Wednesday, 18 February 2015

TNA Glasgow By Craig Hermit

 When the final episode of Impact Wrestling aired on SpikeTv last year, fans in the UK were concerned about what might happen regarding the Maximum Impact Tour and the future of TNA itself in 2015

Despite not having a television product in America, in the UK however, Challenge TV, treated fans and kept them interested in the TNA brand by presenting with the second series of British Boot Camp. 

This second outing is regarded by fans as widely superior setup to the previous series. With a new format to the show, this proved to be more successful in demonstrating the variety and the depth of talent that the UK had to offer also with Jeremy Borash and Rockstar Spud on commentary, who were passionate in the words for the praise they gave the wrestlers.

Even towards the end of the series, British Boot Camp did everything it could to make sure fans were aware that TNA was coming to the UK in 2015. A prime example was when Grado challenged one of the judges, Al Snow to a match in his home town of Glasgow after he was let go from the competition.

Alternatively, the three finalists, Mark Andrews, Kay Lee Ray and Rampage Brown en route to the final had matches with the stars from TNA and looked every bit as there equals during the bouts.
The finale saw Mark Andrews winning the contract to become a TNA Star, and that was when any doubt that fans may have had about the company continuing were laid to rest. 

Fast forward to January 29th after Impact Wrestling has produced three successful shows on Destination America and Challenge TV, TNA arrived in Glasgow.

Dixie Carter had this to say about the UK tour and the fans "Our fans across the UK know TNA for the unmatched professional wrestling we deliever each week on Challenge. We are thrilled to once again showcase internationally through our flagship program, Impact, the energy and excitement of the rowdy UK crowds by televising all three of our MAXIMUM IMPACT 7 events in Glasgow, Manchester and London. After the incredible energy the UK fans gave the IMPACT shows broadcast from these three cities this past January, I decided we had to try and raise the bar even higher in 2015. Several talent such as Lashley, Bram, Angelina Love and TNA Knockouts Champion Taryn Terrell will be making their first appearance on a TNA UK tour or returning after several years' absence"
As a fan who attended the Maximum Impact Tour in 2014, I was keen to see if there would be any differences this year.

The Fan Interaction session was alot more organised this year and more planning had been done to make it run smoother. The fans got to speak to, have autographs and photos taken with, Gail Kim, Angelina Love, So Cal Val, Mr Anderson, Bram, Samuel Shaw and Matt Hardy. It must be mentioned that all the stars were on fantastic form and were entertaining from start to finish.
As the interaction finished, fans only had to wait an hour, or for fans who arrived earlier to the show, were greeted by five finalists of British Boot Camp, Mark Andrews, Kay Lee Ray, Noam Dar, Grado and Rampage Brown. 

The five stood with the crowd, taking selfies, answering questions and autographs for fans as well. This was a brilliant touch by TNA who recognised that the fans would enjoy this way to talk to there stars better for a better interactive experience.

For fans who got to the seats early or were close to the ring got to meet, TNA President Dixie Carter who was fantastic to talk to and took every chance to interact with the crowds.

The show started with a brilliant tag team match featuring Kay Lee Ray and Noam Dar facing Gail Kim and Rampage Brown, the Hydro crowd were cheering for more when the ICW regulars Ray & Dar triumphed in a hard fought bout that demonstrated that the three British Boot Camp finalists were ready to compete on the main stage.

From there fans were entertained by an amazing wrestling match between Austin Aries and Bobby Roode that paved the way for a segment between Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley and MVP.

The matches continued when Bram destroyed Crazy Steve, Awesome Kong dismantled Madison Rayne, a great bout in three on two match between Tryus and EC3 against Rockstar Spud, Mark Andrews & Jeremy Borash that saw highflying highlights from Spud, Andrews and even Borash himself. The first part of the show closed with the main event having Samoa Joe & MVP defeat Bobby Lashley and Kurt Angle.

Inbetween the matches, it has to be said that So Val Cal and Jeremy Borash were fantastic at keeping the fans entertained.

The next part of the show, the fans witnessed a brutal Street Fight between Eric Young & Tommy Dreamer. There was a Knockouts Championship match that saw Taryn Tarrell face Angelina Love and even had an appearance from Awesome Kong and Gail Kim that excited the fans.

Matt Hardy was later saved from an onslaught by all the members of The Revolution as The Wolves intervened and left the fans wanting more.

But the next segment had fans in awe, (only the second biggest surprise of the night) as Mickie James arrived to the ring and had a verbal showdown with Bram. Then the fallout of the EC3/Rockstar Spud feud added another TNA star to the mix, Mr Anderson, there was indeed a "scalping" that had the crowd shouting with delight.

Next was the twenty man gauntlet match and it was an explosive bout seeing Kurt Angle, MVP, Kenny King and Austin Aries all having key roles in the chance to become the No1 Contender for the TNA Heavyweight Championship.

And finally, the last match witnessed Grado against Al Snow, it was a good match that both men delivered and Grado would defeat the man who would refuse to shake his hand on British Boot Camp but at the end of the bout the two would join forces to leave the crowd with a happy ending...
Or so it seemed, as they stood with the crowd cheering, all the members of the Beat Down Clan invaded the ring and attacked. The cheers turned to venom as the fans witnessed there hero and his ally being assaulted, then suddenly a hooded man entered the ring with the steel pipe and chased the attackers away, it was Insane Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion Drew Galloway much to the shock and amazement of the crowd.

The three men stood tall in the ring as the fans chanted ICW and on this night, there was no better way to end this event and conclude the storyline left open at British Boot Camp to make it a success for everyone involved.

Overall, it was amazing to think that a year ago, TNA hid the ICW chants from fans. This year, they embraced and welcomed those reactions from a red hot crowd as the company at least for a short time has an alliance with the well known Scottish Wrestling Company. It shows that within a year the growth and maturity Impact Wrestling has developed, even recently they have named other wrestling companies on Tv, acknowledging the wrestlers histories, and this shows that a new beginning on Destination America really is an exciting new e
ra for the company and their fans.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Roman Reigns: Ready For The Number One Spot?

I'm listening to a certain wrestling related podcast and the hosts are banging on about how Roman Reigns, in their opinion, is not ready for the top spot in the company stemming from his winning of the Royal Rumble recently.

Now, I understand the longtime fans say more negative than positive stuff about the current product but when you have the likes of Vince McMahon & Paul 'Triple H' Leveque at the helm with their pedigree, excuse the pun, you'd think choosing Reigns must be the correct choice, wouldn't you?

These hosts are saying he's not ready, one PPV match as a singles wrestler, not the best on the mic but a way they think around it could be if Reigns was to turn and align himself with Paul Heyman which in turn sends current WWE champion and as of now, Reigns' opponent at Wrestle Mania, Brock Lesnar, the other way as "the fans really want to get behind him".

Going back to the Royal Rumble, the fans booed the fact Reigns won the 30 man over the top rope battle royal, this lead to a trending hashtag on twitter for people to cancel their WWE Network subscriptions, not quite sure how many actually did but those fans have to ask themselves, who else should of won the match? Daniel Bryan has just come back from a serious injury and I'll be honest, I personally can't buy him as a credible opponent for Lesnar at Mania, yes, the plucky underdog fighting from the bottom up bit nothing else.

These are my views from the outside looking in, I'm sure there are more 'hardcore' WWE fans than me reading this so I welcome your views on what I have written and what you think about the whole situation concerning Reigns and his spot.

Hit me up on twitter @WLHSTU

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Notes from the Rumble By @AdamTimmins83

Wrestling fans could be forgiven for having a feeling of deja vu the morning after the 2015 Royal Rumble. Following the mauling the live crowd gave the 2014 edition of the event, surely 2015 couldn’t be any worse? Alas , not only was the said crowd as unreceptive to the PPV, but the Twitter hash tag #cancelWWENetwork trended worldwide for several hours after the event, forcing the WWE to rush out an anniucement claiming that Network subscriptions had hit the 1 million mark.
Obviously much has been written about the events and what they portend for the WWE; the following is no attempt at an exhaustive analysis, but rather addresses a few things that stood out for me from the whole affair…

The Court of the Tsar – much has been made of how it’s now clear that ‘Vince is out of touch’; but the truth is this has been the case for years. Like many dictators, Vince lives in a bubble, surrounded by yes-men such as Kevin Dunn. The only ‘resistance’ that the real world provides to what he’s told largely comes in the form of TV ratings and stock prices. If it is indeed the case that the WWE Network has hit 1 million subscribers – and personal I’m not entirely convinced about those numbers – then Vince’s attitude is likely to be “what’s the problem? A few local difficulties in Philly?” This idea that Vince is purposely sabotaging his product just to piss the fans off is not beyond the bounds of possibility; but I suspect the truth is he’s so far removed from popular opinion he is legitimately surprised about the backlash. 

WWE FC – the divided reactions of fans to the #CancelWWENetwork episode reminded me of the situations recently at both Arsenal and West Ham: where fans were (literally) fighting among themselves over whether their respective managers should be sacked or not. In many ways WWE does resemble a football club, in that although in theory in theory it’s a ‘brand’ or a ‘product’, it inspires the kind of loyalty that you don’t display towards say, Persil. Indeed, like many football fans, many WWE loyalists pride themselves on supporting the product particularly when it’s bad – a variation on the “you’ve gotta get behind the lads” rubbish you hear from fans even when there team’s performances clearly don’t warrant such backing. You can take the football parallel further – just as pissed off fans of a big team will protest by going to watch a smaller team – Manchester United fans going to watch FC United of Manchester for example – so annoyed WWE fans can go off and watch NJPW, ROH, or even TNA if they get really desperate (zing!). 

Too Big to Fail? – it shows the measure of dominance that WWE has that despite woefully underperforming creatively for many years now, the company itself is fairly stable in terms of its financial viability. The general feeling is that even if Stephanie was booked to hold the WWE title for a year at some point, the company will still be around for Wrestlemania 40. Then again, ten years is a long time in wrestling. The WWE could never go pop like WCW….could it?

Sunday, 14 December 2014

NXT Takeover [R]Evolution Review By Joey Keogh (@JoeyLDG)

WWE Continues To Be Shown Up By Its Own Developmental Program

It’s the final WWE PPV of the year this weekend, but you wouldn’t know it given how badly it’s been promoted over the past few weeks. Thankfully, even though TLC is almost pre-determined to suck, we were also gifted a superb NXT PPV earlier in the week, to soften the blow from Sunday’s inevitable disappointment.

NXT Takeover [R]Evolution (pronounced “our evolution”, as opposed to “revolution”, because somebody though that was way cleverer than it actually is) was a fast, furious and consistently exciting PPV that belied its rubbish name to provide thrills, spills and even some tears. Kicking off with a pre-show, during which Corey Graves announced his retirement and quickly joined the announce team alongside the insufferable Alex Riley and a man who looks like baby Michael Cole, and knows about as much about wrestling, Rich Brennan, [R]Evolution wasted no time getting to the good stuff, opening with the debut of none other than Kevin Owens (nèe Steen).

 Visibly shaking as he descends the ramp, Owens emerges to a massive pop – arguably the biggest of the night – to take on the reviled CJ Parker in a quick, albeit still highly entertaining, squash match that establishes him as a contender right off the bat. For an opening match, this is absolutely loaded with cool spots, with Parker eagerly playing up to his reviled, do-gooder, tree-hugger image by brandishing a sign emblazoned with “My Fight Matters”. He gives as good as he gets, but this is Owens’ match and the crowd lap it up. He is particularly notable for his agility in the ring. A big, thick dude, one would expect Owens to have trouble even running the ropes but he bounces around the like he’s half the weight he is. The crowd are euphoric when he takes the win.

NXT is quickly becoming a thorn in the side of the WWE, with certain fans  hoping their favourites never move up the main roster lest the powers that be ruin them, and [R]Evolution is so much better than one of its’ big brother’s PPVs, it’s embarrassing. Even the vignettes are tighter, more dynamic, better-edited and refreshingly short. NXT wrestlers don’t have the time to play around because they’re there to take someone else’s spot, so everything, right down to the between-match promos, must be quick and to the point. It’s refreshing to not have to suffer through lengthy moments of filler just to get to the matches, although when they’re this good we could probably take it.

The Lucha Dragons defend their tag team championship belts against The Vaudevillains next, and considering both teams are majorly over right now, it’s a match so electric it’s a wonder none of them get a shock. The Vaudevillains do a great job of stranding Kalisto so he can’t tag, but even so he and his Lucha brother fly around the ring like monkeys, Riley describing them at one point as “human pinballs”, which is strangely apt considering it came from him. A wheelbarrow senton is particularly awe-inspiring, but this is a match in which every moment counts. The Luchas retain, but when the fight is this good, who cares?

Baron Corbin squashes Tye Dillinger in about a minute next, while looking less like his biker character and more like the singer in a really rubbish metal band. This is the one “meh” moment of the show, but that’s only really because everything else is so fantastic, so there’s not really too much cause for complaint. Bull Dempsey watches from ringside throughout, hinting the two may come to blows sooner rather than later. And, considering Corbin looks like Dempsey’s little brother, that’ll be pretty awesome.

Another tag team match follows, with The Ascension (who are due to move up to the main roster any day now) taking on Finn Bálor and Hideo Itami. There’s an absolutely massive pop for the Irishman as he enters, dressed like some sort of goth monster hybrid with his now-infamous face-paint finishing off the look perfectly. He takes his time getting to the ring, playing up to the theatricality of it all, and he and Itami unload on their opponents before the bell has even rung. They’re really pushing The Ascension tonight, because they’re moving up soon, with Corey Graves (who lost to them not too long ago) noting how they always seem to be on the same page no matter what. It’s difficult to know where they’re going to fit in on the main roster, especially considering the tag team division is almost non-existent right now, but it’ll be exciting to see them shake things up a little bit nevertheless.

Itami and Bálor aren’t quite as in sync as The Ascension just yet, but they’re getting there and they’re both clearly hungry for it, which adds a further layer to the proceedings. An ensigury in the corner by Bálor is absolutely nuts, but it’s nothing compared to the brainbuster Suplex, with which he quickly follows it up. Itami teases the GTS but doesn’t deliver, while a stunning double footstomp from the top rope wins it for them, leaving the way clear for The Ascension to move up to the main roster and steal the show elsewhere.

Sasha Banks takes on Charlotte Flair (daughter of Ric) next, for the NXT Divas championship, showing up clad in her ex-BFF’s shirt, but customised to remove the reference to her famous father. She throws it at Charlotte to kick things off, and within moments their match is better than 90% of those of the main roster. Last Monday, Charlotte actually showed up on Raw, only to lose to Natalya in a matter of moments – a real bummer considering, even based off this evidence, the girl has a fire inside her.

Banks mocks Charlotte with a Flair strut, a “woo” chant and even a Figure-4 lock but Charlotte fires back with an Electric Chair that has her opponent noticeably terrified. There are some really cool spots in this match but, for those of us who regularly watch, and roll our eyes at, the main roster Divas, it’s enough just to see a match with length, actual skill and no shrieking – the crowd even chant “This is wrestling” at one point, just to drive it home. Banks attempts to pin Charlotte three times in a row, but Flair’s kid wins with the Natural Selection, retaining the championship. But, again, when the play is this good, who cares?

 The Main Event arrives quite quickly, at least for those of us used to sitting through three hours of garbage before getting to it, and both Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville get huge reactions upon entering the arena. The match stipulation entails that Zayn must quit if he loses tonight, but given how pumped he is to take on his ex-friend, that seems highly unlikely. The crowd are totally behind him throughout, leaving him looking visibly thrilled, while high-flying Geordie Neville gives as good as he’s got. His agility is absolutely awe-inspiring, particularly in a match of this length. There are so many near falls, it’s insane, and each one feels as though it could end the match, as opposed to signalling the two lads are just going through the motions and hitting their marks (no pun intended).

A sit-down powerbomb and a reverse hurricanrana by Neville are two of the highlights, but really every move is special in a match of this calibre – something that is further exemplified by the amount of replays that follow it. There’s a lovely moment when Neville goes to hit Zayn with the belt, he grabs it, looks at it for a bit, considers using it and then decides not to, refusing to go heel even at the most crucial moment. He eventually wins, of course, with a kick in the corner, and the crowd go absolutely nuts as he weeps silently, staring at the belt in his hands once again.

Following the match, there’s a flood of NXT faces into the ring, but when Neville returns, the mood changes significantly. Zayn reaches out for a handshake, but Neville kicks his hand away, instead embracing him in a bear hug that would bring even the most cynical viewer to tears. Zayn’s good buddy, and fellow Canadian, Kevin Owens turns up next, and Zayn hugs him so hard he bursts his stitches, which he earned following his match earlier.  Owens begins to walk Zayn out of the arena, and everyone is in good spirits, when suddenly he turns on him, attacking him and chucking him into the side of the ring in what is easily one of the most shocking moments of the year.

It’s an explosive end to a spectacular PPV, one which only further drives home the fact that NXT is so much better than WWE right now. The NXT roster is packed with talent, wrestlers who are hungry for the opportunity to show off what they can do as opposed to running the ropes, reading their lines and picking up a cheque at the end of it. NXT Takeover [R]Evolution was everything that a great PPV should be; exciting, thrilling, shocking and even, at times, oddly poignant.

With TLC still to come, it remains to be seen whether the main roster can live up to the example of those still technically in training but, on this evidence alone, it seems that there’s only one PPV we’ll still be discussing in a year’s time, and it isn’t on Sunday.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

So CM Punk Signs With The UFC

There's plenty of news stories going about CM Punk signing with the UFC but wrestling fans who are upset, don't forget, Brock Lesnar left the WWE when he wasn't too please with what was going on there, he went to UFC became a huge star, came back to the WWE, took The Undertaker's streak at Wrestle Mania and won the WWE title, which he of course still holds. So maybe, just maybe, Punk will one day come back to the WWE.

As for his potential career, I have to admit, when I first saw the news this morning I didn't think it meant he was going there as a fighter, I just thought it was a commentator or analyst I must admit but then I saw clips of his press conference where he said he will be fighting. Not sure how he will do, I am not much of an MMA fan, haven't watched it since Lesnar was there, I was a fan of Georges St. Pierre before that.

I don't think it's been announced when Punk will debut in the octogon who who against, but I'll give it a watch I guess out of curiosity if nothing else.

Current fans of MMA/UFC who would you like to see Punk go against who is in the weight class he is aiming for?

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Dichotomy Of The (Total) Divas Division By @JoeyLDG

The Divas division is in crisis. The biggest news story of last week was Eva Marie getting her boobs done while on leave for an injury. This was in spite of the fact Paige featured on Chris Jericho’s podcast, talking at length about her career, her family’s wrestling legacy and everything in between. Paige was a lively, intelligent,and interesting guest. Eva Marie has bigger tits now.

Long the running joke of the WWE, the Divas division has entered its weirdest stage yet, with two conflicting ideas of what these female wrestlers can really offer, one epitomised by reality show Total Divas, and the other byits polar opposite in every sense, NXT. Unfortunately, the reality is that, quite often, these girls are hired because they look good and are camera-friendly, not due to any discernible wrestling talent. This, in turn, means it’s a struggle for someone like Becky Lynch, for example, to make an impact opposite her buxomed, kiss-blowing rivals.

The biggest shock of the year, Divas-wise, came not withthe announcement that the third season of theirludicrously popular show had gone into production, but when we were gifted an actual feud as AJ (arguably the best female wrestler on the current roster) faced up against Paige. A younger, British upstart from a legendary wrestling family, Paige killed it over on NXT before making a triumphant debut on Raw and instantly snatching the championship in the process. Just to put it into perspective, her buddy Emma was not so lucky – saddled with a gimmick that didn’t quite translate over,she has since been relegated back down to the minors.

Paige and AJ took each other on at every opportunity, swapping the belt back and forth and trading barbs formonths, as the Total Divas blended into the background,much to our collective amusement. And, although their bouts were nearly always annoyingly short, as Divas matches tend to be, their chemistry was undeniable, not to mention they can actually wrestle when given half a chance, which is more than can be said for their colleagues who decorate ringside more than anything else.

Depressingly, the whole thing came crashing down at Hell In A Cell, in a match not given nearly enough time to breathe, after which AJ inexplicably found herself feuding with Nikki Bella instead, while Paige was left to buddy up with Alicia Fox. Of course, the two couldn’t continue fighting forever but surely they could’ve dragged it out a little bit longer, even so Nikki – who has potential, in spite of her blow up doll looks – could growa little bit more into her character. After all, worse feuds have been given longer to fester and mutate before finally being put out of their misery.

Even worse, alast weekend’s Survivor Series, AJ lost the belt to Nikki in a matter of seconds, after her sister distracted her with a pre-match kiss. Paige, on the other hand, looked set to emerge victorious from her traditional elimination match only to lose it in the last moment to Naomi, who, like Nikki, is one of the stars of Total Divas. Adam Rose was given more airtime in comparison. Are we really at a stage now where a feud with a Bunny is deemed more worthy than one we’ve spent months drooling over, and that we actually care about? There’s no way that Rose’s debut, and subsequent work on Raw/Smackdown, had even half the impact of Paige’s and yet he’s deemed more worthy of a storyline than she is.

It’s no secret female wrestlers are given less attention, and indeed less credence, than their male counterparts.This has nearly always been the caseeven with legends such as Trish Stratus and Lita, who kicked butt in their heyday, but whose achievements are dwarfed by those of their male counterparts. We’ll always think of The Undertaker, or Stone Cold, as the “real” legends of their time. And, in a decade or so, the same will be true of AJ and Punk, Paige and Dean Ambrose, etc.

However, stumble over to NXT and it’s a different story entirely. In NXT, the women are just as valued, and as popular, as the men if not more soNXT is a one-hour show, compared to Raw’s mammoth three, and yet the Divas somehow get more time than their main show counterpartsGifted storylines, character arcs and often quite complex matches, they’re afforded the space to show off what they can do, to grow and mature as fighters before moving up to the main roster where, strangely enough, they’re then lost among a sea of Adam Roses.

Rumours abound that AJ is planning to leave the WWEafter TLC. She’s openly said she only cares about wrestling, not fame, and would therefore rather be caught dead than appear on Total Divas, so her future with the company remains in doubt either wayBut, in her head, it must seem hugely unfair that Nikki has earned the right to a match because of the show, when Paige has foughtfor the chance, and is now left behind with the others, none of whom can hold a candle to her in the ring.

Considering Paige herself just signed on for series threeof Total Divas, one could reasonably assume that the opportunities to progress as a Diva on the main roster are few and far betweenMost of us would never even haveconsidered Paige a candidate for the show, and there’s a widely-held assumption that her appearing on it is going to hinder rather than help her career, because it’llcompletely change how we see her.

Even though Stephanie Mc Mahon has publicly denounced the suggestion that Total Divas can’t also be champions, is the only option for these women, many of whom are gifted wrestlers, to either quit or agree to play a caricature of themselves on a reality show? Is that really what it’s come to? Take Summer Rae, who had a great debut at Hell In A Cell 2013. Nowadays, she’s more well-known for being Fandango’s escort than for her demonstrable talent in the ring. She screamed her way through Survivor Series, because that’s how she’s presented on the show, as a dumb, loud bitch.

Total Divas itself is a curious case of well-judged, albeit ultimately very depressing, marketing strategy. Natalya, for example, who is wrestling royalty in her own right,presents her marriage to fellow wrestler Tyson Kidd as constantly in danger of dissolving, and herself as a shrieking, demanding harpy who never seems to be happyThat lie is kept up on Raw, where they accompany each other to matches and fight in public.

However, the show, when it chooses to deal with theparticipants’ in-ring antics (which isn’t often), presents the Divas as the driving force behind the WWE, their matches full of power and amazing feats of strength. Watching Total Divas, one could be forgiven for thinking that women’s matches often last longer than a minute, or that they could even be Main EventsIt’s interesting to note that the goal of Total Divas seems to be to sell these women as two completely opposing ideals, namely hot, sexy ladies with tonnes of capital-D drama in theirpersonal lives, and talented, butt-kicking wrestlers who can hold their own in front of millions of screaming fans.

In fact, the Total Divas cameras, rather curiously, always seem to catch signs for the girls that even the most eagle-eyed viewers won’t have noticed during the original broadcast. If you’ve ever attended a WWE show, you’ll know that signs for the dudes far, far outnumber those for the ladies, but that’s because nobody really takes them seriously as wrestlers. Total Divas trying to right this wrong by lying to us is counter-productive. And, in reality, they can’t be both anyway.

There’s an interesting dichotomy at play in the WWE right now. NXT is so female-friendly, Renee Young is on commentary, holding her own and showing up even the great William Regal. But when the ladies graduate to the main roster, suddenly what they’ve built on NXT no longer seems to matter. Take Emma who, when her gimmick didn’t catch on quite as quick, was reduced to being Santino Marella’s valet. She was huge on NXT, and still is.

Add to this the fact that the Bella twins are, coincidentally or otherwise, right in the middle of the main Total Divas and Divas storylines right now, and it’s a wonder women don’t emerge kicking and screaming from Triple H’s training grounds. It may simply be a case of a difference in fans, or the format of the shows, but something is lost en route from NXT and if Paige’s signing up for Total Divas is any indication, it’sbecoming increasingly difficult for female wrestlers toprogress in the WWE.

Only time will tell if AJ sticks around for a bit longer – and here’s hoping she will because without her we’re really fucked – but, regardless, the way in which these women are being sold to us needs to change, and soon. There’s no reason why what works on NXT shouldn’t translate to the main stage, not if there’s genuine momentum behind someone and she has actual ability,too. There will always be a demand for eye candy, but it should not be the basis for an entire division. If these ladies have genuine talent, then they shouldn’t have to shill themselves on a reality show, either.

We can live without the Rose/Bunny feud, but if the AJ/Paige storyline is the last decent Divas one we get, then it won’t be long before Total Divas is the only place these often very talented women appear. The sad part is, we probably won’t even really notice the difference.


Notes From Punk By Adam Timmins

Undoubtedly everyone is going to have their say over the CM Punk appearance on Colt Cabana’s podcast; so I only intend to add a few words here. What struck me mostly about the interview is that it was primarily interesting not for providing much new information; but rather, for confirming some stuff we already knew/ suspected. For instance:


• Vince is massively out of touch with popular culture – witness his shocked reaction to hearing about women’s MMA. I’m sure I read somewhere years ago that the most recent Bond film he’d seen had Roger Moore in it.

• Vince is only interested in Cena – again, this chimes with what others have said in the past: I think it was Raven who said Vince only cares about the top three or four guys, and the rest are pretty left to the writers.

• The practise of treating wrestlers like horses – work them until they drop, then shoot them – is alive and well. No wonder Vince is so high on Cena – a guy who gets a five month prognosis for an injury and usually comes back in two.

• Not for the first time, HHH comes across as that kid in school who desperately wants to be liked, but just isn’t – he reminds me of Martin Prince in The Simpsons.

• Considering being part of the WWE is supposed to be the pinnacle of a wrestlers career, all too often it comes across as a miserable and dark place.