Friday, October 30, 2015

Looking back at Halloween Havoc's Chamber of Horrors

No match in the history of wrestling may have been as aptly named as the Chamber of Horrors. It was truly an abomination of a match, not because of the talent involved (outside El Gigante), but because it was a horrible gimmick with a goofy setup and the strange stipulation that it could only end with someone apparently dying in the electric chair.

Yes, really.

Yes, it's grainy, but even in full resolution, the thing was a mess.
The two four man units facing off had tons of upside. Gigante was used sparingly alongside his team of Sting and the Steiner Brothers, while the heel faction gave us hall of famers Cactus Jack, Abdullah the Butcher and Scott Hall teaming with future hall of famer Vader. (Seriously, how is he not a WWE Hall of Famer yet?) But with a terrible structure that obscured much of the action and the horrible "electric chair" in mid-ring, the thing was just a mess to start off 1991's Halloween Havoc.

Did the Young Bucks make the right decision by signing with ROH?

It was a big news story after being teased by the Young Bucks themselves: who would they sign a contract with at this point in their careers? The answer was Ring of Honor. While the deal in place allows them to continue their work with ROH's partner NJPW and the Bucks' home promotion PWG, Ring of Honor seems like a strange choice for the duo.

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Ring of Honor has had two other high profile signings in the last few months. They signed Moose after rumors that the rising star might be WWE bound. Since that time, he's fought on the early half of every card in negligible matches that do nothing for a star that was massively over entering 2015. The second signing was of Roderick Strong, a man that while often looked at as bland personality-wise can go as well as anyone in the ring. His signing has embroiled him in a feud with Jay Lethal, the perennial booking favorite of ROH's Hunter Johnson.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Top 10 stars of WWE, October edition

After Night of Champions I debuted the site's first Top 10 list. Now as Hell in a Cell enters the rear view, we move on to look at where the standings lie in its wake. Welcome to the second edition of the WWE Top 10 as we look where the stars of the roster sit this month. Numbers following names are ranks from last month.
Paige went even more goth in a Halloween themed
WWE shoot. Image credit:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Looking back at Alberto's amazing Lucha Underground run

Alberto Del Rio just returned to WWE, but he had a great run at the beginning of the year as part of Lucha Underground. A feud with Texano started things out well for Alberto El Patron, but it was his battles with Johnny Mundo (the former John Morrison) that really allowed him to shine. They blew the roof off the Temple during Ultima Lucha, but their previous match was equally compelling as they fought a brutal battle that ended in an amazing wrestling moment.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Alberto Del Rio is back!

The big story going into Hell in a Cell last night was the mystery of who would be John Cena's open challenge opponent on the card. Dozens of names were put forward, but WWE made the decision not to make fans wait long as John kicked off the pay-per-view.

The man that answered pretty much proved a surprise to everyone.

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Alberto Del Rio left WWE under less than favorable conditions, fired after punching a backstage worker after the worker allegedly made a racist joke. WWE showed zero tolerance and released him just weeks short of his contract expiration. Suddenly the four time World champion was gone from the promotion that made him a huge star.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Two returns in the making for Chikara

I really really do not talk about Chikara enough on this blog, but that is mostly because I have yet to watch any of their events since last year’s series finale. I have started to pick up a couple from their new Chikaratopia set-up and will hopefully get some reviews up in the next few weeks.

But I still follow their storylines and as the company heads towards a weekend in the Midwest and this year’s series finale, two returns seem to be impending for the company.

Deucalion killed many between his debut and Tomorrow Never Dies. His first victim was The Batiri’s Kobald, as the chokebreaker broke the toilet demon. But his biggest kill was almost certainly the Estonian ThunderFrog, the Mjolnir-wielding frog powerhouse of Chikara. (And if that doesn’t sound awesome to you, learn to have more fun.)

The Estonian FarmerFrog from his Twitter profile. 

Tomorrow Never Dies ended with the seeming rebirth of the Thunderfrog on a Minnesota farm. Since that time, a very similar in appearance talent named the Estonian FarmerFrog has worked the local Minnesota independents. Now he will make his Chikara debut during their first ever stop in Minnesota. With the ThunderFrog's hammer still being an important part of Chikara storytelling, it remains to be seen if he will take his legacy back and become the ThunderFrog once more.

Along with the ThunderFrog’s return, The Batiri have been down a man for over a year. The Batiri teamed with Ultramantis Black over a promise to resurrect the fallen demon. And with Ultramantis’s in-ring career at an end, he needed a fourth member to enter his Atomicos match against the Wrecking Crew.

Well it seems clear from this video that the toilet demon may very well make his return as the mysterious fourth member of Ultramantis Black’s Atomicos unit. This will mark a pointed return for the impressive-but-tiny talent. Much like the Thunderfrog, he had become a popular competitor just before his demise and his return from whatever Heck the Batiri spawned from should offer tons of excitement to the Chikara faithful.

I have said it before and will say it again. Nothing quite like Chikara exists anywhere in the world.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Alexa Bliss is ready to replace the Four Horsewomen

With Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks now main roster regulars, NXT’s divas roster was left depleted in the aftermath of Takeover: Respect. But with the advent of Asuka at the same show and the continued presence of Dana Brooke and Emma, Bayley wasn’t without contenders.

But instead of going with any of those three women, NXT is pushing Alexa Bliss. Two weeks into her feud with Bayley, she seems ready to take over as the top mean girl of NXT.

Alexa Bliss is perfectly bad. Image credit:
Alexa wrestled a solid match with Peyton Royce on this week's NXT. Peyton got in far more offense than I think I’ve seen before, but Alexa Bliss looked like a million bucks as she did everything she needed to pick up the win over Royce. Blake and Murphy surprisingly remained only as ringside spectators, though one suspects they will become far more important once she regularly starts wrestling Bayley.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The top 10 wrestlers of 1985

Normally today's feature would cover the top stars of one of the great modern day promotions in the field, but today is a very special day where a time traveler from 1985 came to 2015 and helped the Cubs win the World Series. (Or something like that.) So while I'm waiting for Max Headroom-like representations of Reagan and Gorbachev to appear, it seemed apt to travel back to his time and look at the top wrestlers of the era where Rock N Wrestling first brought wrestling to a national level.

Their ending might have been tragic, but they were an amazing
team for many years.
  1. The British Bulldogs: While not yet the WWE tag champs, the Bulldogs were a hugely over act due to their amazing in-ring prowess. they would be embroiled ina long term feud with the Dream Team for the next year.
  2. Junkyard Dog: While not a title holder often, JYD almost always held strong positions on the card, often serving as the man to beat to get a shot at the WWF title. He was at the peak of his career in 1985, a bonafide star sadly held back from his full potential due to the racist attitudes still prevalent at that time in wrestling.
  3. Tito Santana: Tito is the most accomplished wrestler there is very little to say about. He held the Intercontinental title for much of the year, but continued to mostly be a buy the numbers champion.
  4. “Macho Man” Randy Savage: New to the WWF, Randy was already clearly a future star. He immediately took key positions on the card and his star power dwarfed the likes of Santana.
  5. Magnum T.A.: His career wouldn't last much longer, but Magnum was easily the second biggest star in the NWA by 1985. A consistent contender for the US title, it would have only been a matter of time before he made a run at the championship, but tragedy ended his career early.
  6. The Rock N Roll Express: What else can be said about the Rock N Roll Express other than they're arguably the most innovative tag team of the 1980s. They were hugely over and while their famous battles with the Midnight Express were on hold in 85, they were still wildly successful in the NWA. 
  7. Ric Flair: I'm sure some Southern wrestling fans will argue that Flair should be higher on this list. But in 1985, the NWA didn't have the penetration into pop culture WWF. While Flair was a huge star in every way, it would be a few years still before his home turf would start to compete.
  8. Wendi Richter: She's almost a footnote to wrestling today, but her alliance with Cyndi Lauper in 1985 was arguably more important than even Hogan's rise in making WWF culturally significant. Her alliance started the Rock N Wrestling era, even if she wouldn't stick around long after her amazing year as Women's Champion.
  9. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper: He was the baddest man in WWF. While he could never hit #1 on this list, in 1985, Roddy was responsible for making stars. He main evented Wrestlemania earlier in the year and would move on to feud with the champion for nearly a year, even taking the enmity to children's television the next year.
  10. Hulk Hogan: 1985 was the year that Hulk Hogan became HULK HOGAN. He teamed with international star Mr. T at Wrestlemania and instantly became a media darling. His charisma drew in fans and his shirt ripping became vogue among even non-wrestling fans. Feuds with Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper turned Hogan into a superstar, even if he was never able to get a clean pinfall on Piper in '85 or ever again. 
Piper and Hogan were a perfect match as enemies.
There you have it, the Top 10 wrestlers of 1985. Am I right? Wrong? Downright crazy? Let me know in the comments section or on social media!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tim Donst in documentary form

At the beginning of the year, it seemed for awhile that independent wrestler Tim Donst might be at the end of his career. With cancer issues, he was facing a far greater battle than just a match.

The Chikara alum survived his fight though and made his return to wrestling over the summer. He also released a documentary about his experience that I think everyone should watch.

His current home promotion of Absolute Intense Wrestling put a lot of effort into helping the video become possible. Donst continues to work at AIW as well as CZW and various other indies. Follow him on Twitter for more or head over to Smartmark Video and check him out in tons of great shows.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Five star wrestling with Manami Toyota and Aja Kong

I close out a week focused on great women wrestling with a classic five star match from All Japan Women's Wrestling between the always amazing Manami Toyota and the monstrous Aja Kong, the woman that inspired much of Awesome Kong's style. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Is Nia Jax the second coming of Kharma?

Kharma was a failed experiment by WWE, mostly due to a lot of unwanted media attention in the aftermath of her failed pregnancy. But most fans agree that Awesome Kong could have been great in the WWE Divas division, maybe even giving the current "Divas Revolution" a jumpstart years ahead of time. But it wasn't to be.

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Last night on NXT, Nia Jax made her in ring debut in a brutal takedown of Shimmer regular Evie. It was a great match with the much smaller and more seasoned Evie selling like a million bucks for the massive new Samoan star. In all the right ways, Nia reminded long time viewers of the dominance of Awesome Kong in the early days of the TNA Knockouts. She looked like a monster, which was a smart way to book her first onscreen match.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The NXT Top 10

The Wednesday Top 10 is back and this time we check in on the aftermath of NXT Takeover: Respect with a list of ten best wrestlers or tag teams in NXT. In the aftermath of the Dusty Classic, the women's title match main event and the continued dominance of Apollo Crews, there's a lot to talk about. But who will take number one? Better start reading to find out!

The Vaudevillians. Image credit:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Act Yasukawa has returned to wrestling... and is coming to America

A few years back, I was regularly watching joshi (Japanese female wrestling) on dailymotion. Groups like Ice Ribbon and STARDOM were solid and I loved the events Kana (now Asuka) would run on her own. But while watching those events, I became a huge fan of a few different Japanese wrestlers. One of those women was STARDOM's Act Yasukawa. She's got tons of presence and even beats Asuka in the awesome entrance attire award.

Unfortunately, she was involved in an awful event earlier this year when another STARDOM wrestler Yoshiko threw away their regularly scheduled match by straight up shooting on her with several stiff shots. Before Act had a chance to react, she had taken several stiff shots from a woman that was supposed to protect her body in the ring. She was left with broken ribs and some horrible damage to her face, while Yoshiko was banned from competing in STARDOM. Many folks questioned whether Act Yasukawa would ever return to wrestling, but she did so at the end of September for a STARDOM event.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Portia Perez is retired.

Portia Perez retired over the weekend as part of the SHIMMER DVD tapings. It is a sad day in wrestling when a heel as talented as Perez goes away, but health concerns have forced the decision on her. She went out with a four on four tag match featuring the one night returns of Lacey and Daizee Haze to wrestling, which will appear on a future SHIMMER volume.

In the mean time, enjoy some classic wrestling action where you can watch her team with Kelli Skater, a woman that would become one of her greatest enemies in SHIMMER (alongside one of their opponents Hiroyo Matsumoto).

Thursday, October 8, 2015

NXT's roster just got another huge name

The storm has arrived in NXT.

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Just a few weeks after leaving TNA, James Storm has joined the NXT cast of characters with a quick win at the tapings for next week. Rumors are floating about a backstage role for him with the WWE's secondary division, but if it come with a regular role on the roster I could not be more happy.

TNA burned out much of my respect for them as a company when they burned out an amazing push for Storm back in 2012 with an awful Lockdown main event. His arrival in the best booked promotion anywhere in the United States makes me truly excited for his future in the business.

NXT's roster earns their "Respect"

I've spent two days talking about the importance of last night's NXT Takeover: Respect main event but Sasha Banks and Bayley were not going to sit idle with their shot at the top of the card. They put on a match every bit as epic as their 18 and a half minute classic in Brooklyn.

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While Bayley retaining against the now main roster star Sasha Banks wasn't overly surprising, the result didn't matter as much as the quality of two women clearly forming a rivalry that will last for years to come. Bayley and Sasha have been perfect opponents and I suspect we will see much more of both women when Bayley eventually gets her main event call up.

For now, Sasha has the WWE Divas title to focus on, while Bayley has threats from Alexa Bliss, Dana Brooke, Emma and Asuka. It looks like Alexa will be her next major foe, which may prove interesting if Blake & Murphy get involved from the outside.

The other big story of Respect was the Dusty Classic. Finn Balor & Samoa Joe overcame Dash & Dawson while Baron Corbin & Rhyno beat Jason Jordan & Chad Gable in a match that should put Jordan & Gable into bigger roles in the near future.

The finals brought a big win for Finn Balor and Samoa Joe and a touching speech about his father by Cody Rhodes, speaking publicly for the first time about the loss of his father. It was a fitting tribute to the late American Dream.

Apollo Crews got a somewhat surprising win over Tyler Breeze in a match that felt a bit too thrown together to be as good as it should have been. But both men are so athletically gifted that they both have a strong future as both opponents and major NXT stars, so I suspect we will see this matcch again.

My favorite match of the night though was witnessing the WWE in ring debut of Asuka. For all her weaknesses of a few months ago, Dana Brooke has improved leaps and bounds in the last few weeks. She worked as a great foil to Asuka, but everyone knew the results of this one going in. Only interference by Emma gave Dana any advantage, while Asuka picked apart her foe before making her tap to the Asuka Lock in a stunning debut for perhaps the most athletically gifted star now in WWE.

Takeover: Respect was an amazing card from top to bottom, giving us yet another amazing special event for WWE's secondary brand. With one more Takeover before the end of the year, it will be anyone's guess if the amazing stars of NXT can top their already amazing 2015 events.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Previewing NXT Takeover: Respect

NXT Takeover: Respect hits the WWE Network tonight and it looks to be an amazing card featuring six big matches in an expanded two and a half hour card.

The show is of course anchored by Sasha Banks and Bayley and for more on that you can check out yesterday's post. The 30 Minute Ironwoman match promises to be amazing and may very well top their already stunning match in Brooklyn.

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The semi-finals and the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic are also in store with Samoa Joe & Finn Balor taking on the team of Dash & Dawn while Rhyno & Baron Corbin take on Chad Gable & Jason Jordan. It would mean a heel-heel match-up but I would personally like to see Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder take on Gable & Jordan in the finals, but I strongly suspect the two thrown together units will win instead and move on to the finals, where Rhyno and Corbin will overcome the super-face team.

Asuka makes her wrestling debut as well as she takes on Dana Brooke. Brooke continues to develop well, but I personally would have rather seen Asuka take out Emma in her first match. Still the former Kana can have a great match with a paper bag, so I suspect this one to work out pretty well.

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The show will almost certainly open with Apollo Crews and Tyler Breeze. Both men have been inspiring in their performances of late, but I think Breeze needs the win over Crews here. It's high time Breeze actually get a main event title feud and beating the undefeated Crews would be a good first step in that direction. The Apollo Nation can certainly weather the loss, because Crews seems poised for bigger matches and stronger feuds after the Dusty Classic wraps up.

Overall, I'm looking forward to the show, especially with appearances by the entire extended Rhodes family: Dustin, Cody and even Eden Stiles. It should be another stellar night when NXT Takeover: Respect hits this evening.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bayley and Sasha Banks may be the most important main event of this decade

Over the course of the last decade, WWE rarely makes matches that are truly consequential for the future of the business. Money in the Bank 2011 changed the shape of the WWE's main event scene with John Cena's loss to CM Punk. Wrestlemania XXX proved that fans' support could actually reshape the future of the promotion. But when NXT Takeover: Respect airs tomorrow night, it will bring a main event unlike anything WWE has ever done on a special or pay-per-view.

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Bayley and Sasha Banks are two of the best wrestlers in the modern wrestling world. While the Four Horsewomen of NXT are all exceptional in the ring, Bayley and Sasha argue have the strongest personalities and personal styles. They proved they could also put on a match of the year contender back in August in front of a sold out Barclay Center. Their next main event may be in front of a much smaller crowd at Full Sail University, but with thirty minutes, they will have a match even longer than their eighteen minute masterpiece in Brooklyn.

Bayley and Sasha bring a dramatic sea change to women's wrestling the like of which hasn't been seen since Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff squashed the previous female wrestling revolution in TNA. They both have the added bonus of not needing a day job while working as the top competitors of their division, but they also get a sign of respect that TNA could never have imagined then or since with their main event berth at Respect. While NXT might be a secondary product to the main WWE roster, it shows week in and week out that fans will respond as strongly to the women as they will to the men. Now the women get their chance to show why at the top of the card on a special event for the first time in WWE's history.

Before NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, I advocated for the women to take the top spot. They didn't, but the ladder match between Kevin Owens and Finn Balor felt anti-climactic as a result (as I also warned in the same article.) Now WWE has learned its lesson, and the women of NXT now have the biggest chance yet to prove their worth in the future of wrestling.

It isn't a move that either Bayley or Sasha haven't dreamed about in the past. Last week, both women posted their own thoughts from their younger days about their future in wrestling. Bayley gave us a a glimpse of a high school paper about her future where she said "The sport is serious to me and I want to be elite in it." A grade school essay by Sasha Banks had a few more grammatical mistakes, but showed her own drive to succeed saying she would be "the best Pro Wrestler the WWE has ever seen: a women [champion], United States [champ] and the World Wrestling [Champion]." Both clearly envisioned themselves as far more than what WWE ever did for women in the past.

Now they have their chance to show the world they deserve it all. And I strongly suspect, we will see that reason tomorrow night at NXT Takeover: Respect.

Monday, October 5, 2015

A busy weekend in televised wrestling

Two shows graced television and computer screens this weekend from the folks at both WWE and TNA. I previewed both Live from MSG and Bound For Glory to end last week, but both shows put on some great matches but with somewhat underwhelming results.

Live From Madison Square Garden started its life as a house show with Brock Lesnar announced for it. Like the last house show in Tokyo that featured Lesnar, it became a WWE special and the Lesnar / Show match didn't disappoint. Big Show was allowed to look like a massive giant, manhandling Lesnar for several minutes and even delivering three chokeslams. But it wasn't enough to lay out "The Beast Incarnate" who responded with a trip to Suplex City for Big Show. One more F5 put Show away for the day.

Big Show visits Suplex City. Image credit:

The rest of the card was filled with solid matches but very little story progression. The two interminable singles feuds were turned into a solid tag match as Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler beat Rusev and Sheamus. Neville got another singles win over Stardust as their feud continued, while roles were reversed in a Raw rematch of Team PCB vs. Team Bella. This time Charlotte and Becky Lynch abandoned Paige to her fate. Becky was kind enough to explain their reasons in a superb post-match promo.

Thoughts on the WWE's Current Roster

Did anyone else notice that every champion who walked out of Night of Champions was a former NXT star? NXT is creating great WWE wrestlers faster than they can be absorbed into the main company, but that's okay, because they are also raising the bar across the board as far as skill and talent goes. Between Kane and Undertaker moving into the end of their careers and all the guys just getting started, we're at a point where things can change quickly and anything can happen. Here is what I think should happen.


Bayley should be in no rush to move up and would be best served by remaining the NXT Women's champion for a year or so. The kids love her, she's got a great babyface attitude and could really pull up the rest of the division. If she moves up to the WWE, she'll be sitting at the back of the line behind the other four horsewomen. Bayley needs to cement her place and her personality so that when she does finally make the leap to the Divas division, she will do so as a top superstar. Asuka and Dana both need to a few good matches against Bayley as well, especially Dana, who comes across as a great heel with a great physique, she just needs the right focus and story to build her up. I don't know much about Asuka but I am sure her skills are top notch. Why is the WWE even wasting our time with Eva Marie matches? Especially when Bayley seems to be the Hulk Hogan of women's wrestling. If she isn't now, she soon will be. I also can't wait to see who this Nia Jax woman is.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Will a new TNA take shape at Bound For Glory?

I don't watch much TNA anymore. When it was on Spike, replays would appear on the site and be easily viewable by yours truly. Destination America does not do the same, nor do they offer the show on content partner Hulu, so I am left to follow most of TNA's storylines through recaps. Sometimes that leaves folks with a more negative view of a program if a reviewer personally doesn't like a segment (or vice versa.) But I have to say that while it doesn't have the depth of name talent previous TNA pay-per-views had, the upcoming Bound For Glory sounds incredibly solid.

The BFG poster is not helped by the large
image of the currently suspended Bram.
The show is headlined by a triple threat match for the TNA World Heavyweight title as champion Ethan Carter III defends against Matt Hardy and Drew Galloway with Jeff Hardy as special guest referee. I personally think this sounds like one of the weakest matches on the card not because the talent involved isn't great, but because the booking clearly implies typical TNA shenanigan booking to end the show. The big pay-per-view should have a decisive finish and it just seems doubtful that with his enemy EC3 and his brother Matt in the ring that Jeff will call it down the middle.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

WWE comes Live From Madison Square Garden this weekend

WWE seems ready to continue its counter programming to other company's big weekends as just hours before Bound For Glory they will put on Live From Madison Square Garden as a WWE Network exclusive. And while the card isn't as deep as many WWE pay-per-views of late, it certainly has plenty of talent to offer a good show on a different night than WWE's usually Sunday shots.

The big match is of course the kick-off of Brock Lesnar's "Go To Hell Tour" as he takes on The Big Show. While Show has knocked off several stars to show off his power building up to the match, I don't see their battle being much more than an extended squash by Lesnar. Lesnar has moved well past the threat of even a giant and it makes no sense for him to have an extended battle with Big Show just a few days before he takes on Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell.