The Real Mid Card needs YOU!

therealmidcardWe are once again looking to add a new person to our dedicated team of wrestling geeks. The Real Mid Card is about working hard to try and put out some good articles, about the world of professional wrestling that we all love. We have a WWE guy, a TNA guy, a Ring of Honor guy, and now even a UFC guy. But, that’s not enough. We want someone to bring something else to the table. If you’re a writer and want a chance to put your work out to a new audience, please get in touch.

Whether you want to provide editorials about modern day wrestling, offer reviews or features about the good old days of the Attitude Era, or you want to keep us up to date with what’s going on in Japan, or on the independent circuit, we welcome your work!

Whatever it is that you love in and about wrestling, we want to hear from you. Send an email to craig.humpage@live.co.uk, leave a comment below, or even find me on Facebook. Myself and the rest of the team look forward to welcoming somebody new on board. Thanks for reading and get those responses in!

Craig

WWE Smackdown: Who was the star of one of the best episodes in months?

ortonshieldThe New Corporation – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

That’s a difficult question, and there is more than one answer. Last night’s episode has to be one of the best editions of Smackdown in rather a long time. It had all the important factors needed, and it was a really enthralling show. Let’s take a look at what happened.

The show opened up with a spine-chillingly epic segment. Triple H was at his complete best interrupting Miz TV and putting guests Big Show, Ziggler and host Miz under intense scrutiny. He booked the latter two in depressingly unfair contests as punishment for their speaking out against the regime, and ordered the giant to sit at ringside for the entirety of the show and “do nothing”

Randy Orton came down for his impromptu match against The Miz. The two of them put on a really good show, but before long The Shield made their presence known. Daniel Bryan came down to make the save with a steel chair, while Show just sat on his. The entire arena erupted with “Yes” chants. It genuinely felt like I was watching an Attitude Era show. The company are building this guy perfectly, and this was one of the most special openings to a Smackdown in a long, long time. I was really impressed. The Miz played a role in an important storyline, and almost got over on Orton. Bryan continued to galvanise the crowd. Orton, The Shield and most importantly Triple H continued to build themselves up as despicable heels. A flawless opening.

Sandow jobbed to Van Dam. I wouldn’t usually think this is a good idea, but I guess RVD needs a little nudge before he challenges for the title, and the loss shouldn’t hurt the Money in the Bank holder too much. Del Rio came out in a very cool suit, rocking the legendary scarf. It’s a shame his promo bores me so much.

Dolph fought valiantly in his three-on-one handicap match against The Shield – a punishment he was handed by Triple H at the start of the night. Unfortunately for him though he eventually had to succumb to the spear from the monster Reigns. The Shield then beat down Ziggler after the match, and taunted Big Show to get involved. Show’s performance was amazing. He looked like he was going to cry. JBL was on top form as the dastardly heel commentator, and likewise for Cole in the face role. The whole psychology and delivery of the story here was mastered perfectly. I can’t wait until Punk is added into the mix for this angle, because it’s just screaming out for him. However, without him, it’s still insanely hot right now.

axelheymanThe mentor and the student – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Axel and Heyman came out to cut an in-ring promo. Axel is starting to sound really good. There was some nice progress here. The amazing Heyman was up to his usual standards, calling himself a God and probably single-handedly selling a few thousand pay-per-view buys with his uncanny ability to hype up a match.

The Wyatt’s quickly and compellingly took out Tonnes of Funk, before Bray delivered what is now being called ‘Sister Abigail’ to Tensai (I think – does it really matter which one?) – The entrance is still awesome, the two guys were dominant and performed well, and they went over showcasing themselves as bad boys. Success!

Then The Vault would have treated me to a match between “The Mountie” (laugh out loud) and Bret Hart, but I skipped it.

There was another vignette for Los Matadores, the new repackaged version of Primo and Epico. I think it will be good to see them back, and they will make a welcome addition to a sometimes lazily booked and heavily under-pushed division. But, do I think the new gimmick will catch on long term? No.

Then it was time for the main event between Daniel Bryan and Ryback. Vickie booked this earlier to punish Bryan for “bullying” The Shield and Randy Orton at the start of the show. The giant was still sat at ringside and he got to see a very decent match. The two road buddies often work well together, in my opinion. The big bully dominated for large periods, but was taken aback by Bryan’s response, his heart and his trademark striking flurries. The two of them worked excellent size psychology and told a good story in there.

Randy Orton came down to ringside to offer a distraction, allowing Ryback to hit a very powerful spine-buster and a doozy of a meat-hook clothesline. Bryan kicked out at two. The little one with the beard managed to get back on top and tie the big man down with the Lobell Lock. Orton jumped into the ring, causing the referee to ring the bell and award Bryan the match by disqualification. Bryan then put his finishing submission hold on Orton, before The Shield came down to get involved.

The four of them began to beat on him, before Big Show finally responded. He climbed onto the apron and into the ring, but couldn’t find the guts to strike them. Triple H came out and ordered the big man to leave the ring, and the arena. He must have been going to the Mark Henry School of Acting while he was on the shelf, because he delivered a compelling performance all night, for someone who didn’t even wrestle a match. He looked like he was going to burst into tears as the COO marched him up the ramp and through the curtain. The big guy dragged it out and sold it perfectly.

showtripsThe No-longer Ironclad – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Then Triple H gave the now “vintage” nod, signalling The Shield and Orton to deliver the mother of all beat-downs. I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t real, that’s how well done this was. It was relentless and brutal. Orton ordered the hounds of justice to keep picking Bryan up, so he could strike him back down. He then branded him NWO still, with the black spray paint can, spraying “No” onto his chest. Sidenote: How do you wash spray paint off of a nipple? The Viper is so adept at telling stories with his face, and this talent was on full display here. He interacted with the crowd like only the best heels can. The Shield performed their end of the deal very well, as easy as it may have been. On the whole, this was a truly amazing ending to a very, very good episode of Friday Night Smackdown.

This show seemed to fly by, and that’s not always the case. It wasn’t a stacked card, but they spent the right amount of time on the most important things. It was the best episode of Smackdown I’ve seen in a long while. Daniel Bryan was the star as usual, and they are building him up like it’s 1998 and he’s Stone Cold Steve Austin. The show had a blockbuster opening, and an even better ending. The only way this could have been bettered would have been if Punk were on the show, but that would have been unnecessary. It was almost flawless. Go watch it!

9/10
Craig

Warrior Poetry: Edge

It’s Friday. That can mean only one thing. It’s more Warrior Poetry. Act like you want it.

EdgeEdge – Source: Deviant Art

Warrior Poetry
Edge

This warrior started young, touring all around the land
He threw down on the mat, with the best workers at hand
The moves, the holds, all of the tools he learned
To help him grow and emerge, triumphant from the herd

He evolved as a part of a brood of three
Adopted by the most evil ministry
He did their bidding, achieved their goals
But he and his brother, wanted out of the fold

They released themselves from that mighty grip
And together they innovated, together they amazed
With tables, ladders and steel chairs
The most exciting of teams, left opponents in a haze

As a lone competitor, he became tenacious and ruthless
Willing to do whatever it took, to leave enemies toothless
Without concern for popularity or blueprints
He became forever known as the ultimate opportunist

He was Rated R and only suitable for adults
Explosively controversial, and never afraid to insult
The fighter known only to us as Edge
Was always willing to do whatever it took

A career of success was brutally cut short
By a critical injury that couldn’t be reversed
At a young age, one of the best ever was gone
With a Hall of Fame place, as a legend to all

Craig

FAWF (Pt. 3): Hell in a Cell

Thanks for checking out this week’s athleticism from the Figure Action Wrestling Federation. Let’s see what the Hell in a Cell event had in store!

CM Punk v Triple H (HIAC)CM Punk v Triple H
Triple H tries to send Punk flying down onto the mat, but Punk has none of it

Umaga v Eddie Guerrero (HIAC)

Umaga v Eddie Guerrero
The Samoan Bulldozer tries to send Eddie flying through the hole in the cell

Rey Mysterio v Finlay (HIAC)Rey Mysterio v Finlay
The Irish brawler lays on the mat defenceless

Thanks for supporting the best emerging independent wrestling promotion in the world. Hit ‘Follow’ for plenty more of my original photography, capturing some of the sport’s most historic moments. Or come back for regular pieces on WWE, TNA and ROH every day.

Please send me some action figures in the post!

Craig

ROH/WWE: A Tale of Two Tag Team Divisions

kingsofwrestling

Kings of Wrestling – Source: The Wrestling Fans Review

A Tale of Two Divisions
Tag Team Wrestling in Ring of Honor and WWE

Tag team wrestling is one of the most time honoured and beloved institutions in professional wrestling. I don’t know what it is, but when tag team feuds and matches are done well they can be the best thing about the whole sport. Yes, it’s a sport. If golf is allowed to be called a sport then professional wrestling damn sure is as well.

Over it’s history WWE has been one of the stalwarts of tag team wrestling. As far back as you want to go you will find that the cards of most events were built around different tag team matches. It was the building block of the midcard and occasionally even the entire main event program for months on end.

Whether it was the Mega Powers of Savage and Hogan, the sleazy exploits of D-Generation X that kicked off the Attitude Era or the epic feud between the Brothers of Destruction and the Two Man Power Trip in early 2001. Hell the main event of the first ever WrestleMania was a tag match between Hulk Hogan and Mr T against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.

Ring of Honor too has always held tag team in high regard. From day one tag team wrestling was pushed to the forefront and had time and creative energy dedicated to it. You can see this in the months it took to build up the Age of the Fall, or the sheer amount of tag team matches that ROH continues to fill it’s cards with.

But for WWE something changed around seven or eight years ago. All of a sudden tag team wrestling seemed to be treated like the red headed stepchild of the wrestling world. Long term feuds up and vanished from the shows and if there was even a tag team match booked on the card it would be short and be between two sets of jobbers and all in all no one would really care about it, or it would be the main event of Smackdown and invariably involve The Undertaker teaming up with some other main event face who had nothing better to do than be in a tag match facing whosoever happened to be the heels of the week.

Question Time: can anyone name me a set of tag team champions who formed between 2006-2011? Other than Evolution or Legacy? I can’t. I doubt whether “Tag Team” Teddy could either. Now think back to 1980-2005 and ask yourself the same question. Its a long, long list and you wouldn’t even have to do a Google Search to look for answers. Its a sad state of affairs.

So, its safe to say that a solid tag team division is one of the signs of a healthy professional wrestling company. It allows lots of different wrestlers time in the ring, entertains the fans with it’s naturally faster paced and crowd involving style and in the time honored tradition of Hall of Famer’s like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, it allows you to steadily build up the wrestlers you want to push further up the card. Hell the break up of a tag team is a story that writes itself.

Ring of Honor knows this all too well. During that same period I mentioned (2006-2011) ROH’s events would invariably involve the main event World Championship match, backed up by one or two tag team matches. Whether it was El Generico and Kevin Steen, the Briscoes or the Kings of Wrestling, tag team matches were the foundation of the card.

Where did it all go wrong for WWE? From 2002 onwards tag team wrestling essentially sold Friday Night Smackdown all on it’s own with the rise of the so called “Smackdown Six” (Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Edge, Rey Mysterio and Eddie and Chavo Guerrero). I don’t know why but it seems that at some point it became against McMahon Family Law to book a meaningful tag team match.

To be fair to WWE though, recently they have been trying to rebuild their division. 2012 saw the birth of Team Hell No. For the first time in a long, long time a tag team was the focus of the show and the entire story was about them as a tag team. You couldn’t watch a WWE show and not come away with the idea that Daniel Bryan and Kane were a great tag team and then they won the tag team championship and every smark worth their salt could feel that something special could be happening.

Unfortunately WWE seems to have a really bad habit of not knowing how to handle something when it’s hot and instead of giving Bryan and Kane a series of matches with different opponents, matches that would build both teams and the championship. Team Hell No was forced down our throats and shoved into the main event scene against the Shield. It’s a story we’ve heard far too many times recently, from the overcooked Summer of Punk after Money in the Bank, the return of the masked Kane only for him to be fed to John Cena or the entire Nexus-Corre debacle.

Speaking of the Shield, they were another prime example of WWE ignoring the blind obvious and instead seemingly doing the opposite. Instead of reviving the ancient ‘Freebird’ rules which allows any two members of a stable to defend the tag titles, they decided to just stick them on Rollins and Reigns. This was a huge mistake as since they first appeared the Shield were billed as the ultimate unit, their flawless team work made them an unstoppable force in WWE. Then they stopped booking them on PPV’s and never had them defend the titles. Instead of seeing three or four teams desperately chasing the dastardly champions, we got a long and drawn out feud with Team Hell No through the entire Road to WrestleMania.

Although to be fair to WWE the matches between Team Hell No and the Shield were some of the best tag team matches WWE has ever put on television. But it doesn’t really take a brain surgeon to know that that’s what is going to happen when you put Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins in the ring together on a regular basis.

The problem is that the feud just really didn’t matter in the slightest. After Extreme Rules; Hell No were never going to win back the titles, Reigns and Rollins were never going to lose the titles and Daniel Bryan was clearly heading for bigger and brighter things. Sometimes you just have to wonder what they put in the water in Connecticut.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. WWE could so easily have a tag team division that would give even the Attitude Era or the golden age of the Hart Foundation a run for it’s money. They have the Shield. They have the Prime Time Players. They have Primo and Epico. They have the Wyatt Family. That’s a good bunch of different wrestlers with a lot of contrasting styles which is the essential recipe for a solid tag team division. Think back to 2000 and the swift Edge and Christian or the rough house Dudley Boys. Almost overnight they could have a division that’s raring to go. It’s not like WWE has a stacked card of midcard matches anymore. All they have is bullshit singles matches between Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston, or yet another Alberto Del Rio vs the perennial #1 contender Christian.

But then they also have people like the “Real American” Antonio Cesaro floundering around doing not much of anything at all. While Kassius Ohno seems eternally stuck in NXT purgatory. That’s modern WWE in a nutshell: They have one of the greatest tag teams that the sport has ever seen (the Kings of Wrestling. The name says it all really) and they aren’t even on the same show each week. One of them isn’t officially part of the company. If WWE were to reform the Kings they would have one of the most experienced tag teams ready to go against the Shield, and much further down the line the break up of Ohno and Cesaro is a sure fire upper midcard or even main event level feud.

If WWE were to give me the chance to rebuild the division I would take the teams I’ve already mentioned, reform the Kings of Wrestling and then form new teams like Sin Cara and Sami Zayn. I’d also throw as much money as it takes to get the Briscoe Brothers to join WWE. Then I’d set up a tournament over the course of a few months for the #1 contendership that would give each team a chance to show off what they can do.

At Survivor Series I would have the Shield lose the titles to Primo and Epico in a hard fought contest. All this would eventually build to the mother of all Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches between the Shield, the Kings of Wrestling, the Briscoe Brothers and the reigning champions the Matador’s at WrestleMania XXX. Picture it. The WWE Tag Team Championship hanging high above the ring in New Orleans while such wrestlers as Seth Rollins, Kassius Ohno and Jay Briscoe fight it out with table, ladder and chair.

ROH at least remains a bright light in the tag team world. They continue to showcase high octane tag team matches between the likes of ACH and Tadarius Thomas and the C & C Wrestle Factory. While they don’t have teams on the level of the Kings of Wrestling or Steenerico any more they are doing a great job of building up the teams they do have.

As you can tell from the article, I’m a big fan of tag team wrestling. I have great memories of watching the hey day of the Attitude Era and I just want to see great tag matches on the level of the epic feuds between Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley’s again. It’s not too much to ask, is it? Thanks for reading!

Steven

Monday Night Raw: Could Daniel Bryan survive the gauntlet again?

bryanrollinsBryan with a crazy amazing German suplex – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

The show started very brightly once again, with The New Corporation (if that’s what they are called) shaping up rather nicely. Triple H introduced Randy Orton to the ring, with The Shield keeping guard at ringside. They are officially corporate security now it seems. He showed Randy a new gift he got him, a brand new Cadillac. Bryan came to the stage to spoil the party. He said a heartfelt thank you to the fans for putting him where he is, and to John Cena for giving him the opportunity that Hunter would never have given him. He called Triple H a “sellout in a suit!” thus getting himself booked to run the gauntlet in the main event against The Shield. This was a pretty great start to the show, and Triple H is growing and growing every week.

Cody Rhodes rolled up Fandango after The Miz came out doing his dance and mocking him. Sandow (who was at the announce desk) jumped in the ring to beat down Cody. Maddox came out and did Teddy’s job, booking the tag match. Miz got the win with the skull crushing finale, after Rhodes pulled Sandow’s leg from the outside. Fandango just walked out on him. I found out on the sick app (yeah, I’m back on it) that Rosa Mendez was the random girl with Miz during his impersonation. I literally forgot she existed.

Us app users would be instrumental in CM Punk’s fate. We decided that the stipulation for his match with Curtis Axel would be that should he win, the walrus would have to get in the ring and face him. I fully expected Axel to cheat and win, but he actually dominated for large periods and looked strong. Punk got him though, with the GTS out of nowhere. The Straight Edge Superstar was foaming at the mouth to get his hands on his former best friend. It took referees, and even security to force Heyman back down the ramp and into the ring.

Punk got him in the corner and was about to give him a real beating, when Axel came in with the low blow from behind. He handcuffed him, and what came next was pretty crazy. Heyman beat him down with the steel chair, and a kendo stick. Axel followed suit, and the two of them literally destroyed him on the outside. The whole thing was done really well. The crowd were silent. I think Axel is really coming into his own as a heel, and Heyman’s performance was beyond emotional. Great stuff! Heyman and Punk were both flawless in their respective roles. By the time it was over, the stick was completely obliterated. Incredible segment.

Kaitlyn and Brie Bella (I think) took part in some bullshit match, with all the “total” divas at ringside. I don’t even know who won, sorry. AJ came out to rip into them and their show in general. I found this utterly hilarious. She gave an absolutely epic speech that felt a lot like a half shoot. She spoke of the useless, expendable women in the ring and how they are handed fifteen minutes of fame. She spoke of their lack of talent. I totally agree.

What is it with Del Rio having to face his title contenders multiple times on every episode of Raw going into the pay-per-view? It’s not making them more special, I can tell you that. As for Rob, I’m more than happy with him doing jobs to help put over the younger guys. Del Rio is neither young, nor over. He is very stale, and has zero momentum now he doesn’t have Ricardo. The only two acceptable ways for this to go are Ricardo screwing Van Dam out of the title and rejoining Del Rio, or Van Dam having a short run with the belt. I’d be happy with either. As for this match, Rob got the win after Ricardo distracted Del Rio, so he is officially going to Night of Champions, due to the stipulation that was added before the match.

Ryback continued to play the bully, this time on Josh Matthews during a backstage interview. Still nothing meaningful for his character to do apparently. A tearful Paul Heyman then told Renee Young that he was a “father figure” to Punk at one time, but now that is all over. This feud is continuing to hot up with every week.

Then the new face of the WWE came out because he still has to work. He faced one of his oldest rivals Christian in a great match, probably the fight of the night. Orton is a master of heel psychology and is evolving in the role that he has always been much happier and better in. Both men put up a great showing in this match. The highlight for me was the top rope superplex from Orton. Christian was so close to getting the win with the spear though, but shortly after, a thumb to the eye helped The Viper get the RKO, and the win, in true Evolution style.

ortonchristianRevisiting a historic rivalry once again – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

“Oh, Randy… Oh, Randy” echoed across the arena, as attention turned to the big screen, and Daniel Bryan. He complimented Orton on his new car, but showed him some of the modifications he had made. Huge “Yes” tags sprayed all over it! This was really funny to be fair, and Orton was fuming. After the break, Hunter and Orton were investigating the damage. The COO ordered Maddox to tell every superstar to be on the stage to see what happens when you disrespect the new regime, during Daniel Bryan’s main event gauntlet match. If anyone chose to get involved, they would be fired. He is surpassing McMahon now in his new role as the evil king of the WWE.

Titus O’Neill went one on one with Jack Swagger. He and Young have been getting a nice push as of late, since Young came out of the closet. They got a very decent pop and plenty of guys in the crowd were doing their dance. Good times. Come to think of it, they all loved proclaiming “We the people” at the end of another epic Zeb Colter entrance speech, so who knows what they like. Titus got the win and the Prime Time Players continue to build momentum on Raw.

We were then treated to another messed up Wyatt Family vignette. Bray even sang a little weird country song, with the sound of a wallowing banjo in the background. He spoke of “she” whoever that is, and rambled about a bunch of other scary stuff. Then CM Punk barged into Brad’s office, refused medical attention and demanded a match with Heyman that offered him no escape. Maddox decided to book him in a handicap match against Axel and Heyman for Night of Champions. I don’t get how that’s what he wanted, but he seemed happy about it. I found this really disappointing because it seems to rule out the possibility of an Intercontinental Championship match between the two of them. That’s what I would rather see, but I guess this makes more sense for building attention to the storyline.

Bryan made his way through the superstars on the stage for his gauntlet match. Lots of them were doing “Yes!” gestures as a sign of silent support. He kicked off with Rollins, much to my glee. This brings back memories of the great bouts these two had in Ring of Honor as Brian Danielson and Tyler Black. If you want to read more about that, click here. Renee Young tried to interview Big Show, Dolph Ziggler and even The Miz but none of them had the courage to comment, fearing for their livelihoods. This was all handled so, so well. They are really building this McMahon regime angle perfectly!

Bryan and Rollins had a very good match, which I expected. I figured they’d put him in there first for these two to hit the ground running, and develop it from there. The two of them played out probably the best surfboard I’ve seen. All the usual flurries and strikes were there. My favourite moment came when Rollins attempted a high knee from the top rope, but was dragged by Bryan, kicking and screaming, into a half crab. He then through him over the announce table. These two both executed their incredible striking abilities.

This match made me ponder something. Who is going to challenge the corporate security for their respective titles at Night of Champions? I’m very interested to see how they pans out, now that they are Hunter’s boys. Bryan hit the move of the night with a top rope German superplex on Rollins. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. He flipped completely in mid air and was planted face first. Amazing! Bryan followed it up with that new vicious high knee finisher (that really needs a name) and got the win.

Ambrose rushed into the ring but was immediately put into the Lobell Lock. Reigns ran in to interfere, causing the match to end by disqualification. When Reigns’ bout started, he too was locked up by Bryan, forcing Rollins and Ambrose to just beat him down. The referee lost complete control of the match and it seems that Bryan won all three falls, two of which by DQ. The Game’s music hit and he came to the stage to watch the post-match beating, alongside the superstars. He kept looking Big Show in the face, and he just turned away looking glum. So amazing! This whole thing couldn’t have been done better.

shieldtingDaniel Bryan didn’t believe in The Shield – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

The incredible heel Hunter gave The Shield the nod from the stage signalling for the triple powerbomb. Then Randy Orton came out. Hunter tapped him on the shoulder, authorizing him to go to the ring and dish out some vengeance of his own. The Shield held a lifeless Bryan up for an emphatic RKO. The crowd gave off huge “Big Show” chants, but he could only stand there and watch. Triple H then gestured the wrestlers to part like the sea, and allow him and his hand picked champion to walk to the back.

8/10

This show was very well done. For the last three months, I’ve been giving shows 8/10 almost every time. It’s a sign of how consistently good the company has been performing since Wrestlemania, in a period that is supposed to be the most stagnant of the year. This show epitomised this new found energy within the WWE. The development was there. We were treated to two very good matches, and some very memorable moments. I think this is the first time in years that I’ve actually been excited about Night of Champions.

Craig

TNA: Bully and Brooke, but which Brooke?

brookeassNo caption necessary – Source: Impact Wrestling

TNA IMPACT
22/08/13

The show starts with Bully Ray on the phone, walking with Tito Ortiz, on the phone with his ‘Brookie’, telling her that everyone will be shocked later tonight. Mr. Anderson walks up to both men and wonders why Bully didn’t tell anyone about Tito’s involvement sooner. Bully cusses him out for being sensitive, which makes me think Anderson will turn on him at some point.

Christopher Daniels, Kazarian and Bobby Roode walk to the ring, with CD and Kaz really playing up to the crowd, and Roode doing nothing at all. Roode grabs the mic and says Bully has broken the system, and that the three of them will do anything to beat him for the title. The crowd boo this…I thought they’d want Bully to lose the title? Daniels finally names the group ‘Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Organisation’ – (E.G.O.) and goes on to say he’s going to win his match tonight like his team-mates have done. Roode asks asks Austin Aries to join them, until he’s interrupted by a fully dressed James Storm and a topless Gunner, come on mate, every else is dressed. Storm comes out and screams about not trusting Roode and beer, wahooo! He takes off his hat and shirt and everyone starts brawling. Earl Hebner appears from nowhere and the bell rings?! WHO MADE THIS MATCH?!

JAMES STORM & GUNNER VS BOBBY ROODE & KAZARIAN

Everyone in this match is wearing jeans, so surely this should be a street fight, those are the rules. There was actually really good psychology in this match, with the heels using dirty tactics to overwhelm the fan favourite Storm (even though I’m not a fan, I can’t deny his popularity), until he got the hot tag to the much stronger Gunner, who threw his opponents around easily. The end came with Storm fighting his way back, going for a superkick but EARL got in the way, Kaz distraction, and Roode hitting a low blow for the win. Decent match, daft ending.

Shouldn’t Earl be (storyline) punished for this? Surely Storm should be furious with him?

X-DIVISION CHAMPION MANIK VS SONJAY DUTT

As soon as this match starts, all I can think is how underrated Sonjay is. The guy has been around for years, super reliable albeit injury prone. Your standard quick paced X-Division style match, that Manik won after hitting his reverse-double-underhook-glamslam-codebreaker finisher. Good match but nothing special.

maniksonjayduttManik pulverises Sonjay Dutt – Source: Impact Wrestling

Backstage Segment – Aces & 8’s are backstage talking about their 5 on 4 match (Kurt’s in rehab) with the Main Event Mafia later tonight. D-Von always looks really sweaty.

STREET FIGHT – HERNANDEZ VS CHRISTOPHER DANIELS VS JAY BRADLEY VS JOSEPH PARK

What a weird match! I like that TNA use gimmick matches, as it’s something they can do that WWE can’t. Sure WWE have their stipulations, but there’s no shots to the head. I completely understand why they do that, but I’m always gonna miss it. Nice spot with Hernandez teasing a Border Toss/Crucifix Powerbomb on the ramp, only to get backdropped by Daniels. As Impact comes back from commercials, Roode and Kaz are at ringside, arguing with Parks mate Eric Young. In the ring, Bradley is fighting Daniels, and backdrops him onto the very edge of a chair, really painful looking and dangerous. Austin Aries enters the ring, gives the members of E.G.O. a high ten each, but then swerves and brainbusters Daniels and sprints back up the ramp. Jay Bradley nails Park with knuckledusters, and instead of knocking him out, it just made his mouth bleed a bit. Seeing his blood, Park reverts back to Abyss and destroys Bradley and Hernandez and gets the 3 count and 20 points!

Backstage Segment – Main Event Mafia are firing each other up for their match later, Rampage getting his lines in.

World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray heads to the ring with Tito Ortiz, walks to the commentary table side and says hello to Taz, and ‘SHUT UP OLD MAN’ to Mike Tenay, which got a genuine L O L out of me. Bully says he pulls the wool over everyone’s eyes AGAIN. Tito gets on the mic, plugs his Bellator fight with Rampage, as the crowd chant ‘you sold out’. Bully asks Brooke Hogan to come to the ring, and her music hits. After a while waiting, Brooke TESSMACHER comes out! Ohhh okay, that makes sense. I later learnt that Brooke Hogan had been released to save money, fair enough TNA.

bullybrooketitoBully, Brooke & Tito – Source: Impact Wrestling

ODB VS GAIL KIM

ODB continues to be hugely popular, definitely the most popular knockout since TNA stopped caring about Velvet Sky. With Brooke T back, the Knockouts Division should be able to do more storylines, I’d love to see her win the title at the same time as Bully has his, I.E. Edge and Lita. Pretty technical match, with Gail focusing on ODBs right arm, and ODB fighting her way back, nailing a superplex from the second rope. Surprisingly Gail won this match with a crucifix pin out of nowhere! Interesting to see her win clean against a favourite like ODB.

Backstage Segment – That cameraman who bothers wrestlers backstage asks Austin Aries why he rejected Roode’s offer earlier tonight. He basically says he doesn’t need anyone’s help, and doesn’t see why he should help them.

Promo Video – Sabin moaning about losing the title last week. Is he here to do something about it tonight? Doesn’t look like it.

ACES & 8’S VS MAIN EVENT MAFIA

Anderson gets on the mic and tells everyone how the match is going to work, and introduces their leader, ‘BUUULLLLYYYYYYYYY RAYYYYYY….RAAA….RAAA…..RAAAAAAY!’ which I fucking loved, Wes Brisco definitely corpsed for it too, hiding his face in his hands. Sting says MEM aren’t going to give up, and introduces their fifth member…AJ Styles! AJ comes out to his recent downer music, with his big hood and that, before shedding the jacket as his old music hits. AJ plays up to the crowd and gets a huge reaction. The match starts with Samoa Joe making Wes look like an absolute chump, before tagging in AJ. AJ gets round to fighting Garrett, who botches a fireman’s lift…fire this man now. AJ tags in Magnus, who gets worked over by all the Aces members. Strangely, TNA haven’t hyped this as Rampages debut match at all. I’m not sure why, but the crowd are all over D-Von, probably because he’s the only member of the team who tries to get heat. At one point, D-Von took down Magnus and got back to his feet by doing a spinnerooni! What the hell is going on?

ajflyinThe Phenomenal Flyer – Source: Impact Wrestling

Eventually Magnus manages to DDT Mike Knox, and tag in Sting. Sting attempts a Scorpion Deathlock, and all men jump in the ring. Rampage ends up alone in the ring and hits some massive right hands and clotheslines, and a hard scoop slam on Brisco. As Sting climbed back in and Reverse DDT-ed Knox, the cameras caught a shot of Samoa telling Rampage to slow down and stay on the apron. Sure Rampage needs leading, but they had a million camera choices! AJ gets the second hot tag and clears house, hits D-Von with a Styles Clash and the 3 count. This means that D-Von is out of a job now, which I’ve heard is to start working backstage as a road agent.

Notes: Overall a decent show, a lot of swerves to take in, maybe with Bully getting his new Mrs and Tito on his side, they shouldn’t have done the main event this week. With Kurt Angle going to rehab, I think TNA must have rushed AJ’s slow burn storyline and got him to his old self ASAP.

As always you can contact me with any thoughts, or even if you just want to chat about wrestling at @jrholberry on twitter.

Thanks!

Joseph Holberry