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Figure Four Weekly 6/5/2017: Looking at the timing of the Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe dream match

Looking At The Timing Of Lesnar And Joe's Dream Match

by Joseph Currier (@josephcurrier)

Like with most things in pro wrestling, the most important part of a dream match is getting the timing right.

It was almost a year ago that Kurt Angle wrestled Zack Sabre Jr. for Revolution Pro Wrestling during an overseas trip at York Hall in London. The live crowd appreciated Angle's work and loved seeing him. The match itself was fine, mostly sticking to a formula that Angle had perfected during the latter stages of his career. He did his spots, let Sabre get some stuff in, and beat him in less than 10 minutes.

The match wasn't quite a nostalgia act doing the bare minimum that was required, but it wasn't far off. It was one of the best technical wrestlers of a past era, who was clearly not at his peak anymore, beating the current best in the world.

Like with so many others, their dream match was ultimately a disappointment. It peaked at the visual of Angle and Sabre just being in the ring together.

It's exceedingly difficult for dream matches to deliver. Everything has to go just right for them to live up to the hype going into the night. But at least Angle vs. Sabre happened. It was a spectacle that was worth watching even if the timing wasn't right and the in-ring work never could've met the audience's expectations. Most dream matches will always exist as hypotheticals that never managed to become reality.

Another dream match that seemed so unlikely at one point will happen as Brock Lesnar puts his Universal Championship on the line against Samoa Joe at Great Balls of Fire on July 9th.

Joe won a fatal five-way at Extreme Rules to receive the title shot. The match saved what was a lackluster show leading up to it, with Joe choking out Finn Balor to end an excellent main event.

The decision to have Joe challenge Lesnar was probably the right one. After Braun Strowman's injury forced him out of the spot, there weren't a lot of great options left. Roman Reigns shouldn't be wrestling Lesnar now if the plan is for them to face off at WrestleMania 34. Seth Rollins finally has a bit of momentum after coming back from his injury and shouldn't really be losing. The same goes for Finn Balor. Bray Wyatt would've been an acceptable choice, but he's lost a lot of momentum over the last few months.

It's easy to see why Lesnar vs. Joe is something that people have wanted for so long. Lesnar successfully crossed over to mixed martial arts at a time when Joe was incorporating an MMA-based style into his matches. Lesnar's presence is unmatched, though Joe has been able to come across as legitimate through how he presents himself in pro wrestling.

But it's hard not to believe that the time for Lesnar vs. Joe to deliver on its promise passed long ago. Lesnar mostly does short sprints where he stays on offense almost all match at this point in his career. Some of those have been good, but others have been glorified squashes. His best matches since coming back to WWE have been multi-man bouts where he's only an element of the match instead of imposing his will on it.

Joe has yet to have a truly great singles bout since signing with WWE as well. His best performances came against Balor in NXT, with his matches against Shinsuke Nakamura being fine but failing to meet expectations.

Joe was once a legitimate contender for best wrestler in the world, but he realistically hasn't been at that level for several years. He's been a good addition to WWE and has performed well as a TV character. If there was ever a time for him to prove that he's still capable of being a special in-ring talent, facing Lesnar in a pay-per-view main event is definitely the time to do it.

Whether Joe will even be allowed to shine is probably unlikely. With Lesnar vs. Strowman still in the plans for later this year, Joe could just be another victim of Lesnar. It could be a quick squash that further re-establishes Lesnar's dominance heading into SummerSlam.

We'll probably never know what Lesnar and Joe could've done in the ring together a decade ago. At best, Joe will look like a credible threat before being put down fairly quickly as Lesnar gets ready for Strowman.

Getting the timing right on dream matches is impossibly difficult. Some will wish that Lesnar vs. Joe never happened at all if it fails to live up to the hype. Preferring that it always remained a question of what could have been instead of becoming a disappointing reality.

But, like with Angle vs. Sabre, a disappointing match doesn't invalidate what could've been in the past. Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe will meet in a WWE ring in the main event of a PPV next month. Just the idea of that would've been mind-blowing in the not-so-distant past.

Mexico Notes

by Dr. Lucha Steve Sims (@DrLuchaJr)

No, no, I love you all, dear readers, and want to spare you the pain and suffering, I really do.

But it's my job.

So, with all my apologies and regrets noted up front, here's the recap of the AAA mega-event held Sunday, June 4, 2014, at "El Gimnasio Municipal 'Josue Nori Santos'" less than half a mile south of the Rio Grande border in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico:

Scheduled first match: Lanzelot, Mascara de Bronce, and Australian Suicide vs. Drago, Aerostar, and Bengala

Actual first match: Mascara de Bronce defeated Hernandez in a match in which the briefcase Bronce won 2 TV tapings ago at stake (the briefcase gave him a match for the AAA Mega Title). Nonplussed,, Hernandez stole the briefcase anyway after the match

Scheduled second match: La Parka, Ricky Marvin, and Argenis vs. Averno, Chessman, and Super Fly

Actual second match: VIP defeated Magnifico. Who knows why or who. Just because.

Scheduled third match: Dark Cuervo and Dark Scoria vs. El Mesias and Pagano (the poster but not the website lineup says this will be for the AAA World Tag Team Championships under street fight rules)

Actual third match: Averno, Chessman, and Superfly defeated Argenis, La Parka, and Lanzelot (subbing for Ricky Marvin, who is out on extended vacation). Averno pinned Lanzelot with a blind foul. Hey, that was almost as advertised in the second match.

Scheduled fourth match: Pimpinela Escarlata vs. Mamba (on their website preview, AAA list no stipulations for any of these matches, it also puzzling why only 17 of the 26 wrestlers shown on the preview rate having their pictures displayed, and the others – including Wagner - just get a grey dot – the poster on the website says this will be a Dog Collar Hair versus Hair Match)

Actual fourth match: Well, I had noted in last week's issue that this was the one match I did think would actually occur as planned, and it did – but the result was a surprise to me, as old tecnico Escarlata beat and shaved young local rudo Mamba. This being AAA (Antonio Pena did this very ting for years and years), Mamba barely got any hair shaved before he ran off to the back

Scheduled fifth match: Hijo Del Fantasma vs. Kevin Kross

Actual fifth match: In a cage, Texano Jr., Kevin Kross, and Hijo de Fantasma had a three-way dance. Fantasma and Texano escaped the cage at essentially the same time, Splitting the baby, Solomonic Vampiro came out and announced due to this tie, the two would be the number-one challengers for the AAA World Tag Team Titles and would get a title match at Triplemania. Which is a fine if a bit odd solution, but, this is the THIRD OR FOURTH TIME since Rey De Reyes that someone a team has won the number one contender-ship in the ring and EACH TIME IT'S A DIFFERENT TEAM and none (or maybe one) of them has gotten a title match yet (then the next match on this show happened). Vampiro (who in a skit before match one had a birthday cake given to him with the predictable result) left, came back with the briefcase, called out Mascara de Bronce, and gave him the briefcase. Oh yea, Hernandez came out to distract Kevin Kross, that's why he could not escape, and while doing so, that's when Vampiro snuck in and took back the briefcase.

Scheduled sixth match: Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Psycho Clown vs. Carta Brava Jr. and Soul Rocker vs. Monster Clown vs. Murder Clown (the poster though not the web page preview says "one mask will fall")

Actual sixth match: For the AAA World Tag Team Championships: a four-way tag dance with new champions (form last TV) Pagano and Mesias defending against (a) Drago and Aerostar, (b) Dark Cuervo and Dark Scoira, and (c) Australian Suicide and Bengala. End result: Dark Cuervo and Dark Scoria won the titles back – so there are now TWO official Triplemania matches… The two are (a) Mascara contra Mascara Psycho Clown vs. Dr. Wagner Jr and (b) AAA Parejas Campeonatos Dark Cuervo and Dark Scoria vs Texano Jr. and Hijo del Fantasma. At the conclusion of the match, El Mesias just destroyed Pagano (turning Pagano babyface) and Pagano was ambulanced out. PS the building is pretty full by now. It was looking so grim at scheduled show time (5:30 pm CDT) that they waited almost TWO HOURS to actually start the show.

Actual seventh match: The scheduled sixth mask came seventh, and finally the stipulations were set … There would be three two-man-tag-teams, and the losing tag team would see both its members unmask. The three teams were … (a) "The Psycho Circus" [The Monsther Clown and The Murder Clown], (b) "El Poder Del Norte" [The Soul Rocker and La Carta Brava Junior], and (c) the team of The Psycho Clown and The Doctor Wagner junior. Who won, who lost? I know the possibilities are endless and the doubt is coursing through your veins right now waiting to find out. Ahem. We'll wait while you calm down. .. Okay, now a good time? Ready? Okay, I will tell you. You sure you're ready. I can wait until next week if the tension is too much. Really, I wouldn't mind, I care about all our readers and their health. Maybe a long "Buble bath" would help. No,? You say you're nerves have settled down. Well then, …. Soul Rocker and Carta Brava Jr. lost. Sorry if the shock ruined your week.

More shenanigans next week on these very pages.

Europe Notes

by Oliver Court (@AnotherOli)

All three days of PROGRESS' Super Strong Style 16 are now available on Demand Progress, and in this week's Euro Notes we'll cover Day 3 of the tournament after last week covered my live perspective of the first two shows. The last night didn't hit the highs of Day 2 with its excellent Riddle/Cobb match, but for many the final between Travis Banks and Tyler Bate will have come close. It was a well-paced and dramatic final that got its necessary interference/visual pinfalls (to appease Triple H) out of the way early and allowed the work of Banks and Bate to stand on its own for another 15 minutes afterwards. The frenzied atmosphere for Banks' win showed PROGRESS' booking got the job done, but for those who saw a similar scene at Fight Club Pro's Infinity at the end of last year, the emotion won't have been as visceral as that amazing night was. PROGRESS' transplanted that energy from Infinity into this final, but it wasn't quite as raw for me and won't be as memorable.

Elsewhere on the final night, Roy Johnson's Wasteman Challenge Hangover Scramble match saw some good comedic action and allowed star import Flamita to shine one final time on the weekend. The other two British Strong Style post-intermission matches, featuring Trent Seven/Mark Haskins and Pete Dunne/Jeff Cobb were really good too, though the Haskins match was rather overshadowed by his ridiculous 19 second promo that brought us the now infamous "Pussy, bitch" soundbite. That promo was almost a microcosm of Haskins' current status in PROGRESS, as his babyface run has rather flamed out and he's struggling for relevance among other wrestlers with more upward momentum. There was a suggestion of a Haskins/Havoc feud on Day 3 though, so that may reignite both characters.

Of course, I can't neglect to talk about the absolute shambles that is 5 Star Wrestling, who postponed their arena tour due to poor ticket sales this week, just one week before the first show was scheduled to occur. This has left several wrestlers scrambling for bookings for the rest of the year when they thought they'd be guaranteed a well-paying gig. The reason for postponement 5 Star gave to the wrestlers, citing the Manchester terror attack, is the really disgusting move among all the other terrible things this promotion has done. Steer well clear.

Japan Notes

by Alan Counihan (@Alan4L)

With a marvellous Best Of The Super Juniors in the books, New Japan heads toward Osaka Jo Hall this weekend for one of the year's biggest shows and the rematch the world has been waiting for.

DOMINION is a card that is unapologetically similar to Wrestle Kingdom at the Tokyo Dome on January 4th. Some will complain and try to portray this as a negative but step back and think about this. It follows the same card structure and has three direct rematches of one of the greatest shows ever. The three matches getting redone were all considered classics. All of the main programmes are quite clearly massively over with the live crowds up and down Japan if you listen to the reactions. Finally and perhaps most importantly the show is sold out and sold out with increased ticket prices. This company is on fire and the card being presented is what their audience en masse wants.

Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega will take to the stage for the main event with the impossible task of following what they did in January. They're not going to try to top that. They're too smart too. They are going to try to make this one different, to tell a different story and to make it stand alone but also work within their overarching rivalry. It's going to be truly fascinating to watch.

Tetsuya Naito has only gotten hotter since the Dome and it feels like he's set to break through onto an even bigger plain of existence that has only ever been occupied by a select handful of New Japan legends. One of those is of course Hiroshi Tanahashi and these two will also have their work cut out topping what they did 5 months ago. How big a factor Tanahashi's biceps injury will be, and how that may chance the result of the match, is anyone's guess.

The BOSJ winner KUSHIDA will get his title shot against Junior champion Hiromu Takahashi. KUSHIDA will attempt to avenge not only his Tokyo Dome loss but also the shock 2 minute defeat he suffered in April at Sakura Genesis. With the form the challenger is in, this could be one of the best Junior title matches of this run. Takahashi has been can't miss every since becoming champion, and this will be a defining night for him in terms of possibly taking him next level within the promotion (much like his LIJ leader Naito).

TV Reviews

by Bryan's Friend Vince (@FO_VVerhei)

NWA Starrcade '85 (11/28/85)

Midnight Express vs. Jimmy Valiant & Miss Atlanta Lively in a street fight. Midnights were out there in tuxedos. Condrey's was even white to get extra blood. For those not aware, Miss Atlanta Lively was Ronnie Garvin in drag. I've been told we have reviewed this match twice already over the years. All I remember is that there's a lot of blood. I hope I made it clear how great it is that the Midnights wore tuxedos to a street fight. Because of course they were tuxedos in the street. Very first thing they did was Lively spraying powder in Eaton's eyes. Condrey was bleeding a minute in, Eaton a minute later. Eaton took a hiptoss on the cement. I saw Valiant using a chair and a chain. I'm sure there was more. Express were soon using weapons of their own, and Valiant was bleeding too. They tried to pull Garvin's tights down. Apparently everyone was in denial this was Garvin, and the Midnights wanted to expose him. And his dick, apparently. Cornette wacked him in the head with a racket. At least he had a big poofy wig on. And then Bobby came off the top, but Lively caught him with an uppercut and pinned him. "THE STREET PEOPLE WIN!" The announcers declared. They stripped Cornette to his boxers afterwards. Well that was wacky. Lively was bleeding all over the place but you could barely see it because of the wig. (**1/4).

Magnum TA did a promo. He said an I Quit match didn't belong in wrestling, but now that it was done, the US champion was back where it belonged, and he challenged anyone out there to try and come and get it.

Russians vs. Rock & Roll Express. This was a steel cage match, but for some reason each team had a second in their corner. I guess they just wanted an excuse for Khrusher Khruschev and Don Kernodle to be out there. Both teams fought and fought to avoid going into the cage. This cage was DEATH, I assure you. Express were also desperate to keep Nikita on the apron and out of the match. He was also death. Ivan actually went into the cage first, and repeatedly. Express knew he was bloody and weak and were frantically trying to finish him off. But at last Nikita tagged in, and now Gibson was helpless to avoid being thrown over and over the cage and bleeding everywhere himself. Today, the more a guy gets beaten, the more the crowd gets bored. Here, the more Gibson got beaten, the louder and more passionate and distressed the crowd got. Announcers referenced the mysterious ONE-SAVE rule, saying this was no-DQ and thus there were unlimited saves. Every once in a while Gibson would make it a step or two towards his corner and the Russians would scurry to cut him off. These fuckers all wanted to WIN, no doubt about that. The ref went down and missed a pin on Gibson for like 10 seconds. Women were jumping up and down pleading with the Express to tag out. They did, and Morton immediately hit Ivan with an O'Connor roll to win the match and the titles. Ivan kicked him off and he went into the cage and bled a gusher. The Russians continuted the attack after the match. Morton tried to climb up top but Nikita just muscled him over the top to the floor. All three Russians were killing Gibson, hitting a triple Russian hammer and whipping him with a chain. Thank god Don Kernodle was there. Eventually the locker room cleared the ring so everyone could tend to Gibson. Just an excellent tag team match. Rock & Rolls were so good at setting up the basic tag formula and then just slightly tweaking it. Breaking news, I know. (***3/4).

Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair. They traded stiff chops early. Dusty was also throwing jabs and palm thrusts. He hit the bionic elbow a few times too just to make it clear he had a dominant edge in the stand-up here. Finally Flair trapped him in the corner and started taking him apart. And once he took charge, you could tell he was going to stay in charge for a long time. He hit one kick to Dusty's bad knee, and Dusty rolled out of the ring and over the guardrail to escape. Dusty took over and slowed things down and went after Flair's leg. Flair tried a suplex, but his leg gave out and Dusty hit one instead, then went back to work on the leg. I guess I was wrong when I said Flair would be in charge for a long time. He slammed Flair off the top and tried a figure-four, but Flair kicked him off and Dusty went down and grabbed his leg. Flair kept going for the figure-four and not getting it, and Dusty kept whipping his ass. Seriously, Dusty took at least three-quarters of this match. Ref got something in his eye and missed Dusty getting thrown over the top for what would have been a DQ, then Dusty hitting a cross-body for what might have been a six-count until he turned around and Flair finally kicked out. Dusty took over and punched Flair bloody. At last Flair dodged a kick and Dusty's boot hit the turnbuckle, and he went down. Finally Flair got the figure-four, and now Dusty was doomed. He fought for several minutes and struggled and struggled to turn the hold over. Flair got the ropes to break it up. They traded strikes, and Dusty got the better of things again. Flair kicked out of a pin and Dusty rolled on top of the ref, then Dusty pulled Flair into the ref, who went out of the ring. Dusty went for a figure-four, and got it on the third try. The Andersons hit the ring. A new ref ran in. Dusty kicked out of a Flair pin, then hit a small package for the win. Soon Dusty was in the back getting interviewed by Tony Schiavonie as his buddies poured champagne over him. He dedicated his championship win to the blue-collar workers of America. Later, this win was overturned to a DQ win on TV, and the title was returned to Flair. You could see why they put it together the way they did, they wanted no doubt in anyone's mind that Dusty was the better wrestler and got screwed by the man, but it made for a very weird, one-sided main event. (***1/2).

WWE Retro Raw 262 (6/1/98)

They recapped with highlights from Over The Edge, narrated by Vince McMahon. This was amazing, talking about how Steve Austin's title win had been a shallow victory, tainted by an injury Vince had suffered at the hands of the incompetent Dude Love, and how Austin was the least deserving champion of all time. This was a masterpiece and I should have written the whole thing down. It explained to viewers specifically what the finish the night before had been and also got the storyline over.

"Mick Foley" opened the show sitting in a chair in the ring. He said the night before he had lost his teeth, lost the match, and Steve Austin had kicked his ass. He said he had made mistakes and listened to the wrong people. He said he had an apology to make and called out Mr. McMahon. Vince came out. Foley said he had let Vince down, and said Dude would be out of action for a while. He hoped Dude would still be No. 1 contender when he returned. Vince couldn't believe his ears. Vince called him a miserable failure as a superstar and a human being. He ordered Foley to get down on his knees. Foley refused to let Vince embarrass him on national television. Too bad he had no problem letting Steph do that for months. Vince said Foley already was an embarrassment to everyone, including his own family. Foley said hitting Vince with the chair had been an accident, but it had also felt pretty damn good. Vince pointed to the chair in the ring and dared Foley to try it again, but if he did he could forget about his kids' college educations, and the 20-year mortgage he had just bought. Foley realized Vince was right and put the chair down. Vince admitted that he had not fired Stone Cold, because Austin made him richer, but Dude just made him sick. He determined that Foley's services were no longer required. So shouldn't Foley blast him with the chair now? He's already been fired. Dude Love's music played, and Vince taunted Foley by dancing in his face as Foley hung his head in sorrow.

Kevin Kelly interviewed Darren Drozdov, who promptly puked on him. He cut a weird promo, unable to look into the camera or at Kelly. The Road Warriors showed up and ran their mouths a bit, then the DOA jumped them.

LOD 2000 & Droz vs. DOA in a street fight. This was literally in a street, or at least on a loading ramp into the building. They had all sorts of plunder out there to wack each other with. Imagine being Darren Drozdov and you've had like five matches and they throw you into this and expect you to get through it without hurting yourself or someone else. So they all hit each other with shit, often in the head. Sunny was there screaming. Undertaker, in street clothes, walking up and started killing everyone. Chains ended up stuck in a cart and wheeling down the ramp, almost taking out the camera man. That was the only good thing about any of this. And that was how it ended. There was NO FINISH TO A STREET FIGHT. Fuck the Attitude Era to death. Taker demanded to see Vince.

Val Venis vs. Papi Chulo. Val cut a promo saying he had a gun in his pocket and it didn't shoot blanks. Val put Papi in a camel clutch and did a hip swivel. That was gayer than almost anything Goldust ever did. Val had worked in Mexico for years, so these guys worked well together. That said, it went longer than it needed to and not one person thought Chulo would win. And he did not, as Val won with the top rope splash.

Taker cut a promo in the ring that apparently started during the break. He wanted to explain why he was pissed off at Vince McMahon. He said ten years ago, Vince had given him an opportunity to be the Undertaker. But then Vince exploited Taker's loyalty by signing Taker to fight all the giants and freaks, so they couldn't beat Vince's hand-picked champions, keeping the kingdom safe for Vince and his crew. Taker always knew his time would come, and yes, he was a two-time WWF champion. But those title reigns hadn't lasted, because Vince didn't want Taker representing the company. Well, those title reigns did end controversially. Taker had stayed loyal, sticking with the company while everyone else was leaving for more money. Then Vince had forced Taker to fight his own brother, giving Paul Bearer a platform to air his family's dirty laundry, and he did it all for RATINGS. But Taker had not lost his smile, he kept fighting. Meanwhile, Steve Austin had climbed to the top. He had no problem with Austin, but he was done being mistreated by Vince and deserved what was rightfully his. He demanded a title shot, and called Vince out. Vince walked right up to him and yanked the mic out of his hands. He was appalled Taker had chokeslammed him last week and stood over him like a vulture at the PPV. He said Taker had been loyal for years, but what had he done for Vince lately. He asked if Paul Bearer was telling the truth when he said Taker's mother was a whore. This pissed Taker off, which is what Vince wanted. Taker wanted to be No. 1 contender? Fine, he booked Taker in a No. 1 contender's match tonight—against Kane. And he stormed out. Taker stood there, fuming. This was a classic Vince Russo promo—I'm surprised Vince didn't call Taker "mark"—but at least it made sense and went somewhere.

DX doused a cameraman with super soakers and he squealed in agony.

Steve Blackman vs. Marc Mero in a king of the ring qualifier. They showed Marc Mero cradling Sable for the win at Over the Edge, meaning Sable had been fired from the WWF forever. The fan with the sign imitating the Mero-Sable contract deserves some kind of award. Mero introduced Jacqueline as his new woman. She came out shaking her giant fake bosoms. Blackman's ring work was much better than I remembered. He just had no personality or unique look of any kind. He took the whole match, then Mero finished him off with a low blow, Samoan drop, and shooting star press. He landed HARD on his knees there.

They showed Austin in studio making an appearance on Mancow's radio show in Chicago.

Edge vignette. "Light, dark, I am both." So he's Aleister Black.

Triple H & New Age Outlaws vs. D-Lo Brown & Rock & Owen Hart in a six-man elimination tag match. Crowd officially loved DX now. Billy pinned D-Lo in two minutes with a piledriver. Yes, the babyfaces got the advantage. Rock pinned Road Dogg with a rock bottom a minute later. Owen pinned Billy with a spinning kick a minute later. Chyna came out to ringside, after being ejected. They went to break, and when they came back Rock was beating Hunter up. The heat segment on Hunter lasted significantly longer than the first three pinfalls put together. Funny how that works. He didn't just survive, he pinned Rock with a pedigree as Chyna distracted Owen. And then Ken Shamrock returned and attacked Owen for the DQ. The Nation attacked Shamrock, but Dan Severn ran out and helped Shamrock clean house. They stared each other down as the fans chanted "UFC!" Severn left. Owen was announced as the winner, so Hunter went after Shamrock. This went badly for him.

Vince McMahon was shown shaking Kane's hand backstage.

Faarooq vs. Double J in a King of the Ring qualifier. Tennessee Lee brought out Double J and presented him with his new security team, Southern Justice, which was the Godwinns as cleaned up as they could be. Fans were demanding Flair. Faarooq beat Jarrett up for three minutes, then got hit with a belt buckle while Southern Justice had the ref for the win. Lame.

Video package devoted to the generous McMahon family and all the wonderful charity work they did. YEAH!.

Taka Michinoku vs. Sho Funaki. Announcers were now burying the Godzilla movie. Al Snow was at ringside in the most offensively stereotypical Japanese photographer disguise. Good lord. The actual Japanese photographers thought this was funny and were posing with Head so Al could take pictures of them. Then he got taken away. Taka won with a Michinoku driver in a match nobody was paying attention to.

Paul Bearer did a backstage promo promising Kane would beat Taker and soon be WWF champion.

Al Snow cut a promo on Head in the parking lot. Jokes about egg foo yong. Yeah.

Mark Henry vs. Terry Funk in a King of the Ring qualifier. Vince McMahon was now on commentary and declared that Funk, not Mick Foley, was the king of hardcore. He declared that he wanted to see the old Undertaker back, the Undertaker that mangled people. A clash of styles, this match was. Terry did what he could to showcase Henry's strength, but Henry was SO green. Then Terry hauled off and drilled him in the head with a chair. Then he did a moonsault off the middle rope and banged his head into the guardrail. Funk kicked out of a bunch of stuff, but finally Henry hit a powerbomb and big splash for the win.

Austin came out to do commentary, much to Vince's chagrin.

Undertaker vs. Kane. They had a MEAN GUY MATCH. All punching and clobbering and slamming and crashing. Taker hit a MASSIVE chokeslam, but Kane got to his feet. Vince made it clear he did not care who won, he just wanted the best man he could get to beat Austin. Ref got bumped and Taker hit a tombstone. Mick Foley ran out in the Mankind mask and put Taker in the mandible claw. Vince gleefully said he had fired Foley and didn't know what he was doing here. Taker fought on, but got distracted by Mankind, and Kane hit a tombstone for the win. Vince smiled and turned to Austin and saluted him. Kane and Austin had a staredown, then Kane left Taker recovered and started brawling with Mankind. Vince said Foley was showing intestinal fortitude and guts and no longer deserved to be fired. The brawl went on as the show ended. Good main event to set up the two main events at the PPV.

WCW Monday Nitro 142 (6/1/98)

Show opened with a video showing the many faces of Sting over the years—starting with WCW, turning his back on the company, choosing sides in the war with the nWo, and now being openly recruited by all sides.

A limousine arrived and JJ Dillon got out, followed by Dallas Page, Booker T, and Goldberg.

They showed clips from Thunder of Lex Luger trying to recruit Sting into the Wolfpac.

Jerry Flynn vs. Earnest Miller. They had a UWFi match here on Nitro. As long as they stuck to chops and kicks it was fine. When they tried stuff off the ropes it sucked. It did go too long. Cat won with a spinning kick that missed.

The Wolfpac arrived in their own limo. No Sting with them, but Larry was blown away by the cheers they got.

Wolfpac and their new song came out for a promo. Schiavonie demanded they all shut up and listen to the song. I love that Rick Rude was with them but still wearing a brown suit. You know how great he would have looked in a black suit with a red shirt? Nash did a survey. Lex tried to recruit Sting. Hey, here's a question: why does everyone want Sting on their team? What has he done in the past two years now that makes you think he'd be an effective part of the team? Two tainted wins over Hogan and a disaster of a championship run? Luger said they had all been having a lot of fun in the back of the limo. At this point everyone turned and looked at Liz. Randy Savage looked at them looking, then looked at Liz, then patted Luger on the back. Well that was creepy as hell. Luger referred to Hogan as "limousine-ridin, jet-flyin'." Which was odd since Ric Flair was in limbo at this point. Long story short, Luger and Nash challenged Giant and Hogan to a match.

Clips of Bret Hart on Thunder trying to recruit Sting.

Raven & Saturn vs. Public Enemy. So after begging Saturn to come back before the entire world, Raven was now bossing him around and making him do all the work. To the shock of, well, everyone, they had a plain ol' tag match, all in the ring, no weapons. They beat Saturn up for a few minutes, then he refused to tag out and made his own comeback. Raven tagged himself in and accidentally bonked Saturn. They bickered but the match continued. Public Enemy hit Saturn with the assisted senton, which was their finish, but instead of going for the pin they laid Raven on a table and dived onto him The table bent but did not break, so they did it again. THEN they grabbed a chair and Grunge got thrown into it, and Saturn hit Grunge with a DDT, but then Raven stole the pin. Well this turned into quite a mess. Raven cut a promo bragging about the win. He said WCW had now hired Kanyon, so he had re-hired the Flock to watch their back. He had also done Saturn a favor by signing him in a match against Kanyon at Great American Bash. Saturn wasn't thrilled with any of this.

Clips of geeks from Arkansas watching Nitro.

Alex Wright vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. They were doing this match and about two minutes in Chavo snapped and took him down and laid in ground-and-pound and had to be pulled off. Wright hooked an STF, and Chavo couldn't tap out fast enough. So Alex won, but then Chavo kept fighting. Eddie ran out to try to make peace. Eddie said the whole family was proud of Chavo and the change he had made, and they did not have to wrestle anymore. Chavo said Eddie was his idol, and he wanted to wrestle him so he could learn. Eddie was frantically trying to get out of it. Then Chavo said he thought he could beat Eddie and Eddie's tune changed. He still didn't want to wrestle, but he wasn't thrilled with this insult either. He left before he said something he regretted. I have no idea why they didn't just have Chavo beat Alex here.

Tony Schiavonie was in the ring and introduced Randy Savage, but Roddy Piper's music played. WCW, everyone. Then the Wolfpac theme played and Savage and Liz came out. Savage said Schiavonie wanted to date Piper. He promised that Hogan and Hart would lose, then called out Piper to say something to his face. They argued about how they could not trust each other, and then Savage demanded a singles match with Piper after the tag match. Wasn't that stip already established? This went on FOREVER. Savage declared that he did not give a damn about Hart's shirt or underwear and left. I am not making that up. I hate this feud.

Now Schiavonie was interviewing Dillon. Dillon vowed loyalty to Sting.

The nWo black-and-white arrived and went to the ring for a promo. Hogan made a pitch for Sting, accepted Nash and Luger's challenge tonight, and said he had faith in Bret Hart. Earlier Piper had pointed out Hart had never worn an nWo shirt. Here, Hogan unbuttoned his shirt to show a Hogan shirt. Hogan ran his mouth for a while.

Konnan vs. Lenny Lane. This was a great example of a man wrestling himself. Lenny basically stood there or sat there and Konnan just moved around him doing holds. They kept trading cradles, including Lenny doing the worst la majistral ever. Konnan eventually won with the cradle DDT and tequila sunrise.

Schiavonie brought Curt Hennig and Rick Rude out for a promo. They reminded us Hennig had a US title match against Goldberg booked at the Great American Bash. They made jokes about not being able to say "perfect." Hennig said he had been working out with Brad Rheingans and Don Frye, and he had twisted his knee. They asked Konnan to come back out. They explained that Dillon had booked them in "Mickey Mouse towns" against Goldberg all over the US. Rude said this was a conspiracy to wear Hennig down before the Bash. Konnan said they had nothing to worry about, because they were bowdy-bowdy and rowdy-rowdy. Hennig promised to face Goldberg at the Bash, and said when he was done they'd be calling him "Bill Goldturd.".

Eddie Guerrero vs. Fit Finley. Finley hit the besy bodyslam of all time. He herced Eddie up so fast Eddie just kept on flying up, upside down, and Finley had to grab him to stop going up in the sky. This was so good that even when stuff got fucked up it turned out awesome. Finley whipped Eddie in and clearly wanted Eddie to reverse it, but Eddie didn't get the message. So Eddie's running and you could see that neither guy knew what was going to happen. So Eddie grabbed a sleeper, and Finley turned it into a Samoan drop, and they kept going. It was awesome. And then Chavo hit the ring, didn't touch anybody, but the ref called for the DQ. UGH. Chavo was begging Eddie to hit him. Eddie wanted nothing to do with this. Finley, meanwhile, was all too happy to take this win. Match was glorious fun while it lasted.

Chris Jericho did a promo from the steps of the Capitol in Washington D.C., trying to find someone who would listen to what he had to say. He tried to get a meeting with the Supreme Court, then pled his case to the protesters around the city. He failed to get into the White House, so he started poring through books at the Library of Congress. "Where's the section on WCW title belts?" This was funny and very creative.

Chris Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera. Juvy nearly killed himself on a diving rana, landing on the back of his head. It was not his last fuck-up of the night. People were booing him. What happened to the Juvy of last week. I cannot believe Jericho agreed to take a Juvy driver from this man on this night, but he did, and in fact he was nearly killed. Jericho hooked the Boston crab, but Juvy got the ropes and they kept wrestling. Then Jericho took the ref and the 7-plus-foot Reese hit the ring and laid Juvy out with the chokebomb. He left and Jericho made the cover for the win.

They showed highlights of Booker-Benoit from last week, then again from Thunder, and then from Saturday night.

Chris Benoit vs. Booker T. Benoit was up 2-1 in the series coming into this. This was one of those matches where they wrestle for several minutes and it's just OK, and then suddenly for one minute it's very awesome. Booker made his comeback and tried a suplex, but Benoit turned into the crossface for the win and a 3-1 lead.

Sting video package. Same one that opened the show.

Dallas Page vs. Scotty Riggs. Sick Boy attacked. This was not a DQ. Page fought them both off and hit a diamond cutter for the win. Sick Boy attacked and got cuttered too.

Goldberg vs. La Parka. Parka had a plastic chair. Goldberg invited him to use it, and Parka smacked him in the head and turned around and did his strut. Goldberg, of course, no-sold the chairshot, waited for Parka to turn around, then speared him to death and hit a jackhammer for the win. "YOU CAN'T HURT ME!" he screamed into the camera. Goldberg was THE BEST.

Hulk Hogan & Giant vs. Kevin Nash & Lex Luger. Giant's gimmick of wearing both tag belts around his waist was genius. He should have just defended them by himself. Nash did his "I'm not scared" finger wiggle about 7,000 times. They did a house show match for three minutes or so and Hogan attacked with the title belt for the DQ. Yup. That's your main event. Announcers noted that the fans were on their feet "in anticipation of something big going down." Because now that the wrestling was over we could get on with the important stuff. Sting then descended from the rafters and removed his coat to reveal a black-and-white shirt. Everyone booed. Hogan gave him a big hug, but Sting laid him out with a clothesline, and bodyslammed Giant. They did more to get him over for leaving WCW than they ever did for him as WCW champion. Then they played the Wolfpac music and KEVIN NASH DANCED. That right there made it all worth it. Sting and the Wolfpac celebrated as the black-and-white had to hold Hogan and Hart back. Sting was smiling for the first time since Hogan had turned at Bash at the Beach. Pressure was off now, and he could join a crew that was already over.

WWE SmackDown (5/30/17)

Show opened with all the women on the roster cutting quick promos right into the camera. The format was very good. The material was not. Becky Lynch's was the worst: "Tonight I represent the Fighting Irish but I don't need the luck of the Irish to be victorious. Naomi's days as champion are numbered." Yes, she said "Irish" twice in her first 15 words. These writers are the fucking worst. There are a million ways I could go with this, but I'll just point out that the most popular combat athlete in the world right now is very, very Irish, and he doesn't need to say it explicitly.

Kevin Owens hosted the Highlight Reel. He promised to win the Money in the Bank match and then the WWE championship. His guest was Shinsuke Nakamura, who came out doing his full entrance. Owens ran him and his "rock star" nickname down, saying he sent the last SmackDown rock star into an early retirement. Nakamura got as far as saying Owens' name when Baron Corbin interrupted. He introduced video of himself beating up Sami Sayn last week. They were sure to point out repeatedly that Zayn had beaten Corbin first. Owens pointed out that he had been beating up Sami Zayn for 15 years and he was not impressed. Corbin called him Cartman again. IT IS TWO-THOUSAND AND SEVENTEEN. FIND A NEW FAT GUY. Nakamura called them both forgetful and said last week he had pinned Owens, and Sami had beaten Corbin twice. A brawl broke out and they double-teamed him until Sami made the save. Yeah, that beating last week sure accomplished a lot. The babyfaces cleared the ring and challenged the heels to a tag match.

Shinsuke Nakamura & Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin. JBL mentioned that Dolph Ziggler had been in six MITB matches, and the only person who had been in more was Kane. KANE. They also mentioned that Sami Zayn was stretchered out last week and was already back and ready to go! Everything on this show is a waste of time. Nothing matters and everyone will be in the same spot on the card win or lose. I mean, they had a good tag match, but so what? Nakamura got a hot tag and made a great comeback. Owens and Corbin bonked into each other and started fighting, and Nakamura pinned Owens with the kinshasa.

Usos came out for a promo. They were talking about how great they were when the New Day interrupted and blew the holy hell out of my speakers. Usos politely left the ring so New Day could do some comedy. Then they interrupted from the floor. The two teams discussed proper skipping technique. New Day said they wanted the tag belts and they could do this the easy way or the hard way. I'm assuming this was a movie or TV show reference. Usos literally threatened to shoot them, and New Day said this was crossing the line. They announced they had a title shot at the PPV and did some spastic thrusting. What an odd segment.

They recapped Jinder Mahal's epic celebration last week.

Fashion Files skit. They ditched the Law & Order knockoff for more of a Humphrey Bogart, film noir vibe. Fandango, as a private eye, outright wondered what they would do after losing to the Uggos. Then he found his office had been ransacked. We saw the silhouette of some lovely young female, but it was Tyler Breeze in disguise. They could hear each other's thoughts and noted how strange this was. They found cologne, tasted it, and figured out who the culprits were. But they didn't tell us.

Charlotte vs. Carmella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Tamina in a top contender's match. Naomi did an inset promo saying it didn't matter who won, because they would feel the glow. Is that a threat? It doesn't sound so bad. Everyone brawled everywhere, including slams and suplexes on the floor. Charlotte did a moonsault from the top rope to the floor with two women to catch her, and still landing on her feet. Charlotte powerbombed Natalya through the announce desk. Well this certainly turned into the Charlotte showcase. Amid all this chaos and carnage, Shane McMahon came out dancing and slapping hands. Way to kill the gravity of the situation. I guess technically there was no match, despite the five minutes of violence. Shane cut a promo about how great this division was. He booked them all in a ladder match for Money in the Bank. Crowd liked all this very much.

Fashion Police vs. Colons. Get it? The Fashion Police found COLOGNE, and now they're fighting the COLONS, who I guess are no longer Shining Stars. Then one of the announcers had to explain this joke. Police started the match in their costumes. They also used squirt guns quite liberally. Yes, it's a house show match. Heat on Fandango this week, and suddenly Breeze was back in his janitor costume getting the hot tag and making a comeback. There were some mop hijincks and then Breeze pinned a Colon with an unprettier.

AJ Styles did a promo backstage vowing to win Money in the Bank and the WWF title. Dolph interrupted and said he had laid the foundation for the house that AJ built. I guess that's a good thing. He vowed to win the briefcase like he had before. AJ was willing to fight now but Dolph backed down.

Randy Orton came out for a promo, his first appearance since dropping the title to Jinder Mahal. He began by listing all the men he had beaten, and the accomplishments of his father and grandfather. He said his grandfather was part of the AMERICAN way, he didn't talk about what he would do, he just went out and did it. He talked about Jinder not earning anyone's respect, and said he could not show his face if he lost to Jinder in his home town. He name-dropped the Gagnes and Harley Race to no reaction, then promised to win. Jinder's music played, but then he appeared on the big screen. He ran down the US and said Orton was living in the past. He held up the belt and the Singh brothers clapped and they all faded away. And Orton posed and his music played and that was it. Well this was completely void of creativity.

Dolph Ziggler vs. AJ Styles. Big reaction for AJ in his home state. The best way I can describe this is to say they had a good boring match. Everything they did looked good. Nobody cared about anything. Maybe because AJ got the heat on him and then Dolph made a comeback. They teased a middle-rope Styles clash. As if. AJ's pound-for-pound strength is astounding. He was clearly the smaller man here, but he was the on catching Dolph on the fly and carrying him around. And then Dolph countered the phenomenal forearm and hit a superkick for the clean-as-a-sheet win. WWE, EVERYONE! Dolph gets a win with the superkick for, probably not the first time, but it hasn't happened often. Not a bad show, but completely pointless and skippable.

WWE NXT (5/31/17)

Tomasso Ciampa came out on crutches. He was all cleaned up in slacks and a jacket. He called out Johnny Gargano, but then remembered that Gargano wasn't there tonight. He said he had suffered an injury before TakeOver, but never questioned that he would be fighting on the show. Everyone else did, though, asking who would be replacing him as Gargano's partner. They treated him like an afterthought, but he was no afterthought. So he was willing to fight with Johnny. But then during the ladder match, he fell and felt a pop in his knee, and knew that after the match he would be on the shelf for a long time. But he kept fighting, for DIY, and for the people. And then, after the match, they had lost, and he realized that Gargano was going to find a new partner right away, and he would not let himself be an afterthought. So if he was going on the shelf, he was taking Gargano with him. He said TakeOver was supposed to be THEIR moment, but in the end, it was HIS moment. He said he was 32 years old. That, uh, caught me off guard. Finally he vowed to be back. This started off very good but went way too long. He got a mixed reaction when he was done.

Danny Burch video package. He was challenging Pete Dunne tonight, so it was a good idea to show him talking about how he was a street fighter with no Plan B but to win.

Bobby Roode did a promo in a car Earlier Today. He planned a glorious celebration for his win over Hideo Itami, but the fans were not invited.

Danny Burch vs. Pete Dunne. Pete Dunne is already a superstar in Full Sail. People jumped to their feet when his music started. If they keep giving Dunne time and opportunity to show what he can do, he's going to have the best match on WWE TV every single week. The only weakness here is that nobody believed Burch would win or wanted him to, and he was the babyface. They did get into his comeback 10 minutes in. Dunne finally won with a belly-to-back suplex into the turnbuckles and a pumphandle into a facebuster. Very good TV match. Dunne then cut a promo about watching a boy carry a championship that belonged to him. He said the UK brand truly started when he won the title. Very good promo too.

A woman interviewed Velveteen Dream. She appeared to be reading her ten words off a cue card. Velveteen declared that the ambience was wrong, and if they fixed the set and her hair, then maybe.

Authors of Pain video package. Shots of the Authors killing dudes as Paul Ellering talked about how scary they were. He declared that the Book of Pain was shut, and the Book of Dominance was opened.

Andrade Almas vs. Cesar Bononi. Total squash for Almas, who jumped Bononi at the bell and immediately hit the double knees in the corner. Bononi made a comeback, but Almas cut him off and started toying with him. And then Bononi hit a cradle and got the three-count for the giant upset. OK, NOW we see that Almas' non-stop party lifestyle is starting to cost him. He threw a giant tantrum at first, then quickly cooled off, shrugged, and smiled as the crowd chanted "YOU GOT BEAT!" At last, they are going somewhere with this.

Iconic Duo cut a horrendously grating promo Earlier Today in the gym. Ember Moon walked right through them and ruined their day. They buried her and made fun of her and ripped into her. Then a geek walked up and said hey Ember, here's your medical clearance for you to sign. She did and smiled at the Duo. They frantically had the camera shut off.

They announced Asuka vs. Nikki Cross vs. Ruby Riot in an elimination match in two weeks. Um, why? Asuka already faced them both and won.

Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe vs. Roderick Strong & Kassius Ohno. Killian Dane interfered to cut Ohno off for the heat. Heat went on a long, LONG time. There was a vocal minority shouting they did not want Roddy. They were denied—Strong tagged in and made an electric comeback. Like, I felt sorry for Sanity that they only had two men in there to fight him. They needed three or four more. Dane was about to interfere when No Way Jose and his new gear zoomed in and attacked him. Ohno dropped Wolfe with a rolling elbow and Roddy pinned Eric with a suplex into a backbreaker they're calling End of Heartache. Tremendously fun main event by the end. Most fun I've had watching NXT in months.

WWE Extreme Rules (6/4/17)

I have not missed Michael Cole's voice. Not one bit.

Miz vs. Dean Ambrose. The first Extreme stipulation is that the title can change hands via DQ. EXTREME!!! Announcers pointed out this feud has been going on since both guys were on SmackDown. Yes, they advertised it as being stale and repetitive. Both guys were in great shape. Maryse too for that matter. They brawled outside and Dean grabbed a chair but the ref pulled it away. Now why would he do that? And why would Dean be so stupid that he needed the ref to stop him from getting DQ'd and losing the title? I'm already angry. They took turns countering each other's finishers. The counters usually consisted of "I'll just let you go." There were dueling chants as Dean made a comeback. Dean escaped a figure-four at one point. They were brawling on the top rope and Miz just grabbed the rope with one hand stuck his other in the air. What the fuck are you doing? Are you trying to act like you're losing your balance? A turnbuckle pad got yanked off and Dean almost got himself disqualified. Miz hit Daniel Bryan's kneestrike finish and not only did the announcers not pick up on that, Cole called it a dropkick. Dean hit a figure-four of his own and people went crazy. Maryse jumped on the apron and Miz ordered her to slap him, trying to get DQ'd. Fans were actually worried this would be the finish, but the ref ejected Maryse instead. She distracted the ref, and Miz threw Dean into the ref, and the ref determined this was intentional. They spent a whole minute teasing the ref would ring the bell. He was outside, he wouldn't get in, he was pointing at the bell, everything. But he never did. Miz hit Dean with the skull-crushing finale and made a cover. Now the ref was conflicted, but he jumped in the ring and counted three when EITHER FINISH WOULD HAVE GIVEN MIZ THE BELT. I absolutely hated the way this was put together and the bullshit finish, but their job is to entertain the people, and the people seemed to like this until that stupid ending. (**3/4).

Bayley did a backstage promo and got SAVAGELY booed. Bayley. Utterly hated. I seriously would have thought this was impossible. Bayley buried the This Is Your Life segment. She also identified the interviewer as Charley. Bayley talked about watching Tommy Dreamer and Sandman and Steve Blackman in preparation for this match. She said Wonder Woman had left her inspired and she wanted to inspire others. This got her booed.

Noam Dar & Alicia Fox vs. Rich Swann & Sasha Banks. They were in Swann's hometown of Baltimore and he got a big reaction. He's fucked. Cole tried to explain the convoluted love story behind this match and I just didn't care. Most of the match was Alicia with the heat on Sasha, to set up Swann's comeback against Dar. They did a big elaborate strike exchange. The women started brawling again and spent like an hour setting up a dive spot. Eventually she hit the meteora from the post to the floor on Dar. That can't be good for the knees. Swann then pinned Dar with a phoenix splash. Just a match. (**1/4).

The Drifter did a concert. On pay per view. Lord. Well, he was the biggest heel on the show, I guess. His guitar playing has improved. His singing has not. He went on and on and ON. Finally he stopped and everyone booed.

Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley in a kendo stick on a pole match. "The latest chapter in this rivalry that dates back to April." Everything on this show is a re-run. They were climbing for the stick a minute in. Then it fell to the mat and both women fell to the floor. I repeat: A MINUTE IN. They had to pretend they were blown up and couldn't get into the ring, then kept brawling on the floor. Bayley got in the ring, grabbed the stick, and then a race broke out. Finally Alexa was TRAPPED IN THE RING. And then she dropped Bayley with a spear. Could they have made Bayley look like a bigger geek? My god. Alexa beat her with the stick a bunch. She hit the belly-to-Bayley out of nowhere, but got cut off and hit with the stick more. And then Alexa hit a DDT and won. Holy shit. I'm going to assume Bayley is fired tomorrow, because now she is such badly damaged goods I don't know how you ever repair her. She's just done. In addition to being very, very stupid, the match also sucked. (1/2*).

They showed Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles in the crowd. He was dressed as a superstar of the past—VIRGIL. Swear to god. He had buddies there dressed as IRS and Ted DiBiase too.

THERE IS ANOTHER PPV IN TWO WEEKS. GOD DAMMIT.

Hardys vs. Cesaro & Sheamus in a cage match. And this feud started at Mania. Re-run, re-run, re-run. It was all four dudes in the ring, escape the cage to win.In other words, a total cluster. Everyone tried escaping right away. So why not let one guy escape so you can double-team the other guy to death? Cole even said that Cesaro escaping would do his team no good. So Cesaro is an idiot for trying then. EVERYONE ON THIS SHOW IS COMING OFF LIKE A MORON. Matt and Sheamus tried to escape on opposite sides and Cole said THIS DOESN'T DO YOU ANY GOOD! So now they're BOTH hurting their teams? Cesaro and Sheamus were sitting against the cage and getting their heads pushed back into it in THE fakest spot of all time. They did a wacky spot where Sheamus powerbombed Cesaro (yes, his partner) and Jeff at the same time. Hardys got double-teamed for a while. So every single time sombeody tried to escape, Cole was killing the drama and saying it would make it harder to win. It has been a long, long time since I have seen an announce team kill a match like this. Probably since the heel Michael Cole days. All four dudes ended up on top of the cage at the same time. Cesaro had an armlock on Jeff, and Jeff was dangling with the other arm and two legs free. That was cool. Eventually he fell to the floor. Matt made a comeback against both Europeans and tried to go over the top. Jeff was climbing back up to pull him down. Heels finally knocked Jeff down, then brought Matt down with a double Celtic cross. Jeff tried to get back in the cage, but Sheamus brogue kicked the door into his face. They took Matt up top and hit a double white noise from up there. Jeff removed his shirt, scaled to the top of the cage, and dived down onto both heels. Cole informed us that since he had re-entered the cage, Jeff now needed to escape again. Matt was on the floor trying to drag Jeff out, but the Europeans climbed over and hit the floor for the win. They cut right to a fan who looked so disappointed. Last few minutes were very good, and I'm sure this was better live than it was on TV, with such terrible, terrible commentary. (***1/4).

Neville vs. Austin Aries in a submission match IN ANOTHER FEUD THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON SINCE MANIA. Jesus Christ. This was, by a wide degree, the best wrestling on the show. Unfortunately, nobody cared about it. Neville took over and started working the bad knee. Aries took a bad spill on the apron, and was pointing at his shoulder and shouting at the ref. The ref was dumb, so Neville attacked and started working the shoulder. Aries hooked a long figure-four that nobody cared about. He missed a missile dropkick and Neville hooked a rings of Saturn. Aries got to the ropes and people openly booed. Oh man. Neville tried it again, but Aries hooked it instead. Neville grabbed the ref, and Aries released the hold to beg the ref not to DQ him. Then Neville superkicked him. WHAT A MORON ARIES TURNED OUT TO BE. They fought up top, and Aries hit a sunset flip powerbomb, transitioning into a last chancery. Neville rolled out of the ring, so Austin put it back on. Neville tapped, but the ref said you can not submit outside. So why did Aries release the hold then? Just pull his damn head off. Like seriously, imagine you are locked in a painful submission hold and want to quit, and you tap and tap just to end the misery, and the ref says NO YOU CAN'T TAP OUT OUT HERE YOU MUST STAY IN THE HOLD AND ENDURE MORE TORTURE. Aries tried the heat-seeking missile but Neville ducked and Aries crashed and burned. Don't do that, dude. Neville threw him in and hit a red arrow to the back, then the rings of Saturn for the win. They did a bunch of replays. Aries was sitting on the floor, and he looked right into the ring and smirked. They zoomed in on this. What was that about? Here we have an example of a match were the whole was much, MUCH less than the sum of its parts. (*3/4).

The next PPV is Great Balls of Fire, and they shelled out the money for the Jerry Lee Lewis song. Wow. And that's only FIVE weeks away. So four PPVs in seven weeks. Insane.

Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns. No bodypaint for Balor tonight. Everyone paired off and brawled. Roman was the odd man out, so he just paced in the ring, stretching and bored. This was the best thing ever, a blatant troll of the fans. I wish they had done that for 30 minutes, but they did it for 20 seconds. They teased a Roman-Seth confrontation, but Joe and Bray broke it up. Finn ran wild on everyone and hit a big dive. Joe and Bray exchanged smiles and started working together. They ran all over the place hitting people with stairs. Fans loved this. They beat up Finn in the ring. Joe almost tried a cover when Bray's back was turned, but stopped before he got caught red-handed. Bray grabbed a chair and it looked like he was going to waffle Joe, but he waffled Finn instead, and the gang beating continued. The best was where they laid a chair across Finn and took turns doing sentons onto him. Seth made a comeback somewhere in here, but Roman just disappeared for several minutes. Joe warned Bray not to make a cover. Roman ran wild, including the easiest Backlund lift powerbomb of all time on Balor. Roman got cut off, but then Seth ran wild on both heels. He tried a tope, and Bray used Joe as a shield. Bray hit Sister Abigail on Seth, but Joe broke up the pin and he and Bray finally started fighting. Finn returned with a chair and started wacking both of them. Roman speared Finn and Joe through the barricade. Seth hit a frog splash through the announce desk on Bray. So all five dudes were down now. Roman and Seth recovered and had a staredown in the ring, then finally their one-on-one showdown. People went apeshit for it. Everyone got a turn at Roman. Finn looked to have him beat with the coup de grace, but Joe hit the ring out of nowhere and hooked the rear naked choke. Finn blacked out, so Joe won, which means JOE VERSUS BROCK at (sigh) Great Balls of Fire. This was really an excellent main event that could have and maybe should have been a massive clusterfuck, but they paced it so it built solidly and logically throughout, with enough in-match storyline hooks and swerves to keep things very interesting. Outstanding work by everyone involved. (****1/2)