Monday, July 28, 2014

Instant Feedback: Equal Opportunity Garbage People

She came off sympathetic most of the show, but still not a person to root for. That's a problem.
Photo Credit:
For the first time in who knows how long, a storyline centered around women on the show got a chance to close it out. Sure, the halcyon days of Lita vs. Trish Stratus, or more accurately, Lita vs. Stephanie McMahon were long past. As RAW is wont to do, the show ended on a talking segment. But the crowd was into it, like SUPER into what McMahon and Brie Bella were laying down. Story progression was made, the two parties agreed to a match, and Bella took a decent bump off the apron. If anyone could use a segment as a proof that a story centered around two women could draw big heat, it would be this particular overrun.

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings, July 28

Even gimpy, Bryan still is the BEST IN THE WOOOOOORLD
Photo Credit:
Welcome to a feature I like to call "Best in the World" rankings. They're not traditional power rankings per se, but they're rankings to see who is really the best in the world, a term bandied about like it's bottled water or something else really common. They're rankings decided by me, and don't you dare call them arbitrary lest I smack the taste out of your mouth. Without further ado, here's this week's list:

1. Daniel Bryan (Last Week: Not Ranked... Not Ranked? NOT RANKED?) - I thought Bryan's efforts of derring-do were finished now that he was rehabbing his neck, but apparently, he's still got a metric fuckload of badassery in his body even with a bad neck and no feeling in his arms. Bryan foiled a robbery at his house and choked out one of the alleged perpetrators his damn self. I will never doubt this man again.

2. Rachel Summerlyn (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Summerlyn tearfully said goodbye to active wrestling competition last night at Inspire Pro Wrestling. If you don't know why that's important, then you just don't know anything.

3. Candice LeRae (Last Week: Not Ranked) - And of course, Summerlyn's heiress apparent as badass buttkicker femme fatale finally got her just due by finally shoving the Young Bucks out the plane door without a parachute at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's ELEVEN Saturday night. Sure, Joey Ryan did some of the work, but I choose to remember it as the night Candice Fucking LeRae became the baddest motherfucker in Reseda. BELIEVE THAT.

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Even though Ryback didn't match Axel, they still showed broey solidarity
Photo Credit:
Best Friends—Ryback and Curtis Axel
Normally, I'm a big proponent of tag team members matching each other. However, during Rybaxel's match against the Usos—the matchiest of matching tag teams—I realized that there can also be something special about a tag team that refuses to match. Aside from the identical red toques jammed over their heads and nearly covering their eyes, Ryback and Axel persist in pursuing individual fashion paths, and the results are kind of awful. Ryback in a teal, airbrushed singlet? Gross. Axel in basic black trunks? Boring. And yet they remain united in being the bro-iest bros who ever bro-ed, secure and supportive in their friendship. Therefore I salute you, Rybaxel, for demonstrating that true friendship can endure even in the face of hideous outfit choices.

Best Coast Bias: NXTyler

Mmmm Gorgeous
Photo Credit:
Nothing is more boring than invincibility.  There's a reason phrases like deux ex machina and fait accompli permeate the language when a surfeit of users couldn't spell Latin.  For 2014, Adrian Neville has lived life in Full Sail as -- well, not the English Cena, but very much in a vein of that strain.  Quite simply, he's been the definition of a Champion to such an extent that an outcome hasn't been in doubt no matter what he's been up against.  You could shorthand everything to "stuff happens, Red Arrow, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, Sheila McRae, g'night everybody!"

It hasn't mattered whether it's been against members of the main roster, former NXT Champions, or anything else alike; he's bested faces, heels, and all alignments between.

Special Ops-Ed: How To Save The WWE Network Era

Can it be saved? OF COURSE it can!
Graphics Credit: John Lefteratos, via International Object
Earlier this year, WWE unveiled a supposedly revolutionary product that would change the wrestling game forever - The WWE Network. It's a hybrid on-demand Netflix-style program for the extensive tape library, a live-streaming “channel” that promises 24-hour wrestling content, original programming, and mostly importantly the pay-per-views. We’re nearing six months since the launch and I feel like the Network is reaching the point where it has become an indispensable service for wrestling fans young and old. Unfortunately, McMahon vastly oversold how many subscribers would sign up for the Network and stockholders freaked out, tanking the stock and putting the company into panic mode to figure out the best way to get people to subscribe and interested in the program again. Financial losses have forced them to cut the budget of their production and catering, which as any first-year film student can tell you, is the absolute last thing you should be cutting if you want your show to be any good.

Of course, this is not the first time WWE has found themselves backed into a corner financially and with people turned off by the product. The company is back in a similar situation to the outset of the Monday Night War against WCW, but without a true competitor and in a totally different generation of wrestling fan, I’m afraid WWE will find that booking like they did during the Attitude Era won’t help them like it did then.

From the Archives: Kitsune vs. AR Fox

Youse guise know well about my passionate love for everything Chikara, but I also dig its rebellious, more adult-oriented, estranged spiritual older brother, Inter Species Wrestling, as well. The Connecticut/Canada-based promotion posts a free match every Monday, and I think everyone should dig back into its archives to see bouts featuring Kevin Steen, Addy Starr, and Pinkie Sanchez among others. This week's offering, however, is a balls-out, crazy-go-nuts high-flying affair between the legitimately insane AR Fox and the mythical fox creature/wrestler Kitsune. Check it out!

Spike Television Has Cancelled Impact

Carter was informed of the news ahead of time to look for a TV deal that may or may not even be there
Photo via Cageside Seats

The nightmare scenario for TNA Wrestling has come true, as Spike TV has informed Dixie Carter that the network will not be renewing its contract with the wrestling company when the current one expires in October. According to the TMZ report, Spike gave TNA the heads up early so it could get a head start on looking for a new deal without interruption to the broadcast schedule. While nothing official has come out yet, many observers have predicted that if Spike ever parted ways with the Nashville-based wrestling promotion that it would spell certain doom. Regardless of my feelings towards the televised product or how Carter has run her promotion with all the sympathy of a child produced of a love affair between a medieval robber baron and Leona Helmsley, if TNA were to go under, a lot of really good people would lose their jobs. Furthermore, most of them will only have the prospect of lateral movement within the industry because WWE apparently seems to think TNA is more toxic a breeding ground than Pripyat, Ukraine.

A Long Time Coming

Photo via @JoeyRyanOnline

Candice LeRae entered the American Legion hall in Reseda, CA with all her blood and no titles to her name in her Pro Wrestling Guerrilla career. She exited as co-holder of the Tag Team Championships, upending the Young Bucks alongside good friend and better enemy Joey Ryan in a Guerrilla Warfare match that featured a shoe loaded with thumbtacks. My issues with PWG and its booking of women have been well-documented, but the way the company has booked LeRae in the last year or so has been a marked improvement. Her inclusion among the pantheon of Champions is long-awaited and well-deserved. Hopefully, she'll get a shot to compete in the Battle of Los Angeles now that a THIRD entrant has had to pull out. Joining AR Fox and Brian Cage on the sideline is Trent?, who tore his patella tendon last night at Beyond Wrestling's sold-out Americanrana '14. No matter what happens, PWG gets my vote for most interesting promotion in America this year for sure.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Polling Place: Rollins and MitB, G1 Climax, Ray Rice

Will he EVER get to cash it in?
Photo Credit:
Welcome to the Polling Place, where I give you multiple choice polls, and you choose ONE answer per poll. ONE ANSWER PER POLL. Oh, excuse me, I don't know what got into me there. Anyway, first up this week, Seth Rollins is sitting pretty with his Money in the Bank briefcase, a veritable Plan 'B' for if the main thrust of The Authority to reclaim the WWE World Heavyweight Championship fails. However, he has an eternally annoying block against any cash-in attempt in former stablemate Dean Ambrose. Questions have arisen whether the Lunatic Fringe will let Rollins cash in his briefcase at all before his year with it is up. The question is, will Rollins cash in his briefcase, and if he does, will he be successful in winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?

Second, the G1 Climax is raging on right now in New Japan Pro Wrestling. For those who don't know and who didn't read Conor's report on it yesterday, G1 is a round-robin tournament featuring 22 of NJPW's best and brightest wrestlers. The stage is still pretty early right now, but a few favorites have emerged from the pack. I want to know whom you think will win. If your choice isn't listed below, check "The Field" and name your choice in the comments.

Finally, Ray Rice was punished by the National Football League for viciously abusing his then-fiancee (now wife) at an Atlantic City casino and dragging her unconscious body onto an elevator. The attack was caught on videotape. After a shameful press conference where his wife was the only one who apologized, pressure was on the league to suspend the Baltimore Ravens' running back. That suspension came down yesterday in the form of a two game suspension and the docking of a third game's paycheck (at 2013 salary rates, that is, he's since gotten a raise for the 2014 season). The question is do you think Rice's suspension was appropriate enough?

Somebody Beat Up Ziggler and Maybe I'll Start Caring.

Ziggler needs to take a cue from the past...
Photo Credit:
I want to like Dolph Ziggler more.

He’s really fun to watch. He's fast, funny, bumps around like crazy, and looks like something that Michelangelo carved out of marble. I look forward to seeing Ziggler on Monday nights. But after the initial excitement of his introduction, I really have to make an effort to care about him. He’s stuck in a hamster wheel of good matches that don’t mean much. I’m really trying to care about Ziggler, and it shouldn't be this hard.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thank You and Goodnight, Rachel Summerlyn

An absolute icon is leaving wrestling for good
Photo Credit: Kelly Kyle/Texas Anarchy
Sunday in Austin, TX, Inspire Pro Wrestling will be holding its second event dedicated mostly to its burgeoning XX Division, No Turning Back. The present and future of women's wrestling in Central Texas will be on full display. Mia Yim will challenge for the NWA Women's Championship held by Barbi Hayden. Three more competitors will look to punch their cards for the XX Division Championship match. A slew of talented wrestlers will continue on the neverending quest to prove to everyone that wrestling ability is not bound by gender, but the biggest thing to happen on this show will involve one of the pioneers taking a microphone for the last time and saying goodbye.

Rachel Summerlyn wrestled her final match on February 16, 2013 according to Cagematch, defeating Sami Callihan in front of a raucous Upstate New York crowd for Squared Circle Wrestling. Injuries kept her from the ring initially; she stayed on the sidelines to pursue other things in her life in privacy. Even though she never officially retired before her appearance on Sunday, she quietly has been living life on her own terms, outside the wrestling industry and most importantly away from the bullshit politics and personal strife that had haunted her backstage in the final year or so of her active career. Every decent person deserves peace in their lives, and for the last year, Summerlyn has seemingly gotten that kind of tranquility that she couldn't get haunting the same ruts she had at the end of her career. But for someone as influential, as talented, and as important as she has been to Austin and San Antonio locally and independent wrestling on the whole, she deserved some kind of closure as well.

Throwback Thursday: Remember Paper Bags and Ted DiBiase, Jr.?

Three years in wrestling can be a long time. Right now, Stardust is on a fantastic voyage to God knows where with his brother Goldust, but back in the day, he was a vainglorious Cody Rhodes, wearing a protective mask to guard against injuries to his moneymaker and giving out paper bags to put over the heads of people who offended his aesthetics. Of course, obscuring the faces of others can come back to bite one in the ass, especially when former tag partner Ted DiBiase, Jr. was hanging out in the crowd looking for some retribution. God, remember when everyone, myself included, thought that DiBiase was the breakout star of Legacy? Those times were weird, man.

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 86

Hard to have a HOSS division when The Flood has all the members, like the Devastation Corporation
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 140 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday morning. Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers!

Firstly, are you sure it was Loudspeaker or Remsburg who said it and not Leonard F. Chikarason? He has been pretty vocal on Twitter about a potential HOSS division along with the folks who run Absolute Intense Wrestling. Anyway, I'm nominally against weight classes in wrestling because they're prohibitive and take away from the specialness of any matchup being possible in the squared circle. That being said, if people are hell-bent on having a cruiserweight division, then certainly, the BRUISERweights should have time in the Sun too. Far too often is a wrestler, male or female, disregarded because of their weight, and yet many of the best wrestlers out there today either have super height, big muscles, or are, how shall I say, rubenesque? Kevin Steen, Mickie Knuckles, Samoa Joe, and who can forget MARK HENRY all have extra weight and are among the best out there. Chris Masters and Uhaa Nation are jacked to the gills and can still work, and Big Show is one of the most criminally underregarded wrestlers in history just because he's seven feet tall with the weight behind it. The big guys and gals need recognition too.

Anyway, a Chikara HOSS division would be far too dominated by The Flood right now to book properly. The only wrestler who comes close to qualifying on the tecnico side right now is Worker Ant. Everyone else - all three of the Devastation Corporation, Oleg the Usurper, N√łkken, Deucalion - reside with The Flood. Maybe after the big battle is over and things return to normal in Chikara, a decent HOSS division can be formed. Right now, it feels impossible. It should also be noted that two potential HOSS division wrestlers were "killed" this past weekend in the Estonian Thunder Frog and Tursas. WHEN WILL THE VIOLENCE AGAINST HOSSES STOP???

G1 Climax 24 Day One Review

Okada and Shibata celebrate victories during day one of wrestling's biggest annual tournament
Photo Credit:
Day one of New Japan Pro Wrestling's annual G1 Climax took place three days ago and it was a hell of a start. The tournament is kinda like the Wimbledon of Japanese professional wrestling and has gone through several different names and incarnations, but it's probably most well known in its current round robin format. Basically every year the company takes twenty of its top stars, splits them into two brackets and says "fight, fuckers". Everyone wrestles everyone and the two guys with the most wins from either group face off in the final. The tournament has decades of historical importance behind it with past winners including Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Antonio Inoki and The Great Muta. From just looking at those names you can tell that winning the G1 Climax is the company telling the world "you're our guy".

Last year's G1 drew critical acclaim with many proclaiming it as the best in the tournament's history. And although its winner, Tetsuya Naito didn't have the success that New Japan was hoping for, it did produce a string of match of the year candidates and a breakout star in Tomohiro Ishii. This year, the brackets are almost identical so hopes are high for another batch of great shows. If the opening round was any indication of quality, that shouldn't be a problem. Let me break it down for you match by match so hopefully by the end you'll know why you should be watching, if you're not already.

Big Heat's Hot Takes: Get Your World Champ Out Of My Wrestling Show!

BORK LAZER doesn't need to be around every week
Photo Credit:
Wrestling fans, we are seemingly entering an era where the top competitor holding the top prize in the top promotion in the country will become a non-present entity.

It started this past week on RAW, when incumbent WWE World Heavyweight Champ John Cena - The Greatest in WWE History™ - was absent to film a role in a movie. I would love to point out the hypocrisy of this move after Cena had such issue with The Rock always being absent for the same reason during the build to both Once In A Lifetime matches, but I'll refrain for the time being. Scheduling rumors also indicate Cena will be missing the August 4th episode of Raw for more movie stuff.

And SummerSlam will be headlined by Cena defending his world championship against Brock Lesnar. With Lesnar a heavy favorite to capitalize on The Streak momentum and win, does he have enough of his limited dates left to appear regularly with the Championship should he be victorious?