Wednesday, 21 January 2015

WWE Superstars TV Report January 16th 2015

Cameron beat Summer Rae with a roundhouse kick in 4:20

Byron Saxton joins Tom Philips on commentary this week - I don’t know if this is a permanent change but given that Saxton is now on the SmackDown announce team, I’d assume not. Cameron checks herself out in her mirror but Rae wants to look at herself and they bicker back and forth. There’s no sense that these two want to actually fight each other so you have to wonder why we’re supposed to care.

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Sunday, 11 January 2015

WWE Superstars TV Report - Jan 8th 2015

WWE Superstars TV Report

Episode 300 of WWE Superstars opened up with new titles. The images have been reshuffled to reflect the current talent. Just like Raw, Roman Reigns is the last person we see: he punches the floor and, in super hero fashion, it causes the world around him to EXPLODE~! to reveal the Superstars logo. There’s a nice touch, too, where they have synced the lyrics “it’s the dawn of a new day” with an image of The New Day posturing on the ropes. Astonishing that they think to do things like that and yet manage to remain ignorant about huge loopholes in major storylines.

Jack Swagger beat Titus O’Neil with the Patriot Lock in 4:32
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Sunday, 23 November 2014

WWE Superstars TV Report - 20th November 2014

Noteworthy: Paige made her debut on Superstars. Curtis ‘The Axe Man’ Axel made it three weeks in three on this show but appeared for his second straight loss against Sin Cara.

Paige beat Alicia Fox with the Ram-Paige in 3:59

They lock up and out of the lock Paige takes the early going with a drop kick and running high knee to Fox. She tries for a quick pin with a sunset flip and then comes off the ropes with a cross body but Fox kicks out quickly...

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Monday, 17 November 2014

WWE Superstars TV Report - 16th November 2014

Noteworthy: Curtis ‘The Axe Man’ Axel made it two consecutive losses in as many weeks on this show. The Liverpool crowd were not faded down here.

Sin Cara Beat Curtis Axel with a senton in 4:45

Liverpool loved Curtis Axel this week in the same way that a UK crowd loves anything that they can cheer ironically. And whatever you think of that, it makes for far more compelling television. The crowd alone (who were not silenced by post production here) made this one of the best Superstars episodes in weeks...

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WWE Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story DVD Review

In the last 5 years or so, there’s been a flurry of DVD documentary releases from WWE, focusing on everything from ppvs, to particular eras, to talent and even managers. Some have felt a little rushed and unfulfilling. Some have been a repackaged amalgamation of previously available material. Some have been well-made but haven’t taught us anything new. And some have been outstanding. Thankfully, this DVD collection can stand up and be counted amongst the latter...

Read more here: Macho Man Randy Savage DVD Review 

Friday, 31 October 2014

WWE Superstars TV Report - 30th October 2014

Noteworthy: Summer Rae and Emma made returns to the show, as did Sin Cara. Tyson Kidd made it two consecutive weeks on Superstars and once again was the best in-ring thing about WWE programming this week.

Summer Rae (w/ Layla) beat Emma in 4:06

I’m sorry but my heart always sinks when the show starts up and its Divas action. This week it happened. But, I was delighted the see that it wasn’t Rosa Mendes. I’m not hugely entertained by Emma’s gimmick, but I do like her move-set. Summer Rae is a good heel, but can be a little clumsy at times.

The two lock up and Emma hits Summer with a shoulder barge and then does the Emma dance before trying a victory roll. Then she tries a backslide but both attempts only get her one counts. She then gets thrust into the turn buckle and Summer hits her with a round house kick and punches and the uses her foot to choke her out. This is one of Rae’s best moves – the way that she uses her long legs in the ring is something she should exploit more.

Summer then takes over and applies a cobra clutch for a long time. As she does so, and throughout the match, there’s lots of focus on Layla. It’s actually kind of Mizdow-esque in the way that the camera seems to cut to her to provide something of interest.

Eventually, Emma breaks the clutch and hits one of the messiest cross body’s I’ve ever seen and a few clotheslines followed by the Dil-Emma, the Emma-mite sandwich (thank you, Wikipedia) and the Emma Lock gets interrupted when Layla jumps up on to the apron to talk distract her. Summer is able to grab the win with a schoolgirl.

Tyson Kidd (w/ Natalya) beat Sin Cara in 9:19

Great to see Tyson Kidd on the show again this week. He and Natty seem to still be doing this gimmick where he is the chicken shit heel and she is the unquestioning, doting babyface femme fatale.

After an early arm drag exchange, Sin Cara applies a rare Gory Special. He slides Kidd down on to the mat and tries to get the win but both times Kidd is able to get his shoulders up. Both then try to pin each other with a series of roll ups and then they stare each other down and the crowd take enjoyment in the breather.

Sin Cara jumps off the top rope into a hip toss and then while Kidd slides outside the ring to take a breather, Sin Cara hits him with a baseball slide, rolls him back in and covers him for a one count. Sin Cara then tries to leap frog Kidd at the corner but eats an enzuigiri to back of the head as we head to a break.

Tyson is using the ropes to choke out Sin Cara as we return and is using fierce kicks and a running elbow to floor Sin Cara who is just able to kick out at two. Kidd then applies a headlock and, in the funniest spot I’ve seen in ages, while he has him on the mat, glares at the ref and petulantly yells, “ask him… in Spanish!” Why is Tyson Kidd not on Raw on SmackDown every single week?

Kidd then aggressively stomps and strikes Sin Cara some more, covers him, gets a two count and then uses a leg drop on him before returning to the headlock. Sin Cara eventually breaks the hold by powering into a side suplex and they both go down, momentarily.

Sin Cara then gets the heat, using two springboard cross bodies, a headscissors takedown followed by a reverse elbow for two. Sin Cara then runs into an elbow and Kidd uses a fisherman’s suplex but can only get two. Kidd then uses a drop kick to side of the head, only gets a two count and so goes looking for the Sharpshooter, which is kicked off at the first attempt.  

Sin Cara uses a roll up into powerbomb and goes to the top rope but Tyson rolls out. As he’s on the apron, Kidd sweeps Sin Cara’s legs and then slides back in and uses a diving neckbreaker for the win.

A great little match on Superstars, yet again. It’s been a run of very good shows of late. Ryder, Cesaro, Kingston and Kidd may not be the most glamorous of Superstars but they’re tremendous athletes and know their way around a WWE ring.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

John Cena’s Greatest Rivalries DVD Review

“The reason why I don’t want to change is because I’m happy with what I stand for. It’s taken a lot of conscious thought and I’ve had to take a lot of comments on the chin, but I’ll take them because, at the end of the day, I feel like I’m doing a greater good.” John Cena – John Cena’s Greatest Rivalries, 2014.

At his peak, whenever Hulk Hogan took off his mask and presented us with Terry Bollea, he’d always take on a refined, dulcet tone, one about an octave lower than his character’s voice and he’d sit and convince you that what he was saying was genuine. He has equally as compelling as the in-ring performer but spoke with a calm and inviting candidness – as if he was taking you to one side, putting an arm around your shoulder and saying “son, did I ever tell you about the time…” There are few who have the kind of charisma.

John Cena has it.

In much the same manner, the unmasked Cena speaks in a soothing baritone that sells you on just about any subject. He tells you about the greatest work of his career in a way that commands your attention and your respect. And yet what he doesn’t have is that unmistakable sincerity of those who have long since left the company – Edge, Shawn Michaels, Jim Ross. He still speaks in sound bites. He still has the script memorised. He still says the right thing.

That ‘conscious thought’ that he refers to is still very much part of his makeup. Rather than say something controversial, he’ll say something good; something nice. Actually, it is more than likely that he’ll say something definitive yet unmemorable.

Many of you reading this won’t want to buy this DVD. To some extent a good John Cena match has a ceiling in terms of how good it can be. Maybe once you’ve seen a few, you’ve seen enough. But John Cena is as consistent a performer as you get in WWE today. If you look back through Observers at Cena’s matches you would have to go back as far as 2010 to find anything under 3 stars. Most matches are above 3 ½ stars. Many are above 4. And this is true of much of his career. 

His consistency is perhaps what makes him so undesirable to fans: in many respects, he’s always the same. He rarely surprises you. 

On this DVD set, you can watch Cena against Eddie Guerrero, Batista, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, JBL, The Rock, Triple H, Edge, CM Punk and Randy Orton. The matches are good but the sit down interview and build up around them is really rather meagre and really fairly dull. It’s worth noting that Kurt Angle ought to be on that list but it’s clear as to why he isn’t right now.

Cena is extremely self aware, however. You wouldn’t get to his position, I suppose, if you weren’t. On several occasions he refers to his limited ability in the ring – in that, he has limits. “I’m quite the lumbering individual” he notes, stating that working with people like Eddie Guerrero and Shawn Michaels were learning curves. 

On Eddie, Cena calls him the “overflowing book of knowledge” who had a “chicken soup recipe” that you didn’t really want to mess with because he’d got it down to a fine art. Whilst on Michaels, Cena finds how he “prides himself on making everyone look great – fighting him was like taking a night off […] at times, you just want to stop and watch him”

Refreshing too, in what is not a career retrospective, is what he highlights about others with regard to their style of work. On Randy Orton, “He’s gifted and is one of the smoothest performers inside the ring. I don’t have that, he does.” And on JBL, “he’s like Vince Lombardi was to the Packers – a drill sergeant who is uncompromising. I’ve never had the crap beaten out of me more than with JBL […] his style is ‘hit hard and often’” And on that point, it’s disappointing to see that his match with JBL from Judgment Day 2005 didn’t make this set.

Cena’s respect is perhaps given out most deeply, though, to the likes of Jericho, Edge and Michaels. He talks a lot about ‘chances’ and ‘getting your chance’ and praises Jericho for giving him the time of day back in 2002, “he was my first ppv match […] I owe a lot of my early success to Chris. Most people said I was no good, he stuck up for me.” While for Edge “I like his story because whether he knows it or not, he wasn’t supposed to get his chance. We called each other ‘old shoe’ because working together was always as comfortable as putting on an old shoe or old baseball glove” And again, their match from Unforgiven 2006 really ought to have made the cut.

The matches on display here are varied in terms of when they fall on the timeline of John Cena’s career. The kids will no doubt find it strange to see Cena (then as Prototype) v Batista (then as Leviathan) from OVW in 2002 and may well baulk at its graininess and lack of HD gloss. Arguably the finest are those against Triple H (who Cena calls “the measuring stick”) from WrestleMania 22 – which he likens to “a rite of passage” – and those against Edge (from Raw in 2006 and Backlash 2009) and Michaels (two Raw matches from 2007 and 2008) – what is not included is often as good if not better, in this instance.

The greatest of his latter day feuds – with CM Punk – is buried, on the no doubt lesser-purchased Blu Ray, under ‘extras’. No love lost between WWE and Punk there then. But Cena’s comments are more interesting about Punk than most, “I think he loves wrestling, maybe he doesn’t, I don’t know […] People say ‘the machine wants you to believe in Cena’, but Punk offered you something different.” Amusingly, he likens his matches with The Rock (only the first of which is on this DVD collection) to Rocky Balboa v Apollo Creed. You can tell that it’s the verbal exchanges between the two that last in his memory and made that feud ‘great’.

If Cena can ever take off the shackles of WWE and wriggle out of the straight jacket that 300+ days a year for the last 12 years of living and breathing this brand has encased him in, we might just get an interview that lacks that aforementioned ‘conscious thought’. 

Even at 37 years old, the company are still afraid to beat him and, at 50, he’s still afraid to beat them. It might not be in the next 5 years, or 10 years or even 15 years but somewhere along the line, we might just see what John Cena really thinks – ‘might’ being the operative word.