Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Tournament News Dump ENGAGE

Lucas Calhoun gettin' that tournament shine, daddy
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Summer in wrestling means tournaments, lots and lots of tournaments. Two mainstay tourneys happen at the end of the season, and usually on the same weekend, Chikara's King of Trios and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's Battle of Los Angeles. CWF Mid-Atlantic is also running its Weaver Cup this year, starting July 15. All three have had some recent participant announcements.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mauro Ranallo Returns, And All Is Hell

Ranallo's back, but is it better than ever?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Mauro Ranallo announced last week that his hiatus from WWE would not be permanent, and that he would return to be the new voice of NXT. Sure enough, he replaced Tom Phillips in the play-by-play chair for the latest round of tapings. Everything seems hunky-dory in his narrative of WWE employment, but regardless of whether or not Ranallo is good at his job (and I think he is, absolutely), the return still has a certain stink on it. Namely, no one learned a damn thing of any worth, and the company's toxic culture of bullying will continue to rampage unchecked as long as the root causes are allowed to fester and curdle.

More Mae Young Classic News Than You Can Shake a Stick At

Lita will co-helm the broadcast booth for the Mae Young classic
Photo Credit: WWE.com 
As of Thursday afternoon, the Mae Young Classic had nine official competitors announced, one spoiler'd competitor, and taping dates. Since then, a lot more information has been released, including streaming availability, the live finale, the broadcast team, and some more competitors qualifying for the tournament during NXT tapings. The first couple of notes were announced on Dot Com today. The tournament, which tapes the first several rounds on July 13 and 14 at Full Sail University, will air in two on demand packets. The first will be available Monday, August 28 in four episodes, and the second four episodes will drop Monday, September 4. The live final will air in place of 205 Live on WWE Network on September 12 at 10 PM ET from Las Vegas, NV. Calling the action will be Jim Ross and Lita. Ross signed a deal with WWE to do sporadic appearances; he called the WrestleMania main event and the first of the WWE United Kingdom specials since his return. Lita has been a fixture on camera during pay-per-view pre-shows until she was bumped for Sam Roberts and Peter Rosenberg.

The Reason Why No One Runs The ECW Arena Except For Ring of Honor and House of Hardcore

Thanks a lot, jerks
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Philadelphia is a city inextricably linked to professional wrestling, whether as a loop city for the Worldwide Wrestling Federation in the territorial days, the birthplace of Extreme Championship Wrestling, or as the nexus point on the East Coast for the '00s indie wrestling movement. That facade began to fall apart when the ECW Arena shut out wrestling in 2012 in an attempt to turn exclusively into a concert venue. Gabe Sapolsky swore he'd never run Philly again after his attempt at closing The Arena backfired on him. Chikara attempted to run the Trocadero a few times, and ended up getting wrestling banished from that venue after a singularly rowdy fan broke a glass door in the wake of its ill-fated worked closing. The National Guard Armory in the far northeastern section of the city seemed to be an adequate replacement, but outside of the first National Pro Wrestling Day and one ROH show, no one seemed to figure out where in Philly would make a great venue. Then, predictably but providently, The Arena's concert-only venture went the way of the dodo, and wrestling returned.

Friday, June 23, 2017

NXT In 60 Seconds

Heroes end
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Billie Kay: Don't let the mean werewolf lady scare you.  You got this, boo.
Peyton Royce: I do, right?
Ember Moon: I'm back, baby!
Full Sailors: Yay!  Welcome back!  Welcome back!
Ember: Yeah, four moves down.  Time for the Eclipse!
Peyton: Ref!  I think I'm hurt!
Referee: What?  Let me check.
Billie: Let me take Ember's injured arm into the top rope!
Ember: ow
Peyton: And it's into the post with the arm!  And into this other post!
Ember: Ah, hell.
Peyton: I'm going to do it!  I'm going to succeed where my bestie fai---uh, should've won!
Ember: LOL like I'm losing my comeback match.  Peyton Royce, consider yourself Eclipsed.
Referee: Winner!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 192

The odds of seeing a nWo-type feud/invasion in the indies feels slim
Photo Credit: WWE.com
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 afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

I hesitate to say yes because so much of the current independent scene dips from the same well. Maybe if you had a promotion from Eastern Ontario/Quebec dipping down south to battle a Georgia promotion, it could be interesting, but at the same time, are those companies big enough to sustain something that would "catch fire?" And of course, the question of visas would come up, but you know my thoughts on that. The only major invasion/promotion warfare angle that would truly turn some heads wouldn't truly be independent because one side is owned by a giant media conglomerate, and the other sucks off WWE's teat. Ring of Honor vs. EVOLVE/WWN Live would absolutely be the one interpromotional angle that would stoke flames, but with the bad blood between ROH and Gabe Sapolsky, WWE using the NXT/EVOLVE combo as a proxy to attempt WCW-ing ROH off the map, and ROH's legal haranguing of WWE signing former talent, it has a slim-to-none chance of happening. That being said, wrestling is a crazy art/sport, and stranger things have definitely happened.

Alpha Female, Kimber Lee, Tessa Blanchard Among Five New Names Added to Mae Young Classic

Alpha Female is gonna wreck some shit down in Full Sail
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
WWE announced five more names for the Mae Young Classic today, and two of them emanate from that wishlist I posted a few weeks back. They are:
  • Abbey Laith
  • Jazzy Gabert
  • Tessa Blanchard
  • Taynara Conti
  • Kavita Devi

Learning to Live with Smackdown

The problem with the women's division right now is its focus on... men
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Welp, we are now living in a post Overbooking in the Bank wrestling world, which means there's a whole lot of Smackdown stuff I have to learn to live with, including:

Blatant Appeasement Attempts
So just when I'm thinking about rage quitting this show, Smackdown just happens to throw Chad Gable and Luke Harper in my path, two of the people for whom I've been clamouring for weeks. Mmmhmmm. How very coincidental. I am not so easily mollified! I will not be distracted by such cheap manipulation! How dare you, Smackdown. How. Dare. You.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

When You Wish Upon a Golden Star

Of all the G1 competitors, Ibushi is the one that elicits the most real response.
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
New Japan Pro Wrestling makes a big deal out of announcing the competitors in the G1 Climax - a round-robin tournament held every summer. Our fearless editor TH wrote about this yesterday, listing the announced wrestlers and giving his thoughts. Zack Sabre Jr. will be new to the G1. So will Juice Robinson. I highly approve of both. Also, Cody is not in it. *lowers head and laughs at the ground* The video package announcing all of this was shown during intermission of a Kizuna Road show at Korakuen Hall. As each wrestler was announced, the crowd clapped politely, or in the case of guys like Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada, with great enthusiasm.

Your Midweek Links: Women's Money Fallout

Carmella and Ellsworth's scripted actions made a lot of people rightfully angry
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Hump Day is upon the world, and that means one thing and one thing only: LINKS ON THE WRESTLING BLOG, HEEEEYYYY YAH. The historic women's Money in the Bank with a historically shitty ending produced quite a few good reads this week. For the full list, see below!

WWE having James Ellsworth lift the Money in the Bank briefcase was bad, but the takes that followed from haughty, sexist, WWE-defending loons were worse. I took them down here. [The Wrestling Blog]

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Leftism and Wrestling: Embrace Immigration

Bailey is wrestling's poster child for immigration reform
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Even though capitalists and conservatives run and populate the wrestling business, as an artform, it lends itself to leftist ideals. This series hopes to show wrestling fans why they should embrace the left, not just for the sport/art, but also for themselves.

Remember Seleziya Sparx? Or Speedball Mike Bailey? Both are Canadian wrestlers who started to hit a groove in American promotions. Sparx was a fixture in Absolute Intense Wrestling who was bleeding over into other companies like Ring of Honor. Meanwhile, Bailey became an instant fan favorite when he was first booked in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and started taking dates for EVOLVE. Then, poof, they stopped appearing across the border. Sparx has nearly disappeared from wrestling altogether, making some token appearances in Alpha-1 Wrestling here and there. Bailey has continued working in Canadian indies and in other countries, but his American appearances are done for. Both are gone for the same reason; they messed up something during the visa process and were banned from obtaining American work access for five years.

The Field for This Year's G1 Climax Has Been Announced

Ibushi's tournament slate this summer is in New Japan
Photo Credit: WWE.com
The field for the G1 Climax, New Japan Pro Wrestling's annual massive round-robin tournament, has been announced, and it is notable for its lack of surprises but up-and-down quality. The tournament, which will run from July 17 through August 13, will be the 27th installment. Kenny Omega won last year's fray, earning his chance to have his six-star match with Kazuchika Okada at the Tokyo Dome at WrestleKingdom 11 on January 4. He will have his shot to repeat, as he's one of the 20 wrestlers announced this morning during the broadcast of the NJPW Kizuna Road tour event. The full field is as follows:

RIP Chandler Biggins

Biggins shown here with Roddy Piper
Taken from @ChandlerBiggins Twitter page
Chris Bryan, better known to Cleveland and indie wrestling fans as Chandler Biggins, passed away early this morning from complications of a recent bout of illness. Biggins had been battling illness for the last month or so, and he'd made some signs of recovery, however, he must have taken a turn for the worse. Biggins was the co-owner of Absolute Intense Wrestling along with John Thorne. The two made the Cleveland area a must-follow territory for indie wrestling fans, and their AIW has become one of the weirdest but fan-friendliest promotions in the States. Judging from the outpouring of condolences from wrestlers pouring in, Biggins was a great promoter/booker with whom to work. Certainly, he left this mortal coil far too early. I extend my sincerest condolences to the Bryan family and to everyone in the AIW fold for this awful loss. RIP Biggins.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mansplaining in the Bank

Not the right message to send with the first ever women's Money in the Bank match
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Money in the Bank opened last night with a HISTORIC briefcase ladder match featuring for the first time in history women's competitors, and when that match was over, a woman still had never lifted a briefcase from the hook, claiming it for herself. The match booking had James Ellsworth, Carmella's toady and hype man, snag the briefcase and toss it to her. I'm sure when the idea was pitched in the writers' room, it was a smash. "Let's build an incredibly hot antagonist by having her proxy cheat to win for her," sounds good in theory, but consider the history of women's wrestling in WWE.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The First Names for the Mae Young Classic Have Been Announced

Logan is one of four announced for the tournament
Photo Credit: WWE.com
WWE's big Mae Young Classic women's tournament is fast approaching, and finally, the company has announced some dang competitors for the thing, four to be exact. Two have actually made appearances on NXT television, one is a luchadora, and the other is a world-traveled Kiwi with a stellar resume in her young life. The time has come to dive into the first entrants into the latest WWE-sponsored tournament: