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Figure Four Weekly 7/17/2017: Mayweather vs. McGregor hype fails to meet expectations

Mayweather vs. McGregor hype fails to meet expectations

by Joseph Currier (@josephcurrier)

While the superfight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor was bound to endlessly be compared to something out of WWE, the grandiose four-show world tour of press conferences to promote it felt more like a parody of pro wrestling.

They made stops in Los Angeles, Toronto, Brooklyn, and London in an attempt to get the hype for their boxing match seen in as many relevant media markets as possible. It would be unfair to say that things weren't a success, with the amount of coverage it received proving that August 26th is going to be a cultural event when they finally start trading punches.

But both were clearly overexposed during the promotional run. The boxing press conference format had them essentially doing four promos in as many days, and they ran out of material long before it was over.

It started flat before peaking in Toronto on the second day, with McGregor being at his absolute best in front of a red-hot crowd. Not coincidentally, it was also the only stop on the tour with any legitimate heat. McGregor tore into Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza and alleged that Showtime purposely cut his mic on the first day. And while McGregor used insults directed at Espinoza for his final two promos, they had become just another part of his routine by then.

For most of the tour, it felt like Mayweather and McGregor were trying too hard to play wrestler in an angle that's hard to sell as being real. It may not hurt how the fight does on pay-per-view, but they were never once able to convince the audience that they dislike each other. They hurled nonstop vulgar, misogynistic, and other offensive insults at each other with no actual weight or legitimacy behind them. It was what people who have never seen pro wrestling think pro wrestling is.

Some insults may have resonated better and had more truth behind them than others, yet Mayweather vs. McGregor is ultimately more of a celebration of capitalism than a fight. These two (and everyone else involved with making the deal) are business partners who appreciate the other's role in a night that will make them an obscene amount of money. That may be true for all fights, but it's magnified when the scale is so large and when the result is likely already known.

McGregor inconsistently tried to sell a plausible storyline for the fight at points: that Mayweather needed the money and got greedy in taking what he thought would be an easy win. McGregor will clearly be the crowd favorite, and being able to tease that this will finally be the time that he loses is what a lot of Mayweather's drawing power has been built on. He's sold it himself as well, playing up how difficult it is for him to train and be at his best at this point in his life.

The bad attempt to parody pro wrestling will at least momentarily end when they get into the ring. Mayweather isn't going to actually jeopardize his perfect boxing record. McGregor is going to be fighting for his future paydays. And just having those two facing off will be enough to break records. It just might have done even better if they were able to get the audience to suspend their disbelief and think that there were real issues between them.

Mexico Notes

by Dr. Lucha Steve Sims (@DrLuchaJr)

As most of you surely will remember, back in March 1962, just a few weeks before my fourth birthday, I was admitted to Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta to have my inflamed or infected tonsils removed. When I was released, before I went home, my parents took me to my grandmother's house for some reason or another. As we entered the house, my 77-year-old grandmother had to be pulled away fromm the TV show she was watching – wrestling (I later learned it was Live Atlanta Wrestling with Ed Capral on Channel 11).

In June 1964, a month after my sixth birthday, having learned to ride a bicycle, I sped around trying to keep up with the 8-year-olds like Elizabeth O'Callaghan in my neighborhood. Bad move. I fell and busted my chin on a curb at 511 Twin Springs Road right in front of the O'Callaghan's house. Bleeding like a stuck pig, my dad came home from work (he was a surgeon at, among others, Crawford Long Hospital) and took me to you can guess which hospital to have my chin sewed up. When we were done, we again enet by my grandmother's house at 676 Williams Mill Road (he lived close hospital on land that is approximately where the Oval Office of The Carter Center is today). As we entered the house, my 77-year-old grandmother had to be pulled away from the TV show she was watching – wrestling. But first I joined her, and she explained that the evil men in the red masks (The Masked Infernos managed by JC Dykes) were doing horrible things to the valiant men in the white masks (The Masked Medics, managed by someone, I guess Ken Ramey). Her enthusiasm and the cartoon actions and violence hooked me. (Trivia note, a couple of years later, one of the Infernos had his appendix burst; my father was the one on call at Grady Memorial Hospital who performed the emergency appendectomy).

In June 1973, just after (a) finishing my freshman year in high school and (b) getting my learner's permit, I went into Crawford Long Hospital for surgery – just wisdom teeth, but they were impacted. Was in there 48 hours. When I got home after the surgery, my dad told us he was going to take us on a week's vacation the following month o Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I was excited for lots of reasons, but one was, it was the first place I would ever visit that had cable TV. Ted Turner (form very nearby Beaufort SC) had a deal with a local cable TV company to carry his WTGC in southeastern South Carolina, including the resorts. We left on the early morning of July 21, 1973. That evening, I turn the TV to wrestling, and what do I see? In easily the clearest picture I had ever seen on a TV set e, there's the single-happiest-I-have-ever-seen Gordon Solie, and second place would not be in this galaxy, as he introduces the man who won the NWA World Title the night before, Jack Brisco.

In Monday, June 7, 1976, I went into Crawford Long Hospital for surgery – hernia. My mom for almost 20 years ran an antiques store with giant heavy wood corner cupboards, and I was a 140-pound cross-country runner, but I was free labor, so … the inevitable happened. This surgery took a toll. Did not get out until Friday the 11th. What I remember was that the following Monday, the 14th, Freddie Blassie and Muhammad Ali were on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, building up their match with "landing jaw" Inoki. Knowing Inoki only from what I had read in Bill Apter's writing, I was still very excited to see what in the world would happen in a real mixed match.

The other side of my midsection gave out 18 months later. On Friday, December 19, 1977, having finished the first semester of my sophomore year at UNC-Chapel Hill, back I go into Crawford Long Hospital for another hernia surgery. Knowing what to expect this time, I was out in 48 hours and pretty much back to normal by Christmas. Butt my love for Live Atlanta Wrestling/Georgia Championship Wrestling had faded, replaced by a new love, Mid-Atlantic Wrestling with Bob Caudle. That week in North Carolina, Ric Flair and Greg Valentine were feuding with Ricky Steamboat and Wahoo McDaniel over the tag belts. I (and my dorm/frat mates as well) adored the wrestling show on at 11:300 Saturday nights, as it outdrew Saturday Night Live on our campus most nights from 1976-1979. Good stuff.

We're coming up on the 40th anniversary of that surgery. None since, other than a lithotripsy (sonic wave blast) to destroy a kidney stone in 2009. Overall, 53-55 years of wrestling memories. I thought I had seen it all, the good and the bad, the horrible and the amazing.

Nope. The Sexy Star is back in AAA, and as of Sunday night, July 16, 2017, is again the AAA's Reina de Reainas. You gotta be kidding me.

Maybe this is the big shining signal, the final signal, to hang up the hat and walk away to do the remaining (and numerous) things on my bucket list while there is still time and while I still can. For the first time in 55 years, I'm tired of it all.

Europe Notes

by Oliver Court (@AnotherOli)

The time has finally arrived to see Daisuke Sekimoto live. For my own personal wrestling 'Bucket List', Sekimoto is at the very top of the wrestlers I've never seen in person, but XWA's second Exclusive Series show this Sunday gives me the chance to tick him off. The show itself isn't without its controversy; the ticket price of £42 is a steep one to pay, and the supporting 'big ticket' import names of Simon Gotch and Bull James are two guys who, quite frankly, I wouldn't want to watch if they were wrestling in my back garden. If you're paying for a ticket, you're paying for Sekimoto vs Keith Lee. It promises to be an excellent and totally unique match and I've made my peace with paying a premium rate solely to see one match, but I do hope the undercard can support it well too. It's the biggest show the XWA/EVE brand have ever run, and off the heels of Kota Ibushi's firecracker exploits and the EVE angle with singer/GLOW star Kate Nash, they'll hope to make their biggest impression yet with a blowaway Sekimoto/Lee match.

Another big time exclusive match featuring a rare Japanese talent was announced this week by Lucha Forever, pitting Naomichi Marafuji against Pete Dunne on their 5th October show in London. That's a fantastic matchup in a vacuum and becomes even tastier when considering Dunne's potential full time move to WWE at the end of this year/beginning of next year.

I wasn't able to cover this story last week, but Eddie Dennis' decision to leave his job as a school teacher to become a full-time wrestler is a big deal for his career. Being able to exclusively focus on wrestling makes a performer so much better by nature of being more dedicated to fitness, watching tape, and simply being able to wrestle more matches. Dennis has shown a lot of potential as a singles star this year and it's the perfect time for him to make the move as he comes into his own, while bigger BritWres talents getting signed leaves gaps for him to potentially fill. His decision was accompanied with an excellent promo video explaining the move, and is a must-watch for any BritWres fan. Sometimes it's the little touches, like that video, that make a performer so much more engaging.

TV Reviews

by Bryan's Friend Vince (@FO_VVerhei)

Retro NWA (6/27/87)

Barry Switzer again welcomed us to enjoy the Great American Bash. They announced the Bash would officially begin the following Wednesday and would go through the month of July. For this show, they announced Ric Flair & Lex Luger vs. the Garvins, and then Flair came out to cut a promo. He got a John Cena-level mixed reaction. He ranted about the WarGames as the fans drowned him out. He was screaming about making more money in July than most laborers would make in 25 years, and it was legit hard to make out what he was saying. This crowd mic was WAY too hot. He promised Space Mountain would be open all night.

Mod Squad vs. El Negro & Alan Martin. Fans had a sign reading "NO WIMPS ALLOWED" and they were chanting it too. They beat up Martin for a while in a boring manner, then tagged in El Negro, who was in fact a big black guy in a mask. They beat him up in a boring manner for a while too. He was actually bigger than either Squad guy, but they still gave him nothing. I mean, not like I was begging to see what he could do. Mod Squad won with a top rope elbow.

JJ Dillon came out to hype up WarGames. He laid out all the details, two rings, a cage, a roof, guys take turns going in, and once everyone's in, it's submission or surrender. He promised the Horsemen would win.

Arn Anderson vs. Dexter Wescott. Arn took him down and destroyed the arm for a while. Dexter hit a few punches and so Arn finished him off with THE GREATEST GOURDBUSTER OF ALL THE TIMES. Just planted his face into the mat. Awesome.

WarGames hype video. Still amazing.

Ric Flair & Lex Luger vs. Garvins. Not wasting time before the main event, are we? Flair and Ronnie promptly began to chop the hell out of each other. Then Jimmie and Lex tagged in and pretty much stuck to headlocks. Ronnie ran wild on both dudes with punches and got a two-count on Flair. Flair chopped the hell out of Jimmy, so Jimmy hit a flurry of crazy stiff chops of his own. Flair was now bleeding from the chest. Think of the thousands, maybe legit millions, of chops Flair has taken in his career. I've never seen him chopped bloody before. They went to commercial, and when they came back all four dudes were sweating like crazy. Ronnie and Flair brawled on the floor and were trying to chop THROUGH each other. Ronnie hit Flair with a top rope sunset flip but Lex broke up the pin. Remember that come, like September. Jimmy and Lex fucked up a backdrop or something and Lex came down awkwardly on his feet and nearly blew out his knee. Looked like Lex was trying a leapfrog and Jimmy didn't know it. It was not the only time Lex looked lost here. Ten-plus minutes into this, Flair hooked a figure-four on Ronnie, but Jimmie immediately broke it up. Broke down into a four-way, and Flair started stalking Precious on the floor. Dillon tried to literally kidnap her, but Dusty and Nikita showed up to save her. Horsemen took out the ref, but the fight continued. Jimmie hit Flair with a brainbuster and Ronnie counted the pin, and the bell rang, but the ref waved it off and of course called for the DQ. Great tag team brawl, even with the crappy finish. They still built up a Jimmie-Flair match.

After the break, Jimmie cut a promo. He said he was a wrestler, and he expected all kind of pain, but trying to take his woman, his squeeze, was a disgusting thought. He DEMANDED a one-on-one cage match with Flair somewhere on the Bash. He wouldn't stand by and let anyone abuse his woman, and it made his stomach crawl thinking they could get away with that. "I want a cage, and the reason I want a cage is to keep the Four Horsemen out." In case you forgot what the point of a cage match was in the first place. This was fucking awesome.

Ricky Morton vs. Freddy Smith. Freddy Smith looked exactly what you would think a guy named Freddy Smith would look like. He had his teal tights pulled up over his back fat. Morton came off the top and hit a move. I swear to God I have no idea what happened. I assume Freddy Smith was not where he was supposed to be so Ricky had to ad-lib in midair. Ricky won with a dropkick right after that.

Dillon and Luger came out for a promo. Dillon said that if Garvin had the gall to demand a match with Flair, then Flair could make it happen. Luger insisted they had had the match won, and they were coming after the Garvins, the Road Warriors, Dusty and Nikita, at the SUMMER BASH! This was a great pissed-off babyface promo by a top heel.

Dusty came out for a promo. He plugged WarGames, calling it the "War Boxes." He talked about spending time at his cottage in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, pondering the Bash tour in arenas and stadiums, saying he and Tully Blanchard would be fighting for $100,000 in a stadium in Charlotte. He said Dark Journey looked good, but if he wanted "brown sugar" he could get better. He promised her he'd win the $100,000, get a limo, and invite her to see a real, Texas-sized man. Isn't Tully from Texas too?.

Nikita Koloff vs. Brodie Chase. The bell rang to start the match and they immediately went to commercial. Brodie got some offense, then Nikita just threw him down and won with the sickle. Then Nikita and Dusty cut a promo. Nikita said the Horsemen liked to party together, but he and Dusty and the Roadies all liked to hurt people. He specifically warned Lex he was in trouble. Dusty just promised pain, blues, and agony for the Horsemen.

Barry Windham vs. Gary Phelps. Phelps had man boobs, so he went out and got a singlet. Only the singlet only had two thin straps on the chest, so they didn't cover his boobs, they just emphasized his boobs. Like he was going for cleavage or something. David Crockett was unimpressed and call this guy a "wet noodle." Barry hit an atomic drop, which Phelps sold by pitching forward onto his face. "He killed him that time!" Crockett said with glee. He also called Phelps "a sack of taters." Barry won with a lariat, and looked to be trying to take the guy's head off. Announcers just cackled. Then Barry cut a promo calling out the Horsemen and plugging the Bash. He promised they'd be riding low in the saddle. This was not a good promo.

Tully Blanchard vs. Hal Moore. This was, in fact, a world TV title championship match. Moore's whole torso was covered, so we know Gary Phelps had no excuse for his gear. Moore did the worst lockup in all of 1987 and maybe in the three decades since, so Tully slapped him in the face. David Crockett, babyface announcer, chortled with joy. Tully had him facedown, then pulled up the bottom of Moore's trunks, apparently trying to give him a wedgie. Director frantically cut to a shot of Dark Journey. At one point Moore hit a pair of pitiful punches to the ribs. Tully just stared at him in confusion. He dusted off the place where Moore had tried to punch him, then held his hands behind his head and invited more shots. Moore had no idea what to do. Then Tully put his hands behind his back and invited shots to the face. Moore still had no idea what to do. Finally he started throwing punches, and Tully would dodge, and Moore was so off-balance he would stumble around the ring. Tully finally finished him off with the slingshot suplex. This might be my new favorite squash match ever.

Arn Anderson did a promo, soon joined by the other Horsemen. He said the Bash was too tough and the competition too high for anyone to go undefeated. There would be winners, there would be losers, and titles would change hands, but the bottom line was that the Horsemen had the stage to show what they could do and make a lot of money. He plugged WarGames more. He promised that any combination of Horsemen would be the best tag team in the world.

Jim Cornette cut a promo saying that Ricky Morton had had a tough time earlier with a nobody, but when the Midnights wrestled nobodies, they embarrassed them, they humiliated, they made their families ashamed to be associated with them. And if the Rock & Rolls wanted to shut his mouth, all they had to do was face the Midnights with the world titles on the line.

Midnight Express vs. Paul Damon & Terry Jones. Cornette promptly dropped some ethnic slurs about the people the Road Warriors had been beating in Japan. More man boobs on display here. This has been a very jiggly episode. Stan kept kicking this guy in the gut and he would sell it like a shot to the head. They dragged him out to make fun of him at the podium, then Eaton gently rolled him back into the ring and patted him on the ass. This was apparently Paul Damon, according to Cornette. Midnights eventually beat him with a top-rope legdrop and a flapjack.

Morton came out for a promo. His best line was asking Cornette "Did your mama have any kids that lived?" He promised the Rock & Rolls were the real Express, and the real world tag team champions.

Darrell Dalton vs. Thunderfoot No. 2. WHAT!? ARE YOU SERIOUS!? These two geeks went right to the mat and just lied there. Way to keep the crowd involved guys. "We know he's the geek and you're gonna win, Thunderfoot!" So speaketh one fan. Dalton was yet another fat guy, this time with a rat tail. He was fucking atrocious. Thunderfoot squashed him from the opening bell. When you get zero offense against THUNDERFOOT NUMBER TWO it's a sign from the wrestling gods to change careers. Foot would make covers and pick him up at two. Dude, END THIS. Foot raked the back of Dalton's head. You know, where there's no eyeballs. Dalton got like three terrible punches and then Foot pinned him with a neckbreaker. "An impressive win," Schiavonie claimed in an outright lie.

Mod Squad cut a promo. Jesus this show. They called out every team, especially the Rock & Roll Express, and promised to win the tag titles.

JJ Dillon and Jim Crockett came out for a promo. Dillon repeated Jimmie Garvin's demands to get Flair in a cage, and they added he wanted it in Greensboro, because that's where Flair had lost the title to Dusty. Dillon said OK, but that fur coat we gave Precious last year must be on the line, and in fact one night with Precious would also be on the line, for a dream date with Flair. Crockett said Garvin had agreed to these stipulations, because he was so confident he would win. Dillon was happy to hear this, and that was that. They re-aired clips of the tag match to remind us all how great it was. Like, the whole match.

Schiavonie said the Garvin-Flair match would be on July 11. Then Tully and Dark Journey showed up for a promo, where Tully vowed to beat Dusty in the barbed wire ladder match in Greensboro. Yes, a ladder match, in 1987. He specifically said he would climb the ladder and grab a bag of money and win. They gave Journey a chance to talk. She wasn't very good. She said she was too sweet for Dusty, and only Tully would get a taste of her. And that was that. An amazing show, for a variety of reasons.

WWE Retro Raw 268 (7/13/98)

Shawn Michaels came out in street clothes, his first appearance since losing the world title to Steve Austin at WrestleMania. He had his old music, not the DX theme, and came out a total babyface, high-fiving all the fans. He posed and danced, then joined the announce desk.

Undertaker vs. Vader. Both men came out, but then Paul Bearer, Mankind, and Kane came down to ringside. God, DAMN Undertaker could run the ropes like nobody else. He also used a fame asser in this match. They announced that Taker, after his win over Mankind last week, would challenge Austin for the title at SummerSlam. He took most of the match, sometimes stopping to exchange stares with Kane. Lawler said this proved they were in cahoots. They asked Shawn his thoughts about King of the Ring and he smoothly plugged that everyone needed to buy the replay or the videotape. Taker sold for a bit, then hit a chokeslam and tombstone for the win. Mankind was nice enough to let him get the win, then was going to waffle him with a chair, but Kane took the chair away and hit Vader with it instead. Taker grabbed a chair to defend himself on the floor, but nothing else happened and Kane and his crew left.

Bart Gunn vs. Bob Holly in a Brawl for All match. Announcers were burying the WCW PPV the night before and Shawn said he had wasted his money on it. Wait, he bought it in the first place? Ross said Jim Cornette had resigned as manager of the Midnight Express because they had agreed to fight each other here. Shawn said every tag team ever did this at some point, but usually in a hotel room. Bart's technique was awful, but he was hitting HARD. Nothing much happened in the first round. Bob hit a bunch of body shots early in Round 2, but Bart just absorbed them and kept throwing haymakers. Even when Bob was taking them to the shoulders, he was getting rocked. They punched each other some in the third and fight ended to mild boos. Bart was the winner based on landing the most punches in each round. Bart looked like a guy who could have been a pro fighter if he had actually trained at it.

They showed the DX skit last week, including almost all of Jason Sensation's Owen Hart bit. Then Jason came out and joined the announce desk and did impressions of Owen, Bret, Shawn, Taker, and Austin. Lawler kept having him do Owen's voice. Then Jason said he was a huge fan of everyone, he had tremendous respect for everyone, it was all in good fun. Then the Nation did a backstage promo, where each guy called out the person who had imitated him. That meant Owen called out Jason. Jason did not look happy to hear this, but then Lawler asked Jason to make fun of Owen again. This brought Owen running down to ringside. He slapped Jason and threw him into the ring, putting him in the sharpshooter. The Nation ran out to pull him off, though Rock thought the whole thing was funny. DX ran out and cleared the ring. This was a fun little segment.

Rock & Owen Hart vs. Triple H & X-Pac. X-Pac had months and months to plan his comeback. He couldn't have gotten some green gear to fit the gimmick? Shawn referred to Hunter and X-Pac as "two Kliq buddies" and said they were "whipping ass" and that "shit's gonna go down." The latter was muttered very quickly and I think people just didn't notice, but Shawn caught himself and put his hand to his mouth immediately. They asked him about his relationship with DX and he dodged the question. Everyone looked good here, but X-Pac in particular was awesome. Rock hit a low blow. Chyna grabbed the ref to complain. This meant the ref missed Rock's cover, and Hunter waffling Rock with a title belt. X-Pac rolled over and got a two-count. Rock hit Hunter to stop a hot tag, but when he turned around X-Pac hit him with an X-factor for the win. Very good tag match with a non-formula finish.

Sable came out to join the announce desk. They asked about her bikini contest, and she said she had picked out a suit that would make her suit from the Slammies look like an evening gown. What she ended up wearing actually covered more flesh, though you could argue it still revealed more.

Marc Mero vs. Steve Blackman. This was a pro wrestling rematch of a Brawl for All fight. Shawn referred to Jacqueline as sexual chocolate before Mark Henry ever used that term. Of course it was used in Coming to America before either of them. Shawn started quoting Airplane, asking Sable is she liked Gladiator movies and had ever seen a grown man naked. Jacqueline and Sable got into it. That distracted the ref. Mero hit a low blow. Jacqueline went up top. Sable crotched her on the ropes. Blackman hit Mero with a bicycle kick for the win. Must every finish have 47 things going on at once?.

New Age Outlaws vs. Kane & Mankind. So Kane & Mankind finally get their title shot after winning that Royal Rumble a few weeks ago. Taker came out to watch, then a few minutes later Rock & Owen came out to watch too. So not only was Foley in there wrestling two weeks after Hell in a Cell, but he went most of the way and they worked over his separated shoulder. Road Dogg got a hot tag and made a comeback, which was difficult because Kane wouldn't sell anything. A four-way broke out. Hunter and X-Pac attacked Owen and Rock. Road Dogg hit Kane with a Russian legsweep, but then D-Lo Brown hit him with a frog splash out of nowhere. Kane finished Roadie off with a tombstone to win the match and the titles. See my earlier comment about 47 things going on at once.

DX was bitching to Vince backstage, saying maybe he should be a ref. Vince admitted that they had been screwed. The conversation continued as they replayed the finish.

Too Much & Taka Michinoku vs. Kaientai. So Brian Christopher and Taka are partners now despite feuding for months just because they didn't have any other small guys. Christopher totally screwed up a reverse monkey flip and nearly killed Funaki. At least the announcers were saying they were forced into this and didn't want to be out there. They did a lot of stuff for three minutes and nobody cared. A zillion pins got broken up. Shawn was sure to point out these guys were doing a lot of kip-ups. eventually Taka got pissed at Taylor and dropkicked him, and Togo finished him off with a senton. Then Christopher attacked Taka and destroyed him like a complete geek. Val Venis came out. He talked about Yamaguchi-san slapping him last week, and that no man should mess with another man's wife. He offered his sincere apologies, and to show how sorry he was, he was going to show a clip from his latest video. "I love these things!" Shawn said. We got a heavily pixelated image over Val's crotch in bed. "Why did they blur out the agents?" Shawn asked. Then the pixels disappeared, and it was Mrs. Yamaguchi-san under the covers. Yamaguchi-san was furious and had to be held back by Kaientai. Val said that when they get a taste of the Big Valbowski, they never go back.

Vince McMahon came out for a promo and promptly brought out Undertaker. He talked about Taker nearly killing Mankind at Hell in a Cell, chokeslamming everyone in sight, and then pulling the stunt of dressing up as Kane last week, a stroke of genius that had fooled even Vince himself. He wanted to know if Taker and Kane were working together, and said Taker may have refused to answer anyone else, but he would not refuse to answer Vince. ARE YOU IN CAHOOTS WITH YOUR BROTHER KANE? Taker told Vince to go to Hell. He started walking Vince back to the corner when Austin came out. He said he respected Taker being willing to challenge him face to face, but they had to team up against Kane & Mankind at Fully Loaded. He demanded to know if it would be a tag match, or if he was going to have to fight three guys by himself. Taker told Austin to go to hell too. Then DX interrupted too. They demanded a rematch with Kane & Mankind tonight, and promised Vince would find out if Taker and Kane were in cahoots. Hunter demanded one ref in the ring, and Taker and Austin on the floor as special enforcers. Vince enthusiastically agreed. Taker wasn't happy about it. I'm not sure how Austin felt but he was either very happy or very angry.

Dan Severn vs. Godfather in a Brawl For All match. You've got to be kidding me. Godfather did a much better job stuffing takedowns than I would have thought. Crowd was NOT into this and openly booing. Severn appeared to get two takedowns in the first round, but it wasn't clear whether they counted or not. One he was on top of the guy on the ground, so that should have counted for sure. Shawn was actually a great announcer of this here fight, pointing out that Severn was going to have trouble fighting with boxing gloves on. Severn was getting him down and refusing to break on five. Round ended and the crowd was chanting "WE WANT WRESTLING!" They actually said Godfather was winning due to throwing more punches. So Severn came out pawing Godfather like a bear. We got more sorta knockdowns and refusing to break holds and the fight ended. I did like Godfather wearing the One-Kick Nick shirt. Severn was announced as the winner it what was for sure the worst, ugliest, least entertaining fight of his career.

New Age Outlaws vs. Kane & Mankind. During the new champs' entrance, Road Dogg apparently got in Shawn's face. Shawn threatened to beat him up, "or I'll beat up the Bullet. The Bullet fired me, I'll beat you up for what your dad did to me boy." No-fucks-given Shawn is awesome. Not that he ever really gave a fuck. Billy hit Mankind with the stairs to take him out, and the Outlaws started double-teaming Kane to death. They went to suplex Mankind on the ramp, but Kane ran them all over and Foley basically got DDT'd. Eventually turned into a tag match with the heat on Road Dogg. Something got fucked up and the ref was out of position, and Billy came in without a tag and told him to just go to the corner so they could do the ref bump spot. They did, and Roadie hit Kane with a low blow and a small package. Austin hit the ring to make a count, but Taker pulled him out of the ring. Kane hit a chokeslam and Taker went to count, but Austin pulled him off. Kane went after Austin and Mankind went after Taker. Nation ran out to attack DX. Everyone forgot the "no bumps in a battle royal" rule, and Taker and Austin ran wild with stunners and chokeslams as the show went off the air. A chaotic mess, but a lot of people thought these chaotic messes were lots of fun. Mostly a good show, though it did feel long.

WCW Monday Nitro 148 (7/13/98)

We opened with an extended version of the Nitro Girls dancing. Three hours everyone. Hey, I was more than fine with this.

Announcers bragged about "the most-watched wrestling match in the history of cable television" last week between Goldberg and Hulk Hogan. Fans were demanding Flair. Then we got a video package devoted to Goldberg's wins last week. One thing we didn't credit Hogan enough for last week: he didn't just lie down for a three-count. Goldberg and the ref got up and dude was still flat on his back. Could have been a ten-count. I mean, Hogan legitimately did EVERYTHING he could have done to put Goldberg over here.

Hogan and his crew came out. He dismissed Goldberg as a flash in the pan, and said he loved his brothers like a family. Then he said it was only Scott Hall's fault that he was in this situation at all. Curt Hennig and Rick Rude nodded at this. Hulk said he had heard whispers that Hall had been calling him out behind his back. Rude subtly moved behind Hall, and Hennig suggested he drop Hall with an elbow. So Hogan challenged Hall to a match tonight. Hall said he had done everything Hogan had asked him, then pointed out Goldberg had beaten Hogan too, and he accepted Hogan's challenge. Hogan called himself the big bad creep, then turned and asked Bischoff what he was laughing at. Bischoff was taken aback. Hogan insisted Bischoff referee the Hogan-Hall match tonight. Hall threw his toothpick and shirt in Hogan's face. Crowd was solidly on his side, but everyone in the ring was standing behind Hogan. Hogan said we should all watch how the Disciple took care of business. THEN THE DISCIPLE SPOKE. He called Page a coward who had hit him with a chair in the back of the head and left him with 47 stitches. He challenged Page for tonight. Hall just left the ring in the middle of this. Hogan and Disciple rambled more and I stopped paying attention.

They let us know that Hogan & Rodman had beaten Page & Malone at Bash at the Beach. Disciple had laid Page out with "apocalypse," which was a stunner.

Horace vs. Barbarian. They tried a spot that was supposed to end with Barbarian getting double overhooks, but Horace got them instead. So Barbarian just muscled out, grabbed the overhooks, and suplexed Horace over. Horace had a cover, but let go to punch Jimmy Hart. He used a stop sign once, but tried again and Barbarian kicked it into his face for the win. Flock ran out to attack Barbarian and eventually overwhelmed him until Meng ran out for the save. Lodi seeing Meng and screaming in fear was the best. Meng didn't do enough of that kick that was like half big boot, half superkick. It was awesome. Barbarian tried to play nice, but Meng dropped him with a Tongan death grip.

Pics of Goldberg beating Hennig at Bash at the Beach.

Mean Gene interviewed Hennig and Rude. He asked where Rude had been during Hennig's match with Goldberg. Rude said he had been forced to stay at home because somebody had canceled his flight. He blamed Goldberg. Hennig claimed to have learned Goldberg's weakness, and challenged him to a rematch tonight. He asked Rude to stay in the back so Goldberg would have no excuses. Rude asked if Hennig was sure, but reluctantly agreed.

They showed a special bonus match at the PPV, with Rey Mysterio Jr. making a surprise appearance to challenge Chris Jericho, and win the title via some sort of interference from Dean Malenko.

Mean Gene interviewed JJ Dillon about Rey Jr., who promptly came out to join them. Jericho soon interrupted. He produced the WCW rulebook and referenced page 257, which says that any suspended wrestler who interfered in a match would render the result null and void. Shouldn't that be true for all wrestlers, suspended or not? Dillon admitted this rule was true, and technically the match last night never took place, and Jericho was thus still the champion. They all talked about this for a while. Dean came out and said Jericho would not get away with this. Jericho said Rey should wrestle Dean tonight with the winner getting a shot against Jericho. Dean and Rey agreed and shook hands. This took way too long.

Nitro party clips starring THE BIGGEST DORKS OF ALL TIME.

Hacksaw Duggan vs. Rick Fuller. OH MY GOD. I hope Fuller wins. Well, he didn't. He got squashed and lost in two minutes to the three-point stance and the kneedrop. Why is Hacksaw Duggan winning squash matches in 1998?.

Hour No. 2 officially started. We have had about four total minutes of wrestling so far.

They recapped Buff Bagwell's appearance and promo last week. Then Buff came out again, being pushed in a wheelchair by his doctor. Gene asked where Buff stood in the nWo. Buff said he was confused by all these factions, but said his first step after rehabilitation was to face Rick Steiner, the man who had done this to him. He had never had trouble getting back up after crashing a bike or falling off a horse, but he couldn't move on until he said something to Steiner. Steiner came out, his own arm in a sling. Before Buff could say much, Hogan and the Disciple came out and called them a couple of cripples. He buried Buff for crying and whining, then tipped the wheelchair over. Buff went down clutching his neck. Hogan walked away as the crowd told him he sucked. My god, Bagwell making his return and mowing through the nWo to finally get a match against Hogan would have been AWESOME.

They showed pics of Bret Hart losing to Booker T via DQ at the PPV. I watch these retro Nitros every week, and I don't recall even a whisper that Hart-Booker was a match on that show. This company was so amazing.

Fit Finley vs. Bret Hart. They only had about five minutes, but they had a great five-minute match. They just went back and forth for a while, then Bret caught him in the sharpshooter for the win. Note there were not 47 things going on at the end there, one guy just beat his opponent.

Stevie Ray vs. Rick Martel. Stevie was carrying Booker T's TV belt for some reason. This was Martel's first match back after knee surgery, and he had a giant brace on and was clearly limping. There were armbars. Also, "BORING!" chants. Stevie Ray took THE WORST turnbuckle bump of all time. Martel hooked the Boston crab, and he fell down on that, and then Bret hit him in the back of the head with a chair. It made a very loud noise and the announcers had no idea how the ref could not have heard that. Stevie then it a pedigree for the win. This sucked in every possible way. A blown-up Stevie Ray insisted that Booker T was in the hospital, and had given him power of attorney to defend the TV title. He promised to bring documents proving this next week. He rambled on about being a fighting champion and Gene was frantically trying to wrap this up. This really sucked.

Pics of Konnan beating Disco Inferno at the PPV.

Konnan vs. Barry Darsow. Is Darsow going to win tonight too? He did, in fact, jump Konnan at the bell and work him over for several minutes. Then Konnan hit the rolling clothesline, the X-factor, and the tequila sunrise for the win.

DDP came out for a promo. Mike Tenay was apparently legit knocked out of his chair by Page's pyro. Page immediately accepted Disciple's challenge.

DDP vs. Disciple. Disciple hit a terrible piledriver and Rude came out. Page went up top and Rude crotched him. Rude got on the apron and Page threw Disciple into him and won with a schoolboy. This all took less than two minutes. As Page was going to the back, Hogan jumped him with a chair, and the nWo all ganged up on Page.

Kanyon vs. Raven vs. Saturn. They all started brawling in the aisle. Saturn looks one million percent better in actual wrestling gear. He laid Kanyon on a table on the floor and hit a splash off the top rope. Raven was still smiling in the ring, and he ordered Lodi to send Saturn into the ring. Saturn made a comeback, but Lodi crotched him on the top rope. Soon Raven was on the mat and Kanyon and Saturn were on top in separate corners. Kanyon missed a splash on Raven, but then Saturn hit one, but Kanyon broke up the pin. That would have been a great finish. We got what might have been the first tower of doom spot. Crowd loved all this new stuff. Saturn got a nearfall with a DVD. And then Saturn and Kanyon brawled up the aisle and got counted out. Swear to god, that was the finish. Fun match until then.

Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. They had a great wrestling match, and they made it look very easy. At one point Rey hit a big boot. That had to be a first. Rey tried to launch off of Dean and land on his feet on the top rope, but slipped and caught his bad leg on the ropes. That could have been awful in about five different ways, but he seemed to be OK. Bobby Heenan was blown away by this match. You could tell he legit loved it. Dean hit a top rope gutbuster when Jericho ran out and hit Dean with the belt. Rey rolled over and got the three-count. This was tremendous.

Disco Inferno and Alex Wright came out for a promo. Tony Schiavonie was talking about the Dancing Fools and accidentally (?) called them the Dancing Dildoes. Disco blamed his loss at the PPV on the Wolfpac and their interference. Well, he was right. He called out Kevin Nash and Lex Luger. This seems like a poor idea. Dancing Fools vs. Kevin Nash & Lex Luger. So Sting & Nash are the tag champs, but they never ever wrestle as a team. Instead one or the other of them always teams with Lex. Come to think of it, weren't the Outsiders tag champs forever even though they never teamed with each other? Is this a Nash thing? Konnan and Sting started attacking Alex on the floor. Nash hit one big boot and one giant powerbomb. That was his whole night. He pinned Disco while Lex put Alex in the rack. So the Wolfpac took on overmatched foes and used copious interference to beat them and they were very happy about it and the crowd loved them dearly.

From Thunder, they showed Mongo introducing a clip of a classic Arn Anderson promo. Then Mongo said Arn had re-lit the fire under him, and he asked Arn to "think about it.".

Eddie Guerrero vs. Steve McMichael. Chavo came out, newly bald, wearing a cowboy hat and riding a hobby horse. He tried to convince Mongo he should be a Horseman. Eddie dropkicked Mongo's knee and went up top, but then Chavo started riding his horse around the ring. Eddie dropkicked Chavo into Mongo. Ref just called for the bell. Mongo killed Chavo with a tombstone. Well this was a waste of time.

Hulk Hogan vs. Scott Hall with Eric Bischoff as special ref. Hall had toothpicks for both Hogan and Bischoff. Hogan took over and did the usual brawling and choking spots, and Bischoff did nothing to stop him. Disciple interfered right in front of everyone, Bischoff didn't care. Then Hogan made a pin with Hall having both hands on the ropes, and Bischoff did not cont three. Well why not? Later Hall made a cover and Bischoff refused to count at all. Hogan hit a low blow and Bischoff didn't care. This all went on too long, and then Page ran out and attacked Hogan and dropped Bischoff with a diamond cutter. Hogan went after Page until Nash ran out and laid them out. Hall and Nash exchanged "too sweets," but then Hall jumped him from behind as Hogan worked over Page in the other corner. Crowd was calling for Goldberg. The two beatings went on for a while and they went to commercial. Well this all established nothing.

Goldberg vs. Curt Hennig. Man, that belt looked good around Goldberg's waist. Curt slapped him. Goldberg speared him and jackhammered him and won. And people LOVED IT. Well, they haven't fucked that up yet.

WWE NXT (7/12/17)

Show opened with a melodramatic recap of the DIY breakup. They showed the moment in the tag match where Ciampa got hurt. He just fell off the ladder and landed on his feet. Remember, everything these guys do is dangerous.

They showed Roderick Strong meeting with his family backstage after his loss to Bobby Roode last week. They all had a hug and Roddy smiled and realized his life was still great.

Aleister Black vs. Bobby Fish. Place went crazy when Fish came out and then DEAD PINDROP SILENT when the match actually began. So you've got the kickboxer against the BJJ guy and they had a very fun feeling out process. They were doing lots of blocks and counters that would have had hardcore fighting fans going crazy but were way too fast and subtle for the Full Sail crowd. Eventually Fish took over and worked the leg. Crowd had no idea what to make of these ultra-technical strikes and takedowns. And then Fish hit an exploder into the corner and at least they knew that was bad news. Fish started disrespecting Black with strikes, and Black got pissed and made his comeback. He appeared to kill Fish with a jumping knee then hit the spinning superkick for the win. This was a tremendous match in front of exactly the wrong crowd. Would have rocked Korakuen Hall. Or PWG for that matter.

Hideo Itami and Kassius Ohno had a confrontation taped after their tag team loss last week. Itami said the loss was Ohno's fault. Ohno said it was time for Itami to take accountability for himself, and said he was done talking and walked away.

Two weeks ago, Kayla tried to interview Velveteen Dream as he left the building. He said he was not like the other superstars and this was not an appropriate setting for an interview.

Vanessa Borne vs. Jayme Hachey in a Mae Young Classic qualifying match. I have no idea who Vanessa Borne is or if she's any good but they sure found some phat-ass music for her. This was two fitness competitors with reasonable athleticism who had no idea what the fuck they were doing out there and were doing a pro wrestling skit for the school talent show. Vanessa won with a back suplex kind of thing. It was very bad.

After the show last week, Sanity was shown jumping Drew McIntyre in the parking lot. Some refs showed up and were standing there in unnatural poses.

William Regal met with Bobby Roode and said McIntyre and Killian Dane were both undefeated, and both wanted title shots. Roode said he would beat either man any day of the week, and the best thing for business would be to book McIntyre against Dane. Regal suggested Roode was just looking for his challengers to wear each other down, but he conceded it was a good idea, and booked Dane-McIntyre for next week, with the winner getting a title shot against Roode at TakeOver: Brooklyn. That wasn't what Roode was planning, but he smirked and walked away.

Johnny Gargano came out for a promo. He said he had never seen Tomasso Ciampa's attack coming, and he couldn't understand why it had happened, but he wasn't looking at the past, he was looking at the future. He needed to be on the Brooklyn card, and he needed to be Johnny Wrestling. Then they played a new song for him. Well, Ciampa's going to be on the shelf for a long, long time, so there's not much they could have done here but move on.

They did a tale of the tape for the Authors of Pain and Heavy Machinery. The best part was "TOTAL MASS: 1205 LBS.".

Authors of Pain vs. Heavy Machinery. This was the pinnacle of tag team wrestling as an art form. Every tag team ever, from the Kangaroos to the Fargos to the Funks to the Midnight Express to the Hardys, all of it was leading to this right here. These four big mean mofos just crashed into and clobbered each other over and over and over and OVER. They only stopped to stare each other down and growl, and when they did that the crowd would chant "BEEF!" The same fans who didn't get Aleister Black and Bobby Fish at all were ito this from the get-go. Heat on Tucker Knight. The heat consisted almost entirely of punches to the face and elbows to the face and knees to the face and stomps to the face. Knight finally cut Razar off with a mighty clothesline and crawled to the corner to tag Otis, who made the shortest, widest babyface comeback of all time. He hit a MASSIVE overhead belly-to-belly, then a world's strongest slam to a 300-pound man. That's the scariest man I've ever seen right thre. They went for the double powerslam, but the Authors broke it up and hit the legsweep/lariat combo for the win. THIS MATCH WAS GREAT. Authors were celebrating when Sanity's music hit and they came out on stage. Paper started falling from the ceiling. Announcers said these were pages from the Authors' Book of Dominance. OK, somebody got too clever with that idea. But at least they left us with a clear direction of what's happening next. Very good episode this week, with everything either good or very bad.

Lucha Underground Season 3: A Fenix to a Flame

Jeremiah Crane vs. Taya. Crane kicked her right in the face, and then absolutely barreled her over on an elbow suicida. Jesus Christ. Then he sat her in the stairs and crushed her with a cannonball. THAT'S A FUCKING WOMAN DUDE. Crowd said this was awesome. I vehemently disagree. Crane took a giant bump on the floor and Taya hit a dive out of the balcony and took over in the ring. Crane hit more knees and kicks right to the face. She made a big comeback and then Crane slapped her RIGHT IN THE FACE several times. What in the fuck am I watching? I'm getting ill. Taya hit a Canadian destroyer. She went up top, but Sexy Star came out to distract her. Crane powerbombed her hard into the turnbuckle, kicked her in the face, and hit a double underhook piledriver for the win. Thank god that's over. This was the worst stuff they've done yet as far and men beating up women. Sexy woke Taya up, then put on brass knuckles and knocked her out.

Aero Star met with Fenix and said now that he was out of the tournament, he was putting his money on Fenix. Fenix said it was a bad idea to gamble with a time traveler, and tried to console Aero Star on the betrayal of his friend Drago. Then he asked if he was going to win tonight, and Aero Star chuckled and basically shrugged.

Mil Muertes vs. Paul London. Paul's Freddie Mercury bodysuit and codpiece gear was quite awesome. He taunted Mil with the codpiece repeatedly. Striker had some dumb comment about being born one way and dying as one of the Ramones, and Vampiro had no idea what in the fuck he was talking about and was dead silent for like a minute. They did a few minutes of comedy, then Mil killed him with a shoulder tackle and killed him more for a while. This went on for some time. London made a comeback with superkicks on the floor. Seriously like eight or nine in a row. The other White Rabbit geeks appeared out of nowhere and just bounced around the ring randomly. London made another comeback in the ring but Mil chokeslammed him right onto his head. Vampiro factually explained that taking bumps like this can end your life. And he's not wrong. The geeks distracted Mil and Paul hit a shooting star for a nearfall, then another one for another nearfall. Mil hit a giant spear, then the downward spiral for the win.

Famous B's woman tried to seduce Texano in a dive bar. He bought her whiskey. She said he was boring, so he broke a shot glass in his fist and said he was not dull. She told him to relax and sit a while, and said he needed a woman's touch. Famous B was in the back of the bar smiling and doing the "reeled in" gimmick.

Marty the Moth vs. Fenix. Fenix dodged a charge and Marty went through the ropes and landed on his face on the floor. Um, he just killed himself. Fenix started diving everywhere. He sold his knee after one of them and Moth took over on him for a while. He used a sleeper than even Striker had to call "a sloppily applied choke." Fenix made a comeback full of kicks and dives. They traded moves for a while. Marty wanted to hit a move but Fenix couldn't stand and Marty got frustrated. You're mad because you're winning? Mariposa tried to interfere but Melissa Santos stopped her. Crowd loved that. Marty and Mariposa were stunned and stared her down. Fenix then trapped Marty in a wacky rollup for the win. Marty attacked Fenix with his lunchbox afterwards, then pulled out a fork. Mariposa held Melissa and made her watch as Marty stabbed the fork into Fenix's forehead repeatedly. This went on for a while as Melissa cried and screamed and begged him to stop. They cut to a crowd shot, full of people looking on slack-jawed and appalled. Yeah. Welp, between the opener and that finish, if this wasn't my job I would never watch this show again.