Monday 22 February 2016

WWE: Midcard Hell

                                     Ah NXT, you could never do any harm could you? 
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         Before we all sit down and indulge in what will be hopefully be an above average pay per view in Fastlane, let us take a moment to analyse the current WWE product and the superstars which have given us so much joy on NXT but now are on the main roster floundering with nobody giving a damn. Our high hopes have all been dashed for favorites such as Neville, Tyler Breeze, The Ascension. The likes of Bo Dallas and Adam Rose who have faded in obscurity and the bright lights which shine for Kalisto who WWE might see as the next Rey Mysterio and divas such as Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch who are turning around the so called Divas Revolution by themselves. It is truly sad to think that so many of these wrestlers were given time to develop on NXT and all for nothing as they are thrown to the sharks on the main roster. It is difficult to have high hopes like Finn Balor or a Samoa Joe(If he is even going to be brought to the main roster) when so many others have fallen flat. Today, my objective is to try and decipher why so many of our favorites have been placed in what I like to call: Midcard Hell.

         Questionable booking has been a problem for this company for many years now, 50-50 booking is rampant on the current product. A loss at a pay per views indicates a win back on raw the next night. Why? Because that makes total sense right? Of course it doesn't but that's how this company operates now. It is no wonder so many fail to achieve any sense of notoriety or popularity when they are booked to win one week and lose right back to their opponent next week. However, 50-50 booking goes in hand in hand with bad/lack of storylines. How many weeks in a row did Neville face Wade Barrett? If memory serves me correct they wrestled on two pay per views, one as a filler match before the main event and the other on the preshow. If you want to create new stars or build someone as a credible challenger, they need to rack up a certain amount of wins or at least have a story in which I can give a damn about you.

 Using Neville as an example once more, The Miz showed interest in having Neville star in movies with Neville obviously refusing Miz's offer which should lead to a blow off match between the two but the story was dropped and we never had a conclusion. So what is Neville up to? Just random tag matches with The Lucha Dragons. What of the Ascension, the dominant tag team of NXT who when they recently returned to the show were over like rover? Surely they would be of some use to the tag team division on the main roster? Nah of course not let's dress them up like The Legion of Doom, have them acknowledge they look like them and then say they are better than The Legion of Doom.... Why? How does it get them heat? Why does JBL the heel commentator, the bad guy tear into these guys? Because they are a joke apparently so we shouldn't care about them why? Because they get beat every time they step into the ring


         When an NXT prospect is brought up to the main roster, we must realize that the casual audience is not going to recognize the superstar. Many WWE fans will not have the network or will watch NXT or will be religious followers of the indys. This is ok as long as the fans learn about the character/gimmick through promos or hype packages. For example, when WWE had the Divas Revolution where Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch were all introduced to the main roster, there were no highlight packages or details about these women apart from comments from the announce team which were not exactly informative. As Fastlane approaches, do we really know much about these Divas? We know Charlotte is Ric Flair's daughter but have we been told she won the NXT Women's championship by defeating Natalya in the final of a tournament? We know Becky is quirky and weird with a strange accent(Nothing beats us Irish and our accents!) and Sasha calls herself The Boss but do they ever bring up the fact that these two used to be teammates in NXT? Perhaps it may not be a big deal for some people but I feel it is very hard to like someone I know nothing about and unless I was constantly watching NXT how was I suppose to know anything about any of these people. 

Continuity is another big issue with movement from NXT to the main roster, you can argue that its a whole other world when arriving on the main roster but let us not forget what made so many of these NXT wrestlers so great in the first place. Paige was the anti diva of NXT, she kicked ass and took names, rightfully becoming the women's champion by defeating Emma in a great match. She was cool, looked like a badass and didn't care about anyone. On her first night on the main roster, she is congratulating AJ Lee and being respectful and nice....  what? This isn't the Paige we knew and love, this is nothing like her NXT character, her edgy character and her different look to the current stereotypical diva made her stand out but WWE stripped away her character, leaving her as this cookie cutter babyface who had an underwhelming run as the champion until she turned heel and found a niche before becoming a complete imbecile in her battle with The Bellas. Paige now finds herself as far away from the divas main event scene as she has ever been, losing to Summer Rae.

 I hope she builds herself back up but I wouldn't hold my breath. If you take away what originally helped someone get over, chances are they will fail on the big stage. Bo Dallas could be another example, an NXT champion who had a character similar to Kurt Angle who thought he was the ultimate hero and was oblivious to the fact that everyone hated him. Bo went from face to heel on NXT growing the character and growing very popular in the process but on the main roster we only saw the goofy heel who thought everyone loved him. We were never informed of his past, what he accomplished, what he was like, we just got Bo and his Bolieve shtick without any explanation.


        In WWE's breaking ground show which is on the network, we see the final episode feature Tyler Breeze get called up to the main roster. It was his time, he worked for it and finally, he would have his opportunity. For those not familiar with Breeze's story let me offer a quick summation:Breeze was in FCW, the developmental promotion before NXT and was close to being released before he reinvented himself with the Tyler Breeze gimmick, becoming one of the most popular wrestlers in NXT. Consistently great matches mixed with good booking led to Tyler gaining plaudits from every fan that filled the arena. On the main roster, he defeated Dolph Ziggler and has been beaten like a drum since he won that match. There is no direction for Tyler Breeze, he is simply another body in a long line of bodies, another cog in the machine and it is so saddening to see someone fight so hard to survive and just be tossed aside like this. Adam Rose had a feud with Jack Swagger in the beginning of his run on the main roster but nobody cared so he turned heel and feuded with a bunny.

 Neville hasn't done anything for months now, you spent time building these guys so why not use them? It begs the question: why bring someone up to the roster if you don't have a plan for them? Was there any point for Breeze making the move? He might make more money and it was cool to see him at the house shows when they came to Dublin but the guy is dead before he even got a chance to show what he is worth. If I were Breeze I would start looking at Japan as a way out, a place to reinvent himself once more and stick to those who have buried him from the start. NXT'S motto may be the future is now but if there is no change in the using of NXT stars, the future will be looking very bleak for Balor or a Sami Zayn or a Hideo Itami. The worst part is it isn't impossible to use a NXT wrestler correctly, Kevin Owens is doing quite well for himself on that main roster and Sasha Banks is a star, there is no doubt about it and Bayley has all the potential to be the female equivalent to John Cena. I don't want to be a pessimist but we may have to suffer through a lot of our favorites being wasted unless some serious changes take place....

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Daniel Bryan Retiring?

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I miss him already don't you?

            I am sure you have all heard the news by now, in an hour or two, Daniel Bryan will appear in front of his hometown crowd in Seattle as he announces his retirement to the world. Some will not care, considering Bryan as boring but to many, Bryan was a true wrestler, not a sports entertainer and he stood for all of us, the common man who worked hard and never got what he deserved. You can consider Daniel Bryan an over achiever but we believed in Bryan and WWE delivered at Wrestlemania 30. I am sure we all have anecdotes of how we became fans of Bryan, I will not bore you with a long story of how I found Bryan and became a fan of his work. I was and still am a Pro Wrestling Noah fan and Bryan had a number of matches with the GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion known as KENTA in 2006/2007 who WWE fans would recognize as Hideo Itami and I loved Bryan's style. His work ethic was enough to convince me that this was one of the world's best. Tonight I will review what will go down as Bryan's finest hour at Wrestlemania 30 so let us rejoice in what Bryan will be fondly remembered for years after his retirement. Long Live Daniel Bryan!

Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton vs Batista(World Heavyweight Title Match)

          So just in case you do not know the backstory to this Wrestlemania, let me fill you in with a short narrative(Cue Flashback....). So Batista made his grand return at the Royal Rumble and was supposed to win the Rumble, headline Wrestlemania and become WWE champion. Unfortunately, the fans had other ideas as we rallied behind a plucky underdog who stole the show night after night whether it be his comedy with Kane or his performances against The Shield we had found our hero in Daniel Bryan. Bryan had won the championship against John Cena at Summerslam but was screwed moments later as Orton cashed in his money in the bank and The Authority was formed(Hard to believe they are still around annoying us in 2016!). Bryan would be screwed out of the title and would join The Wyatts while the fans only grew in support for the bearded warrior. Week after week the fans cheered for Bryan and when Bryan was not in the Rumble match, the fans booed and ruined the whole match, making it clear they didn't care for Batista but they only cared for Bryan. So, Vince could no longer ignore the reactions for Bryan and he was placed in the main event of the 30th anniversary of the biggest event in professional wrestling. First, he had to defeat Triple H, the crafty veteran who would sacrifice anything and everything to prevent Bryan from getting to the main event. However, somehow and someway, Bryan had beaten Triple H and made it to the main event.

      Introductions for the main event, all competitors stand in the ring, the champion Randy Orton who I feel was always a better heel than face, the Rumble winner, Batista who was suppose to be the hero but was now the villain, and everybody's favorite, Daniel Bryan. He is bandaged up, his left arm damaged by Triple H but his spirit is still as strong as ever. Bryan starts off with kicks and counters before Orton puts a stop to his momentum. Batista takes control as Orton and he battle while Bryan lays on the floor clutching his arm. Batista is backdropped onto the steps before Randy takes out Bryan once more. Bryan kicks Batista and Randy before Randy hits a nasty looking exploder suplex. Batista looks to beat up Bryan but eats a drop toe hold before Bryan hits dropkick after dropkick on his two opponents. Bryan apples the Yes lock before The Authority pull out the referee ruining the count. Spinebuster by Batista, crooked referee enters the ring as a Batista Bomb plants Bryan to the mat. 1...2.. Kick out by Bryan! Bryan sends the crooked ref to the outside and suicide dive onto the ref and The Authority. Crowd comes alive as they think the end is near for Batista. Triple H grabs a sledgehammer but Bryan blocks and hits the Game in the face with the hammer, knocking him out. Double teaming by the former Evolution stablemates, Batista Bomb into a RKO through the announce table, Orton lands awkwardly on a monitor but apart from that, everyone looked ok.

 Bryan is out cold as the doctors come to ringside to check on the plucky underdog. Batista attacks Randy as he is weak after sending Bryan through the table. A neck brace is placed on Bryan while he is wheeled away on a stretcher. Bryan gets up off the stretcher, this kid will not stay down, it is the main event of Wrestlemania and he would not miss for the world. Orton attacks Bryan but gets caught in the yes lock, Batista saves but Bryan gets a yes lock on Batista and Orton makes the save. Bryan is speared to the outside, RKO on Batista 1...2.. Kick out by Batista , that was close! Randy is thinking punt kick on Batista but Bryan hits the flying knee surely it must be over? Batista being the prick that he is, tosses Bryan to the outside and steels the pin but Randy kicks out to the shock of Batista. Batista is frustrated so he goes for broke with the Batista Bomb. Boom! Orton is finished but Bryan hits another flying knee to Batista and there is the yes lock, center of the ring with nowhere to go. Batista taps and he crowd, including myself goes absolutely nuts.

 Very rarely will I get super invested into a wrestling match. The Rock's return versus Cena I was invested, Kobashi's comeback from cancer and his retirement match I was invested and this match right here by the end, you can bet I was invested. It was the perfect climax to a saga which we all wanted to see, Bryan conquering all who stood in his way, proving his critics and doubters wrong with one of the most beautiful moments in Mania history. Cole's commentary is great during the final seconds of the match and the crowd erupts when Batista taps. This was truly an amazing moment that will never be forgotten in WWE history.

            So, tonight Daniel Bryan could possibly stand in a WWE ring for the last time. Well I say hold your head high Bryan, you have nothing to be ashamed of, you achieved a level of greatness in such a short amount of time and you should have no regrets. You are one of my all time favorites and that will never ever change and the hall of fame will call your name one day. We, the fans love you Bryan and we will never forget you. Thank you for your years of service and I wish you nothing but the best in your future with your wife Brie. Thank you Daniel Bryan, thank you Brian Danielson and thank you American Dragon.

Sunday 7 February 2016

Get Well Soon Bret!

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The Best There Is, The Best There Was, And The Best There Ever Will Be

          With the sudden news of Hart's prostate cancer, I would like to take the chance to write a review about one of my all time favorite Hart matches, that being his 1991 Summerslam encounter with Mr. Perfect for the intercontinental championship, the match that you could argue put Hart on the map as a single's wrestler. Prostate cancer may be considered a less serious cancer than others in terms of chances of killing you but it is still a cancer and hopefully, Bret overcomes the cancer just like Kenta Kobashi and comes back stronger than ever. If anyone could do it, it would be The Hitman. I was also saddened to hear the news of the death of Axl Rotten at age 44. From the interviews I have watched, he seemed like a very likable guy who has passed away too soon. My deepest condolences to his family and the fans who cheered for him and gave him the energy and love that supported him through his wrestling career.

Bret Hart vs Mr. Perfect (Intercontinental Championship Match)

           Quick interview before the match from Perfect who runs down Bret claiming to be a champion you have to be Perfect and there is only one Mr. Perfect and you ain't him. Bret's music plays as he will enter first, awaiting the arrival of the champion. Love the early version of his theme as the camera pans over the crowd and we see Bret's father and mother. Perfect enters with his coach and proudly displays his title in the face of Hart, taunting him before the bell rings and the match begins. Lock up with Hart gaining the advantage with a shoulder block and hiptoss, sending Perfect to the outside to regroup and rethink his approach to this match. Crucifix pin by Hart, only gets a two count as he transitions back into a headlock, leaving Perfect frustrated as he resorts to hair pulling to slow down his quicker opponent. Crossbody and sunset flip by Hart as he continues to get the better of Perfect. Monsoon and Piper on commentary are hyping up how important the match is for Bret's career with his parents being present at ringside and the opportunity of winning the prestigious intercontinental championship.

 Perfect momentarily gains control with a knife edge chop and a scoop slam before Hart cuts him off and sends him to the outside with a big clothesline. Perfect says screw this match and decides to walk to the back but Hart isn't going to let him get away so he chases Perfect and drags him back into the ring. Cheap shot by Perfect who is now in control, kicks to a downed Bret Hart lead to Perfect sending Hart crashing into the guard rail from the apron. Perfect brings the pain with hard Irish whips and more knife edge chops before he tosses Bret from one side of the ring to the other by his hair! More chops follow before Perfect sets up for The Perfect Plex. He drops Hart and hooks the leg for the pin 1...2.. Hart Kicks Out! No one had ever kicked out of Perfect's finishing move, Perfect is reduced to a state of shock as he cannot believe that Hart has kicked out of his move. Bret runs through his offense of backbreakers and Russian leg drops diving elbow etc but Perfect will not be put away with these moves. Realizing this, Hart attempts a sharpshooter before being interrupted by the coach who pays for his meddlesome ways with a right hand to the face.

 Perfect seizes on the opening and attacks Bret stomping on his gut and trying a leg drop. However, Bret catches his leg and locks in the sharpshooter before Perfect taps out in the middle of the ring. The ending is abrupt, almost happening unexpectedly due to Perfect's instant submission and Hart's slow appliance of the sharpshooter due to him being on his back and not on a vertical base but the crowd reaction overshadows these minor nitpicks. They loved Bret and their hero achieved what they wished for him to do and they could not have been happier.

       A short review more like a mini update but I felt I had to pay tribute/support Bret in some way/shape of form so I reviewed a match that I feel is overshadowed by matches with Owen, Michaels, and Austin. Good luck in your fight Bret!

Monday 1 February 2016

WWE Fastlane 2015 Review

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Can't decide whether this is a worse PPV name than Battleground

         Yes ladies and gentleman, it is time for another installment of Sean's Wrestling Reviews with Fastlane 2015 being my choice of poison this time. As we edge closer to Wrestlemania, fans were disappointed as Roman Reigns aka the chosen one won the Royal Rumble when everyone else and their mother wanted Daniel Bryan to win. The event is built around the two with the winner headlining Wrestlemania against the champion, Brock Lesnar. Will it be another Cinderella story for Daniel Bryan or shall Roman reign supreme? Let's waste no more time, so sit back and watch as I review Fastlane 2015.

(6 Man Tag Match) Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan&Ryback vs Big Show, Kane& Seth Rollins

         This makes me miss the curb stomp so much. Alas, we have this match because Rollins is a prick(simple story to follow). Rowan is worked on for the majority of the match with his leg being the target of the heel team. Rowan does a really good job of selling the leg, Big Show pulls out a Haas of Pain which was awesome to see I must admit I was surprised. Ryback runs wild before it boils down to Kane and Ziggler, Ziggler is all over Kane in the corner as he punches Kane's giant forehead before Big Show from the outside hits a knockout punch and Kane slams Ziggler with the Chokeslam for the win. A good match, nothing that really stood out to me. Afterwards, Curb Stomps for everyone as Rollins and The Authority make Ziggler, Rowan and Ryback like complete geeks. Randy Orton makes the save and RKOs J&J security and Kane.

Stardust vs Goldust

          Brother vs Brother, the match that we all wanted to see so does it live up to our expectations? Stardust enters without his full body suit. Goldust has been on fire in the ring ever since he returned in 2013 to try and win back Cody's job. He looks healthy and wrestles better than half of the roster. Goldust has the upper hand on Stardust, being the most experienced wrestler and knowing his brother inside out. Stardust zeroes in on Goldust's ribs after a top rope dive goes wrong for the bizarre one leaving him open to Stardust's attacks. Stardust maintains control before we get a messed up finish as Stardust kicks out at 2 with the referee not counting the three before signalling for a three count and the match ends with Stardust exclaims "What?". It is unfortunate but that's how it goes sometimes, Goldust extends his arm to Stardust who shakes his hand before leaving the ring.

The Usos vs Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (Tag Team Title Match)

           I know this is going to be a good match because of the wrestlers involved so I will take time to rant for a moment. My god do I hate the tag team title design, I mean seriously it looks awful from the colouring to the design, I hate it and they need to change it(deep breathe nerd calm your tits). Ok after following my own advice and taking a deep breathe , let's call the action. Kidd hits a rope assisted dragon screw as they work the leg of Jimmy. One-legged swing and a half crab by Cesaro as they wear down Jimmy Uso who is in dire straits, Nice combination moves by Cesaro and Kidd before The Usos dive over the rope on their opponents. Sharpshooter by Kidd on Jimmy which makes all the leg work come together but Jey makes the save before Cesaro takes him out of the ring. Cesaro tries to help Kidd but gets a superkick for his troubles before Kidd catches Jimmy with a spinning fisherman suplex for the win. This was a fun match with the right team going over in a clean fashion. Cesaro and Kidd were such a great team and while Cesaro could have made the most of Kidd's injury before his own injury, I would still  like these two to team up once more when they have both recovered.

Nikki Bella vs Paige (Divas' Title Match)

          I do not know what annoys me more, the fact that Nikki and Brie were feuding throughout the summer and late into the year and were now back together for no reason , the fact that Brie Bella must be the most annoying woman in the world with her constant "come on Nikki" chants which are like a woodpecker drilling against my skull, the fact that Paige's character from NXT was all but forgotten when she moved up to the main roster and seems her career is going nowhere after her disappointing feud with Charlotte or the fact that I have to sit through Nikki Bella dominating the Diva's division. This match went five minutes, it felt like they were going through the motions and Nikki wins with a poor looking roll up and she is supposed to be holding the tights but she doesn't even grab the tights until the referee is counting three. I wish I could do piss breaks for reviews but sadly , I do not have this luxury(Perhaps I should hire some mindless servants, yes I will call the WWE creative team).

Dean Ambrose vs Bad News Barrett

          They are talking about Manchester United and England for half of this match because Rooney dived and had a twitter confrontation with Barrett. Ah commentary never seems to amaze me from this company. It is your basic raw match with both men hitting their respective moves like the wasteland and the diving elbow etc. Barrett tries to avoid Ambrose as he knows he will tear his head off if he gets the opportunity. The referee ends up disqualifying Ambrose for his relentless attacks on Barrett. Dirty Deeds by Dean as he takes the intercontinental championship foreshadowing his reign with the title by a whole year.

Rusev vs John Cena(United States Title Match)

             The undefeated Rusev vs the unbeatable John Cena, someone must lose and someone is walking away champion. Rusev dominates early on in the match with spinning heel kicks and submission holds. What annoys me most about John Cena matches is that the commentators seem to only stay focus and tell the story and moves of his matches. They are not great announcers by any chance especially Lawler who might just be finally turning things around on Smackdown but at least they seem to be interested in this match compared to other matches on this show. This is before Cena's reign as United States champion(say what you want about the man but he put on some good matches during his reign) so his moveset is more restricted and limited here. Cena puts on the STF and hits an AA but it is simply not enough to take down the Bulgarian Brute. Cena tries for the leg drop from the top but Rusev reverses into a powerbomb, locking in the Accolade. Cena tries to escape, eventually powering out before Lana distracts the referee, allowing Rusev to hit the low blow and a kick to the face before Rusev applies the accolade once more for the victory. A good match from these two. However, the future would be brighter for Cena as Rusev lost all of his momentum in his losses to Cena following this match while Cena continued to be pushed as strong as ever. Hell, he didn't even pass out to The Accolade, he was hit with a low blow and kick to the face, knocking him out before being locked in Rusev's finisher. Would it have hurt Cena to lose cleanly to the new unstoppable monster? No but we all knew it wouldn't happen didn't we? 

Daniel Bryan vs Roman Reigns(Winner to headline 

         Let me start off by saying I hate the concept of the winner of the rumble having to put the opportunity that he already won on the line at the pay per view following the rumble. What was the point of winning the rumble if you could just get a title shot at the next event if you asked for a title shot. It really devalues the Royal Rumble and renders the whole concept pointless. Moving on, the fans wanted Bryan to win the Rumble, he had returned from injury, he had never lost the title, we wanted a feel good moment to start 2015. WWE had other plans, they wanted Roman, they had Bryan eliminated early in the Rumble and everything went to shit. When The Rock can't save you from the boos, something is seriously wrong so here we have Daniel Bryan against Roman Reigns for a shot at the title at the biggest event of the year. Bryan challenged Roman because the fans like him and not Roman and Roman accepted because he is confident he can whip Bryan's ass. So we are supposed to be divided on opinion of the two yet you have Roman come off like a cocky heel because he thinks he can beat Bryan no problem. Hmmm.... I really think the creative team and Vince might be insane but let's cover the match. With Bryan you will get a good match regardless of who he is in the ring with and that is no exception here as Bryan ducks and dodges Reigns using kicks to wear Reigns down while also showing the strength of Reigns by bumping big for him and allowing Reigns to toss him around like he was as light as a feather. Bryan catches Reigns with a kick to the midsection as Reigns goes for The Superman Punch, the announcers bring up Reigns recent hernia operation. A trifecta of dropkicks in the corner leave Reigns in a heap before he hits a powerbomb from the second rope. Suicide dives from Daniel to further Reigns' injuries, Reigns goes for a spear but hits the steel steps before both men are nearly counted out. Reigns goes for the spear again but small package by Bryan 1..2.. kickout. Bryan hits the running knee 1...2... KICKOUT again by Reigns! A Yes Lock is still not enough to put away Reigns. Repeated kicks by Bryan before he signals one last time for the running knee strike. Bryan leads the crowd in yes chants before running towards Reigns who greets with a spear for the 1...2...3. Great match between these two with Reigns showing he could hang with the best WWE has to offer even though you could argue Bryan planned much of the match and carried Reigns but I don't care you have to give credit where credit is due and Reigns earned it on this night. It is amazing to think that this is almost one year ago and Reigns has not progressed since this night. Yes he is a two time champion but he did not have that special moment like Bryan. Night after night, Reigns enters buildings where he is mostly booed instead of being cheered. WWE have done everything within their power to make Reigns beloved by the fans and they have failed as of this moment. Coming into this month's Fastlane, the fans know Reigns will be most likely pinning Ambrose like they knew he would beat Bryan on this night and I honestly feel bad for the guy as I feel it is not going to be welcomed with loud cheers and once again, the fans won't want Roman, they will want Bryan.

         Well that's my review of Fastlane, it was an enjoyable pay per view, I don't feel like I wasted my time and it was nice to see so many superstars wrestle that are now on the injured list. Will this year's Fastlane be more exciting? It is possible but for Roman's sake, I hope that everything works out the way WWE wants it to work out. This has been another installment of Sean's Wrestling Reviews, until next time see you later!