Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Survivor Series 2011 Review

The 25th Survivor Series took place at Madison Square Garden last Sunday. With the return of The Rock, was it the most electrifying event in sports entertainment? Let’s take a look.

After a quick introduction by John Laurinaitis (did you know that he’s the executive vice president of talent relations?), the United States Championship was on the line first as Dolph “Perfection” Ziggler was challenged by John “Parkour” Morrison. This was a very good match and a great way to open the event. I was disappointed that Zack Ryder wasn’t in this match and the crowd showed that as well by chanting Ryder’s name throughout this match. It was a high flying, fast paced match and there was a bit that Vickie Guerrero put Ziggler’s leg on the rope, the referee figured it out and sent her back to the locker room. Eventually Ziggler hits the Zig-Zag and retains the title. Afterwards, Ryder ran out and attacked Ziggler. Hopefully, we have a match between the two at TLC.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler                                                Predictions: 1 for 1 (good start!)

Good job Dolph Ziggler wasn’t in the next match so he might have been screwed. Instead, we got a lumberjill match with Eve Torres challenging Beth Phoenix for the Divas Championship. Eve was quite impressive the last time they had a match; unfortunately, that seemed to be a one off as she didn’t really have a good performance in this one. Nothing really much happened which seem to result in a waste of time for the Divas surrounding the ring. Despite the relatively poor standard of the match, it had a really good ending with Beth hitting the glam slam on Eve from the top rope. The question now for Beth is, to borrow a phrase from Goldberg, “Who’s next?”
Winner: Beth Phoenix                                                 Predictions: 2 for 2

After a backstage segment in which David Ortunga requested that CM Punk apologise to Michael Cole for putting him in an Anaconda Vice, followed by an awesome promo by The Rock; we had the traditional Survivor Series match with Team Orton (Randy Orton, Sin Cara, Kofi Kingston, Sheamus and Goliath Mason Ryan) taking on Team Barrett (Wade Barrett, Falso Cara Hunico, Cody Rhodes, Dolph “Perfection” Ziggler and “AAA” Jack Swagger). It didn’t start well for Team Barrett as, surprisingly, Ziggler was the first one to be eliminated by Orton with a RKO. Team Orton then suffered a major blow to Sin Cara. Sin Cara has been botching on a semi-regular basis since he made his debut in April. I had the feeling that if Sin Cara kept on doing this, then someone would get hurt, and that’s what happened here. Sin Cara and Kofi attempted a double dive to Hunico and Rhodes outside the ring, Cara seem to injure himself as he was doing the run up, caught the top rope and ended up in a heap outside the ring. After a stoppage in order to give Sin Cara medical attention, the match continued with Sin Cara now being eliminated due to injury.  Mason Ryan gets eliminated by Rhodes followed by Barrett eliminating Kofi Kingston. Sheamus decided to pummel Rhodes in the corner, completely ignoring the referee’s continual 5 counts. The referee eventually had enough and disqualified Sheamus (er...ok then), leaving Orton all by himself. Sheamus hit Swagger with a brogue kick and Orton took advantage to eliminate Swagger. Orton temporarily became “Super Cena Orton” and eliminated Hunico with a super RKO (a RKO done when the victim is in the air). Unfortunately, Orton’s plan to eliminate the rest of the Team Barrett didn’t end well as Orton hit Rhodes with a RKO but Barrett hit the wasteland straight afterwards, getting the win and leaving himself and Cody Rhodes as the sole survivors. I really enjoyed this match and it would be nice if we could have more of these matches next year.
Winners: Team Barrett                                                Predictions: 2 for 3
(Survivors: Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes)

Speaking of Sin Cara, it was revealed after the event that he is out for 6-9 months with a ruptured patella tendon. I recommend to Sin Cara that he doesn’t wear the white costume again as the last time he wore it, it was at Money in the Bank and he got powerbombed through a ladder by Sheamus. Anyway, hope he gets well soon.

After a backstage segment involving Del Rio, the Bella Twins and John Lauriniatis (did you know that he’s the executive vice president of talent relations?), Big Show took on Mark Henry for the World Heavyweight Championship. WWE had the foresight to reinforce the ring just in case they decided to do an 850+lb superplex again. However, if that did happen and the ring collapsed, I would have realised that my suggestion to reinforce the ring with adamantium wasn’t taken under advisement. This match was ok but not as good as their last match. I’ve enjoyed their feud, especially with Daniel Bryan being an unwilling third party in this. However, you can’t really have two consecutive goliath versus goliath matches as they are quite slow paced as shown here. The end had Show missing Henry with the WMD and Henry kicking Show in the balls getting himself disqualified. Henry keeps the title but Show inducts him into his own Hall of Pain by hitting a leg drop on Henry’s ankle after trapping it in a chair. I believe that we will have Show vs Henry III at TLC which, due to the fact that their matches have not ended cleanly, I’m not really looking forward to.
Winner: Big Show (DQ)                                              Predictions: 2 for 4

Next was an interview with Wade Barrett interrupted by the Awesome Truth. It was really good and I couldn’t stop laughing when R-Truth started talking about having an argument with pigeons. Matt Striker’s face said it all with it saying “ what the fuck are you talking about?!” Really, really funny.

Next up was the WWE Championship match with John Cena once again challenging Alberto Del Rio. Wait, hang on, it’s not John Cena? Sorry, I have been so used to Cena always being in the WWE Championship match. It’s CM Punk being the challenger. This match had a great beginning with Punk bringing his own personal announcer, Howard Finkel!!! I like Justin Roberts as a ring announcer but it’s always great to hear the Fink do his announcing. The match had a slow pace to begin with but got better as it went on. Both guys tried to hit their finishing moves and there was one bit when Punk tries to hit the GTS but Del Rio managed to reverse it into the crossed armbreaker but Punk got to the ropes. In the end, Punk put on the Anaconda Vice and Del Rio, despite clawing at Punk’s face, tapped out, making Punk the new WWE Champion. Even though I thought that Del Rio might be the champion for a little bit longer, I’m glad that Punk won it. Hopefully, we have a relatively long title reign as we have had the WWE Championship change hands 8 times since Money in the Bank.
Winner: CM Punk                                                       Predictions: 2 for 5

Now, the match we have all been waiting for, R-Truth and The Miz take on John Cena and The Rock. While I was looking forward to this, I was slightly worried about how the Rock would perform. I needn’t have worried as it looked like the Rock had been only out of the ring for 7 minutes, never mind 7 and a half years. The Rock started the match and was dominating Truth and Miz. Eventually The Miz wanted The Rock to tag in Cena, which he did. Cena was being pummelled by Truth and Miz, which seemed to go on forever. Cena finally tags in The Rock, who cleans house and hits the Rock Bottom on R-Truth and the People’s Elbow on The Miz to get the victory. Afterwards, Cena and Rock get into a little argument which ends with Cena receiving a Rock Bottom.
Winners: John Cena and The Rock                             Predictions: 3 for 6

I really enjoyed this event. Although I got some of my predictions wrong, I get where the WWE are perhaps going with those decisions. As we approach the road to the Royal Rumble followed by the road to Wrestlemania, it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Survivor Series 2011 Preview

Survivor Series this Sunday returns to where I believe is the home of WWE live events, Madison Square Garden, fresh from its refurbishment. With it being the 25th Survivor Series as well, will WWE pull out all the stops to make it the most electrifying event in sports entertainment? Let’s look at the card.

The Divas Championship is on the line as Eve Torres once again challenges Beth Phoenix. While I like the Legion Divas of Doom, they have been stuttering with slightly inexplicable losses, especially with Natalya. I have a feeling that it may be on its last legs; however, I think that Beth Phoenix will retain.
Predicted winner: Beth Phoenix

The only traditional Survivor Series will be between Team Orton (Randy Orton, Sin Cara, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston and Goliath Mason Ryan) versus Team Barrett (Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Hunico, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler). Quite a lot of talent on show here so it should be a good match. I’m going for Team Orton, with Orton being one of the last men standing.
Predicted winners: Team Orton

Dolph Ziggler must have liked doing two wrestling matches at the last PPV, Vengeance, as he’s doing it again as he defends the US Championship against John “parkour” Morrison. I feel sorry for Zack Ryder as his petition seems to have been unsuccessful. This is quite a interesting one as Ziggler could be one of the last men standing and could go into this match straight afterwards; or he could be eliminated early in order for him to get a bit of a rest. Also, Ziggler is currently the longest reigning champion in the WWE, so it might be time for a title change. However, I believe that Ryder will be the next US Champion; therefore, I think that Ziggler will retain the Championship.
Predicted winner: Dolph Ziggler

The World Heavyweight Championship is on the line as Mark Henry will be defending his belt against The Big Show. Hopefully, they will have reinforced the ring in case they decide to do an 850+lb superplex again. It would be nice if the Big Show could hold the title for a while, but I don’t think that will happen, so I think that Mark Henry will defeat him cleanly.
Predicted winner: Mark Henry

Alberto Del Rio will be defending the WWE Championship against John Cena CM Punk. Sorry, I’ve still not gotten over the fact that John Cena is not involved for once. This is quite a tough one, as I can see both guys winning. I would like Del Rio to stay WWE Champion til Wrestlemania. However, I would like that to happen to Mark Henry as well. The WWE won’t let both guys be champion til then. I think that Henry is more likely to lose the title (and hopefully regain it) before Wrestlemania so I think that Del Rio will win this, but I suspect that Kevin Nash might lend a hand.
Predicted winner: Alberto Del Rio

Now the main event with The Miz and R-Truth taking on the team of John Cena and The Rock. While I’m really looking forward to this match, anyone who thinks that Miz and Truth have any chance of winning, are deluding themselves. They are the macguffins (basically someone/thing to help the plot along) to the upcoming Cena/Rock Wrestlemania feud. To me, it’s a no-brainer with Cena and Rock winning. I suspect, however, that The Rock will celebrate by giving Cena a people’s elbow.
Predicted winners: John Cena and The Rock

There are only 6 matches on the card at the time of writing this. Survivor Series, due to its format, is an opportunity for some wrestlers who don’t normally wrestle on PPV some extra TV time. Therefore, there might be another match announced on the day.  I won’t get to see al of it until Tuesday so my review won’t be up til then; but with the return of The Rock, this looks like to be a thoroughly enjoyable event.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Cody Rhodes Unmasked

The last year has been a big one for Cody Rhodes. He had been performing quite well as a singles wrestler and I was quite enjoying his “Dashing” gimmick, although it took a while for it to get over with the fans.

That all changed when Rhodes faced Rey Mysterio on Smackdown at the beginning of the year. Mysterio hit the 619 and broke Rhode’s nose, resulting in Rhodes missing the Royal Rumble and requiring reconstructive surgery. When he returned a few weeks later, Rhodes was a different man, being reluctant to show his face to the crowd and wearing a protective mask. Understandably, Rhodes blamed it on Mysterio and it led to a really good feud between the two, with a brilliant segment on Smackdown with the American Dream Dusty Rhodes acting as peacemaker then turning on Mysterio (one of my favourite moments of the year); then having matches at Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules.

I thought it was a big risk for Rhodes to change his gimmick so dramatically when he was just getting over with the “Dashing” persona. However, Rhodes pulled it off brilliantly, making it one of my favourite gimmicks ever. So much was put into it which I loved: the newspaper headlines saying “Grotesque!” and “Disfigured!” as part of his titantron; his coat with the hood, inspired by the computer game Assassin’s Creed; the way he would push away the camera as he made his way to the ring so that they couldn’t show his face; his theme tune being changed slightly to make it more darker; and the paper baggers. It helped that Rhodes had taken acting classes before he became a professional wrestler as he made it seem so real. You knew that there was nothing wrong with him, but he made you see his viewpoint.

Over the year, he had various mini feuds, resulting in Rhodes becoming Intercontinental Champion in August. He had a feud with the “Million Dollar Failure” Ted DiBiase and got into a feud with his former Legacy partner Randy Orton, which resulted in a thoroughly enjoyable street fight on Smackdown two weeks ago, with Orton defeating Rhodes and damaging his face mask. I thought that Rhodes would simply get a new one. However, last night on RAW, Rhodes came out to new music, new titantron, no paper baggers and acting as if his whole masked gimmick had never happened.

It really disappointed me that Rhodes had got rid of his masked gimmick so quickly. I was expecting a transition period between the two with perhaps Rhodes wearing one of his paper bags over his head in order to not show his face; or, like Beauty and the Beast, have a Diva show him that he doesn’t need the mask, as he is fine without it.

This shows to me some of the creative problems that I think is going on with the WWE. Over the last few months, they have made creative decisions but don’t seem to have put much thought into them. It’s like they have decided to go from one city to another, but instead of showing us how they get there, we are instantly teleported there instead. Another example is the anonymous RAW GM, who we had not heard from since July and then suddenly dismissed with John Laurinaitis (did you know that he’s Executive Vice President of Talent Relations?) becoming interim RAW GM.

I don’t know if the creative decisions over the last few months have resulted in TV ratings and PPV buy rates declining, but I wouldn’t be surprised. They need to put more thought with their storylines, especially on RAW, in order for things to improve.

Friday, 4 November 2011

TNA Problems Personified

 I know that I haven’t written about the WWE for a while, but the way TNA has been going recently has been very interesting, so I’ve been writing about it.

I wrote about how TNA seemed to have completely screwed Bobby Roode over by giving him a four month build up and then changing their mind (thanks to Hulk Hogan) and giving his tag team partner James Storm the title four days after Roode’s defeat to Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory. Roode defeated Samoa “Sore Loser” Joe the next week to become the No.1 contender. I thought that it would take place at the next PPV, Turning Point; however, it was decided to have the match on Impact this week. I heard what had happened so, instead of waiting til Sunday to see the match on Challenge TV, I trawled the internet to see it (thanks You Tube).

I really enjoyed the match. I had some doubt about whether Storm would be a good champion but I was glad to be proven wrong and he and Roode worked well together. The ending had Roode irish whip Storm into the corner, who stopped before he ran into the referee, Brian Hebner. Hebner had to dive out of the ring in order to stop Roode ramming Storm into him but he got injured landing on the floor. Roode in the process went out of the ring as well and spent a good 30-45 seconds debating whether to use Storm’s beer bottle or not. Storm attempts to bring Roode back into the ring, Roode smashes him with the bottle and promptly pins Storm to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

While I’m happy that Roode has won the Championship, unfortunately, it does seem to personify a lot of what is wrong with TNA. First of all, I was surprised that this match took place on Impact instead of on Turning Point. TNA, like WCW as it approached its end, seem to have all their big title changes and matches more on TV then on PPV. WWE right now will have The Rock having his first wrestling match since Wrestlemania XX at Survivor Series. Would the WWE have that match on RAW or Smackdown instead of a PPV event? Of course they wouldn’t! I know it’s unfair comparing one of the popular wrestlers of all time to a TNA Championship match but the point I’m making is that, if Vince McMahon was in charge of TNA, to help generate more money for the company, he would have had that match at Turning Point, hopefully getting more buy rates for the PPV.

Another thing is that James Storm has just become the TNA version of Christian. In May, Christian finally won the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules only to lose it two days later to Randy Orton on Smackdown. Storm, while having a slightly longer reign than Christian, has lost in his very first title defence. Also, if the plan was to have Roode become the champion anyway, why didn’t he win it at Bound for Glory, especially since Kurt Angle was carrying an injury?

However, my main problem is they seemed to have crammed an angle that could lasted 2-3 months into 2 weeks. The reason for this seem thanks to, once again, Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff.  Rumours are going that Hogan wants his face turn to be the main focus at the minute so, to do that, they need a heel champion. Based on what I saw from last week’s Impact, TNA seem to want the main angle to be between a man who has never wrestled regularly (Eric Bischoff), a 62 year old wrestling legend who shouldn’t be wrestling anymore due to heart problems (Ric Flair), and a referee (Jackson James Garrett Bischoff). Rumours are going round that Hogan might be involved to back up Garrett, so TNA are adding a man who is 57 years old who retired due to numerous injuries but wants to get back in the ring.

I seriously believe that Dixie Carter want to make TNA a better wrestling company, they need to get rid of Hogan and Bischoff. They are stuck in past glories and are unwilling to step aside and let the young talent like AJ Styles, Roode and Austin Aries shine. Add Vince Russo to the mix and you have a company that a lot of people view as a joke. Bruce Pritchard has been promoted to head the writing. However, Bischoff and Hogan have too much creative control. Unfortunately, professional wrestling is at times a selfish business, especially when you have main event wrestlers in charge of the booking. When that happens and it starts to damage the company, you know you have a problem. The question is, does Dixie Carter know that, and if she does, what will she do about it?