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Figure Four Weekly 10/23/2017: Recapping WWE's unusual TLC PPV

Recapping WWE's unusual TLC PPV

by Joseph Currier (@josephcurrier)

Making the most of a bad situation, Sunday night's TLC pay-per-view provided a fun ending for what must have been a rough week for WWE.

Two wrestlers (Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt) being pulled from a PPV due to a viral infection just days before the show is always a bad situation. But TLC being built almost solely around the in-ring reunion of The Shield made the timing especially awful. Having a mediocre PPV is forgivable in the Network era, but WWE knew that they had to give ticket holders worthy replacements. AJ Styles stepping in for Wyatt against Finn Balor was a logical choice with both being former leaders of the Bullet Club, but Kurt Angle returning on such short notice to team with Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose was surprising.

The strong fill-ins led to inevitable claims about WWE booking better when their backs are against the wall, which isn't really fair. They needed something big to replace The Shield reunion and there were limited options available. Rushing Angle's return was far from ideal decision-making, but it was probably the best choice they had.

Again with having the Network instead of traditional PPV, the consequences for rushing the moment were minimal. But Kurt Angle having his return match without his entrance music (at least initially) and while cosplaying as a Shield member as he teamed with Rollins & Ambrose against The Miz, Cesaro, Sheamus, Braun Strowman & Kane in a three-on-five tables, ladders, and chairs handicap match felt more like a bad fever dream than a well-put-together matchup.

The match itself wasn't any less weird. It was at points stupid and had strange dynamics with Kane turning against Strowman and the heels throwing Strowman in a trash compactor -- but that's less of a criticism than you'd think. If there's any type of match WWE does better than everyone else, it's overbooked multi-man bouts. The SummerSlam main event was a perfect example of that. This may not have been at that level, but it was still enjoyable. The TLC main event did its job about as well as it possibly could have. Angle got to hit his signature moves and come off like a hero when he returned from being taken out of the match. And nothing quite summed up WWE's unusual week like Angle, Rollins, and Ambrose hitting a Shield powerbomb to get the win.

WWE may have only had one chance to maximize Angle's comeback, but there will still be plenty of interest whenever he returns for his first singles match back with the company. In the end, the TLC main event was what the crowd wanted to see and a far better alternative for WWE than replacing Reigns with anyone else on the active roster.

Similarly, Styles vs. Balor was almost entirely an example of fan service from the moment they made their entrances to the post-match Too Sweet. WWE knew what they had in a first-time meeting between two former Bullet Club members and presented it almost perfectly without any build. The result with Balor winning barely mattered: the story was two evenly-matched wrestlers going out there and putting in great performances in a self-contained environment.

Some more thoughts on TLC --

- Asuka's main roster debut felt like a bit of a half measure. The goal should have either been to have a great match or establish her as totally dominant, though neither of those things really happened. Asuka vs. Emma probably should have been less competitive (if not a total squash), but Asuka's dominance as a character has never been completely defined by quick matches. While a first impression is important, she still came off well and how she'll be handled from this point will matter far more to her main roster success.

- Alexa Bliss and Mickie James' feud was a strong example of building someone up for a month and having them lose without it hurting them at all. James' age being made fun of was occasionally cringeworthy, but she did some good promos, is better off for having been in the title picture, and some of the normal players got to take a step back instead of constantly challenging for the championship.

- After some bad shows towards the beginning of the year, WWE's PPVs have mostly gotten better over the last few months. Survivor Series having a Raw vs. SmackDown theme should be a good way to lead into Royal Rumble season. Brock Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal may not be very good, though.

Mexico Notes

by Dr. Lucha Steve Sims (@DrLuchaJr)

Damn! And not in a Ron Simmons way either.

CMLL has gotten cold feet on the match/event that would have garnered them more publicity in the non-lucha media than anything they have done in years and years. They have decided to postpone the match of caballera contra caballera between Mexican tecnico Negro Casas and American rudo Sam Adonis.

This match seemed almost surely to have been slated to run at La Arena Mexico on the evening of Friday, November 3, 2017, on a card that was (and still is) being promoted as the first of tree "Dia de Muertos" shows the promotion will run in Mexico City in early November. Those shows seem to be set up in the format that the loser(s) of the matches on that card would not simply lose, but they would be "dragged to Hell," carried off to a separate exit at Arena Mexico and tossed out. This card, and that stipulation, is one of the mot novel things in Mexican lucha and one of the things that really helps illustrate the difference between how Mexican promotions and fans view lucha libre and how those fans still left in the rest of the world view professional wrestling.

The Casas-Adonis feud was the main feud that CMLL had been promoting from the time the Anniversary show festivities were over until about a week ago, at the 1013/17 Leyenda de Plata tournament, when a new drama was introduced featuring Caristico, Volador Jr., and Mistico.

There exists more than one possible reason for the delay, postponement, or cancellation of the Casas-Adonis plans. One is the obvious one, that the front office realized that having a Donald Trump stand-in humiliated and dragged to Hell had the very real possibility of having a lot of blowback and/or negative repercussions that would have gone quickly into mainstream US and Mexican media. It's possible that the promotion, seeing the poor attendances since the September earthquake, simply decided they needed something bigger feud-wise, name-wise, and drama-wise, to get their fans back in the habit of coming to the weekly shows (the tourists will come back of their own volition, I suspect in a month or so). There are other possibilities, one of which always must include the reason "because CMLL."

That match on that show was going to be fun. Now they will have a card, with a trios' title match on top, with no great extra value specific to the theme of the day. Still worth making plans to see, but not the once-in-a-lifetime event it could have been.

Bad news from AAA. After the great exposure they had on Televisa for their biggest match in 25 years, and for all the money the promotion grossed on that show, things have sagged back to where they were. Virtually all the "foreign" (US) talent has been let go or non-booked, and on their most recent TV taping 10/20, they used only three – Australian Suicide, Marty Martinez, and Hernandez – not a one of whom will have fans around Mexico buying tickets to see. Maybe that's related to the fact that the noted TV taping in a very small palenque outside Mexico City did not draw a full house. LUCKY US THOUGH, AAA has given fans what could well be the most outre, meta feud in years anywhere in wrestling – tecnico La Parka against rudo Dave the Clown. I would write that this one has to be seen to be believed, but I would mean that cliché in outre, meta way that might not translate well on paper.

And so, the long (in theory, eternal) wait has commenced for a money god or goddess to come rescue Lucha Underground. The financials are so poor, odds will always be against anyone's picking it up, but bigger miracles than this have happened.

Leaving on a positive note, The CRASH is having a super-productive October and November. Things are bright there now, though I am sensing that the general "dream-match" style of promotion has begun to run into some bumps in the road. The good thing for the CRASH is that Mexico is as ever behind the curve on these trends and still has some time before they start over-sating their fans. For this promotion, there is reason to have high hopes!

Europe Notes

by Oliver Court (@AnotherOli)

After us Brits went over to Germany for the huge wXw World Tag Team League and were met with excellent hospitality in lovely Oberhausen, it's time to repay the favour. This weekend PROGRESS and wXw co-promote one of the most interesting weekends of European wrestling this year with a couple of strong show lineups. wXw's show at The Dome in London features home favourites Chris Brookes and Travis Banks, going up against Lucky Kid and Bad Bones respectively, as well as Ilja Dragunov's first match in the UK since his breakout 16 Carat victory, and most exciting of all, a rematch of the WTTL final for the Tag championships, as Ringkampf defend against Massive Product. This is the second trip over to the UK for wXw this year, and these weekends co-promoted with PROGRESS look to continuing in 2018. For fans who can't make the trip over to Germany for their big weekends, this is a great opportunity to see why wXw's been the best promotion in Europe this year.

It's an important weekend for PROGRESS too, as this is their first Chapter show since Alexandra Palace and a proper chance to reset the promotion as it heads into the winter. Last year, PROGRESS put on some of their best shows ever post-Brixton, so things look good for PROGRESS to return to glory after a creatively struggling summer. At the time of writing, three championship matches are on the docket, though Travis Banks' match is yet to be announced and may well end up being a fourth. Toni Storm is the most important-feeling champion in PROGRESS right now after running through all contenders so far, but newcomer Charli Evans won the mini-tournament to become No.1 contender and brings a fresh face to the division, backed up by three other newbies out of Fight Club Pro in the form of Aussie Open and Omari, who debut in a 6-man match also on this show. Expect big things from Omari in PROGRESS. Also, CCK defend their Tag championships against Zack Gibson and James Drake, one of whom is infinitely more interesting than the other. PROGRESS have tripled-down on Drake, who feels like an also-ran compared to the other three men in this match, but they still have the potential to have a really strong match as they are the most over acts in PROGRESS.

Japan Notes

by Alan Counihan (@Alan4L)

It's well documented that 2017 has been a crazy year in pro wrestling. The list of stories from this year is a mile long, but there may be none sweeter than that which concluded this past weekend when Joe Doering won the Triple Crown championship in All Japan.

Doering is one of the most unique wrestlers in the world, a total throwback. He is like 1984 Stan Hansen dropped into 2017, but doesn't feel like a rip-off off the legendary Texan. Doering is his own man, and has his own great relationship with the Japanese crowd. He's wild and they love him. His matches are tremendous and look completely different to any other matches out there. For all those reasons, it's really cool that he's become champion. But none of them are the reason why this is arguably THE best story of the year.

In March 2016, Doering was pulled from the upcoming Champion Carnival. He had a brain tumour.

It was not known whether the Canadian would ever wrestle again. He underwent brain surgery and all the chemotherapy needed, and he defeated the illness. Joe Doering said "Fuck Cancer" and that's exactly what he meant! He now sells an incredible t-shirt with that slogan and a picture of him essentially giving a lariat to cancer. He was back in the ring at the beginning of 2017 and he looked like he didn't miss a beat. Considering he had been out of action with an injury for a long period before the diagnosis, this was extra impressive. To be honest, he looked better than he ever had before.

The crowds have been way behind him all year. His entrance where they chant "Joe!" to the beat of his awesome music never fails to create excitement. His matches against Shuji Ishikawa and Daisuke Sekimoto amongst others were absolutely fantastic, and his turn on stable mate Suwama during the summer made him seem even more wild and unpredictable. On Saturday in Yokohama, it was Doering against Suwama one on one for the Triple Crown. His opponent was just coming off winning the title himself two weeks earlier in quite possibly the best match of his career against Kento Miyahara but you can bet Suwama was only too happy to be the man to drop the historic championship to one of his closest friends.

While the match has not yet aired, from the photos and live reports, it appears to have been a great scene. Doering's triumph was not just a victory for him, but it was a victory for the belief that professional wrestling can still be a magical sport where great stories are always possible. "JOE! JOE! JOE!!!!"

TV Reviews

by Bryan's Friend Vince (@FO_VVerhei)

WWE Retro Raw 282 (10/19/98)

They recapped the end of the PPV the night before, where Steve Austin counted a double-pin on both Undertaker and Kane and declared himself world champion. Vince responded by firing Austin, but Austin swore that Vince had not seen the last of him... In the arena, "Good Times Are Here Again" played as black balloons and confetti fell and the entire roster glumly came out and filled the ring. Everyone just stood there for a while. Sergeant Slaughter came out on stage, and nothing happened. Finally Vince was introduced and he came out on stage with his cronies, including Big Bossman, who had put a mask back on for some reason. Without naming Austin, Vince said it was his fault there was no champion, but he GUARANTEED that at the end of the Survivor Series, there would be an undisputed champion, and he announced a 16-man one-night tournament for the belt. He ordered a freeze frame of Austin's face upon hearing he had been fired up on the screen. He said Austin had mumbled something about hunting season, but the only thing he was hunting for now was a job. If Austin ever wanted into a WWF event again, he would need to buy a ticket. He said firing Austin had been better than sex. He warned everyone in the ring not to cross the boss. He said Austin merchandise was selling like crazy, because now it was a collector's item. The new catchphrase was "McMahon 3:16 says I've got the brass to fire your ass." As he finished, the freeze frame of Austin faded to a live shot of Austin, in camos, with a big fucking gun. Yes, they were teasing that Steve Austin was going to MURDER Steve Austin on live TV... Vince and his crew regrouped backstage. He ordered Bossman to get his family out of town immediately, and ordered this camera to stay with him. Meanwhile, another camera was recording Austin cleaning his gun in hs car. This seems illegal... Ken Shamrock vs. X-Pac. They recapped Shamrock slamming Triple H's knee in a car door the night before on Heat. Is it my imagination or was Hunter injured for like half of DX's entire run? Then they showed clips of DX hanging out with Motley Crue and acting like the biggest geeks of all time. During the match, two cops came out to arrest Chyna. There's a madman with a gun threatening murder on camera and they're arresting the woman who's just standing there. Lawler pointed this out. Ross said Austin hadn't broken any laws. There were open-carry laws in 1998? Then Mankind came out to distract Shamrock. The ref just watched as they brawled in the ring. I was laughing. It's just funny now. X-Pac pinned Shamrock with the X-factor. What a stupid show... The Outlaws were trying to stop the cops from taking Chyna away. They failed. X-Pac said "bullshit." DX left, and some security guards spotted Austin in his truck. They asked him to step out of his truck. They wanted to look at his sidearm. He obliged, and signed an autograph for their kids. He shook their hands and said he would see them later. Vince was watching this and quite rightfully outraged. "WHAT THE HELL KIND OF TOWN IS THIS?"... After the break, Vince ordered a cop to take his dog and his gun to go arrest Austin. "I didn't come here to endanger my life," he said. "Screw you." and he left... Headbangers vs. LOD 2000. You never realize how talented the Outlaws are until you see the Headbangers trying to do their entrance. Once again, LOD was Animal and "Darren Drozdov." Headbangers tried a double gourdbuster on Droz and dropped him right on his head and almost killed him. Broke into a four-way. Hawk was clapping for Droz, Droz got distracted, and the Headbangers schoolboyed Droz and pinned him. One of the Headbangers' best matches ever... Pat Patterson offered to get coffee for everyone in Vince's crew. Brisco went with him. So did Sarge. Vince was horrified to be left alone... There was a knocking on Vince's door. He tried to flee, but it was Mr. Socko, offering to be a new head of security. Vince, desperate for help, said he was happy to see Mick. Mick sat on the couch and said they should get to know each other... Undertaker came out for a promo. At the PPV, Paul Bearer had turned on Kane and teamed with Taker. Taker used the term "Ministry of Darkness" for the first time. Taker said Paul was despicable, evil, and maniacal, which is why he wanted to team with Paul in the first place. He had cleared his head and remembered what he was there for, and he rambled on in nonsensical melodramatic terminology about unleashing a plague or something. Paul said he had used Kane like a child or a pet, and he was stupid, and he would never have a use for Kane again. "He's your son, you rotund demon!" Ross said, the only good part of this. Taker then announced that he had set the fire that had killed his parents, because Kane had been weak as a child, and he was weak now, and only the strong would survive. Nobody had any idea what to make of this promo. Kane came out, wheeling a casket onto the stage. He used a voicebox to challenge Taker to a casket match tonight and said Taker would rest in peace... Mankind tried to convince Vince to re-hire Austin and then the three of them and Socko could form their own clique. Vince said this was a matter of principle. Mankind said OK, let's play some games... When they came back from commercial, the camera was zoomed in on Mankind's broad, flat ass, and it zoomed out and we saw he was playing Twister. Vince was getting angry and saying this was not making him feel better. He snapped and ordered Mankind to leave him alone and take his stupid crap with him. HE WAS IN DANGER DAMMIT. A production geek accidentally showed up in the mirror. Well, Vince did say he wanted a camera crew with him all night... Steve Blackman vs. Jeff Jarrett. Debra McMichael was making her WWE debut here in Jeff's corner. What the fuck was up with her hair? Was she in a hurricane when they hit her with hairspray? The very classy crowd greeted her with a chant of "SHOW YOUR TITS." She did not show them. Jim Ross referred to her as "that young lady." She was 38. Blue Blazer ran out and attacked Blackman for the DQ. Jarrett was fine with his here loss. Jarrett grabbed his guitar. Al Snow ran out with Head. Debra distracted Al. Jarrett destroyed Al with the guitar. Just waylaid him. My god. So yeah, all of this sucked... Vince was scared and alone backstage. The phone rang. He hesitated, but eventually decided to answer. We could hear it. It was Austin saying Vince's time was up, and he was coming to get him. Crowd loved this... Vince was on the phone after the break, talking to somebody in the parking lot who said they did not see Steve Austin. Vince told him to back the car up, leave the engine running, and the back door open. And if Austin showed up, scream. He cautiously began to wheel himself through the building. They were in Milwaukee, for the record. Vince spotted his limo and made a break for it. As he was entering the car, Austin entered from the other side and pushed him back out. He trapped Vince in the chair and started to verbally torment him as Vince begged for his life. Austin had a bow and arrow now. They went stampeding through backstage as everyone just watched. Austin kept "accidentally" banging Vince's bad leg into the walls, then returned to Vince's dressing room and slammed the door... After the break, Austin was asking Vince if he had ever been hunting. Vince said yes, on safari, and he took pictures. Austin was appalled. He pulled a knife and asked if it could kill an elephant... Rock vs. D-Lo Brown. What shitty music Rock had here, and it was not due to the Network. Then D-Lo came out to, well, Rock's music. Crowd loved to hate D-Lo, biggest heel on the whole show. Well, besides Vince, of course. I mean, people hated D-Lo more than they loved Rocky here. Poor D-Lo was out there in gear that said he was European champ even though he had lost the belt. Rock hit the People's Elbow. I retract what I said earlier about the people hating D-Lo more than they loved Rocky. D-Lo tried something off the ropes, but Rock caught him and hit the Rock Bottom for the clean win. I believe that is the first clean finish on the show. Henry and D-Lo destroyed Rocky afterwards... Austin was demonstrating how sharp his knife was by cutting up fruit. He promised Vince was going tonight, but he would feel no pain... After the break, Vince was trying to tell Austin he would not get away with this. Vince went on a tirade about deer hunting and offered to show how a bow and arrow works... Oh fuck, it's Tiger Ali Singh. Babu had hot dogs and sausages over a grill, which was not lit. They offered $500 to anyone who could swallow Babu's kielbasa. So they found a woman in a sequined outfit showing midriff and cleavage, and she stuck this foot-long thing down her throat a couple of times and took the money. I figure this must have been the Kielbasa Queen from the Howard Stern Show. Godfather came out and said this used to be one of his hos, and he needed to get paid. Tiger protested and said he wanted an amateur, not a professional. Godfather said he could have had a whole night with her for less than $500. They brawled and geeks separated them. Crowd chanted for the ho. What an atrocious segment... Austin had shot an arrow into the wall to demonstrate his accuracy and the damage he could do with an arrow. He compared Vince to Ned Beatty in Deliverance. "Oh no," the announcers said simultaneously. Austin ordered Vince to squeal like a pig. Vince started slowly, than louder, and the crowd roared... After the break, Austin had moved on from Deliverance to Misery, specifically the part where Kathy Bates broke James Caan's legs. Vince just happened to have a 2x4 between his legs. Vince started screaming for help, so Austin duct taped his mouth shut, then duct taped him to his chair, then left to get a sledgehammer... Mankind vs. Val Venis. I don't know what the fuck was going on here, but they tried a criss-cross spot but apparently neither guy could actually run. Mick was doing this sad limping hobble. Then they just stopped running. Val tried his hip swivel but his dick hurt from where Goldust had kicked him the night before. They were sure to mention Austin would be appearing at all WWF shows that week, he just wouldn't get paid. Foley attacked Val's dick and hit a double-arm DDT, then hooked the Socko Claw. Terri took the ref. Shamrock came out and jabbed a chair into Mankind's knee, and Val fell on top of him for the pin. Mankind and Shamrock brawled through the crowd. They were swinging chairs at each other in the shadows. Goldust then appeared on the big screen promising Val that nothing was over, and he was going to shatter Val's dreams over and over again. Terri then whispered something to Val and seemed happy, but Val was pissed and left her behind... Turned out Austin could not find a hammer, but he was not there to cause Vince physical pain. He promised again that Vince would not feel a damn thing... Austin tried to improve Vince's mood by watching a little TV. He told Vince to pick someone, Kane or Taker. Vince eventually chose Kane. So Austin said if Kane won, they would do things the easy way, but if anything else happened they would do things the hard way... Kane vs. Undertaker in a casket match. They brawled right into the casket. Taker hit a DDT in there and slammed the lid shut with both inside. They kept fighting and started kicking the sides and end of the casket out. So they brawled on the floor, and Kane chased Bearer to the back. Taker laid Kane out with a chair on the ramp. Then everyone just went backstage. Yes, a no contest in a casket match... Austin said this meant Vince had lost, so he wheeled him out into the arena. Announcers had to kill a lot of time here. This trip from the dressing room to the ring had to be done live and in real time right here? Seriously THREE MINUTES went by before Vince and Austin emerged. Austin ordered Vince to crawl into the ring, then grabbed a mic. He ordered they show the party from earlier since he had missed out on it himself. Vince was kneeling and weeping in the ring. Austin gave him a letter to read and said it would make Vince cry even more, and would piss off the devil once Vince met him. He ordered Vince look at a live shot of himself on the screen. Austin then pulled out a pistol, but stuck the mic to the back of Vince's neck, and pulled the trigger of the gun to reveal a "BANG 3:16" sign. Vince's knee was all wet. I mean, partly his crotch, but mostly his knee. Austin brought him to his feet to say "McMahon 3:16 means I just pissed my pants." He gave Vince a stunner, celebrated for a while, then gave Vince another stunner as the show ended... EXTRA ATTITUDE. Austin left. Vince was down, sobbing in the middle of the ring. The Stooges arrived. Just in time. They put him into the chair and wheeled him away. He just kept crying as everyone pelted him with trash and the Stooges apologized. OK, that was great. The finishes on this show were: pinfall that should have been a DQ, pin after distraction by teammate, run-in DQ, clean pin, pin after interference, no-contest in a casket match. Yeah.

WCW Monday Nitro 162 (10/19/98)

They recapped all the nonsense with the Horsemen and the building owner from last week. Thankfully this only took about five minutes... Saturn vs. Kaos. Saturn was super over here. Kaos went to drop him neck-first on the ropes and missed the ropes entirely and just dumped him out of the ring. My god. Thankfully Saturn was alert and broke his fall on the apron but he sure could have died there. Then he tried a press slam and couldn't get it but at least got him down on his side instead of his head. The whole arena was filled with "SATURN" chants. Don't know if that ever happened before or since. Saturn's comeback included a superkick, belly-to-belly suplex, and falcon arrow to set up the DVD for the win. What a fun opener... Mike Tenay talked to fans. Schiavonie noted Tenay was the only guy who could do this, or would want to. This sucked, as you would expect... And then we got Nitro party clips after the break. They kept showing their hot dogs... Steiner vs. Steiner video package. OK, don't have time to watch an hour of this stuff every week... THEY RECAPPED CHUCKY. Seriously... Goldberg-Page hype video... La Parka & Ciclope & Chavo Guerrero Jr. & Lizmark Jr. vs. Psychosis & Hector Garza & El Dandy & Damian. It's the LWO vs. other Latinos. Chavo got a big reaction when he tagged in. There were several minutes of cool wrestling, then all eight dudes hit dives everywhere and the camera couldn't keep up. La Parka started using a chair, and Psychosis pinned Ciclope with the top rope legdrop. I didn't even realize this before the announcers pointed it out, but Parka had wiped out his own partner with the chair. Eddie Guerrero came out to celebrate with his crew. He said they were getting stronger, and now La Parka had shown he deserved to be in the crew, and he passed Parka a t-shirt. Parka was very happy. Crowd was not, and there were "USA!" chants... Bret Hart-Sting video package... Kanyon vs. Scott Putski. Kanyon kept doing finishers that took forever to set up and got no reaction. Then he did a chinlock and Putski fired up in seconds and made his comeback. Like, Putski's flurry of punches apparently did more damage than a facebuster off the steps to the apron. Kanyon won with a flatliner. This sucked... Hogan-Warrior video package... Scott Steiner came out for a promo. Scott had a picture of his own face on his crotch. Takes quite the ego to do that. He went through his catchphrases, then called Mama Bagwell a tramp and said he knocked Buff down without caring that his mom was watching. He called out any Minnesota Vikings to come fight him. Rick Steiner appeared on stage instead. He said the Vikings were undefeated and Scott wasn't doing anything to anybody. He challenged Scott to fight, but Scott bailed. They went back and forth. Scott demanded to know if this would be a fair fight. Rick said no and punched him in the face. Well, he was honest. Rick lit into him in an awesome display. Maybe too awesome, as Scott was bleeding from the side of the head, I assume from the microphone shot. Scott cut him off with a pair of low blows, then hit Rick in the ass with a chair. They claimed it was the knee, but I know what I saw. Buff ran out, still wearing an nWo shirt, to make the save. Scott passed him the chair and told him to hit Rick, but Buff took a swing at Scott instead. Scott bailed and everyone cheered for Buff. This Buff second-wave babyface turn is so half-assed and so weird... Nitro Girls video package. Then they danced. This was their third or fourth appearance of the show... UNICEF commercial... Goldberg was shown signing autographs as fans around him chanted his name in a wooden manner. Then they all said "TRICK OR TREAT FOR UNICEF!" and he gave a big thumb's up. OK, that was great by the end... Fit Finlay vs. British Bulldog. Finlay was moving so fast Bulldog had trouble keeping up with him, and Davey Boy was pretty light on his feet. They were doing this match and the ref got bumped, and Alex Wright ran out and hit Davey Boy with a missile dropkick. Finlay hit Bulldog with the laziest tombstone of all time (he just dropped the guy on his back) for the win. Then he attacked Wright and hit a rolling fireman's carry. Larry asked if Ireland was part of Europe and seemed to legitimately not know... Mean Gene interviewed Chris Jericho, who got a big babyface reaction. He came out with Ralphus and a shirt reading "JERICHO-3 GREENBERG-4." He demanded Goldberg come out. Gene said Goldberg was not there, he was at a UNICEF function. Jericho said DDP should be challenging him, not Goldberg. He said nobody thought Page was best, including the sheetwriters. Page appeared and called him "Jerk-icho" and challenged him to a match tonight. Jericho refused, but Gene said the match was on... Scott Hall was wearing his gear and drinking beer at a bar in the Target Center... Wrath vs. Tokyo Magnum. Wrath was starting to get true superstar reactions. Wrath tried a chokeslam into the turnbuckles and their timing was off and Tokyo about broke his neck hitting the middle buckle. Wrath won for the meltdown in a little more than a minute... More UNICEF stuff... They showed, from a commercial break earlier in the show, Buff Bagwell tearing off his nWo shirt. Yes, it took them like a half-hour to get this on TV... Dancing Dildoes vs. Super Calo & Silver King. Calo and King came to ringside, then pointed to the back, and the Four Horsemen music played and Arn Anderson came out with Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko... Dancing Dildoes vs. Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko. Eric Bischoff came out and hit the announce desk. He said the Horsemen, Calo, and Silver King were all working for free tonight because they had breached their contracts. Well, he's got a point, this is not who Alex and Disco had signed to wrestle. Horsemen made short work of them and Benoit tapped out Disco with the crossface. Very good for an extended squash. The Horsemen and Bischoff shouted at each other for a while. I can't believe they tried to do a wrestlers-vs.-management storyline when the other wrestling show was doing AUSTIN VS. McMAHON... Hall was entertaining some ladies at the bar... Chris Jericho vs. DDP. They had a fun little TV match, making the most of the time they had. Jericho hit a low blow behind the ref's back and tried the Boston crab, but Page avoided it and hit a tilt-a-whirl slam. And then Goldberg appeared and speared Jericho for the DQ. He tried a jackhammer, but Page broke it up and hit Jericho with a cutter. They had a great shoving match with officials coming out to separate them. Should have stayed with this longer, but it was TO THE BREAK~!... Hall was still holding court in the bar... Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Kidman. I was going to say that Rey was extra tan today, then I realized Kidman was darker. They had a long time to work with, and they started SLOW. Fans were getting frustrated with the mat wrestling and the exact same moves and pace the big fellas had been doing all night, but they were very patient with things. They were in charge, not the fans. Rey, from the apron, suplexed Kidman to the floor, and Kidman started selling his knee. Fans were bored and chanted that Green Bay sucked. OK, they may be overdoing it with the patience. Kidman used a chinlock. He tried a powerbomb but Rey hit a rana to the outside, then a slingshot somersault dive. They battled on the top rope, and Kidman ended up dropped across the rope and Rey dropped a leg to the back of the head. Kidman came back, but missed a frog splash, and Rey hit a diving sitdown splash for a nearfall. Fans were bored and doing the wave. Kidman hit the sitout spinebuster for a nearfall, then a bulldog to set up the shooting star press. Rey cut that off and hit a top-rope rana for a nearfall. Fans were turning on this and booed the kickout. Rey hit something like an unprettier for a nearfall. He tried something off the top, but Kidman caught him with a dropkick, and the bell rang to indicate a time limit draw. Fans HATED that, like they had sat through this whole thing and didn't even get a finish. OK, by the end, this was a total failure... Gene brought out the mayor of Milwaukee, who was roundly booed. There were also chants for "JESSE!" She acknowledged Kirby Puckett and John Randle, and they came out to a rousing ovation. Crowd reiterated that Green Bay sucked. Then they brought out Ric Flair, who they noted had been born and raised in Minneapolis, and declared it RIC FLAIR DAY! Flair was in classic Flair mode briefly, but then Eric Bischoff appeared. he got in the mayor's face, but then Randle and Puckett got in his face. A cop stepped in and threatened to take Bischoff to jail. He also said Bischoff had "unpaid warrants" and had 20 minutes to get out of the arena. Bischoff promised to contact his attorney and return before the end of the show. He stormed backstage, where his car was being towed. He chased the car down the street. They said he was not a fast man, but he was keeping pace with the tow truck running down the street... Scott Hall & Stevie Ray & Scott Norton vs. Konnan & Lex Luger & Kevin Nash. Hall failed to show up with his nWo teammates, who were annoyed. Finally he came stumbling down the ramp. Norton was wearing the IWGP world championship belt. Then Nash failed to show for his team, but he still got the biggest pyro show of all time even for not being there. Konnan didn't care, he just did his promo. Then they cut backstage to show Nash carrying a beverage and stumbling about. This went on for a while. The bell rang to start the match, but they were still showing Nash backstage. Finally they cut to the ring, where nothing had happened yet because they were apparently all watching Nash on the big screen. Finally he showed up on the ramp and everyone cheered. Lex and Konnan asked what he was doing. Hall wanted to party with him. The match just began with the sober dudes fighting. You would think that drunk Hall and Nash might be better than sober Stevie Ray and Konnan, but these guts got in there and went after it, I have to admit. Lex tagged in and did some power spots with Norton. Norton was working overtime here, even taking a flip bump for a clothesline. They cut Lex off and worked him over a bit. Hall tagged himself in, then Nash tagged himself in. They stumbled into the ring and shared a laugh and toasted each other. Then Nash revealed his drink was empty, and he booted the beer out of Scott's hand and went to work. Hall ping-ponged for everyone and did the Harley Race toe-hook on the ropes before falling out of the ring. Ref randomly called the match off. "I don't know why the bell sounded," Schiavonie said. Well, this angle worked, when all was said and done... Warrior-Hogan video package... Hollywood Hogan vs. Horace. Hogan became the first guy ever to interrupt a Buffer introduction and send him packing. He demanded Horace come out, and Horace obliged. Hogan demanded Horace "shoot with this thing" and give his real name. Horace said it was Horace Hogan. Hollywood said his late brother had been Horace's father. Hogan talked about having the same blood running through their veins, then called out the nWo to see what Horace meant to him. He said he had let Horace fight his own battles, and every time he looked at Horace, he saw his dead brother, and he loved him. Um, did he have to say that? Usually, Hogan said, people had to prove themselves to him. But he loved Horace so much, he would give him the shirt off his back. He said he would show everyone a sacrifice, and he punched Horace out and started whipping him with his belt. The other nWo dudes tried to reason with him, but he just said if he would do this to someone he loved, imagine what he would do to Warrior. And he plastered him right in the head with a chair. Jesus, dude. They started stretchering Horace out, but Hogan tipped it over and kept ranting about Warrior. Warrior came running out with a baseball bat. Hogan fled, leaving his cronies to take the beating. Warrior beat them up and looked like shit doing it. Hogan challenged Warrior to put the bat down, but it was a distraction so Giant could grab Warrior and chokeslam him. Hogan tagged Warrior with the nWo sign and dropped a bunch of legs on him. And finally this ended. I see what they were going for here but man this went FOREVER... Bret Hart came out to challenge Sting. He said Hogan had inspired him, and the fans still didn't respect him. He said hi to his one fan, Smokey, his cat. Is that where Tyson Kidd got it? Bret said the best way to earn respect was to kick the crap out of Sting, so why wait till Sunday? He said Sting was the stupidest there ever is, stupidest there ever was, and stupidest there ever will be. Out came Sting, still covering his facial hair with red facepaint, And he jumped Bret, and the match began... Bret Hart vs. Sting. Sting beat him up for a while. Finally he tried a Vader splash and Bret got the knees up to cut him off. All I could think watching this was, shouldn't this be a bigger deal? I mean, one year ago at this time, Bret was WWF champion, and Sting was WCW's savior. And now they're just out there, two dudes. Sting hooked the sharpshooter. Bret got the ropes, but Sting didn't care. "You might as well go get help," he told the ref, "because I'm not gonna let go." and so the main event of Nitro ended with a lame DQ. Stevie Ray and Vincent ran out to make the save, so Sting beat their ass. Garbage hit the ring. And, that was it. The finishes on this show, in order: Clean pin, pin after a guy hit his partner with a chair, clean pin, pin after a German guy interfered, clean pin, submission win after one team replaced another, DQ, draw, no-contest, no-match, DQ. Lord.

WWE NXT (10/18/17)

Sonya Deville vs. Ember Moon vs. Ruby Riot. Nigel was sure to point out, this was not MMA, this was SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT. Like once a week he says something and I'm certain he knows how stupid it sounds and he's in on the joke. Speaking of jokes, the story of this match was that Ember and Ruby did not want Sonya in there and couldn't wait to get her out of the ring, and even worked together to make sure she didn't get back in. Sadly that could not last forever. They did the Goldberg-Kwee Wee spear spot, with Sonya playing Goldberg and Ember coming off the ropes, and to be honest it looked, well, worse, but still very good. Sonya tried something off the apron and Ember caught her with a dropkick in midair. Looked like they both died, especially Sonya landing ass-first on the floor. Then Ruby hit a dive onto both women and landed loudly and badly on the ramp and appeared to hurt her foot or ankle, but she was able to continue. It played into the match, as Sonya caught her in an ankle lock, but Ruby got the ropes. There are no rope breaks in three-ways? So Sonya dragged her back and put the ankle lock back on, but Ember went up top and hit the diving stunner on Deville. Deville rolled out of the ring, so Ember covered Ruby to win the match. Well, that was a great finish. Match was OK, would have been a lot better with Ruby and Ember one-on-one, obviously... We got hidden camera footage of the Undisputed Era meeting Roderick Strong in the parking lot and giving him a t-shirt. Roddy returned the t-shirt and walked away... Christy St. Cloud interviewed William Regal. He was about to announce his plans for the fourth entrant in the NXT Women's championship match when the Iconic Duo interrupted. They wanted Billie to be the fourth woman. Regal instead announced Billie would be taking part in a battle royal next week to fill the spot. Iconic Duo pouted and stormed off. This was the first time I found the Iconic Duo funny-annoying instead of annoying-annoying... Raul Mendoza vs. Aleister Black. They've got to get that giant fan out of that spot right by the ramp. He makes all the wrestlers look 4 feet tall. The bell rang when Velveteen Dream appeared on the apron, putting on Black's vest. Black was distracted and Mendoza jumped him. Mendoza appeared to kill Black twice in five seconds, first with a knee or kick to the face, then a moonsault dive where his knee caught Black right in the head. This also resulted Black being unable to catch Mendoza, who fell randomly to the ramp and/or floor. Mendoza is maybe 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds and one of the most dangerous wrestlers I've ever seen. Black proceeded to be much more professional than I would have been, going through his comeback and even hitting the spinning superkick without stiffing Mendoza. I'd have kicked this motherfucker right in the face. After the win, Black hit his sitting pose and still refused to look Dream's way. But when Dream made his exit and turned his back, Black finally turned his glance that way. GOTTEN TO... They showed like a dozen people getting ready for Drew McIntyre's interview. I laughed... Christy interviewed Drew. OK, what the fuck is Christy wearing. She looks like a pregnant woman in her underwear. And she's not fat. This was the least flattering outfit of all time. Fortunately she's still great at her job. Drew said his end goal had been the NXT championship, and now he had pulled it off, and it felt better than he imagined. He went back to getting fired by WWE and having to explain it to his family and then-girlfriend how he was going to get by. They had moved in together four guys before that. He talked about grabbing his girlfriend's hands and she asked him if they would be OK. Christy put her hand to her chest in shock. But Drew said at that moment, the fire within him was re-lit, and he promised her they'd be fine. And with her support, he worked harder than ever to get back on top, and he had done it. At that point Zalena interrupted and took over the interview. She said, like Drew, Andrade Almas had been slumping and needed a second chance, and she was his second chance. She asked why Drew was avoiding Andrade. Drew said he had had his hands full, but he would fight anyone at any time and if they wanted a title shot, they just needed to ask William Regal. She said he could get the match booked if he wanted. Drew said if Andrade shows up and looks me in the eye and tells me he wants the match, then we'll talk about it. She agreed and left. I was eagerly, EAGERLY anticipating Andrade jumping Drew from behind right there, but no, it just ended. Oh, man, this was so, so, SO good up to that point and the needed finish was so obvious and right there and they didn't pull the trigger. Ah, what a letdown... Kassius Ohno vs. Cezar Bononi. Two big dudes throwing a bunch of kicks and stuff at each other and nobody cared. Kassius won with a discus elbow to the back of Bononi's head, as Bononi was kneeling like an execution victim... Sanity vs. Undisputed Era. Sanity ran wild by being big and wacky, then Undisputed cut Young off with precise technique. You rarely see WWE matches that so clearly pit one side against the other, so this was refreshing. This made Sanity the default babyfaces because wrestling is weird. O'Reilly stopped his attack to knock Alexander Wolfe off the apron, but that gave Young a chance to fight back and try to tag Killian Dane. And finally, after a few teases, he did. Crowd was so into this hot tag and comeback. He barreled his way through and into the small men repeatedly. He hit a Samoan drop/fallaway slam combo on reDRagon. Cole was beside himself and didn't want to get in the ring. Finally he had to after Dane hit a Vader bomb. He superkicked Dane in the back of the head, but then fled again. reDRagon was killed and Cole realized it was him against three dudes now. They blocked his exit a few times and brought him into the ring to kill him. They were about to hit a powerbomb/suplex/neckbreaker combo when the Authors of Pain made their return and attacked Sanity for the DQ. This was their first appearance since dropping the tag titles to Sanity. Wasn't that SummerSlam weekend? That's a long absence. Yes, two months, Mauro said. They hit the super collider as Undisputed Era watched from the stage. That was a really, really good main event before the finish. Well, sometimes you've got to do crap finishes to build to something down the line.

WWE Tables, Ladders & Chairs (10/22/17)

Emma vs. Asuka. Asuka got a total superstar reaction and looked great early. Emma looked good to, in what was an important match for her as well. She was not reluctant to hit this woman who was coming back from a broken collarbone. Asuka made a very big comeback, then they traded submissions and counters. Emma rolled outside after a suplex, then slammed Asuka off the apron to the floor. OW. Then Asuka caught her coming in with a kick to the head and hooked the crossface chickenwing for the win. This was a really, REALLY good opener. (***1/2)... Miz and the Bar discussed what it would be like to face Kurt Angle tonight. Miz was upset Kurt was trying to steal their spotlight, by which of course he meant his spotlight. Braun Strowman arrived and said if everyone stayed out of his way he'd kill the whole other team. Kane showed up and said the same thing. Everyone repeated themselves for a while. This wasn't terrible but was twice as long as it needed to be... Drifter sang a song. There was a shadow right over his face for a while. It's the leg of one of the chairs hanging over his head. Nobody thought about that? He buried the fans and began to play a song. Just as he was about to sing, somebody at ringside threw lettuce at his face. More vegetables followed. It was Jason Jordan. Hell of a segment here for the son of the guy making his big return tonight. That was the end of this segment. On PPV... Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher vs. Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann. Great crowd that was into all the cool things the little fellas were doing. Bunch of highspots early, then things slowed down as they had the heat on Swann. They were always doing stuff, so it wasn't too boring, just slow enough to build to Cedric's hot tag. Kicked off the parade of big moves, as everyone hit a finish leading to a quadruple-down. And then Cedric hit Kendrick with the lumbar check for the win. Would have been better with more time, but very good for what it was. (**3/4)... Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James. Alexa cut a promo talking about how cute her butt is. I mean, it is, that can't be denied, but that's not how I would have approached this. She talked about how old Mickie is. Alexa tried to hide in the ropes early, so Mickie spanked her. This infuriated Alexa. Yes, this whole match is built around the fact Mickie called Alexa "biscuit butt." Alexis quickly cut her off and went to work. Mickie made her comeback, and they had a midring strike exchange that woke the crowd up. Then on their knees, then on their feet again, then Mickie made her real comeback. Mickie went up top, but Alexa yanked her down and Mickie grabbed her bad shoulder. So Alexa tried twisted bliss, but Mickie dodged, then went up top for what I think was supposed to be a dropkick. That wasn't too sharp, I'll admit. Crowd interrrupted this very good wrestling match to demand tables. Assholes. Then Alexa pulled Mickie shoulder-first into the turnbuckles and followed with a DDT for the win. Some very good pro wrestling here (***1/2)... They tried to interview Mickie in the ring. Since when have they done in-ring promos with losers? She said she was disappointed, but she promised this wouldn't be her last title match or her last title reign, and she thanked the fans for everything, and she left. That was awesome! Why don't they do that more often? Cole told Mickie to "hang your head high." I'm not sure it works that way Michael... Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins met with Kurt Angle backstage. He tried to defend himself for sticking his nose in their business, but they interrupted him and passed him a flak jacket to acknowledge he was part of their team... Elias tried to sing his song again. He got one line in and then everyone booed him into silence. He said he would have to start over. They booed louder. He sang about how they were interrupting him, then explained he could not hear himself, so they would have to hold their applause. This was very successful in getting them to boo louder. Jordan was there with more vegetables. Where did he find a shopping cart?... Kalisto vs. Enzo Amore. Enzo lost his voice and cut a 20-minute promo about losing his voice. I am not making this up. Well, it was maybe two minutes. But still. Enzo wrestled this match in powder blue shorts over leopard-print tights. This was the ugliest thing in the world, until he started running the ropes, and then that was the ugliest thing in the world. Enzo dropped Kalisto's head into the turnbuckles for the heat. He was making up wacky submission holds as the crowd demanded tables. This time I can't blame them. Enzo teased a top-rope move but just jumped down. Kalisto kicked him in the head to start his comeback. Announcer said Kalisto was trying to feed off the energy of the crowd. Um, what energy? Enzo stole No Way Jose's pitching punch. Then he used a chinlock forever. Dude, this guy sucks. They took turns being thrown into the turnbuckle. Enzo hit a diving DDT. At least that was cool. Then he tried to do the assisted flip spot off a fame asser and fell right on his head. He hit a weapon shot or something, nobody seemed to be sure, then eat defeat for the win. Not the worst match I ever saw or anything, but for sure the worst match on the show. (*1/4)... They went to interview Enzo in the ring. He thanked himself and said no thanks to the fans. Mickie was better... AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor. Finn still did his Demon gimmick even though Bray wasn't there. Fans were standing and jumping and saying this was awesome before the match even started. Then they said it was too sweet. Match began and they did great wrestling for five minutes. Between dueling chants and Bullet Club references and STILL MORE DEMANDS FOR TABLES the crowd had plenty of material. AJ hit the phenomenal forearm for a nearfall just a few minutes in. That was weird. Finn made a comeback with the running chops, then kicked AJ out of the ring and hit a big running flip dive. He hit the sling blade back in the ring, but AJ cut him off with the AA onto the knee. They're actually just calling it by the Japanese name, the ushigoroshi. AJ hooked the calf crusher. Finn crawled for the ropes, so AJ released the hold, rolled him back to the middle, and put it back on. Finn broke this by repeatedly slamming AJ's head into the mat, which should be the escape from all submission holds ever. AJ tried the forearm, but Finn shoved him off the ropes to the floor. He had a chance to win via countout, but stopped the count and went outside for more. AJ tackled him and they went tumbling over ther German announce desk. These dudes were going 5,000 miles an hour and barely sweating. They began to crash into each other repeatedly. They had just the most awesome strike exchange for another double-down. They tried some big moves, then Finn hit the 1916 for a nearfall. He hit the super dropkick and went up top, but AJ hit the Pele kick to cut him off, then a springboard top rope rana for a nearfall. AJ missed the springboard 450, and Finn hit the super dropkick. And it was time for the finish, and they wanted to make sure it looked good, so Finn hit the footstomp and just fucking stuck both feet into AJ's gut and pinned him. Well of course he pinned him. He was just put through the fucking ring. This was incredible, incredible stuff. Finn pulled AJ to his feet afterwards and they shook hands, then Too Sweeted each other as the crowd roared. Pretty hard to see how this could have been much better. Maybe the best WWE match of the year. (****3/4)... Elias tried to sing his song again. He buried Jordan for never having a dad around. Jordan's music interrupted... Drifter vs. Jason Jordan. When did NXT start? Cole explained that Jordan had thrown "produce from a supermarket" at Drifter. Thanks Cole. Slow and boring. Drifter is, well, better than Enzo, but not much. Jordan hit a couple of amateur style slams. Jordan made a comeback nobody cared about. They started teasing scary top rope suplexes and thankfully didn't deliver. Somewhere in here Drifter caught Jordan right in the eyebrow with a knee. Jordan hooked a small package, Drifter kicked out at 3.01, and the ref called for the bell. They showed the replays a bunch and it looked like Drifter's shoulder came up and back down. Yikes. Guess we'll get a rematch. (*1/2)... Kurt Angle & Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins vs. Miz & Sheamus & Cesaro & Braun Strowman & Kane in a tables, ladders, and chairs match. Miz gave his team one last pep talk saying they would treat the other team like garbage and take them to the dump. Kane had a cool new version of his theme. Angle came out through the crowd with the Shield, didn't even get his own entrance. Crowd chanted "YOU SUCK!" anyway. Kurt wacked a few guys with chairs and then immediately started working with Kane, the one guy he knew he could trust. Shield all grabbed chairs and cleared the ring, then Dean and Seth hit stereo dives. Kurt grabbed a ladder and started wacking dudes with it. Dean and Seth kept double-teaming Kane. They went to put Kane through a table, but were undone by the superior numbers of Team Miz. Braun hit one clubbering forerarm to Kurt, the only time anyone besides Kane laid a finger on him. They laid Kane and Braun on the announce desks and hit splashes through both of them. Seth and Dean I mean, if you were wondering. Kurt started wacking Miz with a chair. These guys swinging chairs were swinging HARD. Finally the Bar cut Kurt off. They were SO gentle with him. Most of the shots just hit him in the flak jacket. He took one bump off a double clothesline. They teased the Shield triple powerbomb but Seth and Dean returned to break it up. Kurt started suplexing Miz, then Sheamus, then Cesaro. Kane did the zombie situp and hit the ring but Kurt put him in the ankle lock. Braun tripped Kurt to break that up. Then yes, Strowman powerslammed Kurt through a table. That's two bumps. They treated this like a fatality, with medics out there checking his hands and neck. Meanwhile, all five heels were destroying Dean and Seth with chairs. They helped Kurt gingerly walk away from the ring, then he stopped and collapsed in the aisle. The massacre in the ring continued for several minutes. Eventually even the guys with the chairs got bored and began to hit wrestling moves. Crowd was so concerned they demanded ladders. Seth figured this was a good time to start a comeback. In the ensuing melee, Kane accidentally hit Braun with a chair. They had a staredown, then Braun shoved Kane down. The other heels tried to make peace. Dean and Seth attacked and the brawl continued. They tried to put Dean through a table but the table blew its spot. So they leaned it in the corner and Dean ran through it. Miz started directing traffic, calling his crew up the aisle and then calling a garbage truck into the arena. They all started fighting in and around the garbage truck, and Dean and Seth hit dive off it onto everyone. Well, except Miz. Miz ran down to the ring, but Dean and Seth ran him down and started hitting him with chairs again. Then they dragged him back to his teammates. Well this seems dumb. You had him isolated at ringside. Throw him in and pin him. Instead, Kane returned and started to kill them. Everyone started fighting and then Kane ambushed Braun and chokeslammed him off the stage through, uh, something. The hair in Kane's wig looks ridiculous, by the way. They showed replays for several minutes. Then they just showed Kane. Where did the other six people go? Braun's hand reached up and grabbed Kane's boot. So Kane yanked the chairs that were hanging from the ceiling and they all fell on Braun. Literally nothing happened for a while. Finally Kane chokeslammed Dean and Seth through tables. Well, Seth. Dean's slipped out from under him. Sucks to be Dean tonight. They went to put Dean and Seth in the truck again. Why is this so important? Braun started digging himself out of the rubble, which distracted everyone, especially Kane. Miz tried to make peace, but Braun threw him into the video board, leveled Cesaro and Sheamus, and then started brawling with Kane. Everyone tried to save Kane, and eventually they got him down and put the boots to him. Now it was time to throw Braun into the truck. The truck turned on and, uh, pulled Braun up a ramp? I guess? I don't know how garbage trucks work. I believe the fans were chanting "THAT IS MURDER." This match has gone so wildly off the rails. They dragged Seth down to the ring and beat him up more. They finally tried to pin him. Dean returned to break up the pin, but they killed him too. Then Kurt's music and he made his way down to the ring. Backdrop for Cesaro on the ramp. Angle slam for Sheamus on the ramp. Angle slam for Cesaro through a table. He knocked Miz out of the ring, then again worked with Kane. Miz surprised Kurt with the skull crushing finale, but Kurt kicked out. Crowd that told Kurt he sucked two minutes ago was now chanting "USA!" Kurt tried to bump through the ropes and nearly fell on his head and I gasped. They trapped Miz in the ring, and after a dramatic pause, they all hit their finishers on him. Finally they hit the triple powerbomb, with Angle playing Roman, and Angle pinned Miz to win. Miz was smiling on the pin. The only way I can describe this match: it was even weirder than I thought it would be. But it was a good match and a very memorable main event. (***1/4)

Lucha Underground Season 3: Ultima Lucha Tres, Part IV

Vampiro was in a suit. Striker was in a t-shirt. I'm honestly not sure which was funnier... Matanza vs. Dragon Azteca in a steel cage match. We have not given enough love to Matanza's theme, which is all thunderous drums and low, loud horns and scary chanting. Let it be known, from now until the end of time, that Lucha Underground has disappeared into the ether, and Dragon Azteca, wherever he is now, still needs to lose his stupid lizard headdress. Also let it be known that in the most Lucha Underground thing of all time, the match began with a moonsault press off the top of the cage. Matanza overcame that and cut Dragon off and beat him up for a while. And then Dragon ran at Matanza, and Matanza hit an overhead belly-to-belly, and Dragon flew into the side of the cage, which broke and he went flying to the floor. Jesus Christ almighty. I can't believe what just happened. It quickly became clear that this incredibly, incredibly stupid thing was what they PLANNED TO DO. Dragon was declared the winner, but Dario ordered it restarted and said it was now pin or submission only. They brawled on the floor and did some crazy cool spots out there. Dragon went after Dario and tore his shirt open, but Matanza cut him off again. Really, it got boring for a while. Suddenly, Black Lotus appeared and climbed the cage. I've totally forgotten who she is or how she's related to anyone. She hit Dragon with a dive off the top of the cage, and Matanza then pinned Dragon with the tour of the islands. Dario triumphantly declared his brother the winner. Matanza climbed to the top rope, but Lotus nutshotted him and then powerbombed him down. She went after Dario, who admitted he was a liar, but then Matanza returned and laid her out with the tour of the islands. Fans chanted that Dario was a liar. I have absolutely zero idea what's going on. This whole segment was one totally insane spot and then not much else (**1/4)... Jeremiah Crane vs. Cage vs. Mil Muertes in a Gauntlet of the Gods match. Dario appeared and said only one of them deserved to wear the gauntlet, and that man would prove it tonight. To make sure the right man won, he was making it an elimination match. Um, OK. Why aren't all three-ways elimination rules then? Crane ran wild with kicks and dives. Cage hit a huge dive of his own, then Mil hit a plancha from the top rope to the floor onto both of them. Cage started setting up tables but then Crane, who was bleeding everywhere for reasons I totally missed, started hitting the big dudes with a garbage can. Eventually Mil chokeslammed Crane off the apron through a table. This made this a one-on-one match for a while. Mil, who has never done the lucha headscissors that I can remember, broke one out on the floor on Cage. Cage hit a bunch of high-flying moves of his own. Then Crane just stabbed a bunch of wooden skewers into the top of Cage's head and did some stuff. Crane found a pane of glass and was sure to bleed all over it as he carried it around. Mil put himself through the glass with a missed spear and started bleeding everywhere from the arm. He fired up and made a comeback, but it didn't last long. Cage laid Mil out with a hammer and laid him on some tables. Crane and Cage took turns cutting each other off. Finally Cage superplexed Crane through Mil and the tables. What insanity. Cage threw Crane in and pinned him with his incredibly convoluted finisher. They went to break at this point... So now Crane was gone and it was Cage-Mil one-on-one. Cage took over and hit some big moves. Crane returned and attacked Cage with a chair. Cage fought them both off briefly, but Mil caught him with a flatliner onto a chair to win. A crazy-go-nuts stunt show and some cool moves. (***1/4)... Dario appeared and presented the gauntlet to Catrina. She took that and the magic rock and entered the ring. Mil put on the gauntlet and punched the mat and the lights went out. They came back on, and King Cuerno was in the ring. Seen for the first time since Ultima Lucha Dos. He laid out Catrina and Mil Muertes and stole the magic gauntlet for himself and left... "The Johnny Mundo Story directed by Taya." They shot their own promo about how the Lucha Underground title proved JOHN EDWARD MUNDO was the best wrestler in the world. He posed and flexed and roared on top of the building as Taya talked about how hot he was. "I'm going to drop some truth that's as rock-solid as my abs." He talked about how he was born better than all the fans. Worldwide Underground talked about how great it was to team with Johnny. Ricky Mundo was on the verge of tears talking about how Johnny was like Jesus or Buddha -- no, way better. Johnny drove his Corvette around as dope '80s rock played. Dario said Johnny had never deserved to main event Ultima Lucha before, and he couldn't wait to see what Prince Puma did to him. Johnny said he was actually jealous of Puma, because Puma had the honor of losing to the best wrestler in the world to end his career, and that was that. This was MOTHER FUCKING PHENOMENAL and seriously the best thing on the show so far... Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma, title vs. career. If Puma failed to win the title, he had to leave Lucha Underground forever. Puma, like Dragon Azteca, goes into the ether needing to lose his stupid headdress. Didn't he actually ditch it before? He brought it BACK? They did the longest, most elaborate, most athletic highspot ending in a stalemate of all time. We have seen three and a half straight weeks of non-stop ultra-violent insanity and now the main event is a wrestling match. They brawled outside a bit, and Puma jumped from the guardrail to the apron, then did a double-jump springboard shooting star press to the floor. This man is absurd. Just ridiculous. Johnny returned to the ring, hid behind the ref, and took out Puma with a good ol' punch. He tried a moonlight drive, but Puma escaped it and hit a cutter and shooting star press for a nearfall. They kept trading big moves for nearfalls. Puma accidentally kicked the ref unconscious. Worldwide Underground ran out and laid out Puma. They even hit chasing the dragon. Jack, who could speak now, hit a big spinning kick. Taya showed up with a backup ref, but after a half-dozen finishers, Puma still kicked out. So Worldwide Underground killed the backup ref too. They were all set to kill Puma with chairs when Angelico made the save. They did a spot where Johnny was supposed to accidentally hit Taya with a chair, and because he was unwilling to really swing a chair at his fiance, it looked like crap even after editing. Rick Knox, the backup ref, hit a dive of his own. It was terrifying. Angelico grabbed a stick and chased Worldwide Underground away. Puma hit a pair of big moves but Johnny kicked out and they went to break... Crowd was going crazy as they basically started over. Puma got the better of a striking exchange. They brawled up top and Mundo hit a moonlight drive for a nearfall. Mundo tried the end of the world, but Puma got the knees up and hit a series of strikes. He hit the 630 senton and made a cover, and he won. Well there you go. Honestly, felt out of nowhere after all the insanity earlier. Vampiro did not applaud, but he stood with a silent smile on his face. Everyone was partying and going crazy when Dario interrupted. He congratulated Puma for making his hometown and ancestors proud, saving his career, and becoming the first two-time Lucha Underground champion. But the night was not over, he was doing one more match. Fans began to chant for Pentagon... Dario did the ring announcing for the mystery main event. He started with Puma, then said someone had come to him last week after his victory and wanted to challenge the champion tonight. Dario said usually he would want to promote something like that, but rules were like bones, they were made to be broken. So it was Pentagon after all... Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Dark. The match was about to start when Dario interrupted and said the Lucha Underground title was on the line, and so were both of their careers. Striker immediately asked why you would do that, and it was a fine question. They went to break AGAIN. Then Puma hit a big dive, but a minute later Pentagon cut him off and hit the armbreaker. The trainer hit the ring, and Puma taped up his own arm. Nice of Pentagon to just wait for him to do that. Striker was talking about how Vampiro had trained both men. Wait, hasn't the whole Vampiro-Puma thing been secret, behind-the-scenes stuff? Vampiro said he had too much on his mind to do commentary. Striker was extra annoying trying to get him to talk. Puma was working very slowly selling exhaustion and the broken arm. He still hit a bunch of suplexes. I guess this is not the show to quibble about realistic selling. Striker said somewhere a young child was watching. Jesus. I hope not. Puma tried a one-armed handspring into the ropes, but Pentagon cut him off with a kick. Striker was single-handedly trying to pull the plug on this show early. They kept teasing big moves and Puma hit a destroyer, then a kick to the face for a nearfall. Puma tried a 630, but Vampiro pulled Pentagon out of the way. Pentagon hit a superkick and the half-nelson driver, but Puma still kicked out. Striker turned on Vampiro and wouldn't let him come do commentary. I'd like to see you stop him. And then Pentagon hit a package piledriver for the win. Well, there you go. Vampiro hit the ring and saluted Pentagon and celebrated with him. So Lucha Underground with the top heel, who everybody loves, defeating the top babyface, who had secretly been a heel this season, as the fans cheered and Striker bitched. Fans sang the goodbye song, then chanted "THANK YOU PUMA!" Pentagon cut a promo saying this was now his temple and he would defend it with zero fear. (**3/4)... Puma slowly walked away, alone, as sad music played. With his back to the camera, he removed his mask and dropped it on the floor and walked out the door. The magic guantlet sparkled with lightning as Cuerno gloated in his win. Sexy Star met the papparazi as a little girl brought her a gift, then whispered "She hasn't forgotten about you." The gift was a tarantula. Mascarita Sagrada said he was not the white rabbit, but the Rabbit Tribe could follow him. Fenix and Melissa drove away as Catrina and Jeremiah Crane looked one. The Lizard Tribe ordered a guy with a sword to kill Pindar. We saw Pindar's head on the ground. Vampiro was in his temple. He had done as his master instructed. Puma was gone forever, and Pentagon had ascended to new heights. The Master said he would make Pentagon fall, and Vampiro had done well. Matanza was in his cage. Rey Mysterio was on the other side. Dario promised that one guy he would get the gauntlet back. The guy said Dario was getting a pass, and then shot him, apparently to death. He promised new management would take care of all the messes. Yes, Dario was sitting in his chair, clutching the bull statue and bleeding out. He reached for the phone and dialed a number. DAMNED ROTARY PHONE! Somebody answered the phone and Dario whispered something to them and then died. TO BE CONTINUED. Or, you know, not. The more wrestling promotions that are healthy active, the better for the industry. So in that sense I really do hope they are able to come back. But this was an awfully good end for the company, and as a fan, I think it's probably best to just let this company lie.