About Us  |   Contact

Figure Four Weekly 7/10/2017: What's next for Samoa Joe?

What's next for Samoa Joe?

by Joseph Currier (@josephcurrier)

While the question of whether that was actually a double-turn with Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman was the most interesting question coming out of Great Balls of Fire, the biggest long-term issue may be what's next for Samoa Joe after his main event with Brock Lesnar.

Lesnar vs. Joe offered few surprises, mostly delivering on what everyone thought it would be. Joe was a credible threat to Lesnar (despite having to cheat to get most of his offense) before losing in about six minutes. The match felt like the big fight that it was built up to be and Joe more than held his own.

There were minor issues with it. The match might have been better if it got a few more minutes. Joe might have been able to come out of it stronger if it took more than one F5 to put him down, though that would've hurt the story of him getting caught when he almost had Lesnar beat. Either way, the end result would have been the same. Joe is better off for having shared the ring with one of WWE's only elite attractions.

But hopefully WWE didn't miss an opportunity here. Joe likely never had a real chance to beat Lesnar, and it's debatable whether he should have. It all depends on what's next for him. If Lesnar is going to move on to Reigns, Strowman, or both of them, then he had to be kept strong heading into SummerSlam.

It will all be fine if Joe emerges from this as the same person he was during the Lesnar feud. With Brock not around all of the time, there's no reason that Joe can't be something similar to what a full-time Lesnar would be. He stood in the ring with him and was able to have a match that looked like a fight. That's something that would translate to money if he gets an eventual run with the Universal title.

There are disadvantages to being on television every week, but it's entirely possible to overcome them. And being a regular on TV doesn't necessarily have to mean that you're featured every single week. Finn Balor wasn't hurt by his feud with Elias Samson not resulting in a pay-per-view match. If anything, it helped Balor come off as unique. Joe has always been a great TV character, with his run as NXT Champion having been a success even if it didn't always produce great matches.

With how incredible the build to Lesnar vs. Joe was, the next few weeks will prove how much that has helped Joe's stock. Back-and-forth matches that are structured like everything else should no longer be the norm.

Joe is special. A rematch against Lesnar should happen at some point, but the potential he has to be a difference-maker needs to be the biggest takeaway from Great Balls of Fire. Joe should be presented more like Lesnar and less like everyone else on the roster.

Mexico Notes

by Dr. Lucha Steve Sims (@DrLuchaJr)

Speculation and guessing is part of the fun of being a wrestling fan. Educating guessing and speculation is expected, and fairly so, of one in my shoes. We've come that point of the calendar year in which most of the stuff that will happen in lucha libre is about to happen. year of Mexican wrestling. Decisions have been made but not revealed, and the great fun o taking one's best guess must commence.

For CMLL, this would be educated guessing and speculation as to the main matches of the Anniversary show. Here we are about two months out and after this coning Friday night's TV taping, the coast will be clear. The Gran Alternative tournament and Universal Tournament will be done. A Leyenda de Plata and a Gran Prix remain. To my mid, that Gran Prix really sticks out. The teams announced for the Team Rest of World is, promotionally, Matt Taven and the seven dwarves. It's as if they want to emphasize him and only him on that side, as he goes through the match tearing his way to the last two with Ultimo Guerrero. The Gran Prix is set for September 1, the perfect time if you want to have a press conference 9/6 and then an Anniversary card say 9/15 or 9/22. The match would allow Ultimo Guerrero to (a) be in the main event (b) be a rudo, (c) be cheered, and (d) win cleanly, the very things he wants most out of a big show match. So I am leaning toward Ultimo Guerrero vs. Matt Taven for the main event. The semifinal at that point could be Blue Panther vs. Sam Adonis, though I suspect it won't be a second hair versus hair match, so we may end up with the long-expected women's mask match of Princesa Sugehit vs. Zeuxis. Each match noted here would be far better and likely more attractive to the paying customer than the Dos Leyendas main event in March (Pierroth vs. Diamante Azul) which drew a really good house, no doubt leading CMLL to lower their target as to what would sell out an Anniversary show, the show that sells a decent amount tickets on its name already. My guess is Guerrero/Taven and Sugehit/Zeuxis.

For AAA, all speculation revolves around the main event, promised for a year, with Dr. Wagner Jr. and Psycho Clown risking their masks. Will the match occur? Will it sell out? Will the starting time be moved? Who will win? Why are both babyfaces? Okay, scratch that last one, just chalk that up to AAA being AAA. Also, to sell out, the fans only have to believe, at the time of purchase, that the match is going to happen. It could of course sell out two weeks out then fall apart one week out. Who knows. My guess is, in that market, the venue will sell every ticket it has, all of them. The fact that over the past decade the number of big mask matches has gone way, way downhill makes a big one like this really stick out to the more casual fan. There is genuine doubt in the match's coming off, though it is a solid favorite to occur; also, there is genuine doubt as to the winner, though Wagner is a solid favorite. Neither man will ever get another chance to cash in the mask for the dollar amount that will be paid this year, and Wagner's father and brother both did, so, though highly unlikely, there is the chance that he would do the same. I'm guessing that if AAA moves the start time up to 4 pm, they will actually basically fill all available seats, but if they leave it at 8 or 9 pm local time, a good 10-20% of fans will be persuaded to see an even more surreal quasi-sports event via PPV form las Vegas at that hour. My guess is Wagner wins, full sellout, 80% attendance, and not a clean finish.

For Lucha Underground, it's one question, Season 4 or no. Rumors both way flew over the past two weeks. My hunch is they announce a season four, simultaneously announcing it as the final season. They film it, it airs, and then the diaspora commences, with the long-term look back settling at 50% greatest lucha thing ever [USA division]" / 50% "oh, what could have been."

Europe Notes

by Oliver Court (@AnotherOli)

RevPro's British J Cup ended with the lovely, feel-good moment of Jushin Thunder Liger, near the end of his career, holding a trophy aloft for almost certainly the final time. Liger was the surprise winner of the J Cup after pinning Cruiserweight Champion Josh Bodom in 2 minutes in his first round match, before being taken out of the elimination four-way final by opponents Scurll, KUSHIDA and Ospreay, always attacked before he could get back into the ring for the majority of the match. The crowd got behind Liger in a big way just from his selling and struggles, as he overshadowed what was going on inside the ring through sheer charisma and likeability alone. He eventually made it back into the ring and defeated the last remaining opponent Scurll to end a very well put together show, and afterwards challenged Josh Bodom for a championship match at Summer Sizzler. For anyone lamenting the lack of a last BOSJ run for Liger, the BJC provided that little bit of Liger magic.

The best match of the BJC show though was Tomohiro Ishii vs Matt Riddle. The pair exploded at the start, chopping each other with ridiculous intensity and garnering the loudest crowd reactions by far on the show. Though they had a few moments of miscommunication later on, this match was so exciting and felt like a true fight, making it a must-see match for any wrestling fan. After the show, Riddle was seen conversing with New Japan referee and office member Tiger Hattori, so perhaps he impressed enough to earn a spot in NJPW down the line.

Also this week, wXw put up Shortcut to the Top on wXw NOW, featuring another great Riddle bout against Marius Al-Ani. Again, this match felt like a real fight but on the more MMA-influenced end of things, with Al-Ani's legit martial arts background creating some great grappling moments punctuated with impressive power moves. Al-Ani is certainly a future main eventer in wXw, so having matches like this on his resume will help a lot to prove he deserves being a feature star of the promotion. The titular Shortcut to the Top Royal Rumble-style match was won by Bad Bones after he revealed himself as the RISE stable's leader and had fellow members Pete Bouncer and Ivan Kiev eliminate themselves. Bad Bones as the RISE leader is definitely a good move for the group, as the crowd have a recognisable top name to root against now.

Japan Notes

by Alan Counihan (@Alan4L)

It is that most wonderful time of year once again. Next Monday the 2017 G1 Climax kicks off and ushers in a month of incredible wrestling for us all to enjoy. There are some huge marquee matches deck like Okada vs. Omega III, Tanahashi vs. Naito, Suzuki vs. Okada and Ibushi vs. Tanahashi. You'll likely hear and read a lot about those matches, so this week here in the newsletter I'm going to let you know what my sleeper matches are for the series. Matches that might not jump off the page on initial glance but could wind up being highlights of the tournament if the vaunted G1 magic hits them right!

17.07.2017 Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center Hokkai Kitayell

Block A: Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii

With some big name matches on top of it, this one is easy to look past but it's a combination which has an incredible track record of delivering, especially in the G1.

21.07.2017 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

Block A: Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

The dream match that we didn't get last Summer at the CWC. A mouth-watering stylistic matchup for sure in front of Japan's most hardcore fans.

30.07.2017 Gifu Industrial Hall

Block B: Kazuchika Okada vs. Juice Robinson

Going one on one with the ace of New Japan, there is no way that Juic won't be motivated as hell and an extra motivated Juice is capable of amazing things.

05.08.2017 Osaka Edion Arena (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

Block B: Satoshi Kojima vs. SANADA

This just feels like two guys who'll complement each other brilliantly. Kojima has always worked well with athletic guys and they don't come much more athletic than SANADA. This could be the sleeper match of the whole tournament.

06.08.2017 Act City Hamamatsu

Block A: Yuji Nagata vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

A battle of great technicians of different era's. You know these two will try to test each other on the mat and it will be great fun for us all.

11.08.2017 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. Yuji Nagata

On paper you may ask "why this?" but in reality this is very interesting. It is going to be the last G1 bout of Nagata's legendary career and he's going up against a former protégé. Off screen, Fale thinks the world of Nagata and he'll want to give him a special send off.

12.08.2017 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

Block B: Michael Elgin vs. Juice Robinson

In his two G1s thus far, Elgin has been a monster in Sumo Hall. In there against his friend Juice, you know these two will be trying to steal the show.

TV Reviews

by Bryan's Friend Vince (@FO_VVerhei)

WWE Retro Raw 265 (7/6/98)

They recapped Steve Austin beating Kane last week to regain the world championship, then dropping Undertaker with a stunner for good measure.

Taker came out for a promo. He demanded a championship match right now. They cut backstage, where Michael Cole was trying to find Austin to get a reply. Austin refused to give him an answer, and went to the ring instead. But before anything could happen, Vince stormed out on stage and furiously ordered everyone to wait, saying the inmates did not run the asylum. Taker did not have the power to demand a title shot, and Austin did not have the power to grant one. He offered to put them in the ring together at Fully Loaded, but as a tag team, against Kane & Mankind. He promised to name a top contender to Austin's title tonight. He flipped Austin off, twice, and Austin went storming up the ramp to kill him.

Brawl For All: Brakus vs. Savio Vega. Oh god. Jim Ross was outright saying these dudes were out of their element and not trained boxers. Yeah, that was clear. Brakus got a takedown early, but Savio whipped his ass for the rest of the first round and Brakus was likely saved by the bell. Wait, the ref is DANNY HODGE? Why isn't HE fighting? Brakus looked totally gassed in Round 2 and he just ate punches for a full minute. He had nothing left in Round 3. Savio got a takedown and then a knockdown, and based on the scoring that left Brakus with almost zero chance to win. Sure enough, Savio was announced as the winner, and deservedly so. And after this Ken Shamrock was wrestling. The one guy smart enough to realize he had nothing to gain by getting into real fights every week.

Ken Shamrock vs. Jeff Jarrett. They were doing a totally forgettable Raw match when King Mabel sneaked into the ring (think about this) and laid Shamrock out for the DQ. It's all the old Kings of the Ring coming to take the crown from Shamrock, you see.

Cole interviewed Shamrock backstage. Shamrock challenged Mabel to a fight tonight.

Vader vs. Bradshaw. They showed Bradshaw punching the holy hell out of Henry Godwinn in Brawl For All last week. They brawled in the corner here and honestly it didn't look much different than the Brawl For All footage. They clubbered each other a few minutes, then Kane and Mankind came out and attacked them both for the DQ. Yeah.

Headbangers vs. DOA. So Paul Ellering is managing the DOA now, and the Headbangers are coming out on stage and pouring candle wax on their arms for some reason. Great. Ellering's strategy here was, quote, "GET 'EM!" Ellering did commentary basically saying he dumped the Legion of Doom because they were old. This match was way better than I was expecting. Nobody fucked anything up and they had a perfectly acceptable tag match. DOA won with something Ross referred to as a "tandem move" and also a "double slam." This was a shocking success.

D-Lo Brown vs. Terry Funk. In case you forgot that Terry Funk can wrestle, he did this great thing where he faked a shoulder tackle to get D-Lo off balance, then did an awesome rolling single-leg takedown. D-Lo laid in some chops. Terry took over and threatened some of his own, but D-Lo was wearing his chest protector and dared Terry to try. They brawled outside and Funk hit an Asai moonsault, cracking his leg into the barricade. He laid D-Lo on his belly in the ring and did a moonsault to the back for a nearfall. Godfather nailed Funk with his chain behind the ref's back, and D-Lo hit the frog splash for the win. Very good wrestling here. Taker then made his way to the ring to kill everyone. Godfather and D-Lo got chokeslammed. Funk was happy to see this, but of course he got chokeslammed too. Godfather's cigar was still in the ring and Taker had to be very careful not to drop Funk onto it. Plus he was just chokeslamming him as gently as possible because, you know, old dude.

Vince came out for a promo to name the top contender. First he called a bunch of dudes down to the ring: Mankind, Kane, then Undertaker. Taker just stood in the ring with his two hated rivals. At least they were exchanging tense stares. Vince addressed Mankind as "Mick" and thanked him for what he had done at King of the Ring (you know, nearly dying), but asked if that was enough to be named No. 1 contender. Then Vince said Kane was a champion for the new millenium, but also stupid and dumb for granting Austin a rematch last week. But he respected Kane for promising to set himself on fire if he had failed to win the title from Austin at King of the Ring. As for Taker, all he had done was try to murder Foley at King of the Ring and set Kane on fire. Finally he booked the three of them against each other in a triple threat match for tonight.

Brawl For All: Hawk vs. Droz. Hawk was out there in his gear and facepaint, with big giant boxing gloves. Not much happened in Round 1. Droz got a takedown that mght have been after the bell. They each tagged the other in Round 2, and Hawk looked rocked. Droz was selling his hand when the round ended. Hawk had about nothing left as Round 3 started. Hawk's mouthpiece kept falling out, so Droz spat his out so they would be even. OK, that was awesome. They punched each other ineffectually for a whle and the fight ended. It was ruled a draw. So I guess they're both out of the tournament now?.

Marc Mero and Jacqueline came out for a promo. Jacqueline took the blame for Mero losing to Steve Blackman in Brawl For All last week. She said the night before had been the anniversary, and as a result, Mero's tank had been empty. She explained that Sable had never been able to keep Mero satisfied. Sable came out to defend her sexual prowess, and say that Mero couldn't get it up. This is the feud. They're fighting over who is the better lay. Jacquie challenged Sable to a bikini contest at Fully Loaded and Sable accepted.

Dustin Runnels vs. Val Venis. They showed Val trying to seduce Mrs. Yamaguchi last week. They did two or three minutes of fun wrestling and then Kaientai attacked Val for the DQ. Yamaguchi told Val "You're just a half-man Yamaguchi-san is." They left Val lying as Mrs. Yamaguchi-san and her comedically oversized jacket looked sad.

DX came out dressed as the Nation. This included Billy Gunn in blackface, Road Dogg in blackface, and X-Pac in a LOT of blackface. They made some toilet jokes, made fun of D-Lo's head-bobbing, made fun of the People's Elbow. Then they haned the mic to Jason Sensation as Owen Hart and all stepped back so he could do his thing. He was great. It was funny this group, led by Triple H, made fun of somebody else for having a big nose. X-Pac did some Fat Albert jokes about Mark Henry, and finally they all told the fans to suck it. Well, this was what it was.

Ken Shamrock vs. King Mabel. Mabel clubbered him for a while, then missed a clothesline and Shamrock hooked the ankle lock for the submission win. HUGE pop. I had forgotten how over Shamrock was. Shamrock continued his assault afterwards.

Kane vs. Mankind vs. Undertaker. Vince and Austin both came out to do commentary. Kane and Mankind came out. Then Taker's music played, but no Deadman. This happened a few times, then Vince got in the ring and started speaking to the ring announcer. Per Vince's orders, the ring announcer dubbed Taker chickenshit, and booked Kane vs. Mankind one-on-one, no holds barred, falls count anywhere. Mankind was not down with this. Kane had no problems. Paul Bearer just shrugged. Foley sat on the floor and refused to get in the ring. He cut a promo saying he wasn't giving Vince anymore, and under no circumstances would he fight his friend Kane. Vince ordered the bell rang, then ordered Kane to kill Mankind. Finally Kane grabbed a chair and threatened Austin, then turned and waffled Mankind. It was against the stairs, so I'm assuming Kane just hit the stairs and there was no content with the head her. He threw Mankind into the ring, then crossed his hands over his chest and pinned him, a la the Undertaker. And then he removed his mask to reveal the Undertaker. He was awesome here, carrying himself just like Kane for several minutes before the big reveal. So what happened to Kane though? Oh well.

WCW Monday Nitro 147 (7/6/98)

They showed clips from Thunder of JJ Dillon announcing Goldberg-Hogan for the world championship on this show.

So this was in the Georgia Dome, and yeah, that's a big-ass crowd.

Hogan and his crew came out for a promo. He hyped up the tag match at Bash at the Beach, promising to end DDP's wrestling career and Karl Malone's basketball career. He said Goldberg was not in his league, and the match would not happen. He promised Goldberg would face someone in the black-and-white, and should Goldberg get lucky and win, only then would Hogan grant him a title shot. Thunderous "GOLDBERG!" chants.

Mean Gene interviewed a NASCAR driver from Pangburn, Arkansas. Or maybe just a guy who won a car. I'm not sure. He got through his lines without mumbling.

Booker T vs. Dean Malenko. Environment here was just awesome. Not just the crowd size and the unique camera angles, but sometimes they'd shoot from the floor and you'd see the upper deck all full and the fading sunlight shining through the roof. They fell outside and Chris Jericho came out on the ramp with a mic, saying he was sick of Malenko running from him every week. He demanded Malenko come face him so they could settle things once and for all. Dean was distracted, and Booker hit an axe kick for the win. So this was a 2017 Raw match on Nitro in 1998.

Karl Malone did a pretape promo running down Dennis Rodman, who wasn't there tonight, but would be at Bash at the Beach.

Kanyon vs. Raven. Let me say it again: THIS CROWD WAS HUGE. Kanyon ran wild, but when he went up top Lodi crotched him for the heat. Raven superplexed Kanyon through a chair. None of this was a DQ, but then Saturn ran out and attacked both men and that was. They claimed his attack on Kanyon had been an accident. He accidentally threw around a 6-foot-4 260-pound man? He hit Raven with a splash from the top rope to a table on the floor, but the table didn't break. OW. Then apparently Kanyon did some kind of move on Saturn. Holy cow what a mess.

A limo pulled up outside and Buff Bagwell, in a neckbrace, emerged. Mama Bagwel was there to help him into his wheelchair. They pointed out this was his hometown.

Nitro Party clips.

Clips of Karl Malone and Dallas Page driving a semi to Nitro last week, and the nWo preparing to tear the truck apart with crowbars. I can only imagine what Bret Hart thought about being a part of this. Later Hogan was in the ring cutting a promo when Page and Malone had ambushed him. Then they showed Malone and Hogan doing some wrestling. It was terrible, but the people loved it, and Malone looked like he was having the time of his life. Then Page and Malone came to the ring for a promo. Page promised that Goldberg would beat up Hogan tonight, then Page would beat him up on Sunday. Malone ran down Rodman a bit. This was simple and effective.

Sitdown pretape promo with Mongo, saying joining the Horsemen was just like joining the Chicago Bears in the NFL. They had clips of Mike Ditka about what a great football player and warrior Mongo had been. Mongo said it was up to Arn Anderson to get the Horsemen back together and let them run wild again.

Scott Putski vs. Scotty Riggs. Why was Putski dressed like Jack Sparrow? Well, maybe because Riggs had a pirate eyepatch too. You ever heard 40,000 people take a collective nap? They did some stuff and Putski won with a sitout spinebuster. Tenay explained that this move was known as the "Putski bomb." Whatever.

nWo were awaiting a limo outside. It was Scott Hall. He promised to take Goldberg to school.

Chris Jericho came out for a promo. He said Rey Mysterio Jr. had beaten him last week, and thus he would be defending the cruiserweight title against Rey at Bash at the Beach. JJ Dillon interrupted and insisted Jericho would face Ultimo Dragon tonight. Malenko came out to confront him, but Dillon said that if either of them touched each other before Bash at the Beach, they would be suspended. So Jericho started insulting Dean to his face. Dillon said, you know Jericho, it's a no-DQ match on Sunday, are you sure you want to piss this guy off? Jericho tried to find common ground, saying they were both the sons of pro athletes. He said Dean's father was always on the road, which explained why Dean and Joe looked nothing alike. They do? Well, it worked, and Dean lit into him until security dragged him away.

Chris Jericho vs. Ultimo Dragon. Two minutes in Malenko attacked Jericho for the DQ. Dragon just left.

During the break, Malenko was handcuffed and taken away.

Johnny Swinger vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. Swinger cut a promo saying he was Johnny Swinger, and he was the hottest commodity in wrestling. Chavo came out in a hard hat and with scissors. Swinger kept asking if Chavo knew who he was. So that's where Bully Ray got his schtick. Chavo won with a tornado DDT. Yeah, that's it. Chavito cut a promo saying Swinger had split ends, and he cut off some of Swinger's hair. He challenged Eddie to a hair match at Bash at the Beach.

Disco Inferno & Alex Wright vs. Public Enemy. Disco and Alex wanted to dance, then Tokyo Magnum came out to dance with them, but he was not invited. All sorts of horrible brawling going on here. They tried to put Alex through a table, but Magnum made the save. Then Disco and Alex walked out on him, so they stacked two tables, put Magnum on top, and put him through them. Then Alex and Disco attacked Enemy with trashcans. Eventually there was a DQ. What a pile of shit this segment was.

Gene interviewed Buff Bagwell. He explained Bagwell had suffered two broken vertebrae and nearly died in ICU. Bagwell said he loved being in Atlanta. He talked about lying on his back and not knowing if he'd ever be able to appear before the fans again. He thanked the fans for their support and said he loved them all, then thanked his mom and said he loved her too. He promised he was Buff, and he was still the Stuff. He had been so great through this whole promo and being so brave, and then it was done and he almost broke down, putting his hand to his face and shaking. Yes, this was great.

Goldberg vs. Scott Hall. Announcers pointed out that Goldberg had no complaints about having to beat Hall to get his promised match against Hogan, he just went out there to win anyway. Everyone was on their feet from the get-go. Something got fucked up and Goldberg just threw him into the ropes as hard as he could and Hall fell down and everyone cheered. Goldberg was so great that even his fuckups were awesome. Hall got some heat and threw in some punches, but Goldberg did the gradual no-sell and ran wild with armdrags. Yes, armdrags. Hall rolled outside and called for help, and out came Disciple and Vincent and others, but Page and Malone ran out and laid them out with chairs. Hall snapped Goldberg's neck on the ropes, and announcers were now pointing out that Goldberg had never had to go this long. Hall tried the edge, but Goldberg backdropped his way out and hit the spear and jackhammer for the win. Nobody sat down from start to finish here. Tremendous stuff, and Hall was so good at putting this together to make Goldberg look as good as possible. This could hardly have gone any better.

Psychosis vs. Juventud Guerrera. Juvy tried a dive and Psychosis kinda caught him and Juvy went straight down on his head. "WHY?" Heenan asked, then went into a rant about how stupid it was to take these kinds of risks every week. Psychosis hit a senton from the top rope to the floor. Dude. Juvy hit the Juvy driver, which brought out the Flock, then Juvy hit the 450 for the win. Flock laid him out and wiped out Psychosis for good measure. This was all so important that in the middle of the brawl they cut to Goldberg highlights.

Page & Malone vs. Hogan & Rodman video package.

Hacksaw Duggan vs. Giant. Hacksaw jumped him at the bell, but his offense did not last long. Giant's singlet looked to be wearing thin on the seams on both sides. Duggan hit the three-point stance, but instead of making a cover he tried a kneedrop, and Giant held up his fist and Duggan's face met it. This looked so comically bad. Giant finished him off with a chokeslam. Terribly sloppy, but fun, this was. Giant cut a promo calling Kevin Greene a gutless coward and a wimp. He challenged Greene to a singles match at Bash at the Beach. Greene came out dressed like the Rock, in polo shirt, pleated shirts, and loafers, to confront Giant. He spat in his face, ducked a clothesline, and clotheslined him out of the ring.

Malone did another promo promising to get his hands on Rodman at the Bash.

Jim Neidhart vs. Dallas Page. Neidhart hit a low blow early, so Page hit one for revenge later, and the diamond cutter for the win.

Wolfpac came out for a promo. Oh yeah, I forgot these guys existed.

Kidman & Sick Boy vs. Sting & Lex Luger. So Sting and Nash are tag champs, but not wrestling as a team here. Got it. A complete squash with Sick Boy submitting to a torture rack in 30 seconds. This set up Luger & Sting as top contenders to Nash & Sting. Or something. I don't know.

Goldberg vs. Hulk Hogan. Not only did Goldberg get his whole entrance a second time, but it was even longer and more drawn out and got an even bigger reaction. This is amazing. "GOLDBERG" chants were drowning out the announcers. Hogan did a great job of leading Goldberg through absolutely nothing early. He took his weight belt off and whipped Goldberg with it a few times, but Goldberg got a hold of it and threw it out of the ring. Finally Hogan pulled Goldberg outside and wacked him with a chair a few times. He very nonchalantly dropped the big leg, then another one. nWo dudes came down to the ring, but Page and Malone followed. Goldberg kicked out of the legdrops as Malone dropped Curt Hennig with a diamond cutter. Hogan was distracted, and Goldberg wiped him out with a spear, then hit the jackhammer to win the match and the title. Finish was kind of a mess with too much stuff going on. Really, the Hall match was better, but you couldn't top this moment. Goldberg grabbed the World and US belts and posed in all the corners as everyone cheered. Well, there you have it, everyone: the exact moment when WCW peaked. It's all downhill from here.

WWE NXT (7/5/17)

They showed Roderick Strong in his dopest suit showing up to the building with his family.

Hideo Itami & Kassius Ohno vs. Sanity.

If you are ever having a bad day, just remind yourself that you are better at your job than Percy Watson is at his. He referred to Kassius Ohno as money, then felt the need to explain this comment. "You know why I call him money? Because that rolling elbow is money." My god. He also referred to Itami's offense as "Kobayashi style." Heat on Itami, and at one point he was in the corner to tag out, but Kassius was on the floor brawling with Alexander Wolfe. Itami had a second chance to tag out, but opted to make his own comeback instead. I have never heard an announce team with one guy as good as Mauro Ranallo and another guy as bad as Percy Watson. Anyway, Itami laid out both dudes and Kassius called for a tag, and Itami quite rightly gave him the cold shoulder. They bickered a bit. Sanity wiped Ohno off the apron, and even though Itami hit Wolfe with the go to sleep, Killian Dane wiped him out with a bodypress and pinned him. A good angle where everyone's motivations made sense.

Earlier today, Ember Moon said she was ready for her next title shot, when Ruby Riot interrupted and said she was next in line. The funniest part of this was the army of reporters there holding up mics and phones. Legit more reporters for Ember Moon's press conference than at the White House these days.

They showed highlights of Nikki Cross vs. Asuka from last week. The finish was Asuka hitting a suplex off a ladder through the announce desk to win the last woman standing match. Still champion, still undefeated. I typed that, then they showed her Tweeting the same thing from the beach.

Drew McIntyre did a backstage promo saying the Roode-Strong title match tonight would be fantastic, but next time he would be fighting for the title himself. The hot new blonde interview woman asked about Killian Dane. McIntyre said it didn't matter who he fought, eventually he would be champion.

They said Johnny Gargano would return next week, his first appearance since Tomasso Ciampa laid him out.

Another new interview woman interviewed Iconic Duo about the Mae Young classic. The most annoying people in the world right here. They whined about birthdays. In the background Andrade Almas and a woman were screaming at each other. They refused to speak. This was TV death.

They showed someone named Bianca Bel Air beating Aaliyah last week to win a spot in the Mae Young Classic.

Roderick Strong and his family hype video. Then clips of Bobby Roode making fun of him. Best part was Roddy admitting that Bobby had more money and was more famous "because of his entrance music.".

Bobby Roode vs. Roderick Strong for the NXT title. Some gal asked Roddy what was on his mind backstage and he just said "victory" and walked away. She interviewed Roode too. He said tonight, Roddy's fairy tale would become glorious reality. They showed Roddy's mother and fiance sitting together in the crowd. Bobby schooled him on the mat and did his pose in Roddy's face. So Roddy kicked and chopped the piss out of him for a while. Roode finally caught him with a kick in the corner and a blockbuster for the heat. Roddy cut him off with a backbreaker and they brawled on the floor. Roddy got his leg caught between the stairs and the ring in an awkward manner, and Roode kicked the stairs into the leg for good measure. He stopped to get in the face of the Strong family, then went after the leg back in the ring. Every time Roddy tried a comeback Roode would go after the knee again. Many toeholds. Crowd had been quiet all night but was chanting Roddy's name now. They traded punches, and after each one Roddy would go down and have to fight to his feet. He finally made a big one-legged comeback. Roode cut him off with a chop block and went after the leg again. Roode tried the implant DDT, but Roddy turned it into a gutbuster for a nearfall. They brawled up top and Roddy dropped Roode onto the turnbuckle, but Roode rolled outside to the floor. They were trading strikes and Roddy had to throw on the brakes to avoid hitting the ref, which gave Roode a chance to hit the implant DDT for a nearfall. "LET'S GO RODDY!" Roode started badmouthing the Strongs and telling them he was the champ. Roddy exploded with kneestrikes and a massive facebuster. All the fans leaped to their feet. Roddy hit a massive backbreaker and made a cover. Roode got a foot under the ropes. Ref counted three, then immediately realized his mistake. Roddy's music played and he was hugging his fiance when the ref interrupted and told him what was going on. Then, as the ref's back was turned, Roode knocked Roddy off the apron and into the guardrail. Roode hit his DDT on the floor in front of the Strongs. "You're a cheater!" Marina shouted. It was academic at that point, and Roode threw Roddy in and hit an implant DDT for the win. Let me tell you all something, this was a great great great great GREAT wrestling match. These Full Sail fans don't cheer for anything except catchphrases, and they were all going nuts at the end and begging Roddy to win. Just excellent stuff. The Strongs had a heartbroken embrace afterwards. Roode just smiled at them from the ramp, gloating in his victory. This was pretty close to perfection.

WWE Great Balls of Fire (I can't believe I just typed that) (7/9/17)

Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins. Booker T said this was a must-win for Bray Wyatt. Or what? What's at stake if he loses. "Great Balls of Fire" also sounds stupid when the German announcers say it, by the way. How could a company so obsessed with branding have let this happen? Your basic opener. Crowd was very much into it. Seth made his comeback with a tope and a sling blade. They said the winner of this match could change the direction of their whole career. No they won't, and that's the problem. They traded big moves, and Seth hit a falcon arrow for a nearfall. Bray hit a MONSTER uranage for a nearfall. Seth went WAY up for that one. And then Bray hit a poke to the eyes and Sister Abigail for the win. A very well-wrestled match, but it all felt pointless. (**3/4).

TWO WEEKS TILL ANOTHER PAY PER VIEW. Something about colors on the Battleground.

Hardy Boys did a backstage promo. Matt did a toned down Broken Matt promo referencing super villians and being "delightful." Jeff was proud to be in another tag team first: first tag team ironman match.

Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass. The video package for this, with Enzo sitting alone amongst the production equipment was something else. But it did a great job of explaining the breakup angle. Well that press slam on the ramp sure looked uncomfortable. Then Enzo came out and was the same old Enzo, physically and emotionally totally fine. He talked about debuting with Cass in this building in Dallas last year, and how everyone already knew their names. He preached about how life wasn't fair and quoted Frank Sinatra. He went on and on about being in a 7-footer's arms that wasn't Cass. What? What's going on? Did he team with Big Show or something? He went off on a rant about Sinatra lyrics and how he wasn't like Sinatra and Cass would always be in his shadow. He did have lots of emotion and it seemed like he knew he had a tough road ahead of him as a singles act. Cass came out to a terrible new song. Booker said Cass wanted to prove he was the real guy behind the machine. "the machine." Enzo and Cass were A MACHINE. Cass killed him forever and it was boring. Crowd was cheering Enzo's name and booing Cass. And then Cass casually pressed Enzo out of the ring. Enzo kinda landed on his feet. They teased a countout off that. Then Cass finished him off with a running boot. A boring squash that left absolutely no reason for them to ever wrestle again. I expect them to be fighting on Raw again tomorrow night. (*).

Yes, Dixie Carter is on the new Kurt Angle special.

30-minute ironman tag team match: Hardy Boys vs. Cesaro & Sheamus. They pinned Matt with a brogue kick in 30 seconds. Swear to god. If it's that easy why haven't they done that in any of their one-fall matches? Then they just started over and the Hardys ran wild for five minutes until Jeff got slammed into the barricade for the heat. We had a boring heat segment on Jeff. You know what sucks? When you're already bored watching a match and there's a clock in the corner letting you know there's more than 20 minutes to go. Cesaro took a massive backdrop at one point, but Matt had already been kicked off the apron. So Sheamus and Cesaro pinned Jeff with an assisted white noise to go up 2-0. I kinda hope this ends up being like 7-0. Shortly after the pin, Matt tagged in and ran wild. He threw Cesaro's head into the turnbuckles dozens of times and the people loved it. Booker said the ref should give the guys some leeway in an ironman match. Actually, in an ironman match, the refs should be more strict than ever, because you don't run the risk of deciding the match on one cheap call. Hardys hit all their moves and pinned Cesaro with a twist of fate to make it 2-1 with 17 minutes to go. So I've now seen everything either team can do. Jeff did a dive off Matt's back onto both heels on the floor. Matt got counted out a few minutes later, with 13 minutes to go. Yes, it's a 3-1 lead. Cesaro was beating up Matt and saying he had all the time in the world. Um, you're ahead. You don't want all the time in the world. You want to kill clock and get the hell out of there. He hooked a sharpshooter, but Jeff broke it up. Then they knocked Jeff off the apron so Matt couldn't tag out. You guys already did that spot. Hardys got a goofy double backslide thing to make it 3-2 with seven minutes left. I must say that the live crowd liked this a lot more than I did and were totally into all the Hardys' nearfalls as they tried to tie the score. Matt hit a moonsault, but Cesaro broke up the pin. It was close and crowd thought it should have counted. "REF YOU SUCK!" was the loudest chant of the whole night. People were all standing watching this. Matt his Sheamus with a twist of fate off the top and pinned him to make it 3-3 with thrree minutes to go. Jeff tagged in and was ready to go, but the ref was waving him off and saying Sheamus was hurt. Fifteen seconds later I guess he was fine because the match just continued. Jeff hit a dive onto both heels. Sheamus still looked quite out of it. Hardys hit him with a double top rope dive but Cesaro broke up the pin again. Now Matt was bleeding all over the place. What's going on out there? Jeff hit a senton on Sheamus, but Cesaro zoomed in and pinned Jeff to go up 4-3 with thirty seconds to go. Cesaro then played keepaway and killed clock, and Jeff hit a useless twist of fate at the buzzer. They tended to Matt's face, and even from a distance you could see a nasty hematoma split right above his eye. As usual, this would have been much better as a standard match, without the ironman stips. Crowd liked this A LOT more than I did, so take this rating with a grain of salt. (**3/4).

Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks. I feel like I have seen this match 500 times already. So they were doing stuff and Sasha did an arm wringer and Alexa's arm appeared to be bending 180 degrees the wrong way. But it's just that she is double-jointed, and it was a trap to lure Sasha in and lay her out. Why wouldn't you save that for a finish? Sasha hit a back cracker, but Alexa rolled outside to escape the Banks statement. Then she dropped Sasha onto the apron for the heat. She worked the back over for a while. Sasha made her comeback. Alexa cut her off and tried the twisted Bliss, but Sasha got her knees up and hooked the Banks statement. Alexa got the ropes after a great struggle. Dueling chants for both women. And then Alexa sat on the floor and took the countout loss. Swear to god. They waited ten minutes to do that. Because they have to wrestle AGAIN, you see. This was the best match on the show up to that point. Sasha attacked and they brawled up to the announce table. And then Sasha hit a fucking meteora from the announce desk, which is on the stage, to the floor. Are you fucking kidding me? Do you ever want to walk again? On replay, she did not land on her knees here. Oh no. Instead she landed in a sitting position with all her wait on Alexa's sternum. Good god almighty. Alexa came up bleeding from the nose, mouth, or both. Well it's not like being pretty is part of her job or anything. This fucking show. (***1/4).

They showed Neville beating Akira Tozawa via low blow and kick on the preshow. What we saw of this match looked awesome. Then Tozawa was fuming backstage as Titus O'Neil tried to calm him down. Tozawa told Titus that he represented Tozawa, and he needed to make things right and get a rematch. This promo got more time than the highlights.

Miz vs. Dean Ambrose for the 9,000th time. Shockingly, nobody cared, and adding Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel to the program has failed to make it more interesting. A BORING AND BORING MATCH TOOK PLACE. Now Dean was bleeding too. The body count on this show is staggering. Figure-four. Dean got ropes. Nobody cared. Dean's selling of his bad leg was like a drunken vaudeville act. He made his comeback, sporadically selling his leg. Dallas and Axel attacked him, but he fought them off and hit the diving elbow onto all three heels. He hit dirty deeds, but Maryse put Miz's foot on the ropes. There was a lot of stuff going on and Graves had to point out to the others that Dallas had interfered, and Miz hit the skull crushing finale for the win. Literally nothing here we have not seen before. (*1/4).

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman for the 40th time, this time in an ambulance match. I haven't watched Raw in a while. I can report that the crowd still hates Roman. Cole was saying these two have been fighting "for the better part of 2017" as if that's a positive. Actual quote as Strowman ran around and bounced out of the corner: "LOOK AT THE SPEED! LOOK AT THE TERRIFYING SPEED!" And that was Graves, and he's the best guy! Braun ran into Roman and threw Roman into things and ran into things himself. "Braun Strowman's biggest advantage is strength," said Booker T, professional wrestling announcer. He beat Roman and beat him, but Roman was able to avoid being dragged to the ambulance. Finally he hit a Samoan drop and hit a drive-by to Braun's bad arm. He kept hitting the arm with chairshots, but Braun started no-selling them, absorbing shots to the shoulder, calling Roman a bitch and slamming him into things. They brawled up on stage, and Braun went to throw him into the ambulance, but Roman wasn't done yet. He hit a pair of Superman punches and tried to stuff Braun into the ambulance, but Strowman emerged and started using a backboard as a weapon. Braun kept running into things, going through the fancy LED video screen. Everyone lied around for a while, did something, then lied around for a while. So after Roman had dodged a hundred charges and Strowman had run into a hundred things, ROMAN tried a charge and BRAUN dodged and Roman flew into the ambulance and Braun slammed the door to win. POETIC JUSTICE. Then Roman, the poor loser, dived out of the ambulance with a spear, then threw Braun into the ambulance. He drove the ambulance backstage. They used a bunch of wacky camera angles that magically were in the right place to catch Roman's face in the mirror. Then there was a camera shooting the back of the ambulance. Then Roman zoomed the ambulance straight backwards. HE'S MURDERING THE CAMERAMAN! The ambulance crashed into a trailer. Everyone acted like Braun was dead. Roman walked away. They couldn't get into the ambulance. Then, for reasons that totally escape me, they did a STANDBY MATCH. Why? Did they think Braun and Roman were going to go an hour? And if you must do a match, how about THE MAIN EVENT? So Heath Slater and Curt Hawkins went out to do a match, but then the fire trucks arrived, and they cut backstage, and there was a finish to the match that we did not see. They were using the jaws of life to get the doors open. "HANG IN THERE BRAUN!" Thanks Jamie. Did anyone try driving the ambulance forward? They started manhandling Braun out of the ambulance. He was bleeding from the head and elbow. He tried to stand on his own, but collapsed. Eventually he demanded to be left alone and lurched away. Everyone applauded.

Oh, I suppose I should rate that match. Fuck, I don't know. (**3/4).

Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe. SAVE THE SHOW, GUYS. Booker T noted that Brock Lesnar was "in shape." Joe jumped Lesnar during Heyman's intros and actually got booed. He uranaged Brock through an announce desk. Crowd sang that Joe was going to kill Brock as Brock dragged himself into the ring. And then Brock laughed and demanded the match begin. So Joe killed him. These two big mofos wailed on each other and it was great. Joe went for the choke right away, but Brock threw him into the turnbuckle and unleashed the suplexes. Joe hit a low blow and a uranage for a nearfall, then went for the choke again. It took him a few tries to get it, but soon Brock was turning pink and going glassy-eyed. He fought free with a side slam. He missed a shoulder charge, but ducked under Joe and hit more suplexes. He tried the F5, but Joe slipped behind and tried the choke again. Brock's selling down on his knee, nodding off, and going purple were awesome. And then he popped up and hit an F5 and won. THAT MATCH RULED. Could have gone a lot longer, but what we got was great. (***3/4)

Lucha Underground Season 3: Left For Dead

They showed a guy jogging through Boyle Heights. Then he had flashbacks to Afghanistan, where Killshot killed a bunch of terrorists and escaped, but left this guy behind. So he was beaten and tortured more, and told he would be killed, and they were about to cut off his head when I guess Seal Team 6 arrived and saved him. He looked on top of the building and saw the Lucha Underground sign, then saw Killshot give him the finger-guns of death. As film this was very good, but ISIS is a real thing and I'm not totally comfortable with using them for entertainment.

Cueto Cup match: PJ Black vs. Sexy Star. I know this was taped many months ago, but boy was it uncomfortable during this man-vs.-woman match when Striker referenced Jim Breaks. Fortunately, for once, it wasn't just the man punching the woman in the face for ten minutes, they went back and forth and it was mostly lucha throws and stuff. Taya came out and tripped Sexy. She took the ref and tossed brass knux to PJ. Sexy evaded them, then got them herself. But the ref saw her punch PJ with them and called for the DQ. Striker explained the refs would be enforcing the rules more strictly in the Cueto Cup. Yes, he promised more DQs.

24-7 with Rey Mysterio and Johnny Mundo. Rey said he wanted to bring honor to the belt, like his buddy Prince Puma had as the first champion. Then he and the children went running through the park. He said he was never alone in the ring. Mundo admitted that Rey's resume was ridiculous, but you don't win matches based on what you've done in the past. He was knocking out the other Worldwide Underground dudes even through their giant pads, saying you weren't born with rock-hard abs, you earned them with sweat. Rey said lucha libre was a sport of the people, and he fought to give them hope. Johnny said chicks dig scars and abs. This was unspeakably great. The best.

Cueto Cup: Son of Havoc vs. a mystery opponent. Melissa, reading from a card, introduced the opponent as also hailing from the open road, and named him Son of Madness. A fatter, hairier Son of Havoc appeared, dressed just like Son of Havoc. Havoc met him coming down the stairs and Bieled him from like three steps up to the floor. Good god almighty. Don't do that, folks. Not that you could really confuse these guys, but Madness wrestled with his vest on just to make it clear. Well, eventually he took it off. He wasn't that fat actually, just much fatter than Havoc. They wrestled as if they were very familiar with each other, including a spot in the corner where they just ducked each other's clotheslines ad nauseam. These dudes went 100 miles an hour and never slowed down. They barely broke a sweat. Havoc, in particular, is on the very short list of the most graceful wrestlers I've ever seen. He's really underrated. The longer this went the better he got. Madness dodged a shooting star press and hit a schoolboy, but Havoc kicked out and hit his own schoolboy for the win. Goddamn this was some good wrestling. Madness jumped Havoc from behind afterwards and left with his vest.

Cueto Cup: Prince Puma vs. Ricky Mandel. Mandel was introduced as "interning for the Worldwide Underground." He came out dressed as Johnny Mundo. He threatened to take Puma to Slamtown. So Puma, wrestling in jeans and a hoodie, booted him in the face and went to work. Mandel's sunglasses never came off here. Puma quickly pinned him with a Michinoku driver. Striker noted this was a different Prince Puma as Vampiro stood and gave Puma a thumb's up.

Rey Mysterio met with Dragon Azteca backstage. Dragon said he wanted to win the tournament and face Rey at Lucha Underground Tres. Puma interrupted and said he wanted the same thing, a rematch with Rey from Ultima Lucha, and he promised that this time he wouldn't lose.

They ran down some of the second-round matches we would see next week, then introduced the last first-round match.

Dante Fox vs. Dragon Azteca. Dante Fox, obviously, was Killshot's fellow soldier from Afghanistan. Dragon still has his stupid dragon headdress on. Dante promptly stole some La Parka spots. There was a spot where both guys were running the ropes and Dragon slid outside and just stood there and Fox wiped him out with a dive. That was weird and I can't imagine it's what they had planned. Fox did a legdrop from the top rope to the apron. He kicked Dragon's ass for several minutes. They fought on the floor, and Fox sold a rana by bumping onto the top of his head. On the floor. DO NOT DO THIS EVERYONE. Vamp called it one of the most dangerous things he had ever seen. They did tons of stuff. Vampiro outright said Lucha Underground was a live action video game. Both guys hit single Spanish flies, and neither was a finish. They did a double-down, and Dragon signaled to the ref and to Rey he was injured. Worldwide Underground ran out and attacked Rey, but he kicked all their asses. Finally Mundo appeared and hit a throwing powerbomb into the apron, and all five of them put the boots to him. Dragon hit a dive onto all of them. The match continued, and Fox hit a convoluted brainbuster thing for the win. Crowd went crazy for this, but I thought it was sloppy in spots and the Havoc-Madness match was better.