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Figure Four Weekly 10/16/2017: Looking at Neville's potential post-WWE life

Looking at Neville's potential post-WWE life

 

by Joseph Currier (@josephcurrier)

While Neville's situation with WWE remains unresolved a week after news broke that he wanted out of the company, his potential entrance into the global pro wrestling landscape would provide the most interesting test case yet of how successful someone could be outside of WWE in this era.

Neville being unhappy isn't an isolated incident. It was only a few months ago that Austin Aries, another member of the cruiserweight division, was released after not being satisfied with his place in WWE. And Cody Rhodes has written the blueprint on how to handle life in pro wrestling in his time since leaving the company.

What level of success Aries will have remains to be seen, but he tweeted that he'll be making more money in his first six weeks back on the indies than he did in his last four months working for WWE. Similarly, Cody has said that his time away from the promotion has been more financially lucrative for him.

Having a top spot in WWE will probably always be the safest bet to make money in the industry, but it's easy to see why Aries and possibly Neville would have been unhappy with being in the cruiserweight division. Their match didn't even make the DVD for this year's WrestleMania. And while Neville was responsible for most of the good that the division produced, cruiserweights usually only get one match on house shows and pay-per-views. There's no place to go but down. Once you're out of the title picture, you're just in random 205 Live feuds with no real direction.

If Neville does end up getting his release, whether he finds success will be far more representative of how others could fare than how well Cody has done. Cody was a rare case. He's from one of the most iconic families in the history of the business, he understood how to best use social media to market himself, and he found the right friends in the Bullet Club who helped him after the immediate buzz of him being on the indies was gone. It wouldn't be reasonable to expect anyone else to take the exact same path that Cody did.

But if others are to replicate Cody's success, they'll need to have the same approach that he did. Wrestlers all too often lack the motivation to prove themselves in the ring and put in the work on the business end to turn post-WWE life into a positive. Those who have that motivation have not only thrived away from WWE, but they've been welcomed back in better positions when returning. Drew McIntyre is the most obvious example of that, and WWE frequently cites the time Jinder Mahal spent on the indies and the dedication he's shown as reasons why he's in his current position.

Where Neville has the upper hand on almost everyone else is that he's one of the most special wrestlers in the world. He's such an incredible in-ring talent and has developed into a well-rounded performer. Any promotion would be lucky to have him. He would succeed at the top in WWE, NJPW, ROH, or anywhere that gives him the chance.

Neville would also be entering a wrestling scene that's more favorable to those not in WWE than it's been in over a decade. Just in the United Kingdom alone, Neville would have so many promotions wanting to book him. There may be limited spots in the biggest non-WWE companies, but it's hard to imagine that he wouldn't be able to find a place to call home. NJPW would be smart to bring him in with a massive heavyweight push like they did with AJ Styles. It would be a waste to make him a member of the junior heavyweight division -- where things are better than WWE's cruiserweight division but far from perfect.

Wrestling in 2017 is always evolving. Cody, Aries, and Neville may end up being isolated incidents -- but maybe this will become something of a trend. While top guys will always want to stay in WWE, there's a middle class that may be better served by looking for better opportunities. We'll see how many of those opportunities actually exist, but it's a great sign for pro wrestling that they seem to be growing.

 

Mexico Notes

 

by Dr. Lucha Steve Sims (@DrLuchaJr)

And a good time was had by all.

CMLL's annual Leyenda de Plata tournament (well, the segment to select the two finalists) took place this past Friday night, October 13th, 2017, at La Arena Mexico in Mexico City. There were a few scary moments (well, sages in the match) but otherwise it was glorious fun. As a spectacle it was not as good a match as last year's, but the finish and certain of the segment pairings were much better than last year's, and it's really a candidate for CMLL Match of the Year.

Sixteen qualified rudos and tecnicos joined the battle, and before it was done almost 40 minutes later, we'd seen matchup like Caristico vs. Mistico, Mistico vs. Dragon Lee, Dragon Lee vs. Volador junior, Sanson versus everyone, Sobrano junior versus everyone, and more.

There were occasions, especially in the early going, when there were notable miscommunications. Soberano junior in particular just lost his entire train of thought when in there with Caristico and whatever Mephisto and Volador junior were planning a little later was likely one thing in one of their minds and something different in the other's.

The crowd reactions were most interesting to hear. Before finishing that thought, a necessary aside. Since the earthquake, virtually all public sporting and entertainment events in Mexico, including soccer, have had markedly poor attendances. CMLL has, too. It's nobody's fault; the citizenry in the DF just does not feel comfortable yet (and many have now incurred repair and other bills that have to take priority) and all entertainment venues are suffering. Attendance at this show was well up from the prior Friday but still not near what they had expected form one of their true red-meat matches on the annual calendar.

Back to the crowd. They had their favorites and, for a few, their hated ones. Then there were Titan and Guerrero Maya junior who, when they were in the ring, couldn't even wake up the crickets. It was obvious in its complete absence the positive tecnico crowd reaction these two should be garnering by now. Neither Puma nor Tiger got very much of a bump either, but the Titan/Maya ones seemed starker in comparison.

The eliminations mostly seemed to be a current ranking of the hierarchy in the company as to what the office would think of its wrestlers. Sanson was the last rudo out and I highly suspect the office really doesn't think of him as their strongest rudo of these in the match, but boy is it clear that the office thinks this guy is the bomb. (And here I am, I still like Cuatrero better overall.) Additionally, Dragon Lee got eliminated a little earlier than suspected, which might mean that the office suspects he may have a few international and inter-promotional dates and tours over the next few months – for example, I would be flabbergasted if New Japan hasn't inquired about bringing him into their dojo for a stretch, and he would be a good fit for PWG as they seek out some fresh talent next year.

The finish was much better than last year. After a lot of Caristico vs. Mistico feud-teasing, there were five wrestlers left for the final 7 minutes. I thought the five-way-dance went on a bit long, but it was great in spots. Eventually, Sanson repeated La Mascara's feat form last year's journey of pinning two men at once (rolling reverse cradle and German Suplex), though not near as smoothly as the year before. Then Sanson went out and we were left with what was by wide acclamation, the best possible last two men standing – Caristico versus Volador junior. The feud that was set up and then abandoned at the tail end of the last boom period in 2010. It should draw a nice crowd, best since the 84th Anniversary Show, and everyone's eager to see if this match will be a one-off - or the beginning of a major feud.

The Friday Day of the Dead show for CMLL will be November 3rd. It's shaping up exactly as expected – Sam Adonis vs. Negro Casas for the hairs with the loser dragged to hell (CMLL's in-house promos sure indicate they are going in that direction). Oh boy!

 

Europe Notes

 

by Oliver Court (@AnotherOli)

After last week's German excursion, I'm firmly back on British soil, a country which has apparently been visited by a demonic presence because the sky has been eerily orange all day due to our friends in Ireland getting blown into the Arctic Ocean.

Because of all this bizarre weather (that's what I'm blaming it on) I've only watched one show this week, which was PROGRESS' Revalations of Divine Love, an all-female show at The Dome, which has played host to their B-show Freedoms Road for the last few months. ENDVR never felt important and Freedoms Road got in its own way with its 'reality show' concept, but I'm much more into the concept of special one-off shows at the Dome, such as this one night tournament to crown a #1 contender to the Women's Championship, if this is the direction PROGRESS are proceeding in. The 8-woman tournament had an excellent lineup featuring a lot of young talent that has never had a major platform to perform on. Jinny anchored the tournament, but it was really about seeing a wide variety of women from around the country prove that they deserved this spotlight: Sierra Loxton from Dragon Pro, Millie McKensie from Fight Club Pro, Charlie Morgan from the Knights' WAW, Zoe Lucas from RevPro by way of Stardom, PROGRESS' own Candyfloss and Chakara, and the eventual winner Charli Evans who came over from Australia with Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher. That wide pool of talent, many of whom are at most only a couple of years into their career, proves the growth of women's wrestling in Britain, and giving them shows where they can wrestle each other is key to their development. Nobody ever improved by wrestling the same few people locally.

wXw's own all-female tournament at the World Tag Team League weekend, Femmes Fatales, was also an excellent example of the European women's scene's depth, and introduced me to two very enjoyable wrestlers. Killer Kelly, from Portugal, is staying with wXw right now and off of the back of her debut in Femmes Fatales now has a place in wXw's ongoing Women's Championship tournament, replacing the injured Pauline. The star of Femmes Fatales though was Wesna, a veteran in Europe but a new face to me. She looked like Yer Ma back from the pub, taking no shit from Toni Storm and having a wild brawl that ended up one of the best matches of the stacked WTTL weekend. I can categorically say we need to see Wesna in the UK soon!

 

TV Reviews

 

by Bryan's Friend Vince (@FO_VVerhei)

Retro NWA (8/29/87)

They showed clips of Tully Blanchard wrestling Nikita Koloff, then Tony Schiavonie promised we would see the whole match later.

Lex Luger vs. Cougar Jay. Match was all Lex flexing, then using hammerlocks and armbars. Cougar hit a couple of punches just so Lex could reverse him and hit a powerslam, then the torture rack for the win. Schiavonie then interviewed Luger and JJ Dillon concerning Dusty Rhodes' use of the Weaverlock. Of course, they insisted the Weaverlock was a blatant chokehold. Lex noted he did not care for Dusty personally, and he detested him professionally. That was a great line. He said he had grown up with the finer things in life, while Dusty grew up around country music and beer. He told the director not to wind him up, and finished a rant about how he would remain US champ, chokehold or no chokehold. Damn, Lex was on fire here.

Jimmy Garvin vs. John Savage. I don't know who Savage was, but he had much better gear and physique than most of the jobbers on this show. He also had a weird haircut where it looked like he shaved his sideburns too high. I was starting to like him. Then I saw his offense. It may have been a kneelift. It may have been an elbow. I'm honestly not sure. Regardless, it sucked. Almost immediately Garvin cut him off and hit the brainbuster for the win. He cut a promo talking about how great the fans were, how great country music was, and how great Aretha Franklin was. He insisted Dusty Rhodes would never use a chokehold, and the NWA wouldn't let him get away with it. He said Lex was just making excuses like Ric Flair, and speaking of Ric Flair, my brother Ronnie's got his number. He said Ronnie had been training, running six miles a day, and then when he was done, he ran six miles more. Fans cheered this. He promised Ronnie would be world champion. Can he just be the universal babyface manager and cut promos for everyone? This was great, and he didn't mention anything about himself or what he was doing.

Tully Blanchard vs. Nikita Koloff for the TV title. Joined in progress with Nikita holding him down in a hammerlock. They played tag outside the ring, then Nikita took him down with a bearhug and tried to pin him with that a few times. Then Nikita missed a sickle and tumbled over the ropes to the floor for the heat. They proceeded to do about nothing for a few minutes, but my god was the heat, well, hot. Nikita popped out of the corner with a sickle and made a cover, but Dillon had the ref for several seconds, which gave Tully a chance to recover and kick out at two. They went to break, and when they came back Nikita was fighting out of a chinlock, but then he got pushed through the ropes and hit the floor again. They were doing headlocks and headscissor counters like the match was just starting, then Nikita hit the most dramatic backslide of 1987 for a nearfall. Tully started chopping Nikita and sending clouds of sweat flying, but Nikita no-sold them all. Then he no-sold a sickle, and at this point they went to break. Well that seems like bad timing. Tully missed a kneedrop and Nikita hooked a figure-four, but Dillon reached in to rake Nikita's eyes to break up the hold. Announcers mentioned this was a 25-minute time limit match. Tully kept trying to crawl away, and Nikita pulled him back in. Finally JJ grabbed Tully's hands, and Nikita dragged them both into the ring and rammed their heads together. Ref got bumped, and Arn Anderson passed a gimmick to Tully. He threw the ref in as Tully hit a weapon shot and made a cover, but Barry Windham hit the ring to stop the count. Tully and Barry started brawling right in front of the ref. Meanwhile, Nikita hit JJ with the sickle, picked up the weapon, clonked Tully with it, and made the cover, and the ref counted three to crown a new TV champion. The pop for the title change was so ridiculous I can only assume the earth's orbit was permanently effected. The babyface locker room emptied to celebrate with Nikita, everyone from Ronnie Garvin to Lazer-Tron and Kendall Windham. Nikita cut a promo about how the Horsemen had lost one belt, and soon Dusty and Ronnie would take the others. That was fucking awesome. That ended a title reign that had started last November, 260-plus days.

They cut right to Dusty Rhodes cutting a promo congratulating Nikita on his win, then putting over but also calling out Lex Luger. He said he could do whatever he wanted, and screamed he would be the next US champion.

Italian Stallion & Kendall Windham vs. Mod Squad. Oh lord. Italian Stallion is the best guy in this match. He ran wild and tried an O'Connor roll and fucking Mod Squad guy couldn't even take it. You just, roll to your back, dude. Apparently this one was Spike. Babyfaces ran wild for a bit, then Stallion ended up on the floor and they jumped him for the heat. At this point Schiavonie let us know that five minutes were gone, and five minutes were left. Well, might as well go find something else to do. I must note that this little studio crowd was losing their shit watching MOD SQUAD VERSUS ITALIAN STALLION AND KENDALL WINDHAM. Chinlocks ensued. They went to break during a chinlock, and came back during a chinlock. Stallion hit a suplex and Kendall made a 20-second comeback before the time limit expired. Kendall Windham hitting a shoulder tackle is like watching a a guy get hit with an actual spear. Like the weapon. The teams kept brawling and Mod Squad hit a top rope elbow and left Stallion laying. Well why couldn't they have just pinned him like five minutes ago then?.

Schiavonie plugged the Bash 87 War Games VHS tape in that glorious oversized clamshell box. So awesome. He plugged Starrcade 87, then brought in the Mod Squad for a promo. They promised that they would hurt anyone they wrestled, then demanded a title match against the Rock & Roll Express. Wait, you couldn't beat KENDALL WINDHAM AND ITALIAN STALLION and you're challenging the world champs? What the hell?.

Jimmy Valiant vs. Tim Hardy. There was a little old lady in the front row who was NOT impressed with Boogie Woogie Man. Tim had purple trunks with a thick white wasteband that looked exactly like underwear. Also, no kneepads. This was so disturbing. Jimmy beat him up forever. A guy wearing sunglasses in the front row was very impressed. Jimmy won with the elbow.

Ric Flair and the Horsemen cut a promo from an arena somewhere. Flair said they made enough money that year to live off the interest until 2030. Well, that plan didn't quite work out. He talked about how great they were for a while.

Barbarian vs. Rocky King. Tony read a letter from fans at a gas station who said they all quit working when wrestling was on. Well that gas station sucks. And I can easily imagine this happening at some middle-of-nowhere gas station from hell in the 1980s Deep South. Ball Bearing press slammed this man with ease. Beating went on for a while. Paul Jones got in some shots on the floor. Rocky made a comeback and Barbarian no-sold it. Dude, how long is this going? Rocky made another comeback but Barbarian hit the powerslam and finally the diving headbutt for the win.

That one Ric Flair video aired.

Bob Caudle interviewed Ron Garvin. He cut an ultra serious promo about how Ric Flair was in trouble and he knew he had Flair's number. He lost his train of thought a few times, then warned the girls to ride Space Mountain soon, because he was going to close it down. They cut him off midsentence. This sucked. Should have just let Jimmy talk for him.

Denny Brown vs. Mike Jackson. It took about 15 seconds for Mike Jackson to be the best wrestler on this show by leaps and bounds. Denny cut him off and slowed things down for a while. He had Mike in a bad way for a long time but couldn't put him away, not even with a top rope kneedrop. Then Jackson hit a back suplex with a bridge, and Denny got his shoulder up at three, but Mike didn't. Yes, after all that, Jackson pinned himself. A good match, of course.

Sean Royal vs. Larry Stephens. Royal worked a half nelson, which forced the camera to zoom in on Stephens' pale, hairy fat rolls. Royal hit a snap suplex and top-rope kneedrop for the win.

Royal cut a promo after the break. Oh no. He admitted that Chris Champion had been in a car accident, in an antique 1987 automobile, and there had been a fatal accident, and Chris Champion had been hurt. But in four weeks, he would return. Not the dead guy, though, he won't be around. Did they have to bring that up? Then Dillon walked in and said it had been very underhanded to steal a weapon from the longest-reigning TV champion of all time. He promised this adverse situation would bring the Horsemen together, then showed a video of the Rock & Roll Express winning a squash with the double dropkick. They were immediately attacked by Tully and Arn, who laid out Ricky with an assisted gourdbuster before Robert chased them away with a chair. Dillon said the Rock & Rolls were put on notice, and soon the Horsemen would all have belts.

Ragin' Bull vs. Ricky Nelson. Nelson was lean, but he was skinny, and Bull had no interest in selling for him or putting him over in any way. So he didn't. Eventually he won with the flying burrito. Paul Jones then cut a promo saying his Army would soon be complete. He attempted to name the members of his Army and struggled to remember all three of them. He said he had a new surprise member, and he hadn't seen him, but he was going to come in and clean house. Wait, you signed someone to your army SIGHT UNSEEN? This was a very appropriate ending to an up-and-down show.

WWE Retro Raw 281 (10/12/98)

Earlier Tonight, a car horn frantically honked outside the building, until the gate opened and Vince McMahon drove his convertible Corvette with the "WWF 1" license plate into the building. Sarge and the Stooges were there to help him into his motorized wheelchair, like a Bond villain. They said Vince had driven himself rather than taken a limo in an act of defiance. Also, Vince wanted them to make sure the IDIOT operating the garage door left it open to give Steve Austin easy access into the building.

New Age Outlaws vs. LOD 2000. Outlaws cut a promo basically saying, we were teasing a breakup, but we changed our minds. LOD here was Animal & Droz with no explanation. Hawk, in facepaint but street clothes, came out with them and joined the commentary desk. He said he was sober right now but trying to kick a painkiller habit. Yes. They just made his addiction part of the show. They plugged all three dudes of LOD in a six-man against DOA & Paul Ellering on pay per view. That sounds awful. And like that those three guys ran out and attacked Hawk. Droz and Animal joined in. Headbangers appeared and broke a boom box over Road Dogg's head. The bell rang. They get a title match on the PPV. Road Dogg was bleeding everywhere and it barely made it on camera. So far this show is complete shit and it's not even ten minutes old. Been a while since I got this disgusted with a show so quickly.

Announcers said Triple H had been stripped of the Intercontinental title. They did not say why, other than Vince was mad. Anyway, there would be a tournament for the belt tonight.

Vince and the Stooges were shown watching a monitor backstage. They showed Kane arriving in his tracksuit and mask. I laugh every time I see that.

Steve Blackman vs. Ken Shamrock in an IC title tournament match. They said Blackman had a bad leg. Shamrock was attacking it. Crowd did not care one bit about the match. Blackman made a brief comeback, but Shamrock hooked a kneebar and Blackman tapped out. A total nothing of a match. Blue Blazer hit the ring, attacked both men, and left. Shamrock got mad and put Blackman in the ankle lock. It would be difficult for my contempt for this show to be any greater right now.

Undertaker arrived at the building, no bags, no jacket, just t-shirt, sweatpants, and gloves, walking down the ramp and headed to work. This is so weird.

They showed Terri about to give Val Venis a handjob on the arena steps, then we got a Goldust highlight video. They showed him destroying Razor Ramon and Roddy Piper, like he had completely dominated and destroyed both men and never ben in trouble for an instant.

Val Venis vs. Marc Mero in an IC title tournament match. Announcers were talking about college football and mentioned Ron Dayne. Wait, that was two decades ago? God I'm old. Match went like two minutes. Jacqueline took the ref, Terri distracted Mero, and Val hit a fisherman's suplex and won. This tournament sucks. Jacqueline tackled Terri on the floor and geeks ran out to separate them. I can't begin to guess how much tape Jacqueline must have used to make sure her top stayed on.

Paul Bearer arrived with a briefcase. This made Vince upset for some reason.

Michael Cole tried to interview Sable, but she walked off to brawl with Jacqueline and dragged her out into the arena. Everyone came out to separate them. Sable must have used even more tape than Jacqueline. This show is shit.

THEY REPLAYED SABLE'S BRAWL AFTER THE BREAK.

Mankind vs. Mark Henry in an Intercontinental tournament match. They were in Long Island, so some cheers for Foley, but not as many as you'd think. We got a promo by Mankind earlier today plugging his match against Shamrock at the PPV. The point of this promo was that Shamrock couldn't swing a chair hard enough to hurt him. Then they showed Henry reciting a love poem to Chyna on Heat. Chyna came out seriously ten seconds into the match. Foley legitimately tripped over Henry's foot on an Irish whip. He hit the double-arm DDT, then pulled off his sock. Fans could see where this was going and start to cheer, then roared when he debuted the Socko claw to win the match. Best match in the tournament and it involved the winner tripping like a goof right before the finish. Chyna then confronted Henry, who blew her off and walked away.

A cement truck drove into the building and Steve Austin climbed out. He surveyed the scene and climbed back into the cement truck.

Cole tried to interview Austin about his truck. Austin said he had an invitation to arrive, but Vince had better be paying attention, because what he would do would be of interest to the McMahon family. Vince saw this and ordered the Stooges to check it out. Sarge tripped and fell onto Vince's ankle.

Jeff Jarrett vs. X-Pac in an Intercontinental tournament match. This fell apart out of the gate, but I would rather watch these guys doing everything wrong than Steve Blackman doing everything right. And then they got their footing and it was even better. Lawler plugged a baseball playoff series between the Yankees and Indians. Some things never change. Ref got bumped. X-Pac went for a bronco buster, but Jarrett caught him with a boot to the nuts. Then Jarrett rolled outside and grabbed a guitar case, which he had never done before. Then he opened it and Head was inside. X-Pac pinned Jarrett with a rollup and Al Snow ran in and grabbed Head and ran away and Jim Ross said Al and Jarrett had a budding rivalry "apparently." This got very shitty very quickly.

As Vince looked on helplessly, Austin filled the Corvette with cement, then walked away before it was even done. It took 1:28 from the point they cut backstage to the point they went to commercial. They just rushed through it as quickly as possible, zero setup, zero reaction time. The third straight week with a historic Austin-Vince moment, and this one did not live up to its rep in hindsight.

Austin came out for a promo. He said Vince had screwed him, which sealed Vince's fate, and he would make Vince's life a living hell as long as they were both in the company. Vince wheeled himself out on stage, accompanied by a masked bodyguard and cops with dogs. Vince ordered the dogs to bark. They mostly barked at each other. Vince said Austin had ruined part of his Corvette collection. Vince booked Austin in a tag match with the Rock tonight against Taker & Kane. He warned Austin to have eyes in the back of his head tonight. He said he blamed Austin for what Taker and Kane had done to his ankle, and he may never play polo again. He said last week, Austin had hit him with a bed pan, shocked him with a defibrillator, and "violated" his "rectal area." "THAT DAMN OPEN HOSPITAL GOWN!" OK, that last part made it funny. Finally he said that on Sunday, if Austin refused to raise the hand of a new WWF champion, Vince would fire him on the spot. Austin said Vince didn't have the balls to do that, and Vince said he had balls the size of grapefruits, and threatened again to fire Austin on Sunday "NOW HIT THE MUSIC!" Vince was out-of-this-world great as a performer hear. Just unreal.

Val Venis vs. Ken Shamrock in the Intercontinental tournament. Shamrock jumped him before the bell and they brawled on the floor. Shamrock took over in the ring and there was a long Boston crab spot. Val finally got the ropes. Then Val cut him off but the pace didn't change one bit. Does this count as a comeback? Is there a babyface here? Who should I be cheering for? Shamrock hit a sliding kick to the leg and hooked the ankle lock for the submission win. Quite weird to see Val just tap out there. Shamrock left, and Goldust came out, doing his whole entrance. Val couldn't even stand. Terri fled the ring. Goldust beat up Val and debuted the shattered dreams kick. Who should I be cheering for here? Why is every single person on Raw in 1998 a total asshole? There are no likeable characters on this show except Austin, and even he is only likeable specifically because he was such an asshole.

Vince and his crew looked over his ruined car. Mankind arrived and said they should be able to salvage something. He started digging through the cement and apparently found something, but they went to break.

Rock cut a promo when they came back. He was running down Taker, Kane, and Austin when D-Lo and Henry interrupted and asked why he wasn't teaming with them. He told them to know their role, they could go outside and talk about it right now. And they did.

Mankind vs. X-Pac in an Intercontinental tournament match. Yes, Mankind was out there wrestling with bits of cement on his gear and body. They started fucking stuff up too. This was not X-Pac's best night. Mankind grabbed a chair almost immediately but the ref convinced him not to use it. X-Pac hit the bronco buster with Mankind's head against the turnbuckle, which looked like it about broke Foley's neck. They brawled outside and Shamrock strided out. He wacked Mankind in the leg with a chair behind the ref's back, and X-Pac hit a schoolboy for the win. Shamrock then destroyed X-Pac and started working over his neck.

X-Pac was still down after the break. Triple H was out there on crutches. They both insisted the match go on.

Ken Shamrock vs. X-Pac for the Intercontinental title. Match was almost all Shamrock working over the neck. Triple H was on commentary saying Vince hadn't even bothered to call him to tell him he was being stripped of the IC title. Shamrock hooked an ankle lock and X-Pac tapped out after a long struggle. This was a pretty shitty tournament, but at least the finish was decisive and clean. Mankind came out with a chair to protect X-Pac, but Shamrock didn't care, he had won his fight. They said Hunter would present the title to Shamrock on Heat.

Undertaker & Kane vs. Steve Austin & the Rock. This, in 2017, sounds like a Mania headliner. Paul Bearer came out about a minute in. Ross said he was "allegedly" Kane's father, and he had not seen a DNA test. Yes you did. We all did. They did a DNA test on Raw. They did a spot here I remembered clear as day 20 years later. Rock went for the People's Elbow. Taker did the zombie situp mid-move, but Rock kicked him back down and hit the elbow. Taker cut him off with a chokeslam. Except for Brock Lesnar that one time in 2003, nobody went up for Taker's chokeslams like Rock did. Long heat segment on Rock. Did I mention that Mark Henry and D-Lo Brown were out there too? Well, they were. Don't mean to alarm you, but this turned into a very good TV main event. Austin got a hot tag and made a clunky comeback on Taker. Meanwhile, Henry and D-Lo attacked the Rock. What? What's going on? Taker tagged Austin in the ropes. With all these Hall of Famers in the ring, crowd was chanting that D-Lo sucked. Taker and Kane were double-teaming Austin when Vince's masked security guard ran in and attacked for the DQ, then unmasked to reveal the Big Bossman. Vince and his crew were getting their jollies laughing from the stage. This went on for a while. Taker had Austin in a kneebar for a long time, and then the show ended.

We then got five minutes of EXTRA ATTITUDE, which always sucks. Taker and Kane left and Bossman started choking Austin with his nightstick, then he left too. Vince sent him to the back, then wheeled himself down to the ring, thoroughly enjoying himself. He ordered the Stooges to "put the boots to him." He offered Sarge a shot to, but Sarge declined. Of course, Austin made a comeback, and since it was JERRY BRISCO AND PAT PATTERSON, the bumping and selling was awesome. Austin stunned them both, then Rock hit a double People's Elbow. Vince tried to flee, but his chair couldn't make it up the ramp. So Austin dumped it backwards and put the boots to him, then stormed to the top of the stage. Vince looked like he wanted to cry. Then he fell again as they tried to get back in the chair and he started calling all his cronies sons of bitches. Finally the Stooges helped Vince walk up the ramp, being sure to carry his hemorrhoid pillow. OK, that was funny. Extra Attitude was worth watching for once.

WCW Monday Nitro 161 (10/12/98)

Eric Bischoff was shown ordering security to not allow Ric Flair into the building.

They showed the aftermath of that terribly lame brawl between Bret Hart and Sting last week. Sting inexplicably needed to be stretchered out for no reason I can fathom. You'll recall the brawl ended because both guys got bored and walked away. They went to commercial, then played clips of that awful brawl. Then they showed Bret on Thunder challenging Sting for Halloween Havoc. Then they aired a Hogan-Hart-Sting video package. WE GET IT. WE UNDERSTAND ALL THAT HAPPENED HERE.

They showed clips of WCW stars doing an appearance on Wall Street. This was set to the Hardy Boys theme song and for a second I half-expected Jeff to run out and start sentoning people.

Nine minutes plus commercials into the show, the opening credits rolled.

Clips of Meng attacking Chris Adams on Thunder, then Wrath coming out and having one ugly brawl with Meng.

Wrath vs. Lodi. Show was nearly 13 minutes old when the opening bell rang, and barely 14 minutes old when the closing bell rang. Wrath won with the meltdown. Meng came out and brawled with Wrath in the aisle. These monsters were out there trying to kill each other and anyone else who got in their way, and Tony said hey, let's cut away to show clips of Bischoff and the Horsemen talking from last week.

Goldberg-Page video package. Were they trying to chase people to Raw? At least we got Goldberg putting Lodi down with a paw to the head in slow motion.

Kendall Windham vs. Dale Torborg. No entrance for either guy. Torborg was allegedly part of the WCW race car pit crew and was out there in his suit. I don't want to alarm you, but the crowd determined this match was boring. Kendall looked totally fine out there. Torborg should not have been on TV. Kendall tried a bulldog. Torborg pushed him off and hit a bicycle kick and appeared to blow out his own knee. He was able to make a cover, but then couldn't stand. Meanwhile, Kendall stood right up, acted annoyed, and left. I've seen a lot of guys screw up their finish, but never seen somebody hurt themself like that before.

Nitro Party clips. These guys had their own pyro. Are you trying to set fire to your porch?.

Clips of the Goldberg-Page-Flock angle from last week.

Sting came out for a promo. He was like Cesar Romero here, with a moustache that was covered in facepaint. He called out Hart and Hogan. Warrior appeared on the stage. He hinted at their history together, and said he had admired and respected Sting from afar. He said WCW was Sting's battleground, not his, and he had interrupted Sting to make a one-time request, to stand beside Sting and fight tonight. There were boos when he came out, and it was like 50-50 when he left. Yeah, this run was a total disaster. Warrior left. Sting left without giving an answer. So, I guess the match is official?.

ANOTHER GOLDBERG-PAGE VIDEO PACKAGE. Good lord.

Mike Tenay gave a history package about how Warrior and Sting had not teamed in 12 years.

Bischoff, Hogan, and Giant came out for a promo. Hogan promised Giant would end Goldberg's winning streak tonight, then took a very long time to accept the challenge Sting and Warrior had issued. As they were leaving, somebody told Bischoff the Horsemen were there, and Bischoff ran to the back to confront them. A limo was pulling up. How did they know this was the Horsemen? Did they have lookouts on top of the building? Flair got out of the car and he and Bischoff shouted at each other. The owner of the building stepped out of Flair's car and tried to be polite. He said he had a personal skybox full of beautiful women and champagne, and he and the Horsemen were headed in. Bischoff ranted as the Horsemen passed him by. Nobody smartened security up and they legit tried to stop them. That was awesome. Eventually they talked their way in. I must admit that I laughed when Chris Benoit told Bischoff to "talk to the hand.".

Warrior-Hogan hype video. As much as I'm bitching, they are doing a better job promoting this PPV than maybe anything else they did in all of 1998.

Clips of Warrior's goofy backstage promo from last week. Then they actually re-aired the horrible bit with Warrior in the mirror, including the part where the announcers could see him, but Bischoff couldn't.

Fit Finley vs. Alex Wright. Alex claimed he had already beaten Norman Smiley and British Bulldog, and now he was going to beat Finley to prove he was the best wrestler in all of Europe. They had a great two-minute match, because Finley forced Alex to match his intensity. Alex necked him on the top rope, then hit a schoolboy and got the pin with his feet on the ropes. Bulldog ran out and for a moment he and Finley double-teamed Wright, then Finley dropped Bulldog with a cheapshot and left.

La Parka & Ciclope & Villano V vs. Super Calo & Psychosis & Chavo Guerrero Jr. Perpetual motion and chaos. Parka was trying to do comedy spots and was getting lost in all the mayhem. Neither team was bothering with tags, guys just came in and out whenever they wanted to. Ciclope, if you're not aware, was Halloween, and Halloween was awesome. He took a great bump to the floor, and Psychosis followed with a senton from the post to the floor. They were out there tearing the damn house down when Eddie Guerrero and the LWO came out. Thankfully, we got a finish, as Chavo pinned Ciclope after a tornado DDT. "One of the teams won!" Larry said, and he had a point. They may as well have just made this a six-way. Regardess, Eddie, Dandy, Hector Garza, and Damian tried to make peace with everyone, and talked about how Bischoff just kept making them fight each other. He said Bischoff was taking advantage of the "economical situation at home" and was paying them peanuts. Psychosis accepted the t-shirt. Chavo walked out with his horse.

Scott Steiner came out for a promo. He insulted the local sportsball team. Crowd must have chanted something really bad, because they started piping in some really cheesy crowd noise. Steiner said he could satisfy any woman in the building, and debuted the "Big Papa Pump is your hookup, holla if you hear me" catchphrase. He talked about "Marcus Bagwell" getting embarrased by his mom last week, and said when "Buff" was in HIS world, HE was the stuff. Bagwell and his mom came out. Scott and Bagwell went back and forth a bit. Scott said Buff was soft and it was time to take his nWo t-shirt off. Buff challenged him to go one-on-one. Mama tried to intervene. Steiner said Mama was an old bag, and if Marcus didn't get her out of the ring right now, he would put her on the mat. Bagwell punched him, but Steiner hit a low blow and dropped his bad neck across the ropes. He threatened to beat up the whole Bagwell family and challenged the entire city of Chicago. I have no memory of this and no idea where it's going, but it's very clear they had absolutely no idea what to do with Bagwell's comeback from his injury.

Juventud Guerrera vs. Prince Iaukea. Before the match could start, Disco Inferno cut a promo saying people paid to see him dance. His music started and Iaukea knocked him off the apron. People booed. Kidman came out to stalk Disco with a chair as the match was going on. They left, then Disco returned and was trying to hide behind somebody in the aisleway. What the hell is going on? Juvy went up top and Disco shoved him off. Iaukea hit Disco again, Juvy hit the Juvy driver for the win, and Kidman and Disco were brawling again. THIS SEGMENT SUCKED. Pick a focus and stick with it.

Kevin Nash came out for a promo, saying he used to be a bouncer and he was really good at beating up drunks, and called out Scott Hall. Scott came out, acting drunk. Nash chased him back, and appeared to tweak his hammy running up the aisle. He went backstage and just ran for miles and miles. How big is this building? Nash gave up and started walking and left the building. Outside, Hall was apparently in a limo, and another car drove up to do, what, hit it? It swerved a bit. The limo left. The other car followed. We were told Nash was driving. So what's going to happen here? What's the end game? Because the second car caught up to the limo there and just had nothing to do.

Chris Jericho vs. Raven. Raven was actually the babyface here. Jericho grabbed a chair, spent 20 seconds trying to untangle it from some cables, then gave up and grabbed another chair. I LOL'd. Raven tried the DDT, but Jericho hooked the Boston crab for the submission win. Well that was a fun three minutes. Why didn't they get more time?.

Mean Gene brought Rick Steiner out for a promo. Rick couldn't even finish his first sentence before Chucky appeared on the big screen, cackling. He insulted Rick and Rick dared this puppet to come out and fight. Their timing with the pre-taped mannequin was way off and they were talking over each other. Chucky plugged his movie and everyone thunderously booed. He said he wanted to make a movie with Scott. This was so, so, SO much worse than I remember. The most cringe-worthy thing I've seen in some time.

On that note, DDP did a commercial for a segment they were doing on QVC. This was less embarrassing than the Chucky segment.

Announcers talked after the break. Everyone was still booing Chucky. Then they went to another commercial.

Bischoff came out for a promo. He called out Dillinger, then dragged him threw the crowd up to the luxury box where the Horsemen were. This took a while. And eventually they gave up and cut back to the announcers. Minutes went by. Bischoff and Dillinger got off an elevator. "That's the hallway," Bobby Heenan explained. Security wouldn't let Bischoff into the suite. The building owner came out to confront Bischoff and they bitched at each other for a while. I hate them both. Why am I watching this? Bischoff shoved him and security swarmed him. This went on for a while, everyone lying on the ground. "Is this great TV or what?" Heenan asked. Flair emerged so somebody entertaining would be on camera. Security carried Bischoff away. Chris Jericho and Raven got three minutes and this is getting like ten. Security piled into an elevator. The doors closed, then opened, and they cut back to the announcers. My god. They cut to the Horsemen partying in the booth, in time for one of the women to grab the owner and passionately kiss him. They went back to the announcers, who just had no idea what to do. They made jokes about jail. THIS IS STILL GOING. OH MY GOD BISCHOFF IS BACK ON CAMERA. They were just walking around with him. These fuckwits couldn't decide which elevator to use. And so they cut BACK TO THE ANNOUNCERS. Then more Bischoff, now being thrown into a cop car and driven away. The tires squealed as they pulled out of the parking lot. This segment, no joke, lasted THIRTEEN MINUTES. Good god.

Goldberg vs. Giant. Giant didn't even get an entrance. He was out there in a bad-fitting singlet, throwing these sloppy kicks, generally looking terrible. Clearly, he had checked out mentally. Goldberg hit a bodyslam with ease and prepped for the spear, and then Stevie Ray hit him with a chair for the DQ. Oh, wait, apparently it's no DQ. This was news to me. Giant hit a chokeslam and made a cover, but DDP ran out and broke up the pin, then hit Stevie with a diamond cutter. Goldberg speared Giant and had a very brief staredown with page. Place was going nuts for all this. Then everyone just left and Goldberg won by countout. Yes.

Hulk Hogan & Bret Hart vs. the BLADE RUNNERS. Michael Buffer referred to this as "the greatest main event feature, a tag team match, the greatest tag team match in the history of WCW Monday Nitro on TNT." And then they went to break. Then Buffer said Sting and Warrior were teaming with other for the first time ever. "Two men who are now united here, on WCW Monday Nitro, in a combination of action, power, speed, experience, and guile that has never been witnessed before." Matt Striker must be a huge Michael Buffer fan. They stalled forever. Sting, of course, started for his team. Warrior was standing on the apron, still wearing his big heavy coat. They low blowed Sting to take over. Warrior came in to distract the ref like eight times. Finally Bret missed an elbow and Warrior made a comeback in his coat. Hogan jumped him from behind, but Warrior no-sold it. Black-and-white hit the ring for the DQ. Ring filled with smoke. Warrior clearly rolled outside to the floor. Smoke cleared and Sting was running wild with the baseball bat. Warrior got Hogan's weight belt and chased the nWo to the back. Giant's comedy selling was tremendous here. And the show ended. Well, there you go.

WWE NXT (10/11/17)

They showed Kairi Sane's celebration at the end of the Mae Young Classic, and said the series of matches to name the other three women in the four-way would begin tonight.

Peyton Royce vs. Liv Morgan vs. Nikki Cross. Nikki got her own song. A dubstep remix of the Sanity theme. That's amazing, actually. Peyton was doing some wacky tarantula-like thing, hanging upside down in the ropes. Nikki yanked her down, and Peyton appeared to fall on her head on the floor. Jesus. Match was mostly a mess between three women who were not experienced enough to pull off a three-way, though Nikki turned things around through the sheer intensity of her comeback. They did a tower of doom spot I'm not sure Liv's body is designed to survive abuse like that. At this point the Undisputed Era came out on stage with a Brazilian woman, and they encouraged her to interfere. She tried and got her ass kicked. Hell of an NXT debut here. The sloppy match continued. Brazilian yanked Nikki out of the ring, and Nikki chased her around and then into the ring, and Peyton wiped Nikki out with a spinning kick and fisherwoman's suplex. "Tayonara Conte?" Is that was Mauro's calling her? It's the best I can make out. Anyway, this was a total mess to start and got significantly messier in the overbooked finish.

Lio Rush vs. Velveteen Dream. It was funny watching the ref remind Lio to focus on the hard camera during his entrance. Mauro said Dream was "ostentatious and flashy." That wasn't descriptive enough for Percy, who asked "how about strange?" Well, we can now confirm, Lio is really, really, really tiny. But he did a great job of playing keepaway and hit some cool kicks and had the crowd on his side a minute in. He made a comeback, but Dream caught him with the cartwheel Samoan drop and his amazing top rope elbow for the win. He sat in the ring like Aleister Black to celebrate. They are calling Dream's finish the Purple Rainmaker, which is a reference to many different things.

Lars Sullivan vs. Danny Burch. Burch was too fast for Lars early and hit a series of punches and slaps. and finally Lars ran him over like a freight train and that was that. He hit a big delayed suplex and stood and laughed. This guy is the best. Just put a belt on him right now, because he's clearly better than everyone. Burch got one more flurry of offense, then Lars hit the side spinebuster for the win. His scream as the ref raised his hand might be his new high point. "Your heart goes out to Burch," Nigel noted, "he did his best there.".

They plugged an exclusive interview with Drew McIntyre for next week. I mean, really?.

Street Profits vs. A Couple of Pudgy 12-Year-Olds. To be fair, only one was pudgy. But both were tiny. Damian Smith & Marcos Espada. Montez Ford was openly laughing about how short they were. Then he lost his mind and started screaming in everyone's face, including fans. Even his own partner was confused. Then he was done and hit a frog splash for the win. Well this was strange. They grabbed a mic and led the crowd in chants of "HEY!" Montez Ford needs to wear a shirt more than any guy with six-pack abs ever.

Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Almas. Almas came out with Zalina Vega, who is NOT Ivelisse from Lucha Underground. Izzy is still going to NXT shows, but there is no Bayley to cheer for, so she is SO BORED. They went back and forth for several minutes until Almas hit a reverse DDT on the apron. They went to commercial, and when they came back they were going back and forth again. Do we really need commercials interrupting matches on Network shows? Who does this benefit? Eventually Almas got the heat for real. Johnny made a hot comeback and hit a tope. Andrade tried a tornado DDT but Gargano turned it into an iconoclasm for a nearfall. Almas hit this gorgeous over-arm German suplex for a nearfall. They went back and forth trading strikes in the ring and Gargano hit a superkick for a nearfall. The series of counters and big moves they traded at the end added a full * to the match. Johnny hooked the Garga-No escape. Zalena took off her jacket to reveal a DIY t-shirt, but Johnny refused to be distracted. Well, the first time. She jumped on the apron and he insisted DIY meant nothing. The match continued and things got even more awesome. Gargano's face was on the bottom turnbuckle and Almas hit a pair of running double knees to the back of the head, then his hammerlock DDT for the win. The last three or four minutes here were UN BELIEVABLE, *****-caliber stuff. Like, everyone needs to see that part, even if you skip the rest of it. So we average out ***** and ** and get ***1/2 if you want. God, DAMN that was awesome.

Lucha Underground Season 3: Ultima Lucha Tres, Part III

Taya vs. Sexy Star in a Last Luchadora standing match. Both women pulled out brass knuckles and then didn't use them. Sexy used six steps to run half-way across the apron. Taya put herself through like a dozen chairs when Sexy dodged a cannonball. Then they chopped the hell out of each other, then slapped the hell out of each other right in the head. Sexy dragged Taya's head across a metal grate and threw her through the announce desk. Now Taya was bleeding. So Sexy broke a bottle over her head too. That's great. They set up a table and then ignored it, brawling in another section of the crowd. Another table got set up on top of the other, then they traded kicks for a while. More crazy stiff chops. OK, seriously, were these sounds added in post? Striker had some line about owls of the night craving flesh. What the fuck? They started fighting on a camera platform above the tables. Um, there's no room on that thing. A man was rubbing his hands with glee at the carnage that was about to unfold. And both women went through the tables with what I think was a chokeslam. Ref started to count, and Sexy barely made it back to her feet, and Taya didn't, and that was that. Well, it's not like they were going to top that finish. Stiff as hell, if you're into that kind of thing, and probably the best Sexy Star match I've seen. And, hopefully, the last. (***1/4).

Reptile Tribe vs. Da Mack & Killshot & Dante Fox. Killshot and Fox were there, all bandaged up, and eyeballing each other, but were apparently going to give this a try. Fox demanded on starting. Pindar hit one basic kick and Fox went down clutching his ribs. Then he ignored that and started ripping off big moves. Killshot did the same thing. Reptiles cut him off and started tearing Killshot apart. Mack tagged in and ran wild on all three lizards. We have mentioned how great Mack is, right? HE FUCKING RULES. Everyone started doing big moves, including several dives, but Luchasaurus broke that up. Then they cut him off and Fox and Killshot started hitting tandem dives. They got a closeup of Fox's back, which was still all cut up and gouged. Remind me to never be him. Kobra Moon wanted Pindar to use a chain or something. Instead he took a full flip bump onto his belly for a stunner, then Killshot hit the footstomp to win the match and the titles. This was also fun. (***1/2).

Son of Havoc vs. Pentagon Dark in a ladder match for the Gift of the Gods title. We got spectacular dives and crowd brawling in the first minute. They hit each other with ladders a bunch. Pentagon threw like a half-dozen ladders into the ring. Striker made a Brady Bunch joke. In 2017. Assorted spots with chairs and ladders. Pentagon spent a few minutes rearranging furniture. Havoc tried a shooting star onto a ladder on top of Pentagon, but Pentagon popped up and caught him with a cutter. So Pentagon started throwing chairs into the ring. Havoc cut him off and arranged the chairs. Half this match has just been guys moving things. They set up four chairs facing each other and Pentagon hit a package piledriver on top of them. More Erector sets. Announcers spent a whole minute making fun of him for not, you know, trying to win. Finally they started reaching for the belt. They were standing on a ladder that was bridged horizontally above the ring. That was scary. Havoc ended up going off that through a table and Pentagon grabbed the belt and won. Well that was every ladder match I ever saw. (***).

Back in his spooky temple, Vampiro noted this all came to an end next week. He gave Puma a pep talk, saying he would take Mundo's title and then the circle would be complete. He sent Puma off to win. Then a scary voice told Vampiro he had done well. Vampiro thanked him and called him Master. Yeah. I don't know what's going on here. I suspect I won't know after next week either.