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Saturday, 17 September 2011

TNA No Surrender "As Live" notes

Ongoing No Surrender observations.....

I think I heard the crowd, in the first match, chant “Alex Riley” at Jesse Sorensen. I also thought I heard a small group chanting. “That was decent”, presumably as a counter to the overdone “This is Awesome” chant. I heartily approve.

Tazz pronounced the ‘r’ in ‘Frustration’. Will wonders never cease. Well done, Peter.

Kash is a decent addition to the company, because he has a bit of name cache, he can work, he plays a good heel, and can be used to elevate younger talent. After the initial Hardcore Justice PPV last year, I suggested that I’d have signed CW Anderson after it, because he’d have been a decent designated jobber to put people over.

Sorensen has potential, but has a long way to go. Although the crowd were chanting ‘Riley’ at him, I think Cody Rhodes is a better comparison. Cody was miles away from ready when he was first called up, but he got there, and now I think he has a great character. Sorensen looked hesitant at times, and the match never really flowed. But let’s not be too critical. He’s young, and he’ll get better.

OK, so there goes my theory about Roode screwing Storm out of it, because this match is up second. Although I did suggest having set out my idea that it could be flipped, and Storm could stitch Roode up. This is still on.
 I have a HUGE problem with the positioning of this on the show, though, because typing this before the match starts, what happens if Bully Ray wins? He’ll be in an unassailable lead at the head of the BFG standings and the second match will count for nothing, because neither Gunner nor Roode will be able to catch him. Now, I suspect Storm will win this, and he’ll do it by submission, so that Roode or Gunner has to repeat the dose, but if you go deep with the logic it is very flawed.

A guy yelling ‘fag’ into the camera. Classy. Apology forthcoming?

Awesome heel behaviour by Bully Ray at the outset to this one. He might be as good a heel as there is in the business right now. I mean that. He’s terrific.

I smiled at the long pause when Storm applied a....let’s say Leg Grapevine. I don’t know if any produces the announcers in TNA like Vince McMahon does in WWE, but I imagined someone screaming in their ears “DON”T SAY SHARPSHOOTER! SAY SCORPION DEATH LOCK”

I enjoyed the hell out of that match for a long time......but I wasn’t crazy about the finish – both the execution of it, and the ramifications. I’ll start with the positives. I think both guys have great characters, and believe them. They played their parts brilliantly, and I thought the psychology of the match, and the storytelling, was terrific.

I wasn’t crazy about the end, but I am typing this before the show finishes. It may turn out to make sense. Instinctively I don’t like that they did it this way thus far, but what it does is leave two guys fighting for a submission to get a tie at the top of the leaderboard. That could be exciting.

Of course, if you get right down to it, what kind of committee would not know what happens if it was a draw? There ought to be a contingency plan – i.e. who won the most matches cleanly, how did those who drew fair against each other? And so forth.  – but you know there won’t be. Logically, too, Bully Ray should just run to ringside after five seconds and punch Roode in the face. Then Gunner will lose ten, Roode only gain three, and Bully will win.

Mostly, though, there should be a forum to let this sink in. Would it hurt to cut one match out of the card (do we need another Woman’s title match or Tag title match really?) and have 10-15 minutes on the show which you can use to reflect on what you have seen. When a big incident happens in a big sport – and Storm losing his big chance in controversial circumstances ought to be a big incident – you go to a studio and you watch replays, and experts talk about what happened. They assess what built to it, what went down, what the consequences are. This needed two people to discuss and say what it meant, what Gunner and Roode would have to do. You have to keep up so closely in this, and even then things can be a shade confusing.

Mickie v Winter was the best v the worst music in the company. I’ll let you work out which is which.

Mickie, while not being a wonderful technical wrestler and never really having great matches, just ok ones, is a really good babyface. Her fire and mannerisms are excellent.

The match itself was again ok until the finish. How come senior referee Earl Hebner, with his 483 years in wrestling, can’t look at Mickie’s face and know something is seriously wrong? And if that blood stuff is so debilitating, how come Winter can have it in her mouth.

My head hurts and we’ve only had three matches.

Kissing a girl by force then dangling her by the hair outside the ring. That’s being a babyface, is it?

Oh look, the girls help Mexican America win. Three out of four matches so far are screwy finishes. Two of those are heel wins by interference.

I am so sick of the word ‘frickin’’ on this TV show. Anderson’s promo was awful. What was it supposed to achieve? He seemed to lose his train of thought. If that wasn’t intentional, then that’s worrying. If it was intentional, then I don’t understand it. It went nowhere.

I don’t like Tazz defending Samoa Joe’s action of late. I wouldn’t mind at all if Tazz was established as a heel commentator, but he is usually pretty down the line. His defence of Joe was flimsy, and was effectively promoting the idea that if you can’t win something, then you spoil it for everyone else. That is a heel trait, which is why a heel Joe is using it. Tazz defending it will simply conflict more viewers that don’t really want to boo Joe anyway.

Morgan v Joe was fine. It was certainly on the good side of average. But I sort of felt that needed to be better to raise the standard of the show. There were moments in the match that looked sticky, but I forgive that sometimes, especially if the story is there. Points, definitely, awarded by me for the clean finish.

Decent match between Roode and Gunner. I never felt that it got near to reaching a crescendo, but after Bischoff’s assertion that there would be a tournament final between Roode and Ray, I guess that’s why. Part of me thinks that if they were going to do a final, why not just book it and advertise it that way from the start? An extra benefit to that would be the tease to fans of Storm v Roode.

And what’s with Bischoff? Fair enough that he would book the Bully Ray v Roode match, but why did he address Roode on it like he was stitching him up? Wasn’t it fairly obvious that they’d have to do a final when the scores were tied? Was it necessary to boast about the match being unadvertised? Doesn’t that highlight a flaw?

Tenay and Tazz spent ages talking about Brian Kendrick’s headgear. Tenay said: “It’s what separates Kendrick from the rest of the pack.” What is? A hat?

It took Tenay under this match – on September 11 – to say “Crash and Burn”.

Really, really enjoyed Aries v Kendrick. Great match with excellent, physical looking action. I might have made more of the fact that Sorensen was waiting for the winner, but that’s nitpicking. One other nitpick is that I wouldn’t have had Aries do that draping, twisting DDT, for the sheer fact that if you had to have him win by Brainbuster, then the DDT looked much more devastating. Either don’t have Kendrick kick out, or don’t do the move full stop. Long term it makes it harder for places to go.

As I say, though, nitpicking. It was a great match. The best on the show so far, by miles.

The look on Bully Ray’s face when Roode no-sold the first chop was fantastic. Sold fear and confusion. Like I said, fantastic heel activity. The crowd are going crazy for Roode in this match, where they didn’t in the Gunner match. It’s not that they don’t like Roode, but that they are not sold on Gunner as a heel. He simply isn’t that dislikeable. Bully Ray (and I’m talking the character here – I don’t know the man personally) is a dick, so people want him to get beat and they rally behind the babyface.

Match is over. Right, first of all, purely from a storyline consistency perspective, why didn’t Immortal help Bully Ray? Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that they didn’t, as it was a far better match, but if you get inside the psychology of the TV show, why didn’t they get involved?

Anyway, let’s forget that. I thought the match was great. Not the technical or speedy affair that Aries v Kendrick was, but it was full of emotion and terrific storytelling. They got that crowd into it from the very start and they never let up. It was classic heel v babyface. I loved it.

The post match was ok, but I think I’d have had Fortune celebrating with Roode. It didn’t quite feel as special as it could have been. AJ, Storm and Kaz (Daniels maybe) greeting Roode backstage or running to ringside would have suggested that the win was a big deal. They could perhaps have had Roode going into the Fortune dressing room or behind the curtain and being greeted by them. Small thing, perhaps, but it would reinforced how special the group is.

The main event was just fine. TNA have to realise at some point that Sting matches are simply not good anymore. This was very much a formula three-way match, except for the fact that it contained two babyface and one heel, which was slightly awkward. We all knew Hogan would get involved in the main event – it’s just a matter of when, these days – and as expected he popped up to cost Sting the match.

I simply can’t remember the last TNA PPV which had a great main event. That’s shocking, really, given the talent they have, but it’s just been combos of a bombed Jeff Hardy, Angle, Anderson and Sting for a while. Matt Morgan occasionally. Might you, even at Destination X AJ v Daniels didn’t quite nail it. I’ve good hopes for Angle v Roode, and Angle winning was definitely the right decision, so he can defend the belt at BFG.

Possible Bound for Glory card? (Admittedly, at 10 matches, it’s a little long)
Bobby Roode v Kurt Angle
Sting v Hulk Hogan
Samoa Joe v Crimson
AJ Styles v Daniels (add a stip)
RVD v Jerry Lynn
Bully Ray, Gunner and Scott Steiner v James Storm, Mr Anderson and Jeff Hardy
Mexican America v D-Von & Pope v British Invasion v Ink Inc
Austin Aries v Jesse Sorensen
X-Division multiman Spotfest match
Mickie James v Velvet Sky v Winter

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A BFG series idea.......

This is a very off-the-cuff, unscheduled blog, based solely upon an idea I had whilst doing my regular stint on the Ministry of Slam podcast tonight. 

We were talking about TNA No Surrender which takes place tonight, and I admitted that I am a couple of weeks behind on my Impact viewing, so taking a look at the card was a bit puzzling to me, as I wasn't up to date. In particular, the final four of the Bound For Glory series had me scratching my head a little. 

You see, at the point of my current viewing (about three shows back) I haven't heard the announcers explain the format of the matches at No Surrender. Or perhaps they have but because I have been watching on Sky+, and hence fast forward liberally, I may not have heard them explain. My understanding was that there would be two semi finals and then a final, in the style of the Rugby Premiership, or football's Play Offs. Apparently, that's not correct. 

Instead, the final two matches will simply count toward the general standings, and I am informed that they stand as follows: Bully Ray 49pts, Bobby Roode 42pts, Gunner 42pts, James Storm 40pts. 

So then, using a sensible booking structure (that may be my first mistake) I would suggest that what happens is that Bobby Roode wins his match by pinfall, scoring seven points and tieing for the lead with Bully Ray. This then leaves the field open for Storm to win by submission, therefore getting ten points and getting to 50pts, just one ahead of Ray and Roode. Game over. Finito. 

Now I'm not saying that's not what they'll do. In fact, it would be an excellent plan. But is there an alternative. Is there that rarest of commodities, a genuinely shocking but logical booking swerve that TNA employ that actually works and makes sense. 

Here's how I see it. The first half of the plan is fine. Roode beats Gunner, possibly with Storm at ringside to fend off Immortal interference, and he goes on to 49pts. So the stage is set for later that night, with Storm needing a submission to win it all. 

And so that is the talk. He acknowledges it in an interview, the commentators play it up. The match begins. Immortal are represented at ringside, but Roode is there in his partner's corner. As could be the rest of Fortune. Immortal try to get involved, and are run off by Daniels, Kazarian and Styles. In the ring, after dozens of submission attempts which have failed, Storm locks in a submission hold. Perhaps a figure four or a fujiwara arm bar, or something that fits the story. Whatever it is, he has it locked in, and Bully Ray can't escape. It's over.....isn't it?

Not so fast. At the point where Bully Ray looks poised to tap, Bobby Roode slides in......and kicks Storm in the head. He picks up Storm and nails him with a huge spine buster or something. The bell rings. 

Storm wins the match by DQ. So he gets three points. He moves on to 43pts. That's not enough. But better than that, Bully Ray loses 10 for being disqualified. He goes down to 39pts. So the table reads Roode 49, Storm 43, Gunner 42, Bully Ray 39. Roode wins. He goes to BFG as the number one contender. It works on every level. 

It makes sense. He didn't facilitate the break up before now because he needed Storm's help to gain points and watch his back. Why do it? Well, for one he wants the glory of being number one contender and being the champion. Two, what happened when he was injured? Storm buddied up to Alex Shelley, and defended the title belts. Ok, they won, but Storm was risking Roode's livelihood. How could he?

There is one major flaw. In makes Roode v Storm the biggest feud in the company, and they can't do anything about it at Bound For Glory because it's Roode v the Champ. And there is a further problem, because there is then no heat on the title match, because if we assume Kurt retains, then it's heel v heel at the biggest show of the year. If Anderson wins to make it face v heel that's better, but Anderson isn't over. And who does Kurt wrestle at BFG? 

Look, it's not perfect, I admit. But I've only just come up with it. In fact, it could work the other way around. Storm could win the first match, and then screw Roode later on. But I don't feel that Storm would be right as the scheming heel. I'm championed Roode as potentially the biggest star anywhere if he is booked correctly. All the comparisons to Curt Hennig, Rick Rude and others are fair, but I see a lot of 1999/2000 Triple H in him. And say what you like about Hunter, he was a mega heel at that time. 

I'll be honest, I think I'd rather see either Storm or Roode win it fairly and have the momentum going forward to face Angle (or whomever) at BFG, but this is a decent alternative. We'll wait, and watch, and see.......

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Raw: Number 16

I've got my check shirt on and my chopper in hand (ooh, hello) because it's Lumberjack time! I will work all night and work all day to provide you with up to the minute coverage of, erm, something that happened eighteen years ago.

Anyway, it's Raw and it's the scheduled rematch between that tedious oaf Hacksaw Jim Duggan and the staggeringly brilliant Shawn Michaels. Both of whom are going into the same Hall of Fame class. No justice, is there?

Michaels starts the show chatting to Lord Alfred saying that Duggan is going to find out why he is the IC champion, when a blonde chap in a sports coat attacks. Hoorah, it's Curt Hennig, who blasts Michaels into the door of what appears to be a parked taxi. Nice. He follows this up with a modified hip toss as various New Yorkers look on at an incident the likes of which they have probably only seen three times that day. A group of people eventually try to break the fight up. To begin with they look like civilians, but eventually more and more of them have ties on and I spot Tony Garea who I'm sure broke up more fights in a suit than he had matches.

It's quite a cool visual and an interesting segment as it was very different. It felt like chaos, which was what they were trying to get across. After the fight is broken up we have the annoying theme song and then it's Vince signing in, with Savage 'ooh yeah'ing all over him. Heenan completes the comms trio, wearing a lurid orange jacket.

McMahon excitedly plugs the lumberjack match. The combination of a crowd chanting something I can't quite work out (egged on by Savage, so perhaps something offensive to Heenan) the announcers shouting and the annoying siren make this a very hard opening to watch/listen to. Heenan says Duggan paid off Perfect to do that. He says that Yokozuna will be one of the Lumberjacks. Savage says Perfect will be too.

His yammering is interrupted by the strains of "bam bam" and Mr Bigelow's uninspired theme music. Bammer is facing Typhoon - Vince says there is more than 700lbs in there, not including the official. What an odd qualifying statement.

Speaking of qualifying, this is a qualifier for the King of the Ring. It probably ought to be Prince of the Mints or Lord of the Cheeseboard, really. These two hefty fellas exchanged some shoulderblocks and slams, and I can't help but notice that the ropes look really slack. I don't know if that is due to girth or because I'm not used to seeing matches from this era.

As we get a nip slip on live TV (don't get too excited - it's Typhoon coming out of his his singlet a little. Ugh) Vince says that he thinks that the Intercontinental Title is going to change hands tonight. Oh well, that's Duggan's dreams dashed already. Unlucky, Jim. Might as well not bother since Vince "Kiss of Death" McMahon has proclaimed you champion elect.

Bigelow takes control of the match, keeping Typhoon on the outside, while Heenan rightly points out a huge gash in Bam Bam's head. Typh mounts a comeback just as we go to break, and when we return, it's a slugfest which the former Tugboat wins. However, he misses an avalanche to the corner, and Triple B nails him with a pretty awesome looking Samoan Drop. He goes up for a top rope headbutt and it's over. BBB in the KOTR.

Great call by Vince, by the way. Bam Bam is feuding with Tatanka at this point, and McMahon points out that Bigelow used Tatanka's finishing move in that match. More piebald horses and cacti herald another Smoking Gunns vignette, and Vince says they'll be on "Saturday Morning Mania" this week. Bobby stands up to get a good look at the bikini-ed up ring girl, who appears to have a killer body but also eyebrows like Groucho Marx's moustache (oh, just Google him).

Next, we have a man to make Bam Bam and Typhoon look like Victoria Beckham on one of her skinny days, it's Yokozuna. He's facing PJ Walker, which is of course Justin Credible/Aldo Montoya in a former life. By the way, if you enjoyed Bigelow and Typhoon plodding around, you get Yoko v Kamala next week.

Yoko obviously annihilates Justin Montwalker in short order, but it's really impressive. I sorely miss these type of squash (literally in Yoko's case) matches as it does so much for a character. This took about 90 seconds of TV time, tops, and the announcers did a good job of talking up his upcoming match with Hogan at King of the Ring.

Off to Gene Mean for a plug for a ICOPRO dressed up as a KOTR preview. He mentions Hogan v Yoko, then tells us Bret, Luger, Razor, Duggan and now Bam Bam are all in the tournament. Doink v Perfect is on for Wrestling Challenge and Tatanka meets Giant Gonzales on Superstars, says Gene Mean.

Back to Raw, and it's one of the deliberate unattractive, plumper ring girls. "Is that Knobbs or Sags?" says Bobby. Mr Perfect, for it he who is up next, starts to flirt with her, tenderly grabs her face and shapes to kiss her - then puts his gum in her mouth. Lovely. She liked it, though.

Jobber of the Millennium Iron Mike Sharpe is the opponent for Hennig, cast and all, and Vince calls him a veteran. The announcers talk about the upcoming Lumberjack match, which Perfect will be on hand for. Vince said last week that it's the first ever Lumberjack match, but Heenan says he has been in them before and they hurt.

Heenan says he is bored of watching Mr Perfect, and starts playing with his TV monitor like he did last week.
Again, I assume this is to prove WWF is live. After some standard action, Hennig wins with the Perfect Plex. Coming next is another 'Mr'. It's Mr Hughes.

Heenan attempts to get a (slim, attractive) ring girl's number, whilst in the ring I think I spy 'The Kamikaze Kid' aka X-Pac waiting to be jobbed. We get ICOPRO and Slim Jim ads, then we are back with Mr Hughes and Harvey Whippleman. McMahon did say last week that Hughes was being eyed up by managers, it seems old Bruno got him. Meanwhile, Sean Waltman is advertised as "The Cannonball Kid", which is different to last week. I wonder if they'll make anything of that.

Aha, yes they do. Vince calls him the Kamikaze Kid, then corrects himself. Savage points out that he was called the Kamikaze Kid the week before. Hughes is again wrestling with his sunglasses on again. After a big boot which Vince oversells, it's a Boss Man Slam variant for the win.

A commercial airs for All American Wrestling. In it, Gene Mean and Heenan mention Paris, France (That's not All American) and Mars (Neither is that). Back in the arena, Vince and Bobby hype Crush v Blake Beverley for the next show. Oooh, that's a hook, isn't it? (Note sarcasm)

Here come the Lumberjacks! First out is Terry Taylor, and he's got red and black checks on, pure lumberjack style. Oh, actually, they all have.  They haven't entered to music, they've just wandered out, so I'm trying to pick out who they are. Mr Hughes is back, as is Yokozuna (no checks for him). I think I see Typhoon again. Bigelow, too.

Hacksaw Jim is out to his 'hoooo' music, and he runs into the ring.....then out again to punch Yoko to the floor. Good move, Jim, anger the biggest Lumberjack. That'll work.

Michaels arrives on crutches. He is obviously suggesting he can't wrestle. Perfect sneaks up behind him, punches him, and throws him in the ring. At this point Shawn is obviously ok, and as a true American hero, Duggan attacks Shawn from behind. Shawn goes to the outside, and Perfect throws him back again. I think I see Tatanka and Bob Backlund as lumberjacks, too. Michaels is dressed in jeans and cowboys boots, by the way.

This is now a virtual re-run of last week. Slow, dull offence by Duggan, "Shawn is Gay" chants from homophobic idiots in New York, pointless "U-S-A" chants to follow (they are both American, you spanners) and Shawn desperately overselling. Can you tell I'm not enjoying it?

At one stage, Shawn tries to leave, but Perfect and Backund bring him back. Shawn has had no offence for the entire match so far, which is probably about six minutes. Duggan misses a legdrop, and when he stands, Shawn has taken off his boot and nails Jim with it. Ref knocked down and didn't see it. Duggan to the outside, but the heels roll him in.

We go back and forth with this for a while before HJD takes over, and hits his three-point-stance clothesline which knocks Shawn to the outside. Stupidly, WWF go to break at this point. Are you kidding? We had to sit through that then a finisher hits and you go to commercials? Wow.

We're back, though, and now Shawn is on top and looks fine. Michaels misses a splash in the corner, and Bam Bam pops up onto the apron. Duggan is distracted, Shawn knees him in the back and throws him to Yokozuna. The big Samoan chops and legdrops Hacksaw then rolls him in. Shawn places one foot on Duggan for a pin, but on the count of two Perfect runs in and smashes Shawn. So it's a DQ. After all that, it's a DQ and Shawn wins. Vince says 'there's going to be trouble here' and we go to....Macho Man in a pretape plugging action figures. Random. Back to the ring, and Bam Bam is inside it and pacing about. Shawn comes running back in and attacks Perfect. Then all the Lumberjacks (except Yoko) come in and start a mass brawl.  Duggan swing his plank at everyone and they scarper (hey, was that Iron Mike Sharpe?).

And that's your lot. A mess of a show that. No action to truly speak of, and an awful main event. Next time, we have Kamala v Yokozuna to look forward to. Oh joy..........

Monday, 5 September 2011

Blue Meanie interview

I have a brand new podcast now up with an 80+ minute interview with former WWE and ECW star The Blie Meanie - check it out -