Monday, November 30, 2015

Goodbye, Solomon. Hello, Sami!

I am a guy that wants to see my favorites succeed. I was a huge Sami Callihan during his run on the independents and I followed a few indies mostly because they regularly featured him. When he was signed by WWE, I had high hopes he would get the kind of push his longtime friend and rival Dean Ambrose did.

When he became Solomon Crowe, that never really happened. Admittedly he had a lot working against him. His girlfriend Jessicka Havok lost a contract offer because of comments posted on her social media years ago. As he started a comeback with Zahra Schreiber as his manager and storyline sister, her own social media history cost her a job with WWE. Crowe seemed to endlessly be thrown back to square one again and again.

Solomon Crowe debuted in February, but never got much of a push in NXT.
Image credit:
Earlier this year, CJ Parker left WWE because he realized he was never going to get a significant push. Already cemented as the NXT jobber, his future was bleak. He moved on, worked a bunch of indies as CJP and then signed a contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling where he is now working and training full time as Juice Robinson.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A women's wrestling classic from Chikara

Back in the early part of our current decade, Chikara debuted a summer time mega-event called Chikarasaurus Rex. It was all about big matches with great guest stars. The first edition from 2010 featured appearances by several Dragon Gate regulars including Shingo Takagi, CIMA and Masato Yoshino (among others) as well as an early indie appearance by Tommy Dreamer. But it was the women's match that most intrigued me as the nefarious duo of Daizee Haze and Sara Del Rey came face to face with two women known for their own dirty tricks in the past: the team of Amazing Kong and Raisha Saeed.

With four of the best women's wrestlers in the history of the business in the ring, the results was something truly special.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The best traditional Survivor Series match ever?

It probably isn't the one most people would pick, but I absolutely love this classic from the 1995 edition of Survivor Series. And as we all celebrate Thanksgiving today, why can't I be thankful for an absolutely amazing women's match during the WWE's Thanksgiving pay-per-view tradition.

Alundra Blayze was soon to jump ship to WCW and do the unthinkable, but that didn't stop her from leading a team of great Japanese wrestlers: Chaparrita ASARI, Kyoko Inoue, & Sakie Hasegawa against her perennial rival Bertha Faye and her own unit of stellar AJW alums: Aja Kong, Lioness Asuka and Tomoko Watanabe. The match cemented a major new contender for Blayze in the form of the classic original Kong, the woman everyone's favorite Awesome competitor took her name from.

It will also make you hate Vince McMahon's treatment of women's wrestlers as well, because his commentary is patronizing at best. But even with him in the way, he can't stop eight women from putting on a classic.

Alundra Blayze, Chaparrita ASARI, Kyoko Inoue... by mbahbomaye

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A match with an actual underdog story

Look, WWE is really trying to make us root for Roman Reigns because he's being picked on by the Authority. We get it. We don't like it but we get it. We will still cheer for Reigns at TLC I suspect, mostly because we do not want to imagine more than three weeks of Sheamus as the top of the WWE roster.

But back in 2013, WWE seemed to built the story the right way, even if they came very close to not letting it play out the right way come Wrestlemania XXX. But let's go back to SummerSlam of that year and look at a classic encounter between perennial super-face John Cena and up-and-coming perpetual underdog Danial Bryan. Let the magic happen, folks.

John Cena vs Daniel Bryan, Summerslam 2013 by vsplanet

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

NJPW kicks off the World Tag League with some amazing new teams

I provided in depth coverage of the G1 Climax tournament over the summer, and though I was disappointed Hiroshi Tanahashi won the tournament and the Wrestle Kingdom X title shot over Shinsuke Nakamura, all the amazing wrestling action was well worth it. Michael Elgin especially won over Japanese fans in ways he hasn't been allowed to do in Ring of Honor.

As November turns to December, it becomes time for the tag team version of the tournament. Even more American talent found their way into the World Tag League tournament than the G1. Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian make their debut as a team in NJPW while regulars The Kingdom and the Bullet Club unit of Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson (also the tag champions) are also involved. Bullet Club's leader AJ Styles is also in action, teaming with Yujiro Takahashi. The aforementioned Michael Elgin also returns to New Japan to join the tournament teaming with G1 winner Tahahashi in an epic unit.

Tanahashi and Elgin make an amazing team.
All images credit NJPW.
Perhaps the most interesting unit is the Los Ingobernables team of Tetsuya Naito and his new partner EVIL. Formerly a well known talent in America for the last few years on excursion, Takaaki Watanabe, took the EVIL identity upon his return to his home country. Clad in a purple robe and carrying a scythe, he certainly maes an imposing figure as the slightly insane unit cheats their way to victory.

Tetsuya Naito and EVIL with new Ingobernable recruit BUSHI.
Night one actually opened with one of the biggest matches of the tournament as Tanahashi and Elgin met Tanahashi's Wrestle Kingdom X opponent Kazuchika Okada and his partner Yoshi-Hashi. The two teams put on an epic 18 minutes which ultimately served to showcase how entertaining a team Elgin and Tanahashi make.

The other live episode this weekend wasn't populated by too many exciting tag tournament matches, but it was main evented by a highly entertaining "Special Fun Match". Elgin and Tanahashi teamed with the former CJ Parker, now using his old ring name of Juice Robinson, They battled the CHAOS unit of Toru Yano, Shinsuke Nakamura and Tomohiro Ishii in a battle built around great fun.

Ultimately, the World Tag League doesn't quite have the notoriety of the G1, but it still brings some great wrestling action available on demand worldwide on NJPW World. Check it out if you're so inclined.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Survivor Series continues the trend: solid but predictable

One thing that cannot be said about WWE pay-per-views in the last few months is that they have been particularly bad. 80 to 90 percent of each show generally offers some great wrestling and even the backstage antics have proven far more oriented towards the product than the cheap comedy of yesteryear. In the ring, performers are going all out like never before with some stellar matches.

But while the show gives you great wrestling, it doesn't give you much in the way of surprise. Part of the wow of big events is the "anything can happen" nature of the live event. But in the post-SummerSlam run it has tended to be easy to guess the outcome of each match. And while Hell in a Cell offered the surprise return of Alberto Del Rio, Survivor Series didn't come with a spectacular debut or a shocking finish to a match. In fact, the only surprise on the card at all was the return of Goldust to the active WWE roster and that happened on the preshow.

I'm hugely excited that Goldust is back, but his return isn't exactly earth
shattering new. Image credit: 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Alberto Del Rio takes on ROH... and Christopher Daniels!

Alberto Del Rio made a lot of stops between his first WWE run and his current push towards another shot at the WWE World Heavyweight championship. Most famously he worked in AAA and Lucha Underground, but he also had a few stellar matches in Ring of Honor. And while many past and present ROH stars like Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson and CM Punk made it to WWE, Christopher Daniels seems perpetually off WWE's radar. It is a shame really, as the former "Fallen Angel" truly would make a great mentor to help deepen the NXT roster, much as Rhyno has done in the last few months.

While we may never see Christopher Daniels on WWE television, let's look at an amazing battle between him and the current United States champion.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A classic Monster's Ball match featuring... Dustin Rhodes?

Back in 2007, Goldust was let go from WWE and it seemed likely he would never return. He made his way to TNA where he took a bit more supernatural twist when he became Black Reign. Sure, it was still clearly a slightly effeminate Dustin Rhodes, but now he seemed to have a more mystic and sadistic side to him. He would form a team with Rellik (Killer spelled backwards), but his sadistic streak would seemingly come back to haunt hi as he wrestled in deathmatch variation after deathmatch variation.

Probably his finest moment was a four way Monster's Ball match featuring two of the innovators of that match, Raven and Abyss, as well as a man that was no stranger to hardcore, Rhino. The match isn't exactly a classic, but it is four veterans of the business putting their all in an attempt to get more recognition for their craft in a company mired in midcard doldrums.

Monday, November 16, 2015

After Seth Rollins: The Good & The Bad

After suffering a knee injury last week, Seth Rollins had to vacate the title. Luckily for the WWE, they have some time before Survivor Series to put together a plot that will see a new champion crowned. This has created some great moments, but there is also one big stupid mistake they made that's bothered me all week, which I will get to at the end of the post.

The tournament for the title is a great idea, although the people chosen for the event was somewhat strange. No Sheamus, no Big Show, no Brock Lesnar, none of the Wyatt family, no one in New Day, and there are a whole bunch of guys at the bottom who could have used the exposure, guys like Bo Dallas who haven't been on top in a while. However, we are going to get a great match between Roman Reigns and Cesaro next week, which I think will be the highlight match of the night.

Ryback, who last month was IC champion, lost his match to Kalisto. My guess is they see Kalisto as the next Rey Mysterio, but he's a strange wrestler to push through the tournament. What a far way to fall for Ryback in such a short time though.

Now here is the ugly part of the tournament: Alberto Del Rio VS Stardust. Here was a perfect opportunity to put Stardust over with the crowd. For one, he should have been given some mic time at the beginning of the match. It would have been great if he had come out after Coulter's rant and said "I may be nuts, but that guy is crazy!"

See, here is what could have happened: Goldust beats Del Rio and goes on to face Kalisto. After a hard fought battle, Stardust cheats to beat the young Luchador. This could have set up a match between Dean Ambrose and Stardust, with both men doing their best to outdo the other in a completely insane brawl between two mentally unstable wrestlers.

Instead, you know what is going to happen?

Alberto Del Rio is going to offer Kalisto a spot in his stupid MexiAmerica, which he will refuse. Then Kalisto will lose and Del Rio will get beat by Ambrose. Ultimately, Del Rio's matches in the tournament aren't going to mean much. Had they put Stardust over, you could have him and Del Rio rematch for the US title. If Stardust had won, the match would have meant something. Now its just a platform for the writers to showcase the horrible, crappy, idea that is MexiAmerica. I am glad Del Rio is back, but this heel promo they are putting him through is ridiculous.

Now everyone is pretty certain that its going to come down to Ambrose VS Reigns, but I have a feeling that Reigns is going to see that title slip away and he's going to turn heel and take out Ambrose. This might lead to some interesting matches, especially if the Rock returns to Wrestlemania.

I tell you what, WWE, you give me a Reigns/Rock Wrestlemania match and I'll forgive you for the bad booking, okay?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Trios champions are crowned in Lucha Underground

The Trios title in Lucha Underground created some great teams and introduced some awesome talents to the brand (like Killshot and The Mack), but the story was really all about the mismatched team of Angelico, Son of Havoc and Ivelisse. But even as they thought the titles were theirs, one more team came in to spoil the fun: Dario Cueto's chosen unit of The Crew.

But the dysfunctional team wasn't going to give up with a fight and the result was some of the most epic action in a wrestling arena.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The original Sin Cara and a gaggle of Lucha Underground stars in action

Fenix and Pentagon Jr made a name for themselves in the United States as two of the most compelling figures in Lucha Underground. Angelico made a name for himself as well with a cocky swagger and a regular habit of pulling off insane stunts, while Jack Evans returned to American television to out cocky him.

All four men are also AAA regulars, where Angelico and Jack Evans are actually a long time tag team. (Sharp eyed Lucha Underground fans might have noticed their matching tights despite never appearing together.) In the insane three way tag team match below, they would take on two teams that put Lucha Underground stars with established lucha veterans. Pentagon Jr teamed with his regular Mexican tag partner Joe Lider (a 5 time AAA tag champion) while Fenix recruited Myzteziz, better known to American fans as the original Sin Cara or Mistico.

With that many high-flying superstars in a match, it was bound to be an epic contest between six crazed competitors.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A young Rey Mysterio gets embroiled in the Octagon/Pentagon feud

Octagon is a long-time star of Mexican wrestling. Debuting in that gimmick in 1989, he became a huge star in a Mexico in love with martial arts. He rose to fame quickly, scoring movies and endorsements and main event spots. But AAA realized they needed an arch-nemesis for their character, so Pentagon was created.

Pentagon was the dark double to Octagon. Multiple talents would wrestle under the mask, almost always against Octagon or his allies. In this classic encounter circa 1994, Octagon teams with the still very young Rey Mysterio while Pentagon recruits an American (or is it Russian?) ally in KGB, actually American MMA/wrestling hybrid star Tom Howard, who would go on to co-found UPW and as trainer, start off the careers of John Cena and Samoa Joe. It's an interesting bout that shows off a lot of what is great about Mexican tag team wrestling.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Eddie Guerrero's first big American match

AAA has never been a stranger to trying new things. They made two attempts at major American pushes in the 1990s, once by teaming with WWE in 1996 & 1997, but before that they tried their hands at an independent pay-per-view. When Worlds Collide was an incredibly exciting pay-per-view, especially by the standards of 1994 professional wrestling, where excitement often wasn't a selling point.

The card was impressive with tons of future name stars on both sides of the border and only two known American commodities anywhere to be seen: 2 Cold Scorpio, the former WCW tag champion, and former WWE star Tito Santana, now past his prime. Rey Mysterio would also make his American debut on the card, but it was the semi-main event that stole the show.

Eddie (then Eddy) Guerrero was an unknown commodity in the United States in 1994, but was already a huge star in Mexico and a big name in Japan as Black Tiger II. He was at the peak of his success alongside his tag partner Art Barr, an incredibly talented American wrestler that never found any success in the States. Barr had convinced Guerrero to turn on his ally El Hijo Del Santo and after months of running roughshod with the rest of their unit, Los Gringos Loco, they were facing off with Santo and his new partner Octagon in a two-out-of-three-falls hair vs. mask match.

The results were nothing less than epic and a young Mike Tenay did his best to put it over in a twenty plus minute wrestling clinic. Sadly, Art Barr would pass away just over two weeks after the match. November 23rd will be the 21st anniversary of his death at the age of 28.

Monday, November 9, 2015

CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero... in 2002?

The time period after the fall of WCW was a strange one. Tons of free agents were suddenly on the market and willing to take independent bookings if the money was right. Ian Rotten and his IWA Mid-South promotion were riding a wave of growing support for the indies during that time period and he used big name talent to strengthen that run.

Rey Mysterio (still unmasked) was one such talent who after recovering from knee surgery post-WCW seemed like he would never get  the call to WWE. Eddie Guerrero had his shot, even starting the invasion storyline, but his drug problems cost him his job. Cleaned up, he would fight to bring himself back through a truly epic run of great independent matches.

Between the two man was a young Midwestern kid that was taking the promotion by storm. CM Punk was young and still woefully inexperienced, but he had the gumption to go full blast with two living legends in the ring. The result was a great, unique match in the annals of wrestling history.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A weird thrown together match that might main event Wrestlemania

Before NXT, WWE had Florida Championship Wrestling. Shown on one local cable network in that state, it was famous for getting regularly streamed online to fans wanting to see the indie stars signed to its brand and the upcoming talent that might be the future of WWE. Tons of stars worked there, from Daniel Bryan to Seth Rollins to Big E to Alberto Del Rio.

But one three way match was particularly intriguing as three men that would grow to know each other well were thrown together in a battle despite having limited history with one another.

Seth Rollins was one of those men. Dean Ambrose was another. The third was Roman Leakee, who had recently dropped his first name, but would gain it back when he took the new last name Reigns on his WWE debut.

Before there was The Shield, check out three growing stars in action below.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Survivor Series just got a lot bigger... unfortunately

The build up to Survivor Series in the last two weeks has been lackluster, but with three week to go until the classic event returns, a major injury in Dublin changes the face of the company. Seth Rollins suffered a major injury in Ireland. A torn MCL, ACL & medial meniscus makes Triple H look like a chump for finishing a match with just a torn ACL, it does put Seth Rollins on the shelf for six to nine months.

Injuries have derailed Iowa's own World Heavyweight champion.
And as announced on, it means Seth Rollins cannot continue to defend the belt. A new champion will be determined by a tournament at Survivor Series, one that viewers should expect to see play out on television in the next several weeks.

It is a big hit for the company that seemed to be building towards a three way Shield battle at next year's big event. But with Randy Orton also injured and John Cena off television until at least December, it also leaves a huge opening for a new major star to be crowned by WWE.

The last time WWE ran a title tournament at the event was 1998 where two major stars were crowned for the future of WWE: Mankind and The Rock. At that event, a swerve lead to the crowning of The Rock as the Corporate Champion. With a smart strategy, WWE could do something just as amazing at this year's Survivor Series.

Can anyone say WWE champion Dean Ambrose?

The Evolution of Dean Ambrose & Luke Harper

While many current WWE stars cut their teeth in ROH, more and more talent seem to be coming from Gabe Sapolsky's EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA brands. Gabe has an eye for some great young wrestlers, many of which were overlooked by ROH's very specific brand of super-match wrestling.

Brodie Lee, the future Luke Harper, actually did have a run with the company, but was mostly used as a thug with no personality. While he continued to be a monster (and a follower) to this day, ROH didn't really let him shine. And while his run in EVOLVE was brief, his brutal style certainly changed the game in a promotion built around pure wrestling without rule breaking.

Jon Moxley wasn't a stranger to weapons in his days before Dean Ambrose. He was known for getting bloody on the regular, even if he was a far stronger wrestling talent than most of his CZW brethren. When the two men met well before their WWE runs, the action was explosive.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Shield battles... Xavier Woods, Neville and Corey Graves(?)

NXT was a lot of fun even before it became a wholesale brand in its own right. Let's take a look back to the final days of Corey Graves as an in-ring competitor where he and his tag team partner Neville teamed with lovable good guy Xavier Woods to take on the return of The Shield to the developmental brand.

Of course, only in NXT could these three men go fifteen minutes with the hottest thing in wrestling at the time. Even now on the main roster, it seems unlikely any of the men would be allowed to be competitive against Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose or Roman Reigns.

Adrian Neville, Xavier Woods and Corey Graves vs The Shield by AndresGuilherme

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The time Daniel Bryan & Seth Rollins wrestled a 20 minute classic... in 2008.

While Daniel Bryan may be on the injured list, he certainly has a great history of amazing matches. Well before either he or Seth Rollins made it to the big league, they both worked for years in Ring of Honor as Bryan Danielson and Tyler Black. Back at Southern Navigation in 2008, they had an amazing encounter that arguably put Tyler on the map. Check it out below.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Del Rio Was Exactly What the WWE Needed

Even though the matches were predictable, HELL IN A CELL was one of the better events in the last few months. Starting off with the return of Del Rio was a great idea, although most of us who read online websites about wrestling knew that Cena was going to drop the title in order to take some time off. The strength of the pay-per-view led to one of the best RAW's in weeks, the tournament featuring the winners of HIAC was one of the better ideas I've seen from the WWE in a while. Right now the company has the best talent since the Attitude Era, but the writers, the creative team behind the feuds and follies, is just not good enough. For the first time since the days of Vince Russo, the talent is far ahead of  creative and its causing a lot of frustration in the fans.

Why is that old man with Alberto Del Rio? I mean he isn't an interesting character and the relationship between the two men just seems fake and forced. Why not let Del Rio shine on the basis of his talent? Why the stupid MexiAmericans gimmick?

Del Rio's in the prime of his life and his sudden reappearance shifted the road for both the US title and the World title. Suddenly there is a man on fire, ready to burn his way to the top. We don't need the stupid monologues from Zeb Colter to put this guy over. Del Rio is a force to be reckoned with and he should be used that way; as the unpredictable element that could at any time win big matches. Basically, Del Rio is best served by doing what Dean Ambrose should have been doing; tearing through the competition for the title. Unlike Ambrose, Del Rio's ambitions are clear and easy to understand. The man has a plan and fans want to see it unfold.