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Figure Four Weekly 9/4/2017: Womens wrestling in WWE takes another step forward with Mae Young Classic

Women's Wrestling In WWE Takes Another Step Forward With Mae Young Classic

 

by Joseph Currier (@josephcurrier)

With everything but the final now having aired, the Mae Young Classic has again challenged whether women's wrestling occupies enough of the current WWE landscape.

The matches went about as well as could be expected. There were few bad ones, a handful of standouts, and a ton of pretty good matches. The 32-competitor field showcased female wrestlers of varying skill sets -- from one participant having their literal first professional match (Xia Li) to veterans finally getting their first chance in a WWE ring after lengthy careers.

Like with the Cruiserweight Classic, that diverse lineup of talent was one of the more fun aspects of the tournament. The initial round provided a quick first look at the participants as everyone tried hard to make the most of their limited time.

Some of those wrestlers were more ready than others, but there were highlight performances from some who haven't even become regulars on NXT television yet. Bianca Belair in particular looked like a future star and Taynara Conti showed a ton of potential.

Kairi Sane made her WWE debut and was as good as advertised. Dakota Kai looks to be another potential star. And others like Toni Storm, Piper Niven, Candice LeRae, and Shayna Baszler made the most of their opportunity and would be worthwhile additions to the promotion at any level.

While doing media to promote the tournament, Triple H has said that the Mae Young Classic was originally intended to feature fewer wrestlers until they found out that there was more talent out there than expected. A reduced field may have produced tighter shows and had less filler, but not many competitors were unworthy of their spots.

We'll see how many Mae Young Classic participants end up with a WWE contract after Sane and Baszler face off at the live final on September 12th, but there are bound to be deserving wrestlers who don't end up getting signed. That number is dwarfed by the amount of good workers who didn't get a chance in the tournament, and plenty more will come along as women's wrestling continues to exit out of a marginalized period.

The women's divisions on Raw and SmackDown often seem thin, with WWE relying on some of the same matchups because of the brand split. But the relative lack of depth on the main roster is more due to a lack of spots than there being a limited amount of qualified workers.

An alternative would seem to be producing a women's wrestling show similar to 205 Live, but that isn't happening any time soon. In an interview with Muscle & Fitness Magazine, Triple H said that he feels there are enough opportunities for their women's wrestlers on Raw, SmackDown, and NXT.

"With the women, you have opportunities on Raw, you have opportunities on SmackDown, you have opportunities at NXT," Triple H said. "Hopefully, over time you'll have opportunities in the UK. You'll have opportunities in different localized markets. Those are the things, for me, that it begins to spread around."

WWE could always change their thinking if the Mae Young Classic were to be an overwhelming success, but it would be difficult to picture a weekly all-women's series from them being a positive. Fans have already been conditioned that Raw and SmackDown are what matters. 205 Live has failed for a number of reasons, but the audience not seeing it as something that is important has been one of the most obvious ones.

We'll eventually reach a point where the women's division only having a couple of storylines and segments on television each week is viewed as having been restrictive and limiting in the same way that the state of women's wrestling in WWE used to be. The number of women on the WWE roster will increase, and so will the airtime and the positioning that they receive. A potential Four Horsewomen of MMA vs. Four Horsewomen of WWE match was even set up during the Mae Young Classic, which would easily be the biggest women's match in company history from a publicity standpoint with Ronda Rousey involved.

WWE's increased focus on the women's division has been a good thing. Their revolution has done a lot for women's wrestling worldwide, but progress often comes at a pretty slow pace. The Mae Young Classic will hopefully be remembered as another step in the right direction. It only makes sense, whether it's from the perspective of wanting to increase business or just put on a good show, that the positioning of women in the company will continue to improve.

We'll see if women's wrestling in WWE ever reaches the point where it gets close to the same representation on TV as the men do each week, but approaching that mark should be a goal. There are too many good women's wrestlers for them not to continue to push the boundary of what they're capable of in the biggest pro wrestling company in the world.

 

Mexico Notes

 

by Dr. Lucha Steve Sims (@DrLuchaJr)

These pages the past few weeks have been almost solely focused on Triplemania. That has now come and gone, so it's time for a re-set to see where we are around the horn:

CMLL finished its Gran Prix last week and is preparing for the anniversary show. The Grab Prix match itself went nearly 55:00 and may well end up being CMLL's best-reviewed match of 2017. It may also have been their most enjoyable card of the year, and the one that would win a CMLL-only year-end poll in that category. The Gran Prix match itself went just a few minutes shy of an hour, and was a wing-dinger. Diamante Azul won the Gran Prix. A lot of people are disappointed in who the winner was (though this may well have even his best match ever) but I suspect it is just business. He has now won the Leyenda de Azul and, this year, the Gran Prix and the hair of Pierroth, and I can see this all being used to build him up for an eventual hair match with Rush, maybe as early as one of next year's major shows. That would lead to a Rush win and then, having built up Rush that much more, the time would be right to pull the plug on the biggest match CMLL can run with its current roster. Rush's hair vs. Atlantis's mask, maybe in 2 years or so. I don't mean this to be idle speculation, either; this is based on what CMLL has itself promoted in 2017 so far. As for this year's anniversary show, though, something is up, and I'm not sure what it is. Niebla Roja, in the main event, has vanished off the face of the Earth in terms of his work schedule. I don't know what's up, nobody seems to know, not any of the usual sources that I and others have. Hmm.

AAA is coming back to US TV, on Univision. They have nightly shows this week, and then we'll see what the schedule does from there. This is all sorts of tangential ramifications, from the booking of talent that would also appear on Lucha:Underground, to increased US eyeballs making small SW- US tours a much more reasonable economic venture should they decide to do that next year, to the extra strain it may put on the office. I hope this leads to a lot of extra money and relaxation, like that currently being evinced by Dr. Wagner Jr. In the pictures and videos I have seen since his unmasking, boy does he look like a happy, relaxed, content human being. He played his cards right and hit the jackpot. I now wonder how many other legends will reconsider their stance on going to their grave in a virtual poorhouse but with their "legend intact" and buried in their mask? Otherwise, AAA has some interesting decisions to make in the storyline, and I'm still not convinced their office staff is likely to make wise choices and execute them well.

The CRASH is revving up its activity, in terms of shows run, this month and next, though without basically any more of the high-priced non-Spanish-language speaking talent that was the focus of the first few months of 2017. Their gates are good and their attendances are great even without all that extra expense; there are enough high-value wrestlers on their roster as is – especially now with the ability to brown Rush and his father six nights each week if needed, for a cost. Rush wants to work this style and Paco is very motivated to keep him happy. Paco just wants Rush's contract and availability for the likely two hair matches in the next 24 months noted above, two possible million dollar gates (the Atlantis one obviously would be a maximum CMLL gate); between now and then, a happy Rush is better for Paco than an unhappy one. Win-win for the fans too.

 

Europe Notes

 

by Oliver Court (@AnotherOli)

This weekend sees PROGRESS run their biggest show of the year at Alexandra Palace, headlined by a match that has been built since May: Pete Dunne defending the PROGRESS Championship against Travis Banks. Banks won the Super Strong Style 16 in May and made the challenge, a move that I wasn't too happy about because Dunne hasn't defended the Championship since. Instead the pair have been playing a 'pick your poison' game where Banks gave Dunne underdog opponents looking for a big opportunity like Jack Sexsmith and Eddie Dennis, while Dunne gave Banks top-tier indie names like Keith Lee and Matt Riddle. I enjoyed all those matches, but nearly all of them featured interference of some kind. PROGRESS hasn't been shy about booking their top angle and top heel stable British Strong Style in a very 'WWE' way.

The semi-main event sees Dunne's stablemates Trent Seven and Tyler Bate take on Kid Lykos and Chris Brookes in a Ladder match for the tag titles, a risky stipulation considering the disaster that was the last Ladder match PROGRESS put on. It's likely that this is the last ride for BSS in PROGRESS as they drop their belts to the CCK trio before moving into NXT full time in the near future, so expect some ultra-dramatic stuff as BSS aim to leave all their final ideas in the ring. Rounding out the top of the card is a big test for Dahlia Black, as she challenges Toni Storm for the Women's Championship, while WALTER and Timothy Thatcher take on Matt Riddle for the Atlas Championship. I won't blow my head off about yet another triple threat when any combination of those guys in a singles would be infinitely better. To be honest, it's not a card I'm very interested in. The hot BSS/CCK matchup got killed in record time because they were facing off in so many promotions in such a short span of time, so neither the tag match or the main event are really inspiring me. The atmosphere of Alexandra Palace is going to be questionable too. Last year's big show in Brixton suffered due to the odd layout and AP is certainly not as exciting a venue as the Electric Ballroom.

Oh and quickly before I go: Brookes and Lykos vs CIMA and Eita for Fight Club Pro this month. What a match! You know CCK are going to be ultra-motivated as they take on one of their biggest influences in CIMA, and arguably the most exciting young DG wrestler in Eita.

 

Japan Notes

 

by Alan Counihan (@Alan4L)

With the launch of the Top 50 NOAH Wrestlers of all time project which I'll be participating in over the coming months, I wanted to take this opportunity in a quiet week of Japanese wrestling to reminisce about my fandom of Pro Wrestling NOAH – the promotion that made me a Japanese wrestling fan.

The launch of The Wrestling Channel in the UK & Ireland in 2003 came at the perfect time for me as I started to expand my horizons as a wrestling fan. With wall to wall coverage of US indies and Japanese promotions, there was a ton to choose from. When it came to Japan I dipped my toe into the water with NJPW. I knew Jushin Liger and knew that it's the company where guys like Dynamite Kid and The Great Muta were big. Well as anyone who followed mid-2000s New Japan knows, that was a messy product to follow for an ardent fan let alone a new one. I came away from it wondering whether this Japanese wrestling lark was really for me.

I half-heartedly decided to give NOAH a go and very soon I was hooked. Two matches in particular stand out (they were shown in the same episode) and both featured the legendary Yoshihiro Takayama. In the first Takayama took on KENTA in what was probably the greatest David vs Goliath match I had seen at that point in my life. It was the perfect showcase of Takayama's brute force, KENTA's scrappiness and the fighting spirit that is so synonymous with The Green Mat. The other match was the perfect follow-up. Taking on Takayama with the GHC Heavyweight Title on the line would be KENTA's mentor, Kenta Kobashi. This wasn't David vs Goliath, this was the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object and it was my first real exposure to the classic Japanese heavyweight title bout style. I'll never forget Kobashi's incredible moonsault which brought that match to a finish.

Over the years I would see many classics in NOAH rings. I maintain to this day that NOAH's Budokan Hall shows provided one of the best settings for great wrestling that I've ever seen. The great KENTA & Marufuji tag matches which redefined junior heavyweight wrestling, the return of Kobashi from cancer which left the building in tears, and the rise of Takeshi Morishima to become one of the hottest wrestlers in the world in 2006 and 2007.

Sadly Morishima is perhaps the indicative case of what went wrong with NOAH to cause it's downfall. They dropped the ball on him in a big way, waiting too long to make him champion. Their dojo was a disaster with more stories of torture than successful graduates. Years went by without any new blood being infused. When the tragedy of Mitsuharu Misawa's death happened in 2009, the golden era of The Green Mat was well and truly over.

From it's inception in 2000, NOAH cards provided a great volume of top tier bouts and they really hit their stride in 2002/2003. There are so many gems to revisit and I'm looking forward to doing so. After all, it's not every day we get reason to deep dive on Makoto Hashi matches!!!

 

TV Reviews

 

by Bryan's Friend Vince (@FO_VVerhei)

Retro NWA (8/8/87)

They opened with clips of the Morton-Blanchard brawl from last week.

Sean Royal vs. George South. David Crockett was mumbling so badly that he made himself laugh. Think about THAT. This was not a squash, at least not bell-to-bell. South got several minutes of offense before Royal took over. And then South made a comeback and got a two-count with a dropkick. Schiavonie was like, you wouldn't expect South to stick with Royal, but he's right there with him. Finally Royal ducked a bodypress and hit his kneedrop for the win. Just a good little wrestling match. Fans were so pleasantly surprised they all applauded.

Ric Flair came out for a promo. He said he had had a lot of fine women in his life, but the world title was his baby, and sleeping with that every night guaranteed him a million dollars a year. He admitted that Ron Garvin had always given his problems with his more-guts-than-brains style. By the end, though, he promised to retire Garvin, hop in a limo with two good-looking women, and taking a Lear jet somewhere and satisfying a 24-year-old blonde. So, every Flair promo ever.

Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson vs. Rocky King & Larry Stephens. Match went a while, which gave the announcers plenty of time to plug the WarGames rematch. Arn's choice of banana yellow trunks was interesting. Arn won with a spinebuster and gourdbuster, the latter of which looked like it killed poor Stephens. Tully cut a promo about a highway project in Atlanta that never got done, and said he would face either of the Rock & Roll Express for the TV title whenever they wanted. Arn said time on TBS cost $65,000 a minute, so he was going to use a minute to talk about how great the Horsemen were. He said he had been giving his all to the Horsemen for years, but now it was time to take the tag titles and prove he was as great as the other Horsemen. Good stuff here.

That one Flair video played again.

Rock & Roll Express vs. Ed Franks & Gary Phelps. I'm not sure if this was Ed Franks or Gary Phelps, but this guy looked exactly like you would expect an Ed Franks or Gary Phelps to look like. Skinny-fat guys should not wrestle bare-chested, and if they must wear tights, those tights should not be dingy gray with the ass crack hanging out. Little fashion advice there. They pinned him with the double dropkick. I'm not sure the other guy ever even tagged in. Morton cut a promo calling out any two of the Four Horsemen to come try and take the tag titles, and also said either one of them wanted a shot at Tully's TV title.

Ronnie Garvin came out for a promo. He said he wore jeans and cowboy boots on the street, and all he needed was trunks and boots to go to work in that ring. He talked about being a world champion with a pickup truck and a dog. He talked about watching Flair beat Rocky King, a personal friend of Garvin's, and then trying to break his leg, like he had done to Dusty Rhodes and had tried with Jimmy Garvin. Ronnie made the save, but he didn't attack Flair from behind, he made sure Flair saw him and knew he was coming. They showed the video. It was apparently the full match. Flair hoooked the figure-four a minute in, then grabbed the ropes as the ref counted three. He refused to let go after the match until Garvin hit the ring. Flair released the hold and kicked King out of the ring, and he and Garvin locked up and went at it, chopping the PISS out of each other on the floor. The unrepentant violence continued in the ring. JESUS CHRIST THIS FIGHT. Five-plus minutes of carnage, and finally Flair turned his back and retreated. Fans saw this as a win for Garvin and cheered like crazy. Then Flair returned with the other Horsemen. Ronnie fought off all four of them for a bit until he was overwhelmed, at which point all the top babyfaces showed up and the Horsemen fled. Ronnie was alive, and the babyfaces raised his arms in celebration. This was amazing. Just amazing.

JJ Dillon and Lex Luger came out for a promo. Dillon introduced a clip of Luger wrestling Dusty Rhodes. They started with the ref getting bumped. Dusty backdropped Lex out of the ring, then pulled him back in and hit a suplex, but there was no ref to count the pin. Then Dusty reversed a bodypress, and a second ref counted three to apparently end the match and award the belt to Dusty. All his friends came out to celebrate, but of course it was a Dusty finish, Dusty was DQ'd for throwing Luger over the top rope, and Lex left with the title. Dillon insisted this had been a deliberate throw by Dusty and the ref had made the right call. Then they showed more footage of Dusty attacking Lex in the locker room and attempting to murder him with a rear naked choke. All his friends were encouraging him to end this man's life. JJ, of all people, was the one to tell Dusty it was over and Lex had had enough. They said Dusty had been training with Johnny Weaver to learn the secrets of the sleeper, but this had not been a sleeper, this had been a CHOKE. Lex said Dusty was jealous, because Lex looked better, and had accomplished more in his first two years than Dusty had accomplished in his first 15. He got flustered, and this was not one of his best promos.

Jim Cornette came out for a promo, talking about Dragnet, and listing a bunch of FACTS about the Midnight Express and how great they were. He ran down the SuperPowers and the Rock & Roll Express, and said it was a fact that the world title was the most prestigious tag team championship out there, but it was also a fact that the Midnight Express would have those belts soon.

Midnight Express vs. Ricky Nelson & David Isley. A long squash that went through a break. Express won with the flapjack. Uneventful.

Tommy Angel vs. Mike Jackson. Crockett was sure to note Jackson was the "Alabammer" junior heavyweight champion. They also noted it was quiet out there now with these two in the ring. They did a match. No bullshit. I was sure the Road Warriors or somebody would run out and slaughter them both, but no, Tommy Angel and Mike Jackson had a random wrestling match on a Saturday afternoon. Clearly, there was no Raw this week. They did some stuff for four or five minutes, and then Jackson hit a reverse cross-body off the top for the win. STILL Alabammer junior heavyweight champion.

Dusty came out for a promo and said the one thing the Horsemen could not do better than him was wrestle. He promised to put Luger to sleep, the BIG sleep. You mean, death? He told Luger to ask Flair what it felt like to lose a title to Dusty. He said Luger had no money, but he (Dusty) spent $3,000 a week on groceries. He promised to put Lex's head between his legs, pat him on the hiney, and call for someone else. Uh, wut?.

Flair video again. OK. We get it. He's the champ.

Freebirds vs. Art Pritts & Dexter Wescott. No Terry Gordy for the Freebirds this week. The Freebirds were in control from start to finish, and in the middle of being in control, Michael Hayes made a comeback, standing tall in the middle as the geeks fed him one by one. They hit Wescott with a huge double backdrop and Hayes pinned Pritts with a side slam. Yes, just a side slam. Even in the 1980s that was a weak finish. I mean, Dino Bravo used it, but he probably had 50 pounds on Hayes.

Freebirds cut a promo after the break. They called out the Midnight Express in particular, but mostly talked about how great they were.

Eddie Gilbert vs. Alan Martin. Eddie was quite jacked here, and backdropped Martin so high that Martin over-rotated and came down on his ass. Gilbert wrestled clean for a while, but soon went full heel and was choking Martin and going for the eyes and stuff. He let everyone know that his finish was called the hot shot, and then he hit the hot shot and won. He put his jacket and sunglasses back on for his promo. He challenged Steve Williams for the UWF tag title, Brad Armstrong & Tim Horner for the UWF tag titles, and finally announced his stable, the First Family, which was himself, Dick Murdoch, Terry Taylor, and Rick Steiner. He was turning red he was for fired up. He called out Dusty and Doc for bullrope or bunkhouse matches and made his exit.

Midnights returned for a second promo. Cornette claimed to have 5,000 cards and letters from the Mulkeys' hometown demanding a Midnights-Mulkeys match. Stan and Bobby were way more interested in whatever was going on in the crowd than whatever Cornette was saying and almost missed their cue to leave.

Nikita Koloff & Barry Windham vs. John Savage & Thunderfoot #2. They did some stuff and Barry pinned 2 with the lariat.

Steve Williams vs. Mike Force. First Doc pressed him over his head for reps just to show his astonishing power. Then he used a series of holds and throws to show he knew how to use leverage too. He did THE BEST slingshot of all time. Great Khali would have gone flying for this slingshot. He finally hit a football tackle and the stampede for the win. A TREMENDOUS squash. Doc looked like the scariest man alive here. He cut a promo about how great it was to be there and get the support from the fans. He talked about wrestling athletes, not "cartoon image people," and vowed to defend the UWF belt against anyone and everyone. "All you people wanting to jump my back, I've got a dream for you!" And he walked away, and the camera followed him, waiting for him to finish his thought, but no, he was just done. I love Doctor Death.

Nikita and Barry returned for a promo. They said all the other teams in the promotion were upset to see them hooking up, and also called out the Horsemen for singles matches. Nikita added that Uncle Ivan, in the ring, had not seen the last of him.

Ivan Koloff & Barbarian vs. Max McGiver & Keith Patterson. Paul Jones, in his spandex bell bottoms and mariachi jacket and hat, threw some stomps at Patterson on the floor. This was the funniest visual of all time. My god, that's a spandex BODYSUIT he's wearing. Like a catsuit. I'm baffled. Keith Patterson is the worst wrestler of all time of the week. A horrendous rope-runner. Ivan held his knee out for Barbarian to drop Patterson across it. Barbarian pressed Patterson, and then did an A-plus job of protecting him on the way down. Eventually they won with an elevated Russian hammer. They cut a promo saying, well, I have no idea. Jones made a San Francisco joke about Schiavonie and Steve Williams, and they had a chain, and Ivan said Paul Jones' army was a great unit, and the show ended.

WWE Retro Raw 275 (9/5/98)

They showed still-shots of Steve Austin defeating Undertaker to retain his championship at SummerSlam. After all those weeks of CAHOOTS, Kane came out, Taker told him to leave, Austin won clean, and Taker presented Austin with his belt afterwards. Are you fucking kidding me.

This was a special Saturday night Raw. I presume the dogs were on show.

Vince McMahon came out for a promo. He was smiling with glee for some reason, even though Austin was still champ. He announced that on September 27, his brilliant plan would unfold. He guaranteed Austin would not be champion after that date. He called Taker a fool for refusing Kane's interference at the pay per view, and buried Austin for putting Taker over on Regis & Kathie Lee. Is this going anywhere? He called Kane "retarded," then referred to Taker and Kane as "putrid pussies." Taker and Kane came storming down the ramp and Vince McMahon moved faster than he ever has before or since to flee through the crowd. Taker and Kane followed him.

DOA vs. Ken Shamrock & Steve Blackman. Paul Ellering was out there in a shirt reading "THE WEB RULES Y2K" on the front and "THE NET RULES Y2K" on the back. Then he put on a jacket reading "Mr. Dot Com." This is the most dated gimmick of all time. They did some stuff for a minute or two, then Taker and Kane hit the ring and destroyed Blackman. They started with a chokeslam and then Taker grabbed a kneebar. Meanwhile, DOA was beating up Shamrock on the floor. Taker and Kane went after them and they fled.

We had a camera in the bathroom apparently filming two people fucking in a stall.

They showed clips from SummerSlam of Vince convincing Mankind to fight the New Age Outlaws by himself. He lost, the New Age Outlaws won the tag titles, and Kane appeared to hit Mankind in the head with a sledgehammer.

Val Venis vs. Vader. I, Vince Verhei, vow to validate my vocabulary by verbalizing "VAL VENIS VERSUS VADER" over and over. Dustin Runnels was carrying a sign through crowd reading "HE IS COMING BACK." They had a fun match that exactly zero people cared about. Vader was working him over when Bradshaw hit the ring and got in Vader's face. Then Taker and Kane came out again. Bradshaw fled. Vader and Val stood valiant, but took a violent beating as a result.

Rock and Mark Henry did a promo running down the New Age Outlaws and Triple H. It was the Rock. It was amazing.

Rock & Mark Henry vs. New Age Outlaws. The Outlaws did a promo running down the Nation. They weren't as good as Rocky, but they were very good. Nobody cuts good promos like this anymore. Nobody. Anywhere. This was a decent little TV tag match. They moved heaven and earth to protect Henry, and idiot-proofed his offense. Billy made his comeback and a four-way broke out. And then Chyna ran out and double-legged Mark Henry for the DQ. Three matches so far, not a finish to be seen. Outlaws were fighting like hell to hold Chyna back. Chyna made it clear this was because Henry had tried to kiss her last week, and Henry made it clear that was still his goal.

Tiger Ali Singh came out to pay Americans to do gross things. This week it was paying a woman $500 to French kiss Babu, who had been eating sardines for a week. They found a woman in a flimsy tight tank top and no bra. I've seen nude photos where the nipples and areolas weren't so obvious. "LET THE TONGUE KISSING COMMENCE!" Babu, during the making out, got a handful of titty. He threw the money on the ground, when Taker and Kane came out and killed the Indians.

Southern Justice vs. Headbangers. You ever seen Mosh and Phineas doing lucha? It's even worse than you'd think. This dreadful match went way too long at about five minutes. They hit Thrasher with 200 moves in a row. Phineas was one of the worst runners of ropes or corners in company history. He pinned Mosh with a reverse DDT. Officially the match went 4:43. Felt twice that long.

Taker and Kane were knocking on DOORS backstage. Kane tried to break the door down with a sledgehammer, but nobody smartened up the door, which went into business for itself and refused to break. Eventually they got in there to not find Vince.

D-Lo Brown vs. X-Pac. They showed X-Pac and the Headbangers and Droz shaving Jeff Jarrett's head at SummerSlam. D-Lo's clothesline sure were horrendous. X-Pac hit the bronco buster once, but when he tried it again D-Lo caught him with a foot to the groin. X-Pac came back and hit the X-Factor when Jarrett attacked for the DQ. Still no finishes on this show. Also, Jarrett was late and they had to hold up on the pin. Jarrett and X-Pac brawled through the crowd while Taker and Kane came out to kill D-Lo. Rock ran out and stood in their way and went after them. What a hero. D-Lo left while Taker and Kane killed Rocky.

Marc Mero vs. Edge. Edge came out through the crowd, which took a while, because this was a big arena. Edge did a crazy running plancha here. Then Gangrel ran out and attacked him. They brawled as Mero and Jacqueline left. Still no finishes on this show. Then Taker and Kane appeared to destroy Mero.

Jim Ross did a sitdown interview with Al Snow and Head. He talked about the voices in his head and how he didn't need their help to mow the lawn. I am not making this up. And in the same promo he said he had been a star in ECW and would be a star in WWF if given the chance. Swear to god. They had clips of him in Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He argued with Head for a while. IS THIS GOING ANYWHERE? They threatened more of this next week.

Oddities vs. Animal & Droz. Insane Clown Posse were out there with the Oddities, but their performance was edited off the Network. Hawk was out there being drunk and wanting to dance. ICP wouldn't dance, so he brawled with them, pressing Shaggy and dropping him on the floor. Meanwhile, there was a match in the ring. I guess it was a six-man? Hawk tagged in. ICP were fine now. Hawk tried to tag in the Oddities and a six-way broke out. Giant Silva pinned Hawk with a powerbomb. The very worst of pro wrestling on display here.

Taker and Kane beat up a production geek.

Too Much vs. Los Boricuas. A long squash for Too Much, if you can even imagine such a thing. Ross went on a rant about all the dirt on the Internet. Boricuas made a comeback and hit a double powerbomb, but Christopher hit a top-rope legdrop and put Taylor on top and WE GOT A FINISH. And it was for TOO MUCH.

Scorpio vs. Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett warned Scorpio not to piss him off. Nobody cared about the match. Jarrett hooked a chinlock and there were "BORING!" chants. Jarrett hit a superplex and X-Pac attacked for the DQ. A-yup. X-Pac was also late on his run-in, just to fuck with Jarrett. Taker and Kane came out and killed Scorpio. Vince appeared on the ramp, pleased, and cheering as the Brothers of Destruction hit a spike tombstone. Then they spotted him and chased him to the back AND THE SHOW ENDED. Holy shit. First hour was merely bad, but that second hour, good god what shit.

WCW Monday Nitro 155 (8/31/98)

nWo Hollywood came out for a promo. Of course they did. Bischoff again said his pen was the most powerful weapon in the world, and Eddie Guerrero would wrestle tonight while Warrior would not. Hogan announced his partners for WarGames. Out of everyone at his disposal -- Giant, Scott Hall, Scott Norton, Scott Steiner, Buff Bagwell, Curt Hennig -- he was picking Bret Hart and Stevie Ray. STEVIE. RAY. He said Warrior was a coward and had been running for eight years. He called Warrior to come out right now. Warrior obliged. I was certain this was going to be Renegade in disguise, but no, it was the real deal. The nWo had the ring surrounded. Hogan said they were all there to watch him crucify Warrior. Warrior told the Warriors to speak to him, the lights went out, the ring filled with smoke, and when things cleared up Warrior was gone.

They showed Goldberg doing an appearance with the St. Louis Cardinals and Mark McGwire. This was when McGwire was chasing the home run record and the biggest thing in sports.

Wrath vs. Jim Powers. Wrath sure had a great look, that's for sure. And, that was about it. He beat Powers up in a boring manner and won with the pumphandle powerslam.

Mean Gene and some of the Nitro Girls were in Ohio for the latest Nitro Party winner.

Norman Smiley vs. Scott Norton. Norton crushed him and had it won with a shoulderbreaker, but pulled Norman up. Then he hit a powerbomb and won. The lights started to flicker, then went out. "I can't see diddly" Larry complained. Warrior appeared in the rafters, I guess.

Mike Tenay did a pretaped interview trying to talk to Lodi and Saturn. Saturn had lost to Lodi and per the stips had to be Lodi's lackey until Fall Brawl. Saturn vowed to live up to his word and honor the stips. This was not very good.

Wolfpac came out for a promo. They said the same shit they always say, with Konnan throwing in some local references because they were in Miami. Some guys can rock a beard. Lex Luger is not one of those men. He promised Sting was on his way to the building and they were going to fight nWo Hollywood. Nash announced that they had drawn straws and he, Sting, and Lex would be in WarGames. He called out Team WCW, mentioning run-ins with Roddy Piper in the back, and telling a story about four wolves defeating a Warrior.

Tony Schiavonie interviewed JJ Dillon in the ring. He called Arn Anderson down to the ring for an "off-the-record conversation." You can't do that on live TV surrounded by thousands. That is very much on the record. Crowd was demanding Flair. He said he had found a very old tape, and he wanted Arn to watch it. It was a very, VERY old promo by Arn Anderson on the beach, talking about Gene and Ole Anderson running wild in the Mid-Atlantic area and driving everyone else out of the business. Now the youngest, best-looking Anderson of them all was on the scene. He ran down Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and Magnum TA. He was a lot more southern here than the Arn we know and love. JJ said this tape was at least 15 years old, and 15 years ago he had gone to bat for Arn to bring him in to Mid-Atlantic and then into the Horsemen. He claimed that as long as the Horsemen were around, WCW would be OK. Always good company men, those Horsemen. Out came Steve McMichael and Chris Benoit. Arn shook their hands. The three of them had a huddled conversation without the mic. Arn walked away and started to leave. Dillon ran him down and asked where he was going. Arn looked down at his crippled left arm and asked why JJ was doing this to him. JJ said Arn was afraid. Arn hung his head and walked away.

They replayed that horrendous Eddie Guerrero worked shoot promo from two weeks ago.

Brian Adams vs. Eddie Guerrero. Adams came out and the WARRIOR SYMBOL shown on the roof and Warrior was in the rafters. Eddie was pouting on his way down to the ring, then the bell rang and he lied down and waited to be pinned. At last, somebody is being forced to wrestle when they don't want to and was doing the rational thing, looking for a way out. He would defend himself when Adams threatened to hit him, but wouldn't fire back at all. Each guy demanded the other hit him. Eddie lied down and lied down and finally Adams put a foot on Eddie's chest and the ref counted three. THIS MADE SENSE! Eddie cut a promo saying he wouldn't let Bischoff sue him like he had sued other people. He was ranting when they cut his mic.

They showed the Cat dropping Disco Inferno on Thunder, then cutting a promo saying he was a world karate champion, and there was nothing anybody could do to stop him.

Earnest Miller vs. Riggs. Miller took over with his kicks and their timing was off and everything was awful. He hit one that was supposed to be the finish, but it looked so horrible everyone booed, so Riggs kicked out and Cat hit it again and won. He cut a promo about being a karate champion and how nobody could stop him.

Back at the Nitro party in Ohio, an anonymous football player revealed an nWo shirt, while another one said Wolfpac would win WarGames. There was a dork there in Sting paint. Gene asked what was up with him. "I'm the Stinger, baby," the kid said. "Sure you are," said Gene.

Konnan vs. Marty Jannetty. What the funk was up with Marty's music here? They had a very boring match. Marty beat him up forever. God bless Marty Jannetty, who was so much better than he's remembered for, but why the fuck am I watching him dominate a guy who was kind of a star, in his hometown, in 1998? OH MY GOD THIS SUCKS. Jesus Christ, this fucking thing went on forever. I know I said this was 1998, but I think it started in 97 and ended in 99. It went ON, and ON, and ON, and finally a totally exhausted Konnan hit an X-Factor and tequila sunrise for the win. This went NINE MINUTES AND SEVEN SECONDS. WHY? (-**1/2).

Raven and his crew came out. The feud was Raven vs. Saturn vs. Kanyon, who all hated each other for some reason. Now Kanyon and Raven are buddies and Saturn is forced to team with them. This is every bit as illogical and stupid as Taker and Kane on Raw, it's just not that big a deal because it's a bottom-of-the-card feud. Raven told Lodi to tell Saturn not to touch Raven and Kanyon. Lodi told Saturn not to touch Raven or Kanyon. Raven told Kanyon to break Saturn. Kanyon cut a promo making fun of Saturn's pride and integrity and daring him to hit him. Saturn wouldn't do it. Raven said he had to team with Lodi now. Saturn was sad.

Saturn & Lodi vs. High Voltage. Oh, FUCK YOU. We got Robbie Rage running wild. I am not making this up. Saturn got fed up and hit some suplexes and Lodi demanded to be tagged in, then he tagged out when Kaos tagged in. They worked Saturn over and it was barely any better than the Konnan match. Saturn made his own comeback and hit a DVD, and Lodi demanded to be tagged in. Saturn agreed, and Lodi pinned Rage. This FUCKING sucked. (-*).

Schiavonie brought DDP out for a promo. He said he had a great team in Piper and Warrior, and ran down Eric Bischoff and Hollywood Scum Hogan. He brought out Piper. Piper told a story of Bret being a mark for him for 20 years. He talked about Bret embarrasing his parents when Giant ran down to the ring. Giant and Page were brawling and Piper was oblivious and still talking. HE DIDN'T REALIZE THE GIANT WAS IN THE RING. Giant destroyed them both. Security came out to stop him. They handcuffed him as the crowd chanted for Goldberg. He called for Bischoff to bail him out.

Scott Steiner came out with his fucking burnout doctor. How long is this guy around? They actually flew this geek around the country for weeks and he provided ZERO entertainment value. They made jokes about a Jamaican doctor. Out came Buff Bagwell in a dreadlock wig. This is SO MUCH WORSE than Eric Bischoff's Tonight Show ripoff. Buff started sprinkling shit around the ring. Tens of thousands of people in this arena, all dead silent. There were cuckoo clock sound effects as Buff, I guess, hypnotized Scott. Scott was now healthy to wrestle, so he cut a promo on Rick. He listed a bunch of names of guys who were watching Rick back in Michigan. Rick appeared in the ring and the heels ran away. He vowed to kick Scott's ass on the 13th. Then the lights went out and Warrior was shown in the rafters again.

Juventud Guerrera vs. Evan Karagias. There was still white powder all over the ring after that Bagwell angle. Everyone turned their backs to the ring to watch whatever was ging on in the crowd. Heenan noted Evan's great physique and said he would be a major star someday. Well, he was half right. Now everyone was turning and looking the other way. Were there multiple fights in the crowd? Did this one fight go from Point A to Point B? I couldn't see what was going on, but it's easy to believe it was more interesting than this match. OK, I'm now convinced a woman was flashing the crowd. I believe they chanted "LET HER GO!" and then everyone stood and cheered again. Heenan could not ignore this, and also believed it was somebody coming through the crowd, and asked what everyone was pointing at. The guys kept doing stuff. Juvy hit a legdrop. Everyone booed. I guess they got her shirt back on and took her away. With no boobs to distract them, Crowd determined the match was boring and shared that opinion. Then they all randomly cheered again. I'm going to assume there were copycat flashers. Crowd was now chanting "TAKE IT OFF!" They traded ranas as this pointless match just refused to end. Heenan was outraged about how these geeks were refusing to go for pins. Juvy eventually won with a Michinoku driver. Nobody will remember this match. Juvy then threw one of the more pissed-off victory celebrations you'll ever see.

Back at the Nitro Party, Gene interviewed the high school PE coach.

Disco Inferno vs. Chris Jericho. All the long matches on this show and these guys got three minutes. Disco hit the stunner, but Jericho got a foot on the ropes. Jericho won with the Boston crab shortly thereafter.

Nash came out to join the announcers for Goldberg's match.

Goldberg vs. Al Green. Nash noted this was his old tag team partner facing the world champion here. Crowd had been asleep all night, but they were big into Goldberg here. It took him a while to hit the spear, but eventually he did, and this place EXPLODED. My god. It's impossible not to think about this with Nash on commentary: they fucking beat this guy. Unthinkable.

Hulk Hogan & Bret Hart vs. Lex Luger & Sting. Bret tagged out to avoid Sting, which pissed Hogan off. Hogan looked so ridiculous wrestling in that stupid stocking cap. Thank god Sting tore it off and whipped him with it. Eventually they got the heat on Lex. They did a good job building up to Sting's hot tag, and everyone popped when he tagged in. Sting never messed around with his comebacks, man. Four or five punches, and it was time for the Stinger splashes. Disciple pulled Hogan out of the way and Hogan started whipping Sting with his weight belt. Bret yanked the belt out of Hogan's hands, threw it down, and walked away. Hogan followed, and they bickered in the aisleway, and got counted out. Yes. This was the finish of the main event. Hogan and Hart returned to the ring and started shoving each other. Smoke started to fill the ring, then stopped. Other nWo-ites showed up to make peace. Then it started again, and the lights went out. Then Warrior was in the ring beating his chest, and everyone in the ring was down, except Hogan, who was kneeling in the corner. Hogan looked around in very cartoony terror, spotted Warrior, and ran for his life. What a horrendous show.

WWE NXT (8/30/17)

Show opened with cameras scurrying backstage. They found Sanity and several security guards laid out in the parking lot as a trio of mysterious figures walked away. William Regal arrived and was outraged. Percy said it must have been "Cole and those guys.".

Drew McIntyre came out for a promo. He got a lukewarm "YOU DESERVE IT" chant. He said this title was the payoff for 17 years of work, but now he knew he had a target on his back. He called out Bobby Fish, Kyle O'Reilly, and Adam Cole, along with the rest of the locker room, saying this was his world now. He laid the belt down and dared anyone to come challenge him. Roderick Strong came out. He agreed that Drew was the target now. He didn't care about who did what at TakeOver, all he cared about was the belt and his family. He promised to beat Bobby Roode tonight, then step up and fight Drew like a man. Fans were not into this and were calling for Cole. Drew said he wanted somebody to fight him, but he hoped Roddy was ready to get knocked out like a man. Nothing wrong with this, but it's nothing I'll remember in a year or anything.

Kayla Braxton interviewed Bobby Roode from last week. He said he had unfinished business with Roderick Strong, then he was getting a rematch with McIntyre, and he was going to win back the NXT title, then make SmackDown glorious.

They announced that Asuka had broken her collarbone at TakeOver, and would be at Full Sail to give an update on her future next week.

Peyton Royce vs. Ruby Riot. Match was OK but this room was absolutely devoid of energy. Like, they had to dim the crowd lights, perhaps to not show people napping. Peyton hit a roundhouse kick to the head as Billy was on the top rope. That seems physically impossible unless you're Plastic Man. Crowd finally woke up and there were dueling chants. Peyton tried the roundhouse kick again but Ruby caught the leg and hit a powerbomb. She hit a tope and wiped out Peyton and Billie. Billie hit a boot to the face and Ruby bumped HARD on the floor. Everyone thought she was dead and a countout there would have been a great finish. Instead Peyton dragged Ruby inside and hit a beautiful fisherwoman's suplex for the pin. Well this was a win when all was said and done.

Christy St. Cloud interviewed Regal about the parking lot attacks. Kassius Ohno interrupted, wearing a t-shirt that showed Misawa elbowing Stan Hansen. He wanted a match with Hideo Itami, and Regal granted him the match for next week. Ohno wanted it no-DQ too, and Regal agreed. And that was it, we never got Regal's answer about Cole and reDRagon.

You know how WWE does these promos and then ends with very long awkward pauses? They did a shot of Roderick Strong that eliminated the promo and went straight to the awkward pause. He just stood there with a goofy smile nodding into space as Mauro read some copy. This was the goofiest thing ever.

Heavy Machinery video package. Stupendous.

They aired a PSA about Hurricane Harvey, asking for donations from the public. That was nice.

Heavy Machinery vs. Damian O'Wheel & Edwin Negron. The jobbers here were actually pretty thick dudes themselves, but were totally dwarfed by the monsters. Machinery squashed them in every sense of the word, crushing both dudes with the compactor for the win. This was excellent. An EXCELLENT squash.

William Regal and Lars Sullivan watched Sullivan laying out No Way Jose last week. Regal booked him in a 3-on-1 handicap match next week. Sullivan seethed and left.

Bobby Roode vs. Roderick Strong. Crowd chanted "THANK YOU BOBBY!" He was doing his "Glorious!" pose and Roddy shoved him down and everyone booed. THIS MATCH WAS AWESOME. Roddy ran wild early and punctuated every flurry with a big backbreaker. Finally Rood trapped him outside and shoved him into the post and the stairs, then hit a spinebuster on the floor for the heat. Roddy finally made his comeback, including more backbreakers. He also hit a double-underhook powerbomb, transitioned into a Boston crab. Roode cut him off with another massive spinebuster. He tried his DDT, but Roddy turned it into an Angle slam and made another comeback. He hit a superplex for a nearfall. They had a great strike exchange and teased a ref bump. Roode hit his DDT, but Roddy got a foot on the rope. Roode started badmouthing Roddy's family, which just fired Roddy up and he made his hottest comeback yet. Finally he blew Roode a kiss and hit a suplex into a backbreaker for the win. Tremendous match, easily (****) or more, and probably would have been a lot more in a better environment than Full Sail. Drew came out on stage and had a staredown with Roddy, but then the got jumped from behind by Cole, Fish, and O'Reilly. They hit a DDT on the stage and ran away. Regal, enraged, grabbed some security guys and followed them outside, but the heels just declared this was their NXT, and they were doing Regal a favor. This looked like a tease to get Regal back in the ring, actually, though I'm sure that's not the idea. Anyway, very good episode this week.

Lucha Underground Season 3: Havoc Running Wild

Dario met with Matanza and confessed he had been wrong. He knew Matanza had been trying to protect him, and without Matanza by his side, he had been hurt and humiliated by Rey Mysterio Jr. Now he must pay. Matanza had to be patient for two more weeks, because in two weeks he was getting Rey in the main event. For the family, Matanza must destroy him. Matanza was fine with this.

Son of Madness vs. Mascarita Sagrada. Sagrada came out with his own biker vest. What in the hell was the point of this? Madness squashed him and won with a brainbuster. Son of Havoc then appeared and attacked him. Dario ordered security to separate them. Paul London carried Sagrada away. Dario booked Havoc vs. Madness for a medallion in a Boyle Heights biker brawl, whatever the fuck that is.

Marty the Moth vs. Argenis. They had a fun brawl, often on the floor, and Argenis did a diving rana out of the bleachers. Marty tore the whole face off of Argenis' mask. I mean, it was no longer a mask. It was a hat. He got thrown into the post and bled. Marty kept up the beating as Melissa begged for mercy. There was blood EVERYWHERE. I mean, Marty looked like he was bleeding too, but he wasn't. Crowd was actually getting uncomfortable with his. Marty won with a wacky facebuster thing, then tore the mask all the way off. He cut a promo asking Melissa if she liked that, then threw the mask at her. He said he wanted Fenix's mask, and he was going to get it at Ultima Lucha Tres. Fenix appeared and dropped Marty and Mariposa with big kicks. Melissa spoke on Fenix's behalf, but then Fenix said "MY MASK VERSUS YOU HAIR! SEE YOU AT ULTIMA LUCHA!" Well there you go. Marty is going to be even more gross bald.

Joey Ryan vs. Sexy Star. So I don't need to feel bad anymore about pointing out what a dirt terrible pro wrestler Sexy Star is, do I? Taya came out with a "GO SEXY STAR!" sign, playing cheerleader. Joey was confused. Striker outright said Ryan was "killing the business one match at a time." Sexy started throwing him around by the chest hair. She attacked Taya on the floor. Then Joey pinned her with a superkick. Yeah. He was about to put a lollipop in her mouth and she was acting like there was nothing she could do about it when Cortez Castro attacked him with a stick. Crowd was quiet, and I'm certain that many of them had no idea who he was.

Castro stormed into Dario's office. Dario spilled the beans that Castro was a cop. They started talking about Mr. Cisco and murder and arrests and I forget what all was going on. Dario grabbed his bull statue. He booked Castro vs. Joey in a 5-0 street fight next week. Castro was reluctant, but Dario said this was Castro's chance to prove who the toughest cop was. He put a medallion on the line too and Castro accepted.

Son of Madness vs. Son of Havoc. A biker brawl is a match with a motorcycle at ringside. Crowd was inexplicably into this and chanting "BIKER BRAWL!" Havoc was on the floor and Madness did a slingshot footstomp. Um, that's insane. They kept brawling with weapons outside. They kept brawling amongs the fans. Havoc hit a footstomp of his own, with Madness standing but bent over. Their feet were dirty, so Havoc left footprints on his back. Then Madness charged and Havoc backdropped him right into the wall, and Madness hit the wall and dropped straight down onto his head. JESUS CHRIST. DON'T KILL YOURSELF. Ten minutes in they hit the ring and started, you know, wrestling. Madness got suplexed out of the ring, but then pitched forward and splatted onto his head. Havoc made an incredible comeback in the ring. This made all the terrifying stuff all the more stupid. They don't need to take the risks to have a good match. They took turns hitting each other in the corners, and since they're dressed exactly the same it was hard to keep track of who was winning. Madness hit his brainbuster, but Havoc kicked out. Announcers talked about "marks" going on the Internet and talking shit about each other. They brought a garbage can into the ring and Madness hit a DVD onto it for a nearfall. Madness tried to use a hammer, but Havoc avoided it. Madness charged, but Havoc broke a bottle over his head and hit a shooting star press for the win. Havoc is so good. SO good. And that was it. Good main event but otherwise total filler.