My Live Ultimo Dragon Experience

ultimodragonUltimo Dragon shaking hands after his victory – Source: My mate’s phone

Ultimo Dragon is an international superstar, who has conquered Japan, Mexico, Europe and even the bright lights of the United States. He is famous throughout the globe for his high-flying luchadore style. Most of you may remember him for his time among the giants of WCW and WWE. I was always a big fan of him as a teenager, but hadn’t heard a lot about him since those days. That’s until I noticed him on the flyer for a local show, run by the promotion that I often go to see in my hometown.

I went along to the show on Friday with a few friends. A couple of them were long time wrestling fans, the rest were “normal guys”. We had an absolute blast and really got into the spirit of things. My buddy Ash filmed some of the Ultimo Dragon main event match. I’ve attached it below, so check it out! The show was entertaining from top to bottom, and had us feeling and acting like big kids. Can’t complain about that for a fiver.

I’m going to start going to more local shows, and some a bit further afield. There are always some big names of the past floating around the independent scene. You can see them in a much more intimate setting than before, and for a much cheaper price. The rest of the card is usually filled with good workers. They may not all be chiselled behemoths, but those capable wrestlers are out there.  I would recommend that you check your local listings, especially if you’re in the UK. There is a lot of good stuff going on lately.

I had my worries going in that we were perhaps going to witness a Scott Hall style meltdown in the ring. The reality that a lot of ageing stars go on to battle demons, abuse problems and just keep wrestling to stay alive financially gave me a few nightmares. That’s something you never want to see happen to a great wrestler, but it seems to be a pitfall of the business. I was so pleasantly surprised to see a guy who was in just as good shape as he was ten years ago, pulling off some of the same exciting moves, and entertaining the crowd like a true showmen. Dragon! Dragon! Dragon!

Thanks for reading,

Craig [Editor]

The Weekly Editorial: Can The Rhodes Brothers be the next superteam?

rhodesbrosThe future looks bright for the Rhodes family – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

I’m here today to analyse the future of the Rhodes Brothers. I’ve been absolutely in love with their recent run, and want to see it continue. That doesn’t stop me from envisaging what may lie ahead for them though.

The return of Goldust has been a revelation. He looks in better shape than he did in his prime. His experience has proved valuable in big matches and his return to action has really elevated his younger brother. Cody was already getting there after his spectacular performance at Money in the Bank and subsequent feud with Damien Sandow. I expect that to be revisited in the future, after he cashes in. But for now, Cody has gold of his own, and has been really galvanised by this run with his brother.

I don’t see them shaking off the title belts too soon either. I could very well see them having a long reign, in the same way that Team Hell No did. They are the perfect candidates for weekly main event matches in the struggle against authority. That big storyline which is dominating proceedings right now has a spot free for the Rhodes brothers for sure.

In the long run, I see them eventually breaking up rather unceremoniously. You could go about this a number of ways, but the age old technique of having one of them mess up in a big match would do just fine. Whichever way around it occurs, I expect Goldust to turn heel and get a lot of heat. This could give Cody the intense, personal feud he needs to really elevate himself into the main event picture. It would be hard for any fan to not get invested in a story like that, especially involving brothers. It would be a very emotional affair.

For now, I just hope they remain engaging and entertaining. If booked well, their run and eventual demise could make for some memorable moments and incredible matches. Long live Goldust and Cody!

Thanks for reading, and don’t be afraid to leave a comment cursing me out!

Craig [Editor]

RAW: Could Damien Sandow successfully cash in on John Cena?

sandowizedThe uncrowned World Heavyweight Champion – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

After a dramatic and turbulent Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, all eyes were on WWE last night to see how the company would start it’s build toward Survivor Series. Let’s take a look at what went down hour-by-hour on last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw.

Hour One: Damien Sandow made a statement with a vicious and brutal attack on the new World Heavyweight Champion John Cena, after his triumphant promo had opened the show. He decided to cash in his briefcase for a title match, but after a long and well fought contest, he came up short and ended up jobbing out to the Attitude Adjustment. John Cena was visibly hurt, but where does this leave internet darling Damien Sandow? I knew the IWC were not going to be happy with this move. I don’t quite know what to make of it myself.

Dissension began to become visible in the ranks of The Shield, as I had already predicted, with Dean Ambrose pointing out in their promo that he was the only one that still had gold. His match with Big E Langston was called off early when the others got involved. The Usos came down to save the big man, and Brad Maddox shocked the world by booking a six man tag match. The crowd were absolutely dead for this, but I’m not sure why. It was (as always with The Shield) a good match, which Reigns won with an emphatic spear. He then used his facials to perfection to imply the deep resentment that is brewing. This breakup is imminent, trust me.

bryanshawnShawn Michaels offers his hand – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Hour Two: Shawn Michaels’ in-ring apology to Daniel Bryan turned sour when the latter refused to shake his hand. HBK was not in jovial mood last night, and gnarled “I’m Shawn Michaels! Now shake it!” He did a really fantastic job here. Bryan didn’t respond well and stuck the LeBell lock on him, much to JBL’s fury at ringside. He was then randomly ambushed backstage moments later by The Wyatt Family. As the night went on, it started to look more and more like these guys are Triple H’s new Corporate Ministry.

3MB and Los Matadores had a match again. This is getting beyond a joke! I’m starting to feel like I’m on the road with these guys watching them have house shows every single night. AJ Lee and Tamina beat The Bella Twins. The Miz jobbed to Kane real quick. Then things took another strange turn. Kane called out Stephanie McMahon, only to bizarrely offer her his services, give her his mask on the stage and head to the back. The authority is growing! This has late 90s written all over it, and I like that! As the hour drew to a close, Prime Time Players did a hilarious merch drive and David Otunga gave his opinion on the legitimacy of Big Show’s lawsuit against the WWE.

Hour Three: Punk tried his best with a promo to make another match with Ryback seem important. The fans on the app chose a street fight for these to. The cell match last night clearly wasn’t enough. The only good thing about this was the ending: another elbow drop through a table, straight into the Anaconda Vice. After Ryback had tapped, The Wyatt’s came down and beat up Punk. He tried to battle back after being (accidentally I assume) busted open, but ended up being another victim for Sister Abigail. It seems that the weird trio have taken The Shield’s place as the enforcers for Triple H and Stephanie.

The Real Americans got a big win over The Rhodes Brothers. The match was good, and Goldust was so over with the crowd again. Jack Swagger got the job done with the Ankle Lock and I see these guys having a good feud for the title. Alberto Del Rio waved his Mexican flag again and cut a short promo threatening to hurt Cena more and get his title back in their rematch. I hope that takes place at the UK taping a week on Monday, because I’ll be there.

Natalya and Summer Rae had a pretty decent submission match, and that turned out to be the main event. Of course, the real ending to the show was much more significant: The Randy Orton coronation. The Shield were present in the ring with the authority, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing that for too much longer. Triple H cut a promo about the journey of Randy Orton, before welcoming him to the ring for a group hug. Stephanie called on the other superstars, ordered to stand on the stage, to show the new Champion the respect that he deserves.

authorityThe Authority gather for a joyous coronation – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Big Show came out and was attacked by The Shield. The Usos and Rhodes Brothers thwarted that though and took them out of the equation. When confronted, Show knocked Randy Orton out and goaded the COO to get back in the ring. Triple H was too scared, and the show went off the air.


I will explain my rating. You should know by now that I am an optimist when it comes to pro wrestling. I’m easily pleased. This may mean my rating is significantly higher than what you may think is right. Leave a comment and let me know what you would give it out of ten. I thought that there was big drama, especially at the beginning and the end, the most important and most memorable segments of the show. There was a lot of huge development in terms of character and direction, involving The Wyatts, The Shield, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, etc. The wrestling product itself was solid as always.

There is a lot to look forward to as we head towards Survivor Series, and I felt this show had all the intrigue to propel us there.

Thanks for reading. I’m sorry about Damien Sandow. He is a good talent.

Craig [Editor]

WWE Hell in a Cell: A great show overshadowed by a bad ending

hbkrefsShawn Michaels preparing to award the belt – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Thanks for checking out my summary of Hell in a Cell 2013.

I watched the show last night, and I have mixed feelings about it. I’m sure the internet is exploding with negativity over some of the stuff that went down, but I don’t really know about that. There were some excellent matches, some really cool moments and I really can’t wait for Raw later – that’s a big positive! I would have done a few things differently though, and the one major issue is with the main event. I’ll get into that later. Let’s take a look at how it all went down in my summary of the show.

The opening match was fantastic! A triple threat for the tag title, it was always going to be exciting. Boy, did these guys deliver. For some bizarre reason, Rey Mysterio was at the Spanish announce desk all night, after being nonchalantly introduced by Michael Cole. That’s his big surprise return! He got to see a great match nonetheless, because these guys stole the show. A lot of people are calling this the match of the night, and I’d struggle to disagree. The Rhodes Brothers retained, good times.

The Miz came to the ring to call out The Wyatt Family. When they showed up, Kane made his surprise return to save him, then chokeslam him. Confusing, but it can never be too bad for the roster to bring back someone of his stature, and it takes Bray Wyatt out of limbo. Fandango and Khali dance contests have no place on pay-per-view, but Summer Rae looked more spectacular than I’ve ever seen her. Dean Ambrose stepped in to replace Curtis Axel for some reason (suspension? failed drug test? who knows) and defend his United States Championship against Big E Langston. The two of them had a great match. The bloody challenger put up one hell of a fight, and despite losing, hit his finishing move after the bell rang to a huge crowd reaction. This was a positive match.

I know there are probably mixed feelings about it among wrestling fans, but I thought the Punk and Ryback cell match was great. It was a bit embarrassing when the guy operating the lift with Heyman took ages manoeuvring it up to the ring. Nonetheless, when he raised Paul up to the top of the cell to safety, I thought it was genius. Ryback looked strong but inevitably jobbed on pay-per-view for the trillionth time. When Punk was done with him, he climbed the cell, with a kendo stick protruding from the back of his trunks like a ninja’s sword. He put a brutal beating on Heyman and finally got his revenge. The crowd loved it. The camera angles were really cool when those two were up there too.

champshereThe champ is here – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

John Cena returned and brought relevance back to the World Heavyweight Championship after a really, really good match with Alberto Del Rio. It wasn’t suicide dives and moonsaults, but it was really great. They sold the injured arm, worked a traditional battle and told a compelling story. ADR actually deserves credit for his part in proceedings. He was also another guy to accidentally bleed. Both guys looked good, but the real story here is that the World Title is now around the waist of a legit top guy. That won’t do it’s prestige any bad at all. Another prospect to look forward to is Sandow cashing in and going over on one of the biggest stars of all time. That’s a pretty good platform to jump from.

AJ Lee and Brie Bella had as good a match as you could expect from them, with Lee retaining the title with her trademark Black Widow submission move.

Now for the controversial main event. Like Punk and Ryback, these guys made almost no use of the cell. That’s something I’ve come to accept over recent years. The most brutal moment was probably a superplex from Orton onto a huge pile of steel chairs in the centre of the ring. Nonetheless, these two did as well as they could, considering how many times they have faced off now. I don’t think this lived up to Cena’s return, the opening match or Punk and Heyman though.

But it’s not the match that is getting so much attention, it’s the ending. After a chaotic series of events which concluded with Triple H in the ring checking on a ref-bumped Shawn Michaels, Daniel Bryan hit his boss with the Busaiku high knee. Michaels saw this, and reacted by hitting him with the Sweet Chin Music, and counting the three for Randy Orton. Judging by his facial expressions and the circumstances involved, I don’t believe this was a heel turn. It definitely is however, something that needs to be explained further. In that sense, it’s definitely a success because I will be watching Raw later with baited breath. In the moment though, I have to admit the evening ended on a slight downer. It was a mixture of sadness and confusion.


I will explain my rating. Four of the matches were at least pay-per-view quality, and two of those were more than very good. I’d say the opener was the match of the night. There was some filler there, but on the whole, the in-ring product was of a high quality. There were a couple of surprise returns, one a lot more significant than the other. The show did the job of getting me to really want to watch Raw, so I have to hold my hands up on that one. The final outcome of the WWE Championship match was very disappointing though, and that’s my only real gripe.

Thanks for reading, and leave a comment letting me know what you thought of the show.

Craig [Editor]

TNA: Anderson returns and makes a big Impact on Bully and Styles rematch!

bullyandersonBully and Anderson come to blows – Source: Impact Wrestling


Thanks for checking out this week’s review of TNA Impact.

We get a Bound For Glory recap package, Kurt Angles difficult night and AJ Styles winning the title. Dixie Carter comes to the ring grinning, and we see a banner in the ring stating ‘Welcome Back AJ Styles!’ along with a table with all his merch on, and some large pictures of him on either side. The crowd boo her out of the building, literally not stopping through her whole promo. She asks AJ to come to the ring, and he gets a big reaction.

AJ takes his weirdo hood down and he’s had his haircut, thank god. Dixie basically says she’s the reason AJ won the title by firing him up, and offers him a lot of incentives to stay, ending with a new sports car. She thinks this is what AJ meant by ‘she’s gonna pay’, and AJ isn’t happy. Dixie says she’ll cancel the World Title rematch tonight, and is interrupted by Bully Ray. He says he didn’t lose and blames Earl Hebner for missing his kickout – YEAH FUCK EARL! AJ fires back until Bully sucker-punches him, hits him with the pictures, and teases a Powerbomb through the table until he’s distracted by the return of…MR ANDERSON! He sprints to the ring and takes out Bully, as the crowd go mental.

We come back from commercial to see Anderson on the mic. This surprised me because TNA don’t do long promos. He says he’s been sat at home watching, and didn’t like what he saw. Dixie comes out with security guards, and they take him away after a brief fight.


I’ve only just noticed that they’ve gotten rid of the ramp up to the ring, looks a bit more professional now. Also, why is Brooke teaming with the woman who cheated to beat her? If it was something like a cheap roll up you could probably let it go, but she got powerbombed so hard. Even if it was a couple of subtle facials, but we got nothing. Gail does the old ‘Eddie Guerrero chair distraction’ so Lei’d can boot Velvet for her mate to pick up the win. Wasn’t a bad match, the best Velvet’s looked for a long time.

Backstage Segment – The Bro-Mans say they’re ready for their ‘celBROtion’ tonight, which is awful but fits their gimmick. Robbie E screams ‘BOOOOM’ whilst spraying hairspray for about 30 seconds straight.


Standard squash match. Ethan repeats the ‘We are the Carters, and the world needs us’ line. Into it.

ethancarterThe pride of the Carter family – Source: Impact Wrestling

Backstage Segment – After footage of their match, we see Magnus and Sting talking backstage. Magnus apologises for not shaking his hand on the night, and they shake now.

Kurt Angle comes to the ring looking pretty sombre, and grabs a mic. He repeats his thoughts on the Hall of Fame, and says he will be there eventually. Bobby Roode interupts him and says Kurt is just making excuses for his loss at BFG. Kurt wants a rematch right now, and Roode teases accepting but backtracks to tell the crowd that Kurt isn’t cleared to work tonight. The two men brawl until they’re separated by security.

Backstage Segment – Bully tells the two remaining Aces & 8’s to make sure Anderson doesn’t make his way back to the show. Surely he should be mad at them for not helping him keep the title? End this storyline please.

The Bro-Mans come to the ring to loud house music being played by a live DJ in the ring who Taz calls ‘DJ Salami’. Taz is mental, I think he just says whatever he wants. The Bros eat protein bars whilst the crowd chant ‘YOU CAN’T WRESTLE’ at Jesse. He responds by kissing his title belt and holding it up to the crowd, just to piss them off more, actually really smart. James Storm and Gunner come to the ring, shout about their rematch and steal the champagne. Bad Influence come to the ring to save this segment for me. Kaz says they’re petitioning for a title match, whilst Daniels runs down their choice of beverages. Storm steals his appletini and throws it in his face, and all 6 men brawl. Eric Young and Joseph Park run out and join in, until Daniels nails Park with a champagne bottle. He BLADES and does his whole monster thing, hitting Jesse with a chokeslam and surprisingly pushing EY out of the way. Everyone knows I love BI, but them seeing the blood and immediately running away made me so happy, it’s about time someone noticed.


AJ spent most of this match selling his ribs that Bully supposedly injured. At the 6 minute mark there was an absolutely terrifying spot, with AJ getting pushed into the air for a flapjack, but almost rotating like it was a back body drop, and landing on his shoulder/head/face. Ignoring that last botch, these two are so reliable, probably TNAs best all-rounders. AJ took some big bumps in this match, he really didn’t need to. He must have the Mick Foley attitude of giving the fans their moneys worth. After a ref bump, AJ made Bully tap to a Calf-Killer but obviously didn’t get the win. Bully followed that by using his chain and hitting a big Cutter, but only got a two count (Earl was still selling). Bully grabbed the chain again, but was stopped by Anderson, who distracted him enough for AJ to get him into a crucifix pin and retain the title.

Bully and Anderson brawl to the ring, and Dixie brings out a contract for AJ to sign. She says it’s full of everything AJ wants, and ‘more 0s than he’s ever seen’. AJ literally wipes his arse with the title, and says he’s taking the title to the fans. I’ve read recently that AJ might be defending the title at indie shows and the like, that would be cool. AJ takes the car keys Dixie offered him and drives away holding his title belt as the show ends.

To be frank, this show was better than BFG, ouch.

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

UFC: A strange night of action from Fight Night 30

machidaLyoto Machida ahead of his main event fight – Source: Bleacher Report

I watched the fights the other night, and here are my thoughts on what went down. Thanks for checking out The Real Mid Card, and hit ‘Follow’ for UFC posts every Sunday.

Tonight is UFC Fight Night 30 live from Manchester. It’s a six fight card. Here are my predictions: First up, we have Harris v Lineker: Lineker didn’t make weight so he is likely to weigh around 140lbs. Harris made weight but looks like a small fly weight. Harris is a Brit but I really can’t see him winning this. Lineker by whatever. Sakara v Mousoke: Sakara by decision. Parke v Tuck: Both would have have been TUF vets but Tuck suffered a nasty toe injury on his fight to get in the house. Tuck is undefeated. Parke is a slow burning grinder. I see Tuck trying to starch him early. Tuck by TKO in round one.

Manuwa v Jimmo: Manuwa is a tough as shit striker from the UK. Jimmo could well be his kryptonite. The x-factor here is the wrestling of Manuwa. I hope Manuwa wins by a a way of a beautifully violent knockout,  but I fear he will get laid on. If Manuwa wins, he needs to call out the top ten now. This has the potential to be fight or KO of the night, or both. Please MMA Gods, make it Manuwa by KO.

Pearson v Guillard. This has the potential to be a barnburner. Pearson is a Brit who likes a good brawl, and Guillard is a man with an inane ability to turn peoples lights out. Unfortunately for Guillard, he has an allergy to submissions. Pearson trains at Alliance. You can bet your arse he has trained submissions like he eats pies between fights. The question with Pearson is how will he react to the crowd. Will he stick to the game plan or will he give the crowd a blood bath? Guillard also, when threatened by a wrestler, has a tendency to freeze and not let his hands go, and will always put himself in a position to get taken down. This fight is definitely a toss em fight. I’m going with Pearson. I think his head is in a better place, and wow have you seen what he goes home to?

Finally the main event of the evening. Machida v Munoz. I’m not even going to mess about here. Machida all the way. However if it goes past the second round, the fight may begin to fall in favour of Munoz. But I’m going for Machida with a second round knockout.

What a strange card. A far cry from last week’s balls to the wall explosion of excitement. Let’s take a look at the actual results: My predictions were pretty naff if I’m honest, but hey ho, Lineker won with brutal body shots. Tuck went for a semi rally in round one but then fell victim to his own lack of conditioning and lost in what was a pretty dire decision win for Parke. Sakara has to get cut now, after he lost his fourth fight in a row to a welterweight. He rocked Musuka early but ended up getting finished with a sweet armbar.

Manuwa won but not by violence. He won by Jimmo’s own body breaking down. The co-main was building up to a nice slug fest but ended prematurely by an illegal knee and was therefore deemed a no contest. Now for the main event of the evening. Machida and Munoz played Patticake and danced for about three minutes, then Machida blasted Munoz with a head kick and it was all over. It was a very strange night. I read that the pre-lims were great but sadly I could not watch them. The main event was short and sweet. Maybe its the blues from the aftermath of the amazing 166 card. Its going to be a long time until we get another like that. Next week TUF has two fights. Look out for my write up of that. Chow for now.

Thanks for reading.

Arun Paul Smith

WWE: Memorable moments from Friday Night Smackdown

bryanpinsBryan wins tag match before Hell in a Cell – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Thanks for coming to The Real Mid Card for our thoughts on last night’s episode of Smackdown. It was a pretty decent show overall, but I don’t want to get bogged down in all the usual faces and all the predictable stuff. Let’s look at what stood out.

Triple H was interviewed in the ring by Michael Cole, and chose to bury Big Show this time. Daniel Bryan came down to interrupt him and vowed to prove him wrong at Hell in a Cell. Yes!

The Wyatt Family kidnapped The Miz and tied him up in what looked a lot like the old boiler rooms of the Mankind era. They branded his chest with the word “Liar” – Cool creepy stuff. Los Matadores beat 3MB again. I’m not sure what’s gone on but maybe they have some kind of pact, because they face these guys far, far too much. That obviously wasn’t the memorable part. The two things that were memorable occurred after the match. El Torito, who I wish I wasn’t starting to love, hit an amazingly acrobatic springboard moonsault off the top rope to the outside. That was phenomenal. Zeb Colter topped it though by cutting a trademark promo on the stage, flanked by his Americans. He was so, so funny here. Long live Dutch Mantel!

Ryback and Paul Heyman teamed up to face “CM Skunk” – I haven’t seen the enhancement guy parody squash match in a while! This was kinda funny but kinda brutal, a good way to get some heat before Sunday. A suited up Alberto Del Rio cut a promo on the stage next to a huge Mexican flag. He claimed to be a true Mexican superhero and labelled Cena the “perfect representation of a Gringo” again – amazing!

delrioflagAlberto Del Rio flying the flag – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

The main event was great. An eight man tag team match featuring Daniel Bryan, Big E Langston and the Rhodes Brothers against The Shield and Randy Orton. I’d always prefer these things to be elimination, but this was great nonetheless. There were a lot of rivalries in that ring, old and new. The match turned out to be really good after Bryan got the hot tag. Chaos ensued involving everyone, with one incredible spot after another. Daniel Bryan eventually pinned Randy Orton. I see him doing the same tomorrow, or being screwed by Shawn Michaels – one of the two.


I will explain my rating. For Smackdown, this was a successful episode. Raw had already pretty much wrapped up things for Hell in a Cell, and they just needed a little extra push. Heyman came out to get some valuable extra heat. Bryan pinned Orton and created some more intrigue and speculation ahead of their match – the age old tag team pinfall going in to stir things up. In between, there were solid promos, solid performances and altogether polished product. That is something you can almost always count on WWE to deliver.

Thanks for reading. Hit ‘Follow’ for daily posts about professional wrestling.

Craig [Editor]

The Wrestling Review Corner: Death Grip

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANice guy, Chris Benoit – Source: Wikipedia

Thanks for checking out this weekly instalment of The Wrestling Review Corner. I’m continuing to look at documentaries, and today I have one in a similar vein to that of the ESPN piece on Scott Hall, that I wrote about previously. It’s the controversy-stirring, blood pumping Death Grip, a special program produced by the CNN: Special Investigation Unit. At about 40 minutes long, it’s a really slick, professional news feature which shines a spotlight of accountability on those who rule the business, while being unshackled by any sentimentality towards professional wrestling.

The program mainly focuses on the Chris Benoit tragedy, a topic which polarizes opinion among wrestling fans. For those unfamiliar with what I mean, I’m talking about the haunting, dark, horrific story of the Rabid Wolverine taking his own life, after murdering his wife and young son. The investigators are quick to scrutinize the WWE, and rightfully so. The show puts the heat on Vince in particular and holds him to account, but does recognise the positive elements of his success and dominance in the industry.

For the most part, Death Grip tries to work out what drove Chris to commit such an act, and generally how the business and it’s plights may be shortening the lives of wrestlers. Of course, the damning facts are brought to light once more, as the business we know and love is hounded. Drugs, performance enhancing and otherwise, are brought to the forefront as a possible reason for the serious heart and mental issues that many performers go through and ultimately die from. Vince and wife Linda vehemently deny that there is a link, and refuse to accept responsibility for the life choices and demons of their workers.

The rich selection of interviewees really save this from being too skewed. They add a certain balance and perspective to proceedings. Chris Kanyon makes an appearance, and talks about working with Benoit. It was really cool to see a young CM Punk at the height of his time in ECW flying the Straight Edge flag, too bad the interviewer was nauseating in his condescension towards him. John Cena is questioned on steroids, and denies ever having used them.

Perhaps the most sobering moment of all was seeing Dynamite Kid, living in a council house in Manchester. The documentary doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of one of the game’s best ever performers. He is painted as a man who the business turned into a monster. His former wife describes him as a drug user, a violent and threatening one. It’s even more shocking when Mike Benoit (Chris’ Dad) recalls his son idolising this man, through his childhood and career.

He idolised a man who was spiralling out of control behind closed doors, and hurtling towards a breakdown. The Kid’s wife spoke of him putting a shotgun under her chin once, a claim which he confesses to on camera, “but he was only pretending” – There is a scary similarity between the two, both inside and outside the ring. It’s so, so depressing to see Dynamite Kid in this shape. He needs some help. Hello DDP!

One really interesting discovery is made when former wrestler Chris Nowinski steps forward and reaches out to Mike Benoit, asking for a piece of Chris’ brain for examination. He was looking for brain damage, as part of his organisation’s studies into the effects of multiple concussions in sport. The findings were startling – at his time of death, Benoit is said to have had the brain of an elderly Alzheimers patient. He got that way because of excessive concussions, according to Nowinski’s organisation. CNN are quick to make a link between his signature move the Diving Headbutt and the mental problems. Vince McMahon criticised the findings of that report quite justifiably, by questioning how a man with that kind of brain damage could have operated on a day-to-day basis (performed, booked hotels, rented cars, etc)

Vince may not have been willing to accept that there may be a problem with concussions, but he has gone a long way to try and fix the company’s drug policy. The widely known Wellness Program hasn’t always been at the stage it is now, and some would argue that it still has a way to go. At the time of this film, they were still criticised for leniency. However, they were also recognised for bringing in the same man who perfected the NFL’s program to clean things up in the WWE. His work was ongoing, and I don’t know how successful it has actually was.

At the time of Death Grip, in the aftermath of the Benoit tragedy, there was definitely still a lot of questions to be answered by WWE. After an autopsy, Chris was shown to have had steroids in his body at the time of his death. It’s a pretty damning conclusion to a story drenched in speculation, criticism and controversy. I love pro wrestling and I love Vince McMahon, but the figures are scary and have to be analysed.

To love this business, you have to accept it’s problems. I hope they will be solved over time, but for now, give yourself a bitesize education on the darker underbelly of the modern WWE. Death Grip explains a lot, and I’m absolutely sure you won’t be bored by it.

Thanks for reading.

Craig [Editor]

Work. Rest. Play (Pt. 1)


Thanks for checking out the first part of the tour film, Work. Rest. Play – there will be three other parts uploaded in the coming weeks. I made this with my two buddies (Brains for Breakfast and MoJoe) to chronicle our experiences for fun. On this episode, we start with the launch show at our then home, before moving on to dates in Manchester, Bolton, Derby and Stoke. If you like any of the artists, and want any info to check them out, give me a shout. Share this video with your friends, and be sure to check back for more real soon. Thanks for reading!

Craig [Editor]

The Weekly Editorial: What’s next for The Shield?

shielddunnoWhat lies ahead for the coolest trio in wrestling? – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

In today’s editorial, I’m going to talk/write a little bit about The Shield. That’s right. I speak out loud to myself as I type. It’s not weird. it’s normal. I want to quickly celebrate their awesomeness, while pondering what the future may have in store for this excellent unit.

Well, these three guys have been a constant presence in the main event of WWE’s flagship show Raw every week for the past year. The mark they have made on the business is unquestionable. They made stables cool again. When you compare them to the kind of groups TNA is often guilty of churning out on a quarterly basis, you see that The Shield are booked as strong, ruthless and unashamedly cocky. Even the look, the ring gear, is distinctive. Most importantly, when you put three athletes of gold quality into a group, you are a long way towards success from the get go. Every one of them can cut a promo, every one of them can use facials, and every one of them can deliver in the ring. Their respective abilities do vary, but we will get to that later.

The latest chapter of The Shield’s era has seen them portrayed as the men with gold. That changed last week when Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns were defeated for the Tag Team Championships. This leaves only Dean Ambrose left holding gold, in the shape of the United States Championship. The three continue to remain relevant, represent the regime and Triple H and will probably still occupy the main event every week for a while longer. The question does remain though, what is the long term plan for The Shield and did that title loss to Goldust and Cody Rhodes mark the beginning of a new, possibly final chapter for The Hounds of Justice.

The group have been at large for over a year now, and while they aren’t at all stale, it might be getting towards that time when WWE at least need to plan for a separation. They are still dominant characters, despite losing a little shine. They are still the highlight of most episodes of Raw in terms of in-ring product, providing frenetic, high-octane six man tag matches with anyone crazy enough to face them. They are still all on the same page. It can’t be denied though, that now they have lost the titles, there is a chink in the armour. This presents a possible opportunity to split up the group logically, and to give their break-up the booking the run has deserved. There a lot of theories out there, but if it were up to me, this is what I would do.

I’d have Dean Ambrose begin to lose patience with Rollins and Reigns when they lose tag team matches. He would also undermine them directly, and inadvertently, because of his growing ego. I would have him keep making the point in promos that he is still the US Champion. The interesting thing about The Shield is that they have always said they are equals, without a leader, controlled by no-one. If it were up to me, Dean would begin to present himself as the unofficial head of the group, which would annoy the hell out of the other guys. Over time, this could elevate Ambrose to the place of top heel, and allow the other two to continue working as a team for a little longer, with the potential for a face run. It would take a lot of work and planning, but I would like to see something along the lines of this.

If they do split up, what will be next for each guy? Even if Rollins and Reigns did continue to operate as a team for a while, that would need to come to an end eventually. The stable has been pushed so perfectly that no one member should be satisfied with a team role. Every one of them has the ability and the potential to become a World Champion in the WWE, and I expect them all to do so. Some will do it quicker than others, but they will all reach the top, in my view.

As for individual talents and directions. Ambrose should continue in a heel role. He is just a master at working the camera and using his face and his voice to get heat. Like all of the very best traditional bad guys, he has ring psychology down to a science and can back up his mouth with his work. He has all the dynamics needed to be a top guy.

I think Seth Rollins is the best wrestler of the group. He is destined to join Daniel Bryan and CM Punk as an “ROH guy” who reached the pinnacle. He is far from shabby on the mic too, and I could envisage him in either role. For me, a top babyface spot would work fine to start with. Potential feuds with the guys previously mentioned would be delicious. We have already seen the kind of clinics he can put on with Bryan as a part of a heel stable, let alone as a solo babyface.

I feel mostly the same about Reigns, and that’s why I think it might be beneficial to keep those two together as a team and turn them face for a while, before they go it alone. Reigns may get heat from some fans for being just a big guy with a huge physique, but that is pure jealousy. He contributes just as much as the other two in these great matches, and given the right direction and guidance, I could see him filling the shoes of Batista. He has an excellent family lineage in the business, something which should be exploited in putting his character over the top as a giant prototype of a wrestler.

In conclusion, I  would like to acknowledge the emergence of these three top athletes in the biggest wrestling company in the world. I would like to also give credit to said company, for booking the stable to near perfection. There are always little things you might tweak here or there, but for the most part, they have got The Shield spot on. The other workers have benefited from having them out there to work with. The fans have been treated to excellent matches. The guys themselves have been given a really strong platform, from which to push on and become the best that they can be. A deserved pat on the back for Triple H and the Creative Team.

Looking to the future, I see bright things for Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose and I comfortably predict that each one of them will be WWE Champion at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Thanks for reading. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Craig [Editor]