Tuesday, 4 August 2015

You'll Always Be My Number 1 Hot Rod By Steve Lazenby

Piper vs Bad News Brown At Wrestle Mania VI
People who know about my love of wrestling know that I was a massive fan of one wrestler and that never changed throughout my years as a watching.

Sure icons came and great ones went and everyone got an attitude but in my eyes one man still remained at the top of the wrestling tree.

My first experience of wrestling was what we would come to know as World Of Sport. 

Saturday Afternoons watching the likes of Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy while most were drawn to the top 2 guys, I was in awe of the rough brawling style of Rollerball Rocco this would be a theme that stayed with me.

The WWF wasn't as available in the 80's as it is now and occasionally world of sport would show some matches usually featuring  the honkytonk man, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man or Andre The Giant.

My first full PPV I saw was the 1990 Royal Rumble I was enjoying  the main event then entrant number 6 came out and I instantly forgot about the prospect of seeing the big men go at it. 

Jake 'The Snake' Roberts was getting a beating from the 'Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibease and the 'Macho Man' Randy Savage all hope looked lost for Roberts as his foes tied him up in the ropes the countdown began not knowing who many of the superstars at the time where imagine my surprise when a screaming lunatic in blue trunks came tearing down the walk way throwing punches to anyone who stepped in his way mainly Savage and Dibase.

As the match went on through the carnage of my first rumble match I watched this mad man more and more untill He was eliminated by Bad News Brown my disappointment didn't last long as both Hot Rod and Bad News  battled each other backstage. I enjoyed the rest of the rumble and the first confrontation between hogan and the Warrior felt special.

I did what any 15 year old would do after seeing something he liked I nagged and nagged and nagged untill my parents caved in and installed Sky TV.

Every sunday I watched WWF challenge and superstars and Saturday night main events. during the next 3 months I noticed feuds where been built between certain wrestlers the main focus been the Hulkster and the Ultimate Warrior but I wanted to see Piper and Bad News go at it, I was also drawn towards Brown as he too was a take no nonsense brawler.


Wrestle Mania VI came and I snuck downstairs turned the TV on and started to watch the event live the event will ever remain my favourite mania ever mainly for nostalgic reasons but it's an event I still watch regularly the wrestlers came down to the ring in electric carts it felt special. The video showed a brief history of the lead up to the Piper vs Brown match the screen cut to mean Gene and Piper with Roddy stood on one side facing Okerland he then said "some call me Hot Rod but some call me the Hot Scot" with that he span 180 degrees to reveal himself half painted black once again this lunatic captured my attention. 

With both men in the ring Jesse Ventura said "you're not gonna see too many hammerlocks you're not gonna see headlocks you're gonna see punching and kicking" I was shouting at the referee to get out the way and let them fight as we all know they can hear us through the TV set right?

The match ended in a double count out as both superstars just beat the living daylights out of each other. At Summer Slam I was disappointed  that neither Hot Rod or the Hot Scot where on the card until I watched it and he was on commentary instead of 10 minutes I got 3 hours and his colour commentary still has me laughing today.

Over the years like most UK fans in the 90's I collected Silver Vision video cassettes if it came down to a choice I would look to see which one had Hot Rod on.

I never got to meet Roddy and now I never will but I did get to see him wrestle on various UK tours .

He continuously pushed boundaries and made history the now infamous coconut segment will remain one of the most talked about in wwf/e history. 

He turned a potential train wreck segment into gold when he pulled Zach Gowan's prosthetic leg off during a Smackdown segment with Mr America (a recently canned Hulk Hogan in a generic American mask).

"I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and I'm all out of bubblegum"

Rest in peace Hot Rod 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper you will always be my number 1.



Monday, 3 August 2015

NXT July 29 2015 Recap By: Jeromme Graham



Kevin Owens vs Danny Burch


1. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Dash & Dawson

First match of the night is Enzo & Cass vs. Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson. As always the crowd goes wild for Enzo & Cass, chanting every word of their entrance spiel. Dash & Dawson are a team that is only appears on NXT TV sporadically, but they are favourites of the live event audience. Later in the match, Cass had the momentum in his favor, using a boot to knock Wilder off the ring apron and hitting Dawson with a swinging side slam. Carmella pumped Enzo up on the outside and the fun loving tag team seemed poised to hit the Rocket Launcher, but Dash & Dawson fired back. Dash & Dawson finished the match with The Shatter Machine, essentially a pop-up Codebreaker. This was a really solid match. It was surprising to see Enzo & Big Cass take the loss, but it served as a great way to establish Dash & Dawson and add new depth to the tag division.

We then get a backstage interview with Jason Jordan and Chad Gable talking themselves up and explaining why they are above the other teams in NXT.

We're also treated to a video package recapping the feud between Dana Brooke and Charlotte.

2. Baron Corbin vs. Jesse Sorensen

Baron Corbin makes his way out to the ring for the next match. In a cool surprise, his opponent is former TNA talent Jesse Sorensen. There's not much to say as this was your run of the mill Corbin squash. Knee to the gut, End of Days and the match is over. At this point, it would be nice to see Corbin doing something new.

Backstage, Tyler Breeze begs William Regal for some competition. Regal says he'll go the ends of the Earth to find an opponent for Prince Pretty and that he should be careful for what he wishes. Ominous.

3. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan vs. Elias Samson and Levis Valenzuela Jr.

Right off the bat, it's clear to see that pairing Jason Jordan with Chad Gable has done wonders for him. They play off each other well and it genuinely seems like both guys are having a ton of fun. Jordan wasted little time in taking down Valenzuela, which sent him scrambling to tag in Samson. Samson made it known that he wanted to square off against Gable. Gable displayed his technical prowess on Samson, transition into different holds and reversals. Towards the end of the match, Jordan hit a huge belly-to-belly on Valenzuela. Jordan and Gable finished the energetic Dominican off with the move they call the Grand Amplitude, an aided bridging high angle belly to back suplex.

In the back, Dana Brooke is flanked by Emma and tells Devin Taylor that she's going to take over NXT and that she'll be serving Charlotte an eviction notice tonight. Dana teases not patting Devin on the head, but ultimately does it. It seems inevitable that we'll see Devin eventually face off against Dana Brooke.

We then get a video package of Bull Dempsey's miserable attempts to get in shape or "Bull-fit" as he calls it. The former "Last of a Dying Breed" seems to be on track to becoming NXT's lovable rotund comedy babyface.

4. Charlotte vs. Dana Brooke

The feud between Charlotte and Dana has been going on for a couple of months now, but this match didn't feel like it had any steam behind it all. With Charlotte firmly being on the main roster, it makes sense to have her tie up any loose ends in NXT, but a three minute match that largely had Charlotte in control isn't beneficial to Dana. Charlotte knocked Emma off the apron as she attempted to interfere. The finish came when Charlotte hit the Natural Selection on Dana after levelling her with a spear.
Samoa Joe is backstage, cutting a promo the camera. He says he wants the NXT Championship and calls out Rhyno for a match next week.

William Regal is wondering whether or not Kevin Owens intentionally meant to hit him. Owens walks up and apologizes in a matter that seems genuine. As Owens walks off, Regal says he can't wait to see Owens get beaten down in Brooklyn.

From there, we get a Rhyno vignette.

Devin Taylor is in the back with Eva Marie. Eva Marie says that she feels her hard work is starting to pay off and that she's got her eyes on the NXT Women's Championship. She tells Sasha Banks to watch out, which I'm sure will rile up smarks everywhere. 

5. Kevin Owens vs. Danny Burch

The next match up sees Kevin Owens taking on a returning Danny Burch. It's great to see Burch (Martin Stone) back in an NXT ring and it's clear that the Full Sail crowd felt the same way as the chanted Burch's name throughout the match. Burch barely got any offence in and was finished off with a pop-up powerbomb.

From there, we get right into the main event.

6. NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Blake and Murphy (with Alexa Bliss) vs. The Vaudevillains

This was a really fun match between two stand out NXT tag teams. The action went back and forth. Towards the end of the match, Aiden English was able to dodge out of the corner, sending Wesley Blake into the ringpost. Murphy tagged himself in and English was able to tag in Simon Gotch. Gotch house like a house on fire and stunned Murphy with a jumping double-knee strike. The Vaudevillains had Murphy in position for the Whirling Dervish, but Alexa Bliss interfered and grabbed English's foot, which led to him rolled up by Murphy for the win.
After the match, The Vaudevillains were able to fight off Blake and Murphy. They had Alexa Bliss surrounded, circling her. Being that they are chivalrous gentlemen, they ultimately held the ropes open for Bliss to leave the ring of her own accord. Bliss slapped both English and Gotch and left to join her boys on the ramp.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Another One Gone Too Soon - R.I.P. 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper



So sad to discover 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper has passed away aged 61. Roddy it seems, died from a heart attack at his home on Friday afternoon.

I first saw Piper wrestling in 1990, I'll never forget the feud with Bad News Brown which saw him paint himself half black for their match at Wrestle Mania VI.

Here is Piper At Wrestle Mania VI
As 1990 was the year I got into wrestling I went back to find earlier stuff on video from the world of pro wrestling and I came across a tape released by Pro Wrestling Illustrated I believe covering various matches from the NWA and it featured a brutal match from Starrcade 83 which saw Piper take on Greg Valentine in a dog collar match.

The Infamous Dog Collar Chain Match From Starrcade '83
Piper would go in and out of wrestling over the years but what really put him on the map was main eventing the first ever Wrestle Mania where he teamed with 'Mr Wonderful' Paul Orndorff to take on Hulk Hogan & Mr. T with Muhammed Ali at ringside. The following year saw Piper face Mr. T in a boxing match at Wrestle Mania 2.

Piper's charisma saw him land a role in the John Carpenter movie 'They Live' in 1988.

Piper had a career in wrestling that took him all over but he is more well-known for his time in the WWF where in 1992 he won his one and only title in the promotion, the Intercontinental, when he defeated The Mountie (Jacques Rougeau) this led onto one of Piper's most memorable matches as he took on Bret 'Hitman' Hart at Wrestle Mania VIII (FULL match HERE).

Piper vs Bret Hart At Wrestle Mania VII
At Wrestle Mania XII in 1996 Piper had a match billed as a 'Back Lot Brawl' with Goldust which would see them re-inact the infamous car chase that took place when the police were chasing OJ Simpson down the L.A. freeways.

There is so much I have left out of this article about Piper, he had had such a hugely entertaining career and in 2005 he was inducted into the WWE's Hall Of Fame  and it was a long time friend and former in-ring nemesis Ric Flair who inducted him.

Piper At The Hall Of Fame in 2005
In more recent times Piper had been  hosting his own podcast 'Piper's Pit' which was very good indeed. He had some issues with the podcast which was documented elsewhere but while it was around, it was one of the better ones hosted by current/former pro wrestlers

After surviving cancer it makes it even more sad that Piper has past away, he'll be remebered as one of the greatest villains to ever grace the squared circle and he is a bonified hall of famer and will be missed in the world by his family I am sure of that and by us the fans, we will remember him fondly.

R.I.P. Hot Rod

Thursday, 9 July 2015

WWE Payback DVD Review By Dave Adamson




WWE Payback starts with a well produced introduction video, with Seth Rollins, John Cena and Rusev featured heavily.

Sheamus vs Dolph Ziggler

For those unaware, there was a “kiss my arse” match at Extreme Rules and, in this match, payback will be served as Ziggler, the winner of said match, failed to get a smooch on the backside, with Sheamus forcing an unconscious Ziggler’s face into his pale buttocks instead.

This is the world’s biggest and most popular wrestling promotion, everyone!

So, a rematch…

Despite the absolutely preposterous set up for this match, Ziggler and Sheamus demonstrate that they’re two of the best, yet woefully used, wrestlers that WWE has on its roster.

That’s not to say that this is wrestling at its purest - Sheamus is on the receiving end of Ziggler’s buttocks, unleashing the fury of the mighty Irish one and, eventually, securing him the victory.

Kane and Seth Rollins Talk About Seth’s Match

Backstage, Kane, dressed in his best working clothes, speaks to Seth Rollins as they try to come to an understanding and let bygones be bygones.  Kane seems to think that, as the veteran, he’s been the bigger man and hopes that Rollins, whom he’s been trying to protect, loses his match.

Leaving on a threatening note, Rollins walks away whilst Kane laughs mockingly.

Two out of Three Falls Match - New Day vs Tyson Kidd & Cesaro

New Day dance their way to the ring, with Xavier Woods preaching to the crowd.  Apparently, all the crowd have to do is Bo-lieve… sorry, “think positive”. 

Kingston taking a double stomp off Cesaro
Whereas New Day may seem awkward, despite their ability, there’s no issue with the superb performance of Kidd and Cesaro who have gelled as a tag team and shown that personality is just as important as ability. 

With the match entering its third fall, the stakes are high for the future of the WWE Tag Team Titles, but it all gets a bit messy and Xavier Woods, who wasn’t in the match, rolls up Cesaro for the win.

New Day retain the WWE Tag Team Titles!

Byron Saxton Interview With Ryback

Ryback doesn’t know what to expect of Bray Wyatt, especially when Wyatt is trying to convince Ryback that he’s worth nothing.

Thankfully, this isn’t going to stop Ryback as he promises to eat the Eater of Worlds.

Ryback vs Bray Wyatt

Wyatt has been playing mind games on the seemingly unstoppable Ryback, hoping to shake his confidence and weaken the hungry beast.

Ryback is the powerful assailant in this one, with Wyatt being no cruiserweight himself, despite occasional moments where he moves into high flying territory.  A slow, methodical confrontation ensues, with strength being the deciding factor, until Wyatt hits Sister Abigail and it’s a victory for the Eater of Worlds.

I Quit Match - John Cena vs Rusev

Recapping events since they first clashed at the Royal Rumble, this is a match that focuses on the age old WWF/E story of pride versus arrogance, as seen from both sides of the American/Russian divide.

Cena has, for more than a decade, stood on top of the mountain that is WWE and looks unlikely to step down anytime soon.  He’s a modern day superman, a larger than life warrior who overcomes all the odds and reminds us all why we should be proud of what we are - “Rise Above Hate,” as he’d say.

Many people dislike John Cena, their vitriol is well catalogued online, however Marty Scurrl recently put it best - we don’t like John Cena, we dislike the character he’s portraying.  He’s become the face of WWE, the man who grants wishes to sick children, entertains his fans and confounds his detractors.. detractors who, for reasons that escape me, don’t choose a Cena match as an opportunity to go to the bar/rest room/food stall, but chant “Cena Sucks” at him with such zeal that it’s practically adoration.

Rusev has, ever since teaming with Lana and becoming a ward of Mother Russia, been the antithesis of Cena’s heroism.  He’s just as proud of his homeland, but this sets him at ideological opposites with Cena.  Not that this is really about ideals, it’s about good guy vs bad guy.

Rusev brutalizing Cena
Watching Rusev brutalise John Cena, Rusev doesn’t over exert himself as he rains blow after blow upon a weakening Cena - a man refusing to say “I quit”.  As both men grow increasingly frustrated, they use the ring and arena to try to destroy each other, with the ref randomly asking “do you want to quit?”  Laptops, tables, storage containers, AV equipment, pyrotechnics and a multitude of other articles are turned into a weapon until, finally Rusev locks in The Accolade, rendering Cena unconscious - which isn’t, it seems, a criteria for victory.

So enraged is Rusev that he unfastens the top turnbuckle, goes to attack Cena, who grabs the ring rope and locks in an STF which causes Rusev to say, in Russian (or Bulgarian, it’s difficult to say) lots of words until Lana has no choice but to quit on behalf of Rusev!

Cena retains the title.

Kick Off Panel

Renee Young, once more, presents a roundtable, featuring Booker T and Corey Graves - plenty of room at that large table.

In effect, the panel is nothing more than an extra set of commentators, possibly giving the A-team of Cole, JBL and Lawler a breather and a chance to prepare themselves for what’s to come.

A highlight reel from the MegaPowers (Sandow & Axel) vs The Ascension plays, then New Day drink milk from champagne glasses until Byron Saxton interviews them. 

Divas Match - The Bella Twins vs Tamina & Naomi

How to follow an “I Quit” match?  Let’s have an “I Don’t Care” match as we see The Bella Twins take on Tamina & Naomi.  They’ve got a rivalry that seems to stretch back all of two weeks, so there’s a lot invested in this one.

Tamina seems to be stuck in the shuffle of Divas, with no real purpose but a solid wrestling pedigree.  The Bellas are the focus of this match, with Naomi being the primary antagonist.  The Bellas are a decent tag team, Tamina is the muscle in this match, whilst Naomi has light up boots which probably allowed her to secure the win for her team.

Angry Rusev is Angry

Rusev rants in Russian/Bulgarian, demanding that Lana leaves, before ranting again, and telling Lana to “get out”. She does, this time, allowing Rusev to continue being angry.

Daniel Bryan

Recapping the previous week’s episode Raw, we see Daniel Bryan surrender the Intercontinental Title following a career threatening injury.  On the microphone, Bryan delivers a hugely emotional speech, explaining that he can’t be a fighting champion and that his MRI has led to a diagnosis that could sideline him for an indeterminate period.

Daniel Bryan, throughout his time in WWE, has shown himself to be a step above many of his peers and contemporaries in the WWE.  His talent was undeniable, but on the microphone he’s been the total package, a consummate professional and a template for anyone who wishes to follow in the footsteps of greatness.

King Barrett vs Neville

Hearing Neville introduced as “The Man That Gravity Forgot” sends shivers of anticipation down spines of British wrestling fans and seeing him in the ring against fellow Brit, Wade Barrett is always going to be spectacle.

A brawler with technical skills against one of the world’s best high flyers, it’s a testament to the talent that Britain has to offer and what it looks like when it’s moulded in the crucible of the WWE.

The fans may fall quiet at points, but that’s because they’re not watching the theatrics that they’re used to, this isn’t “sports entertainment” it’s entertaining wrestling.

As the two men exchange blows, Neville glides around the ring whilst Barrett shows just how powerful he is, until he walks away, giving Neville a countout victory, much to the annoyance of Neville… and the fans.

Fatal Fourway: Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose vs Randy Orton

Kane and Rollins have issues that The Authority can’t effectively resolve, so the plan is that if Rollins doesn’t walk out as Champion, Triple H will fire Kane.  Reigns, Ambrose and Orton also have issues with each other, so it’s pretty much every man for himself with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on the line.

Of the four men, Reigns is the one that divides fans the most - he looks the part, but a few stumbles have seen his stock fall in the WWE Universe and it’s a slow journey to regain their respect.  Dean Ambrose, however, is on fire as the “lunatic fringe” and, in this match, he’s “just along for the ride”, fulfilling the dreams of anyone who lives by the mantra “fortune favours the foolish”.  Randy Orton has, very much like Cena, become something of a cornerstone of WWE - a consistent performer who has standout moments that everyone talks about.  Rollins, by contrast, has been thrust into the limelight by his association with The Authority and their intent on keeping the title on him - it’d be interesting to see how he’d perform without the friends in high places angle.

Rollins with a superkick on Ambrose
They may despise Reigns, but when you see the 6ft 3in 265lb deliver an elbow drop by leaping over the top rope, they go wild.  Despite moments like this, it’s Ambrose that the fans are truly behind, with their support of Orton coming a close second.

The fans are at their most raucous when Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins tease the reformation of The Shield, only to get louder when they turn on Rollins, and level everyone else.  The match boils down to absolute chaos, as all the men take each other out in various ways, until Rollins is able to hit a Pedigree on Orton to retain.

Is it possible that Payback was an ironic name?  “Payback” was aimed at we annoying wrestling fans who dislike the direction of WWE, but insist on watching, analysing and criticising their every move, match and star.  It was a way for them to say “well, here’s what we do - we put on good matches, we put on bad matches and we can do it all whenever we want… and you’ll watch it.

The “I Quit” match was overly long (even within the context of an “I Quit” match), some of the backstage segments work wore thin, The Divas match was underwhelming and the whole Kane angle now feels overplayed.  On the other side of things, premise aside Ziggler vs Sheamus was strong, as was Cesaro & Kidd, Barrett vs Neville is bound to engross British wrestling enthusiasts as it brings together British and American styles flawlessly.  Ambrose continues to be in-ring gold (complete with the Kellett ring rebound clothesline) and seeing Rollins attempt to reunite The Shield was comedy gold with a fantastic payoff.

It’s this confounding mix of good and bad - with little in between - that has perplexed many wrestling fans, but kept us all watching.  We want to see what happens next because we’re afraid that, if we don’t, we won’t be there for the big moments - the pipebombs, the shock returns, the shock defeats and whatever else the WWE throw in our path.

Extras

The DVD features the entertaining Payback Kickoff Match which sees Mega Powers (Damien Sandow as Macho Mandow and Curtis Axel as AxelMania) taking on The Ascension.  Comedy versus intensity, with plenty of ability mixed in makes this worth watching in place of some of the main PPV matches!

Two featurettes sees interviews with Neville and Kane.

Neville talks about the impact his made in the WWE and how he’s lived with other people’s doubts for years.  He describes himself as “a small lad from a small town in England”, but he really does have the makings of a big star in the WWE.

Kane talks about the aftermath of the Fatal Fourway, explaining that he always does what’s best for business.

Though Neville is interesting to listen to, these are two throwaway interviews.

The DVD suffers from occasionally low bit rate that causes images to be grainy and, occasionally, blurry.  It’s not a problem when the focus is on the matches, but wide shots, long shots and, occasionally, the commentator table look a bit grainy and subpar.  On-screen graphics are occasionally affected, too.

Audio is well presented throughout, in surround sound, and with the volume turned up it’s an immersive experience.  The sound of in ring action, crowd response and commentary is well balanced.


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Old Boys DVD Review By Richard Edmund


'The Old Boys', a new documentary from director Vikram Rekhi, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of some of the legends of the wrestling business in their own words. Filmed over a number of years, the documentary boasts an impressive array of interview subjects, from the likes of Ted DiBiase, Jake Roberts, Honky Tonk Man, Demolition, Terry Funk & The New Age Outlaws to Diana Hart-Smith, Dynamite Kid, Paul Roma, Roddy Piper & The Iron Sheik. In a mixture of sit-down interviews and footage from convention panels and autograph signings, the film covers a number of topics and has a reflective tone as the wrestlers look back on their careers and the business as a whole, as well as their lives now their time in the ring has come to a close. 

For the most part it remains a light-hearted affair with many funny stories from the road and anecdotes, but it takes a sombre turn when talking about subjects such as the untimely deaths of Owen Hart and others, or the personal toll the wrestling business can have on the lives of the wrestlers and their families. However, it never dwells too long on any one subject, which is probably for the best in certain cases, such as Marty Jannetty retelling the oft told story of how Shawn Michaels screwed him over, or Paul Roma's obvious bitterness about how the wrestling world treated him during his career. 

The film jumps back and forth from one subject to another and, while it was definitely an enjoyable watch, there wasn't much of a sense of structure to the piece. It felt very disjointed at times and the segues were often abrupt, which even one of the interviewees, Roddy Piper, remarks upon at one point. But for what it lacks in order it makes up for in charm. There's a definite candid approach to the interviews and typically outspoken guys like The Iron Sheik or Honky Tonk Man pull no punches, while others are just happy to share their stories and words of wisdom for future generations.

There's some genuinely funny and personal moments as well, with audio of one of Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith's notorious prank phone calls, or The Iron Sheik recalling Vince McMahon's difficulty in conveying to Sheiky-baby that he'd tested positive for cocaine, as well as footage from the British Bulldog's wedding. We get to see the wrestlers at work on the merchandise table and many talk about how much they enjoy the conventions and giving something back to the fans. The film also takes a brief look at one of wrestling's stranger figures, Virgil, who's only too happy to show how he works the crowds and gets a sale from people who often don't know who he is.

Overall 'The Old Boys' is a well produced and entertaining film. There's a few niggling complaints with the audio levels in certain sections, especially with the footage from the busy autograph tables, and while on-screen subtitles appeared for the off-screen interviewer's questions, they perhaps would've been handy for some of the more incoherent cast members as well, such as Iron Sheik or Dynamite Kid. The aforementioned structural choices may make the film seem somewhat disjointed, but as a documentary it's never less than engaging and for fans of old school wrestling it provides a good slice of life look at how the wrestlers view their careers and the wrestling business at large.

'The Old Boys' is available now on DVD or on-demand at http://theoldboysmovie.com/

19 Years Ago...."We're Taking Over"


So 19 years ago today at WCW Bash At The Beach, the nWo was formed. Of course, The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) had arrived in WCW in what was made to look like an invasion from the WWF, who could forget Hall's line on the microphone on Nitro "you know who I am but you don't know why I'm here". Not too long after, Nash came in and the would go on to attack Eric Bischoff  at the Great American Bash. 

So the WWF were battling WCW in a ratings war, Hall & Nash came over and all the talk was about who if anyone, would also come in from the WWF. Well, after the GAB attack, it was announced that The Outsiders would be joined by someone else at the BATB to face then WCW's top 3 guys in a tag match, those 3 were of course Lex Luger, Sting & 'Macho Man' Randy Savage. There was plenty of speculation of who it would be but nothing concrete. 

So the match began with the WCW guys against Hall & Nash and all those watching on PPV and in the arena were wondering who the 3rd guy would be. Savage would get injured and was carried out, and some point after, Hulk Hogan came out and of course the majority thought he was coming to save the WCW guys where in fact, he was there to turn on them and allign himself with The Outsiders. The place went crazy with all sorts of stuff being thrown into the ring while Hogan was on the microphone had said they were the "new world order of wrestling" and this was the birth if you like of the nWo.

Like a lot of things in wrestling, the nWo wasn't an original idea it's well-known that Bischoff had seen basically the same angle take place in Japan and brought it to the states. It's ironic really as with their working relationship with NJPW there would go on to be an nWo Japan featuring the likes of Masahiro Chono & Keiji Muto (Great Muta).
 
For a decent time the nWo was a hot angle, it helped WCW smash the WWF in the ratings war but eventually, it would become watered down with people joining who really had no place, Vincent (Virgil in the WWF) comes to mind.
 
With Hogan being the third man it was a big deal, he had to be convinced it was the right thing to do even though he was being booed in the arenas he was going to. Kevin Sullivan who was booking for WCW at the time recently revealed that he lived 10 minutes away and kept Hogan in his house until the semi-main event, up until that point, Sting would of been the 3rd man.
 
In closing, the nWo was an interesting concept at first but soon lost it's way. Hogan, Hall & Nash would later come into the WWE as the nWo but that was short lived.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

WWE Wrestle Mania XXXI DVD Review By Dave Adamson

I

Presented over three DVDs, Wrestlemania 31 includes the event itself, split across two discs, along with the Wrestlemania KickOff Show, featuring the Fatal 4-Way Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship and the Andre the Giant Battle Royale, the Hall of Fame and interviews with John Cena and Seth Rollins.

Every year, Wrestlemania manages to draw the highest of expectations and equally elate and disappoint.  For all the big moments and matches that fans remember, as with every WWE PPV and many of their shows, there are many moments that don’t hit the mark - this year, we’ve got the “much anticipated” Sting vs Triple H - fourteen years in the making, WCW vs WWE and all the other hyperbole that the commentary team throws out, but at least a decade too late.  There are highs - Paige & AJ Lee, the opening ladder match, The Rock appearing with Rhonda Rousey, Brock Lesnar being the machine he is.  There are also many lows, as there always are in Wrestlemania, but Wrestlemania 31 is by no means the worst WWE PPV, or the worst Wrestlemania.

With Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler and JBL on commentary, WWE know fans know what to expect as they switch from calling the action, to talking amongst themselves, bickering and generally filling in bits of silence as they go along.

WWE has incredibly high production values - camera angles seem to pop up out of nowhere, capturing every moment and getting up close to the action.  It’s incredibly polished and everyone looks great - like superstars, which is what WWE builds its guys up to be.

The WWE Hall of Fame is split over discs two and three, with the bulk of the inductees featured on disc 3. With much of the WWE roster, including Legends and previous Hall of Famers, in attendance, and a large, vocal representation of the WWE Universe, The Hall of Fame is certainly a lively affair, though if you want the full experience in one go, it’s worth looking at the WWE Network.

Jerry Lawler, as the master of ceremonies, does a decent job, and the WWE Superstars vary in their quality as they talk about each inductee, but passion and belief of the inductees shines through as they speak about their careers.  There are some touching speeches and plenty of humour, though some of the speeches due tend to drag on - a combination of age and failing memory seem to contribute to this.  The recognition of the WWE Hall of Fame cannot be faulted as a nostalgia trip.

From a technical point of view, there are issues with the DVDs - the long shots of crowds and some of the panning shots of the Wrestlemania set certainly does no favours to the DVD format as there’s plenty of pixelation going on.  The commentary occasionally quietens randomly, though occasionally to emphasise the cheers of the crowd or certain high spots.  This would be fine if it achieved its purpose - you can’t help but feel that hearing the crowd be louder than the commentary would be better, instead of turning the commentary down - instead it just gets distracting rather quickly.

The elephant in the room, of course, is whether it’s worth investing in this DVD, the BluRay or just sticking with the WWE Network.  Given the choice, it’d be cheaper to opt for the WWE Network, which will, at least, give you a 720p experience, whilst the BluRay will, no doubt, have better picture quality than the WWE Network and DVD and suffer fewer of the issues present in the technical mastering seen here.

For those of you who may not have seen the show, here follows a lengthy breakdown of Wrestlemania 31 and the other matches that feature on the discs

Aloe Blacc starts off proceedings with a rendition of America, The Beautiful before LL Cool J reminds us why we should care about Wrestlemania and how we’re all connected.

Daniel Bryan vs Bad New Barrett (Intercontinental Champion) vs Dolph Ziggler vs Luke Harper vs R Truth vs Dean Ambrose vs Stardust

A ladder match with, just to emphasise the point, probably a dozen ladders outside the ring, is the first match and sees all seven men fighting for the Intercontinental Championship, using the ladders to thrill the crowds whilst throwing each other around the ring, flying through the air and battering each other with the ladders.

As an opening match, this was certainly spot on at getting the crowd excited.  It was a high-octane spotfest with enough jeopardy to tease the fans.  With both Ziggler and Bryan atop the ladder, the fans were clearly divided, but it would eventually be Bryan who snagged the belt for the win… and the crowd went wild.

Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins

Having betrayed both The Authority and Seth Rollins, Randy Orton goes into the match promising the end the “future of the WWE”, though “Mr Money in the Bank” Seth Rollins is accompanied by J&J Security who will, no doubt, get involved at some point.

Making his twelfth Wrestlemania appearance, Orton has become a master of moments - turning a kerb stomp into a powerslam, looking flawless as he slowly stalks around the ring, and then there’s that RKO.  Rollins’ future looks bright in this match, too - he is a beast of a man who moves gracefully and powerfully, equalling Orton’s ability on many levels.

In the end, J&J Security weren’t really needed - making you wonder why they’re there in the first place - and Randy Orton manages to lure Rollins in for an RKO that would be talked about for months to come as he hits it… out of nowhere.

Cut to a very excited Rhonda Rousey.

 Triple H vs Sting

“Two icons of an era, two cornerstones of two companies” and it starts with a promo video building up Triple H and his contribution to WWE and cementing his role as the authority figure, before introducing Sting as the vigilante with a vendetta.  It also sets up, effectively, what will happen in this match as “The King” goes up against “The Vigilante” - sadly, not The King vs The King Slayer, but there you go.

Sting comes out to a Japanese band with Sting facepaint playing drums and banging gongs - it’s not a recognisable ditty, but they’re certainly enthusiastic.  Then we get the black and white Sting Titantron video (Out From the Shadows, for those wondering) which starts off as a cacophony as the band continue to play.

To show they’re on a level playing field, Triple H is introduced by Arnold Schwarzenneger as the Cheese-800, sorry T-800 from Terminator, and we get an end-of-the-world vibe as the King of Kings, The Game, The Cerebral Assassin makes his entrance, surrounded by Terminator statues and some blokes in masks.  As he ascends from the ground, in a custom Terminator crown, with faceplate and arms, he waits to have the accoutrements removed as his theme kicks in - all this because the event is sponsored by Terminator: Genisys.

Then the match begins and quickly gets old.  This would certainly have hit the spot if it had taken place after WWE acquired WCW, but this is just painful - run ins from (the main members of) NWO and DX (with no reference to divided loyalties) break up the action and, whilst both men can still perform, it doesn’t come close to either’s performances only a year or two ago!  Sure, they’re older, but neither is in terrible shape or coming out of retirement for this.

The match amounts to a brawl, slow and methodical, with the crowd behind Sting, as both men tussle, break, tussle, break.  The commentary doesn’t help as JBL lays it on thick, buries Michael Cole more than usual and allows Lawler to shriek.  Thankfully, the pain does end, with Triple H fulfilling his prophecy.

We do get, however, an awkward moment with Triple H shaking off his fatigue and shaking Sting’s hand, patting his head as if he’s just elevated a rookie to superstardom.

Cut to Maria Menounos as she speaks to Daniel Bryan about his Intercontinental Championship win.  Pat Patterson praises Bryan, then Roddy Piper, then Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat awkwardly quoting Randy Savage, then Ric Flair and whoos away, before Bret Hart shakes Bryan by the hand and they all “Yes” away in an incredibly awkward segment, only to be stopped by a single “Damn” from Ron Simmons.

Then we get the obligatory song - Travis Barker and Skyler Grey perform “Rise”, without David Guetta, and Kid Ink raps his way through “Money and the Power”.


 Paige & AJ Lee vs The Bella Twins (c)

Paige has had, as Michael Cole suggests, a great “rookie year” in WWE and her work with AJ Lee has successfully highlighted the skills of both women.  Compared to The Bella Twins, it’s very much Divas versus what many wrestling fans want women wrestling to be.

The Bella Twins are good at what they do and certainly rile up the opinion of the fans in attendance, but it’s the skill of Paige and AJ Lee that shows just how far the others have to go.  Whilst the Bellas can certainly move deftly, they’re nowhere near as nimble as their opponents.

With AJ Lee locking in the Black Widow on Nikki, it’s only a matter of time before the Bella taps.

A recap of the Hall of Fame manages to capture the ceremony, including some of the fun and emotional moments, in effective fashion and all the inductees come out to rapturous applause.

United States Championship Match: John Cena vs Rusev (c) 

Rusev is built up as the Russian monster, whilst Cena is the home country hero.  Mocked and humiliated, beaten and broken, Cena defines America - self-confident, bordering on arrogant, even when the odds are against him.  Rusev defines Russia, an unstoppable machine that listens to nobody and bows to nothing.  Thus ends the video package and starts the best entrance of the night as Lana approaches, championship belt held proud, followed by a retinue of soldiers, and then it’s Rusev’s moment… in a tank… the jeers threatening to drown out the Russian anthem.

Going into this, Cena - despite the negative opinion of the fans (surely, turning their back on him and staying absolutely silent would be a better way) - is the hero and, dare I say, underdog in the wake of the unstoppable force that is Rusev.

Considering how long Cena has been at the top of the WWE tree, it seems odd that some fans don’t get that he’s not the greatest technical wrestler - he doesn’t have to be, he’s there to be a superhero, a larger than life strong man who overcomes all odds and rises above hate.  Rusev is the super villain, a larger than life strong man who wants to destroy the Western world - with Cena as the embodiment of that.  It’s a classic story and it works here and the two superpowers collide until Cena finally brings the title home.

We then cut to the Wrestlemania panel, with Byron Saxton, Corey Graves and Booker T talking about the last match and led by Renee Young.  It’s the usual diverting fluff.

A recap of the Andre the Giant Battle Royale sees Mizdow implode when Sandow takes out The Miz only for Sandow to be eliminated by the Big Show for the win.

The Authority Thanks… Themselves

In a segment that goes on far too long, we see that Triple H is suited and looks like he’s made a full recovery from his match with Sting.  Stephanie McMahon stands beside him in the ring, tells us that 76,976 fans are in attendance and talks about the history of Wrestlemania, how it started with only 20,000 fans.  She puts the success down to herself and Triple H and he backs this up.  As the fans boo loudly, and Triple H talks about his victory over Sting, they show why they’re at the top of their game.   Then The Rock comes out, and the crowd go absolutely mental!

The Rock cuts a sarcastic promo, showing that he’s still “got it”, as the fans would probably chant.  Whereas The Rock’s mic work is full of energy and poetry, Triple H is measured and authoritative.  Stephanie takes over, mocking The Rock and reminding him that the McMahon’s created The Rock, slapping him and humiliating The Rock until he brings Rhonda Rousey into the ring and she delivers an arm drag to Triple H that fan reaction would have you believe is the best move ever in wrestling before getting physical with Stephanie and a Wrestlemania moment is made!

And, that brings us to the end of Disc 1.

Bray Wyatt vs The Undertaker

Two entrances that benefit hugely from ominous darkness are effectively diminished by the open air, daylight venue, even with the creepy, stumbling scarecrows that accompany Wyatt.

Much is made of the post-streak Undertaker and what this match means and both men do the best they can in the circumstances.  The Undertaker is still great to watch - arguably the last of the “comic book” style characters that were once so popular - and works hard to do what he does, whilst Wyatt has been on a breath of fresh air in the WWE - a brash zealot with incredible in ring skill and confidence.

Despite some hard hitting offense, The Undertaker is overpowered by the zeal of Bray Wyatt as he combines heavy hitting with unseemly athleticism.  Driven by the need to destroy, Wyatt leaves The Undertaker lying in the ring, barely able to move, but eventually it’s The Undertaker that, having failed to do so earlier, manages to put Wyatt away with a Tombstone Piledriver.


 WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar (c)

Roman Reigns comes down through the crowd, surrounded by security, to show how he’s a renegade and the fans he pass, broadly, really don’t like him.  By contrast, Brock Lesnar is cheered - probably by a different set of fans who’d decried his “part time” status as champion.  Accompanied by Paul Heyman, Heyman doesn’t have to say anything to get under people’s skins - he’s a true master of manipulation - but, when he does, he’s an incomparable orator, making you wish he introduced everyone, or was still on commentary duties!

From the moment the bell rings, it’s a fight - Lesnar is a true powerhouse, a dominant brute of a man, pure strength and ferocity.  Reigns, despite the fans’ negativity, is by no means powerless - he’s got height, speed and agility over Lesnar, and uses it all when there’s a tiny window in Lesnar’s offence.

Seth Rollins cashing his in Money in the Bank briefcase, turning the match into a Triple Threat and securing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship by pinning Roman Reigns.

Amongst the special features on the second disc is the Tag Team Championship Four Way, which saw The Usos vs Los Matadores vs vs The New Day vs Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (c) that, very much like the ladder match at the start of Wrestlemania, is a high flying affair that sees Cesaro and Kidd, in particular, in top form, with everyone engaging in a variety of over-the-top moments that send the crowd wild, leading to Cesaro stealing the tag from Jimmy Uso and scoring the win.

Also on disc 2 is the Andre the Giant Battle Royale, which starts with all the men in the ring, with the ensuing chaos and rapid eliminations necessary for a match that runs for twenty minutes and features thirty men.  The last minutes would see Big Show square off against Damian Sandow, eliminating him and standing victorious.

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