Wrestlemania 23 and 24

WM23

 

Wrestlemania 23 was a good show, but not quite as memorable as the year before.

We got another entertaining MITB match with Mr. Kennedy defeating CM Punk, Randy Orton, Finlay, Matt Hardy, King Booker, Jeff Hardy, and Edge. All performers did a great job and filled the match with a lot of high spots.

The worst match was The Great Khali going over Kane. Khali is not a good performer and it always unfortunate when a top notch wrestler like Kane is stuck putting over someone with no talent.

The Undertaker beat Batista for the World Heavyweight Title in a great, well worked match. Both guys did a terrific job and the match was paced very well which is very important when putting together a good match.

The main event was John Cena beating Shawn Michaels via submission in a solid main event that really helped elevate Cena.

There were some good matches but overall, this was a fairly lackluster event.

WM24-logo

Wrestlemania 24 was a major improvement from the year’s previous show and was highlighted by another excellent MITB match, Edge vs. The Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship, and Ric Flair’s retirement match.

 

The MITB ladder match between Chris Jericho, Mr. Kennedy, Carlito, M.V.P., CM Punk, Shelton Benjamin and John Morrison was incredible. Every performer put their all into the match with CM Punk winning the title shot. Morrison is an incredible athlete and did some crazy maneuvers and Shelton took some bumps that were the craziest ever seen.

The final match on the card featured The Undertaker defeating Edge for the title in a great match that showed Edge was truly a main event wrestler and could help carry the biggest show of the year.

The best bout on the card though was the career ending match between Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. Shawn Michaels was amazing as always and Ric Flair proved he is the greatest professional wrestler of all time. What he did during this match at 60 years old is amazing and proved he is a legend. It was a very emotional match with an amazing amount of back and forth action with no dead spots and Michaels winning with a superkick to Ric Flair. Flair was very emotional at the end of the match and this bout was a great way to end his active wrestling career.

Well, this will be the last Wrestlemania review for the week since the 31st installment is only a few days away and I have run out of time! I will be watching Wrestlemania 31 specials Thursday and Friday night, followed by the Hall of Fame on Saturday and of course Wrestlemania 31 on Sunday!

I will let you know how it all turns out next week!

 

Wrestlemania’s 2000 – X8

Per last week’s post I am beginning my snap shot reviews of what I consider the modern Wrestlemania’s (from 2000 on) in preparation for this year’s Wrestlemania 31:

Wrestlemania 2000 – This was an overall solid show that kicked off the 2000’s quite well. One of the things I notice when watching shows from this period of time is how over every single wrestler was. From the lowest spot on the card to the main event, the crowds are in to everything and it seemed as though every match had a storyline of some sort which the WWE really needs to get back to.

One of the key matches was the first every triangle ladder match for the tag titles featuring Edge/Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz. Simply WOW. This was very early in the long running rivalry between these three teams and this match was simply amazing. High spot after high spot and not a move seemed wasted. Edge and Christian left with the titles and us fans saw the beginning of an industry changing rivalry.

The main event was a four way for the WWF title with a McMahon in every corner. Triple H with Stephanie, Mick Foley with Linda, Big Show with Shane, and The Rock with Vince. The McMahon gimmick was definitely a bit overboard and unnecessary and four way matches can be disasters, but with four good workers this match came off very well. Triple H retained the title and the match was well paced and the wrestlers themselves did a great job making this a worthwhile main event.

Wrestlemania X-Seven – Possibly the best, or at least close to the top, of all the Wrestlemania’s. Edge/Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz in a TLC match somehow managed to surpass their match from a year back and ended with Edge/Christian winning the tag titles again. With interference from Lita, Rhyno, and Spike Dudley this match never slowed down and was simply amazing.

The main event with Stone Cold Steve Austin beating The Rock for the WWF title was well worked even though most people did not like him turning heel at the end of the match and working with Vince McMahon. Even the Vince vs. Shane McMahon street fight was solid with a lot of great moments. Overall, an amazing show with the WWE being at a high point creatively and talent wise.

Wrestlemania X8 – Notable since this is the last ‘WWF’ labeled Wrestlemania and the first one after the WCW buyout by Vince McMahon the year prior. The Undertaker and Ric Flair had a brutal and bloody match that was a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Stone Cold and Scott Hall had a match that has been lambasted for many years but watching it again it was much more solid than people give it credit for. Triple H won the Undisputed Championship in the main event which was a very well worked match.

The highlight though is Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock. This match was well paced and worked to perfection. Clearly, this match was heavily planned out beforehand since Hogan was past his prime, but still came off as a viable threat to The Rock with both men having an incredibly historic match. This match alone makes this one of the most memorable Wrestlemania’s of all time.

So far a nice start to the modern Wrestlemania’s. Since this is the WWE’s biggest event every year it is usually a good, solid show with not too many disappointments.

I’ll be back next Wednesday with the next batch of Wrestlemania’s which will lead to what could be one of the best Wrestlemania’s yet in this year’s 31st edition.

NXT WWE

Hey guys! Recently, I’ve really gotten into wrestling, and just as recently, the main roster has been a bit off, so I took more notice into NXT, where new wrestlers go to be exposed to WWE audiences and learn how to work in their environment and building up their characters. I’ve gotta say, it’s really amazing.

NXT is such a great place for these new wrestlers. The divas have a real place in NXT, they don’t just get two-five minute matches that are fillers, they get some legit matches there. The storyline for the divas is more intricate like the superstars’ are. That’s always upset me with the main roster. The divas work so hard to get where they are, but they still only get one match, and sometimes two. The NXT divas don’t have more matches each episode, but with how long they are I feel like the wrestling world might make some progress and we’ll get to see them all more often.

I have been absolutely loving Charlotte. She is such a great wrestler, and she has made her father, Ric Flair, so proud. Charlotte is amazing, and she was the first one to bring my attention to NXT’s divas division. She’s got great charisma, and she pulls off her gimmick really well, and her feud with Sasha Banks is fantastic, and I’m really hoping that the little fights between Bayley and Charlotte lead to them having a feud – and I would really love if this lead to Bayley maybe changing her gimmick a bit.

It’s hard for me to judge the other divas, I’ve always been focused on Charlotte, but I really feel like they’re all doing a great job with their given gimmicks. Bayley is the only one that comes off as a weaker competitor to me, but I do feel like she can get there.

 

Hideo Itami is a great athlete and wrestler. His gimmick is good and serious, he’s strong and fairly fast, but I will admit that he is stiff (this is what NXT is for though, to expand yourself, to grow, and to learn.) – but right now his twitter feud with Tyler Breeze is fantastic. Tyler picks on Hideo and Hideo comes back just as well, in my opinion.

 

I really respect Tyler Breeze during this whole twitter feud. He has not once made any sort of comment on Hideo’s race, unlike Curtis Axel, whose first comment on him was about his race.

 

Tyler Breeze has such a fun gimmick, it’s definitely good to start out with a character like this. I think he’s hilarious, and – in a goofy way – charming. He’s a great wrestler too, he does a great job staying in character.

 

Adrian Neville is honestly one of the best athletes I’ve seen, and it’s amazing that he can only get better. He is a high-flying wrestler, and he almost always executes every move amazingly. He can keep pace like crazy and every match is so cool and fantastic. His feud with Sami Zayn was absolutely amazing too. It honestly was one of the best I’ve seen. It had depth, and it definitely showed me that NXT is a truly amazing place to be if you’re a new wrestler.

 

Sami Zayn is just as amazing as Adrian Neville. During their feud, they complemented each other perfectly throughout the entirety of it. He has recently gotten a bit more wild, and I really like that. It’s character development, and I am really excited for his and Kevin Owen’s match on NXT Takeover. I know they’re going to put on an amazing match, and I am just so excited for it.

 

NXT is amazing, I know that if Triple H had full control over WWE, it would be amazing. NXT has been nothing but perfect. I definitely feel like everyone should pay attention to these guys, even the ones I haven’t mentioned.

NXT

NXT Takeover

NXT

NXT Takeover was aired last Thursday, May 29, on the WWE Network and it is the perfect example of why the Network is worth more than the $9.99 a month charge.

For those who are not familiar with WWE’s NXT brand it is essentially their developmental league that has gained significant popularity in the past few months with the weekly shows being aired on the WWE Network and the amazing wealth of young talent on the roster.

They air a 1 hour program every Thursday and are looking to air 2 hour specials exclusively on the Network about 4 times a year.

NXT Takeover was one of the most entertaining 2 hours of wrestling aired this year. It is exciting to see the new crop of talent who busts their asses week in and week out with the hopes of getting to the main roster of the WWE get greater exposure and start to create reputations for themselves before the casual fans even know their names. It is to the point where some of the best matches in wrestling are coming out of NXT.

The matches for Takeover were as follows:

Adam Rose defeated Camacho – There was not a ton of ‘wrestling’ in this match, but the character of Adam Rose is very over and he still manages to put on a fun match even if their is not a ton going on. He is moving to the main WWE roster and hopefully, we can get to see some longer matches from him since he is a very talented performer and is quickly becoming one of my favorite wrestlers today.

The Ascension over El Local and Kalisto – I really enjoy The Ascension. They are one of those big power teams in the fashion of The Road Warriors and Demolition. I cannot help but think they will be on the main shows soon. Kalisto is an excellent Lucha Libre-style wrestler and El Local is as well, but man, he needs to lay off the cheeseburgers. He is a pretty good wrestler, but I cannot help but think he would be much better sans the spare tire.

Tyler Breeze beats Sami Zayne – Perfect example of how good NXT is. Both wrestlers have great characters with Breeze being the classic vain/pretty boy heel and Zayne being the underachieving face (good guy) that you love to root for. They are both terrific athletes and put on one hell of a match.

Charlotte over Natalya for the vacant NXT Women’s Championship – Great match! I absolutely love when the women in the WWE are actual athletes and can put on great matches. The Diva’s division has improved with Paige jumping from NXT, but overall, it is still just a large group of reality show participants who cannot work a match.  Charlotte and Natalya showed there are some great women’s wrestlers out there and the female division is improving greatly. Hopefully, this great of a match will continue this trend and show the WWE that having good female wrestlers is the best way to go.

The main event was Adrian Neville over Tyson Kidd and damn, it was a hell of match. Both of them are great performers and amazing athletes. They worked this match to perfection and it was exciting from beginning to end and told a great story.

This is a show you need to watch. It will be available on the WWE Network for a while and is more than worth $9.99 a month with a 6 month commitment (shameless plug)!

WCW Halloween Havoc 1994 & 1995

Oh, WCW. You tried so hard during this time period, but with a handful of exceptions, you still were not at the WWF’s level. We are now at the point where Hulk Hogan left the WWF for WCW, but it initially did not work as well as Ted Turner thought it would. That will change in a few years, which I will get to in a couple of weeks, but at this date you could tell the crowd were not that excited to have Hogan in WCW. With that in mind, let’s quickly look at 1994:

HH1994

We start with Johnny B. Badd vs. The Honky Tonk Man for the Television Championship. Badd wins, but that is not what I remember the most. Johnny B. Badd was a stupid gimmick. Stupid, stupid, stupid. One of those gimmicks that makes me cringe if I am watching wrestling with a non fan. The thing that really surprised me was that he was an excellent worker. He was a fairly big guy who happened to be an excellent high flyer. A great athlete who got stuck in a ridiculous gimmick. When he went to the WWF as just plain Marc Mero it must have been somewhat of a relief for him to get away from this character.

Other matches of note:

– Dustin Rhodes vs. Arn Anderson which was an excellent match between two great workers with Rhodes getting a big win.

– Nasty Boys vs. Terry Funk and Bunkhouse Buck with the Nasty Boys getting the win in a short 8 minute match that still told a good story and was a lot of fun.

– The main event was Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair with the loser ‘retiring’. This match was a mixed bag. It took place in a steel cage which can provide a ton of excitement and with characters like Sensuous Sherri and Jimmy Hart outside of the ring getting involved from time to time and Mr. T as the referee/special enforcer there were some fun moments. The issue was Hogan who was clearly at a point in his career where people just did not care as much about him anymore, especially in WCW. Ric Flair was way over as always, even though he was clearly the heel in this match, and Ric really seemed to carry the match. Hogan won which was not unexpected, but you could clearly see the signs that he was not as ‘over’ in the WCW as he was during his long WWF run.

Now to Halloween Havoc 1995…oy…we will start with the good.

17_yetti_1

Johnny B. Badd over Diamond Dallas Page – they put on a great match with a lot of good moments and DDP started showing that he was a future main event player.

Kurasawa vs. Road Warrior Hawk – very short match, but still fun with Kurasawa getting the dirty win with his feet on the ropes.

Now the bad…

Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant in a monster truck battle on the top of the arena – good grief…just stupid, stupid, stupid. Hogan won and afterwards ‘accidentally’ pushed The Giant off the top of the arena into the nearby river. Oy…

Main event was Hogan vs. The Giant again for the WCW World Title – “Surprisingly” The Giant showed up dry and unfazed. It was slow and plodding and ended with Jimmy Hart turning on Hogan. The “best” part though is when the Yeti arrived. Why he was referred to as The Yeti is beyond me since he was dressed as a mummy, but just the whole gimmick was stupid, stupid, stupid. Professional Wrestling has always had over-the-top characters, but this one was too ridiculous for even wrestling.

Next week I will discuss only the 1996 edition since this was actually a darn good PPV with some newer faces and the luchadores who started to have an impact in WCW.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1992 & 1993

These 2 Halloween Havoc’s were very interesting since they seem to be a who’s who of former WWF stars with one that I did not realize had a stint in WCW.

tumblr_inline_n1ueciMwQw1qzpwt1

 

1992 was a fun show overall with the following highlights:

Big Van Vader vs. Nikita Koloff was a good match between two big guys that showed that WCW did have some of their own talent that could compete with WWF. Same with the tag team match between Barry Windham/Dustin Rhodes and Steve Austin/Steve Williams. All four putting on a great match with Rhodes and Austin continuing their exciting feud.

The three matches featuring former WWF stars were over all good. Ricky Steamboat going against a young Brian Pillman was an excellent match and they really seemed to have a great chemistry together. Rick Rude vs. Masahiro Chono was also great with Rude not only showing his great in-ring ability but his heel personality was always very over with the crowd and provided some very memorable moments throughout his career.

The guy that I did not realize had a stint in WCW was Jake “The Snake” Roberts. He was involved in a ‘spin the wheel, make the deal match’ where early in the show his opponent Sting had to spin a large wheel to determine what type of match they had (steel cage, texas death match, etc…). It wound up being a coal miner’s glove match where whoever climbed up a pole first in the match could grab the suspended glove and knock their opponent out (it was supposedly metal lined). The match was fine for the most part until the end when Roberts used his gimmick of pulling the snake out of the bag to taunt his opponent but was instead bit on the face himself. It was an actual snake (cobra I believe) and clearly de-fanged. The problem was Roberts had to be overly physical with the snake in order to make it look like he was being bit. Let’s just say PETA would have been all over him today for how roughly he treated the snake.

Overall, a solid PPV and worth a watch.

yrGg2V6Pt6jS4Vnh30P5dOVhf5a

1993 was probably the best Halloween Havoc up to this point. Just a brief synopsis of the standout matches:

Paul Orndorff vs. Ricky Steamboat – two legends put on a great match and showed that both could still work well

Lord Steven Regal vs. Davey Boy Smith – two very different styles of wrestling that really worked well together

Dustin Rhodes vs. Steve Austin – this match seemed to be a bit of a tradition for a few years and never got old since they both had such great in-ring chemistry

Nasty Boys vs. Marcus Bagwell and 2 Cold Scorpio – simply awesome…Bagwell and Scorpio had silly gimmicks at the time, but were amazing athletes and performed some very memorable high flying moves off the top rope

Sting vs. Sid Vicious – they had a feud for a while and always managed to be entertaining

Rick Rude vs. Ric Flair – two legends who kept the crowd into the match throughout

And finally, Vader vs Cactus Jack – this was a Texas Death Match which is basically no DQ’s, falls count anywhere. Both guys beat the heck out of each and really put everything in to it which made for a fun match.

I am getting close to finishing the Halloween Havoc PPV’s and there is definitely some interesting moments where you really start to see where WCW went wrong as a company. When I get to my synopsis of those shows I may briefly go down to reviewing just one since I will have a bit more commentary.

Otherwise, next week is 1994 and 1995!

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989

For a pro wrestling fan like myself, the WWE Network is simply awesome. I have been subscribed since the day it launched and have not been disappointed. You have on demand access to nearly every WWE, WCW, and ECW PPV and various other wrestling related programming.

One of the things I have enjoyed is getting to watch the WCW PPV’s. I have always preferred WWE’s product and watched an occasional episode of WCW Monday Nitro, but never really saw many of their pay per views. I decided to start watching the annual Halloween Havoc show from the first one in 1989 and plan to watch them all over the next couple of months and give my opinions on the matches and the show itself and will get to just about everything else on the WWE Network over time

HH_89

The first thing I noticed about Halloween Havoc 1989 is that the production quality in WCW was several steps below the WWE (WWF at the time). I am not talking about the matches themselves or the wrestlers, but WCW looked like an independent company where the WWE looked like a top notch production. Ted Turner purchased the organization in 1988 and you would have thought he would have put more money into the company, but it did not come off that way. I will save more on this topic for another post and just give a quick rundown on the matches w/o posting the outcomes of the matches themselves in case you want to be surprised.

Match 1 Tom Zenk vs. Mike Rotunda – not too bad for an opening match, which have the tendency to be short and quickly forgotten, and it definitely had some exciting moments and the crowd was in to the match which helps sometimes. Definitely came off as a thrown together match though just to fill some time on the show.

Match 2 The Samoan Swat Team vs. The Midnight Express and Steve Williams – Very fun and all 6 wrestlers were over with the crowd and new how to work a match. The Midnight Express are very ’80s in their look and gimmick, but still come off as entertaining in 2014 because they were excellent performers.

Match 3 Tommy Rich vs. The Cuban Assassin – Nope..nothing to say other than it was an unneeded match and using the Lou Thesz Press as a pin is disturbing.

Match 4 The Freebirds vs. The Dynamic Dudes – I do not like The Freebirds. I know they are considered an innovative and legendary tag team, but they just come off as downright awkward to me. I know non wrestling fans will think that all pro wrestling is awkward, but for myself The Freebirds are the cream of the awkward crop. What I liked the most about this match was the tag team of Shane Douglas and Johnny Ace (The Dynamic Dudes) at such an early point in their careers especially knowing the evolution of their characters in later years.

Match 5 Doom vs. The Steiner Brothers – The best match of the night in my opinion. All four guys are excellent athletes and really put on an exciting match. It came off as a very physical, stiff match and I found myself rooting for both teams even though Doom were the heels.

Match 6 Lex Luger vs. Brian Pillman – Another good match. Both wrestlers were early in their carriers and already showed they would become top tier talent.

Match 7 The Road Warriors vs. The Skyscrapers – Another very fun match. I have always enjoyed the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom. One of my absolute favorite tag teams of all time and even some of their weaker matches late in their careers still entertain me. Sid Vicious and Dan Spivey (The Skyscrapers) played the heel role perfectly.

Match 8 Ric Flair & Sting vs. The Great Muta and Terry Funk – 4 of the all time greats put on an awesome main event match. The gimmick was that the match took place inside a steel cage that was electrified at the top. Ahh wrestling…the silly things you guys come up with. The best part was when they lowered the cage around the ring and one of the top corners caught on fire. Watching the staff climb up the cage to put it out was quite amusing. The match itself was crazy and fun. With Sting early in his career, Ric Flair at his prime, The Great Muta at his green mist spewing best, and Terry Funk at his middle aged and craziest, it was simply great fun to watch.

Overall, it was a fun PPV and interesting to see WCW in the ’80’s when I was mostly watching the WWF at the time.

I look forward to seeing all of WCW’s PPV’s and seeing the evolution of the company.