Speaking of which, even though WWE often succeeds better by trying to be the best big budget Chikara it can be than it does by imitating current Nickelodeon gross-out humor, even the surreal gang party that featured Hornswoggle in a gator costume and the Rosebud Bunny posing with one of the most important civil rights leaders in the last quarter-century flowed better.
Wrestling doesn’t go to the “theatre of the absurd” well nearly often enough.
Dean Malenko is almost impossible to explain without hurriedly pointing and saying “NO, LOOK, WATCH HIM, WATCH HOW HE MOVES.” Watching him wrestle was like watching a master ballerina. That sounds like an insult, but it isn’t.
I honestly couldn’t think of a better way of describing quality pro wrestling than calling it ballet. I’ve always hated the famous pro wrestler line of “this ain’t ballet.” Not if you’re not trying, it’s not.
PWInsider.com has confirmed with multiple sources in the PPV industry that a Global Force Wrestling PPV event is on carriers’ schedules for 1/4/15. Of course, 1/4 is the date of what has been the biggest Japanese event of the year for seemingly forever, the annual New Japan Pro Wrestling Tokyo Dome event. It would appear that Jarrett’s company has brokered a deal to bring the Tokyo Dome show to United States PPV for the first time. Sources indicate that the deal and all marketing for the PPV would be branded GFW, not New Japan.
So Global Force Wrestling is just New Japan Pro Wrestling with a bird on it. Six months of cryptic nonsense and all that exists is a PPV distribution deal for another company?
And then all too soon came the top of the 9th. Yankees leading 5-2, their outstanding closer, David Robertson, on the mound. This was it. Jeter’s final moments in pinstripes, on the field at shortstop. His entire life, all he ever wanted to be was the shortstop for the New York Yankees. Two long Orioles home runs, though, and it was all different. 5-5 tie game. There would be a bottom of the ninth. And batting third would be Jeter.
One day, Gruber will be remembered as one of the greatest writers of this generation. If other people—people who wrote about sports, say—wrote with his consideration, maybe I’d care about this stuff.
Oh well, back to half-naked men pretending to fight one another.
Match of the year was Ricky Steamboat versus Randy Savage at WrestleMania III. Worst match of the year was Andre the Giant versus Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III.
Everything I hate about the Observer simplified down to a single sentence. If anyone ever asks me again why I think the Observer is a waste of time, I’ll forever point them to the fact that Hogan vs Andre, inarguably the biggest match in pro wrestling history, was considered “worst of the year.”
Professional wrestling and the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) occupy a strange space in our culture. Its flagship show, Monday Night Raw, is a ratings juggernaut every week, yet isn’t covered at pop culture websites the way a series like The Big Bang Theory is. Wrestling is often touted as a spectacle for children, yet the demographic of the WWE audience is huge; as the company’s corporate profile boasts, its TV shows reach 15 million weekly viewers in the United States. Wrestling is at once a form of low art, crafting stories in broad strokes with little nuance, and a complex morality tale that muses on many themes tackled by TVs best dramas: family, love, honesty, trust, betrayal, friendship. It’s sport, it’s entertainment, it’s business. And it’s a lot of fun.
TNA sources indicate that discussions with “several” different cable outlets, including Spike, are still ongoing as of earlier this week.
The belief among many in the company is that there will be some sort of deal made shortly.
Wouldn’t it be great if it was FXX and they forced TNA to be a middle-brow program?
They’d love the Canon 24fps cameras, anyway.
Simmons dared ESPN to punish him for speaking out against Goodell, saying “I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble.” Simmons has been one of the fiercest critics of the NFL and its handling of domestic violence cases.
A good intro can do a lot. In theatre, the old cliché goes that people often only remember the entrance and exit. In wrestling, the same rings true, but there’s an emphasis on the result. But Night of Champions was a night of entrances. If you focus on the conclusions, you’ll leave the table hungry. That’s partially due to just what time of the year it is, but mostly due to WWE investing in long-term stories while retaining a product model built for a more impulsive era. Surely they don’t need to do 12 special events a year anymore. They either have your $9.99 or they don’t.
Focus on the endings and you’ll see the opposite of Summerslam, a cavalcade of spinning wheels, meaningless title switches, run-ins, and the same old, same old. But WWE put more work into the beginnings of things here that I’m going to dedicate the entire column to them.
I know who Paige is now. I don’t know everything, but that’s okay. You’re not supposed to know everything about a character this young (irrelevant here is her real age). But before night of champions, I didn’t. I got that she was a fiery competitor who was always a villain but took some time to show it. But now I know her as she is. I know because they finally gave her a microphone and a light, and let her talk over video of her opponents. WWE is unfathomably guilty of simply going “look, we also have women” that they barely let them become fully realized. AJ Lee has become so through grit. Nikki (and many others) had to go get a different show to be able to speak. Paige is now there. Watch the introduction video to the Divas Title match, and you’ll finally know her, too.
WWE positioned Night of Champions as the first wrestling show. First of the calendar? Maybe. Maybe the stories presented and continued will reach a peak around April, but I don’t think any will survive October. No, Night of Champions was a first wrestling show in that it was presented as an Introduction. If you’re showing someone what WWE is all about, this is the first show. Yeah, it’s not the best. But showing people the very best old wrestling right away has never been wise. It is unfair. Wrestling can’t sustain its highs, and isn’t designed to. Wrestling, like soap, is meant to sulk along for great stretches, it’s adorned wondering what month it was, hoping for the next crack of true romance and blood.
Night of Champions presented the various macguffins in fine, vainglorious fashion. Look at those intro videos, keynote transitions of nostalgia porn. I fell for it. Each belt is worth more having been made the town halo. This isn’t a starting point so much as a reminder. We do this because of this. Is it a good reason? Is a weird lineage enough to justify a weird existence?
One offshoot of those title videos is that they contained no wrestlers on the current show. All of WWE’s legendary performers are now firmly entrenched in the past. You know WWE is in a weird spot when Goldust is the only veteran left on the active roster, but not even Lesnar or Cena seem like they belong in those videos yet. This WWE is a new one. You may not necessarily feel like WWE is in the midst of a new generation, but they sure do.
I generally don’t care about titles, but there’s something about videos about titles that really gets me. Night of Champions is often a disappointing show, but they also often have boss as hell intro videos. 2010’s is still the pinnacle of macguffin promos, but this one came close. This was the coming out party for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Sure, we’d seen it, but this was WWE making an Apple product demo. I almost expected HHH to sit in a white room talking in dulcet tones about its chamfered edges. They should play this video on the shop site, and then just make you buy a replica. Finally, finally, the greatest trophy in fake sports looks beautiful, at least while engulfed in flames and hammers.
It seems worthless to talk about the results about an intro show. This show was built to make you watch the next show (ad infinitum), whether that be for free on cable or again on the network. Twice, the announcers sold the network over PPV in classless, glib fashion. “Folks, if you paid $54.95, you’re an idiot,” Michael Cole inferred. It’s as if they want to lose all their PPV licenses. But the message is clear: We have a platform, and you should get on. There’ll be more like this. You like this, right? This? Yeah, this. This show. This is what you want. We can only do Wrestlemania XXX once, but Night of Champions 2014? This is just another day at the office.
Still, there was one debut on the show: Seth Rollins. Sure, Seth has been wrestling on WWE television since autumn 2012, and, sure, we know who he is and what he is about. Nothing about Seth Rollins up until this event, however, indicated that he had the ability to breath the same air as Brock Lesnar. To those of us who have known Seth for many years (under a different name), we saw his rise in WWE almost as curious as Bryan, or Punk. Basically, Ring of Honor guys don’t seem like they’d be trading blows with WWE’s main event scene, and yet it’s becoming more a rule than exception. Rollins entered the big show to ruin it and none of us thought twice. Sure, he’s a cowardly villain, but he still dropped Lesnar with his finisher, and it worked like wrestling moves should. Lesnar didn’t brush it off and swat Rollins to death like he very well could have. Rollins found purchase.
I wanted to somehow key in that I started a new job this week, and connect it to how Night of Champions felt like a beginning. It did, but I don’t want to compare it to my new gig, because my new job doesn’t have meaningless Randy Orton matches. My life is better lately than whatever analogue I can find in WWE, which is good, but it really wasn’t for a long time and wrestling helped me through it. I owe a lot to wrestling, to WWE, to you for reading me and supporting me through it. I can tell what WWE was trying to do with Night of Champions. They can’t rely on us old guys forever. They need to get some new people on board, maybe some folks who aren’t yet held together with duct tape and hope.
Instead — especially considering Lesnar was never advertised to be on the program in the first place — it seems likely the decision to keep Lesnar and Heyman off the show, as well as Lesnar’s name mostly out of the mouths of Cena and the other stars who appeared on Monday night’s “Raw,” is an intentional choice, most likely for future story-line scenarios. As to what those scenarios might be, though? Well, as someone who was as confused about Lesnar’s absence as the next fan, your guess is as good as mine.
If you’re a fan of Brock Lesnar, you don’t expect him to show up again until a few weeks before the Royal Rumble. Anything else is gravy.
As you pass by the “motorcycles only” section of the parking lot and make your way through the damp Best Western banquet hall lobby that’s lined with Hard Rock Café-style memorabilia in dusty glass cases, it’s almost as if you get transported back to a time when Urkel was the class dweeb, Kelly Kapowski was the homecoming queen, and Hulk Hogan was that really cool PE teacher who looked the other way when you cut class to smoke weed.
TNA is trying things. They’re taking swings, and lately, some of those swings are connecting. The company’s show has a looseness and an energy to it. The timing is good; Raw has gone fully moribund this summer, and TNA looks strong in comparison. Its ratings are growing. Its characters are figuring out ways to shine. Its recent decisions—taping a summer’s worth of shows in front of a loud New York crowd that would’ve shit all over the company if they hadn’t put on good wrestling, cutting their champion loose in an MMA cage—have turned out well. Things are clicking. “It’s a perfect storm, creatively,” says Hutter. “The stuff we were doing in the past that might not have worked has been realized and negated.”
You’re going to see a lot of these kinds of articles over the next few weeks, as TNA very quickly becomes a much smaller thing. It would be sad if they hadn’t blown every one of their second chances.
Because there’s no going back once you find out that Breaking Bad’s Walter White is actually just the dreamlike fabrication of a small child in Boston, and since you can’t cherry-pick which spoilers you see, Spoil Yourself requires you to click multiple times to agree that you are absolutely sure that this is what you want to do with your life.
Basically, as long as Dean Ambrose is allowed to do his thing, WWE will be in a good spot. RAW will be watchable. Puppies will bring you blooming flowers, and gorgeous people of your desired sexual orientation will make you breakfast in the morning.
Everything after the Irish Curse backbreakers was unreal, but the best part is when Cesaro goes for a Neutralizer. Sheamus counters with a backdrop, but Cesaro is SWISS NINJA JESUS and lands on his feet. He hits the ropes, they build up some momentum and Sheamus goes for the Brogue Kick. Without missing a step, Cesaro ducks it, catches him mid-kick and Alpamare Waterslides him for a nearfall. My heart’s going BOOM BOOM BOOM.
Looks like a lot of people liked Cesaro vs Sheamus.
WWE.com has learned that Roman Reigns has undergone emergency surgery for an incarcerated hernia. Reigns had been in Nashville to promote tomorrow’s Night of Champions pay-per-view. His recovery time will be evaluated by the local surgeon and WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann, but he will be unable to compete against Seth Rollins tomorrow night. Check back with WWE.com for further updates on Reigns’ condition.
UPDATE: WWE Network will be cutting into regularly scheduled programming with a live update at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
Because pro wrestling injuries are consistently an experiment in Schrödinger’s cat, I’ll report this both ways.
If Roman is indeed injured, I wish him the best and a healthy recovery. WWE will obviously sub him out for a suitable replacement, and the show will go on. When he returns, it will be thunderous.
If Roman isn’t actually injured, then it begins to make a little more sense as to why they aired Roman vs Seth on Monday night. WWE almost never advertises a match for a PPV and then just exhibits it on free TV (can anyone remember the last time this happened?). Many of us had a feeling the Night of Champions match may morph into a “scene” of some kind, perhaps involving a returning Dean Ambrose.
Also, is this the first time they’ve “cut” into the WWE Network with news?
Lots of cool stats in there, but I’ll repeat it over and over: analysing wins and losses in wrestling is as useful as reading tea leaves. Amount of matches is almost as useless. Harrington essentially proves this: guys with the most matches (and often most wins) don’t at all correlate to who you’d call the stars of 2014. Guy with the most singles matches? Damien Sandow.
The only correlation to stardom I find completely true is 100% winrate, which only goes to two people on the main roster: Brock Lesnar and Stephanie McMahon.
Will Any Story Conclude at Night of Champions 2014?
Back when I was a blogger, I had this little monthly column that went for nearly 2(!) years called “Will Any Story Conclude” that took the PPV prediction dynamic and twisted it a little (here’s my article from 2011 as a reference). Instead of predicting winners, I predicted conclusions, which are a far rarer thing in wrestling. And because pro wrestling is more soap than sport, correctly predicting that a story will conclude feels so much more satisfying than just calling a winner.
Now that I’m trying to do IO more often again, I thought I’d dust off the concept.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar vs John Cena
The question here is whether or not WWE feels like putting Lesnar and Cena in a cage at Hell in a Cell. Despite the opportune timing, it’s just never been WWE’s thing to finish stories off in a cage, even though that’s essentially what they did last year with Orton vs Bryan. Nevertheless, I’d bet on this being the last time Lesnar and Cena clash for a while, with some kind of outside interference pushing both parties in different directions.
Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins
Considering they decided to just have a match on Raw the week before the PPV that ended cleanly on the side of the hero, I’m not sure how this match could be anything else but a bait and switch. Expect something like Dean vs Seth at Money in the Bank: less a match and window dressing for an escalating scene. My money is on it continuing to a triple threat at Hell in the Cell.
Chris Jericho vs Randy Orton
Considering this isn’t really a feud so much as padding, don’t expect this “story” to go anywhere after this show. I’d personally like to see these guys both go down a peg, with Orton fighting Ziggler and Jericho fighting Cesaro.
Intercontinental Championship: Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz
Hasn’t this been unexpectedly fun the last month? What was a fairly flat story going into Summerslam blossomed as a comedy routine involving a pair of stunt doubles. Still, Ziggler and Miz have technically been feuding since Money in the Bank. This is the capper.
Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs Stardust & Goldust
No matter who wins, they’ll be fighting each other next month.
Mark Henry vs Rusev
Rusev got 2 PPVs out of Jack Swagger, no reason they couldn’t do the same with Henry. This doesn’t end here.
US Championship: Cesaro vs Sheamus
Side-prediction: this’ll be the sleeper match of the show. I’ve seen a few Cesaro/Sheamus matches and they’ve all been excellent. Having said that, are they ever going to do anything interesting with Sheamus? He hasn’t had a proper storyline since fighting Bryan in 2012. That’s a long time to tread water. This, however, will be their only match in this feud.
Divas Championship: Paige vs Nikki vs AJ Lee
This is the “Punk vs Kane vs Bryan” of this story, where the addition of an unnecessary party is just kind of confusion but may lead to a phenomenal tag team? No way this is the end of Paige vs AJ. Personally, I’d love to see them finish it in the Cell.
And integral to that notion of American masculinity is violence. Football is our culture’s great spectacle of violence, our version of the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome. You can see signs of football’s celebration of amped-up manhood in the pageantry of our own bread and circuses: the military jet flyovers, the Built Ford Tough commercials, the shiny uniforms, the amplified crunching sound of hard hits, the big-knotted ties, and the pregame show special effects that seem like something out of Transformers 12. You can see it in the silver gladiator mask that Terrell Suggs wore during the pregame introductions when the Ravens played the Steelers last Thursday. But those are only symptoms. Get rid of the truck commercials, get rid of the gun salutes, and you’d still have the violence on the field. Get rid of the gladiator mask, and you’d still have Suggs.
People ask me all the time how I watch wrestling. This is one of my reasons. Fake violence is better than real violence. Accept only substitutes.
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story will include a documentary feature on disc one and 15 matches on discs two and three. The Blu-Ray set will feature an additional 4 matches and a series of extra stories.
Basically, it’ll be what this DVD should have been.
Adam Ratliff is Bronx-based illustrator with a passion for pro wrestling and the nerdier side of pop culture. Ratliff blends these two together seamlessly while exaggerating proportions to create a dream-like fantasy world of larger than life puro stars and lucha kitty cats. His work strikes a chord in anyone who has ever found themselves completely wrapped up in a wrestling match, and illustrates perfectly the personal connection we have all felt at one time or another towards pro wrestling.
Much like how Scott Hall gets a title shot at some point in the future, one day soon I’ll be on the What a Maneuver podcast talking about Souled Out 98. I decided to tweet about it while I watched it. Results after the jump.
King of Trios, the most important event on the Chikara calendar and perhaps the biggest event in independent wrestling in a given year, begins Friday. While the event has my fires and the fires of the Chikaraverse stoked, I would be naive to assume that every wrestling fan knows what the weekend is about. On the surface, it’s just a six-man tag team tournament, but as with anything in wrestling, especially Chikara, the roots grow more deeply than what they’d appear from the surface. In addition, the Chikara mythos can feel daunting to newbies or outsiders.
TNA Impact Wrestling’s Robbie E Strauss ranks his participation in the upcoming season of “The Amazing Race” on CBS at the top of the list of hardest things he’s done in his life. That’s saying something considering he puts his body on the line regularly for a living.
Let’s not stress “regularly” in regards to people wrestling in TNA.
This week Philip Kollar, deputy reviews editor for Polygon, joins us to talk about the 1997 edition of WCW World War 3! We also discuss the first two episodes of the Monday Night Wars doc on the WWE Network, the origin of Rick Steiner’s head gear, 4 counts, WCW Logic, and the future of wrestling videogames.
This sounds like it’s going to be a great episode.
Why you should skip it: When RAW is bad, discussion about RAW tends to be not great as well. Such is the case here, a dead horse I feel we’ve been beating since right after SummerSlam. The reader question section freshens up the show a bit, but Rosenberg’s heel shtick dampens the fun. As for the Wyatt interview, it would be nice if Rosenberg could decide whether he wanted to interview Bray Wyatt or Windham Rotunda. Trying to do both doesn’t work, at least not in his hands.
The first question a wrestling podcast should ask itself is: are we in or out of the fictional universe? Being both is asinine.
WWE sources stated that the segment was placed where it was specifically in an attempt to get fans to watch during the half-time of last night’s NFL broadcast. That was why Cena used the “half-time” verbiage during his initial segment with Paul Heyman that opened the show; they were specifically trying to tell the audience that might tune out for football when they could come back to see Brock and Cena.
Whatever happened to “Don’t change that dial, because this is the hottest program on the air”?
Today we’re announcing a new next-generation console release date for WWE 2K15 of November 18, 2014 in North America and November 21, 2014 internationally for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 date remains unchanged and will remain October 28, 2014 in North America and October 31, 2014 internationally.
I had a feeling this might happen. The new crop of consoles simply take longer to develop for, and because they’re all new, developers are running into fresh problems to solve.
But can all this revive TNA? Bully Ray is reportedly leaving the promotion. And Bound for Glory, effectively TNA’s WrestleMania, will not be shown live on pay-per-view in October as it’s taping in Japan, and they still haven’t found their Rock or Stone Cold. And most troubling of all, TNA does not have any live events booked in the United States past its September 19 date in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
A troubled past. Zero brand loyalty. No budget, no plan, and no distribution. This is what it looks like when a wrestling company dies.