Bay movies. Another great finish and MVP continues to give chase to the US title( I guess the writers want to put some steam back into that belt)

4) Bobby Lashley v. Vince, Shane, & Umaga- 2
You're not going to get away with saying "this match wasn't that bad." When these guys perform, their goal isn't to "completely not suck" it's to "blow us away." Vince can dance in a cowboy hat all he wants but the only thing he did was devalue another belt that was already on it's way to the garbage. This feud has successfully killed Umaga, killed Lashley (even worse than every live crowd he's worked in front of) and pissed all over the blood, sweat, cum and tears of ECW (3/4 of those things being on Francine's lower lip) Does Vince know that the 80's ended the tight jeans/ unwashed sweatshirt days? A complete waste of time; I'm glad I had my chicken quesadillas to occupy me during this fiasco.

5) Undertaker v. Batista (Last Man Standing)- 6
Dave and Mark, sitting in a tree, B-O-T-C-H-I-N-G; the exciting, Hollywood-like ending (dripping with sarcasm) that capped off this match proved they didn't have as much faith in these two as they did in Cena and Umaga, who just did this stip a few months ago. Taker hit some good legdrops and both men have seemed motivated when in the ring together, so this feud has been largely living above expectations. I won't rip on Dave's selling of his leg, or Taker's puss out on hitting the steel stairs, because overall it was an exciting match that made the World Title seem important and the crowd was hotter than the last Shakira video.

6) 4-Way: John Cena v. Edge v. HBK v. Randy Orton- 7
I'm going to edge (no pun intended) this one over the Benoit match because 1) it got more time and did something with it, 2) everyone but Edge seemed highly motivated, and 3) the finish of this match was planned perfectly. Some highlights of this were Cena's punching, Orton's punching, Michaels' chopping, Michaels moonsault, JBL looking supremely bored at ringside, and the crowd heat it generated. I was impressed with Orton, who was spot on with all of his offense(dropkick, backbreaker) and with his selling, except when he get punched, he sometimes does a spin move, like an unwinding top. This was a great way to top off the most solid, in ring show so far for WWE this year. I like the idea of longer matches on the PPV and enjoyed this show.

WWE Backlash 2007

1) Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch vs. The Hardys – 6 – Cade and Murdoch had a breakout performance and took the Hardys to the limit. Jeff worked his ass off and bumped pretty big. Murdoch’s attempt at a flip piledriver was entertaining but it can be an effective finished as it is more of a flip powerbomb. Matches like this between these two teams are desperately needed in the Raw tag team division. Awesome match to open the show.

2) Mickie James vs. Melina – 6 – I was expecting a snoozer but this turned out to be a pretty damn good match. To be honest, this is probably the best women’s match since Mickie fought Trish at WrestleMania 22 last year. Melina has shown drastic improvement in the ring and really stepped up her game here. There was a cool spot where they were punching each other while doing parallel splits. Matches like this could save the women’s division from total mediocrity.

3) Chris Benoit vs. M.V.P – 5 – About what you would expect here. This was much better than their WrestleMania match. Benoit went for the diving headbutt but crashed into M.V.P.’s knees. I fully expected M.V.P. to win the U.S. title but since my track record of predictions has been pretty bad lately, I just watched the match and made no predictions. I could watch matches like this for hours.

4) Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, & Umaga vs. Bobby Lashley – Handicap Match – 4 – Well, something has to get trash of the night and as the case has been recently, it’s the Bobby Lashley match. I expected a bunch of overbooked schlep just like at WrestleMania and a match somewhere the caliber of the McMahons/DX HIAC match from Unforgiven 06 but I was wrong. While Shane’s excessive overselling was annoying so was the finish where Lashley was pinned after two top-rope splashes from Umaga and then a quick cover from Vince to steal the title. Yes friends, Vinny Mac is the new ECW champion. Hey, it’s the lesser of two evils. I mean, do you really think people would buy Lashley vs. Snitsky as a main event feud? Then again, does anyone watch ECW for anything but C.M. Punk anymore?

5) The Undertaker vs. Batista – Last Man Standing Match – 6 – This was wild as shit. Batista needs to stop taking chair shot lessons from Lance Storm because they’re weak beyond all fuck. Undertaker pretty much dominated everything. There was a sick spot where UT walked the rail and legdropped Batista on the Smackdown announce table. Then they brawled up the ramp and onto the stage. Batista spears Taker and they both fall off the stage into the pit. I’ll give them credit for the bump but the thing that ruined it for me was the three poles fell like they were being pushed over by something and killed the spot. The match ended in a draw and what’s that I see on the horizon? Oh yeah, a little thing called Hell in a Cell.

6) Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Edge – 6 – I was watching this show at BW-3’s and the place pretty much cleared out before this began. I was hoping that it wasn’t an omen. These four really had to put on an entertaining match because if not, then the show would die because we’ve seen these four in tag team and singles bouts since January and it’s getting a little stale. There was also that 55-minute Cena/Michaels match from the 4/23 Raw that they were up against. Edge looked pudgy mainly because he doesn’t have Lita to exercise with in bed anymore, because we all know that’s the only place Edge ever did any work. Let’s just say that all four guys worked their asses off to deliver a solid main event. While it wasn’t a classic beyond any means it should be be seen just as an example of how to book an entertaining four-way match. The finish was full of great teases with Cena retaining when he fell on Orton after being superkicked by Shawn. A solid and entertaining main event to cap off a great pay-per-view.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Performer Analysis: Andre the Giant

The Boss. The Man. The Eigth Wonder of the World. The King of the Battle Royal. He has so many names and they all spell out one thing: respect. This is his analysis.

1) Innovation- 10/10-
Andre is a one of a kind in the wrestling world. His height alone made him an instant superstar, but it was his ability to use it effectively that made him possibly the most popular wrestler in the 70's. Andre didn't just rely on his size to be a giant evil heel; he played to the crowd and had stamina and could throw a dropkick and took time out to be with the fans. He found new crazy ways to show his strength during matches, some of which has never been duplicated. He was Frankenstein before our very eyes, but he warmed everyone's hearts and became a cultural icon wherever he was. Andre changed the mold for what a big man could accomplish in the business.

2) Conditioning- 5/10-
Andre, due to his size alone, did not have the stamina most wrestlers had and he never would. He never worked long matches and he never worked the mat in a physical way during matches. But, for what he could do was amazing enough. He was a good athlete, having played soccer in his native country of France, and hell, he could have played for any pro basketball team in the NBA, if he had wanted to. Andre, from what I've read, did have an alcohol problem and a over eating problem, but to keep a man his size in good health, I'm sure it was necessary to eat a lot. Most fans probably remember him, as I do, as the guy who wrestled Hulk Hogan and had a huge belly, but he only put that weight on when he came back to wrestling for that angle.

3) Skill- 5/10-
Again, not the most technically proficient guy that ever laced up a pair of boots, but he didn't need to. Andre was so big, he could do anything and the people would pop for it. In the 70's, he worked all the greatest talent in the world and had world class matches with them, but they were never long and usually Andre was the one in charge.

4) Psychology- 10/10-
If you go back to the Hogan match alone, the psych used in that carried it on to become one of the most recognizable matches that has ever happened. The promotion of it was brilliant, but it was the psychology, which registers with fans and they don't even know it, that got that thing so hyped. Andre had a unique position of being a much larger opponent for some men and he never played around with it. He used his height to bring forth the most real reactions and actions from him to make a match memorable and he was very proficient at it.

5) Interviews- 5/10-
Although his voice was very heavyily accented, Andre always had a sweet nature to his tone. He rarely ever cut a money promo, but the camera and microphone loved him in interviews. He had a great presence in front of the camera. Regardless of his size, he never seemed to overshadow other people if he cut a group interview. And sometimes, being a team player and not always the main event counts for something.

6) Character- 10/10-
Andre's character was himself. He was a giant of a man. He was the 8th wonder of the world, and even if they rename the 7 wonders, his place will never change for me. If you look at it, it was a really unique character that has never been duplicated and that's just because there's no one near his size,(I don't care how they promote Khali, or Big Show.) Andre had something the other giants didn't; a smile. Even when he was a bad guy, you just couldn't hate him.

7) Basics- 5/10-
Andre had a grasp of the basic tools for wrestling. Rarely did he employ them due to factors already named in this article, but in his early stuff, he did quite a bit of scientific wrestling. I'd call him an expert by no means; also, he wasn't a transition wrestler, he didn't work a lot of spots, and his punches, while devastating, lacked any technique.

8) Fans- 10/10-
It's been said here already, and everywhere else, the people loved Andre. He will always hold an endearing spot in most every true wrestling fan's heart. Andre was loved worldwide during the height of his face run from the late 60's through the 70's and halfway through the 80's. The man could get a pop by simply stepping through the curtain. Granted, it was due to his size, but he carried himself very well and the fans loved to watch him in the ring.

9) Matches/ Feuds- 10/10-
Anybody who came up through the ranks has a story about how they got to do a job for Andre at one point in their career. It was almost like a passing of the torch. Andre was so large and unstoppable, it's hard to imagine anyone standing a chance against him, but he did have quite a few legendary feuds in his career against some of the greatest of our time. He feuded w/ Antonio Inoki in Japan, with Killer Khan in a stretcher match, against Ken Patera for cutting his hair, against some other giants, "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd & Big John Studd, and of course, the Hulkster himself in probably Andre's most courageous time.

10) Gutcheck- 10/10-
Andre the Giant had his prime in wrestling. He made promoters rich. He made himself rich. He helped build multiple territories around the US and he was a big part of the franchise that WWE has now become. But, I don't think you could take the love of the sport away from him. That's why he stayed in the business( as most veterans do) longer than he should have, but it was for a good cause. Coming back, in awful health, to face Hogan at Wrestlemania 3( WWE's largest drawing show) cemented both of them in the upper echelon of wrestling for eternity. Andre "passed the torch" to the new flag bearer of the WWE and he did for the love of the business that allowed him to be a star and an inspiration to so many people around the world. I have nothing but good words for Andre in this category because as big as the man himself was, it seemed his heart was even bigger.

Final Score: 80
Ranking: Legend
PO: Thumbs Up

Ric Flair and The Four Horsemen DVD

The Documentary:

All I have to say is that it’s about bloody time that there was a DVD made on the Horsemen. The first disc contains a documentary that runs just over two hours on how pretty much everything you ever needed to know about them. There are comments from a who’s-who of wrestling such as Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, J.J. Dillon, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Teddy Long, Jim Ross, Eric Bischoff, and some random guy named Paul Roma. I found it amusing that when Roma talked about his time in the group he basically said that he was better than Flair and Anderson combined. After those comments, he gets buried by both Flair and HHH. Flair also had some rather scathing comments about Bischoff, Jim Herd, Sid Vicious, Roma, and others. Another good thing about the doc is that the background music that WWE uses was kept at a low volume throughout most of the disc. There were no matches on the first disc but it did include the infamous parking lot attack on Dusty Rhodes. The match selection on disc two is at first glance rather uninviting but all in all turned out to fit in rather well with everything else.

The Matches:
1) Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, & Ole Anderson vs. Pistol Pez Whatley, The Italian Stallion, & Rocky King – 4
2) Ric Flair vs. Ricky Morton – Cage Match – 6
3) Tully Blanchard vs. Dusty Rhodes – First Blood Match – 5
4) Flair, Anderson, Blanchard, Windham, & Dillion vs. Dusty Rhodes, Lex Luger, Dr. Death, Nikita Koloff, & Paul Ellering – War Games Match – 6
5) Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard vs. Nikita Koloff & Sting – 7
6) Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard vs. Lex Luger & Barry Windham (3/27/88) – 6
7) Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson – 6

I’m not quite sure what the six-man tag team match had to do with anything else on the DVD but it was a decent ten-minute match. The cage match was simple yet entertaining. Flair controlled most of the first half of the match with Morton controlling the last half. There was also a good tease where Flair had Morton in the figure-four next the ropes. The finish was rather abrupt with Flair cheating to score the pin. I touched on the first blood match in my review of Starrcade 1986. To be quite honest, if you don’t watch it then your not missing a whole lot. The War Games match has no commentary so it was kind of hard to follow along with what was happening which is probably the reason it got the score it did. The tag match with Anderson and Blanchard against Koloff and Sting was about as good of a twenty-minute tag match as you’re ever going to find. Sting was diving over the ropes, Koloff was getting stiff, and then got the hell beat out of them by Anderson and Blanchard. The crowd was totally apeshit and ate everything up. The tag match with Luger and Windham was from the first Clash and is a great ten-minute match highlighted by a title change with Luger and Windham winning the belts. The final match with Flair against Anderson was I believe the first and only time that they ever fought in the ring. It looked to me like their hearts just weren’t in it but they did what they could.

Final Thoughts:
When this DVD was first announced, I wasn’t too thrilled about it because of the match selection. I bought it on a whim and the results were far better than what I expected. The nice thing about the matches is that instead of using recycled material, they chose seven bouts that were unreleased. Albeit a little disappointing in a few departments, the documentary itself was a great way to spend two hours on a Sunday afternoon. I wouldn’t recommend this for people who by DVDs just for the matches but I would recommend it for anyone who loves old-school NWA and WCW or just about anything wrestling.

ECW TV 3/20/07

1. Sabu and Rob Van Dam vs. Marcus Cor Von and Kevin Thorn – 5
2. Snitsky vs. Mike Tolor – 1
3. CM Punk vs. Hardcore Holly – 4
4. Elijah Burke vs. Tommy Dreamer – 3
5. Bobby Lashley vs. Chris Masters –3

Sabu and Van Dam’s usually showy offense is often business exposing, downright gratuitous, and generally incredibly sloppy. Here, it was worked into the match, and much alike Ariel’s cleavage, wasn’t an eyesore. For all intents and purposes, their match felt like a fight, as both teams kept on the pressure, and there was a sense of immediacy about it that was convincing. Snitsky’s squash of Tolor lasted about as long a naked boy in a Catholic church. The strength of Punk and Holly’s match was also its weakness. That being, they brawled, and then basically, brawled more. Most of the shots were pretty solid, so it had the appearance of a genuine slugfest, which I dig; but, I’ve seen them work other stuff into their prior matches, so a little diversity would have went a long way in terms of making this a better overall bout. The interference involved in its ending was also a deciding factor in regards to its final grade. It’s weird seeing the athletically gifted Burke competing with wrestling’s resident couch potato Dreamer. This match’s flow, or lack there of, hurt it, but not nearly as bad as Tommy’s choreographed offense. He ducked an Elijah clothesline, and then just stood there absently, waiting to execute a reverse neckbreaker, that came off looking as messed up as Beulah’s asshole after Tommy let the boys share her after ECW Cyberslam ‘96. Lashley and Masters came off looking like they both needed a couple more years in OVW fine-tuning their craft. The abhorrent degree of corporate pushing Lashley down our throats is getting out of control. We can’t take him seriously, his work thus far is sub-par at best, and his facials and selling are about as believable as our current political administration’s denial of prior knowledge to the attack on the World Trade Center.