Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fave Five Wrestlers of the Week 12/22/2014-12/28/2014

Inspired by a 2012 episode of Smackdown that I recently watched on the WWE Network, I've chosen to bring you all my "Fave Five" Wrestlers of the Week. In case you were wondering, it was Booker T who used the phrase. A lot. Basically, I'll look at the week in wrestling and name the five top performers, including tag teams and divas.

1) Dolph Ziggler - First on our list is the Intercontinental Champion, Dolph Ziggler. Dolph has been on an absolute tear in the second half of 2014 and showed off, pun intended, once again this week. We start on Raw, where he defended the Intercontinental Championship against the man who took it from him last month, Luke Harper. They stole the show at TLC but did so again on Monday. The match featured near falls and tons of twists and turns. Dolph would retain after two superkicks and a Zig Zag. He was off for Main Event, but interrupted Seth Rollins in the opening segment of Smackdown. Hulk Hogan would go on to say that Dolph could quite possibly be the future of the WWE, which is a big deal. I do think that he needs to be the present and not the future, but still. He would go on to the main event and team with Roman Reigns against Seth and Big Show. After another solid match, Dolph's team would pick up the win. Not only two very good performances, but two big wins for Dolph this week.
2) Roman Reigns - Am I a big Roman Reigns fan? Not really. I see the potential and I get it, but he's not ready and there are plenty of guys on the roster that I prefer. That being said, Roman still had a damn good week. Since his return at TLC earlier this month, Roman has been getting strong crowd reactions, which is an improvement over what he was getting before his injury. On Raw, Roman picked up a win over the Big Show. Granted, it was a countout win so it doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before he pins him. Over on Smackdown, Roman did get a pinfall victory. In the main event, he teamed with number one, Dolph Ziggler, to beat Seth Rollins and Big Show. He pinned Seth, which not many people have done this year.

3) Bray Wyatt - I am very back and forth when it comes to Bray Wyatt. Sometimes I love the character and other times, I have no clue what's going on. When he arrived on the scene, I loved it. His feuds with Daniel Bryan and, especially the Shield, were great. Heading into the John Cena one, I ha high hopes, but they were crushed as he looked incredibly weak throughout. His feud with Chris Jericho was rather pointless as well. We still don't know exactly why he's targeting Dean Ambrose, but it has led to some intriguing matches at least. He only wrestled one match on television this week and it was in the main event of Raw. He and Ambrose did well in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight, where they made good use of the strange weapons they were given. He won another big match against Dean, making it a successful week.

4) Tyson Kidd and Cesaro - Sometimes known as Uppercats, sometimes known as the Masters of the WWE Universe, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro have caught on as a tag team. Thrown together because the WWE had nothing for Cesaro and they probably couldn't handle Tyson Kidd's awesomeness, these two have showed they have damn good chemistry and have more than made things work. On Main Event, they took on Los Matadores in a really good tag team match that they won with their Blockbuster/Powerbomb combination. While I would like for both guys to get singles pushes, especially Tyson, if they can make this tag team thing work and get over, then I'm all for it. A strong tag division is very important and I would appreciate seeing them as a key contributor to that.

5) Dean Ambrose - Unlike other top four picks this week, Dean Ambrose is the one that wasn't able to pick up a pinfall win on TV. Why does he make the list you ask? Well because he had two very fine performances. On Raw, he was just as good as Bray Wyatt, though he lost. Meanwhile, he was chosen by Hulk Hogan to face Rusev for the United States Championship on Smackdown. Dean came very close to recapturing the title he held for over 350 days and ending Rusev's undefeated streak. It was clear that he wasn't going to do so, but he won after Rusev was DQed when he was attacked by Bray. Again, the Bray/Dean stuff is still not fully clear, but I'll keep taking the good matches between the two of them. Also, Dean did beat Bray on back to back house show main events this week. So there's that at least.

Random Network Reviews: WrestleMania IX

WrestleMania IX
April 4th, 1993 – Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada – Attendance: 16,891

So, the Road to WrestleMania is over and my re-watch of “Raw History” has led me here. It took ten episodes to get here, some good and some bad, so let’s hope the trip is worth it. The card isn’t that great and I’ve heard many consider this the worst WrestleMania in the 30 year history of the event. Considering I’m about to spend nearly three hours of my life watching and reviewing it, I sure hope it’s not that bad.

Gorilla Monsoon welcomes everyone to the show and everyone that’s not a wrestler is in a toga. He throws it over to Jim Ross, who is making his debut and in a toga. It’s still better than Mike Adamle’s debut. He hypes the “double” main event. I refuse to call the WWF Tag Team Title match a main event. Howard Finkel, known today as Finkus Maximus, introduces Caesar and Cleopatra. Macho Man then gets to come out on a recliner, being carried by men and fed grapes by women. The fact that Macho Man isn’t on this disappointing looking card is a travesty. He could’ve added so much to it. Bobby Heenan shows up, backwards on a camel. Bless him, who doesn’t love the Brain?

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels (c) w/ Luna Vachon vs. Tatanka w/ Sensational Sherri

So, this is Luna Vachon’s debut and pairing her with Shawn Michaels is ridiculously strange. I guess it was to combat Sherri but she hadn’t been relevant since Royal Rumble and wasn’t announced to be with Tatanka. Commentary is really playing up the fact that Tatanka has pinned Michaels twice and the early stages follows the formula that Tatanka has his number. Shawn holds serve during the math wrestling stuff early on but when he tries a high risk move, Tatanka catches him with an arm drag and chops him outside. The crowd is pumped for this Tatanka rally. Shawn comes back in with a sunset flip from the top that they botch. I believe Tatanka messes up again by ducking too early and Shawn just grabs him and whips him off the ropes again. Shawn tries a clothesline and fails because he reportedly separated his shoulder, so Tatanka targets it. PSYCHOLOGY! Shawn charges but hits the corner hard and Tatanka works the arm again, hitting a shoulder breaker. I swear, that move always looks and sounds like it hurts. Shawn turns the tide and knocks Tatanka outside, so Luna pounces but Sherri stops her. Shawn hits a top rope move to the outside and takes a breather. Inside, he actually holds Tatanka in place for a standing dropkick which made me laugh for some reason. They botch another move that results in a near fall. Tatanka hits a release electric chair drop that JR incorrectly calls a fallaway slam. YOURE BETTER THAN THAT JR! Tatanka has watched a ton of Hogan as he starts to “Hulk Up”, which consists of him stomping around and no selling double axe handles. He hits a bunch of chops and get a two count with a flying cross body. He gets two more near falls with a slingshot and a powerslam. They go outside again and Shawn misses a splash. He gets mad and trips up the referee. Tatanka hits the Samoan Drop so the referee slowly gets to his knees like he’s going to count and instead, he taps Tatanka and calls the DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Tatanka in 18:13
Could’ve been a really good match had it not been 18 minutes. It dragged at some points and the finish was dumb. I get keeping Tatanka undefeated, but there were better ways to do it.**3/4

Luna Vachon attacks Sherri after the match and runs off. We send it to Mean Gene, who isn’t in a toga but looks possibly more ridiculous than everyone else. He interviews The Steiner Brothers about the upcoming match. Scott gets the point across and Rick stumbles.

The Headshrinkers w/ Afa vs. The Steiner Brothers
Why couldn’t this be for the WWF Tag Team Titles and then the Money Inc. match just be a grudge match or something? As the bell rings, Jim Ross gets in his first ever “Slobberknocker”, so historical feat there. Fatu and Scott start, about seven years before both guys would reach their peaks of success. Scott gets the early advantage but then the Headshrinkers use some double team moves to change that. The Steiners climb to the top together and hit stereo super STEINERLINES! Samu now works over Rick for a while and I have to point out how colorful Rick’s attire is. Tag to Scott and we get a tiger driver. Samu fires back with an attempted EDDIE GILBERT hot shot, but sets it up wrong and Scott goes all the way outside. Afa strikes him with a cane and the sound is crazy loud but referee Bill Alfonso doesn’t see or hear it somehow. Scott plays the face in peril, even eating a second rope headbutt. Headshrinkers continue to hit double team offense and I’m surprised to see Scott as the Steiner in trouble. The Headshrinkers are damn good at this smart heel tag team stuff. The tide turns as Samu misfires on a top rope splash and the hot tag to Rick happens! He comes in hot but tries a DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER like a dummy. HEADBUTTS ON SAMOANS DON’T WORK DUDE! That’s like Wrestling Rule #7. The Headshrinkers try a Doomsday Device but Rick counters with a huge powerslam for two. Scott gets back in with a belly to belly but celebrates prematurely and gets kicked in the mouth. Scott snaps off a poor looking Frankensteiner and gets the 1-2-3.

Winners: The Steiner Brothers in 14:22
Well that was damn good. At this time, these were probably the two best tag teams in the WWF and they stepped up with their opportunity. Good old fashioned tag formula at its finest.***1/2

We go to Mean Gene once again, who is with Doink. Doink has painted clown paint on one of the statues at Caesar’s Palace. We get a recap of the epic Crush/Doink feud. If it doesn’t come across as such and is not clear, that is sarcasm.

Crush vs. Doink
Crush attacks and things start outside. They go inside and Crush overpowers Doink until he trips him up. Doink punches him but it doesn’t faze Crush at all. Seriously, I cannot take Crush seriously in this ridiculous orange, yellow and purple attire. He continues to dominate though, hitting a backbreaker. Doink hits a snapmare and two AWFUL looking moves from the second rope. A third high risk move looks better before things get serious with a piledriver. He tries another move off the top but Crush puts his boot up. This does nothing however as Doink shakes it off and stays in control until Crush hits a powerslam. The crowd sounds absolutely dead during this. Crush signals that he’s going to squeeze Doink’s head but the referee gets taken out. Doink keeps trying to go under the ring but gets caught in the head crush move or whatever it’s called. A second Doink crawls in and strikes Crush with a cast. CONTROVERSEY! Crush is both hurt and confused and takes a beating from the Doinks. They do a mirror image thing and Doink earns the three.

Winner: Doink in 8:28
That was dull. Doink was pretty damn good and should have controlled the match. Instead, Crush seemed to lead and that hurt this. The crowd didn’t care either. *

After the match, Bill Alfonso shows up to tell the referee that there were two Doinks, but nothing is done about this. Todd Pettengill, in his awfulness, interviews some Asian cameraman ho are RIDICULOUSLY STEREOTYPICAL.

Bob Backlund vs. Razor Ramon
The Raw episodes leading up to this show did not do a good job of building some of these matches and this is one. These two had literally no interaction coming into this. Backlund still has no theme music. Razor uses his distinct power advantage to gain the upper hand and is seemingly toying with Backlund. He finally gets in some sort of offense with some hip tosses before totally whiffing on a dropkick. Backlund hits a double underhook suplex and a HORRIBLE looking stalling atomic drop. He goes for another move but is pulled into a small package to end this abruptly.

Winner: Razor Ramon in 3:45
I have no clue what this was. Razor dominated, then Backlund got hot and then just lost. Why have Backlund last an hour in the Rumble just to job quickly here? Why have Razor dominate but then win with a small package? DUD

Mean Gene interviews Money Inc. about their upcoming Tag Team Title match. It’s really basic stuff.

WWF Tag Team Championship
Money Inc. (c) vs. The Mega Maniacs w/ Jimmy Hart

Ted Dibiase’s white suit is a thing of beauty. Hulk Hogan has a huge black eye and they say he was beaten by some hired guns, but there is still speculation about what actually happened. Brutus Beefcake is sporting a weird mask and they take out the Champions before the bell even rings and rip their shirts. Hogan has little to no muscle definition here and looks terrible. Jim Ross points out that Money Inc. will have no luck against the protective mask of Beefcake. He even gets his head smashed into the turnbuckle and it doesn’t faze him. Hogan gets tagged to a solid pop. He tags out relatively quickly with a double big boot. The Mega Maniacs continue to hold serve and toss Money Inc. out of the ring. Money Inc. goes to walk out but the referee tells Finkus Maximus that if they get counted out, they will lose the belts. Bobby Heenan correctly questions how the referee can just make the rules as he goes along. DAMN YOU EARL HEBNER! They get back in and Dibiase starts to work Hogan for a bit. Money Inc. chokes Hogan with the tag rope. Kudos there because I’ve never seen someone steal the tag rope. The Million Dollar Dream gets applied and Hogan fades fast. We get the arm raise spot and Hogan rallies on the third attempt, BROTHER! If you thought Rick being the one to get the hot tag was weird earlier, you haven’t lived until you see Beefcake be the one to get it here. He hits his insanely basic offense until Dibiase levels him with IRS’ briefcase in the back. They remove Beefcake’s unfair advantage by taking off the mask. Beefcake rallies and instead of tagging in Hogan when he has the chance, he applies a sleeper. Dibiase hits Beefcake and everyone falls over onto Hebner. Now, he makes the tag and Hogan, being the ultimate heel that he is, takes out both members with Beefcake’s mask. The referee is down so Hart turns his jacket inside out, so it has stripes and makes the count. They celebrate like idiots who think that is a legit win. A second referee comes out to award the match to the Champions.

Winners via disqualification: Money Inc. in 18:27
Here’s a prime example of a match that went way longer than it should have. Ted Dibiase is the only one who is a good worker in my mind and this dragged. *

The disqualification was called because Hulk Hogan used the protective mask. They get mad the referee for making the correct call and threaten him. Bobby Heenan says “It’s Hogan, they’ll probably give him $350,000 instead of fining him.” Good point. Jimmy Hart tosses referee Danny Davis and they celebrate like winners.

Random “celebrities” are interviewed in the crowd before Mean Gene interviews Mr. Perfect. The Narcissist hitting Bret Hart with a cheap shot is discussed and I really wish that this was taken further. He does stumble over Lex Luger’s name.

“The Narcissist” Lex Luger vs. Mr. Perfect
Lex Luger comes to the ring with girls in bikinis and gets a very impressive entrance. The feeling out process is cut short with a big knee lift from Perfect. He connects with a sweet dropkick, causing Luger to regroup outside. He gets back in and tries to make it a fight but Perfect works the leg and takes it to the mat. Luger hits a big move in the corner and starts to focus on the lower back of Perfect. Perfect fights back with a sunset flip and a sleeper but Luger breaks free. He tries to pull a Razor Ramon with a small package but Luger kicks out. A missile dropkick from Perfect gets two again and they struggle with the backslide sequence until Luger gets the advantage and wins with it.

Winner: Lex Luger in 10:56
This could have been better. It wasn’t bad, just kind of there. I was rather bored. **

After the match, Lex Luger knocks out Mr. Perfect with the LOADED FOREARM OF DOOM. When Mr. Perfect gets up, he is mad and he finds Luger by a garage. They brawl and Shawn Michaels, in Smoking Guns attire, joins in.

The Giant Gonzalez w/ Harvey Wippleman vs. The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
One of the biggest issues with the first five or so years of The Undertaker’s career was that he was saddled with awful opponents and this is at the very top of the list. Undertaker gets the famous entrance with the vulture. Gonzalez clubs him some and busts out a low blow, like he needs it. Undertaker hits Old School but Gonzalez shrugs it off and applies a headlock. As Undertaker fades, Paul Bearer raises the urn, which gives Undertaker power. This is actually happening. Gonzalez still no sells and throws Undertaker into the steel steps before “Wooing” like he’s Ric freaking Flair. Headbutts from Gonzalez are hit but Undertaker continually sits up. As Undertaker hits him and he falls, awkwardly, to one knee, Wippleman gets on the apron and throws a cloth into the ring to smother the Undertaker. Commentary states that chloroform can be smelled and referee Bill Alfonso, calling it right down the middle, signals for the DQ.

Winner via disqualification: The Undertaker in 7:33
Good lord this was dull. Giant Gonzalez was too slow and terrible and Undertaker wasn’t in his “good match” phase of his career that he wouldn’t reach until about 1996. Everything about this sucked. DUD

Giant Gonzalez attacks some referees as The Undertaker does the stretcher job. A gong hits and The Undertaker stumbles back out to a huge pop. Gonzalez is stunned and Heenan states “He is living proof. He is not alive.” How would that work exactly Brain? Undertaker takes him down finally and Gonzalez looks confused as he exits.

Gene Okerlund takes us to a recap of some of the history between Yokozuna and Bret Hart, including a contract signing that ended with a Banzai Drop. In a bit of foreshadowing, Mean Gene interviews Hulk Hogan about the upcoming match. He challenges whoever wins the main event for the first shot.

WWF Championship
Bret Hart (c) vs. Yokozuna w/ Mr. Fuji

Bret Hart charges and hits a dropkick followed by a flurry of right hands. Yokozuna uses his power to shove Bret off and he then runs through him with a shoulder block. Bret ties up Yokozuna’s leg in the ropes and hits a splash in before firing away with more right hands. This is one reason why I love Bret matches. Everything he does makes sense, like tying up Yokozuna’s leg. Bret hits his signature elbow. Yokozuna retaliates with a big clothesline, body slam and a massive leg drop. It’s time for the nerve hold, which is one of my least favorite rest holds ever. It doesn’t looks like it hurts. Heenan claims that Yokozuna has been in the ring for over ten minutes, which is false. Bret breaks the hold but ends up back in it. Boo. He tries a splash in the corner but misses, so Hart delivers a second rope bulldog. Yokozuna powers out of the pin, Bret hits another second rope elbow and Yokozuna powers out again. Bret gets him back down with two clotheslines but his rally is stopped in the corner. Bret removes the turnbuckle pad as he tries to hold on. He smashes Yokozuna’s face into the exposed buckle but not DQ is called. With Yokozuna down, Bret locks in the Sharpshooter! Mr. Fuji throws powder in Bret’s eyes and Yokozuna covers for the three.

Winner and New WWF Champion: Yokozuna in 8:55
Bret got the very best out of his opponents and this was no different. This was, by no means, a classic, but it was good for a Yokozuna match. The finish was terrible however. **1/4

Hulk Hogan comes out to plead with the referee/steal everyone’s thunder. Mr. Fuji challenges Hulk Hogan, like a COMPLETE MORON. Why would anyone do this after you just had a match? Bret, still partially blinded, waves for Hogan to go for it. Ugh.

WWF Championship
Yokozuna (c) vs. Hulk Hogan

Hogan is grabbed by Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji tries the powder again but hits Yokozuna. Hogan hits the boot and Leg Drop to win the belt.

Winner and New WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan in 0:22
Well that sucked. No Rating

That was an awful booking decision. Bret Hart has done phenomenal work as Champion and should have either retained or Yokozuna should have been allowed to leave as Champion. Easily the worst ending to a WrestleMania of all-time.

Overall: 3/10; Poor. Well, we started on the right foot here. A solid opener, followed by a very good tag team match. Things fell off of a cliff after that though. The horrible close to the show, the DUDs that were Undertaker/Gonzalez and Razor/Backlund, along with boring matches like Doink/Crush and the Tag Titles make this one a rough go. The ending made no sense and this, unfortunately, makes a strong case for worst WrestleMania ever. It might actually be the worst considering the fact that, outside of the Steiners match, we didn't have one clean finish.