My views on Pro Wrestling from the East and West

Friday, March 26, 2004

The Final update for awhile

This will be my final puroresu update for about two weeks as I'll be away to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to attend a training course. So they'll be no RAW report or Spoiling the Illusion next week for all you loyal followers of this blog (Unless I find a cyber cafe somewhere near the hostel I'll be staying at).

Spoiling The Illusion: 9 (Simple cause I can't think of a clever title)

- So why were all the RAW wrestlers that were traded made to look weak since they all lost the final matches on the show? For that matter, the overall theme of the show in some way made SmackDown look like a real 2nd rate show compared to RAW that no one wants to work for save for the guys who are already there. They even made it more evident on Thursday's Smackdown which you can read about below.
- So Trish is bangin' Christian eventhough he was the one that proposed the $1 bet to Jericho? And why didn't Jericho jump Christian in the locker during the draft lottery since they were all in the same room?
- I could probably make it a weekly article for the idiocy that is Jerry 'The King' Lawler. Why wouldn't Spike Dudley be uncontrollably angry after getting beat down by Christian & Trish last week?!?
- They left ALOT of holes in the show this week.
- Low Ki and Christopher Daniels broke up awhile back and now their back together working well without any explanation as to how or why?
- Chris Harris had the match of his life last week, and this week he only gets a BACKSTAGE interview? Couldn't they at least have made it a live in-ring interview?
- If you were in-line to get a tag-title shot, would you sit at home and not show up just cause your partner didn't trust you and TOLD you to stay home? Johnny Swinger would seem do so. And what must he be thinking since Kash replaced him with a partner no-one has even heard of or even know what his name is?!? Geez, when even the announce team and ring-announcer doesn't know what to call the guy, it sort of makes things worse than deliberately forgetting the past like many WWE storylines usually do.
WWE Smackdown
- Am I the only one that gets the feeling that all the material Booker used was originally planned for Triple H?
- And with the exception of the Dudley Boys that didn't wrestle on RAW, doesn't it just hammer it home how low below RAW Smackdown is when all the guys that lost their last RAW matches were all made to look REALLY good on their first night on SmackDown?
- And after all the heat Booker garnered throughout the night, Bradshaw gets the last lick on Eddie Guerrero? I'm all for a Bradshaw push (Seriously!), but to have Booker do all the work and suddenly steal his thunder like that kinda makes me shake my head at the scenario.

Other News and thoughts
10th Champion Carnival participant announced

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kensuke Sasaki has been announced as the 10th entrant in the upcoming All Japan Champion Carnival! If Sasaki can make a successfull title defence against Bob Sapp on 3/28, than the chances of seeing the IWGP Champion VS the Triple Crown Champion (Kawada) in All Japan during the Carnival becomes very real!


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

SmackDown's new GM

Less than 24hours after watching one of the best episode of RAW in a long time, already many changes have been made since the innitial draft lottery.
WWE.com has already broke the story that the new General Manager for SmackDown replacing Paul Heyman will be none other than former WWE Champion and our Olympic Hero, Kurt Angle!!!
And Angle has already gotten to work restructuring SmackDown and trading talent! The biggest and most shocking being that TRIPLE H was traded back to RAW for Booker T and the Dudley Boys! 3 for 1!
Also traded was A-Train and the FBI's Chuck Palumbo for Rico and Ms. Jackie. More of a Velocity for Heat talent trade.
This is really interesting as I thought for sure Paul Heyman would trade himself back to Smackdown for HHH. For sure, now it means every week we're still stuck with HHH's endless ranting, and you can count on it that he'll be the man that de-thrones Benoit as World Champion. So instead of a new beginning, we really are gonna be stuck with the same old RAW.
As for SmackDown, it'll be interesting to see how Angle's GM role plays out. Will he be a heel or a face? Afterall, his last match was as a heel, so will he have any ill-feelings towards Eddie Guerrero?
I don't think I'll have any problems with Angle as GM, as long as he doesn't pull an Austin and Angle Slam or Ankle Lock any of the workers who disagree with his decisions. But on the plus side, it was a good call to put Angle in a none-wrestling role since he's facing another career ending injury. Unfortunately, it also means that Paul Heyman is taken off TV. Hopefully, Heyman can come back in some kind of agent/manager role and his current hiatus won't be for long.


A New beginning on RAW

This week’s edition of RAW was one of the most intriguing shows in a while since it centered on the lottery to draft new wrestlers for each brand. Hell, I was so intrigued I did the report live, which I normally only do for Pay Per Views! Lets get to it.

RAW kicks off with a look at the RAW & SmackDown rosters in seperated locker rooms. Funny how the live crowd booed the SmackDown crew. Tazz & Michael Cole are ringside doing commentary for the SmackDown side.
We then get what could considered a historic sight as Paul Heyman, Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon are all together with Vince explaining how the lottery will work. Each GM will get to draw a name from the opposing roster for a total of 6 for draws each brand. And the GMs can trade any picks they aren’t satisfied with by midnight that night. A few years ago who would have thought we’d see the bosses of WCW, ECW and WWF/E all in the same screen?!?
The two GMs come to the stage and Heyman makes the first pick, and gets Rene Dupree! La Resistance is down to 2 guys!
Dupree comes to the ring and asks the two GMs for one last match on RAW as he doesn’t want his last memory of being on RAW as being stunnered last week by Austin. The two GMs grant his wish and Dupree calls out anyone from the RAW roster. Chris Jericho answers the call and we get our first match.
This was a good match. Y2J was fired up but didn’t get disqualified like last week. He beat Dupree with a cool running enzuguiri.
Dupree whines about his losing his last RAW appearance. Who should come out but Sheriff Austin who offers a handshake and the young Frenchmen accepts it only to get Stunnered.
Rico and Ms. Jackie are in the ring. Eric Bischoff makes the 2nd draw and gets Sheldon Benjamin! The World’s Greatest Tag Team are no more!
Kane than comes out and squashes Rico in under a minute after taking some good looking kick. Kane then confronts both GMs and says he doesn’t care where he ends up as long as it’s not the same show as the Undertaker!
Heyman makes his next pick and it’s Mark Jindrak! Maybe he can stick him back with O’Haire and finally have something for them to do?
Bischoff makes his next pick and gets Nidia. The first Diva has been drawn and King loves it! Nidia comes out and Bisch gives her a RAW t-shirt which she immediately puts on much to the delight of the live crowd since it involves her taking off her SmackDown shirt to show off her ‘enhanced’ goods.
Heyman goes to make his next pick but gets interrupted by John Cena! Cena rips on both GMs and makes the next pick for Heyman! Heyman disagreed with the pick since Cena pulled it but Bischoff said he has to accept it. Heyman reluctantly opens the ball and suddenly smiles as it turns out to be none other than TRIPLE H!!!
After the break, we get a replay of HHH and Bischoff’s reaction to being drafted to SmackDown! The RAW locker are then shown singing the Good-Bye Song to the FURIOUS ex-world champion.
Next match is Christian with Trish Stratus VS Little Spike Dudley. This was good cause Spike surprisingly dominated most of the match, showing the giant killer instinct. Spike hits a HUGE dive off the top out of the ring and a double foot stomp off the top back in the ring. But Spike still came up short as Christian hits the Un-Prettier for the win after countering the Acid Drop. Spike looked freakishly like Brian ‘Spanky’ Kendrick when he took his shirt off.
Bischoff is suppose to make his next pick, but decides instead to go look for Vince and complain about HHH’s draft. Heyman interrupts and request a WWE Title match with Eddie Guerrero defending his title against SmackDown’s newest talent, TRIPLE H! McMahon agrees and the match is set for tonight! All the sudden, I’m not so high on HHH going to SmackDown….
Bichoff comes out and proclaims whoever he draws next will face World Champion Chris Benoit tonight! He makes his pick and it’s RHYNO!!! Rhyno faces Benoit tonight for the World Title! Rhyno comes out and throws his SmackDown shirt in Heyman’s face before accepting a RAW shirt from Bischoff.
RAW tag title match next as Booker T & Rob Van Dam defend against Ric Flair & Batista. This was a very good bout! A miscalculation at the end as RVD accidentally kicked Booker and Batista capitalized knocking RVD from the ring and hitting his sit out powerbomb to win the titles!
Back from the break and Heyman makes his next draft, getting Rob Van Dam! Heyman proclaims and Extreme reunion this thusday! Backstage and Coach informs RVD, who was apologizing to Booker for the title lost, that he has just been drafted to SmackDown. RVD & Booker can’t believe it.
Old rivalry resurfaces as Chris Benoit faces Rhyno for the World Title! Great contest as both men hit their spots. Benoit makes his first successful title defense as he dodges the Gore and locks on the Crossface for the tap out win!
Backstage, HBK asks Bishoff to trade him to SmackDown just so he could get his hands on Triple H. Bisch instead makes the main event for the Backlash PPV HBK vs Benoit for the World Title.
Bischoff makes his next pick and gets Tajiri! Tajiri says his good-byes to Akio and Sakoda. At least Hurricane will have someone else to work with.
Heyman makes his next draw and gets Theodore Long! Jazz is less than happy.
Bischoff draws next and gets the returning Edge!
Heyman isn’t happy as he makes his last draft, and it’s Little Spike Dudley! Heyman is even less happy now!
Bischoff makes his last pick and gets PAUL HEYMAN?!?!?!?!!?!!!!!!!!!! There goes the Extreme reunion!
Heyman instead chooses to QUIT rather than work for Bischoff!!!
Bischoff starts gloating in the ring and suddenly EDGE RETURNS!!! The crowd goes nuts! Edge enters the ring and immediately SPEARS BISCHOFF!!!
They show Paul Heyman leaving during the break.
Next is Triple H VS Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Title! HHH comes out wearing a RAW shirt. Eddie offers a handshake and HHH actually accepts, but Eddie pulls back! HHH tries using his size advantage, and Guerrero targets his injured arm. This was a VERY good match and HHH actually looked his best in MONTHS! Near the end, Eddie hits the Three Amigos (triple suplex), but suddenly Flair & Batista run in! Flair distracts the referee and Batista hands the WWE title belt to HHH. John Cena and Rey Mysterio run in and beat down Batista! Ref is distracted by this and suddenly HBK runs in and hits Sweet Chin Music on HHH! HBK than dives out of the ring taking out Evolution, Cena and Mysterio! Eddie goes for the Frog Splash, but Christian runs in and trips him in front of the referee, causing a disqualification! RVD runs in wearing a SmackDown shirt and beats on Christian! Members of the RAW locker run in and beat on RVD! The rest of the SmackDown roster run in and beat down the RAW roster! Glass shatters and Austin leads the rest of the RAW troops to battle the SmackDown roster! THE ENTIRE locker of both brands brawl it out to end the show!!!

WOW! This was actually the BEST RAW in a while! The drafts all weren’t that big, but Triple H going to SmackDown is definitely big news and I’m sure shocked many like myself (I jumped out of my seat when his name was announced!). The big trade off for HHH was Edge, who is obviously being groomed for main event status as he now faces whatever revenge Bischoff is going to extract. It will be good to finally see if Nidia can wrestle, though I question bringing over Tajiri. Sakoda would have been a more logical choice since he’s bigger. This is definitely going to be a good thing for Rhyno though.
The obvious storyline for the SmackDown side will be the naming of the new GM. Three guesses who that’s gonna be. But Paul Heyman was just GOLD tonight and hopefully isn’t going to be gone from WWE TV. There’s still the matter of negotiating trades before midnight, remember? HHH also looks to be the anti-SmackDown guy if his draft sticks, and its obvious his feud with Guerrero could continue since Angle is currently out of the picture and Guerrero needs a big name to work with. RVD finally gets to work some fresh matches and it will be good to see Spike in the cruiserweight division.
The ending of RAW also did a good job of giving the feeling that RAW & SmackDown are two real rival shows. I actually stood up and applauded the ending! This was definitely a memorable episode of RAW!

Again, here are the drafts for each brand:
- Sheldon Benjamin
- Nidia
- Rhyno
- Tajiri
- Edge
- Paul Heyman

- Rene Dupree
- Mark Jindrak
- Triple H
- Rob Van Dam
- Theodore Long
- Little Spike Dudley


Monday, March 22, 2004

Do I Hate New Japan Pro Wrestling?

That’s a question I ask myself every now and then. Especially when it’s time to order new puroresu tapes from overseas. NJPW shows are usually last on my list of shows to get and watch, I’ve even put getting indy shows like Osaka Pro, K-Dojo and DDT ahead of theirs. I know New Japan Pro Wrestling is probably the top game in Japan, much like World Wrestling Entertainment is in America. And like WWE, NJPW has been around for a long time, even before their major competitors came into business. I’ve even known about New Japan’s existence before I became an old-school AJPW fan.

I first heard of NJPW years ago by watching Kensuke Sasaki, Jushin Thunder Liger, Masahiro Chono and the Great Muta on old NWA/WCW TV shows, and was big fans of them, as they had a very unique style (Strong Style) at the time.

So why aren’t I more of a New Japan fan now than I should be? Like I said, I was more into classic All Japan and now NOAH, who was founded on the remnants of AJPW. And I had only come to know of AJPW in 1997 through their SEGA Saturn game, whereas I’ve known about NJPW since the early ‘90s. Both promotions have good, hard working rosters, yet I can’t bring myself to really want to watch a full NJPW show, save for the main events or certain eye-catching bouts and workers.

Everyone asks me why I don’t get more NJPW shows. Well, every NJPW event most of the time has only one match (usually the main event) that appeals to me, but the rest of the card doesn’t make me want to cash in my forty bucks for the tape. Hell, I’m still considering getting some current AJPW shows just to watch Toshiaki Kawada all by his lonesome. That’s HIS drawing power that attracts me as opposed to many NJPW stars. I bought one NJPW tape to watch Giant Silva and Giant Singh in Survival tag match, and the first Ultimate Crush event just to watch Kobashi VS Chono. And I bought Wrestling World 2K2 specifically to watch Silva VS Nakanishi & Nagata VS Akiyama. About every other NJPW show I have were contributed to me by a good friend (and a big NJPW supporter).

So the only conclusion I could come to was that I’m more into NOAH now cause of the workers. Let’s compare the workers of both promotions by rank and file:

New faces:
NJPW has a host of new talent their currently introducing. Goto, Taguchi etc, all of which I don’t really give much a crap about right now since I can’t even remember most of their names. I don’t know if NOAH has anyone in the back waiting to make a debut as no one has even passed the last entrance exam to NOAH’s private school. Either way, I don’t really have any interest to watch a group of green workers trade basics.

Junior Division:
Here’s where I notice a BIG difference. New Japan has a host of established talent from Jushin Liger & Koji Kanemoto to younger talent like Takemura’s rudo faction. However, one thing I also notice is that they ALL DO THE SAME THING! Just about all the Juniors seem to have the same work style; some heavy strikes, some mat work, some big spots to end the match and that’s it. Everything seems to go through the same cycle, just with different faces. I was really disappointed by the Liger/Sasuke/Tiger VS Togo/Jado/Gedo match from Wrestling World 2002 due to all the mat work they were stuck doing, when this could have been an awesome spot fest considering who was in the match. I can hands down say the best NJPW Jr match I’ve ever seen thus far was AKIRA VS Koji Kanemoto for the IWGP Jr Title, and that was all in part thanks to AKIRA’s excellent work in the match who kept an excellent pace which had the crowd hot the whole match through, and I still say he should have won the title that night. And did I mention he’s just a PART TIME wrestler?!?

NOAH: Barring the Differ Cup show, I can honestly say I’ve only watched four Junior tag matches and one Junior singles bout from NOAH. ALL of which were simply excellent! I don’t know why, but nothing they did could bore me like the NJPW crew mostly does. They even keep things going when they do rest holds and mat work. The late Giant Baba’s only mistake when he ran AJPW was not letting the Junior Division get it’s just deserts, but Misawa has totally turned that around in NOAH. And there are also no boundaries in the weight classes as NOAH Juniors and Heavyweights mix it up frequently in tag matches, where as NJPW strictly keeps the divisions apart bar a few mix matches which are few and far between and considered ‘special attractions’ when they do happen.

The Mid Card:
Both rosters have a big mid card that one could argue about forever. I would give a slight advantage to NJPW for pushing guys like Yutaka Yoshie and Hiroshi Tanahashi as well as the already established upper mid-card in Osamu Nishimura, Manabu Nakanishi etc. Granted they all can put on interesting matches, but once again like the Junior Division everyone seems to work the same match. Well, maybe not Nishimura. Seriously, everyone seems to almost have the same move list other than their finishers. Unless their trying to act like big time shooters which gets boring when all they do is try for hard strikes and take down submissions. Tanahashi is the young lion that wants so badly to prove himself to everyone, Yoshie is the up-coming big man, Yasuda is a really bad shooter wannabe, and so on. I think the only two upper card guys that really stick out are Osamu Nishimura (obviously) and Manabu Nakanishi as they both know how to command the crowd..

On the NOAH side, pushing guys like Rikioh and Morishima to main event level seems to be the gradual idea, as well as having guys like Masao Inoue, Daisuke Ikeda and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi holding down the mid-card. And lets not forget about good’ old Akira Taue and Tamon Honda in the upper card. The difference again being the diverse styles everyone brings to the table. You could argue these guys all aren’t really that impressive at first, but they can really put on entertaining bouts when given the chance.

The Main Eventers:
New Japan seems to have a hard time putting any faith in the new blood. Just ask Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Yuji Nagata. Even the established stars like Nakanishi and Nishimura still have a hard time getting in the main event picture. More often than not, one is forced to put his credibility on the line by taking part in shoot fights, which they mostly have no luck in (Nagata, Nakanishi), and only those who do get a win in a shoot almost always seemed guaranteed a run with the IWGP title. Examples? Kazuyuki Fujita, Tadao Yasuda, Yoshihiro Takayama and Shinsuke Nakamura. Please note that 3 of those names are also technically free agents. Nakamura had huge hype when he came out of nowhere to beat Tenzan for the IWGP title and then Takayama to unify the NWF title. I’ve only seen Nakamura wrestle twice and was moderately impressed despite all the shoot-submission work he does. But I think I’d find little joy in watching a guy who’s barely a heavyweight get tossed around by bigger guys only to steal the win in the end with a quick submission move. Say what you want about Takayama, I thought he was entertaining and really did come out of obscurity to make a name for himself after years of hard work. Nagata had a banner year and a record of ten successful IWGP title defenses, but it all didn’t seem to mean anything since he lost ONE shoot fight and never seemed to get his heat back for it. And the company never seemed to have any faith in Tenzan from the start despite and incredible comeback and fan support he gets.

Now remember, this rant isn’t about New Japan’s booking decisions, but about what entertains me. And NOAH has just THREE main-event level men that can do it for me; Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama and Kenta Kobashi. Even Akira Taue can still bring it when needed to. I could probably also agree that Misawa is past his prime and getting lazy. But these three men bring incredible diversity, and between them have a bigger move-list than all of New Japan’s current main event talent combined. And when put into a big match, they can more than deliver. They are also capable of carrying younger guys, or those past their prime, to incredible levels and make them credible challengers in the eyes of the live audience. However, you could also say that the way they were built up, no one below their level will ever get a victory on them unless pinning the lesser partner in tag matches. But this makes it all the more important when someone actually does pin them. New Japan also does this, but seems to be lightening up a bit.

So there you have it. But is it really the roster’s fault? Remember, I was into to All Japan cause of the Oudou style pioneered by Baba which Misawa is currently improving on in NOAH. I could explain what appeals to me about the Osaka Pro, DDT, and old FMW rosters, but that would really make this rant longer than it has any right to be. Than again, if you’ve ever seen any shows by these groups, you might get the idea. I’m also a fan of ZERO-ONE, but they have the same problem as New Japan with a thin roster that doesn’t appeal much to me. And what good shows they have are few and far between.

Maybe NJPW deserves more credit, but in the end, it’s up to what entertains me I guess. A friend of mine recently commented that Wrestling World 2004 was the best puroresu show he’d ever seen, and highly rated many of the matches. But I get the feeling I’d be less than generous with my views (No offense, Dude). In the end, I guess ‘hate’ is a pretty strong word to use. I should just say New Japan doesn’t really appeal to me, though I will continue to watch whatever shows come my way.


Friday, March 19, 2004

Spoiling The Illusion: WrestleMania Edition

Wrestle Mania XX
- Eric Bischoff ‘heard a rumor’ the Undertaker would be at the arena? Guess he didn’t notice all the supernatural stuff that was haunting Kane for the past two months, or the fact that Vince McMahon himself announced the match on RAW, and it was one of the most anticipated matches on the card. So why WOULDN’T the Undertaker be at MSG that night?!?
- Randy Orton, Hardcore Legend? Dude, unless you fly your ass over to Japan and take part in a REAL hardcore match, there is NO WAY IN HELL anyone is gonna take you for anything remotely related to hardcore status. Constant blading doesn’t count either.
- Did Jerry Lawler really have to waste two whole minutes of commentary talking about ladies undergarments during the Women’s Title match?!? Was he so ticked at not getting to call the Playboy Evening Gown match that he had to get his licks in somewhere? He really took all the seriousness out of that match just so he could discuss a dirty fetish of his and made the story of the match of what would happen to Molly if she lost secondary.
- And why was Tazz & Michael Cole given the 'envious' task of calling the Evening Gown match instead of giving it to the RAW team so King could drool all he wants, and call one of the other inter-promotional matches like the Undertaker/Kane match since 'Taker representing SmackDown won that one?
- King must have a REALLY short memory. Why else would he forget that Triple H did indeed lose the world title before? Or is it because that since Goldberg is no longer with the company, his title win never really happened?
- Normally, when a new champion is crowned in all the glory that is WrestleMania, shouldn’t the new champion be the one to start-off RAW? Not where Triple H is concerned. Despite being the loser of Mania, He STILL starts off RAW and STILL rants endlessly bout how he’s better than everyone. How easy is it for HHH to say the bulls-eye is on Benoit and that Benoit won’t last long as champion. But when HHH was champ, he was doing all he could to avoid defending the title at all! And what was that he said about the defending the title night after night? It’s been months since Triple H has even wrestled on TV let alone night after night!
- What part of NO EXEPTIONS did Triple H not hear his father in law (Vince McMahon) say? And did he REALLY think Bischoff could over-turn (or had the guts to over-turn) a decision by Vince?
- Not that I’m complaining, but after all the weeks of preparation and constant bashing by people who said he wasn’t ready, Chris Harris indeed shows he isn’t ready to be NWA champion. Whereas Raven, probably the most deserving of the roster, still isn’t given his shot by Russo. But how cool is it that despite how they try to heel him, Raven is still MEGA over with the crowd?! It wouldn’t surprise me if this led to Russo turning heel and backing Jarrett again just to keep Raven from the title. And doesn't this sound familiar? Cough... Austin/McMahon... Cough...
WWE SmackDown
- Wonder if Brock Lesner and Bill Goldberg wished they had gotten a send-off like Farooq did instead of getting beat up by a crippled Austin?
- First show after ‘Mania, and SmackDown is already looking for it’s next challenger for the world title, and using fresh faces to boot. Whereas RAW is beating around the bush by throwing out names. At least SmackDown is seriously looking for CONTENDERS.
- Paul Heyman really is the better GM between both brands as the guy really does give opportunity to the youngsters. Hell, he even does a better job than Russo on TNA who’s trying to put over who HE wants to get the opportunity!

Other News and Thoughts
What's next for Lesner?

He did not getting a rousing farewell from the fans at WrestleManiaXX. But what did he expect? He basically walked out on the company that made him what he is. Now he's throwing it all away to try out for the NFL. Operative word here is 'TRY OUT'. That means no guarantee he even has a chance. He says he really wants to play for his home team, the Minnesota Vikings. But the Vikings coach said they have no plans nor interest in giving Brock a 'try out' in a recently conducted interview. But Brock says he just wants to give it a shot, just so he'll know if he ever could have made it in the NFL. So that years from now he can look back and at least say he tried.
Right now Brock is the biggest free agent since Bill Goldberg when WCW went under. Numerous promotions in Japan are trying to acquire his services to work their shows (DSE-PRIDE, K1, NJPW). Nippon Sports offered WWE $250,000 to have Lesner and Angle work the upcoming NOAH Tokyo Dome show. But now Angle is on the shelf again. And as for Lesner? I seriously doubt the money means that much to him unless he gets desperate, but right now those promotions probably need to understand Brock has no-interest in pro-wrestling at this time, and even less in taking part in MMA events. But if Brock fails at his ventures and does decide to return to WWE, I doubt he should expect a rousing return welcome.

Farooq's firing NOT an angle!
Despite the angle where he was fired on SmackDown, Farooq was indeed released by WWE this past week and confirmed by WWE.com. Personal reasons were cited, but Ron Simmons has been known for wanting to retire before, but gave it one more run with the APA reformation.

King of Collosseum 2
The sequel to one of the best puroresu games ever is expected to be release in Japan around June. Screenshots don't look all that much different than the first one, but the big news is that now everything is on just ONE disc! Can't wait for this one!

Takeshi Morishima successfully defended the WLW title against Jun Izumuda on 3/13 and is now expected to make a short tour of America as the WLW champion. Interesting to note the match main evented the show with all the regular big names working the mid-card.

Yoshinari Ogawa & Yasuhiro (Kotaro) Suzuki will be the next challengers for KENTA & Marufuji's GHC Jr. Tag Titles on 4/3 at the Differ Ariake Arena. Anytime you have Ogawa challenging for a title is a scary situation, as the man is no stranger to holding multiple titles. Suzuki would be expected to be the fall-guy in the match, but you never know with Ogawa as he would love to be the man that finally wins the belts off KENTA & Marufuji. The only way I would justify Ogawa & Suzuki winning the belts is to have Suzuki get the pinfall.

Yoshihiro Takayama has been confirmed as the next challenger to Kenta Kobashi's GHC Heavyweight Title and the match will take place on 4/25/04 at the Tokyo Nippon Budokan. The last time these two met in a singles title match was Kobashi's final Triple Crown defense in All Japan before the NOAH jump. There was significance to that match as it was billed as a non-televised match to sell more tickets.


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

WrestleMania's Aftermath

After having some time to finally digest the near five hour spectacle that was WrestleMania XX, I can honestly say it was a good but not really off the charts show. For a show that went 4hours 40minutes, there was only about 2hours 20minutes of actual wrestling. Obviously, cetain things should have been left out to make more room for the matches, like the backstage skits with Coach. You could also say that having so many stars on one show, you also take up alot of time just for the ring entrances. To have a match involving 10 Cruiserweights not even go 10 minutes is a real crime.
The one big positive is that both brands now have champions that the fans really care about, and are excellant wrestlers to boot. Eddie Guerrero (SmackDown) and Chris Benoit (RAW). I've always said it was better for business for WWE to have baby-face champions that the fans want to cheer and see win uphill battles, and not big heel champions that almost always screw the faces out of the win.
Now that the big show (not Paul Wight) has come and gone, WWE has found themselves in a bit of a pickle, talent-wise. Brock Lesner and Bill Goldberg are gone, Rock is barely a part-time wrestler, Austin is a cripple that no one can touch, Triple H is a criple that no one can touch (say what you will about him, it's MY blog), and now Kurt Angle is facing another possible career ending injury.
So with unbalanced rosters on both shows, how does WWE solve the problem? See below.

Show starts with Triple H coming out whinning and complaining like he always does when he loses the world title. Thankfully, THE WORLD CHAMPION, Chris Benoit comes out and shuts him up by attacking him! Evolution run in and look to out-number Benoit, but Shawn Michaels runs in with a chair to even things up. Eric Bischoff than comes out and makes the main event a handicap match between Benoit & HBK VS Orton, Batista & Flair.
Backstage, HBK explains he saved Benoit so that he could get himself a title shot since he already beat Benoit before.
First match of the night and its women's tag action with Victoria & Lita VS Jazz & Molly Holly. Molly was wearing a big blonde wig and got a 'Molly's Bald' chant! The wig didn't last long as Lita tore it off while trying to flip her into the ring and Molly ran for it! Jazz was left alone and Lita pins her with a stiff DDT. Victoria suprisingly didn't do much her, but good match.
Matt Hardy beat Chris Jericho next by DQ. This was more of a fight than a match as Hardy had to hold his own against an enraged Y2J who was eventually disqualified. Weird how they never mentioned this was Hardy's first win on RAW. Post match, Y2J just grabbed his bags and left the arena.
Orton cuts a promo where he challenges Mick Foley to a one-on-one contest after he beat him in the handicap tag at 'Mania.
Backstage and all 3 members of La Resistance together with their French Poodle, Fifi, get abused by Sheriff Austin.
Val Venis gets mic time and gets a lucky girl from the audience to remove his towel. She's about to flash Val her goods when his opponent, Kane comes out and proceeds to squash Val in under a minute.
Hour two opens with another women's match, Ms. Jackie VS Stacy Kiebler. This doesn't go long before Vince McMahon comes out and halts the match to make a big announcement. Vince says WreslteManiaXX was billed as 'Where it all begins...Again'. So it's time to shake things up on both RAW and Smackdown. He says the fans want to see new-matchups and new directions being taken. Therefore, next week, all the Smackdown superstars will be in attendance at RAW together with all the RAW superstars to take part in a 'random draw' lottery to reasign superstars to either RAW or SmackDown brands. No Exceptions would be made, be it title holders, tag teams, factions or even his own family members (!).
Evolution confront Bischoff in his office and demanded Bischoff do something as HHH doesn't plan on splitting up Evolution or leaving RAW cause he plans on winning the world title back from Benoit. Bisch makes it clear that it was the bosses decision, and there was nothing he could do.
Next up is an excellant world tag team title match as Booker T & RVD defend against the Dudley Boys. This was honestly the best Dudley Boys match I've seen in a long time that didn't involve tables in the rules. Both face teams even used old-school heel tactics on each other! I don't normally rate TV matches, but this one gets ***1/2!
Spike Dudley comes out next for a match with an un-named opponent as Christian & Trish Stratus (who were announced as being not in attendance) came out and beat him down. They than gave the expected explanation that they were in on backstabbing Y2J all the time ever since Trish found out about the $1 bet. She says she didn't want a soft, love sick puppy chasing her around and wanted a real man that wasn't afraid to get rough.
Backstage, the returning Rene Dupree is pissed off that he and La Resistance had to be abused by Austin and America in general. He heads out to the ring an calls out Austin. Austin complies and squashes the young prospect in seconds. Noticebly, Grenier and Conway did not come out to help Dupree.
HBK & Benoit beat Evolution in the main event. Halfway through, Mick Foley arrives at the arena. And when the referee gets bumped, Foley runs in and beats Orton into the audience and out of sight. Despite selling a busted arm, HHH still gets involved giving HBK a Pedigree, but the faces manage to rally back and Benoit taps out Batista with a Sharpshooter.

This weeks RAW was a good show overall. But the Lottery next week must have gotten alot of folks more than a bit worried. The Smackdown crew didn't even know about it till after it was announced on RAW. My opinion is that it will have it's good and bad points for sure, as it probably means the return of Stephanie McMahon to TV. And if Champions are not exempt, what happens if Benoit and Guerrero end up on the same show? This is a big angle WWE is playing out, and hopefully delivers as both brands are in dire need of some new faces to mix things up.


Monday, March 15, 2004


Suprisingly, they actually made space for an entrance ramp instead of the usual short walkway to the ring in Madison Square Garden, which makes it look bigger than past Pay Per Views held there. All three announce teams are tabled at ringside.

Show kicked off with the Boys Choir of Harlem singing America The Beautiful as clips of WWE superstars visiting the US troops in Iraq was played. And ended with a wide screen shot of New York with all its landmarks and the hologram of the World Trade Centre.

Que a great opening clip recapping the history of Wrestle Mania as well as clips and sound bites from the participants of the main bouts on tonight’s card.

John Cena VS The Big Show – WWE US Title
Cena riles up the crowd with his pre-match rap and calls show a big ape. Cena has a cast on his right hand cleverly hidden as a wrist band. This was a basic David VS Goliath type match. Show continues to have good matches, using a modified Final Cut with a leg drop and going old-school clamping on a cobra clutch! Cena make the comeback and nails the FU on Show but only gets 2! Cena goes to use the chain, but tosses it away when the referee warns him not to use it. But as the referee goes to get the chain out of the ring, Cena than uses his knuckle ring to blast Show and nail a second FU to win the US Title! Good match! And did you ever think you’d hear anyone say Big Show was putting on a wrestling clinic?!? Match Rating: **3/4

Jonathan Coachman meets up with Eric Bischoff in his office and Bisch asks him to go look for the Undertaker to out-scoop Smack Down and confirm he’s there.

Randy Orton, accompanied by Batista and Ric Flair, cut a promo on his history with Mick Foley. He claims tonight it all begins again as he stakes his claim as the true hardcore legend.

La Resistance VS Jindrak & Cade VS The Dudley Boys VS RVD & Booker T – World Tag Team Title Sudden Death Fatal Four Way
The tag champs retain when RVD nailed the 5-Star Frogsplash on Conway after Booker hit the scissors kick. Jindrak and Cade barely had any ring time (I don’t think they were even tagged in) as the match went by rather quickly. Match Rating: **

Backstage, Coach thinks he’s found the Undertaker, but turns out to be Mean Gene and Bobby Heenan making out with Moolah and Mae Young! I actually didn’t recognize Heenan due to all the weight he’s lost.

Christian VS Chris Jericho
Good back and forth match, the main story being that Jericho is better and constanly out-wrestles Christian. Christian used a cool looking modified Texas clover-leaf submission hold, but couldn’t hold it for long. Y2J applied the Walls of Jericho out on the floor before bringing Christian back in the ring with a super double-arm suplex. Trish Stratus than runs down to ring side. She gets in Christian’s face and gets knocked down. Y2J goes to check on Trish, but gets back-elbowed by her as she didn’t know it was her, and Christian rolls him up for the 3-count. Post match, Trish tries to appologise to Y2J, and Christian comes back into the ring. Trish than slaps Y2J twice and Christian nails the Unprettier! Christian and Trish celebrate and Y2J gets up just in time to catch Trish nailing a lip-lock on Christian! Despite the ending, this was still one of the best bouts of the night. The Trish heel turn really seemed to surprise the crowd. Match Rating: ***1/2

Lilian tries to conduct a serious interview with Mick Foley, but gets interrupted by the Rock asking him to loosen up ‘cause it’s WRESTLEMANIA! He points out Hamburglar & Grimace (Hurricane & Rosey, Helms tried to hide a burger!) and then Superfly Jimmy Snuka and THE ROCK, Don Muraco! And even went into to audience to get Foley into the WrestleMania spirit. They than get out to business.

Randy Orton, Batista & Ric Flair VS Mick Foley & The Rock
Match starts as a wild brawl before the ring is cleared and Rock squares off with Flair. Good exchange before the match goes back out to the floor where Rock backdropped Flair on the floor and Foley nails the Cactus elbow off the apron on Flair!!! Back in the ring, Orton and Foley tag in and Orton doesn’t back down from Foley! He gets his ass kicked and hung in the tree of woe before Rock tags in and gives him a low blow. Evolution than take control on Rocky and the fans still love Flair and seem to boo Rock when the two hook up! Foley gets tagged in but gets overpowered by Batista. After some beat down, Rock gets tagged back in and cleans house till he gets spinbustered by Batista. Flair than tries a People’s Elbow! Rock counteres and Spinebusters Flair before nailin his People’s Elbow, but Flair kicks out! Rock than counters the RKO to a Rock Bottom! Batista comes in and powerbombs Rock! Rock kicks out when Orton covers! Foley tags in and unleashes on Orton. Foley goes for Socko, but Orton counters the Mandible Claw into the RKO and gets the upset three count! Great match! Interesting that the crowd cheered for Flair and booed the Rock whenever the two hooked up. Match Rating: ***1/2

We get a recap of the WWE Hall of Fame Banquet and its inductees. Triple H inducting ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham, Mick Foley inducting ‘Magnificent’ Don Muraco and Ric Flair inducting Harley Race were shown. Bobby Heenan had the most touching moment when he said the only thing missing from that night was fellow Hall of Famer, the late Gorilla Monsoon. I miss the big guy too. Other inductees were the late Big John Stud and the Junkyard Dog, Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine, Sgt. Slaughter and Tito Santana.

Mean Gene than comes out to the entrance-way and introduces the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2004 to the live MSG crowd and lists their accomplishments. Everyone got a good pop except Pete Rose who got booed. This was a great nostalgia trip for me as I remember watching most of these guys while I was just a kid years ago.

First Ever WrestleMania Inter-Promotional Evening Gown Match
Sable & Torrie Wilson VS Ms. Jackie & Stacy Kiebler

Despite the theme, the rules are that you win by pinfall or submission in this one. Sable request they wrestle with their gowns-off since it was restricting their movement! Jackie refused to take off her gown, so Sable drags her in and with Torrie rips off her dress. Thankfully, this was short and Torrie worked most of the match. Torrie pinned Jackie with a roll-up that made everyone happy. Match Rating: DUD

Backstage, Eddie Guerrero confronts Benoit in his locker. Eddie almost goes heel telling Benoit he doesn’t have a chance, but was actually just trying to fire him up. Eddie ends by saying he's a believer that Benoit can pull it off tonight.

WWE Cruiserweight Open
Chavo Guerrero is automatically the last entrant as he’s the defending champion. This is basically a gauntlet. Ultimo Dragon and Shannon Moore start off. Dragon lost some face during his entrance when he slipped on the entrance way and slipped again when he did his 2nd rope pose. Dragon made quick work of Moore, putting him away with the Dragon DDT in about a minute! Jamie Noble is next in. He quickly counters the Dragon DDT into a neck-breaker and followed with a front neck crank for the submission in under a minute! Funaki is next and comes in with a flying cross body off the top, but Noble rolls through for the record pin in seconds! Next up is Nunzio. They take it outside where Noble hits a cool senton off the top to the outside! Nunzio than gets counted out! Next is Billy Kidman. Nunzio trips and pulls Noble out of the ring and Kidman nails both of them with a springboard Shooting Star Press! Back in the ring, Noble crotches Kidman on the top rope, but Kidman nails a BK Bomb off the top to eliminate Noble. Rey Mysterio is next! Last year, Mysterio dressed as Dare Devil. This year, he’s The Flash. Good exchange by the former WCW tag champs, Mysterio nails a flipping powerbomb off the top to eliminate Kidman. Tajiri is next and he clamps on the Tarantula. Rey nails the 619, but Akio gets involved and holds Mysterio only to accidently get sprayed with mist by Tajiri! Rey rolls up Tajiri for the pin! Akio can’t continue due to being ‘blinded’ by the mist. Tajiri head kicks Rey as revenge. Chavo is last in by default. Rey takes out Chavo Sr. with a leapfrog senton over the referee out of the ring, but Chavo Jr. steals a pin on Rey with help from Chavo Sr. This match was a dissapointment cause it went by WAY TO FAST. Match Rating: **1/2

Brock Lesnar VS Bill Goldberg – Special Referee Stone Cold Steve Austin
Looking at Brock as he made his entrance, you could already tell he’d rather be somewhere else. HUGE ‘You Sold Out’ chant for Lesnar. Fans than chant the ‘Good-bye’ song! And JR acknowledges the rumours of Brock leaving WWE! We than get a huge Austin chant. All this and the two big men STILL haven’t locked up! They finally get it on and Goldberg spikes Lesnar with a gorilla press into a spine buster! Lesnar dodges the spear and Goldberg hits the corner and falls out of the ring. Now we get a ‘Goldberg Sucks’ chant! Brock takes control back in the ring. Goldberg comes back and nails a modified neck breaker followed by the spear, but Lesnar kicks out! Brock nails the F5! Goldberg kicks out! Lesnar misses a spear, Goldberg nails the spear! Jackhammer! Goldberg wins! The crowd could care less as they stay silent. The crowd again chants the goodbye song for Lesner and Lesnar fingers the crowd and then Austin and gets stunned for it! Goldberg comes back and shares beers with Austin. Austin than stuns him! Goldberg sold the Stunner better than Lesnar as Brock just wanted to get out of there. This match should have been A LOT better, and the fans let them know it. All the heat this match garnered were for the wrong reasons. Match Rating*1/2

It’s announced that WrestleMania 21 will be hosted next year at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles. Vince McMahon then comes out and publicly thanks the fans on behalf of WWE stars past and present for making WWE and WrestleMania what it is today.

World’s Greatest Tag Team VS The APA VS The Basham Brothers VS Scotty 2 Hotty & Rikishi – WWE Tag Team Title Sudden Death Fatal Four Way
The tag champs are the only team to come out to no crowd heat! Another quick match. Haas gets a mouthful of Stink Face. Bradshaw tosses Danny Basham out of the ring with a Last Call on Haas & Benjamin, than nails Doug Basham with the Clothesline From Hell. He tries one on Rikishi but it gets countered into a Samoan drop. Rikishi than sits on the fallen Basham for the pin to retain the titles. The crowd could care less and there was barely any heat for the tag champs, even for the W.O.R.M and after match dance celebration! Match Rating: *1/2

An Edge promo ad is shown. Jesse Ventura than came out and interviewed Donald Trump at ringside. Just a quick spot to get over the fact the Ventura is looking to run for US presidency in 2008.

Molly Holly VS Victoria – WWE Women’s Title, if Molly does not win the title, she gets her head shaved
This was OK but short again. King totally kills any credibility this match has as he drags JR into a debate about women’s underwear! Just cause he didn’t get to call the evening gown match, couldn’t King act like a grown up even for a WrestleMania women’s match?!? Molly tries the finish Victoria with her own Widow’s Peak, but Victoria rolls through for the pin! Molly runs for it and Victoria catches her but Molly takes down Vic and tries to shave her head! But she can’t get the shaver to work! Victoria recovers and smacks Molly into the barbers table and straps her to the chair and shaves Molly’s head! It’s the FULL AUSTIN TREATMENT! Match Rating: **

Kurt Angle VS Eddie Guerrero – WWE Championship
Angle makes his entrance as Molly is STILL getting her head shaved! Great mat exchange to start this one off, followed by a lot of ground and rest work. But the crowd is very patient and respectful. But as expected, when they get in gear, things really heat up! Eddie escapes the Angle Slam and the Ankle Lock twice. Eddie hits the Frog Splash, but Angle kicks out! Another Ankle Lock and Guerrero again escapes and flips Angle out of the ring! Eddie unties his boot laces as his ankle is hurting. Angle smells blood and quickly rushes in for another Ankle Lock! But Guerrero kicks his boot off! Surprised. Angle rushes in and gets rolled up by Eddie for the win! Guerrero stole it by outsmarting Angle! He even had his feet hooking the ropes on the pin! Match Rating: ****

Kane VS The Undertaker
As expected, Undertaker gets a grand entrance, and Paul Bearer is back! Bearer also gained back all the weight he lost last time I remember seeing him. Taker’s entrance is nothing off the charts, just the druids holding torches as he enters. His look is also nothing new, wearing his usual biker gear, but with the black coat and hat, his hair isn’t even shoulder length. But he did do the rolling eye thingy! Kane doesn’t believe it’s really him and tries to touch him which sets off the Undertaker’s wrath. Kane catches Taker out of Old School with a throat grab and Taker chokes him back! Kane scores a chokeslam, but the Taker does the dead man rise up! Taker scores a chokeslam of his own and signals the finish! TOMBSTONE! Cross-arm pin and the ‘Taker is 12 -0 for WrestleMania! The only complaint I have with the match is that the monster Kane was more or less squashed here. Match Rating**

Backlash is announced for April 18th in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Doesn’t that make things a bit predictable?

Shawn Michaels VS Chris Benoit VS Triple H – World Heavyweight Championship
This match kept a good pace, with the third man playing a factor breaking every pinfall. Cool spot where Benoit was hung in the tree of woe and HHH whipped HBK into him, HBK than did the same to HHH. Benoit recovers and takes out HBK before nailing the triple-German on HHH. HHH grabs HBK’s hand to stop him from tapping to the Crossface. Outside the ring, HHH & HBK double suplex Benoit off the Spanish announced table through the SmackDown announce table! HHH scores the Pedigree on HBK back in the ring, but Benoit comes out of nowhere to break the count! Benoit counters a Pedigree into a Sharpshooter. HBK Superkicks Benoit out of it! Cover! Benoit kicks out! Benoit ducks a second Sweet Chin Music and launches HBK out of the ring! Benoit counters the Pedigree into the Crippler Crossface! After several near escapes, HHH TAPS OUT! BENOIT IS THE NEW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION!!! Eddie Guerrero joins Benoit and both champions are in tears as they celebrate!!! Now THIS is a true Wrestle Mania moment! Match Rating: ****

Show ends with a great recap video of the whole event.

Overall: One could probably argue the biggest problem with the show was that most matches just seem to fly by, save for good time given to the main bouts, which were the only matches that were really hyped anyway. Still, this was a good show going over four and a half hours long. RAW tomorrow night should be interesting to see how things follow up. My PPV predictions are even at 6-6, bringing the overall record to 16-7-2. Show Rating: ***1/4


Friday, March 12, 2004

Spoiling The Illusion and WrestleManiaXX Predictions

- If HBK has more respect than anyone for Chris Benoit, Why the heck does he keep interupting Benoit's interviews? And in doing so, steal his spotlight?
- Does anyone really believe HHH fears wrestling two men? Heck, he defeated six men once in an Elimination Chamber. Shouldn't this be a cake-walk for him? After all, he is THE GAME and he is THAT darn good, isn't he? And does the size of Benoit's ego added to HBK's ego still equal far less than adding HHH's with HBK's?
- Mick Foley gets the beating of a lifetime, so he enlists the Rock to helphim out at WrestleManiaXX. So now, one week away from the biggest return match for both men, they completely drop all their intensity and focus just to help get Foley's smile back? Shouldn't they have come out looking for blood instead of laughs? I seriously think they should have saved the This Is Your Life segment for RAW after 'Mania. Or is it cause Rock will immediately be gone again after 'Mania?
WWE SmackDown
- Days away from 'Mania and Eddie Guerrero is still wrestling TV matches. When was the last time the RAW champion even wrestled on TV? And against a mid-card guy and made him look even credible? What? HHH squashed Spike Dudley the last time he wrestled on TV? Nuff said.
- Once again, WWE put the NON-WRESTLER over as the entire roster parted like the red-sea to let Austin through, and Brock Lesnar at the prime of his career has to get his ass kicked by the broken-down red-neck. Guess they have to make Brock's stock fall as much as they can before they let him go.

My current record for WWE PPV predictions is 10-1-2. The card for WrestleManiaXX has some highs and lows, as well as some all too predictable matches. Will I get that elusive perfect score for 'Mania? Probably not, but it'll still be interesting to see what suprises McMahon and company will have planned for this year's spectacle.

Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty VS The Bashams VS The APA VS The World's Greatest Tag Team - WWE Tag Team Titles
- I'll go with Haas & Benjamin mainly cause they ARE the greatest tag team on SmackDown.

Victoria VS Molly Holly - WWE Women's Title - Molly gets her head shaved if she loses
- I REALLY don't want to see Molly (or ANY Diva) get her head shaved. However, I still have to pick Victoria to retain here. I expect Molly to get a buzz-cut and not the full Austin treatment.

WWE Cruiserweight Open feat Chavo Guerrero Jr, Rey Mysterio, Ultimo Dragon, Tajiri, Akio, Funaki, Billy Kidman, Jamie Noble, Nunzio & Shannon Moore for the WWE Cruiserweight Title.
- I really want to see Ultimo Dragon win this, but despite all the hype Rey Rey's been getting, I still have to go with Chavo retaining against all odds AKA the Guerrero Lie, Cheat & Steal philosophy.

Rob Van Dam & Booker T VS Mark Jindrak & Garrison Cade VS La Resistance VS The Dudley Boys - World Tag Team Titles
- I say Jindrak & Cade win, but no one will care.

Sable & Torrie Wilson VS Stacy Keibler & Miss Jackie - Playboy Evening Gown Match
- The RAW duo will win cause the actual Playboy models dare to show some skin and not just preach about it.

Christian VS Chris Jericho
- Jericho wins and finally gets the girl. Expect Edge to help Jericho get his revenge on the following RAW.

The Big Show VS John Cena - US Title
- Despite his injuries, Cena gets the big win on Show with the FU.

Mick Foley & The Rock VS Randy Orton, Dave Batista & Ric Flair
- Rock 'n' Sock win with Rock pinning Flair. Rock than dissappears for another year and Foley probably sticks around for one last singles match with Orton to settle the feud. Would be fun if they added Jimmy Snuka to some capacity.

The Undertaker VS Kane
- This match most probably will only be remembered for whatever entrance the Undertaker uses to the ring. Expect the return of Paul Bearer too. 'Taker wins with the Tombstone piledriver to maintain his undefeated WrestleMania streak. Worse that could happen is that this goes to a no-contest brawl.

Eddie Guerrero VS Kurt Angle
- Expect this one to be the true show-stopper. After a great match, Guerrero retains so this feud continues.

Bill Goldberg VS Brock Lesner - Special Referee Stone Cold Steve Austin
- Brock would have been the hands down winner in this one, but now with both Goldberg & Lesner leaving WWE after 'Mania. What is WWE going to do? Push the non-wrestling Austin of course, as he Stunners both men and this match is thrown out the window. I'm SERIOUS.

Triple H VS Shawn Michaels VS Chris Benoit - World Heavyweight Title
- Benoit wins the World Title over HBK just so HHH doesn't look weak compared to the smaller Benoit. Expect Benoit's reign to not go more than 2 months before HHH wins it back.

Other News and Notes
Brock's two year career comes to an end?

Probably the biggest shocker since the ROH situation, Brock Lesner is calling it quits with WWE! Many sources say the big man hasn't been happy with the WWE travel schedule he has to work (even after he bought his own private plane!) and is not looking forward to having to feud and job to the returning Dead-Man Undertaker. This can be viewed as being very egotistical as many superstars way down the hierarchy of Brock's position also have to do so with no complaint. Now Brock is looking to get into the NFL. All I can say is good luck, as American Football can be more physical and demanding than pro-wrestling, and any team he joins would have no tolerance for his ego trips.

The Dream Ends again for Tenzan
Kensuke Sasaki defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan to become the 36th IWGP champion, scoring the win with his new Volcano Eruption finisher at 15:45. This could be marked as a dark day for NJPW as it once again shows no faith in Tenzan, opting to have the established super-tough Sasaki face Bob Sapp next. I know one person who really hates this decision.
On the same show, the gaijin tandem of Curry Man and American Dragon defeated Gedo & Jado for the IWGP Jr Tag Titles. At least some good came from the show.


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

RAW's climax to WrestleManiaXX

This week’s edition of WWE RAW didn’t seem like the climax of the build to Wrestle Mania XX which we are now just one week away from.

We start with a casket in the ring with the lights turned down and the Gregorian druid chants playing. Kane than comes out inspects the casket to find an urn in it. He destroys the casket and yells that it’ll take more than an urn to scare him. The ring then starts shaking with Kane in it!
First match of the night is an 8-man tag featuring the 4 teams in the tag title fatal four way at WMXX. The team of Jindrak, Cade & La Resistance beat the Dudleys and RVD & Booker (who came out to a horribly mixed theme) when Jindrak pinned Booker with ONE clothesline after a cheapshot from one of La Resistance.
Chris Jericho gets attacked backstage by Christian while on the phone with Trish Stratus. This is probably a rare moment where we actually SEE who it is that lays out someone backstage, unlike the mystery blindsider on SmackDown. Christian than made a run for it as there was a car waiting for him outside and someone in the driver’s seat. They sped off. How much you wanna bet Edge was the driver?
We than get a fun backstage segment where the Rock encounters his ‘arch nemesis’, the Hurricane! Hurricane commented that Rock’s new look (goatee & haircut) resembled someone he knew. In steps Jonathan Coachman! Fun segment!
Next up is a handicap match pitting Evolution (Orton, Flair & Batista) VS Hurricane & Rosey. This was a total squash and Rosey didn’t even get tagged in.
Next match is Chris Benoit VS Matt Hardy. Benoit beats Hardy with the Crossface after 3 rolling Germans. You just have to know if this was Smackdown, they probably would have given them at least 5 minutes instead of the minute and a half here.
Post match, JR interviews Benoit in the ring (how long has it been since he’s done that?), only to get interrupted by HBK Shawn Michaels, who in turn gets interrupted by Triple H. For the first time I would have to agree with HHH when he says it’s a total croquet that he has to defend the title against two men. Rest is HHH standard banter. Though I was thinking he was gonna bring out Edge when he said he had an edge over Benoit & HBK.
Molly Holly then beat Lita in a short, ok bout when she used the ring ropes for leverage. God I hope she doesn’t get her head shaved.
Austin comes out next and says he’s got beef with both Goldberg and Brock Lesner, and that he’s going to Smackdown to get his four-wheeler back.
Next match and Steven Richards scores probably his biggest singles win against Chris Jericho when Christian came out and distracted Y2J with Trish Stratus’ intro theme.
The new WWE Hall of Fame entrants were listed. They are Jesse Ventura, Harley Race, Superstar Billy Graham, Tito Santana, Sgt. Slaughter, Bobby Heenan, Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, Big John Studd, the Junkyard Dog and Pete Rose.
Backstage segment with Stacy & Jackie as they meet with Johnny Spade (One week ago he was Johnny Blaze). He gives them a pep talk and Bischoff is impressed by his enthusiasm. Spade now claims himself a ‘star-maker’. Does that mean he’s gonna job and put everyone over when he finally wrestles?
We then get the much anticipated ‘This Is Your Life’ segment hosted by the Rock for Mick Foley. This really didn’t do anything for me, though it was fun seeing Superfly Jimmy Snuka. Evolution run in and beat down the Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection to close the show.

Japanese stars at WWE
Kenzo Suzuki worked a dark match on RAW against Nick Dinsmore, and the initial reaction was that he was horrible. He won with a Shinning Wizard that was said to be way off mark.
Kendo KaShin was also backstage. He is said to have officially quit AJPW cause he didn’t like the way Mutoh was handling business (Mutoh probably asked him to drop the belt clean). He now has interest to make a name for himself in America, and worked a match against Jamie Noble a few months back putting him over. Adding him to Tajiri’s heel group would be real interesting, though KaShin would have to get used to losing A LOT if he does sign with WWE.

In case you don't already know, the big situation going on now in the US Indy scene is the Rob Feinstein/ROH situation, which you can read all over the internet about. Their big show on 3/13 should be interesting to say the least to see how the matter effects business and fan loyalty.

Despite doctor's warnings, stubborn Shinya Hashimoto still refuses to go for surgery to get his shoulder fixed. To me this shows that he has absolutely no faith in his workers to handle things while he's not around. And the more he delays the surgery, the sooner you can expect his career to end.

Also, as I expected, Takeshi Morishima is now scheduled to defend the WLW title against Jun Izumuda on 3/13. Izumuda tapped him out the other day with a crab hold. The winner of that match is expected to fly to America and work two WLW shows in Iowa and Missouri. Hopefully the belt will get dropped and left there as it does nothing for the NOAH title scene.


Monday, March 08, 2004

ZERO-ONE & NOAH weekend show results

ZERO-ONE HUSTLE-2 3/7 Results
- Kaz Hayashi & Leonardo Spanky defeated Low Ki & Homicide in 16:45 when Spanky used a Frog Splash on Homicide for the win. This sounded like the best match of the show, though I wonder why they put Spanky & Low Ki on oppossing teams since they are the NWA IC Jr. Tag Champs.

- Steve Corino defeated CW Anderson in 8:35 with a Northern Lights Bomb.

- Shinjiro Ohtani & Satoshi Kojima defeated Dusty Rhodes & Dustin Rhodes in 12:06 when Ohtani used a school-boy into a package hold on Dustin for the win. I'm guessing this is better than it could have been if Scott Hall & Kevin Nash were involved.

- Riki Choshu & Tomohiro Ishii defeated Zebraman & Naohiro Hoshikawa in 5:45 seconds when Choshu used a lariat on Zebraman for the win. Complete Choshu squash.

- Masato Tanaka, Kintaro Kanemura, & Tetsuhiro Kuroda defeated The Gladiator, Sabu, & Justin Credible in 11:15 when Tanaka used the rolling elbow on Credible for the win. An ex-FMW team vs and ex-ECW team? I think they should stuck with the 6-man battle royal format. Imagine the spot-fest that could have been!

- The Predator defeated Dan Bobish in 9:16 with the King Kong Knee Drop.

- Mark Coleman & Kevin Randleman defeated Shinya Hashimoto & Toshiaki Kawada in 14:16 seconds by referee stoppage after Randleman kept throwing knee strike at Hashimoto's dislocated right shoulder. Hashimoto is scheduled for surgery after this and Choshu is expected to be the senior ace while he's out. I don't have a problem with that as long as he leaves the booking to Ohtani.

- Matt Ghaffari defeated Naoya Ogawa in 4:46 with Ghaffari Press. Like a bad overbooked WWE match, Kevin Randleman, Mark Coleman, Giant Silva, Dan Bobish and Dustin Rhodes all came out after Ogawa. It was a 6-on-1 handicap match with heel referee Yuji Shimada working the match. Ogawa fought them off as long as he could before getting chokeslammed by Silva and then splashed by Ghaffari for the win. Afterwards, the heels chanted at Ogawa, "You are chicken!"

This PPV seemed doomed from the start with all the card changes and the horrible booking of the main event. If this was Hashimoto's idea, then he probably has worst western influenced ideas than Mutoh! Does it really take six HUGE men to finally bring down Ogawa?!? They really over did things abusing the no-DQ, heel referee angle.

NOAH Navigate for Evolution 3/6/04 Nippon Budokan results
- Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Tamon Honda defeated Masaji Aoyagi & Kishin Kawabata in 7:55 when Kikuchi used a school-boy on Aoyagi for the win. Honda's 15-minutes at the top has come and gone hasn't it?

- Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Masao Inoue & Akitoshi Saito defeated Trevor Rhodes, Doug Williams & Scorpio in 18:41 when Inoue used a Torture Rack on Rhodes for the win.

- Yasuhiro (Kotaro) Suzuki, Mitsuo Momota, KENTA, & Naomichi Marufuji defeated Ricky Marvin, Superstar Steve, Donovan Morgan & Michael Modest in 13:56 when KENTA used a Busaikyo Knee-Strike on Steve for the win.

- Jun Izumida, Yoshihiro Takayama, & Jun Akiyama defeated Takeshi Morishima, Naoki Sano, & Akira Taue in 8:54 when Izumida used a crab hold on Morishima for the win. Izumuda tapped out the WLW champion. Does that put him in line for a title shot? And when was the last time Morishima defended the title anyway?!?

- GHC Jr. Title Match: Jushin Liger defeated Makoto Hashi in 22:20 with a shotei strike. Yoshinobu Kanemaru now looks next in line to challenge Liger. About time one of the senior Jr aces stood up to bring the title back to NOAH.

- GHC Tag Titles Match: Yoshinari Ogawa & Mitsuharu Misawa defeated Mohammed Yone & Daisuke Ikeda in 29:28 when Ogawa used an inside-cradle on Yone for the win. Mark my words, unless Kobashi or Akiyama are on the opposing team, don't expect the UNTOUCHABLES to lose the tag titles any time soon.

- GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Kenta Kobashi defeated Takeshi Rikio in 25:28 with a short-range lariat for the win. Kobashi's V7 defense. With the delay of NOAH's Tokyo Dome event, Kobashi's next challenger is rumoured to be Yoshihiro Takayama next month! However, I still think Kobashi is defending the title much too frequently and is quickly drowning the pool of contenders. The sooner he drops the belt to Akiyama, the better. Or at least cut down the number of title matches.

Credit to Strong Style Spirit and Puroresu Power for the results


Friday, March 05, 2004

Spoiling The Illusion: The 6th Stage

No RAW report this week due to my modem problems, So I'll just recap what I can here with a bunch of rhetorical questions.
- Why the heck would Vince's limo driver run away when all he could have done was run over Austin since he's driving a big limo, and Austin's on a small 4-wheeler?!? And doesn't Vince now have actual grounds to arrest Austin for threatening him?
- Am I the only one that doesn't want to see Molly lose her hair? Then again, the stipulation was 'if she doesn't win', not 'if she doesn't win the title'. But I bet that's all gonna change.
- I liked Johnny Blaze's debut segment with Bisch and Austin. This kid has CHARACTER and possible future written all over him!
- The fans just didn't give a damn for Jindrak & Cade. And if they win the tag titles at WMXX, people will just be scratching their heads. The time they should have won the titles was off the Dudleys, but instead Evolution had to get them, thus burying the momentum Jindrak & Cade had built up. I find it so wrong also that Hurricane is being shafted from Mania. Couldn't they come up with a battle royal or something so more superstars get on the card?
- Did Rico forget he was suppose to be gay?
- Nice to see their still getting some use out of old props as they burned the two Undertaker symbols.
- Didn't HBK hit the nail on the head when he accused Benoit of stealing his spot? Then again, HBK's not the guy that went through hell in the Royal Rumble only to have someone bud in on his title match. So who's REALLY stealing someone's spot here?
- Man, could Jericho move on that 'bad knee' or what?
- Was I the only one cheering when someone 'stole' Austin's 4WD? And was I the only one hoping Repo-Man was driving the truck?!?
- Where the hell did the Matt Hardy/Test tag team come from? And could Matt Hardy's jump to RAW be candidate for the 'Worse Career Decision' award?
- Did they conviniently leave the last 20-minutes of the show open if they didn't know Foley was gonna show up? I said it before and I'll say it again, WWE missed a golden opportunity to bring back The Rock when Evolution were beating him down two weeks ago. Guess they thought they could sell more seats if people knew he was coming. Wouldn't it have been even more fun if they made it a 6-man tag and also added Al Snow?!? Rock, Sock & Snow, Baby!!!

- How the hell did Ebessan and Kuishinbo Kamen end up representing Japan with NOSAWA in the X-Cup? I'm sort of thankful they didn't do their comedy routine as I'm sure most American fans aren't familiar with their comedy spots and probably wouldn't get it. The fact that the live crowd chanted ICP for them says it all.
- I predict one of three things happening when Chris Harris gets his title shot against Jarrett in a few weeks: 1) Jarrett wins because Harris is exhausted from all the "preperation" Russo is putting him through. 2) Harris gets attacked backstage, but somehow manages to make it to the match and win against all odds and where others at their peak (Raven, D-Lo, Styles) have failed, or 3) The Raven Effect will play a factor in the outcome of the match.
- And what happened to Lex Luger? Did he just show up last week and cost A.J. Styles his match for no reason whatsoever?!? Talk about lack of consistency.

WWE SmackDown
- Why the blue-hell was Sakoda and Paul London removed from the Cruiserweight Open? Isn't it suppose to be an OPEN Contest? Guess WWE forgot they needed someone to work HEAT and dark matches.
- Despite everything Brock is doing to get under Austin's skin, Am I the only one that sees Austin costing Goldberg the match at 'Mania, and then Stunnering Goldberg when he confronts Austin about it only to never be seen in WWE again?

Other News and Notes of the week
One Down, Two to go for Tenzan
IWGP Champion Hiroyoshi Tenzan made a successfull V1 defense of his title against Pancrase Mission's Minoru Suzuki on 2/29 with a diving headbutt that KO'd Suzuki (he had to be stretchered out). Next up, Tenzan defends against Kensuke Sasaki on 3/12, and should he get past the former 3-time champion, faces his biggest challenge to date and Makai Club's newest member, Bob Sapp on 3/28!
I do see it possible for Sapp to beat Tenzan (thanks heavilly to the cheating Makai faction), and then go on to defend the title against Josh Barnett. That would really be interesting!

Champion Carnival Participants
All Japan announced the 8 of the 10 participants for this year's Champion Carnival, which goes back to series form this year instead of the short tournaments of the past few years. The participants are: Keiji Mutoh, Toshiaki Kawada, Satoshi Kojima, Taiyo Kea, ARASHI, Nobutaka Araya, Jamal, X and X. The first X has already been confirmed as Takao Omori, who Keiji Mutoh formally invited after he beat Omori at Zero-One's Anniversary show on 2/29. This will mark Omori's return to All Japan since walking out with Misawa's group to form NOAH over 3 years ago. The 2nd X is rumoured to be Genichiro Tenryu. The final entrant will be the winner of the upcoming Hold Out Cup mid-card Champion Carnival.

Tomorrow is also the day Takeshi Rikioh gets his shot at Kenta Kobashi's GHC Heavyweight Title. Unfortunately, the outcome of this one looks all too predictable. And on Sunday, is The big Zero-One HUSTLE-2 show. Check back here for results of these shows.