Monday, December 29, 2014

TNA One Night Only: World Cup of Wrestling 2

Four team captains leading their units through the toughest task in sports entertainment. Insert laughter. Alright so maybe just me and another 26 other people domestically ordered this on-demand PPV and yes I had no idea what these teams were fighting for or toward but I watched all the same.

The show started with a terribly lengthy in-ring segment. Felt like a Béla Tarr film. Each captain choose their team one person at a time while those in attendance at Universal Studios wondered why they weren't in line for Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride or Men in Black: Alien Attack. Not much to say about the assembled teams. Except Team EC3 sucks a big 'ol floppy dick.

1. James Storm vs. Eddie Edwards - 3
2. Madison Rayne vs. Gail Kim - 4
3. Bro Mans vs. Sanada & Mr. Anderson - 3

First match starts 24 minutes into the program. Even the announcers are burying the confusing rules of this tournaments of sorts. Edwards slaps high-fives with yokels in the front row harder than Jarrett punches. Eddie's Asai Moonsault bombs like his hometown Boston's famed marathon. Now the announcers bury that's it's "World Cup" and not "TNA Cup" (the 2013 edition had an international theme missing here). Mechanically the opener wasn't terrible but it lacked a pulse to really register. When you've seen the same match-up roughly 30 times you watch closely looking for little touches and while too short to assign recommendation status I liked the Knockouts match, kept it reigned in, and even though they could have done this match in their sleep they made it click. Tag was full of goofy stuff, both intentionally and not, from Sanada doing Anderson's trademark intro on the microphone, to Robbie's pinball bumping for Ken's tired pastiche, this felt like a meandering joke with no punchline. Mr. Anderson looks like a janitor from the Wonka Factory. Finish with the laptop foreign object usage was a 4.5 on the Alexandra York scale.

4. Bobby Roode vs. Eric Young - 5
5. Magnus vs. Kurt Angle - 3
6. Angelina Love vs. ODB - 2

Young's blue and yellow attire calls to mind the colors of my elementary alma mater the Van Buren Vikings. I expected these two former Team Canada members to fight fiercer than Kevin Nash and his son this past Christmas Eve but this was pretty sporting and measured. Fan in front row appears to be wearing Professor Dave Jennings' rug. Two former World champions working this like they would a UWF-TNA armory show fills me with little hope but this was still the best thing on the show thus far (and the match-ending piledriver was pretty damn swank). Prevailing notion online is that Kurt Angle hasn't been good in years if ever but I happily disagree and can always go for a nice slice of my favorite atrophied Olympian. A smidgen of chain wrestling early left the crowd comatose -- you could hear an iPhone drop or the audience literally growing fatter from the theme park fare. I scored this low because they only laid out a quarter of a match. After doing some feeling out, Angle hit a few throws, then shortly and suddenly won with an Angle Slam with zero fanfare. Very telling of Magnus' career that after a short and problematic run as company ace they then demoted him to Bram's second. ODB looks like she's wearing a fruit leather bodysuit. I've seen chili stains with better fashion sense. Love's facial sell off a bodyslam looked like the clerk at Target when I returned all that stuff without a gift receipt. This match even had a chase sequence around ringside that was played like a bit from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.

7. Davey Richards vs. Ethan Carter III - 4
8. Gunner & Bully Ray vs. Kenny King & Samuel Shaw - 3
9. Team EC3 vs. Team Young - 10-Person Elimination Tag Match - 5

I've seen kids at my son's pre-school taller than Davey Richards. Watching most EC3 matches is like back in the day when you'd go to the house of the girl you were dating and her little brother would put way too much sugar in the Kool-Aid ("or purple drank") and you'd just grin and bear it. Not to be confused with the Kool-Aid that Paul Heyman was ladling out convincing people that ECW was ever good. I did like how Davey took Carter's One Percenter headlock driver right on top of his bleach-blonde skull. Shaw's dark attire looks like what Rob Feinstein probably wore when he was trolling playgrounds. King's side headlock on Bully was weaker than our economy. I hope Tommy Dreamer brings Gunner into House of Hardcore next year to work a TLC match with Danny Doring. Never noticed before that Ray takes whips into the buckles like Doug Gilbert. Or maybe Glenn Gilbertti. I was predicting a Team Angle vs. Team Roode final so color me surprised, and also chartreuse, just 'cause I like it. This went on like The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Godderz makes a bad Tauriel. Gail and Bully actually had a face-off that kind of made me want to see that match -- on WWE 2K15 that is. Gunner doing a Randy Savage double ax-handle off the top complete with swirly finger was unexpected, he also scored an elimination for his team using Luger's Torture Rack, so clearly he'd been watching old WCW pay-per-views off the WWE Network around that time. It comes down to Young and . . . Magnus? Eric chose to sell a lariat like he'd just taken some bad LSD. It was cool seeing Magnus eat a second clean pinfall on one show -- really not a fan save for his tag stuff teaming with Samoa Joe in NOAH. Pretty fun main event tops off a mostly forgettable show. It this has been '94 I'd have recorded it while watching on VHS. Then likely accidentally taped over it with the "Das Bus" episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete.

I ordered the next two subsequent TNA One Night Only shows (Knockouts Knockdown 2 & Victory Road '14) so once I get my notes cleaned up on those expect reviews. Also previewing next year here on Never Hand Over, expect lots more activity on the still relatively new NHO Podcast, as we've got lots of awesome show ideas (Starrcade '89: Future Shock retrospective, anyone?) we're excited to produce. On my own I'll also be looking at a lot of PWG stuff, as I now own all their shows from 2010-2014, as well as some of Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore shows, not one but two Sami Callihan 60 min. Iron Man matches, the NJPW/ROH War of the Worlds co-show, and a completely random and wild collection of misc. reviews analyzing both current stuff and things from my staggering personal collection. Late-quarter 2014 has seen some life breathed back into NHO and we're excited to continue refusing handing over in the new year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

NHO Podcast Episode #4: TLC PPV, 2015 Preview, Weekly TV Rundown, and more!

The NHO podcast returns and there is an absolute TON of stuff to talk about. In this episode, Brian and Adam dive into the recent WWE TLC (and Stairs) PPV, rundown the weekly TV schedule going into 2015, what to watch, what to skip, etc. There's also discussion in regards to previewing 2015 not only in wrestling but with what's happening and coming up on the blog, plus other discussion about NXT, ROH Final Battle, and loads more!

Feedback is appreciated. Find us on Twitter @neverhandover or email us at and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

ROH Final Battle '14

1. Caprice Coleman vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Jimmy Jacobs vs. Hanson - 4
2. Adam Page vs. Roderick Strong - 4
3. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Michael Elgin - 5

Event was held at Terminal 5 which both looks and sounds like a stage from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Ordering a live 3 hr. HD pay-per-view from Ring of Honor from the comfort of my luxurious living room is something I could certainly get accustomed to. Fairly fun opener. Besides one sequence where Caprice and Hanson couldn't get on the same page this went off well. Coleman was a bit all over the place but also the most engaging performer. I didn't care for Hanson's "spinkick" finish it looked like he barely got his leg up and felt like a weak throwaway strike not a bout ender. Page hit what might possibly be my favorite clothesline of the year (and that covers a ton of ground) when he flipped over the guardrail from out in the crowd springing forward into a devastating clothesline that crushed Strong. Sick finish as the Strong Hold looked like it was going to break Page in half. I loved Elgin's way of breaking out of a Testicular Claw was rearing back and punching Ciampa right in the teeth. This was worked like a big heavyweight boxing bout from yesteryear and had enough big impactful spots without dipping into overkill territory. A hotter stretch run would have warranted a higher score but I did like Elgin's new DDT variation finish.

4. The Addiction and Cedric Alexander vs. The Young Bucks and ACH - 6
5. Moose vs. R.D. Evans - 1
6. Jay Lethal vs. Matt Sydal - 6

Funny seeing Kaz and Daniels wearing '90's era X-Men attire when Daniels looks more like Professor X than any of its fighting heroes. First match of the show that really felt vibrant and alive and got the crowd rollicking. Bucks looked as fluid and smooth as ever and turned in quite fine performances. Proud of them for recently turning down WWE's offer. Wanted to take this grade a little higher and would have had Addiction offered a little more to the proceedings. Next match stunk like coming across a malodorous noisome pile of moose excrement in the forest while taking a hike. Couldn't tell if Evans was purposefully blowing spots or just that inept but three consecutive botches of a springboard is troublesome either way. I've been saying Lethal has quietly been an MVP of 2014. Not enough high profile matches to be considered a real WotY candidate but he's sunken deep into his role and has been a reliable ace. Sydal's hair looked composed like a Roy Andersson set. This was competently put together but would have fallen a point short of real recommendation status had it not been for the cool unique finishing stretch that saw Lethal catch Sydal in mid-air while he was hitting a Shooting Star Press on Jay's manager Truth Martini with a Lethal Cutter -- really cool spot.

7. reDRagon vs. Time Splitters - 5
8. Jay Briscoe vs. Adam Cole - Fight Without Honor - 6

I rate Kyle's work in PWG & NJPW a touch higher than a lot of his ROH stuff but in general think rDRagon have likely surpassed The American Wolves' reign. They haven't had enigmatic rivals like the Wolves did with Steen & Generico but turn in pretty consistently solid work as champs. Fish was flat in EVOLVE as faux-fighter but has developed some personality as the mustachioed muscle of the team. Shelley isn't getting any younger but is still a clever and capable hand. KUSHIDA's Swanton onto the dogpile out of the ring was on the right side of crazy. Saito suplex shouldn't be a transition move. Finish was fine for a random NJPW show undercard bout but for a PPV semi-main felt a bit anticlimactic with reDRagon narrowing their focus on Kushida and hitting a series of things on him until they put this to bed. They teased an early ending with Briscoe nailing a Jay Driller very quickly and soon after putting Cole through a ringside table. Also saw first signs of blood early with Jay getting his forehead stapled by Cole. Just like a Briscoe's family reunion soon everyone is bleeding. Cole would be great in NXT. I had to laugh when Jay poured out the thumbtacks. Having regrettably done some backyard wrestling in my past we'd buy huge bags of standard silver tacks but here Briscoe looked like he raided a second grade teacher's desk as only about 400 multi-colored (green, yellow, red, blue, etc.) tacks poured out. A backdrop is about as lame a bump to waste that garbage spot on too. They should have sent them to the principal's office for ruining perfectly good school supplies. Cole survived a second Jay Driller but a third one finally finished the job. I really anticipated giving this a "7" and briefly felt like it might get to that level but they never really let loose with the violence and allowed this to feel unhinged.

This was a decent PPV offering, I'd say slight Thumbs Up, but not a pulse-pounding, run out tell your friends, type of affair. Better than last week's WWE TLC (and Stairs?) pay-per-view by any means. 2014 has been a good year for Ring of Honor but they need to mix things up a bit in the year ahead and the recent signing of Alberto Del Rio is a good step. I'd like to see them do these quarterly or three times per year and perhaps go with Cole and Briscoe on top again on the next one but in a big blowoff gimmick match (Iron Man, anyone?).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

NXT Takeover R-Evolution - 12/11/2014

NXT is back with another live special on the WWE Network and I'll be damned if this isn't a loaded show ... Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville for the NXT Title, Finn Balor and Hideo Itami against the Acension, and the long-awaited debut of Kevin Owens. Strap in, this is going to be a wild ride!

1. Kevin Owens vs. C.J. Parker - 3

Right out of the gate we get the former Kevin Steen debuting against a guy who does a trippy hippy kind of deal. Owens just smashed this dude across the ring the few minutes that it was allotted. Parker hit a open palmstrike so hard that it just busted up Owens’ nose. The running cannonball style dive over the top rope was pretty wicked as was the powerbomb that sent Parker packing back to the 1960s. Parker makes a really good punching bag.

2. NXT Tag Team Titles: The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto) vs. The Vaudevillans (Simon Gotch & Aiden English) - 3

After watching Lucha Underground for a couple weeks now, there is no possible way I can take the Lucha Dragons seriously. The announcers kept harping the fact that they were paying homage to their Lucha culture but I seriously doubt you’d see La Parka, Mil Mascaras, or any other number of Lucha legends being a comedy team. The Vaudevillans are doing the old timey carnival wrestler type deal, complete with black and white entrance. The work was solid but not really notable. English went for a roll-up really close to the ropes which ended up being him throwing Sin Cara straight to the ground. What I’ve seen of the Vaudevillans in general, I haven’t been too impressed, although English seems like he could be a solid hand. Finish with Kalisto pinning Gotch with the sliced bread was a fun ending.

3. Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillenger - 1

Corbin destroyed Dillenger in about 30 seconds and then stared down a guy named Bull Dempsey in the crowd. Had the announcers not mentioned it was Dempsey he was staring at, I would have honestly though it was just a random dude in the crowd.

4. The Ascension vs. Hideo Itami & Finn Balor - 5

Here’s where things started to get good. Never did care much for the Ascension, always thought their names (Konnor & Viktor) along with their team name sounded like they belonged in some sort of metal band or wrestling for a random indy fed somewhere in the Midwest. Balor’s body paint was completely nuts and featured giant monster teeth painted on his neck like a mouth and whenever he moved his head and neck, the teeth opened and closed. Truly something to behold. This was probably the best Ascension match I’ve seen, mainly due to their opponents. They have the big guy look that WWE likes down pat but I’d like to see them use more moves that stand out. Right now, I couldn’t tell you which guy was which or what their trademark moves are. Itami and Balor worked good as a team and there were some nice nearfalls towards the end which really sucked the crowd in. Balor did some sort of wacky looking DDT move that dropped one of the Ascension dudes right on his head. I dug the double mushroom stomps from the top rope as a nice way to cap this off.

5. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks - 6

Women’s matches in NXT are usually very good however going into this I couldn’t really get excited for it. Charlotte has had a nice little run with the Women’s title in NXT and some good to great matches. Banks has the act down for the homegirl, ratchet type she’s portraying (someone out there correct if I butchered that completely please). If she was stuck in here with anyone else, this wouldn’t have been near as good. Charlotte has definite star power but that will quickly be squandered when she gets called up to the main roster and has to do 2-3 minute matches as an afterthought on Raw with Emma. The match istelf was one of the better ones she’s had as champion. Banks busted some wild stuff including a tope and got some good nearfalls. Charlotte retained with a top-rope neck snapper that just looked to ruin Banks night.

6. Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville - 8

Stipulation here was that if Zayn lost, he was done in NXT. This was an absolute classic and by the end, these two had me sucked in and on the edge of my seat reacting to every moment and every nearfall. The story that was played into this was that Zayn was tired of being the nice guy and needed to be more aggressive to win the title. Early on, this felt really basic but about halfway through, things kicked into high gear. Zayn did his trademark dive across the corner of the ring and kill the other guy with a DDT spot which added a nice touch since he hasn’t used that much recently. Neville completely crashed and burned doing the Red Arrow into Zayn’s knees which Zayn then transitioned into a submission hold. If this was an arcade game, he would have gotten bonus points for a combo move on that one. We got two ref bumps that were done effectively for a change. The big spot was the second ref bump where Neville brought the belt into the ring. However, Zayn got the belt and they did the Piper/Bret spot from WrestleMania 8 where in this case Zayn couldn’t bring himself to cheat to win the title, just like Piper couldn’t bring himself to cheat to retain the title in that match. After Zayn through the belt away and got rolled up by Neville, I though for sure that was it but HE KICKED OUT!!! Then, finishing it off, we get Zayn hitting the STO into the turnbuckle and nailing a big kick for the win. But wait … THERE’S MORE!! After the bout, the big celebration commences with the entire roster coming out, Zayn and Owens hugging, and then as Zayn is leaving, Owens comes out a second time and just floors the poor fucker who was just through a war with Neville. My jaw absolutely dropped when I saw that! This match was pro wrestling at it’s absolute finest. While I can’t vote it NXT match of the year (Charlotte vs. Natalya from May is my runaway winner in that category), this is an absolute must see match with a fantasticly done post-match angle.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Muta & Tajiri vs. Storm & Sanada

Great Muta and Tajiri vs. James Storm and Sanada - TNA Bound for Glory '14 - 4

Main event of TNA's biggest show of the year. Muta appears wearing a disgusting helmet that resembles a fetid beehive with large insect limbs protruding from the sides in a nightmarish visage. For those not up on TNA storylines Storms plays a cultish leader who's brainwashed Sanada. Sanada, after some opening grappling with his original mentor Muta, sprays blue mist into the heavens marking the third color of mist ejected into the atmosphere. Sanada's chest looks like an abstract avant-garde impressionist painting with streaks of blue tainting the musculature. Storm should spit some tobacco juice to round out the foursome. Maybe Storm and Muta will splinter off and form the J-Tex Corporation 2.0? Terry Funk just rolled over on his grave colostomy bag. Tajiri throws some remarkably soft-looking punches but redeems himself selling a foreign object shot like a drugged Bill Cosby victim. If you had told me last year that Sanada would be in the main event of BFG I'd have spit my vegetarian chili all over your golf shirt in shock. Muta takes a Lungblower by Storm like a geriatric falling on their lawn while trying to pick up the morning paper. Ever watch any of SMASH Tajiri's vanity fed? If not I've got a whole spindle of their DVDs you can borrow for the small price of a salmon roe sushi dinner. Was totally not ready for a the finish so soon. Dueling mists were dodged between Sanada and Tajiri only for the duo of Muta and Tajiri to simultaneously mist Sanada. Then a head kick by Tajiri followed by a Shining Wizard by Muta finished Sanada. This was a fine match for the 2nd segment of an iMPACT! episode but as the main event of any sort of show, especially the company's biggest, was terminally short and dramatically inert. Give us 15 more min. and some nearfall sequences to build a little suspense and at least try to dress this up as a "main event" but they went a different route and just mailed this in from Ribera Steakhouse.

NHO Podcast Episode #3 - UFC's Early Days

The NHO Podcast returns this week with Adam, Brian and our friend Tim to chat about the early days of the UFC. We talk how we were introduced to UFC, our favorite events, rule changes, evolution of the sport, fighters who transitioned to pro wrestling and vice versa plus TONS more in an awesome, packed episode! Even if you are not a fan of UFC/MMA, we think you'll still find this to be an interesting discussion.

The show is also available in MP3 format for download here.

Subscribe to us on iTunes!

As always, feedback is appreciated,, follow us on Twitter @neverhandover, or leave comments below.