WWE News: Raw Matches on Sept. 23 Include Fatal 5-Way, King of the Ring Rematch, More

Here’s what WWE has advertised for Monday’s edition of Raw from the brand new Chase Center in San Francisco, California.

Fatal 5-Way Match between Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and Robert Roode. The winner of that match will go on to challenge Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship next week on the “season premiere” of Raw on September 30.

“King” Baron Corbin will face Chad Gable in a rematch of their King of the Ring finals match from last week.

Nikki Cross (w/Alexa Bliss) vs. Sasha Banks (w/Bayley)

They also advertised this non-match segment…

From WWE.com:

“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt’s attack on Seth Rollins at WWE Clash of Champions was a shocking development and foreshadowed a dark new challenge for the Universal Champion. As the two rivals prepare for their showdown at WWE Hell in a Cell, Wyatt returns with an all new edition of “Firefly Fun House.” Will Huskus the Pig Boy or Mercy Buzzard calm their friend’s nerves or will “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt have a new warning for The Beastslayer? Look for possible clues on a new edition of “Firefly Fun House.”

That’s all WWE has advertised so far for Raw. They will likely announce more matches on Monday afternoon on social media.

The post WWE News: Raw Matches on Sept. 23 Include Fatal 5-Way, King of the Ring Rematch, More appeared first on TJR Wrestling.

TJR Retro: WWF Badd Blood 1997 Review (First Hell in a Cell Match)

It’s back to 1997 we go with this review of WWF In Your House: Badd Blood from October 1997. I wrote this originally in the mid-2000s and I have never posted it here before.

If you’ve seen this show or if you have read about it, you know it’s famous for two reasons. The first reason is that WWF superstar Brian Pillman passed away one night earlier in his hotel room in Minnesota. He was scheduled to wrestle Dude Love at this event, so they had to improvise by adding a match while also extending some of the others. Pillman was one of those guys that could get over as face or heel, cut a killer promo and then deliver a solid match. Sadly, injuries robbed him of the greatness he had in the ring, he turned to drugs to help him deal with the pain and that ultimately led to his tragic death due to a heart attack. He was a part of the Hart Foundation group that hit its stride in 1997 while also being one of the few close friends of Steve Austin among others, so his loss really affected the entire roster. Pillman was only 35 years old.

The other reason this show is famous is because it featured the first Hell in a Cell match involving The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. Michaels cost Undertaker the WWF World Title when he accidentally hit Taker with a chair shot while Shawn was refereeing Undertaker’s title match against Bret Hart. Michaels didn’t show that much remorse, so he turned into a top heel while fans clamored for Undertaker to get revenge. When they met at the September PPV, Ground Zero, Undertaker was so pissed that he beat up refs just to get to Michaels and they brawled all over the ring. The match got thrown out due to all the extracurricular activities, which left the fans wanting more. All of that led to the creation of the Hell in a Cell cage, which was a 15-foot high structure that covered the ring and also had room between the ropes and cage. It was unlike anything we had ever seen in the WWF before. Not only did they have a hot feud between two great wrestlers that were in their prime, but they also had a gimmick match that had never been done before. A lot of good stuff happening all at once meant a highly anticipated match that delivered the goods.

From a storyline standpoint, there was also interest in the Undertaker/Michaels because Paul Bearer had promised the Undertaker that Kane will arrive and the Undertaker’s life will never be the same. At the time, it was not universally known when Kane would appear or what he would look like. However, his music and a red light appeared in the weeks prior to this event basically to scare The Undertaker. Kane was an unknown. We didn’t know how big he would be or what he would look like. They did a great job of building up to his appearance.

Other than that, the Intercontinental Title was up for grabs due to Steve Austin having to vacate it after having his neck injured at Summerslam two months earlier, so Owen Hart (the former champ) would battle Farooq in the finals of a tournament to determine the winner. The World Title picture was pretty bleak even though Bret Hart was a great champion. The problem was there weren’t enough viable challengers, so Hart teamed with his Hart Foundation partner the British Bulldog to face Vader and The Patriot in a Flag match. Now you understand why this is a one-match show.

The last thing you need to know is that the blood for this show is so bad that they need to put a second D on the word bad to emphasize it. That’s how bad the blood will be on this show. You’ve been warned.

Note: There will not be any play by play rundown of these matches except for the Hell in a Cell match. I don’t really like that the style that I reviewed this, but this is such a bad card other than one match that I’d rather not sit through it again.

WWF In Your House: Badd Blood 
The Kiel Center in St. Louis, Missouri (Go Rams)
 
October 5, 1997

The announcers are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Note that this is the last PPV where Vince McMahon would be an announcer. I have missed his “Ohwhatamove” or his “1…2…he got him…no he didn’t get him” reactions during the matches. How about you?

3 on 2 Handicap Match: Nation of Domination (Rocky Maivia, Kama Mustafa and D’Lo Brown) vs. The Legion of Doom

There was not a lot happening here since LOD weren’t known for their in-ring work, Kama was never very good and Brown was still pretty green at this point. Rocky was the key guy although they didn’t let him do that much. Still, the fans got on him a lot starting a lot of those “Rocky Sucks” chants that helped him get the opportunity to show what he could in the ring as a singles competitor. The match broke down, Faarooq ran down to distract LOD and Rocky got the pin with the yet to be named Rock Bottom for the win. Basically it took four guys to beat two here because LOD weren’t fans of losing. Let’s just put it that way.

Winners via pinfall @ 12:20 – Nation of Domination

Analysis: * Bad match that went too long. On the positive side, the crowd’s hatred of Rock grew, which of course was a great thing for the company going forward.

A tough moment followed with McMahon announcing Brian Pillman’s death, which they also did in the pre-show. I remember hearing about it through a friend that must have read about it on the internet because I wasn’t really reading about wrestling on the internet until after Survivor Series. Due to the death of Brian Pillman, a new match was added to the show.

Max Mini and Nova vs. Tarantula and Mosaic 

A pretty basic match featuring the little people with Max Mini getting the star spots because he’s shorter than the others and the fans would get into him more than the others. And of course, he got the pin.

Winners via pinfall @ 6:43 – Max Mini and Nova

Analysis: *1/2 Okay match to fill time, but nothing really memorable here.

WWF Tag Team Titles: The Headbangers (c) vs. The Godwinns (w/Uncle Cletus)

Uncle Cletus was TL Hopper earlier in his WWE career. The Headbangers won the belts a month earlier at Ground Zero, which was a big thing because they were basically losers. Thing is the fans liked them because they were different than the norm. This one had no flow, very little crowd reaction and not very much good work in the ring. The Godwinns were not good in the ring while the Headbangers could have okay matches with the right opponents, which the Godwinns were not. The match broke down so many times that it’s hard to know if the finish was even done correctly. The end result was that the Godwinns won after PIG (that’s Phinneas I. Godwinn) hit an ugly powerbomb.

Winners via pinfall and New Tag Team Champions @ 12:17 – The Godwinns

Analysis: * Bad match that was a shining example of how bad the tag division was at the time in the WWF. It would get better the following year.

We see a video package showing all the people that Austin gave the stunner too while being pissed about being injured. I can’t begin to describe how impactful this stuff was at the time. It was like a breath of fresh air because it was unlike the usual stuff we saw in wrestling.

Next up was a segment hosted by Jim Ross honoring some of the legends of the St. Louis area. The legends were: Harley Race, Jack Brisco, Dory Funk, Jr., Gene Kiniski, Terry Funk, Lou Thesz, and promoter Sam Muchnick. This was during a time when the WWF ignored their own Hall of Fame until 2004 and suddenly it was important again.

For the Vacant WWF Intercontinental Title: Owen Hart vs. Faarooq

Steve Austin had to give up the IC title due to his neck injury, so they had a tournament for it. Faarooq made the finals because I’m pretty sure Ahmed Johnson got hurt, which gave us a heel vs. heel final. To make up for the dead crowd, Austin came out to ringside to commentate as well as harass the announcers. I can’t imagine this being an easy match for Hart or Austin since both were so close to Pillman. The match was pretty bad because there was no rivalry to go on, Faarooq wasn’t a very good worker and fans were more interested in what Austin was doing. He ended up giving a belt shot to Faarooq, which led to Hart winning. It was confusing initially because Hart was his main rival, but it made sense because Austin wanted to beat Hart for his belt instead of somebody else.

Winner via pinfall and New Intercontinental Champion @ 7:12 – Owen Hart

Analysis: *1/2 They got through it, but it wasn’t that interesting until Austin showed up. That’s probably because it was heel vs. heel too. It was more of an angle than a match, really. Amazingly, this PPV was the last one Austin would miss for about two years despite the brutal neck injury he suffered at Summerslam 1997.

Disciples of Apocalypse (Crush, Chainz, 8-Ball and Skull) vs. Los Boricuas (Savio Vega, Jesus Castillo, Jose Estrada, Jr. and Miguel Pérez, Jr.)

Do you want to know what one of the worst feuds in WWF history was? It’s DOA vs. Los Boricuas. They had multiple PPV matches against one another ranging from singles to regular tags to six man to eight man and they all stunk. This was no exception. Crush got the win with his backbreaker.

Winners via pinfall @ 9:11 – DOA

Analysis: 1/2* A clean PPV win. Did it end this awful feud? Of course not.

Flag Match: Bret Hart and The British Bulldog vs. The Patriot and Vader

Bret was the WWF Champion that didn’t have a title match on this show. The flags were placed on the ring posts despite the fact that Bulldog was British (he did live in Canada) and Vader didn’t come off as the most patriotic guy even though he was American. It was a long tag team match that dragged. The best part of the match came near the end when a drunken fan decided to enter the ring to get at Hart I presume and he got stomped on for his efforts while being taken out by security. That was great. I love stupid fans getting beat up. The finish came soon after with Hart beating Patriot with a rollup even though Hart had taken a beating. Hart grabbed the tights as well because that’s what heel champions do.

Winners via pinfall @ 23:13 – Brt Hart and British Bulldog

Analysis: **1/2 It was too long. It felt like a TV match more than anything except that they had about 30 minutes to kill, so they had to stretch it longer here. I felt really bad for Bret here because not only was he working with a heavy heart due to Pillman’s passing, but you could also sense that he knew the company was losing faith in him by only giving him a tag match despite the fact that he was the champion. They probably should have done Hart vs. Vader and Bulldog vs. Patriot instead although I’m pretty sure they were down on Vader as a performer at this point. It’s a shame we never really got a good Vader vs. Hart match because they would have worked really together given their ability to adapt to different styles.

In the backstage area, Michaels delivers a very cocky speech where he sarcastically makes fun of his “coveted” European Title and delivers a very nice line: “Ain’t nobody crazy enough to do this gig ‘cept for the Heartbreak Kid.” Awesome visuals of the cage coming down follow that. I can remember watching with my buddies and thinking how cool the whole thing looked.

The winner of this got to become the number one contender for the World Title. “Sexy Boy” plays and Shawn is HATED by the crowd while Taker gets a big pop.

Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

This write-up will be the full play by play because it’s one of the greatest matches ever and I think it’s important to cover the whole thing.

Shawn is scared, so he runs outside the ring. Taker stalks him back inside where he nails Shawn with a boot to the head that Shawn oversells. Taker tosses him into the turnbuckle three times and goes for a chokeslam, but Shawn fights back with some stiff punches. Taker whips him into the corner, Shawn flips upside down and bounces off so he can be drilled by a clothesline that gets a two for Taker. Taker works on Shawn’s shoulder and proceeds to deliver his patented top rope clothesline on the shoulder he just worked on. He follows with a slam and a legdrop and that gets two. Taker whips Shawn into the buckle and tosses him over the top to the floor via a back body drop. Shawn hits the ground hard and hits his feet on the side of the cage on the way down. Taker joins him outside as a small “make him bleed” chant starts. (I told you Shawn was hated.) He picks up Shawn and holds him up against the cage, Shawn begins to climb up, but Taker pulls him down again. JR mentions that there’s probably some idiot saying Shawn knows how to fall hard like that. Taker whips him into the cage, Shawn bounces off and is decked with a clothesline for another hard bump. Taker’s offense is described as a “physical dissection” by the announcers. He goes for a powerbomb, but Shawn fights it, so Taker decides to just ram his back into the cage twice as Shawn crumbles to the ground again.

Then Taker whips him into the ring post and punches him several times in the ribs, which sort of looks like a boxer hitting a bag in the gym. He picks Shawn up and tosses him around like a rag doll into the ringpost, cell, ringpost again and finally the cell once more. Taker lifts Shawn up again, but HBK tosses Taker into the cell, which leads to Shawn laying flat on his ass due to another clothesline because Undertaker was dominant. Shawn’s thrown into the steps, Taker sends him to the cage, but Shawn bounces off, ducking a clothesline and hammers Taker with several punches. As Shawn tries getting Taker inside the ring, he is met by a stunner over the top rope which Michaels sells as if he were shot out of a cannon. Taker is standing on the apron, Shawn gets up and shoves him into the cage, finally giving Michaels control of the match.

Shawn flies through the middle ropes with a plancha, ramming Taker’s head into the cell. Shawn climbs up the cage and drops an elbow in a very cool spot. He follows that up with a clothesline off the apron. Shawn goes for a piledriver on the steps, but can’t get him up and almost botches the move. Michaels recovers to deliver a VICIOUS piledriver on the ring steps. As Shawn makes his way up, he accidentally hits a cameraman yelling “get the f**k away from me!” This cameraman is stubborn and gets too close again forcing Shawn to say “get this s**t away from me!” Shawn climbs in the ring and delivers a double axehandle off the top to the floor as they finally get into the ring. Shawn punches Taker again and slides out looking for a chair, which he finds under the ring. The crowd pops huge as Vince yells out “OH NO!” because of their history with the chair. Shawn drills Taker twice in the back with a chair and only gets two. That pisses Shawn off and causes JR to wonder what Michaels will need to do in order to get a victory. Shawn puts him in the corner, but Taker fights back (pops from the crowd). Michaels kicks him and ties him in the ropes. Shawn runs at him and is met with a boot followed by an Undertaker back body drop over the top rope landing on a cameraman who just happened to be filming there. (It’s a brilliant move.) Shawn is angry, so he punches and kicks the camera guy as the announcers overreact saying the camera guy has a family. They say that he’s just a young cameraman and he’s not here to take a beating. Shawn shoves the camera guy conveniently in front of the door so some EMTs could help the poor man out. In the ring, Shawn nails Taker with the flying forearm, an elbow off the top (JR says nobody does it better. Randy Savage who?). As they open the door, allowing EMTs into the cage, Shawn drills Taker with the Superkick, but Taker sits up and Shawn practically shits his pants at least based on his facial expression. Great facial expressions there. Shawn runs out of the ring and out the door just as Hebner was trying to shut it.

The excitement builds as they are outside of the cell causing everyone, from the announcers to the fans, to go absolutely nuts. Of course, the thought of fans watching is “I hope somebody falls off the top of the cell” because everybody enjoys seeing others in pain. Wrestling fans are sick! Shawn was in control with a dropkick sending Taker into the cell but he gets greedy, goes for it again and Taker stops him there. At this point, pause the match and watch as Michaels brings out a razor and cuts his forehead open (in mid-move, by the way) delivering one of the greatest blade jobs ever. Taker slingshots HBK into the cell, punches him stiffly on the open wound and rams him face-first into the cell. JR describes Shawn as a “human javelin,” while Michaels was a bloody mess.

Shawn hits a low blow and climbs to the top of the cage because that’s the only place he can go to get away from The Undertaker. As Shawn climbs, Taker follows right behind him as the crowd’s response gets louder with each step the men take. Taker hits Michaels with a back body drop ON THE CELL (big pop), which he follows up with the old fashioned “grind the man’s face into the cage” causing even more of Shawn’s blood to leave his forehead. He follows with a Gorilla Press Slam on the cell causing an even larger pop from the crowd. A punch sends Shawn flying about five feet, so Shawn is hanging off the side of the cage right above the Spanish announce table. Taker steps on his fingers and Shawn goes through the table back first in a HUGE bump that was about eight feet high. Even if you have not seen the match I am sure you have seen the replay because WWE showed it 741 times in the months that followed. The crowd is as loud as they could possibly be as JR uses the infamous “He’s broken in half!” line. (This was the biggest bump in WWE history at this point until Mick Foley topped it twice in June 1998.)

Taker hip-tosses Michaels onto the broken table as Shawn’s blood is everywhere. His whole face is covered in blood as JR proclaims that he has never seen anything like this in his life. Taker drags Shawn to the inside and they come back into the ring as the cage is locked for the second time. The crowd is hot as Taker delivers a chokeslam off the top rope in a move that I still think is very cool even today. Shawn is helpless now as Taker brings in a chair (another big pop) and absolutely demolishes Shawn’s brains with a vicious chair shot to the head. That was his revenge for the shot he took two months ago at SummerSlam. That’s called storyline continuity and they call it a “receipt” in the business too.

Taker signals for the end to the delight of the crowd, but the lights go out, the organ plays, the building is engulfed in red and there’s a familiar person. THROUGH HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE IT’S PAUL BEARER! OH MY GOD!! I mean, it’s Kane! Vince had a famous line here: “THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE!” Kane rips the door off its hinges (almost), tosses Hebner into the cage and stares the Undertaker down. Kane sets the ringposts on fire, Taker looks away (dumb move) and is met with a kick to the gut and a tombstone from the big red machine. Bearer throws water on the ref, so that he can count the pinfall. Shawn crawls on top of Taker out of a pile of his own blood and gets the 1…2…3, thus giving him the WWE Title match at Survivor Series. The match went 30 minutes exactly.

Winner via pinfall @ 30:00 – Shawn Michaels

Extended Match Analysis: ***** I’m going the full five stars out of five. The ending doesn’t hurt it, in my eyes. It’s part of a great story that was told over the course of many months. I’ve got a lot to say here because it’s one of the best matches ever. I’ve probably watched this match 10-15 times because it’s that good. Like a favorite movie or top episode from a TV show, it never gets old. This was easily one of the most anticipated matches of all time. A lot of people did not even know what the cell was going to look like. That drew a lot of people to be interested in the match. Tossing HBK into the match made things that much greater because he was such a good performer. The feud was built so strongly that Shawn went from a tweener at Summerslam to the most hated man in the WWF by the time Badd Blood rolled around.

I know I mentioned how much Shawn bled in the match and honestly, it’s one of the biggest blade jobs I have ever seen. Not only was the blood in his hair and on his forehead, but it was dripping everywhere around the ring too. The angle with the cameraman was also executed perfectly because it allowed the wrestlers to get on top of the cage where the people wanted them to be. The match was booked perfectly because just as Shawn nailed the superkick, Taker sat up and the door was ready to close meaning Michaels wanted to get out of there. A lot of times little things are done wrong and it ruins the match but in this match, it was the little things like the blade job and camera guy that made it that much more special. It’s great storytelling because the chickenshit heel Michaels wanted to run away because Taker would sit up after taking everything Shawn could dish out.

I think the best thing about the feud was the use of the steel chair because none of this would have happened had it not been for Shawn’s errant chair shot two months prior. Keep in mind that chair shots in the WWF were not a regular thing by this time and that’s probably why the crowd reacted so well to it. When Shawn first grabs the chair in this match the crowd popped huge fearing for Taker’s life. Then later, after Shawn only gets two out of the chairshot it makes you realize just how tough Taker is. Later in the match when Taker seizes control of the chair he hits Shawn with a chair shot as hard as any I have ever seen. The crowd reacted perfectly to it because they wanted the heel to get what he deserved.

This match had everything including a storyline, plenty of heat for both men, tremendous psychology, great timing, a killer blade job and one hell of a bump by HBK. Throw in the fact that it was the greatest performance by the Undertaker (up to this point in his career for sure) and that Michaels was the best wrestler alive at the time and you have yourself one of those special matches that you will never forget. Plus, Kane’s debut was very memorable because it happened during this amazing match. It set the tone for a long rivalry with Kane and The Undertaker. Everything just seemed to go right. I know I certainly won’t forget it and if you’ve seen the match you probably feel the same way.

Simply put, one of the best professional wrestling matches ever.

The show ends with DX carrying Shawn out of the ring while we are left to wonder what’s next for The Undertaker and his debuting “brother” Kane.

 

Final Thoughts

3 out of 10 – That score is for the main event. The rest is mostly garbage. I figure if you give us one of the best matches ever in the main event the show deserves some recognition for having at least one really great thing on it. That’s why it gets the four.

It’s very hard to criticize people for having bad matches knowing that one of their friends (Brian Pillman) died less than a day earlier. That’s incredibly tough to deal with, so I do understand why there was some bad wrestling on this show. The other part of it is that the roster was so thin at this point that they were simply unable to have good matches from start to finish.

This was a one match show. That one match had a lot of hype and it delivered. And no, I’m not talking about Los Boricuas vs. DOA! It was all about Michaels/Taker. Immediately after the show not only were we thinking about how great this match was, but also what would happen when Michaels went after Hart a month later? Believe me when I say none of us had any idea of what would actually go down at Survivor Series.

 

Three Stars of the Night

1. Shawn Michaels – Awesome. Probably the best performance of his legendary career even to this day 12 years later. That’s saying something considering the greatness before and after this match. His heel act was fresh, he was in his physical prime before injuries slowed him down a bit and he was against a fresh opponent that he worked with perfectly.

2. The Undertaker – I feel the same way about him as I do Michaels. It was as good as he’s ever been. He was perfect in his role as the bully in this match even as the babyface.

3. Bret Hart – Bret did well even though he didn’t deserve being in such a lame tag match as this.

====

In 2017, I wrote an in-depth column about the first Hell in a Cell match for The Comeback, so you can check that out here as well.

If you want to know what happened at the next PPV, which was Survivor Series 1997, I have covered that one in-depth right here and I wrote a lot about what’s known as the Montreal Screwjob.

I don’t plan on reviewing the last 1997 PPV and going into 2008. Instead, I’m going to focus on other PPV reviews I have been doing in 2007 and 2000. Those will pop up whenever I have time to review them.

Thanks for reading this review. My contact info is below.

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook

The post TJR Retro: WWF Badd Blood 1997 Review (First Hell in a Cell Match) appeared first on TJR Wrestling.

WWE News: Final Week for Current Raw/Smackdown Stage, 24/7 Title Changes at Live Events in Asia

Changes are coming to WWE Raw and Smackdown within a few weeks. This coming Monday’s Raw on September 23 in San Francisco and Smackdown on September 24 also in San Francisco are the last two episodes of the shows before the new TV contracts begin. As I’m sure you know by now, Raw is staying on USA Network on Monday nights while Smackdown moves to Friday on Fox.

It is being reported today by the @Wrestlevotes Twitter account that changes are coming to the sets of Raw and Smackdown.

In some follow-up tweets answering fan questions, Wrestlevotes noted that there will be different looks for Raw and Smackdown. Considering WWE is getting over $500 million per year for the two shows, they certainly have money to spend to come up with something creative for the designs.

The new look Raw will debut on September 30 for what WWE is calling a “season premiere” episode of Raw even though they don’t have seasons. As we reported two days ago, Brock Lesnar will be on hand for that.

As for Smackdown, the first show with the new look set is Friday, October 4 in Los Angeles and it airs on Fox with Kofi Kingston defending the WWE Title against Brock Lesnar. That episode will also be a Smackdown 20-Year Anniversary show featuring legends from the past.

What do the new set designs look like? We don’t know. Wait nine days and we’ll see it together.

 

In other WWE news, EC3 held the WWE 24/7 Title briefly this week when he defeated R-Truth, but that title reign didn’t last very long. Here’s more info from WWE.com:

The 24/7 Champion is always on the clock; even when traveling across time zones.

For a brief moment, EC3 became 24/7 Champion during the WWE Live event in Manila. R-Truth wasn’t leaving the Philippines empty-handed and immediately pinned EC3 to reclaim his precious championship. The two Superstars would then continue to go back and forth when EC3 once again captured the title in Shanghai, only for R-Truth to yet again defeat him to reclaim it.

That means R-Truth is an 18-time 24/7 Champion and EC3 is a 3-time 24/7 Champion.

There are no videos posted of the title changes yet, but WWE might post something on their Youtube and social media soon.

 

 

The post WWE News: Final Week for Current Raw/Smackdown Stage, 24/7 Title Changes at Live Events in Asia appeared first on TJR Wrestling.

Killer Kross Comments on What’s Next for Him, AEW, WWE NXT, His Influences and More

Killer Kross has had an interesting couple of years in the wrestling business. He became known on Lucha Underground and then he quickly rose the ranks in Impact Wrestling to be one of their top guys. Currently, he’s in a bit of state of limbo due to a contract dispute with Impact.

Chris Van Vliet, who is an excellent Entertainment reporter out of Miami and a wrestling interviewer extraordinaire, talked to Killer Kross about a number of different subjects recently and sent along this recap. The video will be posted below and you can subscribe to Chris’ Youtube channel here.

His Thoughts On AEW:

“I watched the AEW show live in Vegas and I’m not saying this because I think I’m supposed to say it, in all sincerity, I was really blown away by it because there was just a different energy to the show, in a good way. I’ve said this before but I just think it needs to be said, with all the different tools we use to illicit and engage an emotional response from an audience when we go out there, from putting our bodies on the line to the execution of the story, sincerity, energy, listening to the fans during the match, timing, everything. There was like people literally weeping in the audience; Cody vs Dustin. You can’t like orchestrate that, that’s not something you can pre-plan. Putting things together you can’t be like ‘And at this point the audience is going to cry.’ That was amazing to actually be around, I don’t think I’ve been at a wrestling event in the audience where that’s happened. It was just awesome. I think with the direction that they’re going in with TNT and I think that with the flexibility that I’ve heard they are offering creatively, I definitely think there are somethings that I could do there and creatively get out that it just might not fly elsewhere. But ultimately I’m not married to go in any specific direction for any company right now, it’s even difficult to think about, it’s stressful to think about just because of the other things that are associated with it.”

Would going to NXT or WWE change how his character is portrayed?

“I’m in a place right now where I feel like it won’t really matter where I go, I’m going to be able to do what I’m doing in any way shape or form. I’ve hit a really cool peak creatively with things, I know how to lay things out differently so it will work on any platform. People haven’t seen me do that yet and there’s a reason why, because I’m saving it for perhaps a direction that I finally go in.”

On His Approach To Pro Wrestling:

“One thing that I really have always tried to do is create an emotional engagement and a response, to understand the purpose of what we are really doing out there and for me it’s always been to illicit emotion and engage people with the art of storytelling, the oldest stories in the world, light vs dark, good vs evil and so forth. I grew up in that time when 80s horror films, and early 90s horror films, they didn’t make sense and that was unsettling. Remember how things used to be? I think that that really scared people because in life, the things that really bother us are the things that create uncertainty. It’s like you’ve been walking down this street your entire life, you know exactly where everything is, and then one day you walk down and everything is different. It’s just something as simple as that, it freaks people out, they feel displaced. So, I’ve always tried to create that kind of atmosphere in what I’ve been doing.”

On What Wrestlers Inspired Him Growing Up:

“A lot of people will always throw out one name for a political reason. Like, a lot of the guys in the business will say that their favorite wrestler was a specific person because they are afraid they are going to get heat from someone who is above them being like ‘Why would you mention that guys name? He never drew any money’ you know? I really had a tonne of favorites but not to be redundant, I mentioned Warrior. As a child, I had a manic amount of energy. More so as a child, I could scale this wall. I just identified with high energy characters and back then, 80s and 90s, there was a lot of high energy stuff.”

On Separating Himself From Killer Kross:

“I’m not Killer Kross but Killer Kross is definitely a real thing and I think people would agree that when they go to the shows they are getting something very visceral, very carnal, and very real, in the way that we can use that word for this, out of him. So, we put him away until the music and the lights start.”

You can watch the full 30+ minute interview below.

 

 

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The John Report: WWE NXT 09/18/19 Review

This was the first episode of WWE NXT on USA Network in the US. The first hour was on USA Network, then the second hour was on WWE Network due to USA Network airing the final two episodes of “Suits” this week and next week. Apparently, WWE Network had a lot of issues in that second hour, but I’m watching on demand, so it’s fine now.

The bad thing for me is there’s no USA Network here in Canada and no Canadian channel picked this show up even though Sportsnet 360 (which shows Raw and Smackdown) was showing some taped poker event from years ago on Wednesday night. On Sportsnet 360 from October to April, they show NHL games on Wednesday nights, so it’s not going to be shown here unless some other deal happens. Let’s remember that WWE only did this to counter AEW on TNT in the US. They didn’t care about getting deals in other countries. That means their next biggest markets like the United Kingdom and Canada must wait 24 hours after NXT airs on USA Network for it to be on WWE Network. I realize that I can download it off a website that posts it online (shoutout to watchwrestling) on Wednesday night, but that’s not the same as getting it on cable TV that I pay for. By the way, there’s still no official news on where AEW will air in Canada either. Anyway, I’ll figure it out as I go.

As for the format of this review, I’m no longer doing play by play, detailed reviews of NXT. Once AEW starts on October 2, I’m going to review that in-depth like I do Raw and Smackdown (moving to Fridays on October 4). Three long reviews in a week, plus PPVs when they happen, is going to be enough for me on top of all the other writing and editing I do. I still want to cover NXT, so I’m going to write this article with thoughts on the show, star ratings on the matches and whatever else comes to mind. One of our new writers, Jim Kress, is doing NXT Reviews for us now and he’ll get those posted fairly quickly after the show is over. His style is different, but that’s okay and he’ll work on it as he goes forward on the site. I’m hopeful that I will do this review column on Thursday afternoons, but if it’s Friday morning when I post it then that’s okay too. Life is busier than ever for me, so I just have to find the time when I can. Let’s get to it.

Taped from Full Sail University in Orlando, FL, this is WWE NXT episode #370. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.

The opening video featured Triple H talking about there being something special in the atmosphere in NXT as highlights were shown of NXT history. Great video to welcome fans to NXT on USA Network. That led to Triple H walking onto the stage and the fans chanted “NXT” as the show came on the air.

The announce team for NXT was Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness and Beth Phoenix, which remains the commentary team going forward.

Candice LeRae defeated Mia Yim, Bianca Belair and Io Shirai

This was a fast-paced match from the moment it began and I was very impressed by Shirai, who makes everything look so easy. They had several sequences in the match where everybody was hitting big moves and then Shirai hit an incredible moonsault onto LeRae and Yim on the floor. They went to commercial and then hit a 4-Way Tower of Doom spot leading to “NXT” chants. There were several good nearfalls near the end of the match and cool spots like Belair hitting a KOD on LeRae, but Yim broke up the pin. LeRae faced off with her former friend Shirai, who was shoved off the top by Yim to stop a moonsault. LeRae managed to hit a reverse rana and a springboard moonsault on Yim for the win. My pick going into this match was Belair, but I certainly don’t mind LeRae getting the win because she’s a natural babyface like her husband Johnny Gargano. They got about 10 minutes, but only 7 minutes shown due to the commercial. It was fun, wild, athletic and exactly what makes NXT so great. (Match Rating: ***1/2 out of five)

The win by LeRae meant that she gets to face Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Title.

There was a staredown on the stage with Baszler and LeRae along with Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke supporting Baszler. I think it’s very possible that LeRae wins the title when they have their title match.

A brief video was shown about NXT Champion Adam Cole.

There was a video package that let us know there will be a Donovan Dijakovic vs. Keith Lee match next week. Please check that out if you can because they are outstanding heavyweights who always have great matches together.

Cameron Grimes defeated Sean Maluta

The bell rang, Maluta charged, Grimes hit a running double stomp to the chest and pinned Maluta to win after about five seconds. They see big things in Grimes (formerly Trevor Lee) and there’s nothing wrong with that because he has a lot of potential. (Match Rating: No point in rating it.)

A video package was shown about Damian Priest, who is one of the taller guys in NXT and will probably get a big push in the coming months.

The next match was the main event of the first hour on USA Network.

Roderick Strong defeated Velveteen Dream to win the NXT North American Championship

The first few minutes were slow paced, Dream was in full control and then as you would expect, the heel Strong took over after that with a backbreaker onto the guardrail. Strong’s offense featured a lot of submission attempts and several backbreakers because he’s known as the “Messiah of the Backbreaker” as Ranallo pointed out. When Dream tried a Sharpshooter, Strong kicked him out of the ring and Dream shoved Strong into the steel steps. That led to the second commercial break of this match.

Dream made his big comeback and got some good nearfalls with a superkick as well as DreamDT that led to “NXT” chants again. Strong had an offensive flurry of forearms and nearly won with his Boston Crab submission. Strong’s buddies Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish went to ringside. Shortly after that, Strong grabbed Dream and shoved him into the referee. Dream hit a Dream Valley Driver, but there was no referee. Dream fought off the Undisputed Era guys on the apron, Strong hit a suplex into the double knees and Dream kicked out to a huge ovation. Dream with another Dream Valley Driver, he went up top, the referee was distracted, Cole with a superkick and Strong hit the End of Heartache (suplex into double knees) for the win. Strong got the pin after 15 minutes to become the new NXT North American Champion. All of the interference keeps it from being four stars, but the finish made sense considering how close the Undisputed Era group is. It was still a great match and it’s fitting that they did a title change on the first NXT on USA Network show. (Match Rating: ***3/4)

The win by Strong meant that the Undisputed Era group all have titles with Adam Cole as the NXT Champion, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly as the NXT Tag Team Champions and now Strong as the NXT North American Champion. As they said many times, the prophecy from the Undisputed Era was fulfilled.

That was the end of the first hour on USA Network. As I noted in the opening paragraph, the two hours will be on USA Network on October 2.

When the broadcast moved over to WWE Network, Strong’s championship celebration continued. I like how the Undisputed Era’s championship celebration lasted several minutes. It made the title win feel like a bigger deal. They spent a few minutes recapping the wins of Candice LeRae and Roderick Strong from the first hour.

In two weeks, it will be Shayna Baszler vs. Candice LeRae for the NXT Women’s Title. I think there might be a title change there.

Pete Dunne defeated Arturo Ruas

As soon as this match began it was obvious Dunne was going to win, but I liked that Ruas got plenty of offense and he looked competitive during the entire match. Good strikes from both guys. I liked Nigel McGuinness comparing Dunne to Daniel Bryan. There was a gruesome moment where Dunne ripped on the toes of Ruas, who wrestled barefoot.  Dunne got the win with the submission that included a triangle choke along with a finger snap and it went about seven minutes. Pushing Dunne in NXT is fine with me. He is one of my favorites in NXT. This match went about seven minutes. (Match Rating: **3/4)

Dakota Kai returns to NXT next week. She has a bright future.

Xia Li defeated Aliyah (w/Vanessa Borne)

Li first female superstar from China in WWE history. Li went for a top rope spot, then she slipped off the top and it looked like they were confused for a bit. Li hit a few kicks after that and then a spinning kick to the back. Li has potential, but that one spot where she messed up hurt the match for sure. It only went two minutes. (Match Rating: 1/2*)

A guy named Denzel Dejournette was in the ring for a match against Kushida, but there was an interruption. The NXT UK group Imperium went into the ring to attack Dejournette with Alexander Wolfe hitting a German Suplex and there was a Powerbomb/uppercut combo. The fans chanted for Walter and that led to Walter, the UK Champion, making his entrance. The crowd reaction for Walter definitely made him feel like a huge star.

Walter said they’re Imperium and this mat is sacred. Walter issued a warning to others and Kushida made the interruption in part because he was the scheduled to have a match. Kushida took out three of the Imperium guys, then Walter threw Kushida down and Kushida hit a jumping kick to the head.

Analysis: It was a nice surprise to see Walter on NXT because he’s such a terrific all-around talent and a natural heel. Kushida showed a lot of heart going against four heels like that. Walter vs. Kushida will be an awesome match when they do it soon.

Lio Rush defeated Oney Lorcan

This was a pretty good match. This was Rush’s first match since he left WWE TV in May, so it’s nice to see he’s on good terms again and he showed off what he can do in this match. The fans were strongly behind Rush although they liked Lorcan as well. That’s the NXT fans, though, because they tend to like nearly everyone on the show. Lorcan was in control for most of the match with Rush selling a left knee injury. Rush hit an incredible move off the ropes where he did a springboard into a Stunner for a two count. That was sweet. Lorcan came back with a Powerbomb and then a single leg Boston Crab to continue working on the left knee along with a STF. When Rush got back up, he hit a Spanish Fly to counter a charging Lorcan, which was impressive. Rush went up top and hit the Five Star Frog Splash for the pinfall win. I liked the story of the match with Rush showing that babyface resolve to make the comeback for a big win. They got about 11 minutes. (Match Rating: ***1/4)

The win by Rush means he’ll get a title match against Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak.

Street Fight: Matt Riddle vs. Killian Dain ended in a No Contest

This started like a fight with Dain hitting a dropkick right as the bell rang and then they left the ring. Riddle connected with a kendo stick shot, but then Dain sent Riddle into the crowd and a senton splash on the floor. They went to the backstage area, then the action spilled out to the parking lot and Dain tossed Riddle into a truck. The Imperium group was sitting a table, so Walter and his buddies attacked Riddle, which led to the Street Profits coming in for the save. Most of the NXT roster got into a wild brawl in the parking lot. Dain and Riddle ended up going back into the arena, but other wrestlers entered from the back and made it to the ringside area too. The fans chanted “NXT” again as a brawl spilled out into the arena. They set up for a big spot with Dain as the last man in the ring. Dain ran the ropes and hit a suicide dive onto a bunch of guys outside the ring. The fans chanted “Holy Shit” and that was the end of the show. They wrestled for about three minutes while the entire chaotic situation lasted about six minutes. (Match Rating: ** – Fun while it lasted, but obviously not a complete match.)

I thought this was an interesting way to end the show because they spent weeks building up the Riddle vs. Dain rivalry and then it ended up as a wild brawl with the entire roster. That means they can do Riddle vs. Dain again and they announced it in this Youtube clip after the show.

When you see how the crowd reacted to it and the chants they were doing, it was obvious that they liked this ending too. What works so well for NXT is the focus on the in-ring action. There aren’t as many promos as Raw or Smackdown. It’s about the matches, the brawls and telling the best stories they can. This ending was perfect in terms of telling viewers what NXT is all about.

 

Final Thoughts

There were several very good matches all night long and the North American Title change was treated like a big deal. I thought the opening match with the four women in a competitive battle was a smart way to begin the broadcast. It was all action that represented what NXT is all about. The ending was chaotic, which is a smart way to keep people tuned in next week to see what would happen next.

It was also cool to see that the Women’s 4-Way won by LeRae and Rush’s win over Lorcan will lead to title matches. That’s the right way to build up title matches by having wrestlers beat other contenders. On Raw or Smackdown, what we normally get is champions losing non-title matches. I’m sick of that. This is the better way to do it.

I think they did a good job of showcasing what NXT is all about. It was a bit of a surprise that Johnny Gargano wasn’t on the show at all, nor was he really mentioned considering he is arguably the top face in NXT. I think maybe he should have had a match. The tag team division wasn’t featured either, but there’s only so much time on the show.

If I rated this out of then it would be a 7.5 or 8 out of 10. Something like that. I enjoyed it.

This review was just over 2500 words. That’s what I was aiming for. If I went full details and play by play it would be at least double that. It saves me a bit of writing, but I also feel like I covered the show as well. Let me know your thoughts on the format in the comments.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook

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WWE News: Becky Lynch and Roman Reigns to Co-Star in Animated Feature “Rumble”

The following press release was sent out by WWE today.

Becky Lynch and Roman Reigns to co-star in animated feature “Rumble”

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Paramount Animation announced today that it has partnered with WWE Studios to co-produce the upcoming animated feature “Rumble.” The studio also revealed the main cast voicing the film, led by Will Arnett, Terry Crews and Geraldine Viswanathan. In addition, WWE Superstars Becky Lynch (“The Marine 6: Close Quarters”) and Roman Reigns (“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”) will be voicing characters in the film. Also featured will be Tony Danza, Stephen A. Smith, Jimmy Tatro, Ben Schwartz and Michael Buffer. Susan Levison and Richard Lowell will serve as executive producers for WWE Studios. Reel FX and Walden Media are also producers on the film.

WWE Studios is WWE’s multi-platform content division that develops and produces scripted and non-scripted series, documentaries and feature films. WWE Studios has produced the feature film “Fighting with My Family” in association with MGM and Seven Bucks Productions and is currently in production on “The Main Event,” a feature film for Netflix; “The Big Show Show,” a live-action comedy series for Netflix; and “Fight Like a Girl,” an unscripted series for Quibi. Recent projects also include “Andre the Giant,” an Emmy-nominated documentary in partnership with HBO, as well as hit shows Total Divas and Total Bellas on E! and Miz & Mrs. on USA.

“‘Rumble’ is steeped in the world of wrestling, and what better partners to help bring this world to life than WWE?” said Mireille Soria, President of Paramount Animation. “They bring a pedigree and institutional excellence that is unmatched, and we couldn’t be happier to collaborate with them on this special film. We are thrilled to have a seasoned and dynamic cast in place to breathe life into this exciting story and can’t wait to bring it to audiences.”

“Rumble” is planned for release in summer 2020. The movie is set in a world where monster wrestling is a global sport and monsters are superstar athletes. Winnie seeks to follow in her father’s footsteps by coaching a loveable underdog monster into a wrestling champion. The film is directed by Hamish Grieve and produced by Mark Bakshi and Brad Booker.

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AEW EVP Kenny Omega Takes Shot at WWE NXT, Claims They Would Be in the Dark Match While He Would Be Main Eventing

Kenny Omega is one of the Executive Vice Presidents of All Elite Wrestling and in anticipation of thier “Wednesday Night War” with WWE NXT, Kenny felt the need to take some shots at WWE’s NXT brand.

Here’s part of what Kenny said in an interview with Sportskeeda.

“You can call it a war if you want. It’s like, to me, we’re in a completely different kind of business. I mean what they’re doing is different from what we’re doing. It’s weird, because it’s hard to say you’re going to war with people that I call my friends.  And yet, we are going to war. And yet, when I sit back and look at the grand picture, I’m going to war with these dudes that, if we were on the same show together, the same promotion…let’s pretend there were no borders. Let’s pretend there were no promotions. Let’s just pretend there’s just one big promotion. If these guys were in the same show as me, they’d be in the dark match. They’d be in the opening match of my main event match.”

Omega continued with more comments when he talked about AEW crowd sizes.

“You wanna call that a war, you wanna call that competition? Go ahead. Maybe it’s fun for you to do. That’s cool. But we’re different planets. And you’re going to see that right away, when you see 10000+ arenas sold out. You’re going to see smiles on fans’ faces. You’re going to see real stars, not developmental talent. But real stars appearing on your television sets, every week.”

You can see it for yourself here.

As you might expect, these comments definitely ruffled some feathers of some NXT wrestlers including Donovan Dijakovic.

There will likely be more NXT stars stepping up to comment on this as well.

TJR Thoughts: I think Kenny was trying to have fun in a playful manner, but people are going to see the headlines and take it as some cruel shit-talking. AEW Dynamite is two weeks away and there’s already a feeling of a “war” between AEW and NXT right now. It’s a fun time to be a fan, that’s for sure.

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